Firebirds stun ladder-leading Giants

Firebirds players celebrate their victory against the Giants in Sydney. Daniel Munoz/Getty Images

Queensland Firebirds have dealt a severe blow to the Giants' hopes of claiming the inaugural Super Netball minor premiership, inflicting upon the competition leaders a 56-53 defeat at Sydney Olympic Park.

Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson was the architect of the upset, heading the Queensland side's dominance in midcourt while Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett provided headaches throughout for the Giants defenders.

The win keeps alive the Firebirds' slim finals hopes, though they need to beat NSW Swifts in the final round next week and hope that fourth-placed Collingwood fail to secure another competition point.

The results, meanwhile, means the Giants could drop to third on the ladder if the Sunshine Coast Lightning and Melbourne Vixens each win their respective games this weekend.

The Firebirds lay the foundation for their victory with an intense first half, playing up-tempo netball, utilising their height in attack and stifling the Giants' midcourt combinations.

The visitors led 17-15 at quartertime and scooted to a nine-goal advantage in the second term before heading to halftime with a 31-24 advantage.

Positional changes by Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald shortly before halftime started to pay dividends after the break, but the Firebirds provided stern resistance to ensure they would end the third quarter leading by six goals.

Fitzgerald introduced Kristina Brice at goal shooter for the final period, and brought Susan Pettitt into wing attack to try to orchestrate a comeback. It nearly worked as the hosts closed within two inside the final two minutes, but the margin proved too large to overcome.

"Very disappointing," Fitzgerald said.

"We let it get away from us in the second quarter and, with a shooter like Romelda at the back, you can't give them a lead like that.

"We probably won enough ball back to win the match. We just wasted opportunities when we got them. When you look at the positions on the ladder, tonight wasn't a good time to lose. But I do think the fact that we've been so good at coming from behind and winning, it is a lesson that you can't rely on that all the time."

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke called it her side's best showing of the season.

"We've had a lot of interruptions throughout the season," she said. "But tonight you saw the cohesiveness, the confidence and the understanding. "They've just grown and grown. They played really smart netball tonight."