24/05/2024
Julie Fitzgerald has faith in the Giants ahead of their third match against the West Coast Fever this year.

Julie Fitzgerald has faith in the Giants ahead of their third match against the West Coast Fever this year. Image: Dani Brown

The Giants have played the Fever twice this year, with a tight win and a tight loss. Coach Julie Fitzgerald believes they are prepared for a finals win.

The Giants have played the West Coast Fever twice in this Suncorp Super Netball season. After the two matches, it is difficult to split the two sides, with a win apiece, and an extra goal to the Giants.

Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald believes that the history between the two sides this year will hold her side in good stead in this weekend’s preliminary final.

“I think it definitely gives us the confidence that we’re one of the teams in the league who do match up well against them, and that means we can go toe-to-toe with them for a whole game and hopefully come out the other side,” Fitzgerald explained.

The Fever have been pushed by just a couple of sides this season, but the Giants have managed it while fighting through difficult circumstances each time.

The first time they matched up, in Perth, defender April Brandley had returned home to Sydney, citing the difficulty of match preparation with her one year old son Clay locked in hotel quarantine with her.

The Giants would go on to lose that match by just one goal, with Jo Harten called for a controversial held ball while trying to take the match winning shot.

The second matchup, the weekend before last, the Giants took on the Fever again without Brandley, and also missing Tilly McDonell, who has been a sparkplug in defence off the bench this season.

April Brandley has missed both of the Giants' clashes agains the West Coast Fever this season. Image: Dani Brown
April Brandley has missed both of the Giants’ clashes agains the West Coast Fever this season. Image: Dani Brown

Down to just one healthy player on the bench, the Giants fought hard all day against the Fever, and came out two goal winners to take out the minor premiership.

Last week, after finishing with the minor premiership, the Giants faced the NSW Swifts, and were overpowered in the first quarter. With a young team, many had not played finals before, but Fitzgerald trusts that the taste of last week will have prepared her players for this week.

“We were certainly very disappointed with how we started the game,” she said. “It was a game of literally two halves, we were very tentative for the first half of the match, and I thought we played much more like our old selves in the second half, and that showed in that we were able to get back into the game and very nearly win it.”

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With young players in the midcourt, and the attacking end, the master coach, who has more than 350 games under her belt, has been trying to impress on those young charges the differences for finals matches.

“We’ve tried really hard to explain the intensity in finals, and the pressure in finals can get to you a little bit,” she explained. “I think that possibly happened in the early stages of last week’s game.”

Maddie Hay (L) is one of the players who had her first taste of finals experience last week. Image: Dani Brown
Maddie Hay (L) is one of the players who had her first taste of finals experience last week. Image: Dani Brown

The inexperienced team carries some finals nerves, Fitzgerald explained. But she doesn’t believe they carry any finals scars, despite the Giants previous finals history.

In 2018, the Giants finished as minor premiers as well, only to lose the major semi final, and then the preliminary final, being bundled out in straight sets.

“I don’t think you can saddle this very young group with anything that happened in 2018,” Fitrzgerald said. “I think there’s no comparison, it’s a totally different team, under totally different circumstances.”

When quizzed on how the Giants will avoid the mistakes of last week, the Giants coach explained the importance of starting fast, and preventing the Fever from taking an early lead.

“We’ve just talked about the mental preparation and the warm up, and how we approach the game, and the intensity from the very start to get ourselves going,” she said.

And while the Giants have pushed the Fever all season, and they carry the loss from last week, when they step out on court, the scores will be 0-0. The loss to the Fever, the win over the Fever, and last week’s heartbreak will all be gone.

It will be just about making sure they’re in front at the end of this weekend’s match.

The Giants play the West Coast Fever at 3:00pm AEST on Saturday for a place in the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final against the NSW Swifts.

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