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 GIANTS NETBALL (66) DEFEAT QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS (65)

Kiera Austin celebrated an early birthday and teammate Caitlin Bassett had the final say as the GIANTS scored a thrilling 66-65 win against the Queensland Firebirds.It took Bassett’s last second matchwinner to separate the two sides at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena after Firebird Romelda Aiken (43/49) almost stole the game from the GIANTS’ grasp with a pair of two-point Suncorp Super Shots inside the final minute.

While Bassett’s prospects at the top level have been questioned, it seems only a matter of time before Austin makes an impact with the Australian Diamonds.

The only dilemma may be in what position after she scored six goals at 85 per cent accuracy on the eve of her 23rd birthday before swinging into wing attack where she was patient, creative and precise for the GIANTS.

“I prefer wherever I’m playing best and wherever the team needs me,” the multi-talented Austin said. “Gabi (Simpson) got the better of me last week, she’s so competitive, so I’ve just got to get rid of the ball quickly. This win really boosts our spirits being away from home.”

Bassett has averaged just 31 minutes per game this season and sat out the match in the GIANTS’ last-start loss to the Melbourne Vixens.

The Australian captain was again seated atop the courtside stationary bike as Jo Harten and Austin were preferred as starters against the Firebirds.

Bassett started shakily with a fumble but the rest of the team functioned more cohesively with the 32-year-old on the court.
When it counted in the dying minutes, Bassett delivered to help keep her side in the finals hunt with 37 points.

After being subdued by Firebird Mahalia Cassidy the last time the two sides met, Jamie-Lee Price had the better of her midcourt rival, with Cassidy replaced at centre as the GIANTS clawed back from four points down to draw level at halftime.

One constant for the Firebirds was the movement offered by goal attack Tippah Dwan.

Six months ago she was on the Firebirds’ fringe but has now emerged as one of the three-time champions’ most important players.
While quiet in the last term, Dwan’s 14 points and 24 feeds was another example of her exciting potential.

Score breakdown
Q1: GIANTS 13 v Firebirds 17
Q2: GIANTS 19 v Firebirds 15
Q3: GIANTS 15 v Firebirds 17
Q4: GIANTS 19 v Firebirds 16

Nissan Player of The Match – Kiera Austin (GIANTS Netball)

GIANTS shooting statistics
Jo Harten: Total points – 23 G1 19/20 (95%) G2 2/4 (50%)
Kiera Austin: Total points – 6 G1 6/7 (86%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Caitlin Bassett: Total points – 37 G1 37/43 (86%) G2 0/0 (0%)

FIrebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken: Total points – 47 G1 43/49 (88%) G2 2/2 (100%)
Tippah Dwan: Total points – 18 G1 10/11 (91%) G2 4/6 (67%)

GIANTS starting seven: GS – Jo Harten GA – Kiera Austin WA – Maddy Hay C – Jamie-Lee Price WD – Amy Parmenter GD – Kristiana Manu’a GK – Sam Poolman

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