The Collingwood Magpies have dramatically qualified for the Super Netball semi-finals after retaining their place in the top four despite a 56-54 loss to the Melbourne Vixens.
Most important points:
- Collingwood will face the Giants in a semifinal next weekend
- The Magpies lost to the Vixens by two goals, but still crept ahead of the Swifts on percentage
- The Magpies missed a number of protagonists and their coach due to COVID
It took the Magpies either a win or a close loss to finish fourth to defending champions NSW Swifts, trailing two goals in the closing seconds of Monday’s derby clash at the John Cain Arena with Vixens shooter Mwai Kumwenda receiving a two-point shot. fielded that would have eliminated them from the final.
But Kumwenda’s long shot missed the mark when the siren sounded, with Collingwood players and staff desperate for confirmation that they would make their first finals since the 2019 season.
“I looked at the results and I thought it was two” [goals] and we were done, then I saw Kelsey [Browne’s] face if she was like ‘no, we did it’ and then that was it. Emotions? Gone,” Geva Mentor told Fox Netball.
Collingwood heads to Sydney to face the Giants in next Sunday’s minor semi-final, while Melbourne receives West Coast Fever in Saturday night’s major semi-final.
The Magpies were shocked on the eve of their season-defining clash with co-captain Ash Brazill and defender Jodi-Ann Ward who were forced to join Maggie Lind and head coach Nicole Richardson on the sidelines due to health and safety protocols.
Ward’s loss prompted the Magpies to hand retired Australian Diamonds defender Renae Ingles a shocking return to competitive netball.
Melbourne held a narrow 16-15 lead after a quarter, with Magpies debutant Casey Adamson making an impressive start to her national competition career when meeting current Diamonds captain Liz Watson.
As the Vixens began to gain the upper hand, Magpies caretaker coach Kate Upton introduced Ingles midway through the second quarter, but the small prime ministers remained poised to extend their lead 32-27 at halftime.
Collingwood’s final hopes seemed to be slipping as they fell 10 goals behind in the third quarter, but the Magpies tied the score with an 11-4 start in the fourth quarter, thanks to the tireless work of mid-court Browne and a smooth finish from gunner Shimona Nelson.
While she’s glad she survived an intense finish and took a seventh win in the trot, Vixens co-captain Watson knows her team can’t afford another fade out against the Fever in the Grand Finals Qualifier.
“It’s a really quick turnaround so we’re really focused on that game and we want to go into that final really strong, and be here at home, hopefully we can get the win,” Watson said.