In front of a capacity crowd at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, the NSW Swifts have roared home to defeat the Adelaide Thunderbirds, 51-41.
Sporting a different lineup to the one we have been accustomed to seeing the last couple of weeks, the NSW Swifts took to the court eager to consolidate their place in the race for the finals.
Missed opportunities and turnovers marred the first quarter of play with both teams trying desperately to find some rhythm.
The contests on the court were fierce as players from both sides threw their bodies at the ball in the hope of gaining the advantage.
It was the NSW Swifts that kicked away first, getting out to a three goal lead, however, the Thunderbirds kept attacking and got to within two at the quarter time break.
The second quarter saw the Thunderbirds mount a spirited comeback, reducing the deficit to one goal in a matter of minutes.
With the game on a knife’s edge, the teams went goal for goal until the NSW Swifts grabbed the ascendency with the half time break looming to claw their way to a four goal lead.
The Thunderbirds re-jigged their forward line after the half time break, bringing on the experienced Kristen Hughes at GS. However, superb defensive work the full length of the court by the NSW Swifts snuffed out any attacking raid the Thunderbirds tried to mount.
With the NSW Swifts smelling a fifth straight victory in the air, they upped the ante and blew the Thunderbirds off the court; taking an 11 goal lead into the three quarter time break.
Searching for answers to the yawning gap that existed between the two teams at three quarter time, Thunderbirds coach, Jane Woodlands, made a number of changes at both ends of the court.
The reintroduction of Beveridge to the game at GA and the shift of Medhurst to GS reaped early rewards for the Thunderbirds as the teams went goal for goal.
However, the third quarter caused irreparable damage as the NSW Swifts marched to a 10 goal win; their fifth consecutive victory.
NSW Swifts coach, Julie Fitzgerald, was proud of her team’s performance tonight.
“This was one of the most intense games we’ve played in this season. The team has every reason to feel proud tonight – it was an excellent performance,” Fitzgerald said.
Tonight’s game was potentially the NSW Swift’s final home game. However, the win has kept the NSW Swifts in contention for a top three finish and the hope of hosting a home final.
With two rounds remaining in the ANZ Championship, the race for the finals is heating up – and the NSW Swifts are full of confidence and finishing with the wind in their sails.
Quarter by Quarter scores
NSW Swifts 12 24 38 51
Adelaide Thunderbirds 9 20 27 41
Cox 33/39 @ 85%
Pratley 18/24 @ 75%
Team 51/63 @ 81%
Beveridge 22/25 @ 88%
Medhurst 17/18 @ 94%
Hughes 2/4 @ 50%
Team 41/47 @ 87%
Melbourne Vixens v NSW Swifts
Monday 30 June @ 7pm (AEST)
Vodafone Arena, Melbourne.
ANZ Championship Finals Format
Major semi-final: 1v2 (minor premiers to host)
Minor semi-final: 3v4 (team finishing third to host)
Loser of major semi-final v winner of minor semi-final (Loser of 1v2 to host)
Winner of major semi final v winner of preliminary final (Winner of 1v2 to host)