MAGPIES NETBALL SPEARHEAD CAITLIN THWAITES WAS AN ICE-COOL FINISHER FOR HER SIDE AS THE BLACK AND WHITE MACHINE STOLE A CRUCIAL WIN IN THE DYING SECONDS AGAINST THE NSW SWIFTS AT SYDNEY’S OLYMPIC PARK.
Just when a draw seemed the most likely – and perhaps deserved outcome – Thwaites nailed a pressure rebound and goal to give her team a thrilling 55-54 win and two Suncorp Super Netball competition points.
With just seconds remaining, the Diamonds goal shooter soared to rebound her own shot and disappoint the vocal home crowd.
Thwaites had been a star all game for the visitors to finish with 36 priceless goals at 92 per cent.
At the other end, the Swifts’ focal point Sam Wallace fought a gripping battle all afternoon against Sharni Layton to contribute 36 goals at 90 per cent.
With the competition’s fifth place up for grabs, there was much to play for and the desperation was obvious from both camps in the opening quarter.
Each team used up a tactical time-out as the defence combinations took control and momentum swung.
The Magpies used one of the time-outs to inject Shae Brown, a centre or wing defence for most of the past decade, into goal attack to open up some space for Caitlin Thwaites.
It was a moved that momentarily shocked the Swifts.
Brown’s speed and serviceable shooting – she shot three-from-six in eight minutes – troubled the home team.
But the Swifts remained patient, and gradually hustled the Magpies into turnovers at their attack end.
Sarah Klau won two important balls in the second quarter to help the Swifts turn a three-goal deficit into a 27-27 scoreline at halftime.
The match tightened up even further in third quarter when both teams went shot-for-shot.
Swifts centre Maddy Proud ramped up her involvement and Magpies midcourters Madi Robinson and Kim Ravaillion kept chipping away at the home side’s resolve.
After her stint on the bench, it was Cody Lange who returned to make a big impression on the contest.
The Magpies goaler shot nine-from-nine in the third quarter to hand her side a three-goal buffer at the final change.
Just as the Swifts began to look shaky, they fought back into the game to draw level.
Klau and Magpies pair Layton and Brandley traded intercepts during the tense final quarter.
The pressure from Layton and Brandley proved the difference, with the Magpies duo forcing five turnovers between them to finish over the top of the Swifts.
Nissan Player of the Match: Maddy Proud (Swifts)
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS