The Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds have gone down to Magpies Netball 67-62 in their biggest loss of the season on Sunday afternoon in Launceston, Tasmania.
A starkly different performance from their win over the Fever last week, the Firebirds were untidy throughout the match, giving themselves plenty of work to do to stay in the contest.
A dominant performance by Collingwood goal attack Erin Bell seemed to connect the missing puzzle piece for the Magpies after an underwhelming start to the season.
The Firebirds started the game slowly and were forced to call a tactical timeout early after two turnovers resulted in an early 6-2 breakaway for the Magpies.
Despite sloppy play from the Firebirds, the Magpies couldn’t push on.
Intercepts from Gabi Simpson and Laura Geitz in defence brought the Firebirds into the match to draw them back to within one, closing out the quarter 17-16.
Looking for a spark, goal defender Kim Jenner and speedster Jemma Mi Mi were introduced in the second quarter seeing the Firebirds take the lead for the first time in the match.
Ash Brazill stood up for the Magpies though, showing incredible athleticism in every contest, and was instrumental in helping the Magpies take back control and a four-point lead going into the halftime break up 35-31.
The Firebirds made more changes – Cassidy and Hinchliffe coming back on and Mi Mi moving to wing attack – bringing a surge in intensity in the third quarter and clawing back the deficit.
Key turnovers off the back of some great defensive pressure gave the Firebirds the quarter win and first bonus point of the match with scores locked up at 50-all going into the final 15.
Both teams made a few nervous errors in the final stages, but a huge intercept by Sharni Layton on a flat feed by Mi Mi was the catalyst for a confident run to the final whistle by the Magpies.
The Firebirds proved to be their own worst enemy and were punished at every turnover by Collingwood who ran away 17-12 winners in the quarter, taking the spoils along with seven competition points.
Q1: Firebirds 16 v Magpies 17
Q2: Firebirds 15 Magpies 18
Q3: Firebirds 19 v Magpies 15
Q4: Firebirds 12 v Magpies 17
Suncorp Super Netball premiership points
Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 34/40
Erin Bell 33/39
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken 42/51
Gretel Tippett 20/21
Magpies starting seven
GS: Caitlin Thwaites, GA: Erin Bell, WA: Madi Robinson, C: Shae Brown, WD: Ash Brazill, GD: April Brandley, GK: Matilda Garrett
Firebirds starting seven
GS: Romelda Aiken, GA: Gretel Tippett, WA: Caitlyn Nevins, C: Mahalia Cassidy, WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: Tara Hinchliffe, GK: Laura Geitz
Nissan MVP: Erin Bell
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