Thunderbirds make it `Sweet 16′


THE Adelaide Thunderbirds remain the only unbeaten Australian team three rounds into the ANZ Championship after creating a league record in their thrilling victory over the NSW Swifts on Monday night.

The Thunderbirds 50-49 victory was their 16th consecutive win, but they were made to earn the points by a gallants Swifts side who lost two young players to injury during the game and fought back to almost snatch what would have been a memorable result.

Adelaide led by five goals at three-quarter time and the Swifts dug in to fight back and level the scores with a minute left.

A long bomb by Erin Bell gave the Thunderbirds the lead and then a crucial turnover in the Swifts goal circle in the dying seconds enabled them to hang onto win. It was the Swifts first defeat of the season.

“It was a great start to the game, we probably lost it a little bit in that second and third quarter but just so pleased we were able to scrape and get over the line,” Thunderbirds captain Renae Hallinan said.

The Swifts injury list continues to grow with injuries to Brooke Miller and Taylah Davies – who had already been called into the squad as a replacement player. But they are hopeful Gretel Tippett and Sharni Layton will be back in action in the next few weeks. 2014 Round 3 ANZ Championship game - Thunderbirds v NSW Swifts

The Melbourne Vixens and Queensland Firebirds also played out a one-goal thriller at Hisense Arena on Sunday afternoon with the Firebirds making it their third straight win in the Victorian capital.

The Vixens led by as much as six goals mid-way through the final term before Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken cut loose, shooting five goals in three minutes as Queensland hit the front for the first time in the match in the final minute.

Firebirds captain Laura Geitz praised the character of her team for refusing to give up.

“It was always going to be a tough game against these guys. They’ve had a cracking start to the season but we can take so much confidence away from that win,” Geitz said.

The Firebirds travel to Sydney this weekend to face the Swifts while the Vixens are at home against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

“We’ve got a few things that we need to go away and look at now but it’s not the end of the world,” Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield said. “We need to make sure we put in four consistent quarters.”

West Coast Fever showed what a formidable side it could be with a dominant performance against New Zealand side the Mainland Tactix in Perth. The 79-43 result was timely for West Coast ahead of consecutive games across the Tasman against the Southern Steel and Magic in the next fortnight.

Led by 57 goals from shooter Caitlin Bassett, Fever claimed their first win of the season and their 36-goal victory was their highest ever winning margin since the league began in 2008.