The Collingwood Magpies have kept their slim Super Netball finals hopes alive with a thrilling 66-59 win against the Queensland Firebirds, ending their rivals’ chance of a top four finish in the process.
Returning to the game late and playing virtually on one leg due to an ankle injury, Romelda Aiken attempted to engineer an incredible fightback for her team with a flurry of super shots that allowed her team to claw to within four points inside the final two minutes.
Instead, it was Magpies goaler Gabby Sinclair who finished on top, overcoming a dislocated finger to lead her side to a crucial victory.
After a stunning win over the NSW Swifts on Tuesday, the Magpies are hitting form at the right time but will need to beat premiership favourites West Coast Fever in their final match of the regular season next Tuesday to have any chance of finishing in the top four.
Midcourter Molly Jovic, who had an outstanding game to keep Queensland’s former Diamonds defender Kim Ravallion in check, said the Magpies would throw everything at the Fever.
“We’ve got nothing to lose so we’ll give it a crack,” Jovic said.
Both sides were backing up just 48 hours after their Round 12 matches, with the demands of the unique Covid-affected season requiring plenty of juggling of the draw.
The Firebirds were also affected by injury, with Tara Hinchliffe (knee) and Jemma Mi Mi (calf) missing the match after injuries in the last fortnight.
Aiken was replaced by Tippah Dwan in the second quarter, with Firebirds coach Megan Anderson confirming the Jamaican shooter was ginger on her feet after suffering an ankle injury last week and playing a full game on Tuesday night.
Captain Gabi Simpson was also forced to play a reduced role due to a calf injury, with Anderson down to almost half a squad.
But it was the Magpies’ verve that gave them a substantial first-quarter lead they would never surrender.
The teams were locked in an arm wrestle for most of the opening term but an 8-1 finish from the Magpies gave them a 19-13 lead at the opening break, with the Firebirds looking flat.
It was the one percenters that cost the Queensland team early, with easy goal misses, passes rolling off the hand and missed rebounds costing them the lead.
The Magpies were forced to shuffle their shooting line-up early in the second quarter after Sinclair dislocated her finger and was forced to the sidelines.
Kalifa McCollin was injected at goal attack briefly but Sinclair returned to the match after having the pinky finger put back into place and strapped and she went on to shine, finishing with 17 points on 14-of-19 shooting, including three-of-four from super shot range.