Swifts left ‘devastated’ after narrowly missing finals in last-gasp drama

The NSW Swifts have missed out on the Super Netball semi-finals in agonising circumstances.

The Swifts’ fate hung in the balance going into Monday’s match between the Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood Magpies, who needed a win or a defeat by two points or fewer to edge out the Swifts for the fourth and final play-off spot.

In the last seconds of the game, with the Vixens leading 56-54, Vixens goal-shooter Mwai Kumwenda attempted a two-point shot for a 58-54 win that would have doomed the Magpies to fifth spot and allowed the Swifts to sneak into fourth.

But her shot was off target and the final score remained 56-54 to the Vixens, a result which saw the Magpies hold fourth spot on a percentage of 97. 56, ahead of the Swifts on 97. 37 percent.

Sydney Swifts captain Maddy Proud was left gutted after her team missed out on an all Sydney semi-final against the GWS Giants at Ken Rosewall arena on Sunday.

It’s pretty shattering, and [frustrating] to have gotten ourselves in a position where we did have to rely on other teams, Proud told the Herald and The Age.

The most frustrating part was yesterday [when the Swifts defeated the Firebirds 63-61] we showed just how good we really can be . . . that’s the most devastating part of it all.

The fourth finals spot swung between the Magpies and the Swifts throughout the first two quarters of the game, until a third-quarter surge from the Vixens lifted the Swifts’ hopes they would be back on the court next week. But midway through the final quarter, the Magpies rallied to level the scores at 50-50, setting up a frantic finale.

Magpies star Geva Mentor could barely believe her side had snuck in to the finals. I looked at the results and I thought it was two [goals] and we were done, then I saw Kelsey [Browne’s] face as she was like, ‘No, we’ve done it’ and then that was it, she said. Emotions? Gone.

The Magpies had endured a nightmarish preparation, with coach Nicole Richardson and players Ash Brazill and Jodi-Ann Ward ruled out with COVID-19. Veteran Renae Inglis, who retired from Super Netball in 2019, answered a late SOS from the Magpies to start for the first time in three years.

Inglis’s partnership with Magpies goal shooter Shimona Nelson played a huge part in the team’s comeback on Monday, and after the game Nelson said that the testing lead-up had galvanised the players’ resolve.

Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said that a few weeks ago, she would not have believed that her side would be hosting a semi-final. I didn’t care who we played, said Fitzgerald, who was just relieved to be in the top four.

Fitzgerald said that the Giants’ focus would be on their own game and what they can do to win Sunday’s semi-final. For us it’s about focusing on what we have built across the season . . . bringing out the consistency and composure.

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