Having announced her retirement from elite netball after 212 national league games, Giants captain Kim Green played a sparkling hand in leading her team to a ten-goal victory. It wasn’t a convincing win for a side with finals beckoning, as any time the defence lapsed the Fever feeders could quickly let the ball zing into their towering target shooter. To guarantee a place in finals, the Giants needed to win all four quarters. After winning the match and two bonus points, there was still a small chance of failing to retain fourth place – and if they did, the Giants would have to make a lot of improvements in a week to give Green a fairytale send-off.
Olivia Lewis had a tough ask in the absence of her captain, but she obtained a solid deflection from both the second and third plays forward form the Giants. This was followed by a dogged challenge from Stacey Francis to take a sluggish feed and the Fever moved ahead by one. There was a contrast between wing attacks, while Ingrid Colyer ditched the ball and waited, Kim Green would throw and immediately drive on for the next pass. The Giants accessed the circle for easy feeds throughout the quarter, and Caitlin Bassett had a field day at the post.
A held ball from Green, only looking forward and off balance on one foot, gave Fever an easy transition, and Alice Teague-Neeld landed a long shot. Knowing every bonus point was vital, a timeout was called by Giants, trailing 9-12. The break didn’t help either team, with messy play following. This allowed Amy Parmenter and Lewis to rack up intercepts. It was Jhaniele Fowler who stood out in the opening quarter; she was solid and available amidst the chaos and slotted 100% for the first quarter.
Harten’s cool longer-range accuracy levelled the scores and gave the Giants hope to get a bonus point but her subsequent two shots were not as slick as normal. Verity Charles was doing well on attack, but not so much on defence, as Price managed free-flowing moves over the transverse line. Stacey Francis twice gave away an undisciplined penalty when the Giants had missed a shot, allowing the hosts to nail the second attempt. Until the last few seconds Fever had kept ahead due to a combination of luck and dogged defence. It was 17 all at quarter time.
The second quarter saw a marked momentum change and the Giants took an early lead of 6-3, mostly thanks to patience and structure in attack. The Fever defence was off the pace, and the Giants had enough persistence to make possession count. Fever called a timeout, needing to lift their heads and regain defensive intensity. However, they started with a series of sloppy passes that put their own players under pressure, and the Giants found Bassett home alone at the post repeatedly. Halfway through the quarter, the score was 27-21 to the Sydney team.
Green was executing smart sharp passes to Bassett, making it look easy and the Fever midcourt look second-rate. The visitors were in disarray, lacking defensive discipline and timing in attack. Still trailing 26-31 coach Stacey Marinkovich called her second timeout, and brought Kaylia Stanton to goal attack with Alice Teague-Neeld moving from there to wing attack. Teague-Neeld had faded from seven goal assists in the first quarter to only one in the second. After a slick second quarter all over the court, Giants were leading 38-28.
Stanton was ineffectual in the third quarter, not dictating or distracting, so Giants had an easy defensive formula. Although her accuracy was reasonable, she failed to open space and create authoritative drives to make Fowler available. The period was more even, in large part due to Harten’s two turnovers and three missed shots. For the visitors’ ledger there was a wasteful penalty when Lewis contacted Green on a Fever centre pass. The score was 47-37 to Giants halfway through the period.
The Perth team continued to make errors, often unforced and at unhelpful times, and were never able to build momentum. Just as they could have levelled the score for the quarter, Fowler was called for an offensive contact. Harten then stepped into Jess Anstiss, and umpire Michelle Phippard deemed it a deliberate infringement by the young wing defence, giving her an advanced penalty. In a flurry of goals, Giants kept their hand on the bonus point, and went into the final break up 54-42.
In the last quarter, Giants aimed to polish their game leading in to finals and make their fourth place on the ladder a certainty. Green seemed more of a calm version of herself, taking fewer risks and opening space for her team. In her last home game before retirement she gave her fans one last grand show of spot-on feeding and timing. The one time Green did fumble a ball on circle edge, Bassett was able to nab an intercept to help her out.
After spending the third quarter on the bench, Teague-Neeld came back on to improve the feeding balance for Fever, allowing Fowler to lift her scoring to sixteen goals as she had in the first quarter. Teague-Neeld was also getting good front drives and improved her accuracy. Sensing that Fever were coming back at them, Giants called a time out with six minutes remaining. Lewis and Francis tightened up their defence, covering a lot of ground and showing off their excellent vertical leaps over the shot. Desperate to earn a third bonus point, some Giants showed too much intensity. Price was deemed to be deliberately delaying and had a penalty against her advanced. Her team simply couldn’t get the extra possession required. It was the best quarter result for the Perth team, winning the final quarter 18-16.
The final 2019 season ladder was still in doubt, with the Magpies still capable of making the finals but facing a huge battle against the dominant Vixens. As this goes to print, the Magpies have pulled off a 11-goal victory against the Vixens and three bonus points. They have now gone into the finals ahead of the Giants on percentage.
Giants Netball 70 defeated West Coast Fever 60
Umpires: Michelle Phippard, Helen George, reserve Tim Marshall
MVP: Caitlin Bassett (Giants)
Caitlin Bassett 47/50 94%
Jo Harten 23/29 79%
GIANTS Netball 70/79 88.6%
Jhaniele Fowler 50/52 96%
Alice Teague-Neeld 5/7 71%
Kaylia Stanton 5/7 71%
West Coast Fever 60/66 90.9%
Caitlin Bassett 4
Jhaniele Fowler 3
Kristiana Manu’a 6 (4 intercepts, 2 rebounds)
Olivia Lewis 6 (3 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain, 2 rebounds)
Verity Charles 6
Kim Green 6
Ingrid Collyer 5
Jo Harten 5
Gain and turnover conversion
Gain converted to goal 10/15 (63%)
Fever error converted to goal 11/29 (38%)
Gain converted to goal 6/11(55%)
Giants error converted to goal 8/24 (33%)