The laser-accurate shooting of Shimona Nelson has helped the Collingwood Magpies to a maiden win for the season in their third round clash at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
Home team the Queensland Firebirds led for three quarters but stumbled under pressure as the Magpies’ 58-54 win ensured their hosts remain the only winless club after a packed opening fortnight of the season.
Jamaican international Nelson was under enormous pressure from outstanding Firebirds defender Kim Jenner and answered with 42 goals from 45 attempts.
More importantly, it was her teammates who calmly found safer avenues into the goal circle.
Molly Jovic, signed from the second-tier Australian Netball League last year, was one of the Magpies feeders who gradually wrestled back control of the game in the final term.
“It was a real grind but to get that win was amazing,” Jovic said.
It was an opportunity missed for the young Firebirds for whom a scrappy win would have provided an enormous confidence boost.
Romelda Aiken’s 37 goals were a highlight but they have not yet found a reliable replacement for Australian goal attack Gretel Bueta who is on maternity leave.
Hesitant feeding from both sides brought the defenders into the spotlight early in the game.
Jenner was rewarded for her adventurous spirit with six first-half possession gains, including three dazzling intercepts in the closing minutes of the second quarter.
She finished the game with eight gains.
The hard-won possession was treasured by centre Mahalia Cassidy in what was a breakout game for the 24-year-old.
After enduring two knee reconstructions in her first four seasons, many netball followers wondered if she could fulfil her exciting potential.
But the young general controlled the centre-third against a Collingwood midcourt led by Madi and Kelsey Browne.
Pressure and desperation tightened their fingers around each team in a third quarter dotted with forced turnovers.
The Firebirds’ seven-goal lead was chewed up by a Magpies outfit that was inspired by shooter Nelson.
Nelson’s perfect 12 from 12 for the quarter energised Collingwood at the final change.
Q1: Firebirds 17 v Magpies 14
Q2: Firebirds 15 v Magpies 14
Q3: Firebirds 13 v Magpies 15
Q4: Firebirds 9 v Magpies 15
Nissan Player of The Match – Molly Jovic (Collingwood Magpies)
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiklen: Total points – 37 G1 – 37/42 (88%)
Tippah Dwan: Total points – 14 G1 – 12/13 (92%) G2 – 1/3 (33%)
Ine-Mari Venter: Total points – 3 G1 – 1/1 (100%) G2 – 1/3 (33%)
Magpies shooting statistics
Shimona Nelson: Total points – 42 G1 – 42/45 (93%) G2 – 0/0 (0%)
Gabby Sinclair: Total points – 12 G1 – 2/6 (33%) G2 – 5/6 (83%)
Nyah Allen: Total points – 4 G1 – 4/4 (100%) G2 – 0/1 (0%)
Firebirds starting seven: GS – Romelda Aiken GA – Tippah Dwan WA – Jemma Mi Mi C – Mahalia Cassidy WD – Gabi Simpson GD – Kim Jenner GK – Tara Hinchliffe
Magpies starting seven: GS – Shimona Nelson GA – Gabby Sinclair WA – Kelsey Browne C – Madi Browne WD – Molly Jovic GD – Jodi-Ann Ward GK – Geva Mentor