Swifts 62 – 64 Thunderbirds
Thunderbirds came back from behind to beat the Suncorp Super Netball League 2023 Minor Premiership Champions, NWS Swifts, in the Major Semi-Final.
Thunderbird’s victory means that they have now booked their place in the Grand Final, whilst Swifts will have to play Fever in the Preliminary Final and win, in order to make the Grand Final themselves.
It was clear from the off just how much was on the line for these two teams, as they both started the match full of nerves with errors being made throughout the court.
It was Swifts that eventually found their rhythm first, with England Rose Helen Housby scoring four from four Super Shots to give her side an early 16-11 lead.
Following the first break, the number of errors throughout court dwindled and both teams seemed to relax into the contest.
Thunderbirds made a few changes to their team, which included moving England Rose Eleanor Cardwell to goal attack and Jamaican Sunshine Girl Latanya Wilson to goal defence, and the changes seemed to make an impact as the visitors won the quarter by three, bringing the overall score back to 28-26, and leaving it all still to play for in the second half.
Momentum continued to shift throughout the penultimate quarter, with both teams battling it out in every area of the court.
Swifts managed to extend their lead, with their defender Teigan O’Shannassy playing a big role in that as she kept Thunderbird’s shooter Cardwell quieter than usual.
Going into the final quarter the score sat at 44-39 to Swifts, but it was Thunderbirds that came out soaring with Jamaican Sunshine Girls Latanya Wilson and Shamera Sterling really beginning to pile the pressure on their fellow international teammate, Romelda Aiken-George, and Housby.
The Jamaican defensive duo seemed set on changing the flow of the game, as they took their tally of joint interceptions up to 4, gains to 7 and turnovers to 3, and eventually their hard work paid off as score sat at 58-58 sending the match into extra-time.
After what was a frustrating evening for Cardwell, the England Rose really stepped up in extra-time, when it mattered most, as she scored two Super Shots and then one goal from under the post to complete Thunderbirds comeback and catapult them into their first Grand Final since 2013.
Fever 64 – 57 Vixens
Fever kept the party going in front of their home fans, as they won the Minor Semi-Final 64-57 against Vixens booking their spot in the Preliminary Final against Swifts, and keeping their Grand Final hopes alive.
The game started goal-for-goal, until an early Fever error allowed Vixen’s to take the lead through their Malawi Queen Mwai Kumwenda, who made no mistake in converting from under the post.
However, it wasn’t long before Fever’s Australian Diamond Sunday Aryang wanted in on the action as she made two turnovers, allowing her international and domestic teammate Sasha Glasgow the opportunity to score the first Super Shot of the game, and giving Fever a one goal advantage going into the first break.
Throughout the second quarter the lead changed hands multiple times, however some uncharacteristic errors from Vixen’s let Fever stay ahead at the break.
The second half promised more of the same, with Fever edging the remaining two quarters by no more than three goals following closely contested quarters.
Australian Diamond Courtney Bruce was always on hand for Fever to capitalise off Vixens errors, as on more than one occasion she claimed the rebound under the post, before sending the ball on its way up the other end for her teammates to convert.
It was this series of marginal wins, spearheaded by Bruce, partnered with Glasgow and Jhaniele Fowler’s clinical shooting that allowed Fever to take the eventual victory 64-57.
The Suncorp Super Netball League season will be made of 14 rounds, with the Grand Final scheduled to take place on the 8th July 2023, just in time for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 which will begin on the 28th July in Cape Town, South Africa.
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