NSW Swifts have moved to the top of the Super Netball table on percentage, profiting from a rare poor shooting performance by Romelda Aiken.
The Swifts' 64-52 home victory over the Queensland Firebirds at Sydney's Ken Rosewall Arena on Saturday took them above Giants, Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever on percentage, with all those teams having a game in hand.
The loss left Firebirds eight points outside the top four and with a lot of work to do to make the finals.
Aiken missed eight first-half shots, four in each quarter, with the Firebirds shooting just 61 per cent in the first quarter and 67 for the half.
Prior to Saturday's game their three-time trans-Tasman season MVP and eight-time Firebirds MVP had a success rate of almost 89 per cent for the 2021 campaign.
At one stage in the second quarter, Jamaican Aiken missed three straight shots in a few seconds, rebounding all of those off-target attempts and scoring at the fourth try.
"I think it shows the pressure from our defenders," Swifts' centre, co-captain and game MVP Maddy Proud said.
Aiken's accuracy improved significantly in the second half, missing just twice and she finished with 38 goals and one super shot at 79 per cent, though she was subbed for just under the last six minutes of the third quarter.
At the other end, the Swifts' own Caribbean shooting star Sam Wallace was more reliable, making 51 of her 57 attempts (including two super shots).
The Trinidadian nailed successive super shots in the latter stages of the second quarter as a 5-1 run in the Swifts' favour in the last three minutes gave them a 30-25 halftime advantage.
Unfortunately for Firebirds, the Swifts accuracy didn't decline in the third quarter, as they missed just two shots in the term.
The Firebirds' concerning turnover count continued to mount and they were outscored 18-9 In the quarter to trail 48-34 going into the fourth.
They got within ten In the last quarter but never seriously threatened a full-scale comeback.
Midcourter Paige Hadley fed Wallace well, while veteran Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion tried hard in a beaten side.
"It was a pretty terrible game, I just felt like we were flat right from the start," Firebirds coach Megan Anderson said.
"So disappointing. There was no urgency and maybe the bye week has come at a good time for us."
Australian Associated Press