Pies keep season alive with Tassie classic over Firebirds

1 month ago

The Magpies have kept their finals hopes alive, defeating the Queensland Firebirds 71-67 in front of a loud Tasmanian crowd.

AAP

Firebirds star Gretel Bueta fought back in the second half of her 100th national league game but it was not enough to prevent the Magpies seizing a major scalp and joining the Queenslanders in finals contention on four wins from nine matches.

The sixth-placed Magpies almost squandered a 14-goal second-half advantage when the Firebirds chased hard in the closing minutes.

After being dominated early by Jodi-Ann Ward, Bueta found her range and benefitted from some brave and accurate feeds from her midcourt.

The great escape was on target when they trailed by just two, but a desperate possession gain from Magpies centre Molly Jovic helped her team steady.

Ward laid the platform with her pressure on Bueta, Shimona Nelson shot 65 goals from 66 attempts and Kelsey Browne (34 feeds) was too quick and decisive for the Firebirds.

"This has been a long time coming," Browne - who was named player of the match for a third time - said.

"It been a huge turning point over the last three weeks.

There's been a lot of hard conversations and everyone's starting to take responsibility for their own performance."

Bueta eventually wriggled free from Ward's grasp to shoot 23 goals, including three from two-point super shot range.

The Magpies clearly had the better of the first half.

Queensland's attack end has been expertly led by Bueta and Lara Dunkley this season yet they struggled to pierce Collingwood's circle defence.

With Ash Brazill and Ward in control, the Firebirds' feeders were forced into low percentage passes.

Jemma Mi Mi replaced Dunkley at wing attack before halftime as Firebirds coach Megan Anderson sought more dynamic and confident movement from her attackers.

The Firebirds' top-four standing looked in serious peril as early as the opening minutes of the third term when Nelson sank her 41st goal to drive the Magpies out to a 44-32 lead.

Collingwood forged ahead by as many as 14 goals before the Firebirds clawed back to trail by six and set the stage for a tense last quarter.

Magpies goalers Sophie Garbin and Gabby Sinclair both proved more than capable of finding Nelson under the post, expertly teaming with Browne and Jovic to apply excellent offensive pressure.

Score Breakdown
Q1: Magpies 18 v Firebirds 16
Q2: Magpies 37 v Firebirds 31
Q3: Magpies 51 v Firebirds 48
Q4: Magpies 67 v Firebirds 59

Player of the Match: Kelsey Browne (Magpies)

Magpies Shooting Statistics:
Shimona Nelson: 65/66 - 98%, G1: 65/66, G2: 0/0, Total Points: 65
Sophie Garbin: 4/4 - 100%, G1: 4/4, G2: 0/0, Total Points: 4
Gabby Sinclair: 2/3 - 67%, G1: 2/3, G2: 0/0, Total Points: 2

Firebirds Shooting Statistics:
Donnell Wallam: 32/40 - 80%, G1: 31/36, G2: 1/4, Total Points: 33
Gretel Bueta: 22/25 - 88%, G1: 20/21, G2: 2/4, Total Points: 24
Mia Stower: 7/12 - 58%, G1: 4/6, G2: 3/6, Total Points: 10

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)

Firebirds Starting Seven: GS: Donnell Wallam, GA: Gretel Bueta, WA: Lara Dunkley (C), C: Kim Ravaillion (C), WD: Gabi Simpson, GD: Ruby Bakewell-Doran, GK: Eboni Usoro-Brown

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