The NSW Swifts put the nail in the coffin of what was a tough season for the Adelaide Thunderbirds when they came to town for the final round of Suncorp Super Netball for 2018.

In front of a packed out Priceline Stadium, the Thunderbirds saw their final shot at securing a win in their 2018 season disappear quickly.

Shimona Nelson (Thunderbirds) and Sarah Klau (Swifts). Photo: Sue McKay

In the opening minutes, Adelaide struggled to progress the ball in their attack line and the visitors were swift to make them pay.

Game play was not pretty for either side to start but the connection between Swifts’ internationals Helen Housby and Sam Wallace in the goal circle held strong.

Trailing 6-1 after the first five minutes, Thunderbird coach Dan Ryan called an urgent time out and replaced goal attack Chelsea Pitman with rookie Abigail Latu-Meafou.

Abigail Latu-Meafou (Thunderbirds). Photo: Sue McKay

Unfortunately for the home side, the change was simply not enough as the Swifts added another three goals to their lead.

Adelaide continued to struggle in their attack line, despite a strong defensive effort from goal keeper Kate Shimmin.

With five minutes to go in the first term, the Thunderbirds had already made three changes to their starting line-up as Hannah Petty came on in centre, pushing Kaitlyn Bryce to wing attack and Bongi Msomi to the bench.

Abbey McCulloch (Swifts) and Bongi Msomi (Thunderbirds). Photo: Sue McKay

Kiwi veteran Cat Tuivaiti also replaced Shimona Nelson in goal shooter.

Petty had an immediate impact, collecting two intercepts before the quarter was out.

Shimmin was impressive once again, which begs the question of how much worse the narrative would be for the Thunderbirds if they went without the defensive effort of their back line.

Former Adelaide girls Maddy Proud, Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau were quick to put their stamp on the game for the Swifts, forcing each of their opponents to the bench or into a new position.

Cat Tuivaiti (Thunderbirds) and Sarah Klau (Swifts). Photo: Sue McKay

At the end of the first quarter, the Swifts led 15-7 to claim the first bonus point of the match.

Not a lot had changed as the players took the court for the second quarter as the Swifts put the first four goals away to none.

Cat struggled to be a strong target for the Thunderbirds under the post, causing Latu-Meafou and Bryce to lose control out the front of her.

Swifts captain Abbey McCulloch continued to disrupt the home side’s attack line and Proud collected three gains and three intercepts before half time.

Fiona Fowler (Thunderbirds) and Maddy Proud (Swifts). Photo: Sue McKay

At half time, the visitors had extended their lead to twenty goals after taking the quarter 20-8.

It seemed the home side would almost need a miracle to claw back the deficit as the scoreboard read 35-15.

To start the second half, Nelson returned to the court as Tuivaiti took to the bench.

The Thunderbirds managed to stick with the Swifts for the first ten minutes in the third to only trail 8 goals to ten for the quarter.

With a comfortable lead, the Swifts then turned to its bench, bringing on strong shooter Sophie Garbin to goal attack and young defender Kate Eddy to goal defence.

After struggling to score for the first half of the match, the Thunderbirds finally found their passage to Nelson and tied the quarter, 16 goals apiece.

Helen Housby (Swifts) and Leana de Bruin (Thunderbirds). Photo: Sue McKay

For the last quarter, the Swifts brought on English international Natalie Haythornthwaite to wing attack.

With that change, all 20 players for both sides had entered the match.

The 20-goal deficit did not stop the home crowd from roaring as the players took their positions for the final quarter.

After a strong third term from Adelaide, the final quarter was all the Swifts as they extended their lead to 69-41 to secure the match.

Yet again, Shimmin was one of the few positives for Adelaide with three intercepts, eight gains and eleven deflections.

Post-match, coach Dan Ryan said his defenders had been “absolute anchors” for the side all year.

Sadly for the Thunderbirds, they ended their 2018 season without a win and just four bonus points.

As his time with the Tbirds comes to an end, Ryan said it was not the way the club had hoped to end their season but he felt an element of relief that the season was done and dusted.

“It’s been pretty taxing on everyone and I think everyone’s pretty glad to see the end of 2018 but there’s so many positives to take out of it in terms of our own individual learning,” he said.

“It is what it is and now we have to move on and hopefully the club can find more success next year.”

Although out of finals contention, the Swifts secured their sixth place position on the ladder after adding seven points to their season tally and ending the Magpies’ changes of stealing the spot.

NSW Swifts finishing the season on a winning note. Photo: Sue McKay

Swifts coach Briony Akle said she was happy to finish their season off with a strong win.

“To win by that much is pretty exciting for us because we’ve worked hard all year and finally got the results we’ve been pushing for each week,” she said.

With their 2018 season over, Akle said the club would now look to ensuring they play finals next year.

 

NSW Swifts 69 def Adelaide Thunderbirds 41
(15-7, 35-15, 51-31, 69-41)

Player of the Match: Sam Wallace (Swifts)

 

NSW Swifts
Wallace 42/49 86%
Housby 17/19 89%
Garbin 10/12 83%
69/80 86%

Adelaide Thunderbirds
Nelson 20/26 77%
Tuivaiti 4/4 100%
Latu-Meafou 17/23 74%
41/55 75%

 

Starting line ups

Adelaide Thunderbirds
GS Shimona Nelson
GA Chelsea Pitman
WA Bongiwe Msomi
C Kaitlyn Bryce
WD Fiona Fowler
GD Leana De Bruin
GK Kate Shimmin

NSW Swifts
GS Sam Wallace
GA Helen Housby
WA Paige Hadley
C Maddy Proud
WD Abbey McCulloch
GD Maddy Turner
GK Sarah Klau

 

Report: Emmalie Balnaves-Gale
Photos: Sue McKay

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