It was a close-run thing but GIANTS Netball have announced their arrival on the Australian sporting landscape in winning fashion with a 58-53 win over State rivals the NSW Swifts.
In a pulsating opening to the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball competition, both sides left everything out on court with the GIANTS producing an epic fourth quarter to see them home after the sides had been level at both the second and third quarter breaks.
The GIANTS won the final period of play by five goals, but it was only in the final minute that the result looked safe.
NSW Swifts GA Helen Housby had the honour of scoring the first ever goal in competition history, and with Trinidad & Tobago import Sam Wallace working well alongside her, the Swifts had a potent attacking end that kept the GIANTS defence on their toes all night.
However, it was vital turnovers that steered the contest in the hosts’ favour as the GIANTS took home the Carole Sykes Memorial Trophy – a new Cup which will be contested every time the GIANTS and Swifts clash.
It was also an extra-special night for starting GIANTS GA Susan Pettitt who celebrated 200 National Netball League games, as well as her teammates Jo Harten, who registered the first ever GIANTS Netball goal, and Kimberlee Green, whose leadership helped the team get over the line.
“I think there were nerves in the camp all week and it took us a while to settle into the game,” Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald said afterwards.
“When we did settle we had chances that we just didn’t take.”
In the end Fitzgerald was happy with the team leadership, who stood up when the pressure was at its most intense. She also praised Kristina Brice who provided a strong target for the GIANTS feeders.
“We were struggling to get the ball into the circle and we reacted to the game situation by bringing Kristina on, which allowed Jo to be able and fit in well at goal attack.
“At the end of the day I think we kept level heads and that was able to get us over the line on what was a wonderful night for everyone involved with the Club.”
Captain Kim Green echoed the sentiments of her Head Coach.
“I’m delighted we managed to grind out that win tonight, we knew that the Swifts would be very hard to beat and that’s how it proved to be,” she said.
“I think we only really managed to play for one full quarter tonight and that’s frustrating, but it gives us plenty to work on and we can’t wait to get out on court again next week.
“It was also amazing to play in front of the amazing GIANTS Netball supporters for the first time, it was a Sea of Orange when we got out on court and the noise they made really helped us in the end.”
GIANTS: GS Jo Harten, GA Susan Pettitt, WA Kim Green (C), C Serena Guthrie, WD Jamie-Lee Price, GD Bec Bulley, GK Sam Poolman.
SWIFTS: GS Sam Wallace, GA Helen Housby, WA Paige Hadley (VC), C Maddy Proud, WD Abbey McCulloch (C), GD Maddy Turner, GK Sarah Klau
GIANTS: Q3: K Brice to GS, J Harten to GA
QUARTER BY QUARTER SCORES
GIANTS: Q1: 10, Q2: 27 (17), Q3: 42 (15), Q4: 58 (16)
SWIFTS: Q2: 13, Q2: 27 (14), Q4: 42 (15), Q4: 53 (11)
GIANTS: 58/62 @ 94%
J Harten: 27/28 @ 96%
S Pettitt: 11/12 @ 92%
K Brice: 20/22 @ 92%
SWIFTS: 53/59 @ 90%
S Wallace: 34/37 @ 92%
H Housby: 19/22 @ 86%