Magpies in full flight
Magpies Netball have revealed a gritty underbelly to match the club’s glamourous profile in a 62-50 Suncorp Super Netball victory against the NSW Swifts at Hisense Arena.
The star-studded expansion outfit’s fourth win from their last five outings tightened their grip on fourth place and spelled out for the sixth-placed Swifts how much they must improve to feature in the finals next year.
Much has been made of the Magpies’ Diamonds-laden roster, and the lofty expectations attached to it, but it was their willingness to do the unheralded dirty work that set the winning platform.
Defenders April Brandley and Ash Brazill crushed the Swifts attack with a relentless pursuit of the Swifts’ prime movers.
Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace finished with a respectable 33 goals but her scoring opportunities had been greatly restricted by the work in front of the circle.
Magpies centre Kim Ravallion had one of her finest games of the season against gutsy opponent Maddy Proud, feeding Caitlin Thwaites whose 49 goals at 94 per cent was one shy of her season-best haul.
The fortunes of the respective goal attacks told the story of the first quarter.
Alice Teague-Neeld was trusted to start in the circle for the Magpies, and what she lacked in scoreboard input she made up for in movement.
The young goaler hit the road, and in doing so kept opponent Maddy Turner accountable and unable to double back on Thwaites.
At the other end, Brandley had Helen Housby wrapped and unable to provide an effective attacking target.
It was evenly balanced at quarter-time but that was not to last.
Brandley and defensive partner Brazill squeezed the life out of the Swifts’ attack line in a lopsided second quarter.
The pair starved the Swifts of opportunities, with Wallace and Housby having just 12 shots between them for the quarter.
You can’t dominate a contest on that restrictive a diet, and the Magpies ran away to a 33-23 halftime lead.
The Swifts have tried countless midcourt combinations to cover injuries over the past three weeks and they offered another one with Paige Hadley at wing defence in the third quarter.
Coach Rob Wright had to try something different on rampant Magpies skipper Madi Robinson and it worked to a degree.
Robinson’s influence was lessened to some extent, but there were plenty of other Magpies prepared to do the work.