For the final game of Round Nine, the NSW Swifts hosted the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Ken Rosewall Arena. When the pair met in Round Four, the Swifts managed to hold one point over the Thunderbirds, kicking off the team’s four-game losing streak.
Today both teams were coming off wins, with the Swifts coming out on top in the NSW derby and the Thunderbirds causing an upset on the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s home court.
It was only the Thunderbirds who were missing squad members in Maisie Nankivell and Matilda Garrett. Training partners Lucy Austin and Chelsea Blackman came in to replace the pair.
The Thunderbirds had the centre pass on enemy territory, but it was the Swifts who scored first following an early turnover. With another unsuccessful pass, the Swifts were able to go 4-0, all from the hands of Kelly Singleton. The Thunderbirds didn’t take long to respond, but their run was interrupted by Sarah Klau.
Helen Housby was being uncharacteristically tentative at the post, missing some early shots. This lack of confidence was taken advantage of by Latanya Wilson, allowing the Thunderbirds to close the gap. Both Housby and Singleton seemed to be feeling the pressure from the Thunderbirds' defence, something they needed to sort out, fast.
Sophie Fawns came on court at goal attack, making her presence known with a quick goal. The Swifts defensive end were creating plenty of opportunities, allowing the Swifts to leave the low scoring quarter two points up, 9 - 7.
Right off the whistle, the Adelaide Thunderbirds were putting the pressure on with a three-goal run. Once again, it was the defence and midcourt creating moments to capitalise off. Both team's attacking ends were looking a little sloppy, partially due to the work the defences were putting in. Klau was keeping Lenize Potgieter from putting points on the board, keeping the Swifts in the lead.
Come five minutes to go, the Thunderbirds called a tactical time out. No positional changes were made and, with one point the difference, they were still in the game. Housby had found her rhythm, dropping her first super shot of the afternoon. With three minutes left, Allie Smith came on at wing defence in place of Tayla Fraser.
It was Tippah Dwan’s turn to make a super shot, levelling the score. It remained level for the remainder of the quarter, making it a 16 - 14 quarter.
Post-match, Coach Briony Akle touched on the Swifts first half, saying, "it was a tough first half, and I hate to admit it, but I did get stuck into them a little bit at half-time.
"I [knew] that we could play a lot better netball than what we were putting out in that first half. Certainly, a rev-up helped, I think."
The Swifts broke away first in the third quarter, ahead by two less than three minutes in. Wilson received a caution after an in-air collision with Sophie Fawns. The commentators were mixed on the call, with Caitlin Bassett agreeing with a caution, whilst Sam Poolman and Cath Cox thought otherwise.
With six minutes to go, Smith came on at goal defence for Maddy Turner. The Swifts' lead was still two points going into the super shot period, with the Thunderbirds calling a tactical time out. During this time, Coach Tania Obst gave Dwan the go-ahead for super shot if she saw an opportunity. Following this time out, Turner was back on court despite Smith only spending about a minute in at goal defence.
Now that the Swifts had enjoyed a four-goal run, they were putting more room between them and the Thunderbirds. Right on the buzzer, Fawns sealed the deal with a super shot, putting the margin at 41 - 33.
Into the final quarter, the Swifts continued to steam ahead with a three-goal run, putting them up 10. With the ladder as close as it is, the number of goals really sets teams apart. As several teams have the same amount of wins, putting points on the board is key to getting into the top four.
Georgie Horjus had moved to goal attack, switching it up on the Swifts defence. Klau was unfazed, now at six intercepts. Six minutes to go and Dwan was back on, with Horjus taking the bench. The difference was still 10, essentially forcing the Thunderbirds to go for the super shots in one final push. Dwan made the first move, but wasn’t able to make the shot.
The Thunderbirds called another tactical time out, putting Horjus in at goal shooter. This move gave the team two options for super shots, but greatly minimised their chances for a rebound. Dwan made her first successful super shot of the quarter, missing her follow-up. At the Swifts end, Housby and Singleton were sticking with ones, now up by fourteen.
As the final minute ran down, Dwan had several more unsuccessful attempts, keeping the final score at 54 - 40. Unsurprisingly, Klau was named player of the match with seven intercepts, nine gains and seven deflections.
Post-match, Klau commented on the game, "we came into this game with a lot of confidence from last week, and we just wanted to keep that standard. Really proud of the girls and the performance they put out today."
Round 10 will run during the mid-week, starting off with the Swifts against the Lightning at USC Stadium. The Thunderbirds will close out the round on Wednesday, hosting the Firebirds in Adelaide.