With both camps full of confidence after a win the night before, it was the AIS who were able to fight off a late challenge by the Fusion to secure a 54-47 victory in the Australian Netball League today.
The AIS were the pre-game favourites after enjoying success on five of the six previous outings against the Fusion. But with the largest winning margin only being 10 points, it was always going to be a coin-flip separating the teams.
The opening quarter began with intensity and determination as Fusion Wing Attack Laura Scherian went flying after making heavy contact, but much to the pleasure of the home crowd the Fusion were the first to open the scoring with a strong attacking move.
With both teams capitalising on their opportunities in a hard-fought arm-wrestle, the teams traded blows on the scoreboard before the AIS were able to secure a mini-break, leading 11-8 after a thrilling first quarter.
The AIS were quick to stamp their authority on the match after landing the first goal of the second quarter but Queensland had all the answers as they fired back with a goal of their own.
As the tension in the match increased, Fusion Tiata Baldwin and AIS Joanna Weston weren’t afraid to resort to sledging to throw their direct opponent off their game.
Both teams were clearly up for a dogfight as the players knuckled to the task at hand and once again traded goals in a gritty and absorbing second quarter. The AIS were beginning to look the better team before the Fusion stepped up a gear and went on a hot-streak to take the lead.
In a quarter where both teams enjoy the run of play in periods, it was the Fusion who came out on top as the match went into the major break perfectly poised with the Queenslander’s leading 23-22.
Flowing on from their late second-quarter run, Baldwin was quick to snap a goal for the Fusion as they extended their narrow lead after the break.
The AIS wouldn’t be intimidated, they knew they had the better record in past encounters and let their feisty brand of netball do the talking as they regained the lead and began to look the better team. By the end of the third quarter, AIS led 41-33.
It would have taken a brave person to rule out Queensland Fusion when played resumed in the fourth quarter with AIS holding an eight-point lead. In a spirited effort, the Fusion started strongly and the pendulum of momentum was beginning to slowly swing their way.
With four minutes remaining, Fusion had whittled down AIS’s lead to four points. It was going to be a race to the finish line.
As the final minutes played out, class prevailed and AIS were able to put the sword to Fusion to win the match by seven points. In another close tussle AIS won the game 54-47.
Quarter by Quarter
AIS 11, 22, 41, 54
Queensland Fusion 8, 23, 33, 47
Kaylia Stanton 15/18 @ 83%
Gretel Tippett 7/9 @ 78%
Kristina Brice 26/29 @ 90%
Cody Lange 6/7 @ 86%
Team 54/63 @ 86%
Beryl Friday 6/6 @ 100%
Stephanie Wood 12/20 @ 60%
Tiata Baldwin 29/34 @ 82%
Team 47/60 @ 78%