A all-time record 13,314 fans packed into Qudos Bank Arena – formally Allphones Arena – in Round 9 of the ANZ Championship and saw the NSW Swifts record their first win over the Queensland Firebirds since Round 4, 2014.
The win elevated the Swifts into top position on the Australian Conference Ladder and also ended the Firebirds’ 21-game winning streak.
It was a case of second time lucky for the Swifts, who attempted to avenge their Grand Final loss against the reigning premiers in Round 5.
Captain Kimberlee Green was sidelined with a knee complaint, forcing a re-shuffle in the Swifts midcourt. Australian Diamonds’ squad member Paige Hadley was named MVP for the match, with 10 goal assists and 28 feeds in wing attack.
It was a strong start for the Firebirds, who led at both breaks in the first half before trailing at three-quarter time by one-goal. This was the first time all season that the Firebirds have trailed at a break.
Stephanie Wood impressed in the goal circle for the Swifts in the second half, netting 15 goals from 19 attempts in goal attack.
The Vixens defeated a determined Adelaide Thunderbirds outfit in the opening match of the round to further cement their spot in third spot, a game clear of West Coast Fever.
They have won four of their last five games. Captain Madi Robinson won her fifth match MVP award for the year, with 18 goal assists and 34 feeds to her name.
There were still positives to take out of the game for the winless Thunderbirds.
Replacement shooter Kristina Brice was impressive in the circle, taking Carla Borrego’s position at goal shooter from the second quarter. She netted 27 goals from 30 attempts, before being sidelined with an ankle injury late in the final term.
The Thunderbirds also challenged the Vixens in that final term and won the fourth quarter 15-11.
In Round 10 the Vixens travel to the Gold Coast to face the reigning premiers while the Thunderbirds host West Coast Fever, who are fresh from a bye round.
Photography: Top image (Murray Wilkinson), Right Image (Narelle Spangher)