GIANTS Netball produced a comeback for ages to give Julie Fitzgerald her 200th first class win as a Head Coach on Saturday night, downing local rivals the NSW Swifts 59-56 with an epic fourth quarter display to register their sixth victory of the Suncorp Super Netball season.
Fitzgerald’s troops, who remain on top of the competition ladder with the win, were led to their success by an inspired shooting performance by attacking pair Susan Pettitt and Jo Harten, who shot at 96 and 95 per cent respectively. The duo led the charge as the GIANTS overturned a big deficit to retain the Carole Sykes Trophy* and bragging rights in the NSW derby.
“I was very pleased with how the team managed to turn the result in their favour in the end,” Fitzgerald said afterwards.
“I think it takes great character to come back like that and the team had to show real trust in each other win through in the end.
“That was a really high quality match and the Swifts pushed us all the way. I think it is wonderful that NSW has two such quality teams in the state and it is wonderful for netball here.”
The GIANTS had the better of the opening exchanges with the visitors finding an easier route to the post than their hosts.
Pettitt shot well in the first five minutes to account for the bulk of the GIANTS’ goals, while in defence Sam Poolman and Bec Bulley harried the Swifts attack into errors.
A 7-3 lead was good return for the GIANTS after five minutes but it wasn’t long before the Swifts found their groove.
Better midcourt work was key to that and midway through the first quarter they were back on level terms, goal shooter Sam Wallace landing shots from range before putting her side in front for the first time.
The Swifts kept the pressure up and at the first break they took a 16-13 lead to the benches.
Stand-in skipper Harten was the target for the GIANTS early in the second quarter and she landed five in a row to get her side back in front early in the period. The Swifts weren’t rocked by that, however, and regained composure to match their opponents goal for goal in minutes following and with five to go to halftime the sides were tied 25-25.
A Harten double had the GIANTS two clear again but Wallace and fellow Swifts attacker Helen Housby were keeping their side in hot pursuit. Wallace had the Swifts level 20 seconds out from the big break and was there to receive the resulting centre pass and put her side one up at halftime.
The GIANTS briefly regained the lead early in the third quarter thanks to yet another Harten double but intercepts by Swifts goalkeeper Sarah Klau cost them the chance of pressing that advantage. At the other end Wallace was converting everything coming her way and before long the Swifts had a four-goal lead.
Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald introduced GIANT No.11 Sarah Wall into the team five minutes into the period. By that stage the teams were trading scores but the GIANTS were finding it hard to break the four and three-goal buffers the Swifts had built up. By the last break the margin was four and the GIANTS needed a big fourth quarter.
And that came big time. The Swifts took the lead out to five early in the last but then the GIANTS decided to slow things with Serena Guthrie, Wall, Pettitt and Harten unlocking the home side’s defence through short, patient passing and getting the team back on level terms.
Swifts Head Coach Rob Wright the called a timeout with eight minutes remaining on the clock and it stemmed the tide of GIANTS scoring as the teams went back to trading scores. The game was all tied up with four minutes on the clock before Pettitt and Harten combined well again to put three between the teams.
The Swifts threw everything at their opponents but from there the GIANTS had the experience and nous not to let the win slip from their grasps.
GIANTS: Q1: 13 – Q2: 30 (17) – Q3: 42 (12) – Q4: 59 (17)
SWIFTS: Q1: 16 – Q2: 31 (15) – Q3: 46 (15) – Q4: 56 (10)
GIANTS: GS Jo Harten, GA Susan Pettitt, WA Taylah Davies, C Serena Guthrie, WD Jamie-Lee Price, GD Bec Bulley, GK Sam Poolman
SWIFTS: GS Sam Wallace, GA Helen Housby, WA Paige Hadley, C Maddy Proud, WD Abbey McCulloch, GD Maddy Turner, GK Sarah Klau
GIANTS: Q3: Sarah Wall to WA
SWIFTS: No changes
GIANTS: 59/62 @ 95%
J Harten: 36/38 @ 95%
S Pettitt: 23/24 @ 96%
SWIFTS: 56/60 @ 93%
S. Wallace: 35/37 @ 95%
H. Housby: 21/23 @ 91%
MVP: Paige Hadley (Swifts)
* The Carole Sykes Memorial Trophy is contested by both Netball NSW’s Suncorp Super Netball teams – the GIANTS and Swifts – with the winner being determined based on the result of each match the teams contest.