15/04/2024

Lucy Austin was the star of the show as the Adelaide Thunderbirds booked their spot in the Suncop Super Netball Grand Final. (Photo: Thunderbirds Facebook)

The Adelaide Thunderbirds waited 10 years for a finals appearance and when the time came, they took down top of the table NSW Swifts to advance to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) Grand Final.

Lucy Austin would come up big in the Thunderbirds 64-62 win, as they punched their ticket to the big dance after extra time, with the two teams unable to be split following regulation time.

Adelaide Thunderbirds made history reaching the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final for the first time. (Photo: Thunderbirds Facebook)

Tayla Williams would make a crucial mid-court intercept during the final moments of the fourth quarter, to set up Austin who made a clutch goal on the buzzer.

“I don’t even remember it, it was crazy,” explained Austin.

“I just knew I had to get it, I didn’t even know how much time we had left, but I knew it wasn’t long.

“So, I just sort of threw it up, yeah so good that it went in, and yeah very exciting.”

Austin is a rising star of SSN – putting up 13 of 14 attempts, including five of six from the super shot area as the Thunderbirds came from behind in an historic victory.

In front of a packed Qudos Bank Arena it was Grand Final like atmosphere, however, Austin knew exactly what was required.

“Yeah, it was crazy, the crowd was so loud,” continued Austin.

“I felt really supported and you know I have come on in some pressure moments, so I kind of knew what I had to do.”

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English international, Eleanor Cardwell, has been a positive influence for Austin at the Thunderbirds over the past two seasons.

The goaler tandem have been able to work together well this season for the Thunderbirds, with Cardwell giving Austin the confidence on court to produce in the big moments.

“I think obviously us two both being really tall we can both get in for our rebounds,” said Austin.

“So, it gives me so much confidence to just go for the longer shots, because I know that she is there under the posts to get the rebounds for me.”

With the game heading into extra time, it was captain Hannah Petty in the huddle that would settle things down, as emotions were high following the Austin buzzer beater.

“Hannah [Petty] said some really good stuff in the huddle and calmed us all down,” continued Austin.

“We just went out there and knew what we had to do for that last five minutes, and we sort of gave it our all and came up with the win.”

The Thunderbirds will now look to the SSN Grand Final on July 8 at John Cain Arena where they will face the winner of the preliminary final between the Swifts and West Coast Fever.

After a decade of no final’s success, it is still a surreal feeling for Austin as the realisation of making Thunderbirds history sinks in.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Austin.

“I feel like it still hasn’t really sunk in, but it’s really special, obviously being my first year in the proper team.

“It’s really exciting to be in the Grand Final, and yeah I can’t wait.”

Coming through the Netball SA pathway the Grand Final has extra meaning to Austin and the Thunderbirds with some of the squad part of that system.

Getting to enjoy the moment with teammates who have played together and have gone through the same process as Austin, is a special feeling to share.

“Yeah, it’s really special,” continued Austin.

“Obviously going through the Netball SA pathway together, we have sort of been there from the bottom working our way up together.

“So, it’s really special to be with some of my best mates out there.”

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