The Adelaide Thunderbirds have claimed their third win of the season, taking a 71 to 59 victory over the Queensland Firebirds, keeping the home team win-less for the season with only two matches to go.
When these two teams met in Round 5, the Thunderbirds won by three goals and they hadn’t had a win since. The Firebirds were extra hungry for the first win of the season, playing their last home game with club veterans Laura Clemesha and Caitlyn Nevins who both announced their retirements earlier this week.
It was a scrappy start from both teams with lots of passing errors and clumsy penalties given away in the opening minutes.
The Thunderbirds managed to break away to a three-goal lead early, but the Firebirds got back to even within two minutes thanks to some commanding midcourt action from centre Jemma Mi Mi.
It continued to go goal-for-goal for the remainder of the first quarter and the fight for the first bonus point went right down to the final seconds. An Adelaide turnover with 20 seconds to go saw the Firebirds play the clock down to finish with a last second goal from goal shooter Romelda Aiken, going into the first break with a 16 to 15 lead over the Thunderbirds.
Both teams remained unchanged as the second quarter commenced and the intensity lifted right across the court with the Thunderbirds taking back the lead within the first four minutes of play.
Thunderbirds Shamera Sterling continued her stellar season form and took three key intercepts in the first half, making life difficult for her Jamaican teammate Firebirds’ shooter Aiken.
The lead changed three times during the second quarter with strong passages of play from both teams, but the Thunderbirds’ shooting combination in Maria Folau and Sasha Glasgow was hard for the Firebirds to stifle. Glasgow shot at 100% (15/15) and Folau at 90% (18/20) in the first half.
The Thunderbirds finished strongly to claim the second bonus point and take a 33 to 30 goal lead into the main break.
Firebirds goal defence Tara Hinchliffe made her return from an ankle injury, coming onto the court for Kim Jenner after half time, and the Thunderbirds brought on Hannah Petty into centre for Kelly Altmann.
A huge intercept by Firebirds’ Clemesha brought the crowd alive and the Queenslanders got back to within one goal thanks to an athletic and accurate third quarter performance from Aiken and goal attack Gretel Tippett.
It wasn’t enough to restrain the crafty Thunderbirds though as they responded and settled well, stretching their lead out to a game-high seven goals and holding on to take a 51 to 45 lead as the whistle sounded for three quarter time.
The Firebirds weren’t going down without a fight though and got back to within three goals early in the third, but the Thunderbirds held strong yet again, getting out to an eight-goal lead half way through the last and remaining dominant for the remainder of the quarter.
In winning the final quarter, 20 goals to 14, the Thunderbirds were unstoppable, and the Firebirds were left looking for answers. Glasgow had a stellar final term, shooting 15 from 15 and lifting her team to their third win of the season.
Q1: Firebirds 16 v Thunderbirds 15
Q2: Firebirds 14 v Thunderbirds 18
Q3: Firebirds 15 v Thunderbirds 18
Q4: Firebirds 14 v Thunderbirds 20
Suncorp Super Netball Premiership Points
Firebirds – 1
Thunderbirds - 7
Nissan Player of The Match – Maria Folau (Thunderbirds)
Firebirds shooting statistics – 59/64 (92%)
Romelda Aiken – 38/39 (97%)
Gretel Tippett – 21/25 (84%)
Thunderbirds shooting statistics – 71/75 (95%)
Maria Folau – 35/38 (92%)
Sasha Glasgow – 36/37 (97%)
Firebirds starting seven: GS – Romelda Aiken, GA – Gretel Tippett, WA – Caitlyn Nevins, C – Jemma Mi Mi, WD – Gabi Simpson, GD – Kim Jenner, GK – Laura Clemesha
Thunderbirds starting seven: GS – Sasha Glasgow, GA – Maria Folau, WA – Chelsea Pitman, C – Kelly Altmann, WD – Shadine Van Der Merwe, GD – Kate Shimmin, GK – Shamera Sterling
Michael Bradley Photography