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QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS (61) DRAW WITH GIANTS NETBALL (61)

Kim Jenner and Kiera Austin have added extra sparkle to their already soaring potential as Queensland Firebirds and the GIANTS Netball fought out a thrilling 61-61 draw at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.

Firebirds defender Jenner was outstanding with six gains and four intercepts while Austin was brilliant in attack for the fifth-placed GIANTS.

The draw was at least something to show for the Firebirds who collected their first competition points for the season but are still chasing a win. The GIANTS led 47-44 at three-quarter time after Austin’s move from wing to goal attack hauled her side out of a dark patch midway through the game.

Her five third-quarter goals, including three from long range, were pivotal and the Diamonds squad member showed genuine court craft when the game was on the line in the last term.

“It’s probably a game where we should have started a bit stronger,” Austin said. “It’s disappointing (to draw) in the rounds because you want that win but I would have liked to play a few more minutes to seal the deal. I think we had it in us.”

Firebirds Romelda Aiken almost inspired her team to a maiden win this year with 49 goals at 89 per cent accuracy.

In a dynamic final term each side threatened to secure the result as Austin (13/15) and the Firebirds’ Tippah Dwan exchanged Suncorp Super Shots.

Ultimately it was defensive scramble from each side that denied a clear winner.

“It’s very disappointing we couldn’t cement it there at the end,” Jenner said. “We 100 per cent could have taken that win but there’s so many positive to come out.”

Even in these times of congested fixtures and rolling substitutes it was unusual to see GIANTS star Jo Harten sent to the bench in the second quarter.

That change created a national league debut for highly-rated youngster Matisse Letherbarrow but it was also a reflection of the influence Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe were having for the Firebirds.

The defensive pair bravely hunted ball, generating five possession games between them as the Firebirds fought back from four goals down to lead 31-29 at halftime. The first draw of the season will make the occasion memorable for GIANTS defender April Brandley – playing her 100th game after almost a decade in the national league at five clubs.

Score breakdown
Q1: Firebirds 14 v GIANTS 18
Q2: Firebirds 17 v GIANTS 11
Q3: Firebirds 13 v GIANTS 18
Q4: Firebirds 17 v GIANTS 14

Nissan Player of The Match – Kim Jenner (Queensland Firebirds)

Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken: Total points – 49 G1 – 49/57 (86%) G2 – 0/0 (0%)
Tippah Dwan: Total points – 10 G1 – 4/5 (80%) G2 – 3/5 (60%)
Ine-Mari Venter: Total points – 2 G1 – 2/2 (100%) G2 – 0/2 (0%)

GIANTS shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett: Total points – 25 G1 – 25/29 (86%) G2 – 0/0 (0%)
Jo Harten: Total points – 16 G1 – 6/7 (87%) G2 – 5/11 (45%)
Kiera Austin: Total points – 17 G1 – 9/9 (100%) G2 – 4/6 (67%)
Matisse Letherbarrow: Total points – 3 G1 – 3/4 (75%) G2 – 0/0 (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

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