Sluggish opening costly for Giants in semi loss
THE worst opening quarter in club history has cost the Giants an express trip to the Super Netball grand final with the minor premiers squandering a home-town advantage in their semi-final loss to West Coast Fever.
Mocked as one-trick ponies by critics due to their reliance on league leading shooter Jhaniele Fowler, West Coast Fever are now Super Netball giant-killers after toppling their Sydney rivals by six goals to secure the first spot in the season decider this month.
And they did it without Fowler for 13 crucial minutes of the game after she limped off the court with a knee injury in the first quarter.
The 63-57 win avenged Fever losing the minor premiership to the Giants by three goals just seven days ago while reinstating the Perth based side as favourites for the 2018 Super Netball crown.
The Giants, who trailed Fever by as much as nine goals in the first period on Saturday, must now win next Sunday's preliminary final against a team to be determined by the Firebirds v Lightning minor semi-final to earn another shot at their rivals.
"It was just a horrific start," said captain Kim Green after the loss at Sydney Olympic Park.
"There's a lot to learn from this and we will have to learn it quickly.
"We simply don't care who we play in the preliminary final. We'll be ready for either of them."
In an extraordinary opening stanza, the Giants were down by as much as nine goals on numerous occasions in the first third of the major semi-final.
The hosts only closed the gap when Fowler left the court just 12 minutes in with her side leading 15-7.
When she returned heavily strapped 13 minutes later, the Giants had reduced their deficit to 22-25.
What followed was an arm wrestle with the Giants working overtime to regain control of the match but unable to make up the deficit.
"We pulled together much better when Jhaniele retuned to the court which is encouraging," Green said.
The Giants must now wait until the conclusion of Sunday's minor semi-final between the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning to know who they will meet next Sunday at Qudos Bank Arena in the preliminary final.
The Giants last year fell well short against Sunshine Coast Lightning to finish runner-up in the inaugural Super Netball competition.
This season they are hoping to farewell their own shooting star, former Diamond Susan Pettitt, with a competition win.
Despite time sidelined, Fowler did not miss once in her 48 shots at goal.
The Giants were less accurate with Susan Pettitt netting 24 from 30 and Jo Harten 33 from 38.
Fever also lead at the end of every quarter of the game.