The Queensland Firebirds have survived a dramatic late comeback to record a thrilling 54-53 victory over the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds recovered from nine goals down at halftime to hit the front with five minutes remaining on Sunday at Nissan Arena, leaving the home side in danger of another tough defeat following their heartbreaking midweek one-goal loss to the GIANTS.
But the Firebirds kept their cool in the closing moments with rookie goaler Tippah Dwan scoring the matchwinner as the Firebirds claimed their second victory of the season.
Both sides struggled to find their attacking flow in the fourth quarter, won 11-8 by the Thunderbirds, but key intercepts from captain Gabi Simpson and Kim Jenner helped deliver the Firebirds enough opportunities to win it at the death.
“That last two minutes was a complete blur,” defender Tara Hinchliffe said.
“We just had to have composure, that was our word for the game and I think it showed in that last 60 seconds of mayhem – I just didn’t want it down my end.”
The Firebirds remain in seventh spot but will head into Wednesday’s clash with West Coast Fever full of confidence having beaten the West Australian club in round six.
An uncharacteristic miss from Lenize Potgieter on her first goal attempt handed the Firebirds an opportunity to gain the early advantage and they capitalised with a near faultless display, committing just two turnovers to stun the Thunderbirds with a 20-12 opening quarter.
The Thunderbirds looked more composed at the start of the second period but fortune appeared to be favouring the Firebirds when midcourter Mahalia Cassidy’s lofted circle feed dropped through the goal, allowing Romelda Aiken to collect the live ball unopposed to score.
Georgie Horjus continued to shine for the Thunderbirds with a pair of Suncorp Super Shots during the rebel Power 5 but it was not enough to prevent the Firebirds edging further ahead with a 34-25 halftime lead.
The visitors made their move in the third quarter with six of the first eight goals, Maisie Nankivell starring from wing defence with three intercepts as the Firebirds’ lead dwindled down to two.
But Dwan held her nerve to sink a Suncorp Super Shot after the siren to leave the match delicately poised at 46-42 heading into the final quarter.
The Thunderbirds clawed their way into the lead as the match ticked into the final rebel Power 5 period but a series of errors proved costly, none more so than Nankivell handing possession to the Firebirds after placing the ball on the court on her free pass.
The mistake allowed the Firebirds to swoop on the ball with Aiken going on to level the scores with 90 seconds to play.
The loss leaves the Thunderbirds in sixth spot with a crucial clash with the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Brisbane on Wednesday before they return to Adelaide to host three games.
Q1: Firebirds 20 v Thunderbirds 12
Q2: Firebirds 14 v Thunderbirds 13
Q3: Firebirds 12 v Thunderbirds 17
Q4: Firebirds 8 v Thunderbirds 11
Nissan Player of The Match – Tara Hinchcliffe (Queensland Firebirds)
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken: Total points – 40 G1 40/44 (91%)
Tippah Dwan: Total points – 14 G1 10/11 (91%) G2 2/5 (40%)
Thunderbirds shooting statistics
Sasha Glasgow: Total points – 21 G1 21/25 (84%) G2 0/1 (0%)
Georgie Horjus: Total points – 27 G1 19/22 (86%) G2 4/8 (50%)
Lenize Potgieter: Total points – 5 G1 5/6 (83%)
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
Thunderbirds starting seven: GS – Lenize Potgieter GA – Georgie Horjus WA – Chelsea Pitman C – Maisie Nankivell WD – Shadine van der Merwe GD – Layla Guscoth GK – Shamera Sterling