Thunderbirds book ticket to Melbourne

AN extra time thriller proved to be a blockbuster of an event with the Adelaide Thunderbirds booking a ticket to the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final with a two-goal emotional win over the NSW Swifts.

It was only last week where the Thunderbirds ended the Swifts’ nine-game winning streak to earn their major semi-final position where the story repeated itself to get the Thunderbirds over the line, 64-62.

The Thunderbirds ended their 10-season finals drought with their last grand final, let alone finals, appearance being in 2013 where they won the premiership in Adelaide in a similar fashion.

There were clear emotions on the faces from all players with Shamera Sterling (76 Net Points, seven deflections, three intercepts, two rebounds and one block) who had a blinder, sinking into the ground in tears and disbelief. After all her work over the last five years with the Thunderbirds, it finally paid off with the win feeling surreal.

The Swifts jumped out to a quick first term 16-11 lead off the hand of some uncharacteristic misses from the Thunderbirds shooters. The Swifts attackers struggled to get the ball past the transverse line though from the smothering defence of the Thunderbirds. They were forcing the Swifts wide, suffocating any option and pushing the Swifts to pass back.

Sarah Klau (55.5 Net Points, six deflections, two rebounds and one intercept) quickly stamped her authority on the game taking a quick smack down on a pass helping the Swifts to a three to zip lead.

A quick response from the Thunderbirds helped them slot seven goals in a row, helping them take over the lead by one heading into the power five.

Slick shooting from Helen Housby (106 Net Points, 31 goals and five deflections) kept the Swifts in the contest, shooting four super shots for that quarter alone, and boosted her side’s confidence heading into the first break.

The introductions of Lucy Austin (23) and Tayla Williams (93 Net Points, 24 feeds and two intercepts) is what really won the Thunderbirds that game with both playing the games of their lives. They stepped up when they needed to and constantly kept the scoreboard ticking.

Austin’s vision and accuracy at the post kept the Thunderbirds slowly clawing back at the lead with Williams’ pinpoint perfect feeds into Austin being the icing on the cake. Williams’ strong presence in attack filled in the spots where she needed to with her defensive work paying off and shaking the Swifts attackers.

A tight first half was expected with the Swifts taking a two-goal lead at the main break, 28 – 26.

Player of the match Georgie Horjus (83 Net Points, 33 feeds and 20 centre pass receives) could do no wrong with her playing a near perfect game. Horjus had great depth on second phase putting herself in a great position to look straight into the circle, and the touch on her passes were second to none with the ball going into the right space while sighting where the shooters wanted the ball.

Horjus could not be shut down, she was hitting the top of the circle too easily for the Swifts liking while having the ball on a string.

The last quarter would determine who would secure their spot in the last dance with both sides having the best fourth terms in the competition. This was proved to be true for the Thunderbirds taking the last quarter 14 – 19 forcing extra time thanks to a last second Austin goal off the hand of a huge intercept from Williams in the middle third.

It was a gut wrenching last five minutes for both sides and fans at home with hearts beating out of their chests, but finals veteran Eleanor Cardwell (30) stood up and knew what she had to do to get her side over the line. If the Thunderbirds win the premiership this year, it would be the first back to back premiership for a player in two different leagues since 2019 with Katrina Rore winning a premiership with the Swifts and the Central Pulse that year as Cardwell won a Netball Super League title with the Manchester Thunder last year.

Tomorrow’s minor semi-final between the West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens will determine who the Swifts will face at home next week with the winner of that game moving on to the preliminary final and the loser packing their backs with their season concluding.

Player of the Match = Georgie Horjus (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

NEW SOUTH WALES SWIFTS 16 | 12 | 16 | 14 | 4 (62)
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 11 | 15 | 13 | 19 | 6 (64)


New South Wales Swifts:

GS: Romelda Aiken-George
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Paige Hadley
C: Maddy Proud
WD: Tayla Fraser
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS: Eleanor Cardwell
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Georgie Horjus
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Latanya Wilson
GD: Matilda Garrett
GK: Shamera Sterling

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