Firebirds hold off Giants to keep finals hopes alive
THE Giants nearly pulled off an unbelievable comeback over Queensland Firebirds, clawing back a what was at times a nine-goal lead to go down by just 56-53 at home on Friday night.
The Firebirds' defenders were forced to work overtime during the final quarter to hold off the fast-finishing Giants and maintain the lead they held for the entire match.
A last-ditch effort by the home side of moving Susan Pettitt to wing attack and bringing into shooter the tall target of Kristina Brice - who hadn't taken the court for a number of weeks - for the final quarter sparked the Giants' run, but it wasn't enough to get them home.
The vocal crowd did their best to cheer their team home, but the Firebirds held firm in a physical and fast-paced encounter.
An inspirational performance by Queensland captain and wing defence Gabi Simpson, who was player of the match, had the Giants struggling to feed the ball into their shooters for most of the game.
And the Firebirds' tall attacking pair of Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett kept their team in front with excellent positioning under the goal. The defending duo of Sam Poolman and Bec Bulley weren't able to rattle the Queenslanders with their physical game.
The Firebirds may be reliant on results falling their way to make the Super Netball finals but their win surprise win over Giants gives them every chance of being there in two weeks' time should Collingwood falter.
Queensland took every chance from the outset and held a slight advantage at the first break, up 17-15 and a blitzing second quarter set the platform for the win. They outscored the home team 14-9 that set up a seven-goal lead and had the Giants scrambling to get back in the match.
The Giants pulled things back throughout the second half, winning the third quarter 13-12 and the fourth 16-13 but they left their run too late with the Firebirds able to run down the clock to the final goal with a two-goal lead and a minute left in the match.
Giants will now have to wait on the results of the Melbourne Vixens and Adelaide Thunderbirds to know if they'll keep top spot on the ladder.