T&T's Samantha "Sniper" Wallace and defending champions New South Wales Swifts suffered a shock 64-77 defeat at the hands of Queensland Firebirds when Round Ten of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) League continued at Nissan Arena, Brisbane, Australia on Saturday.
The key to victory for underdogs Firebirds was youngster Tippah Dwan who buried eight of nine 'Super Shots" taken to add to her 18 of 22 attempts for a match tally of 34 goals while Jamaican Romelda Aiken was her usual reliable self with 43 from 53 for the winners
The 26-year-old Wallace was once again the leading scorer for the Swifts with 41 goals from 42 attempts but was only two of six from "Super Shot" range while England-international was converted 13 of 19 attempts overall but was only four of ten from "Super Shot" distance.
Despite the loss, their third in ten matches, the Swifts remained second on the eight-team table with 28 points, six behind Melbourne Vixens who battled to an entertaining 63-all draw with fourth-placed West Coast Fever (22 points) in Saturday's first match in Brisbane.
The win was the third in ten matches for the Firebirds now up to sixth with 14 points, level with Giants Netball who have a match in hand, and still with an outside chance of qualifying for the finals, although they will need other results to go their way.
Swifts coach Briony Akle commended the Firebirds but was critical of her own group after the flat performance.
"They don't play like they're coming second last," she said of the Firebirds. "I don't think we went in thinking it was going to be easy. They've got some great young players but we knew as soon as they got a sniff it would be hard to rein them in. We didn't turn up and play the Swifts way today (Saturday)."
Before this season, youngsters, centre-court Mahalia Cassidy and wing-attack Lara Dunkley would not have been given much hope against elite Swifts mid-courters Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley.
Yet there they were, taking it to the Swifts engine room as the Firebirds pushed out to a 39-30 half-time lead after leading 19-12 at the end of the first quarter.
Dunkley was particularly impressive in a rare start, prompting Akle to switch Hadley from centre to wing defence to curb her influence.
Akle also spared Housby from the early minutes of the third quarter to freshen up the goal attack for the Super Shot period at the tail end of the term.
Housby always has an impact, but this time around it was Dwan who all but put the game out of the Swifts' reach.
Individually, the Toco-born Wallace leads the Swifts with 341 goals from 387 attempts on the season for the third spot overall in the league behind Jamaicans Jhaniele Fowler of West Coast Fever (554 from 592 attempts) and Firebirds' Aiken (398/478), while Sunshine Coast Lightning's Cara Koenen (289/333) and Sunshine Coast Lightning's Lenize Potgieter 255 from 266 attempts are fourth and fifth respectively.
The T&T standout also continued her pursuit of the historic 2,000 goals milestone in the SSN and now has amassed a four-year tally 1,922 goals from 2,131 attempts.
Next up for reigning 'grand finals "MVP" Wallace and her teammates is a top-of-the-table clash with Vixens on September 8 followed by another tough assignment in the Fever on September 11, ahead of the final two rounds of matches, versus Adelaide Thunderbirds on September 19 and Giants Netball, a week later.
Following the conclusion of the two full rounds of round-robin matches, the top four clubs will contest the playoffs with the top two teams playing for a spot in the final.
The third and fourth-placed team will meet in a quarterfinal play-in with the winner to meet the loser of the clash between the top two teams at the end of the round-robin, in the second semifinal.