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Firebirds dispatch Swifts in Super Netball

The Queensland Firebirds’ mid-court players have enhanced their reputation with starring performances in a 73-60 Super Netball win over the NSW Swifts at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.

Unwanted by national selectors, Gabi Simpson, Kim Ravaillion and Lara Dunkley led the energetic hosts a fraction closer to their first finals appearance since 2018.

Simpson in particular was a menace. Statistics fail to illustrate how good she was.

The former Firebirds captain and ex-Diamonds vice captain had three opponents – Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley and Tayla Fraser – and Simpson troubled them all.

Simpson’s pressure helped teammate Ruby Bakewell-Doran who pounced on four intercepts and five deflections.

“It felt scrappy at times but we really stayed in the hustle,” Bakewell-Doran said.

“We didn’t want any lulls and while there bits to improve on it was nice to get the majority of a 60-minute effort.”

After a difficult fortnight, Firebirds shooter Donnell Wallam bounced back with 56 goals in partnership with Gretel Bueta (16 goals, 28 feeds).

The Swifts are capable of much more than they showed but they are running out of time.

With only two wins at the half-way mark of the season, they will need a winning sequence of at least five from their remaining seven matches to be even a slim hope of reaching the finals.

Proud and Helen Housby (32 goals) played their part in a final-term fightback that came far too late for the Swifts.

Rarely has there been such a high turnover game that was so exciting.

Both outfits conceded a combined 35 turnovers in the first half, with Swifts international Hadley spending time on the bench after being one of the chief culprits.

Amid the magnificent mess of that half one could only marvel at the athleticism and determination of the defenders.

Maddy Turner was a ball winner for the Swifts while Eboni Usoro-Brown and Bakewell-Doran did much of the heavy lifting for the Firebirds.

Bakewell-Doran was a lesson in tenacity and persistence.

The opening quarter did not go her way but she stayed in the game, chipping away at her opponent Housby.

When her moments arrived she seized them, pinching three intercepts for the first half, and just as importantly only gave away three penalties in 30 minutes.

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