21/04/2024

Jamie-Lee Price put up a strong fight against Swifts captain Maddy Proud. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball/Twitter)

Although the Giants were unable to secure their maiden championship title after a four-goal loss to the Swifts at Nissan Arena today, the young team are able to take plenty of positives away from this season.

Although the Giants were unable to secure their maiden championship title after a four-goal loss to the Swifts at Nissan Arena today, the young team are able to take plenty of positives away from this season.

It was a rocky start for Julie Fitzgerald’s side who battled consecutive goals from the Swifts before calling a time-out to calm the evident nerves.

In Jo Harten’s 150th national league game, the captain stepped up to the challenge, leading by example across the goal third.

Despite falling short to their cross town rivals in the fourth NSW derby this year, the Giants are able to take plenty of positives from even making it so far.

After being denied entry in Queensland when the league faced COVID challenges in Adelaide, Harten says the team felt that their season had come to an end.

“We’d just beaten the Swifts and that’s something we hadn’t managed to do over the last few years and we were on a massive high, and then we were informed about an exposure site we’d visited in Melbourne,” Harten explained.

“Our season was pretty much done.”

But a change to the exposure ruled the Giants out from close contacts by only thirty minutes, and they were able to embark on a flight to join the competition again in the Sunshine State.

For Harten, she was thankful her side even had the opportunity to play in a grand final, considering the adversity they have faced this season.

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Reflecting on the loss, Fitzgerald says she’s proud to be part of what the Giants are building.

“I think it’s amazing for the Giants name, we’ve got such a short history,” Fitzgerald said.

“We’ve only been going for five years and we’ve made it to two grand finals. Yes, we haven’t won it yet. But when you look at this group, the future is very bright.”

Maddie Hay produced a stellar performance for the Giants, with 18 goal assists, 32 feeds and 31 centre pass receives to keep the Giants in the game.

Hay’s efforts were matched by Harten as she led her team the best she could, shooting at 97 per cent and converting 28 of 29 goals.

Harten says that the Giants never really felt they were on top today, even though they knew they were putting in every ounce of effort they had in the tank.

“That last quarter was some of the best netball I’ve seen from the opposition… holding onto the ball for 15 minutes is pretty hard,” she said.

“We gave it our best shot but unfortunately it wasn’t enough today.”

Fitzgerald explained that although the team was unable to stop the Swifts today, they have such a bright future ahead of them, especially with Harten as captain.

“I think she’s an absolutely incredible leader,” she said.

“I think it’s not only what she does with her leadership on court and the way she plays on court and leads by example, but she has so much empathy for what’s happening off court.

“She drives the girls to be the best that they can be. She brings a really great friendship and attitude and family feel to our club and I think she’s an exceptional leader.”

There were glimpses of hope for the Giants on court today, but it was evident the Swifts had worked out how to shut down 19-year-old shooting prodigy, Sophie Dwyer.

Despite throwing two intercepted passes and giving away eight contact calls, Fitzgerald says she couldn’t be more proud of the teen.

“The fact [is] that she has been able to come up and present to us every week and play the games that she has and shoot the way she has at 19 years of age,” Fitzgerald said.

“Whether we won or lost today, I am immensely proud of how she has developed as a player and the maturity she’s shown on court.”

For English born Harten, the NSW talent pathway has provided her team with such an exciting future.

“We are very proud of the fact that our club not only supports that pathway and manages to bring those girls through,” she said.

“Coming from England and not being a part of that NSW pathway,” Harten described, “I arrive at the Giants and look at people like Tilly McDonell and I look at Sophie Dwyer and Matisse Letherbarrow and they’re all so young and they’ve already made a name for themselves in our team.

“They’ve been a part of the grand final which shows great promise. Then I look at the training partners that we had to leave back in Sydney, and there’s just so much potential and talent there.”

Looking ahead to next year, the Giants plan to stay together and build on their growing potential.

“I really want to keep the core of this group together, I think you look at the other teams in the top four and they’ve been together for quite a few years now,” Fitzgerald said.

“I think if we can hold the core group here and develop those understandings where everything becomes automatic, I think we’ve got a very bright future ahead of us.

“All year I’ve said the promise of this team and the potential of this team is so exciting, and I think we will be able to look back on this and be grateful that we were good enough to get to a grand final.”

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