R4: Swifts Vs Thunderbirds
Swifts win a cliffhanger against the Thunderbirds.
The NSW Swifts have survived a furious late rally in a nail-biting 45-44 Suncorp Super Netball win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Netball SA Stadium.
Untidy and scrappy for the most part, the match reached a dramatic climax on Wednesday night when the reigning champions NSW Swifts, up by seven points, couldn’t register a score in the dying minutes.
Meanwhile, the Adelaide Thunderbirds went 6-0 with two Georgie Horjus super shots and two Lenize Potgieter regulation goals to close the gap to one goal.
Adelaide had one last chance to steal victory but were left heartbroken when wing attack Maisie Nankivell was called for contact with 40 seconds remaining when she collided with Allie Smith.
The contentious off-the-ball decision handed possession back to the Swifts, who played keepings off until the final siren sounded, which was drowned out by the boos of displeased Thunderbirds supporters.
“It was not pretty netball but our new motto is ‘find a way’, so we found a way somehow,” Swifts goal defence Maddy Turner said.
“We knew it was going to be a struggle
“They (Adelaide) definitely did well to come back at the end – we knew they were going to do that.”
The defensive work of Turner and the physical Sarah Klau was critical for the Swifts.
The Thunderbirds were also led by their defence, Jamaicans Shamera Sterling (eight gains, four rebounds) and Latanya Wilson (11 deflections) keeping NSW’s lead in relative check throughout.
A couple of late super shots from Helen Housby put the Swifts up 13-10 at the end of a turnover-plagued opening term and the standard actually dropped in the second with the two sides held to 10 goals each.
The visitors moved ahead 28-20 as Adelaide endured a goal drought of almost five minutes after the long break before the momentum changed again, a 7-1 Thunderbirds run sliced the Swifts’ advantage back to three at three-quarter-time.
Eighteen-year-old Sophie Fawns had her troubles with Sterling early but came alive in the fourth, scoring regularly and extending the Swifts’ lead before Adelaide’s late charge fell agonisingly short.
“I thought after the first 15 minutes this would be one of those games where you’ve just got to stick with the ugliness, grind it out,” Swifts coach Briony Akle said.
“I’m super proud they did it.”