The Giants have claimed the Super Netball minor premiership and set up an all-NSW major semi-final with a gritty 75-73 victory over the West Coast Fever.
The short-handed Giants recovered from six goals down to stun the Fever in Saturday’s clash at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena and book a clash with the NSW Swifts for a place in the grand final.
The result capped a thrilling conclusion to the regular season with the Giants dressing just eight players after defenders April Brandley and Tilly McDonell were ruled out with ankle injuries.
The Giants recovered from the shock of loss of young gun Kiera Austin to a season-ending knee injury in the opening round to finish on top of the ladder for the first time since the 2018 season.
“We are just so elated to get that win, to finish at the top of the table and playing for a place in the (grand) final next week,” captain Jo Harten told the Nine Network.
Harten led her side superbly as she shot truly to break a 73-all tie, while a clutch defensive effort from Maddie Hay allowed Sophie Dwyer to put the Giants ahead by two in the final minute.
The Fever battled desperately to regain possession in the closing seconds but the Giants held on to close a challenging COVID-19 affected regular season.
“It’s also a reward for the hard work we’ve done all year,” Harten said.
“It’s been a long old slog but we’ve enjoyed every moment and I don’t think we have been as excited to finish off a round as we have been just then.”
After a two-year absence from finals action, Harten was excited by the prospect of taking on their fierce local rivals in next Saturday’s grand final qualifier.
“We are dreadfully missing seeing our fans and our members, especially today, so what a reward for them to have the NSW derby in that major semi-final next week,” she said.
West Coast looked ominous early as they produced the highest points total in a single quarter for the season to build a 25-19 advantage.
But the Fever could not break away in the second term as the Giants made their move four minutes before halftime.
Harten and Dwyer combined for four super shots to send their side into the long break leading 41-40.
While the Fever came agonisingly close to nabbing the minor premiership, despite opening the season with a 12-point penalty for historical salary cap breaches, they will need to defeat Sunshine Coast Lightning in the minor semi-final to keep their championship dream alive.