The Queensland Firebirds remain in the semi-final race after surviving a late scare from the Adelaide Thunderbirds to claim a thrilling 61-59 victory on Wednesday.The two big improvers of the competition battled it out at Priceline Arena in a physical contest that went down to the wire – Adelaide coming back from 13 goals down to trail by one in the final minute.
But the Firebirds held on in a frantic finish where they controlled possession for the last 50 seconds, Romelda Aiken adding the final goal as time expired to secure back-to-back wins for the Queenslanders.
“It was a tight one so it was great that the girls were able to play (the ball) around and play it really smart at the end,” defender Kim Jenner said after the win.
“We just played our game, making sure we were sticking to what we wanted to do and keep playing the ball forward.”
The Firebirds sit behind the fifth-placed Giants on percentage and still have an outside chance of stealing fourth spot should they win their final three games and other results go their way.
Playing outside of their home state for the first time this season, Queensland made the perfect start in enemy territory by scoring eight of the first nine goals.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure by earning 59 per cent of the possession in the first half, thanks to a 16-8 edge in turnovers with 10 gains and eight intercepts.
The Firebirds enjoyed a 29-16 lead in the second quarter but the long-range shooting of Georgie Horjus kept the Thunderbirds in the contest, three Suncorp Super Shots helping reduce Queensland’s lead to 35-28 at halftime.
Down by 10 goals midway through the third period, Adelaide responded again as Lenize Potgieter inspired an eight-goal burst to set up a dramatic final quarter.
But the Firebirds would not be denied at the finish, Aiken ending with 45 goals while rising star Tippah Dwan produced another match-winning performance.
While Adelaide can take plenty of positives from their effort, the loss means they need the West Coast Fever to lose their final three games to have any hope of featuring in the semi-finals.
Q1: Thunderbirds 11 v Firebirds 17
Q2: Thunderbirds 17 v Firebirds 18
Q3: Thunderbirds 14 v Firebirds 11
Q4: Thunderbirds 17 v Firebirds 15
Nissan Player of The Match – Kim Jenner (Queensland Firebirds)
Thunderbirds shooting statistics
Georgie Horjus: Total points – 24 G1 10/11 (91%) G2 7/10 (70%)
Lenize Potgieter: Total points – 35 G1 31/33 (94%) G2 2/4 (50%)
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken: Total points – 45 G1 45/52 (87%)
Tippah Dwan: Total points – 16 G1 14/15 (93%) G2 1/6 (17%)
Thunderbirds starting seven: GS – Lenize Potgieter GA – Georgie Horjus WA – Chelsea Pitman C – Hannah Petty WD – Maisie Nankivell GD – Layla Guscoth GK – Shamera Sterling
Firebirds starting seven: GS – Romelda Aiken GA – Tippah Dwan WA – Lara Dunkley C – Mahalia Cassidy WD – Gabi Simpson GD – Kim Jenner GK – Tara Hinchliffe