In contrast, the Firebirds are winless and searching for momentum. Queensland’s efforts to stay in touch with the pacesetters could now hinge on the management of Gabi Simpson’s groin injury.
With Simpson at wing defence, the Firebirds were ferocious but fell away in each of the two stints in which she was rested. Simpson said her periods off the court were part of a strategy to ease her back from injury but she is confident of playing a full game from next week against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
«In the back of my mind I feel like I’m going to play a full game next week,» she said. «It felt good out there, I’m just following orders.»
Gretel Tippett did everything but haul her side to a win, with the goal attack scoring 41 goals from 41 shots for her second consecutive flawless display.
With little between the two sides, spark from the substitutes was crucial and Firebird Caitlyn Nevins kept her team in touch after her injection late in the second quarter, nabbing 29 feeds.
The Giants also turned to their reserves, with young goal attack Kiera Austin replacing England international Jo Harten.
«It’s looking a lot better than it was two weeks ago,» Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said after the club had lost centre Serena Guthrie back to England’s Superleague and took time to find rhythm following an off-season injury to shooter Caitlin Bassett. We always knew we were under the pump in the beginning, that we hadn’t had a great lead-up but we’re certainly starting to bring it together now.»
Shooter Romelda Aiken (20 goals) was also well below her best form for the Firebirds.