A FIERCE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE FROM GIANTS NETBALL AND THE HOT HANDS OF JO HARTEN HAVE TAMED MAGPIES NETBALL IN THEIR SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL BATTLE AT MELBOURNE’S HISENSE ARENA.
The clash between two of the tournament favourites lived up to its billing, with the Giants maintaining their unbeaten start to the season with a 59-51 win.
The Giants were ruthless in every third, with goal shooter Jo Harten punishing the home side with 43 goals at 96 per cent.
Serena Guthrie was also a standout, and her midcourt partnership with captain Kimberlee Green has become one of the strongest unions in the competition after just three games.
But the difference between the orange and black dresses was the work the Giants did without the ball.
The pressure from circle defenders Sam Poolman and Rebecca Bulley was suffocating.
Magpies’ Caitlin Thwaites was strong with 42 goals, but she had to work overtime for every score.
Poolman, the least heralded of the Giants’ starters, harassed and hounded the Giants’ attack end which struggled to pick a way through the clutter.
The Giants led by six goals at three-quarter time, and were under siege at stages, but the visitors showed no sign of tripping in the closing stages.
Clashes between titans don’t always produce the silkiest contests, and so it was for these two powerhouses, at least in the first quarter.
Space was at such a premium that it was difficult for either side to move freely into attack.
The circle edges at either end were bogged with disciplined and agile defenders, making life extremely difficult for the feeders.
There were a couple of notable exceptions however, with Magpies’ Madi Robinson and Giants’ Green drilling some laser-accurate feeds into their shooters.
High turnovers and contact penalties reflected the intensity of the game but it was the Giants who converted more goals from their hard-earned ball.
The Giants shot at 82 per cent accuracy in the first half, leading the Magpies (78 per cent) who seemed competitive everywhere except the scoreboard.
That sparked the introduction just before halftime of Magpies goaler Cody Lange for her first competitive outing since last year’s serious knee injury.
Lange, a replacement for Alice Teague-Neeld, sank three of her first four attempts as the Magpies chiselled the deficit from six down to three halfway through third quarter.