Jamie-Lee Price, Sam Poolman, Jo Harten, Amy Parmenter and Maddie Hay (L-R) celebrate victory in the Preliminary Final

Jamie-Lee Price, Sam Poolman, Jo Harten, Amy Parmenter and Maddie Hay (L-R) celebrate victory in the Preliminary Final. Image: Suncorp Super Netball/Twitter

The Giants have booked a spot in the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final after a strong defensive performance over the West Coast Fever.

The Giants have earned a place in the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final with a 64-61 win over the West Coast Fever in the Preliminary Final.

After losing to the Swifts last week, the Giants were forced to take advantage of the double chance, as they faced a fight for their season. Throughout the week, Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald talked about the importance of a fast start for the team, so that they could have a cushion against the fast-finishing Fever.

“We were certainly aware that one good quarter wasn’t going to be enough to win the match, and we had to be able to keep our work rate up and to maintain the pressure that they would definitely put on us as the game progressed,” Fitzgerald said after the game.

“We know we learnt a lot last week, and from some of the high-pressure games throughout the season, whether we won or lost. I think as a group we’ve learned a lot from that, and it absolutely helped us out today.”

The Giants’ fast start was only 16-13 on the scoreboard, but the on-court impact was more pronounced, as Sam Poolman and Amy Parmenter had strong starts against Jhaniele Fowler and Verity Charles respectively.

At the end of the first quarter, Parmenter had three gains, and Fowler had coughed up four turnovers and three penalties.

The Giants continued their fast start in the second quarter, extending the lead out to eight goals at halftime. In the second quarter, Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich had started to make changes to the on-court mix, in an attempt to find a combination that would be effective against the Giants.

Fitzgerald though was a step ahead.

“We expected that. We knew that if we could get on top and maintain the lead, that they would make changes so we anticipated that and I thought we were ready for it,” she explained after the game.  

“We’ve played on them a lot, and we know exactly what we have to do, it’s having the discipline to be able to continue with the gameplan that we’ve had, and I thought we did that exceptionally well today.”

By the third quarter, Poolman was on top of Fowler in the goal circle and was challenging the veteran shooter.

“I’m very excited for Sam. I thought she had an excellent game,  and she maintained it across the four quarters, which is what you ask for,” the proud coach said. “She had such a big target and such a big job for her, and she just did it so well today.”

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Fitzgerald was careful to note that Poolman’s performance was a result of a whole team effort and the way the team had played with a defensive mindset.

“I’ve got to give some credit to the players out on court in front of her,” she said.  “I thought we did a really good job, particularly in the first half, of slowing the ball down and giving her every opportunity to get on to it.”

“I thought we were well prepared throughout the week, and it’s a challenge that we faced not that long ago, and we knew we could improve on, and I think she had a great game today, and I’m very very happy for her,” Fitzgerald explained.

Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Parmenter (obscured) apply pressure to Verity Charles up the court. Image: Suncorp Super Netball/Twitter

The Giants were challenged in the last quarter, despite holding a lead of 11 goals with three and a half minutes to play. The Fever, on the back of some excellent long-range shooting for the Fever, brought it back to just two goals with 25 seconds to play.

The Giants showed a calm in those last few minutes, despite being challenged, as they slowed down the ball, and made every effort to avoid turnovers.

Fitzgerald had warned her charges with about five minutes to go, that the onslaught was coming.

“I said to them ‘all we have to do is control that five minutes, that it would become hectic, that they would try to shoot twos, that that was really their only chance, to get that ball and try and shoot twos, but as long as we could remain calm and score off our centres, it should have been enough’” the veteran coach recalled.

And she was right, as the Giants held on to run out three-goal winners and book a place in the Grand Final. They will face the Swifts there, who beat them last week in a thrilling semi-final and will be hoping to win their inaugural premiership.

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