THUNDERBIRDS PIP FAST-FINISHING FIREBIRDS

23 May 2010– by ANZ CHAMPIONSHIP

The Adelaide Thunderbirds cemented their place in the top four after holding out a determined Queensland Firebirds 53-51 in ANZ Championship action in Adelaide today.

 

With their season now in the balance, the Firebirds were left to rue a poor first quarter. The home team were unable to build on their strong start as the visitors responded bravely for the rest of the match to peg back a big first quarter deficit.  The margin proved too great for the fast-finishing Firebirds who ran out of time as the Thunderbirds let slip their buffer to set up an exciting finish.

 

There were no surprises in the Thunderbirds line-up but there was in the opposition, with Jacqueline Russell, who has had little court time this season, being preferred at centre for the Firebirds.  After a very even start, the Thunderbirds burst into life midway through the opening stanza with a damaging run of five straight goals. Excellent defensive work from Geva Mentor produced extra ball for the home team who made full use of the opportunities.

 

Jamaican shooting sensations were stationed at both ends of the court but it was the Thunderbirds Carla Borrego who overshadowed her opposite Romelda Aiken early on. Well-positioned and accurate under the hoop, Borrego was ably supported by Kate Beveridge, who sunk some long range bombs as the Thunderbirds rocketed into the first break with a 17-9 lead.

 

The Firebirds were quick to make personnel and positional changes on the resumption but it was all Thunderbirds in the early exchanges as they stretched out to an 11-goal margin.  The visitors struggled in their attacking third with Aiken and Natalie Medhurst facing big pressure from Mentor and Mo’onia Gerrard to establish good shooting positions in the circle.

 

The positional changes, however, slowly paid dividends for the Firebirds, who grafted patiently to chip away at the Thunderbirds  dominance. With goalkeeper Laura Geitz snapping up some vital intercept ball, the Firebirds went on to win the second stanza by a goal. But it was hard work for the visitors, with the Thunderbirds still holding the upper hand as they went to halftime handily placed at 29-22.

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The Thunderbirds continued to strangle the visitors’ attack line but were unable to completely take off in a battling third quarter. The Firebirds had their moments, pegging the deficit back to five at one stage but were let down by errors at crucial times.  With Aiken and Medhurst getting more ball, their accuracy rate picked up as the quarter stayed on even terms. But it was the sure and confident shooting of Borrego and Beveridge who ensured the Thunderbirds maintained their lead as they headed to the last break 44-37 ahead.

 

Creating valuable turnover ball, the Firebirds made a late run as they chipped back the margin in an exciting finish. However, the Thunderbirds held their nerve with Mentor and Gerrard providing some big defence to stave off the fast-finishing Firebirds.

 

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