05/03/2024

The Giants are charging towards finals. (Photo: Dani Brown)

Giants Netball found their resilience through star performers Sophie Dwyer and Maddie Hay, as they battled to a win over their cross-town rivals.

The Giants found their form with a strong win over the Swifts, avenging their loss earlier in the season. Despite the interruption of last-minute relocation, the Giants finally looked settled, and it showed as they won 59-55.

After losing the Sydney Derby earlier in the year, where coach Julie Fitzgerald lamented the team’s poor conversion of centre passes, today the Giants went at better than 75 per cent on their conversion today.

Fitzgerald celebrated her team’s performance today post-game..

“I just kept holding on and hoping that we could do it, and I thought the composure today and the discipline was really good, and it was the best game this group has played,” Fitzgerald told media post-game.

“I’m just so happy that we were able to maintain our discipline and play the game that we know will suit us.”

Last time the Giants were in Adelaide, star goal attack Kiera Austin tore her ACL, ending her season almost before it began.

That day, young 19-year-old Sophie Dwyer stepped into the breach and filled the gaping hole in the Giants attack left by the injured Diamonds goaler. Dwyer has hardly looked back since, as she’s made the position her own.

Dywer has been instrumental throughout the year, as she sits second in the competition for Super Shots, and has played 60 minutes for the Giants every week.

Despite being thrust into the limelight on short notice, Dwyer has developed a strong partnership with Jo Harten. The two showed their chemistry with 16 goal assists between them, ensuring that each had their chance to dominate.

Dwyer continued her strong form, hitting on all of her shots from the regulation distance helping to ensure that the Giants made the best of their opportunities.

Going up against the fearsome Swifts defensive duo Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau, Dwyer had six turnovers, but managed to find a gain of her own, and continued to pressure her opponents.

Turner and Klau were as quiet as they have been all season as Harten, star wing attack Maddie Hay and Dwyer ensured that all seven Giants on the court applied defensive pressure.

Fitzgerald lauded her overall performance, including her accountability without the ball in her hand.

“She [Dwyer] played very very well. Her work in defence was so much greater than before, and that’s an area of her game that’s growing every week, and I thought she played very well today,” Fitzgerald explained.

Sophie Dwyer defends Maddy Turner with arms outstretched
Sophie Dwyer’s defensive effort was as impactful as her shooting today. Credit: Dani Brown

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Maddie Hay was named Player of the Match for the second week in a row, and led the way for the Giants with 19 goal assists, to go with two gains of her own.

Sam Poolman was also instrumental at the other end of the court, with eight gains and five rebounds providing the Giants with plenty of extra scoring opportunities. 

“I really enjoy the battle against her [Sam Wallace],” Poolman explained.

“Once we found out we were playing the Swifts, we spoke as a defensive unit that they were really impressive the last time we played them, and we felt like they had a plan for everything we did.

“We knew that it would be a tough task today, and it was.”

Sam Poolman with ball in hand looking to pass after a game
Sam Poolman’s dominance over Sam Wallace was a key matchup for the Giants. Credit: Dani Brown

The Giants made their move in the third quarter, as they blew a one goal lead into a six goal buffer. They had 56 per cent of possessions in the term, and kept their penalties and turnovers to a minimum, allowing them to dominate possession with 56 per cent for the term, which resulted in more scoring opportunities.

During the week, the Giants relocated for the third time this season, as COVID-19 border restrictions moved the Super Netball competition from Melbourne to Adelaide. Fitzgerald was proud of her players in the face of the challenges.

“They’ve been really resilient,” Fitzgerald said.

“I think we’ve just accepted that you have to go with the flow, and there were no complaints, we knew that we had to move out, and we moved in here and settled in quite quickly.”

The improvement will be welcome, as it is unlikely the Giants will return to Sydney before the end of the Super Netball Season. The win puts the Giants level with the Swifts on the ladder, and primed for a return to finals for the first time since 2018.  

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