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SSN R9: Swifts V Thunderbirds

Swifts finals hope still alive
A dominant display in defence by Sarah Klau has led the NSW Swift’s to a 54-40 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Ken Rosewall Arena

Sarah Klau has planted a marker for Commonwealth Games selection with a match-winning performance in the NSW Swifts’ 54-40 victory against the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Ken Rosewall Arena.

The Swifts are now one of four teams on 16 premiership points who are fighting for the last two spots in the finals behind pacesetters West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens.

They can thank Klau who rose above an otherwise messy contest with the Thunderbirds who are well off finals pace.

Klau has served as an understudy to Diamonds goalkeeper Courtney Bruce for the past few years.

Bruce will now be looking over her shoulder at the former South Australian who stood over Thunderbirds shooters Lenize Potgieter and Tippah Dwan.

That she managed seven intercepts and seven deflections while only conceding five penalties would have commanded attention from Australia coach Stacey Marinkovich.

“We came into this game with a lot of confidence from last week,” Klau said.

“We wanted to keep that standard and I’m really proud of the girls for that performance today.”

Co-captain Maddy Proud had another mighty performance at centre while teenager Sophie Fawns (17 points) was a livewire off the bench in support of Helen Housby (31).

Centre Tayla Williams enjoyed her best game for the Thunderbirds who were too wasteful with the ball to be a genuine threat.

Spare a moment for the shooters.

Their degree of difficulty soared due to the stationing of Diamonds defensive pair Klau and Maddy Turner at one end of the court, and the Thunderbirds’ Jamaican connection, Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson, at the other.

Their pressure weighed heavily on the goalers, with Swifts target Housby taking most of the first half to shift her accuracy needle above 50 per cent.

Klau owned the court, and her five first-half gains should have been rewarded with greater respect for possession by her teammates.

When she wasn’t taking intercepts, her pressure forced the Thunderbirds into error.

The same could be said of Wilson whose teammates squandered most of her six first-half gains.

Wilson’s athleticism and aerial prowess caused headaches for the Swifts but her influence waned after being slapped with a caution from the umpires in the third quarter following a series of careless challenges.

Match Report and Stats: Suncorp Super Netball

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