SSN R9: Magpies Vs Firebirds
Magpies take victory despite Bueta’s big dayQueensland Firebirds were unable to deliver Gretel Bueta a win in her milestone match as Collingwood’s shooting proves the difference once again, winning 71-67 at Tasmania’s MyState Bank Arena.
Firebirds star Bueta fought back in the second half of her 100th national league game but it was not enough to prevent the Magpies seizing a major scalp and joining the Queenslanders in finals contention on four wins from 10 matches.
The sixth-placed Magpies almost squandered a 14-goal second-half advantage when the Firebirds chased hard in the closing minutes.
After being dominated early by Jodi-Ann Ward, Bueta found her range and benefitted from some brave and accurate feeds from her midcourt.
The great escape was on target when they trailed by just two, but a desperate possession gain from Magpies centre Molly Jovic helped her team steady.
Ward laid the platform with her pressure on Bueta, Shimona Nelson shot 65 goals from 66 attempts and Kelsey Browne (34 feeds) was too quick and decisive for the Firebirds.
“This has been a long time coming,” Browne said.
“It been a huge turning point over the last three weeks.
There’s been a lot of hard conversations and everyone’s starting to take responsibility for their own performance.”
Bueta eventually wriggled free from Ward’s grasp to shoot 23 goals, including three from two-point super shot range.
The Firebirds could also have done with more of the tenacity shown by defender Ruby Bakewell-Doran who kept her side in the hunt when they were struggling in opening minutes.
The Magpies clearly had the better of the first half.
Queensland’s attack end has been expertly led by Bueta and Lara Dunkley this season yet they struggled to pierce Collingwood’s circle defence.
With Ash Brazill and Ward in control, the Firebirds’ feeders were forced into low percentage passes.
Jemma Mi Mi replaced Dunkley at wing attack before halftime as Firebirds coach Megan Anderson sought more dynamic and confident movement from her attackers.
The Firebirds’ top-four standing looked in serious peril as early as the opening minutes of the third term when Nelson sank her 41st goal to drive the Magpies out to a 44-32 lead.
Collingwood forged ahead by as many as 14 points before the Firebirds clawed back to trail by six and set the stage for a tense last quarter.