Netball: Firebirds in top spot

The Queensland Firebirds sent out an emphatic statement to their title rivals as they clinched top spot on the Australian Conference ladder with a grinding 63-52 win over West Coast Fever at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday.

Following the New South Wales Swifts draw with the Southern Steel on Saturday, the Queenslanders showed no sign of nerves as they secured the win which took them above their Sydney-based rivals on the ladder.

Big guns Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett shot a combined 63 from 72, while MVP Kim Ravaillion turned in an extraordinary mid-court performance to keep her side ticking over.


The Firebirds were made to chase the game for most of the first quarter despite a bevy of deflections and near intercept chances across the court.
At one stage down by five goals, an intercept by Geitz late in the frame turned the tide. The Queenslanders steadied the ship to convert their turnover opportunities and take a 15-12 lead into the break.

The Firebirds found another gear at the start of the second and opened up a five goal lead halfway through despite the Fever forcing seven turnovers.

As the quarter wore on the momentum continued to flow the way of the ladies in purple, with the attacking movement of birthday girl Gretel Tippett incisive as they went into half-time up 31-22.

The Fever came out firing in the third, with Bassett turning the arm wrestle with Geitz in her favour off the back of some impressive midcourt work from the West Australians.

The Fever attempted to turn the screws at the other end of the court by bringing on physical goalkeeper Erena Mikaere late in the frame to disrupt Romelda Aiken, but the move had no effect.

Tippett and Aiken shot a perfect combined 16 from 16 to keep the foot on the peddle and go into the final stanza 47-39 up.

The Fever showed no signs of backing down in the last quarter and conceded 12 contact penalties as they turned up the heat and went looking for vital intercepts.

The Firebirds held firm however, with Ravaillion making seven feeds as the Queenslanders saw the Fever off 63-52.

West Coast Fever now face a nervous wait to see if they will qualify for the Australian elimination final next weekend, with Melbourne Vixens to play the Swifts if they defeat Central Pulse on Monday night.

The Coffee Club Queensland Firebirds will have next weekend off and play the winner of the Australian elimination final in the Australian Conference final on 18 July at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

Stay tuned to the Firebirds website for details.