Giants keep pace with netball frontrunners

The Giants have taken a major step towards securing a Super Netball semi-final berth with victory over Collingwood Magpies

GEVA MENTOR.
GEVA MENTOR. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The Giants remain in touch with the Super Netball leaders after defeating Collingwood Magpies 58-49 and spoiling the celebrations for Geva Mentor's 200th national league game.

The Magpies were hoping to gift their inspirational captain with a win in Sunday's home clash at John Cain Arena but the Giants answered every challenge to stay within striking distance of league pacesetters NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning.

While the result sees the Giants sit comfortably in third spot on the ladder, they have yet to defeat any of the teams in the top four - a statistic midcourter Maddie Hay hopes they can rectify over the final month of the regular season.

"There are a few teams out there that we haven't got the win against and we are really looking forward to putting up our best effort against them to prove that we are a real threat to the finals," Hay told the Nine Network after tallying 42 feeds and 23 goal assists.

Shimona Nelson's opening goal of the match was the only time Collingwood held the lead as the Giants played with better control and poise to see the Magpies fall to their seventh loss of the season.

After making her England international debut in 2001 as a 16-year-old, Mentor moved to Australia in 2008 and tasted national league success with Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens before leading the Sunshine Coast Lighting to Super Netball titles in 2017 and 2018.

And while the Magpies have struggled for success since her move to the club in 2019, Mentor credited her current teammates for helping fuel her longevity in the sport.

"I think it's these girls - each year is a different challenge and I love the combinations and building it with each group of girls and then I guess 199 games just swings past," Mentor said.

The Magpies were dealt a blow before the match with star midcourter Kelsey Browne ruled out due to concussion after receiving a head knock in last week's loss to the Thunderbirds in Adelaide.

Collingwood felt Browne's absence in a scrappy opening quarter as the Giants capitalised on strong defensive work from Sam Poolman and a series of errors from the Magpies to build a 14-9 advantage.

Stepping in to replace Browne in the Magpies squad, training partner Maggie Lind started connecting with Nelson in the second term and the home side managed to reduce the margin to four goals by halftime.

The tension lifted during a tight third quarter but the Giants scored four of the last five goals of the term, including a super shot from Sophie Dwyer, to edge ahead 42-35.