The Adelaide Thunderbirds have held off a gallant Queensland Firebirds team to secure a 54-goals to 51 win at Priceline Stadium, their second victory of the 2019 season.
It was a hotly contested game from start to finish, with both teams playing a fast and physical brand of netball throughout.
Gretel Tippett, who finished the game with 27-goals from 28 shots, became the first Australian player to shoot 100 straight goals in a national league competition when she put in her first goal of the game.
The air was sucked out of Priceline Stadium when Firebirds centre Mahalia Cassidy went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the early stages of the first quarter.
But the game had to go on and it was the Thunderbirds who jumped out of the gates early, taking a 15 to 13 goal lead into the quarter time break and securing their first bonus point since round one.
The Adelaide fans will be thrilled with what their seeing from shooting duo Maria Folau and Sasha Glasgow, who scored 26 and 28-goals respectively for the game. The pair were the difference, with Folau’s long range shooting and Glasgow’s clever movement stretching and frustrating the Firebirds defence.
The intensity of the game went to another level in the second half, as both teams threw their bodies into every contest.
It was a frustrating third quarter for the Firebirds who couldn’t make any in-roads into the Thunderbirds 5-goal half time lead, as it went goal for goal for much of the quarter.
Despite the loss, Firebirds fans will be excited with what they saw from young shooter Abigail Latu-Meafou who was brought into the team to replace the injured Romelda Aiken. She ended the game with 18-goals from 22-shots and her movement in the attacking circle was vital as the Firebirds desperately tried to reel in the Thunderbirds in the second half.
Adelaide came into the final quarter with a handy seven goal lead, but that quickly disappeared when Queensland burst out of the huddle and scored eight straight goals to start the quarter and take the lead.
The Firebirds were led by their inspirational leader Gabi Simpson, who found another gear in the last quarter, tearing Adelaide apart with her sharp movements, cutting passes and massive defensive plays.
But the Thunderbirds were able to steady late, thanks to some amazing work from Shamera Sterling and the cool head of Nissan Player of the Game Chelsea Pitman the middle, coming away with hard fought three goal win.
The Thunderbirds will try to make it two straight when they take on the GIANTS next Sunday in Sydney. While the Firebirds will be back at QSNC to go head-to-head with the Fever, fresh off their first win of 2019.
Q1: Thunderbirds 15 v Firebirds 13
Q2: Thunderbirds 16 v Firebirds 13
Q3: Thunderbirds 13 v Firebirds 11
Q4: Thunderbirds 10 v Firebirds 14
Suncorp Super Netball Premiership Points
Thunderbirds – 7
Firebirds – 1
Nissan Player of the Match – Chelsea Pitman (Thunderbirds)
Thunderbirds shooting statistics
Sasha Glasgow – 28/32 (87.5%)
Maria Folau – 26/34 (76.5%)
Firebirds shooting statistics
Amy Sommerville – 6/10 (60%)
Gretel Tippett – 27/28 (96.4%)
Abigail Latu-Meafou – 18/22 (81.8%)
Thunderbirds starting seven:
GS – Sasha Glasgow, GA – Maria Folau, WA – Chelsea Pitman, C – Kelly Altmann, WD – Maisie Nankivell, GD – Layla Guscoth, GK – Shamera Sterling
Firebirds starting seven:
GS – Amy Sommerville, GA – Gretel Tippett, WA – Caitlyn Nevins, C – Mahalia Cassidy, WD – Gabi Simpson, GD – Tara Hinchliffe, GK – Laura Clemesha
Match report source: Suncorp Super Netball