Jamaicans Sterling, Wilson shine as Thunderbirds win maiden title
STERLING...finished with seven gains, three intercepts, two deflections, three rebounds and two pick-ups (Photo: Observer file)

MELBOURNE, Australia (CMC) — Jamaican defender Shamera Sterling stamped her authority on the grand final of the Australian Super Netball Championship as she helped propel Adelaide Thunderbirds to their maiden title with a dramatic 60-59 extra-time victory over New South Wales Swifts last weekend.

With the 27-year-old Sterling smothering the Swifts attack, Thunderbirds dominated the first half to lead 35-27 at the break at John Cain Arena.

However, Swifts stormed back with the help of another Jamaica international Romelda Aiken-George, the 34-year-old scoring 27 goals from 32 attempts as her side won the third quarter 13-8, to trail 43-40.

Full of momentum heading into the all-important final quarter, Swifts chased down Thunderbirds before eventually taking the lead at the half-way mark.

The lead exchanged hands a few times before goal keeper Sterling made two crucial interventions. First, it was her intercept with four seconds left on the clock which ensured the scores remained level at 54 and sent the contest into extra time.

And it was yet another intercept from Sterling which paved the way for Thunderbirds to take the lead in extra time, with 1:44 remaining on the clock.

All told, Sterling finished with seven gains, three intercepts, two deflections, three rebounds, and two pick-ups — and she combined with fellow Jamaican defender Latanya Wilson to deny Swifts in a stellar defensive effort.

"It was near perfect. We were very clinical and focused on executing, getting the ball, and rewarding the defenders," said Thunderbirds Head Coach Tania Obst.

"We knew that the Swifts would come back. They're a classy outfit and we respect them a lot.

"I thought our belief to draw the game at full time and then our ability to stick to our processes in extra time got us through in the end."

For the winners, goal attack Eleanor Cardwell led with 31 from 33 attempts while Tippah Dwan supported with 12 from 13 attempts.

Swifts, meanwhile, also got 12 from 13 attempts from Helen Housby, in support of Aiken-George's fireworks.

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