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Netball's Firebirds down Swifts 61-51

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/04/2016 Matt Harris

Fifty two goals from sharpshooter Romelda Aiken have hoisted the Queensland Firebirds to a 61-51 win over the NSW Swifts in their Trans-Tasman grand final rematch.

Only one point separated the sides during last year's decider and Saturday's encounter in front of more than 6000 spectators at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre started at a similar intensity and pace.

The 10-point victory extended the Firebirds' record-breaking undefeated run to 18 games and elevated them to outright first on the Australian conference ladder.

MVP Aiken enjoyed a physical running battle with Swifts goalkeeper Sharni Layton during the opening quarter, making the most of quality delivery provided by attacking partner Gretel Tippett.

Leading 16-12 at the first change, the Firebirds consolidated their lead despite a handful of uncharacteristic misses from Aiken underneath the ring, eventually working their way towards a 31-24 half-time lead.

The Swifts started brightly after the main break and cut the deficit to three midway through the third quarter with Susan Pettitt (19 goals) and Caitlin Thwaites (32 goals) offering the visitors some hope.

However the Firebirds soon found their composure and etched out a five-point advantage heading toward the final period.

The Sydney-based Swifts toiled hard in the final stanza but failed to bridge the gap with the result, unlike last year's grand final, decided long before the whistle.

The Firebirds outscored the Swifts by six points in the fourth quarter, running away with victory to remain the only undefeated team in the championship.

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