For a second straight week – it’s heartbreak for the Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds, going down by one goal in the dying seconds.
The Vixens ended the Firebirds unbeaten record at home this season – upstaging Queensland 58-57 at the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre in Carrara.
The Firebirds looked in control and were in possession with 40 seconds remaining, before the Vixens stole the ball and capitalised to claim the lead and the match.
It’s third match this season the Firebirds have lost by one goal after defeats to the Lightning in Round 9 and the Swifts in Round 1.
Amy Sommerville replaced Jemma Mi Mi on the bench – who’s battling to overcome a foot injury, as coach Roselee Jencke kept an unchanged starting seven for a fourth straight week.
It proved a clinical start from both sides, as they went goal-for-goal until some excellent defensive pressure from Tara Hinchliffe forced the first turnover of the match.
Gretel Tippett capped it off with a trademark lay-up to open up an 11-9 lead midway through the first term, but the visitors were able to close that gap and lock it up at 16-16 at quarter time – denying either side a bonus point.
The Vixens were quick to capitalise in the second quarter – streaking out to a four goal lead, prompting Jencke to call a time-out and re-group her team.
Kim Jenner was brought on at Goal Defence replacing Tara Hinchliffe, as the Firebirds clawed back two-goals to trail 32-30 at halftime.
Costly turnovers hurt the home side in the third quarter and the Vixens took full advantage, going on a 7-2 run to extend their lead out to six goals.
Spurred on by the Gold Coast crowd, the Firebirds fought back – scoring six-straight goals, netted all by Romelda Aiken, to claim a thrilling bonus point with 13-12 quarter win.
Down by one heading into the final term, Queensland quickly fell four goals behind as the Vixens picked off the Firebirds attacking feeds.
That deficit soon became seven, though the Firebirds were far from finished and in front of 4251 passionate Queenslanders they roared to life.
Another six straight goals in the backend of the quarter had the home fans on the feet, as the Firebirds held a 55-52 lead with less than four minutes to play.
Queensland looked on track to secure victory, but the Vixens had other plans – locking up the scores at 57-57 inside the final minute, before pulling-off a match winning intercept to steal victory.
With NAIDOC Week officially getting underway tomorrow, the match formally kicked-off the Suncorp Super Netball’s inaugural Indigenous Round.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, “Because of her, we can”, made it a fitting time to acknowledge the wonderful role Indigenous women have played and continue to play in the great game of netball.
Along with the two team’s specially designed indigenous dresses, the match also had a traditional Welcome to Country, as well as various indigenous performances – including the playing of a didgeridoo and presentation of clapsticks to both teams from girls in Netball Queensland’s Diamond Spirit program.
Q1. Firebirds 16 – Vixens 16
Q2. Vixens 16 – Firebirds 14
Q3. Firebirds 13 – Vixens 12
Q4. Firebirds 14 – Vixens 14
Romelda Aiken: 38/47
Gretel Tippett: 19/20
Mwai Kumwenda: 29/32
Tegan Phillip: 29/35
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