Firebirds plunged into crisis after injury-hit loss
INJURY has been added to insult for a hapless Queensland Firebirds outfit who lost centre Mahalia Cassidy to a serious knee injury as their 2019 campaign came crashing down.
Cassidy suffered a suspected serious knee injury in the first quarter when she landed awkwardly and her left leg buckled.
Cassidy was visibly upset and in considerable pain as she immediately clutched at her knee.
Cassidy - who missed the 2017 Suncorp Super Netball season with an ACL injury - eventually returned to the sideline on crutches with her knee heavily iced.
She was consoled by Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke and Queensland supporters and will get scans to assess the extent of the damage when she arrives back in Brisbane.
The likely loss of Cassidy further compounds the injury crisis at the Firebirds with goalshooter Romelda Aiken (leg) and defender Kim Jenner (finger) also out of action.
And if the bulging casualty ward was not enough, the Firebirds are now last on the ladder after five rounds without a win to their name.
The Thunderbirds claimed just their third win since Super Netball started in 2017 and their second victory in their last 32 starts.
Adelaide won the first three quarters to claim three bonus points in the same match for the first time ever.
The T-Birds led 44-37 at the last change but the Firebirds roared back into the contest with the first eight goals of the fourth term.
Inspired by captain Gabi Simpson, the Firebirds had all the momentum but some costly turnovers allowed Adelaide to settle and eventually kick away from the visitors to win 54-51.
Adelaide's Sasha Glasgow (28/32) and Maria Folau (26/34) punished the Firebirds for their 29 turnovers while Thunderbirds wing attack and former Firebird Chelsea Pittman was voted MVP.
Firebirds star Gretel Tippett continued her outstanding 2019 form with 27 goals from 28 attempts while Abigail Latu-Meafou came off the bench to replace Amy Sommerville (6/10) and hit 18 goals from 22 attempts.
Tippett's first goal of the game gave her 100 goals from her last 100 attempts. She is the first Australian and just the fourth player in national league history to bring up a perfect consecutive century of goals.
Meanwhile, the NSW Swifts jumped to the top of the ladder with a convincing 60-50 win over the Vixens at Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena yesterday (SUN).
FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
• Mathematically, the Firebirds can still play finals. But realistically, the 'Birds are cooked. Winless after five rounds, last on the ladder and a host of injuries to key players is hardly a recipe for a top four tilt.
• The Lightning will have one of the biggest World Cup representations and they are banking early and critical wins before the tournament that will take a physical and emotional toll. The 25-14 third quarter blitz against the Giants showcased their ominous potential.
• Is there a more under-the-radar supercoach in Australasian sport than Lightning boss Noeline Taurua? The Sunshine Coast's win over the Giants was the three-time title winner's 100th national league victory as a head coach. Great strike rate for qualifying for finals too.
• The West Coast Fever have found their groove after an awful start to 2019. A week after forcing a draw with premiership fancies Vixens, they beat the star-studded Collingwood in a tense arm-wrestle in Bendigo.
• The Vixens machine is starting to splutter. A draw with Fever followed by a thumping at the hands of the Swifts has exposed some deficiencies. Swifts deserve greater respect too. To pump the Vixens at home like that was an impressive effort.