Another loss was a stark reminder of how steep the learning curve is for the rebuilding Queensland Firebirds.
Back-to-back premiers in 2015 and 2016, the Firebirds remain winless for the season after being taught lessons in perseverance and execution in their 64-57 defeat to the NSW Swifts at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
The Firebirds battled hard but had no answer to the Swifts’ star goal attack Helen Housby, who ripped the game away from the hosts with 17 goals, including five from Suncorp Super Shot range.
The win further entrenched the Swifts in the top four, with Housby relieved they could rebound from last round’s loss to the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
“I was embarrassed by that performance against the Lightning,” Housby said. “It’s not the way I want to play and it’s not what I’m capable of.
“I want to be a leader out there on court and I want to be the one taking the (pressure) shot.”
The Firebirds have now won just one of their past 20 games but must keep faith with young generals Macy Gardner and Mahalia Cassidy, and goal attack Tippah Dwan who is showing more confidence with each game.
They should have had more to show for their efforts than a four-goal deficit midway through the second quarter.
Defenders Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe had reaped five gains from their pressure on the Swifts and Cassidy was the dominant figure in the midcourt.
But for a couple of fumbles at the attack end they would have at least been level.
The Firebirds’ failure to capitalise on their hustle coupled with the introduction of the Swifts’ English international, Nat Haythornthwaite, put the champions in the driving seat.
Wing attack Haythornthwaite’s crafty movement and vision made life easier for the Swifts’ shooters. The Swifts led by eight goals early in the third quarter before Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson played her part in their resurgence. Simpson and centre Gardner forced the Swifts into a string of substitutions through the midcourt.
Gardner’s 15 third-quarter feeds was more than the combined tally for the five midcourters used by NSW for the term. Romelda Aiken was one constant for the Firebirds, finishing with 37 goals at 82 per cent accuracy.
Q1: Firebirds 16 v Swifts 16
Q2: Firebirds 10 v Swifts 18
Q3: Firebirds 17 v Swifts 15
Q4: Firebirds 14 v Swifts 15
Nissan Player of The Match – Helen Housby (NSW Swifts)
Firbirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken: Total points – 37 G1 – 37/45 (82%) G2 – 0/0 (0%)
Tippah Dwan: Total points – 16 G1 – 8/9 (89%) G2 – 4/6 (67%)
Ine-Mari Venter: Total points – 4 G1- 0/0 (0%) G2 – 2/4 (50%)
Swifts shooting statistics
Sam Wallace: Total points – 41 G1 – 41/47 (87%) G2 – 0/0 (0%)
Helen Housby: Total points – 22 G1 – 12/16 (75%) G2 – 5/7 (71%)
Sophie Garbin: Total points – 1 G1 – 1/2 (50%) 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
Swifts starting seven: GS – Sam Wallace GA – Helen Housby WA – Maddy Proud C – Paige Hadley WD – Sophie Craig GD – Lauren Moore GK – Sarah Klau