The NSW Swifts have made a flying start to their Super Netball title defence after holding on for a thrilling come-from-behind 63-61 win over the Giants.

The defending champions recovered from a five-goal deficit at halftime to lead by eight with four minutes to play, before withstanding a late Giants run to win a historic NSW derby at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.

Both Sydney clubs were originally scheduled to open the pandemic-delayed 2020 season with a series of home games at the newly renovated Ken Rosewall Arena. But new border restrictions forced the Swifts and Giants to relocate north just days before the opening round.

The Giants led 33-28 at halftime courtesy of captain Jo Harten’s long-range accuracy, the England international proving the difference in a tight opening half by nailing 7-of-9 two-point Suncorp Super Shots.

But the Swifts surged to the lead with Sam Wallace inspiring a 21-13 third-quarter charge, the Trinidad and Tobago goaler closing the term with a pair of team-lifting super shots.

NSW appeared on track for a comfortable victory when Sophie Garbin combined with Helen Housby to extend their lead heading into the rebel Power Five period.

Fittingly, late drama also played out on the court as 18-year-old Sophie Dwyer landed two super shots for the Giants on her debut to set up a nail-biting finish.

But a Swifts timeout allowed coach Briony Akle to steady her squad as they held their nerve in the closing moments to maintain possession and close out the win.

Filling in for injured defender Maddy Turner, Nissan Player of the Match Lauren Moore starred for the Swifts alongside goal keeper Sarah Klau, while captain Maddy Proud made a successful comeback from a knee injury that saw her miss last season’s championship run.

Giants shooter Caitlin Bassett finished with 22 goals from 24 attempts after recovering from a pre-season knee injury to
take her place in the goal circle.

Former Collingwood Magpies defender April Brandley made her Giants debut in the third quarter, the Australian Diamond signing on to play after initially opting to sit out the season after becoming a new mother.

Score breakdown
Q1: Giants 17 v Swifts 17
Q2: Giants 16 v Swifts 11
Q3: Giants 13 v Swifts 21
Q4: Giants 15 v Swifts 14

Nissan Player of The Match – Lauren Moore (NSW Swifts)

Giants shooting statistics
Sophie Dwyer – G1 – 0/0 (0%) G2 – 2/2 (100%)
Jo Harten – G1 – 11/11 (100%) G2 – 9/13 (69%)
Caitlin Bassett – G1 – 22/24 (92%) G2 – 0/0 (0%)
Kiera Austin – G1 – 2/2 (100%) G2 – 2/3 (66%)

Swifts shooting statistics
Sophie Garbin – G1 – 11/13 (85%) G2 – 0/1 (0%)
Helen Housby – G1 – 8/9 (89%) G2 – 2/3 (66%)
Sam Wallace – G1 – 27/27 (100%) G2 – 6/13 (46%)

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

Swifts starting seven: GS – Sam Wallace GA – Helen Housby WA – Maddy Proud C – Paige Hadley WD – Sophie Craig GD – Lauren Moore GK – Sarah Klau