The NSW Swifts have survived a super shot hail storm to qualify for the club’s second Super Netball grand final in three years with a heart-stopping 62-61 win against the Giants.
Giant Sophie Dwyer, in her first finals appearance, and Jo Harten shot their side to within sight of victory before the Swifts’ experienced heads closed the game out at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
Swifts shooter Sam Wallace (49 points) was a tower of influence while defenders Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner nervelessly fended off the Giants when the game was on the line in the dying minutes.
“Experience counts but you’ve got to play in the moment and read what’s out there,” Swifts coach Briony Akle said.
“These guys take control in those moments and I have trust in them that they’ll have the right answer in those pressure times.”
The Swifts had control of the game until an air raid of four super shots from Dwyer (23 points) and Harten (38) gave minor premiers the Giants a sniff at three-quarter time.
They could not have done more to haul their side across the line while wing attack Maddie Hay recovered from being overawed in the first quarter to finish with a game-high 35 feeds, 23 with an attempt at goal.
Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald can still earn a sixth national league title as a head coach but must do so via next week’s preliminary final.
“We had four players who’ve not played finals before so today was a great experience for them,” she said.
“Sophie has such a calm head and she’s shown development across the season so today’s going to be of great benefit for her.”
A trio of super shots from Helen Housby and Wallace put the Swifts in charge at quarter-time but it was their defenders who had a foot on the Giants’ throats.
Turner and Klau were lively and abrasive in shutting down space at the Giants’ attack end.
The duo was responsible for six of the eight gains the Swifts pestered out of the Giants attackers in the first half.
Dwyer resorted to super shots to keep her side in touch as they chased a six-goal deficit at the beginning of the third term.