A powerhouse shooting performance from Shimona Nelson has inspired Collingwood Magpies to an upset 75-68 victory over NSW Swifts, reviving hopes of an unlikely push for a Super Netball semi-final berth.
Nelson poured in a career-best 69 goals at Brisbane's Nissan Arena on Tuesday night as the sixth-placed Magpies denied the second-placed Swifts a golden opportunity to lock in a top-four finish and stake their claim for the minor premiership.
The Magpies produced their best four-quarter performance of the season and while they still face an uphill battle to pinch a play-off spot, wins over fellow top-four combatants Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever in their last two games would further improve their chances.
Collingwood's steely defence again stood tall but Nelson's dominance under the post was the deciding factor, the 195cm Jamaican shooter firing at 97 per cent accuracy in her match-up with Swifts goalkeeper Sarah Klau.
"Words can't actually express how I feel, to be honest," Nelson said after smashing her previous-high mark of 55 goals in the win.
"My performance was based on just wanting to give it all for my team at this point because we know we have the capabilities of making the finals."
The match marked Super Netball's return to competition after coronavirus restrictions in multiple states saw six interstate clubs relocate to Queensland for a second consecutive season.
"It was really hard but I think we just stuck to the task of playing our game, going sharp, not being too panicky in the middle because we knew that Swifts were going to come out because they're really good in defence," Nelson said about her team's response to the uncertainty of another disrupted season.
With head coach Briony Akle still completing her COVID-19 isolation period in Adelaide, the Swifts made a disastrous start with numerous unforced turnovers resulting in goals as the Magpies skipped ahead by 10.
Super shots from Helen Housby and Sam Wallace helped the Swifts shrink Collingwood's lead at 19-13 after one quarter and the introduction of goaler Sophie Garbin appeared to pay dividends with NSW scoring four of the first five goals of the second term.
But with Kelsey Browne and Gabi Sinclair providing clean service, Nelson closed the half on 34 goals without a miss to guide the Magpies to a 37-30 advantage.
The Swifts tried valiantly to chip away at the deficit in the second half but Collingwood extended their lead 58-47 by the end of the third quarter while Sinclair put the result beyond doubt with her side's lone Super Shot in the final minutes of the contest.
Australian Associated Press