A passionate and improved Adelaide Thunderbirds outfit has earned their first bonus points of the season and came close to victory in their Round 6 game against NSW Swifts.
The T-Birds won the third and fourth quarter bonus points – scoring 12 vs 9 and 12 vs 11, respectively. The final score was Adelaide Thunderbirds – 49, NSW Swifts – 51.
It was a slow start for the Adelaide Thunderbirds with the home team in front by six goals early in the first quarter. However, a determined fight back by the T-Birds saw them score seven goals in a row. Agonisingly for the T-Birds, a turnover in their goal third in the dying seconds of the first quarter, saw them just fall short of earning the bonus point with NSW Swifts in front, 15-14.
Once again, the Swifts were fast off the blocks extending their lead to four goals early in the second quarter. The score at half-time was 31-25.
Adelaide Thunderbirds Head Coach Dan Ryan said at the major break he reinforced the positive aspects of his team’s performance.
“We knew at half-time we were only three turnovers from getting back into the contest. We continued to grind it out, chip away, keep the confidence in each other and the connections strong, and in the second half we put ourselves in a position where we could have won,” he said.
Ryan made one change at half-time with Sasha Glasgow moved in to GA and Abigail Latu-Meafou subbed.
Early in the third quarter, NSW Swifts extended their lead to seven goals, but again the T-Birds mounted a comeback and scored the next five goals.
Leana de Bruin was forced off the court with the blood rule. Fiona Fowler switched to GD and Hannah Petty was brought on into WD.
Again, the Swifts pulled away to lead by five goals, but beautiful work in defence by Kate Shimmin saw the Adelaide Thunderbirds close the gap with the score 40-37 at three-quarter time.
The last quarter was a thrilling contest and the Adelaide Thunderbirds put themselves in a position to win, with scores equal at times during the last quarter.
Speaking after the game, Ryan said there was great contribution from all his players, in particular his defenders de Bruin, Fowler and Shimmin.
“Across the court we had contributors all over the place, but our defence had persistence today to keep working hard and create opportunities for the forward line, and that was outstanding,” he said.
“Sometimes there were players that fell off the pace momentarily, but they really got themselves back into the game, which was crucial.”
For the goalers, Ryan said Latu-Meafou opened nicely for the team.
“Abi is used to coming off the bench and impacting the game, but she did a really great job in preparing to start knowing that Charlee would be out,” he said.
“In the second half we needed some fresh legs and movement in attack and Sasha did that beautifully.
“She put some great volume into Shimona, gave Chelsea support in transition and in the last quarter started to sink some crucial goals. It was great to see her back on the court and no doubt she will take confidence out of that.”
Looking forward, Ryan said he believes growth and improvement will continue if the team keeps focussing on their theme of pressure in defence and possession in attack.
“We can also start to fine tune what we do in critical moments and put ourselves in those situations more often in training because now we know we’re capable of getting there.”
The Adelaide Thunderbirds have a bye next weekend, with their next game at Priceline Stadium on Sunday June 17 against the Queensland Firebirds. Tickets on sale now.
Adelaide Thunderbirds shooting statistics
Shimona Nelson 33/39
Abigail Latu-Meafou 12/14
Sasha Glasgow 4/8
NSW Swifts shooting statistics
Sam Wallace 30/34
Helen Housby 15/20
Sophie Garbin 6/9
Adelaide Thunderbirds starting seven
GS: Shimona Nelson, GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou, WA: Chelsea Pitman, C: Kaitlyn Bryce, WD: Fiona Fowler, GD: Leana de Bruin, GK: Kate Shimmin
NSW Swifts starting seven
GS: Sam Wallace, GA: Helen Housby, WA: Paige Hadley, C: Maddy Proud, WD: Abbey McCulloch, GD: Maddy Turner, GK: Sarah Klau