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T-Birds beat reluctant Giants, go second as Fever sets pace again

Lenize Potgieter and Maisie Nankivell of the Thunderbirds celebrate victory

The COVID-ravaged Giants stayed with the Thunderbirds for a half but couldn't sustain it for four quarters in a valiant Super Netball loss in Adelaide.

Shamera Sterling's masterclass in defence has steered the Adelaide Thunderbirds to a hard-fought 56-43 win over the coronavirus-ravaged Giants at Netball SA Stadium.

The win lifts the T-Birds to 2nd on the ladder, with other results in round 2 action seeing the NSW Swifts go down to the Melbourne Vixens 48-53 on Saturday, and in Sunday's other matches the Sunshine Coast Lightning were trounced in the Queensland derby by the Firebirds 82-54 and the West Coast Fever crushed Collingwood 70-53 in Melbourne.

It took more than two quarters for the Thunderbirds to finally shake off a stiff challenge from the depleted Giants, who endured a torrid build-up to Sunday's clash.

The Giants, contentiously, were twice denied permission to reschedule the fixture after six players - including Diamonds trio Jamie-Lee Price, Sophie Dwyer and Amy Parmenter - were unavailable due to COVID-19 protocols, leaving the team decimated.

Amy Sligar, back from isolation for her first game of the season, starred for the visitors who were given no chance, but surprisingly took it to Adelaide early, moving ahead 15-13 at quarter-time.

A 7-0 scoring run by the Thunderbirds early in the second period gave the lead and momentum back to the home side but some late super-shot success saw the Giants tie the match at 25-apiece at half-time.

The Giants held a slender one-goal buffer early in the third and were dreaming of something special, before their defence began breaking down, fatigue predictably crept in and Sterling ran riot.

Jamaican Sterling (14 gains, seven rebounds, five intercepts, five deflections) was unstoppable in her goal keeping post and Elle McDonald was influential with her workrate at wing attack as Adelaide finally found separation, moving ahead 40-34 at three-quarter-time. Sterling clinically observed after the game:

"The fact that the Giants were at a disadvantage this week, we used that to our advantage.
"We don't take any team lightly.
"(Coach) Tania (Obst) reminded us that the Giants had three of their contracted players not playing and to use that as an advantage.
"If the Giants had won, it would have been pretty poor."

Former Thunderbirds captain and club champion Chelsea Pitman, a West Coast Fever training partner turned Giants' COVID contingency fill-in, took to her old home court late in the third stanza for her first Super Netball appearance since 2020, but she was unable to turn the tide.

Sterling just got better as the match progressed, McDonald and centre Maisie Nankivell continued to impress and the Giants' gallant run fell short.

In her Super Netball debut for the Swifts, Wagga Wagga's Sophie Fawns playing at goal shooter scored 14 goals from 16 attempts and 1 of two super shots, in stark contrast to the Vixens' Mwai Kumwenda at the other end who bagged 40 of her side's 48 goals from 43 attempts.


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