Swifts stay alive in Super Netball season

·2-min read

The NSW Swifts' Super Netball title defence hangs by a thread after they overcame a second-quarter slumber and the absence of their coach to narrowly defeat the Queensland Firebirds 63-61 in a virtual mini-elimination final at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Both sides entered Sunday's match sitting just outside the top four with identical 5-8 records and needing victory to stay alive.

The Swifts, minus coach Briony Akle, defender Teigan O'Shannassy and midcourter Tayla Fraser because of COVID-19, showed tremendous grit to secure the points and end the Firebirds' campaign, but the margin was not quite enough to dislodge the Collingwood Magpies from fourth spot.

The reigning champions (6-8, 97.4 percentage) will need the top-ranked Melbourne Vixens to not only beat Collingwood (6-7, 97.6 percentage) in the Queen's Birthday public holiday clash, but do so by a margin of five or more goals.

"I'm just so proud of every one of the girls," said star co-captain Maddy Proud, who was instrumental in the triumph, racking up 47 feeds and 31 assists.

"It's taken till round 14 but I feel like we're hitting our straps and I just hope to god this isn't the last game we play this year."

As for Monday's blockbuster at John Cain Arena, Proud isn't sure she can bear to watch.

"I'm so torn," she said.

"Part of me just wants to fall asleep, wake up and find out what the result is.

"It's going to be a pretty nerve-wracking day tomorrow.

"At least we've done what we had to do today ... go Vixens!"

Proud's Swifts were blistering early, catapulting to a 7-0 lead as Queensland coach Megan Anderson was forced to burn an early time-out.

The turnover-riddled Firebirds started taking better care of the ball and limited the margin to 17-14 at quarter-time before seizing control in the second term.

Lara Dunkley replaced the struggling Jemma Mi Mi at wing attack, Ruby Bakewell-Doran was in everything defensively and shooters Donnell Wallam and Gretel Bueta came alive, Queensland moving ahead by six.

A squall of Queensland turnovers, a missed sitter from Wallam and a burst of Swifts super shots late in the third period saw NSW regain control and the lead, which they clung onto in the exciting fourth-quarter wash-up.

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