The Collingwood Magpies have caused a huge upset at the Silverdome in Launceston, defeating the ladder-leading NSW Swifts 64 to 56 in a match they dominated from the opening whistle.
The Magpies needed this win to have any chance of playing finals and the Swifts have now left themselves vulnerable to losing their top spot to the Sunshine Coast Lightning tomorrow.
After a stellar performance in centre last week, Magpies’ Ash Brazill was given the nod to run the midcourt for her team again and put in a performance that saw her named the Nissan Player of the Match for the second week running.
The new midcourt structure with Kim Ravillion in wing defence gave the Magpies the boost they needed, and they were off to flying start, leading by four half way through the first quarter.
Swifts coach Briony Akle was forced to call a time out to break the Magpies’ momentum, asking for calmness from her troops. The Swifts couldn’t break the Magpies’ flow though and Collingwood playing with more intensity than they have all season.
Magpies goal attack Nat Medhurst had the ball on a string for her 233rd national league appearance, becoming the third player in history to reach the milestone.
The Magpies’ first quarter dominance saw them claim the first bonus point and take a four-goal (17-13) lead into the first break.
Coach Akle shuffled the Swifts entire court for the second quarter in the hope of taking control of the match. A key change saw Katrina Rore move from wing defence into goal defence for some added height in the goal ring alongside Sarah Klau, aiming to restrain Magpies goal shooter Shimona Nelson and Medhurst who dominated the first.
The positional changes lifted the Swifts’ intensity but half-way through the quarter, the margin remained at four goals.
The move of Nat Haythornthwaite to goal attack added some extra drive to the Swifts forward line, causing the Magpies’ defensive line-up in Geva Mentor and April Brandley to rethink their strategy.
Magpies’ wing attack Kelsey Browne went down late in the second quarter with what looks like a serious knee injury and it seemed to give her team all the more to play for.
With both teams scoring 15 goals in the second quarter, there was no bonus point awarded and the Magpies took their four-goal lead into half time.
The third quarter saw the Swifts come out firing from the get-go, getting the score back to even within the first five minutes of play, finally showing some smooth passages of play and transitioning well through their mid-court.
The Swifts owned the first half of the quarter but the Magpies’ responded well and captain Mentor took her game to another level, being a pillar of strength in the Magpies defence and making life very difficult for Swifts’ shooters Sam Wallace and Haythornthwaite.
It was the Magpies took back full control late in the quarter, claiming the third bonus point and stating a six-goal lead going into the last.
The Magpies momentum continued in the final term. They scored three quick goals and stretched their lead out to a game-high nine goals.
The Swifts fought hard but just couldn’t find the combination to take back control of the match and the Magpies were exceptional right across the court in the final term seeing them take the win and premiership points in front of a roaring Launceston crowd.
Score breakdown Q1: Magpies 17 v Swifts 13 Q2: Magpies 15 v Swifts 15 Q3: Magpies 16 v Swifts 14 Q4: Magpies 16 v Swifts 14