NSW Swifts have vowed to be up for the battle when they meet “amazing” two-time defending champions Sunshine Coast Lightning in the Super Netball grand final.
The Swifts smashed Melbourne Vixens 60-47 in Sunday’s home preliminary final, leading throughout.
But they must now travel to Queensland for next Sunday’s title decider against supercoach Noeline Taurua’s Lightning, which has dominated the first three seasons of the competition.
Lightning had to fight hard to beat the Swifts by two goals in both of their regular-season clashes but stepped up a notch to post a 10-goal win over them in last week’s major semi-final.
“I think I’m most proud of the fact that (the Swifts) turned it around from last week and had a much better performance,”‘ said Swifts’ coach Briony Akle after watching her team down the Vixens.
She was undaunted by the task ahead in the grand final at Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Sunday against Lightning, which the Swifts have beaten only once in their history.
“As long as we’re on that court, we’re in for the battle,” Akle said.
So lots of homework to do against them, but we know they’re amazing.’’
The Swifts scored the first four goals in the preliminary final at Sydney’s Quaycentre and never led by less than three for the remainder of the match despite the Vixens’ best efforts.
“We had the intent and the intensity but it was just basic errors that let us down and got them the lead,” Vixens and Diamonds wing attack Liz Watson told AAP.
“It was just that energy. We had it and then we let it go and that’s probably been the story of our season is we’ve been there but not for long enough.”
Swifts’ shooters Sam Wallace and Helen Housby missed just two shots each, with the former finishing with 39 from 41 attempts.
Swifts circle defenders Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner dominated early, with the former grabbing three first-quarter rebounds and the latter pulling off two intercepts in the term.
The Vixens’ usually-reliable Diamonds shooter Caitlin Thwaites missed three of her first seven shots and was replaced by Malawi’s Mwai Kumwenda after 11 minutes.
Vixens coach Simone McKinnis benched another of her stars before quarter-time with goal keeper Emily Mannix replaced by Kadie-Ann Dehaney with Swifts leading by seven at the first change.
The Swifts’ NZ wing defence Katrina Rore chipped in with three intercepts by half-time, when the home side’s lead had ballooned to 11.
Vixens produced a 7-1 run in the third quarter to slash a 10-goal deficit to four.
But successive missed shots from Vixens’ goal attack Tegan Philip, combined with three straight goals to the Swifts, blew the home team’s advantage up to seven by three-quarter time.
Vixens scored three consecutive goals early in the last quarter, but couldn’t get the gap below five and Swifts responded with a five-goal burst to cruise home.