Adelaide Thunderbirds crowned Super Netball champions
The Adelaide Thunderbirds have ended a 10-year title drought by defeating the NSW Swifts in extra time to claim the 2023 Super Netball championship.
Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst paid tribute to her squad's ability to produce in tight moments after the South Australian club edged out the NSW Swifts 60-59 in another extra-time thriller to claim the 2023 Super Netball championship.
The Thunderbirds had never finished higher than seventh spot during their six seasons of Super Netball but a combination of marquee imports and emerging local talent saw the perennial strugglers make a rapid rise to premiership contention.
After defeating NSW by three goals in the final round of the regular season to lock in a top-two finish, the Thunderbirds completed a wild comeback to stun the Swifts on their own home court with a 64-62 win in extra time to qualify for the grand final.
A strong start to Saturday night's title decider at Melbourne's John Cain Arena put Adelaide in the box seat but the Swifts battled back from nine goals down to ensure the teams would play an additional five minutes for the second final in a row.
"The Swifts are a classy outfit and they never give in, and we knew that we were going to have to fight it to the death and have extra time again," Obst told Fox Sports.
"I knew and I trusted that we could stick to our processes and yeah, we got there in the end."
Obst felt the experience of winning in Sydney two weeks ago helped them navigate the pressure moments in extra time despite some costly turnovers late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Swifts to level the scores at 54-54.
"I suppose we went into (extra time) in different circumstances two weeks ago but it was about just nutting it out and grinding it out. And at the end of the day, that was all about heart at the end."
A five-goal surge midway through the opening quarter handed Adelaide the early advantage and the defensive efforts of Jamaican duo Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson, along with player-of-the-match Eleanor Cardwell's accuracy under the post, steered the Thunderbirds to a 35-27 halftime lead.
"I don't think we've played a better half of netball in my time as Thunderbirds coach," Obst said about her side's flying start to the contest.
"We were close to perfect, not that we were searching for perfection, but I thought we were so clinical with the ball and just so tuned in. Yeah, our start was absolutely amazing."
With their hopes of a third championship in five seasons slipping away, the Swifts struck back with a dominant third quarter before hitting the front in the final term to set up a pulsating finish.
"I think we played close to perfect netball in the first half but I just knew the Swifts would come back and to win it like we did, I'm just so proud," Obst said.