Magpies Netball (61) def. Queensland Firebirds (59) at the Silverdome in Launceston.
Collingwood Magpies Netball have claimed its third consecutive victory after defeating the Queensland Firebirds in a gripping two-goal victory at the Silverdome in Launceston.
The first SSN game in Tasmania proved a major success, with the Magpies securing the points in a tightly contested 61-59 victory over the Queenslanders.
Sharni Layton exhibited one of her best defensive performances of the season, battling the Firebirds’ star shooter Romelda Aiken in a blockbuster match up.
Aiken was a standout for the away side, slotting 47/52 goals at 90 percent. But Layton was just as influential for the Magpies, directing traffic from the defensive third, collecting five deflections and six interceptions – while also giving away eight centimetres in height.
Ash Brazill once again proved why she is one of the best wing defenders in the country, nullifying Firebird wing attack Caitlyn Nevins, and enforcing constant pressure around the contest for the Firebirds.
Magpies Netball head coach, Kristy Keppich-Birrell lauded her team's defensive performance against the Firebirds.
"It was a fantastic feeling to win that game – especially because it gives us a little bit of breathing room in that fourth spot," she said post-game.
“I think today you saw an improved defensive and attacking performance from the team. In the second quarter, we really tried to lift our defensive intensity.
"Across the whole game, there were more minutes of controlled play - and that doesn’t mean the play has to be slow, it’s more just making sure we treasure the ball, which we did well today.”
In a game full of momentum swings, it was shooter Caitlin Thwaites who once again was a pillar of consistency for Collingwood.
Thwaites finished the game shooting 43/45 and will return to Melbourne with the most goals in the league – sitting one above Caitlin Bassett after ten rounds.
A confident Cody Lange played herself back into some form, partnering Thwaites in a fast starting Magpies attack.
Before being subbed out in the third term, the goal attack amassed an impressive stat line, shooting 16/18 with four goal assists and 11 centre pass receives.
“I know Cody really loved her time out on the court today. As we’ve said to all of our GAs, whatever time you’re out there for – you put in 100% effort and then you'll see the reward.”
“We’re lucky to have such great depth in that position and to be able to rotate different players through it.”
After a hard-fought three quarters, the Magpies stormed ahead to a five goal lead in the fourth, before a final momentum change to the Firebirds brought the margin back to one goal with 20 seconds remaining.
A composed Collingwood midcourt was able to steady the tide, with captain Madi Robinson asserting her leadership credentials in the second half.
“The key areas that won us the game were our centre pass defence and our offence second phase.
“At times, our second phase broke down and that’s when we saw the Firebirds get on a roll, but through our centre pass defence, we were able to disrupt their play.”
The victory concludes a successful weekend for the Magpies in Launceston, after hosting the Festival of Netball across the past four days in conjunction with Netball Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government.
“Today really felt like we were playing at home."
"We’ve been in Launceston since Thursday and we’ve really been enjoying the city and trying to involve ourselves in the community.
"We’ve had a lot of fun as a team which has been great.”
The Magpies now hold a three-point buffer over the Firebirds on the ladder, and with four games remaining, the team has afforded themselves some breathing room in the race for finals.
The team will return to Melbourne and look forward to facing the Sunshine Coast Lightning in a top four clash at Hisense Arena next Saturday night.
“After a big weekend, we'll have Monday off, but on Tuesday, we’ll make sure we get back in the gym and review the game. We'll then change our focus into preview on Thursday in anticipation for a really big match against the Lightning next Saturday night.”
Magpies shooting statistics
Caitlin Thwaites 43/45 (96%)
Cody Lange 16/18 (89%)
Alice Teague-Neeld 2/5 (40%)
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken 47/52 (90%)
Gretel Tippett 12/15 (80%)
Match MVP: Gabi Simpson (Firebirds)