Frantic finish for Firebirds at new home
THE Firebirds christened their new home at the Queensland State Netball Centre with a nerve-wracking 57-all draw with Collingwood in a Suncorp Super Netball thriller at Nathan on Saturday.
The Firebirds led by as many as nine goals late in the second quarter but the Magpies swooped after the main break to hit the lead in the final term to set up a grandstand finish in front of 4578 spectators at the $44 million venue.
The teams went goal for goal in the last quarter and when Collingwood's Shimona Nelson hit her 42nd goal of the match to put the visitors in front inside the last 30 seconds. The Firebirds soon levelled, however, through Gretel Tippett.
The Magpies had a chance to snatch victory with seven seconds left on the clock but the Firebirds forced a turnover to leave the sides locked together at the final siren.
Romelda Aiken finished with 31 goals from 39 attempts and Tippett hit 26 goals from 27 shots for the Firebirds.
The Magpies cut the deficit from eight goals to four in less than three minutes after the resumption of play from half-time to send a hush around the crowd.
The Firebirds steadied momentarily but Collingwood closed to within one goal of the Firebirds going into the last change after an 18-11 surge in the premiership quarte, when Queensland laboured to score while the Magpies were flying.
Queensland turned on the afterburners in the second term, outscoring the visitors 17-11 to open up a 32-24 halftime lead after being in front by as many as nine goals in the closing seconds before the siren.
The Firebirds made the most of Collingwood's 15 first-half turnovers as they powered away from the fumbling Magpies to secure their second bonus point of the day.
Queensland led 15-13 at quarter-time after a tense opening term when Collingwood goal attack Nat Medhurst was forced to leave the court under the blood rule and had stitches after cutting her lip following a collision with Firebirds goalkeeper Tara Hinchliffe.
With Jemma Mi Mi replacing Caitlyn Nevins at wing attack, the Firebirds settled the better in the second quarter as the Magpies continued to throw the ball away and get punished by Queensland's slick ball movement.
Despite Collingwood calling a timeout to disrupt Queensland's momentum, the Firebirds extended their cushion the longer the term went.
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 57 (Romelda Aiken 31 Gretel Tippett 26) MAGPIES NETBALL 57 (Shimona Nelson 42 Natalie Medhurst 10 Gabrielle Sinclair 5) at Queensland State Netball Centre.