The Collingwood Magpies have fallen to the Adelaide Thunderbirds by five goals (53-58), shaking off a significant score deficit but unable to take the chocolates in Round 11.
Severely-depleted Adelaide Thunderbirds have catapulted to third position on the ladder by notching a courageous 58-53 victory over Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne's State Netball Centre.
The Thunderbirds went into Sunday's match in sixth place and without three of their regular starters due to influenza; skipper Hannah Petty and sharpshooter Lenize Potgieter ruled out on Saturday and vice-captain Maisie Nankivell withdrawn hours before the game.
Despite the tumultuous backdrop, Adelaide - who leapfrogged past Queensland Firebirds, NSW Swifts and the Giants - rallied thanks to a gutsy all-court performance with many heroes stepping up to fill the required gaps.
Tayla Williams lowered Molly Jovic's colours in the centre, acting captain Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson were magnificent in defence, and replacement shooter Lucy Austin poured in 49 goals on Geva Mentor.
A strong finish to the opening term saw the Thunderbirds move ahead 15-13 at quarter-time and they were seldom seriously threatened for the rest of the contest.
Austin benefited from the expert playmaking of Williams and Georgie Horjus in the second stanza, while Collingwood could not get anything of substance going at the other end.
It was more of the same in the third term, which was dominated by the inspirational Sterling and featured the rare sight of Jovic, Mentor and Sophie Garbin all sitting together on the bench.
Adelaide's lead stretched to 16 goals in the fourth quarter before Magpies coach Nicole Richardson called a time-out and implored her charges to "show some character", limit the percentage damage and "get this under 10 goals".
Collingwood's players responded to Richardson's plea as a burst of super goals from Gabby Sinclair and some sudden signs of nerves from the visitors sliced significantly into the Thunderbirds' big lead and minimised some of the earlier damage.
Despite the accurate showing from both Nelson and Sinclair (both 100 percent), it was too little, too late for the Pies, who sit seventh on the ladder.
Q1: Magpies 13 v Thunderbirds 15
Q2: Magpies 24 v Thunderbirds 32
Q3: Magpies 35 v Thunderbirds 46
Q4: Magpies 53 v Thunderbirds 58
Player of the Match: Tayla Williams (Thunderbirds)
Magpies Shooting Statistics:
Shimona Nelson: 30/30 - 100%, G1: 30/30, G2: 0/0, Total Points: 30
Gabby Sinclair: 9/9 - 100%, G1: 2/2, G2: 7/7, Total Points: 16
Sophie Garbin: 5/9 - 56%, G1: 3/5, G2: 2/4, Total Points: 7
Thunderbirds Shooting Statistics:
Lucy Austin: 49/53 - 92.5%, G1: 49/53, G2: 0/0, Total Points: 49
Tippah Dwan: 9/12 - 75%, G1: 9/10, G2: 0/2, Total Points: 9
Magpies Starting Seven: GS: Shimona Nelson, GA: Sophie Garbin, WA: Kelsey Browne, C: Molly Jovic, WD: Ash Brazill (C), GD: Jodi-Ann Ward, GK: Geva Mentor (C)
Thunderbirds Starting Seven: GS: Lucy Austin, GA: Tippah Dwan, WA: Georgie Horjus, C: Tayla WIlliams, WD: Latanya Wilson, GD: Matilda Garrett, GK: Shamera Sterling