Gi­ants’ cru­cial breather

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - LEAGUE - AMANDA LULHAM QUAYCENTRE

THE Gi­ants have a four-week hia­tus for the net­ball World Cup to find fi­nal form and fire with the Syd­ney team po­ten­tially out of the top four by the end of the week­end af­ter a costly loss to the Mel­bourne Vix­ens last night.

A classy Vix­ens con­sol­i­dated their place in the Su­per Net­ball top three with a 66-57 vic­tory over the Gi­ants at Quaycentre in Syd­ney.

But the loss will see the Gi­ants slide out of the top four if the Mag­pies down the Queensland Fire­birds in to­day’s fi­nal match of round nine.

It would be a dev­as­tat­ing blow to the con­fi­dence of a side re­build­ing af­ter ma­jor changes in the off­sea­son but still boast­ing some of the big­gest names in the game in Aus­tralian shooter Caitlin Bas­sett, for­mer Di­a­mond Kim Green and English star Jo Harten.

The nine-goal mar­gin was one of the most re­sound­ing losses the Gi­ants have suf­fered to the Vix­ens since the start of Su­per Net­ball in 2017.

Ear­lier this sea­son the Vix­ens beat the Gi­ants 61-45.

“Ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed. We just made way too many er­rors,” Bas­sett said. “At the same time I’m proud of the way the girls ral­lied in the fi­nal quar­ter.

“They have the break now. It’s im­por­tant to make the most of it.”

The Gi­ants trailed 19-11 at the first break and by as much as 14 in the se­cond quar­ter.

By three-quar­ter time the Vix­ens con­trolled the match 52-38.

The Gi­ants ral­lied in the fi­nal quar­ter to re­duce their deficit to nine.

Bas­sett, who will lead Aus­tralia’s hunt for the world ti­tle in the UK next month, opened for the Gi­ants, was rested in the se­cond quar­ter be­fore re­turn­ing to the shoot­ing cir­cle in the third and fourth.

She ended the game with 20 from 22 while Harten net­ted 24 from 27 and young­ster Kiera Austin 13 from 14. Di­a­mond shooter Caitlin Th­waites top­scored with 40 from 42 with Te­gan Philip scor­ing 26 from 29.

Ri­vals yes­ter­day, Gi­ants guns Bas­sett and Jamie-Lee Price will now be­come Aus­tralian Di­a­monds team­mates with Vix­ens Th­waites, Jo We­ston and Liz Wat­son at a train­ing camp in Syd­ney this week.

This will be Aus­tralia’s ma­jor lead-in to the World Cup where the Di­a­monds will be bid­ding to de­fend the crown they won in Syd­ney four years ago.

Su­per Net­ball will break for four weeks to ac­co­mo­date the event in the UK be­fore re­sum­ing on July 27.

To­day the NSW Swifts will look to strengthen their lead­ers po­si­tion in the league with an away win over the Ade­laide Thun­der­birds.

In last night’s other Su­per Net­ball match, Sun­shine Coast Light­ning de­feated West Coast Fever 65 to 57.

Pic­ture: Getty

Te­gan Philip of the Vix­ens shoots dur­ing the Su­per Net­ball match be­tween the Gi­ants and the Vix­ens last night.

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