Injury-hit Thunderbirds belt Firebirds in Super Netball
The top-ranked Adelaide Thunderbirds have defied an afternoon of injury-filled carnage to thump the Queensland Firebirds 63-46 at Netball SA Stadium.
A 24-9 fourth-quarter assault on Saturday helped the Thunderbirds bust open a protracted arm wrestle and sprint to their fifth successive victory, extending their lead at the top of the Super Netball ladder.
But their depth was sorely tested and their triumph came at a cost.
Goal attack Tippah Dwan left the match early in the second quarter after rolling her left ankle, while Jamaican wing defence Latanya Wilson hobbled to the bench clutching her left knee in the dying moments of the rout after landing awkwardly.
And English import Elle Cardwell missed a large chunk of the game after a knee niggle flared but she managed to come back on in the fourth term as Adelaide's bench became severely depleted.
Fellow shooter Lucy Austin finished the match with a blood nose, while superstar defender Shamera Sterling was able to continue her season-long dominant form despite an ankle scare of her own in the second quarter.
"The message (at three-quarter-time) was to wrap our heads around whatever the Firebirds were doing and just play to our structures and basics," Sterling said, after Adelaide turned a slender 39-37 lead at the last change into a one-sided procession.
"I'm very, very proud because at the start we let the Firebirds be in it too much with us.
"In the second half we tried to pull it away and in the last quarter we pulled away."
The Firebirds did not escape the injury curse either, with defender Gabi Simpson hurting her left ankle after landing heavily in a collision with Maisie Nankivell in the closing moments of the first half.
Scores were locked away at 12-all following a defence-dominated, turnover-riddled opening term before Queensland looked like creating a gap in the second stanza.
But the Thunderbirds' makeshift attack of Georgie Horjus and Austin got on top late in the quarter to give the home side a slender halftime edge.
Nothing separated the two teams in the third period before Adelaide seized complete control down the stretch.
Sterling consistently stymied the Firebirds' attacking waves in the fourth, while Cardwell returned to the court and created havoc in the circle.