GIANT first round win soured by Austin injury

GIANTS Netball made an excellent start to their 2021 Suncorp Super Netball campaign, but whilst their comprehensive 66-52 smashing of Adelaide Thunderbirds saw the side claim its first Round 1 victory since 2018, it was soured by a devastating blow to the front-end, with star goal attack Kiera Austin going down with a suspected anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the second quarter.

It was a hard and fast start from the GIANTS, who were relentless from the opening whistle. Whilst Adelaide young gun Georgie Horjus got the scoring going off the GIANTS’ opening centre pass, four consecutive goals the way of the GIANTS saw them gain the early ascendancy despite missing Kristiana Manu’a in the backline. However the Thunderbirds were quick to even up the ledger once more with Lenize Potgieter finding the ring, though she made an early miss credit to the defensive pressure from Sam Poolman and April Brandley. With players hitting the deck early it was evident it would be a highly physical battle, with Amy Parmenter making herself known early and Jo Harten using her positioning to win the early battle against Shamera Sterling. While Jamie-Lee Price also got involved, the Thunderbirds settled as Maisie Nankivell and Hannah Petty got involved out the front and found better purchase on circle edge. But while the Thunderbirds were still pressing, the GIANTS full-court defence continued to make it hard for the home side to capitalise on turnovers as they extended to a 14-10 lead by the time the quarter ended.

The second quarter saw the GIANTS’ run continue, although the moment of the match happened with just over 10 minutes to play in the quarter, as Austin’s drive into the circle was soured by a nasty looking fall – undefended – and potential ACL injury. Young gun Sophie Dwyer was handed the goal attack bib and did not skip a beat upon entry to the court, as the GIANTS defied the Thunderbirds’ defensive efforts and found plenty of hands to ball. Harten put on a masterclass with her long-range shooting and drives into the circle, and assisted Dwyer well by stealing attention and allowing the younger player to enter the game well. Sam Gooden entered the game in goal attack for the Thunderbirds and had an immediate impact, although it was Harten with two straight super shots that extended the GIANTS lead to 11 goals as the power five began. Both sides piled on the super shots as the quarter whittled down, but the Thunderbirds’ lack of defensive pressure through the centre continued to hurt them as the GIANTS sped down the court with ease, heading into the second half with an 11-goal margin, 36-25.

The second half saw much of the same, as the GIANTS continued to run away with the game, and while Latanya Wilson was doing a good job inhibiting Maddie Hay‘s ability to find circle edge, Parmenter’s backup on the transverse line and ability to win ball back paid off as she exploited Horjus’ uncertainty on the drive and the Thunderbirds’ lack of quick defensive transition. Sterling and Wilson did their best to enter the bench with tumbles over the sideline as they worked hard to spark something in defence, while Horjus combined well from wing attack with Potgieter and Gooden but to no avail as the GIANTS retained the same margin. Th Thunderbirds continued to roll in the changes as the match began to run away from them, with Petty and Elle McDonald both finding the court in patches, while a moving circle was created out the front as Gooden and Horjus combined in attack. With a 14-goal lead heading into the final change, the GIANTS all but had the win sewn up if they could retain the lead.

Improved hands-over pressure from the Thunderbirds did little to dull the GIANTS’ spark in the final term, as the combination between Harten and Dwyer continued to build. While bodies continued to fly, it was the GIANTS that remained on top for the rest of the contest and eventually running out 14 goal victors.

For the GIANTS, it was the consistency of Harten (26 goals from 32 attempts) that willed the side over the line, while Dwyer was excellent with 26 from 33 in 40 minutes on court. Price and Hay worked seamlessly in the midcourt for 24 and 17 goal assists, while Parmenter (four intercepts, five deflections) was a workhorse in the backline, limiting ball to the Thunderbirds attack before it hit the circle. For the Thunderbirds, Potgieter only missed the one attempt for 28 goals while Gooden (15 from 24) was handy finishing with five super shots. Petty and Matilda Garrett gathered two intercepts apiece, while Sterling was down from her lofty standards but still managed to create five deflections.

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 10 | 15 | 14 | 13 (52)
GIANTS NETBALL 14 | 22 | 17 | 13 (66)



GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Georgie Horjus
WA: Maisie Nankivell
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Shadine Van Der Merwe
GD: Matilda Garrett
GK: Shamera Sterling


GS: Jo Harten
GA: Kiera Austin
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: April Brandley
GK: Sam Poolman

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