Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson
Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson

‘Birds and Bolts vow to bounce back

Queensland's battered and bruised Suncorp Super Netball clubs have vowed to quickly bounce back in time for their Round 2 marquee match-ups.

The Queensland Firebirds (73-61 loss to Vixens) and Sunshine Coast Lightning (57-43 loss to Collingwood) left the Round 1 double-header in Melbourne on Saturday with heavy defeats and their tails between their legs.

Time is of the essence for both teams as the Firebirds play their first home game at the new $44 million Queensland State Netball Centre against Collingwood this Saturday while the Lightning will take on the West Coast Fever in Perth on Sunday in a 2018 grand final rematch.

Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken (left) had a rough night against Vixens defender Emily Mannix and was eventually benched in the fourth quarter.
Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken (left) had a rough night against Vixens defender Emily Mannix and was eventually benched in the fourth quarter.

Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson said the mood after the loss to the Vixens quickly changed from "disappointed" to "motivated".

"This loss isn't going to break us,'' Simpson said.

"It will only spark us even more ahead of our next game at home. We've worked all pre-season on building that resilience.''

The Firebirds got off to a scorching 8-1 start against the Vixens before turnovers allowed the home team to finish over the top of Queensland in the last three quarters.

Simpson said the Firebirds took a lot out of the contest that brutally exposed their deficiencies.

"Having such an intense game against such a quality side is going to open up what our cracks are and the earlier we find them, the quicker we can patch them up,'' she said.

"It was a great test for us because they are the benchmark and we know what is required.''

Lightning and Australian goal attack Steph Wood said nobody was hitting the panic button on the Sunshine Coast after their quest for a hat-trick of titles started with a "clunky" performance.

The Sunshine Coast’s Steph Wood (far right) shoots for goal with Collingwood defender and former Lightning teammate Geva Mentor ready to pounce.
The Sunshine Coast’s Steph Wood (far right) shoots for goal with Collingwood defender and former Lightning teammate Geva Mentor ready to pounce.

"It definitely sucks to have that loss but it is only Round 1. We have to remember that this season is a marathon, not a sprint,'' Wood said.

"Our defensive end turned over a lot of ball and we were not able to convert it so we need to work out where we are breaking down and maybe look to work a little bit smarter instead of trying to out-muscle teams.

"They did their homework on us and forced us into positions at the attack end that we are not used to but it's onwards and upwards from here.''

Wood said the tactic to start with Cara Koenen ahead of import Peace Proscovia was a well-deserved reward for the Townsville-born shooter.

"Cara has just put in one of the best pre-seasons I've ever seen. She's been killing it at training and really pushing both Peace and myself ... she is a force to be reckoned with, '' Wood said.

"But Peace is only going to get better and better and will be a real X-factor for us this season.''

 

FIVE things we learnt from Round 1 of Suncorp Super Netball:

 

Romelda Aiken beats Emily Mannix in an aerial contest.
Romelda Aiken beats Emily Mannix in an aerial contest.

 

•WHEN the Queensland Firebirds really turn it on, they can go with any team in the competition (the 8-1 start against Vixens). But when they turn the ball over and hand it back to the opposition on a silver platter, they can really get torched.

 

Peace Proscovia flies high during her cameo appearance.
Peace Proscovia flies high during her cameo appearance.

 

•THE Lightning need to find peace with their role for gun-for-hire Peace Proscovia. The Ugandan arrived at the defending premiers as the replacement for goalshooter Caitlin Bassett but she spent the best part of three quarters on the bench for the Sunshine Coast.

 

Maddy Proud of the NSW Swifts (left) and Jamie-Lee Price of the Giants (right) during the Sydney derby.
Maddy Proud of the NSW Swifts (left) and Jamie-Lee Price of the Giants (right) during the Sydney derby.

 

•THE GWS Giants are false premiership favourites. The past two years they have been highly touted but fell short of the title both times. When the pressure comes, they invariably falter. The NSW Swifts were too strong when it mattered in the Sydney derby.

 

Cara Koenen battles former teammate Geva Mentor in the opening round.
Cara Koenen battles former teammate Geva Mentor in the opening round.

 

•FORMER Sunshine Coast captain Geva Mentor has given the Magpies serious defensive mettle. Collingwood have been disappointing the past two seasons despite their star-studded signing sprees but trophy-magnet Mentor could be their best and most significant recruit yet.

 

Melbourne Vixens goalscoring machine Caitlin Thwaites
Melbourne Vixens goalscoring machine Caitlin Thwaites

 

•THE Melbourne Vixens are the real deal. They have always been very methodical but the addition of Australian Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites has given them genuine scoring firepower to captilise on the steely structure.

News Corp Australia


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