The Giants have put the rest of the Suncorp Super Netball competition on notice, with an 71-48 victory against Adelaide Thunderbirds at Priceline Stadium.
From the first whistle, the Giants pressure held a daunting grip over Adelaide, which often left them on the backfoot.
Their well-oiled unit notably accounted for all ends of the court and swiftly secured six goals within the first three minutes, which ultimately foreshadowed the entire game.
The teams’ different attacking strategies were quickly distinguished, with the Giants more calculated short throws and bounce passes into the shooters contrasting the Thunderbirds’ lobs to 195cm tall Shimona Nelson.
Despite Thunderbirds captain Leana de Bruin immediately leaping into the game with two deflections and Kate Shimmin pushing the Giants towards the goal ring edge, their efforts were essentially futile against the long-range precision of Joanne Harten and Susan Pettitt.
The Thunderbirds also attempted to contest their defensive force, however their attack was slow to meet the Giants tempo and often struggled along the goal third transition line.
Consequentially, this pressure broke the Thunderbirds focus and several ball possessions were lost over forced, miscalculated throws and clumsy fumbles.
The Giants unbreakable momentum only heightened in the second term, as they repeatedly capitalised upon every turnover to strengthen their initial 8-goal lead.
Kim Green was committed to the ball, presenting excellent drive across the court to deliver 38 feeds and 28 goal assists across the game.
Both Harten and Pettitt continued to dominate the goal ring with slick, agile movements that ceaselessly confused their opponents and secured free space near the goal ring.
The Giants’ defensive end also refused to allow the Thunderbirds to accelerate their score. Jamie-Lee Price trapped Chelsea Pitman in the corner of the goal third and captured several passes across the circle.
When the Thunderbirds finally escaped Price’s wrath, the ferocious defensive duo of Sam Poolman and Bec Bulley were almost impenetrable, as they skilfully combatted the girls and restricted the space.
Whilst Bongi Msomi caught on to the Giants abilities and executed more bounce passes between both shooters, the Thunderbirds still only secured six goals across the entire second term to trail 33-16 at the main break.
In a desperate effort to find their thunder and put a dent on their scoreboard, Thunderbirds coach Dan Ryan changed the game plan by swapping Fiona Fowler into goal defence and de Bruin into goal keeper, to contest Giants shooter Kristina Brice.
Charlee Hodges, Kaitlyn Bryce and Hannah Petty also jumped on the court, determined to seize this opportunity to start anew.
Whether it was the revitalised attitudes or fresh legs bringing heat to the court, the Thunderbirds turned over a new leaf and finally broke free from the Giants clutches.
The first five minutes especially displayed a competitive edge, with goals being evenly traded between both teams.
Bryce brought critical stamina to the Thunderbirds goal third, whilst Hodges’s nimble work provided brilliant feeds to Nelson. The 19-year-old particularly stepped up and matched Poolman’s intensity with great resilience, shooting 14/18 goals and doubling their own score after the third term.
Their attacking zone prospered as Nelson remained an outstanding presence within the goal ring, determinedly snatching every lob to shoot directly under the ring. Shimmin complimented these efforts through seizing three much-needed intercepts.
However, the Giants tenacity was relentless, with Serena Guthrie in both centre and wing defence particularly sprinting to steal five impressive intercepts.
The Giants 23-goal victory and total of 71 goals was largely credited to the remarkable displays of shooting. Pettitt was seemingly effortless with 85% accuracy and Brice’s mind-blowing success on all 29 attempts in the second half.
Brice was rapt with both her achievement and the Giants’ win.
“I’m feeling really good about the game today. I absolutely love coming down to South Australia to play, so it was great to get out there and have a run”
“I’m super excited about the 100% accuracy. It’s something that when I go out every quarter I don’t try to think about it too much and just keep putting the shots up, but then something like this happens every now and then”
Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald was also thrilled with the girls overall “committed effort”, especially in winning all four quarters for the first time.
“I thought we played very well in the first half and the pressure we had was exceptional. We did drop off a little bit in the second half but not enough to let the game slip away”
Despite the Thunderbirds more disappointing result, Dan Ryan remains focused on the positive growth of the girls.
“You take away aspects like Charlee Hodges, who was very slow to start and well and truly closed out the game in the first 15 minutes. But she came back into the second half fully reflected and I thought her learning was really good. Also 34 goals from Shimona against a slick opposition was a great positive there”
Ryan also commented on their vast changes after the second term.
“At half-time when we were down by almost 20 goals – the girls on the bench were desperate for the opportunity, so they got out there and that’s what it’s about. Hannah grew into the game and Charlee and Kate came back and did really well. It’s not ideal having to make so many changes, but when you’re looking for answers they can sometimes be sitting on the bench”
Giants 71 def Adelaide Thunderbirds 48
(18-10, 33-16, 56-34, 71-48)
Player of the Match: Kristina Brice (Giants)
Harten 25/32 78%
Pettitt 17/20 85%
Brice 29/29 100%
Nelson 34/38 89%
Hodges 11/14 79%
Latu-Meafou 3/3 100%
Guthrie (Giants) 5
Fowler (Thunderbirds) 3
Shimmin (Thunderbirds) 3
Starting line ups
GD de Bruin
Changes: Q2 GA Latu-Meafou, Q3 GA Hodges C Bryce WD Petty GD Fowler GK Bruin, Q4 GK Shimmin
Changes: Q3 GS Brice C Price WD Guthrie, Q4 GA Harten WA Austin GK Manu’a
Images: Sue McKay