Shooter Romelda Aiken has spearheaded the Queensland Firebirds to a thrilling 48-47 netball win over the Melbourne Vixens.
Jamaican goalshooter Romelda Aiken spearheaded the Queensland Firebirds to a thrilling one-goal comeback victory over the Melbourne Vixens in their trans-Tasman netball competition clash.
The previously unbeaten Vixens led from the start and were up by six goals early in the final quarter at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena on Sunday.
But a change of tactics paid off as the Firebirds rallied and Aiken levelled with 72 seconds to go then landed the winner with 51 seconds left for a 48-47 victory.
Aiken played a dominant role and ended with 38 goals from 46 attempts.
At the final break, Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke asked her team to take responsibility for one player each, to play one-on-one netball.
The Firebirds hauled themselves back into the game as their pressure in the mid-court forced turnovers.
Aiken and partner Amy Wild (10 goals from 16 attempts) started to get more space and they took advantage of the better delivery to cut back the deficit.
Jencke praised her team for sticking to their plans.
“When you get out to that distance (six goals behind) it is hard to peg front-runners like the Vixens back, but they kept their composure, they used the ball well and they were patient with one and another,” said Jencke.
Grand finalists last season, the Firebirds went into the game 1-1 and desperate to avoid another defeat.
“The win gives us an amazing amount of confidence, especially performing so well against an accomplished line-up like the Vixens. They are one of the favourites,” said Jencke.
Vixens coach Simone McKinnis was disappointed with the way her players handled the closing minutes.
“We threw it away really, that is what happened,” said McKinnis.
“We got ourselves into a really good position to finish that game strongly and finish it with a win. But we let them back in.”
Vixens captain and defender Bianca Chatfield agreed her team had released the pressure.
“They (the Firebirds) contest and they fight and do everything they can to get that ball and we just needed to be a lot stronger,” said Chatfield.
“A game against them is about persisting. You have to keep fighting and fighting to the very end and the result will take care of itself and I think we just took our foot off at the end.”