Swifts dig deep to win a nail-biting NSW derby

There were plenty of thrills and spills, but once again Sophie Garbin produced the goods for the NSW Swifts in their 55-54 Suncorp Super Netball win over GIANTS Netball at the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

It was a genuine tug-of-war between the NSW rivals and it was the GIANTS who blinked last, an errant pass leading to a Swifts possession and, like she did against the Firebirds in round one, Garbin capitalised and iced the match in the final minute.

English Rose, Helen Housby, was the Nissan Player of the Match – scoring 23/27 in a battling performance.

It was a hugely emotional game for both sides and the Swifts left absolutely everything on the court, displaying intensity at both ends.

Jo Harten (38/41) was enormous for the GIANTS and almost had a chance to lock up the scores in the final second, but the penalty was ruled to be outside of the circle.

The Swifts made some changes following last week’s loss to the Vixens, with Paige Hadley moving from wing attack to centre to bring Claire O’Brien off the bench and into the attacking line, pushing Maddy Proud to the bench.

Susan Pettitt and Jo Harten were handed the starting attacking bibs for the GIANTS, after they rotated with Kristina Brice in their big win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in round two.

Goals were hard to come by early, but a Kim Green bullet pass to Jo Harten sparked the GIANTS to a 6-3 lead after the first five minutes. The passing game of the GIANTS quickly became a habit, as the Swifts struggled to nullify their delivery into the goal circle.

There was plenty of feeling between the rivals, with heaps of collisions to go along with it. The Swifts quickly made a change, bringing Proud into the fray which allowed them to slash the deficit.

And a last-second shot from Helen Housby for the quarter locked up the scores at 14-14, denying the GIANTS a bonus point.

The GIANTS responded in emphatic fashion in the second quarter, easing out to a 22-17 lead as Jo Harten and Susan Pettitt enjoyed plenty of ball delivery into the goal circle.

Defence was needed from the Swifts, and they delivered to cut the margin back to just one goal off the back of a 4-0 run. The pendulum quickly swung back the GIANTS way, with Harten shooting at 91 per cent – helping them back out to a five-goal lead.

The Swifts had the final say with another Housby buzzer beater, but it was the GIANTS who led 29-26 at half-time.

NSW Swifts coach Briony Akle injected rising star Sophie Garbin into the match which helped them keep that roll going into the third quarter, going on a 5-2 run to lock the scores up once again.

The connection between Green and Harten clicked all match though, and the GIANTS skipped clear again – prompting a Swifts timeout.

Kate Eddy was injected to strengthen up the defensive end for the home team and the Swifts won a tense third quarter to only trail 44-42.

Seven minutes into the final quarter, Housby scored to give the Swifts the lead for just the second time in the match – a lead they were able to defend.

Q1: Swifts 14 v 14 GIANTS
Q2: Swifts 12 v 15 GIANTS
Q3: Swifts 16 v 15 GIANTS
Q4: Swifts 13 v 10 GIANTS

Suncorp Super Netball points
Swifts 6
GIANTS 1
*1 bonus point omitted for drawn quarter

Swifts shooting statistics
Helen Housby 23/27
Sam Wallace 15/18
Sophie Garbin 17/18

GIANTS shooting statistics
Jo Harten 38/41
Susan Pettitt 16/19

Swifts starting seven – GS: Sam Wallace, GA: Helen Housby, WA: Claire O’Brien, C: Paige Hadley, WD: Abbey McCulloch, GD: Maddy Turner, GK: Sarah Klau

GIANTS starting seven – GS: Jo Harten, GA: Susan Pettitt, WA: Kim Green, C: Serena Guthrie, WD: Jamie-Lee Price, GD: Bec Bulley, GK: Sam Poolman

Nissan Match MVP: Helen Housby