Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald believes her side’s ability to pile immediate pressure in high-flying Melbourne Vixens was the catalyst for their polished 56-52 Super Netball win at AIS Arena on Sunday.
After a lean period, in which it seemed that the absence of injured captain Kim Green might be too much to bear, the Giants strung together a consummate team performance on Sunday.
The win catapults them past the Vixens and Sunshine Coast Lightning to the top of the ladder with just two rounds remaining before the finals.
The Giants won the first quarter by four goals, but the Vixens claimed the second by a goal, leaving the halftime ledger at 28-25 to the home side.
The Giants stepped up the tempo again after the break to open up a seven-goal margin at three-quarter-time.
The Vixens came home strongly in the final term but the Giants held on to secure a confidence-building win.
“We knew if we were going to beat a team like the Vixens we had to be honest for the whole 60 minutes,” Fitzgerald said.
“We couldn’t afford a slow start because they’ve had a couple of really blistering first quarters, so we knew our start had to be good.”
Fitzgerald was thrilled with the Giants’ defensive effort throughout and pleased that her positional changes for Susan Pettitt and Jo Harten paid off.
“I think it was a good option for us to move Susan into goal shooter and Jo to goal attack because it provided us with really good movement in the circle,” Fitzgerald said.
“Jo’s good for us defensively down the court. I thought there were a lot of plusses.”
The Giants’ early six-goal lead condemned Melbourne to an opening-quarter deficit for the first time this season.
The Vixens stepped up their defensive pressure in the second term, but failed to fully convert that improvement at the other end of the court.
The Giants re-asserted their authority in the third period, prompting a Melbourne time out and a change with Emma Ryde at goal shooter in place of Mwai Kumwenda.
Giants goalkeeper Sam Poolman maintained her intensity, seeing her side extend their advantage to eight goals before going to the final break ahead 42-35.
The Vixens found some answers late in the match, but they came too late.
“I don’t think we ever really got into the game,” Vixens coach Simone McKinnis said.
“The Giants did a great job in keeping up their effort right from the word go.
‘They were very good from the first whistle and we spent the game chasing.”
The Giants host the fifth-placed Queensland Firebirds next round, while the Vixens are at home against the rock-bottom Adelaide Thunderbirds.