The Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds have lost a thrilling fifth place playoff 42-41 against the NSW Swifts in their final hit out of the Suncorp #TeamGirls Cup.
The Firebirds turned out their best performance yet, building on the combinations made in their first three games of the tournament.
A three-nil lead from the Swifts silenced the home crowd early on, before a sneaky intercept from Gabi Simpson brought the Firebirds to life. Neither team was shying away from the physicality, the crowd audibly riding every contest.
Laura Clemesha was out hunting early, gaining two defensive steals that the Firebirds weren’t able to convert. Costly errors seeing them have to work back from a 13-7 deficit going into the second term.
The second quarter started well for the Birds, getting plenty of touches on the ball in defence, but the Swifts were equal to the task picking up some handy gains in the firebirds attack end.
Roselee Jencke called a tactical time-out just shy of the half time break and brought Maddie Hinchliffe into the contest at Centre, moving Mahalia Cassidy to Wing Attack.
Aside from a two-minute cameo in the Firebirds loss to the Lightning yesterday, Hinchliffe stepped up for her first run in the purple dress. Definitely not fazed by the occasion, she looked comfortable and composed ahead of her years. The combination was solid, and the Firebirds began to eat back into the margin.
The older of the twins Tara Hinchliffe wasn’t going to miss the action though, getting in great outside position to take two huge intercepts inside two minutes. The stage set for a grandstand finish in what has become the norm for the cross-border rivals.
Trailing 32-29 into the final ten minutes the fired-up Firebirds didn’t die wondering.
With the margin shrinking to two with seven minutes to go, the Swifts utilised their tactical time out. Returning to the court the Swifts composure under the mounting pressure and their execution on the shots helping them settle.
Despite a final gutsy run to the finish line, including an incredible deflection from Gabi Simpson to bring the margin to just one goal, the Firebirds just couldn’t quite get there.
The strong performance was acknowledged by the vocal home crowd, who got a glimpse of what a Firebirds outfit in full flight can achieve in 2019.
Although the Firebirds didn’t contest the grand final matchup, fans have plenty to be excited about with several of the new combinations that were put to the test over the weekend.
With just 50 days until the Suncorp Super Netball kicks off, the pre-season weekend has whet the appetite of fans, who turned out in big numbers to see all eight teams in action.
The Collingwood Magpies will go into the third year of the Super Netball Competition with a target on their back after dominating the tournament in Brisbane and beating the Melbourne Vixens 39-33 to take the inaugural #TeamGirls Cup.
Tickets for the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season go on sale this Thursday with the competition launching on 27 April.
Comments are closed.