The NSW Swifts’ premiership temperament was tested by a most unlikely examiner in the side’s 69-54 win at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
Last-placed Collingwood Magpies forced the second-placed Swifts to draw on all their experience, composure and depth against their injury-ravaged opponents who are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.
Coach Briony Akle’s Swifts always had control but the Magpies didn’t care.
They scrapped and asked questions that demanded some searching from the defending champions.
Shooter Sam Wallace (47 points) and goal attack Sophie Garbin absorbed some physical punishment while tough midcourter Maddy Proud climbed off the floor repeatedly after a night packed with collisions on her way to 15 goal assists and 30 feeds.
Garbin rolled her ankle in the last quarter, prompting Akle to use all her 12 available players.
“We’re really trying to get rid of the idea of a starting seven,” Proud said.”Briony’s been really clear making it known that you’ve got a role to play whether you’re on court for three minutes or 60 minutes.”
“Everyone’s really bought into that. This season’s not going to be won with just seven players. We’re lucky we have great depth and Briony has faith in every single one of us.”
The unavailability of Helen Housby underlined the second-placed Swifts’ depth.
In came premiership-winning goaler Garbin, while there was still no room in the starting line for Proud or Maddy Turner.
It was the sort of depth the Magpies could only dream of following a season-ending knee injury to Kelsey Browne and what they hope is the short-term absence of her sister Madi Browne.
So stretched was the Magpies’ roster it pitched Molly Jovic, in just her first season in the national league, into the senior midcourt role.
With a little more help Jovic could be something. If she wasn’t the fastest player, she was certainly the busiest on court.
Her zip, and the fight from Geva Mentor, were sources of strength for Collingwood.
Q1: Magpies 13 v Swifts 20
Q2: Magpies 14 v Swifts 16
Q3: Magpies 15 v Swifts 12
Q4: Magpies 12 v Swifts 21
Nissan Player of The Match – Maddy Proud (NSW Swifts)
Magpies shooting statistics
Shimona Nelson: Total points – 18 G1 16/16 (100%) G2 1/1 (100%)
Gabby Sinclair: Total points – 11 G1 5/7 (71%) G2 3/6 (50%)
Nyah Allen: Total points – 5 G1 1/1 (100%) G2 2/5 (40%)
Emma Ryde: Total points – 21 G1 21/25 (84%) G2 0/0 (0%)
Swifts shooting statistics
Sam Wallace: Total points – 49 G1 45/48 (94%) G2 2/3 (67%)
Sophia Garbin: Total points – 9 G1 7/12 (58%) G2 1/1 (100%)
Kelly Singleton: Total points – 11 G1 7/11 (64%) G2 2/2 (100%)
Magpies starting seven: GS – Shimona Nelson GA – Gabby Sinclair WA – Kelly Altmann C – Molly Jovic WD – Mel Bragg GD – Jodi-Ann Ward GK – Geva Mentor
Swifts starting seven: GS – Sam Wallace GA – Sophie Garbin WA – Nat Haythornthwaite C – Paige Hadley WD – Sophie Craig GD – Lauren Moore GK – Sarah Klau