Magpies fight back to defeat Kaitlyn Bryce’s Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds' Kaitlyn Bryce. Photo: David Mariuz

Thunderbirds' Kaitlyn Bryce. Photo: David Mariuz

COLLINGWOOD’S slim finals hopes remain alive after the Magpies came from behind for a tough 58-48 Suncorp Super Netball win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds, which features Shoalhaven product Kaitlyn Bryce.

Sitting 16 competition points adrift of the top four, the Magpies need to make winning a habit to try and sneak their way in by round 14.

But it couldn't have started much worse for the black and white army as an energetic Thunderbirds outfit – seeking its first win of the season – jumped out of the blocks and won the opening two quarters to lead by two goals at half-time.

The Magpies grafted their way back into the game in the third quarter before finally exploding to life in the final term, putting the Thunderbirds away with a dominant 19-8 quarter.

Both sides made changes for the clash, with the Thunderbirds electing to start Bongi Msomi over English star Chelsea Pitman, while the Magpies restored Sharni Layton to goalkeeper and started Alice Teague-Neeld at goal attack in place of star off-season recruit Erin Bell.

The Magpies were disjointed early, struggling in the face of a determined Thunderbirds defence, with the home side racing out to a 6-1 lead.

Madi Robinson steadied the ship for the Magpies, dishing off three assists to help the visitors cut the margin back to two goals.

Layton built plenty of pressure at the defensive end to help swing the momentum, with the Magpies quickly drawing level after consecutive turnovers from the Thunderbirds.

With both Shimona Nelson and Charlee Hodges shooting at a perfect clip, and Teague-Neeld missing both of her first-quarter attempts at the other end, it wasn't long before the Thunderbirds were back in front and the home side held on to win just their third bonus point of the season, leading 13-12 at the first break.

The Thunderbirds had found success with the long ball into Nelson, but the Magpies picked them off three times in the second quarter to steal the lead.

It was a ferocious battle from that point on, with Bell injected for the Magpies, but it was the Thunderbirds who kept their noses in front to claim a second bonus point and a 26-24 half-time advantage.

Adelaide was dealt a blow with Kaitlyn Bryce sidelined with an apparent minor knee complaint, but it didn't slow the Thunderbirds' assault, with the home side pushing their lead out to five goals.

The Magpies surged time and time again and a late turnover - which was met with boos from the Adelaide crowd – gave the Magpies the bonus point for the third quarter and allowed them to close to within one goal.

Collingwood maintained the rage in the final quarter, peeling off the first five goals of the term to take the lead and open up a 44-40 advantage.

The Thunderbirds were under the pump and looked for inspiration from their bench –  unleashing New Zealand international Cat Tuivaiti for her first minutes in the Suncorp Super Netball league after tearing her ACL 12 months ago, along with Pitman at wing attack.

They weren't the miracle the Thunderbirds needed, however, with the home side swamped by the Magpies and sinking to their tenth straight loss for the season.

Bryce’s Thunderbirds will next attempt to record their first win of the season on Sunday, when they travel to Hisense Arena to battle the Melbourne Vixens.