Sport Netball Super Netball: Giants bring Magpies undone in finals fight
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Super Netball: Giants bring Magpies undone in finals fight

Caitlin Bassett back in action for the GIants after the World Cup. Photo: Getty
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The Giants have moved into Super Netball’s top four after a comprehensive 63-56 victory over Collingwood Magpies.

The Magpies went into Sunday’s clash at Melbourne Arena three points clear of the Giants in fourth spot but the visitors unleashed an 18-9 second-quarter blitz to set up the win.

By grabbing three bonus points, the Giants improve to 38 competition points, with the Magpies (35) falling to fifth with four rounds to play in the regular season.

While both teams contained a number of players backing up from World Cup duties, it was the Giants’ returning stars who shone the brightest.

Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett (35/38) and English Rose Jo Harten (23/27) fuelled the Giants’ attack while Jamie-Lee Price added 21 goal assists.

“For them to come back and play that strongly for the first three quarters, I was thrilled,” coach Julie Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald took the opportunity to rest Harten in the fourth quarter after the Giants built an unassailable lead.

The Magpies grabbed an early advantage thanks to five unanswered goals but Harten ensured the Giants secured the first bonus point, drilling 10 of her 11 shots for a 16-14 lead after one quarter.

But it all unravelled for the home side in the second term as the Giants punished a series of Magpies turnovers, extending their edge to 34-23 at halftime.

The mood in the Magpies’ camp was typified by a frosty second-quarter exchange captured on the TV broadcast between coach Rob Wright and Diamonds midcourter Kelsey Browne.

“If I had my time again, we would not have that on camera but unfortunately there’s mics there so I probably could have done that better,” Wright said about the exchange.

The Giants drove home their advantage in the third quarter, outscoring Collingwood 18-11 to put the result beyond doubt.

The Magpies won the fourth quarter 22-11 to claim the final bonus point, with goaler Shimona Nelson finishing with 40 goals from 46 attempts.

Collingwood’s Ash Brazill made a rare start at centre in her 100th national league game before shifting back to wing defence in the second quarter.

The Giants can consolidate their place in the top four when they host the bottom-placed Queensland next Sunday, while the Magpies face a crucial away clash against Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Vixens stay in control

Melbourne Vixens have taken a major step towards a Super Netball semi-final berth by defeating Adelaide Thunderbirds 63-57.

With all their returning World Cup players in action, the Vixens took care of business at Melbourne Arena on Sunday to sit on 54 competition points, two behind the second-placed Sunshine Coast Lightning.

The understrength Thunderbirds battled hard throughout the match but with World Cup winner Maria Folau a late withdrawal and defender Layla Guscoth out for the season after rupturing her achilles representing England, the visitors couldn’t overcome the class of the Vixens.

But the home side was forced to grind out the result after grabbing a four-goal first-quarter lead, both sides scoring 16 goals apiece in the third and fourth quarters.

Kate Moloney and Liz Watson provided plenty of drive through midcourt for the Vixens, the pair combining for 52 goal assists, while Caitlin Thwaites finished with 30 goals from 33 attempts in her battle with Adelaide’s defensive standout Shamera Sterling.