Magpies notch up first win
Suncorp Super Netball’s elite sides have burst clear from the pack after Magpies Netball Club won a high-quality thriller between two of the tournament favourites at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
Just hours after unbeaten GIANTS Netball declared their hand, the Magpies and Queensland Firebirds staged a ripping contest, with the newcomers scoring their first victory, 54-50.
The Firebirds were the better side for much of the first half but were on the receiving end of a clinical third-term breakaway from the Magpies.
Standout Madi Robinson inspired a surge from the visitors, with Kim Ravaillion contributing some important touches and Sharni Layton claiming some mini victories against her nemesis Romelda Aiken (41 goals at 79 per cent).
Still, the champions would not go away, and it took a couple of calming goals from Magpie Alice Teague-Neeld to hold off the charging Queenslanders.
April Brandley’s points victory against Gretel Tippett (nine goals) was also critical.
But the Firebirds should be proud of their performance.
Caitlyn Nevins, at centre, matched Ravaillion, while Gabi Simpson and Kate Shimmin almost hauled their team across the line in front a packed house.,
There were glamour match-ups everywhere – Simpson versus Robinson, Nevins against Ravaillion, Tippett facing Brandley and spearhead Aiken wrestling Layton in the goal circle.
But it was the lesser known Jemma Mi Mi who pumped a little belief into the Firebirds when her classy first touch created a goal for the hosts.
Defenders Laura Clemesha and Shimmin also created turnover opportunities for the Firebirds.
Their pressure, combined with midcourt heat from Simpson and Nevins, nagged away at the Magpies’ forward line.
That sparked an early lead for the Queenslanders who seemed to grow in confidence with every hard-won ball.
Games like this are not won in a half and Robinson’s resurgent second quarter ensured the contest hung in the balance at halftime.
Robinson found more space as the game progressed and her slick hands never missed a target.
Alice Teague-Neeld, found her feet as well with an eight-goal second term.
But the Firebirds refused to fade, and vice-captain Nevins’s body-on-the-line commitment was a perfect example of selflessness.