Swifts claim extra-time Super Netball win

Sam Wallace has shot a perfect game to lead the NSW Swifts to a thrilling 69-66 Super Netball extra-time win over the Queensland Firebirds.

New mum Gretel Bueta landed decisive blows for the Firebirds but it was the Swifts who finally trumped their arch-rivals at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena after two previous extra-time failures against the Queensland side in the 2015 and 2016 grand finals.

Wallace shot an unblemished 49 goals as her side held off the spirited Firebirds in the first instalment of extra time after the league this year introduced the bonus period to settle drawn regular-season matches.

“This is fun, this is what we’ve been training for,” Swifts coach Briony Akle said.

“You play to win and you want a result.

“We’ve done a lot of those scenarios and there’s no room for panic.”

Bueta shot a pair of two-point super goals in the fourth term to momentarily give her team a lead in the dying minutes.

She finished with 13 goals at 100 per cent and her circle partner Romelda Aiken shot 39 goals in a reunion of the partnership that steered the team to titles in 2015 and 2016.

A series of turnovers in extra time cost new Queensland coach Megan Anderson a win on debut but outstanding Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson was delighted with the fight shown by her side.

“That hurt to lose in extra time but the way that we built in that game could be a big blessing in disguise,” said Simpson.

The Swifts were coasting towards a victory when they led by eight goals during the second term.

Their midcourt of Nat Haythornthwaite, Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley were dominant in the first half.

That all changed when one of last year’s standouts, Tippah Dwan, sparked a Firebirds comeback that launched the home team into the lead in the third quarter.

Dwan sank a two-point super goal and added eight feeds to her tally to breath life into the game.

The near-capacity crowd lavished Bueta with a raucous welcome back after she took maternity leave in 2020.

Less than four months after the birth of her son, Bobby, Bueta was rusty in her first stint back on court and was replaced before quarter-time.

Her second stint, in a moving partnership with young gun Dwan, was far more effective and both sank super goals to trim the Swifts’ lead to five goals at halftime.

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