SSN R5: Firebirds Vs T’Birds
Firebirds win Battle of the Birdcage.
The Queensland Firebirds keep touch with the ladder leaders after defeating the Adelaide Thunderbirds 60-50 to close out Round 5 in Brisbane.
Gretel Bueta’s evolution from Super Netball excitement machine to bona fide leader was on show again in the Queensland Firebird’s gritty 60-50 defeat of the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
With outstanding Adelaide defender Shamera Sterling heaping the pressure on the Firebirds attack at Brisbane’s at Nissan Arena, the hosts needed a cool head to help them secure consecutive wins and tighten their grip on a top-four spot.
In their moment of need Bueta delivered as the Thunderbirds closed an 11-goal deficit to just one at the beginning of the last quarter.
Typically known for her athleticism and flying lay-ups, Bueta has added consistency to her game.
She was also a composed voice during timeouts, finishing with 26 goals at 92 per cent accuracy and two intercepts in a fine all-round performance.
“Our main goal was to get a win at home,” Bueta said.
“Our defenders did an exceptional job and we just finished it off for them.”
Firebirds ace Gabi Simpson had her best game of the season, leading the Queensland defenders to a shutdown of the Adelaide attack.
If ever there was a case for a losing player to take home a player of the match award it was Sterling.
She had 12 gains, including six intercepts, to underline her status as one of the world’s best defenders.
The Jamaican enjoyed a clear head-to-head victory against Queensland’s Donnell Wallam (34 points).
Wallam has so far enjoyed a seemingly effortless assimilation into Australia’s national league.
Over the first four rounds she scored freely but this game was her first experience of battle against a marquee international defender in Sterling.
Wallam’s 15 first-half goals was just behind the pace she has set so far this season, as she struggled to get above Sterling and grasp the ball.
Thankfully for the Firebirds former captain Simpson stepped up with relentless pressure on Thunderbirds playmaker Georgie Horjus and goal attack Bueta eased the scoring load on Wallam.
Firebirds goal keeper Eboni Usoro-Brown successfully negated Lenize Potgieter with nagging defence that tested the composure of the South African shooter.
Potgieter spent more energy appealing for penalties than she did presenting a strong attacking option.
For all their dominance the Firebirds left themselves needing a controlled final quarter to win.
Sterling’s dominance and a 17-10 third term advantage to the Thunderbirds ensured the visitors were well in the game at three-quarter time.
Match Report & Stats – Suncorp Super Netball