In order to make next weekend’s Super Netball Grand Final, Giants Netball will need to overcome the team that broke their hearts in last year’s thrilling decider.
The Giants will take on Sunshine Coast for a place in next weekend’s Grand Final after they went down to the West Coast Fever 63-57 in last Saturday’s Major Semi Final in Sydney.
If the Giants defeated the Fever last weekend, this season’s Minor Premiers would have advanced straight to the decider and enjoyed this weekend off. Instead, they are fighting for their lives and will now take on last year’s Premiers.
Fever won the opening centre and immediately grabbed the lead. The Giants’ efforts to chase down the deficit by capitalising on turnovers was largely interrupted by a huge defensive effort from West Coast. The Giants were trailing 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.
As the margin continued to increase in the second quarter, Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald made some key changes to her side. The move was effective almost immediately, with GK Kristiana Manu’a winning an incredible tip to clear the ball safely out of the Fever circle.
Another tip from WD Serena Guthrie gave the Giants yet another turnover. With a massive second quarter comeback in front of a home crowd, the Giants only trailed by three at half-time.
The Giants started to slip again on the scoreboard at the start of the second half. However, an intercept on the defensive transverse line from GA Jo Harten gave the Giants one in their favour. Then another turnover saw Harten alone under the ring to sink the conversion.
As if on cue, Manu’a swooped out of the circle onto a pass to Fever’s Verity Charles to produce another turnover. Suddenly, the Giants found themselves within one point of West Coast on the third quarter whistle, 45-44.
Victory was within reach of either side, but the visitors were on song with their shooting, managing to pull away in the final few minutes to win 63-57.
Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said a slow start ultimately cost her team.
“We just didn’t play well in that first 10 to 15 minutes of the game,” she said.
“We were very tentative, we didn’t let the ball go, we didn’t do the work before the game and it really cost us in the end.
“We worked really hard last week to get the second chance and now we have to take advantage of it.”
West Coast will now await the winner out of this Sunday afternoon’s clash between the Giants and Sunshine Coast Lighting.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.