There was a buzz around Sydney in the lead up to the round 1 Giants Netball v NSW Swifts derby. It was earmarked as the game of the round and as the crowd streamed in to Qudos Bank area in Sydney Olympic Park, you could feel the excitement in the air. Both teams were playing for the Carole Sykes Memorial Trophy, bragging rights and first blood.

Giants Netball are known as heavy-hitters in Suncorp Super Netball; since the inception of the competition two years ago, they have made a grand final and a semi final respectively. They are littered with current and ex Australian representatives in their line-up, as well as England Roses shooter, Jo Harten.

Caitlin Bassett (Giants) takes a shot. Image: Danny Dalton

The Swifts are enjoying a mostly unchanged team, which means that over the last two seasons, the connections they have made on and off the court now enter their third year. However, they were up against it in round 1 before the first whistle had even been blown. They had two players forced out of the game with injuries: Kate Eddy who is nursing a groin injury (expected back round 2) and English Roses player, Natalie Haythornwaite who is out for an undisclosed period with a hamstring concern.

Early in the first quarter the Swifts seemed to have an ease to their frontline that the Giants lacked. One team had a combination running for two previous seasons, and one was trying to create the connections on the fly as the game went on. This was particularly clear in the interplay between Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett.

Bassett was instantly under enormous pressure from Sarah Klau, who did not seem at all intimidated by the Diamonds shooter, but Bassett with all her experience remained calm in the first quarter. She also showed no side effects of the fractured arm that she suffered while training for the Quad Series with the Australian Diamonds.

Paige Hadley. Image: Danny Dalton

The attacking end for the Giants was lacking the seamlessness we have seen from this side in previous years. While the score remained close for the first two quarters, uncharacteristic mistakes and ball handling errors saw the Giants lose possession.

While there were certainly passages of play in the attack that showed textbook brilliance and some quality feeds from Captain Kim Green, there were many occasions where the Giants struggled to get the ball cleanly into their shooting combination of Bassett and Jo Harten. They struggled to find crisp and clean connections and had to fight hard for all of their gains.

For the Swifts, their transition play was particularly impressive. This gave the attacking end plenty of time and space to set up exactly how they wanted. The speed with which Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley controlled the game through the midcourt was impressive and they were able to deliver quality feeds to their shooters.

Jamie-Lee Price takes the ball in the air. Image: Danny Dalton

Jamie-Lee Price was a standout on court for the Giants, and her defensive work and transition through court helped the Giants outscore their opponents in the second quarter to go into the halftime break up by two goals.

The start of the third quarter saw the Swifts jump out of the blocks with purpose and energy. They had stepped up their all-over court defence and lifted their intensity. They worked with patience and precision to cherish possession and as the tide of the match started to fall their way, Swifts fans grew in voice.

While the Giants fought gallantly to hold on to their lead, they were unable to maintain the flow and consistency they had briefly found in the second quarter. Bassett was missing shots from under the post against the continued pressure from Klau and there was just no easy pass into the circle. The Swifts defenders had lifted their work rate and made life incredibly hard for the Giants attacking end.

Helen Housby jumps for the ball. Image: Danny Dalton

The addition of training partner, Sophie Halpin in wing defence at the start of the third quarter also lifted the Swifts. Halpin had a very physical presence on court; she scrapped for everything and was not at all phased by her opposition. The Giants were down by two going into the final quarter and the game was there to win for the team who was prepared to step up and take it.

It was not the final quarter that the Giants wanted to have. The Swifts maintained their energy and enthusiasm and errors made by the Giants gifted the Swifts possession on multiple occasions and they capitalised on a Giants outfit that has not yet found flow in its attacking combinations.

Wallace attempts a shot while Manu’a jumps in defence. Image: Danny Dalton

With nine minutes to go, Australian Diamonds shooter Caitlin Bassett was taken off, such was the tireless work Klau had done all game. For the majority of the game there had been no easy feed into Bassett and she had been made to work incredibly hard for every possession and any space she wanted in the circle.

The Swifts pressed their advantage in the last quarter, eventually winning the game by seven goals. From here, they will stay home to face the Adelaide Thunderbirds next week. The journey for the Giants does not get any easier as they take on the Vixens in Melbourne.

FINAL SCORE: NSW Swifts 63 defeated Giants Netball 56

(14-12, 14-18, 18-14, 17-12)

Player of the Match: Paige Hadley (Swifts)

Jamie-Lee Price (Giants) and Maddy Proud (Swifts) battle for possession. Image: Danny Dalton


NSW Swifts

Wallace – 46/49 94%

Housby – 17/26 65%

63/75 84%


Giants Netball

Jo Harten – 25/31 81%

Austin – 3/3 100%

(Bassett – 28/36 72%)

56/70 80%


Starting Lineups

Giants Netball

GS Bassett

GA Harten

WA Green

C Price

WD Parmenter

GD Manu’a

GK Poolman

Changes: Q1: Hay C, Price C; Q4: Harten GS, Austin GA, Poolman GD, Manu’a GK


NSW Swifts

GS Wallace

GA Housby

WA Hadley

C Proud

WD Moore

GD Turner

GK Klau

Changes: Q3: WD Halpin


Circle Feeds:

Paige Hadley 46

Maddy Proud 27

Kim Green 27

Jamie-Lee Price 27


What they said after the game:

Jamie-Lee Price (Giants)

Obviously we wanted to beat the Swifts and we wanted to have the perfect start to our season, but realistically it was always going to be a challenge. We are still trying to get to know each other and yes, we can take positives out of today, we had some patches where it was really easy flowing and we created pressure, but then obviously other patches where we didn’t execute very well… plenty to work on.

When talking about the connection with new Giant Caitlin Bassett:

It is definitely not there yet, we have only had two games with C Bass, so it will definitely come and the more that we play with each other and train, the more we will get more comfortable and connect better.

When talking about re-grouping and areas of improvement for round 2:

We will just have to practice our feeding into the circle, because we definitely hit the circle edge…we just made errors on our own, I think, and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and obviously our defence through court, I think in the end we let them get down to quickly.


Caitlin Bassett (goal shooter, Giants)

Her debut as a Giant:

It was exciting, the crowd was amazing…it is a great feeling putting on the orange and being a part now of this amazing club

On building the connections with Jo Harten and her circle feeders and being excited for the season:

Definitely, I think I have mentioned it’s Jo and myself’s third time we’ve played together today, so the more time we get to play together, and the more we get to learn each other’s movement of play the better it will be and look, we made a few mistakes in our attacking end that we are going to look at and obviously fix, but there was some amazing things out there as well, so it’s exciting. But we obviously don’t have a lot of time, we’ve got the game against the Vixens next weekend, we’ve got to look forward and make sure we are fixing our things on the go.

Kate Cornish


Twitter: @KateKateCornish


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