Collingwood have capped off their pre-season campaign with a seven-point win over the Giants in Bendigo.
The Magpies finished the final practice match of their pre-season in style, recording a gritty seven-point victory over the Giants at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
The occasion marked the return of star mid-courters Kelsey Browne and Ash Brazill from their respective knee injuries and provided the first opportunity for Head Coach Nicole Richardson to have the full playing squad at her disposal.
It was the Giants who got the jump early, out to a four-point lead off the hand of Jo Harten before the Magpies had troubled the scorers, prompting Richardson to call for time to regroup.
The Magpies came out reinvigorated as Browne quickly provided a reminder of just how electric her pace through the mid-court can be, while Brazill was a rock at Wing Defence.
The chemistry between Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair only continues to grow, with Nelson claiming the upper hand in her battle with Sam Poolman under the post and in turn providing the space for Sinclair to dominate the Rebel Power 5.
Sharp shooting from the pair resulted in a seven-point lead to the Magpies heading into the first break.
The Giants brought a new level of physicality when play resumed as they looked to work their way back into the game – however, Collingwood were ready to match it.
Brazill’s leadership was clear as the newly announced vice-captain made her voice heard across the court, while captain Geva Mentor’s work in the defensive circle was tireless in an enthralling match-up with Harten.
Molly Jovic displayed her trademark work ethic to continue to find the circle's edge, as did training partner Maggie Lind who has continued to meet every challenge thrown her way during the Magpies' pre-season campaign.
Kalifa McCollin stepped into shooting circle alongside Nelson, continuing to bring the flair she has shown throughout the pre-season, as the Magpies held tough to maintain a five-point lead at the major break.
Brazill took the reins at centre while Melissa Bragg stepped up the pressure in Wing Defence to open the second half, helping the Magpies claim the largest lead of the game as the margin was pushed out 10 points.
The Giants called time to stem the flow, but athletic defensive work from Jodi Ann Ward ensured that the Giants could only come as close as seven points with a quarter to play.
It was a goal-for-goal affair to open the final quarter until Harten made a claim to launch a comeback for the Giants.
The gap was closed to five goals with two minutes to play, but the Magpies steadied to put the result beyond doubt – a buzzer-beating super shot from Sinclair putting the icing on the cake and sealing a seven-point victory.
With the season proper just two weeks away, the Magpies will return home to John Cain Arena to take on the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 1 of the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball at 7pm on Saturday May 1 with tickets on sale now.
The season will again be broadcast live on Nine – with eight of the Magpies’ matches set to feature, while the remainder will be available on Telstra TV and the Netball Live Official App.