🗣 "Losing by one last week was pretty disappointing and that one-goal loss in Perth still motivates us, plus a spot in a grand final doesn't come around too often, so there was certainly a lot on the line today."— GIANTS Netball (@GIANTS_Netball) August 21, 2021
Hear from our match MVP Sam Poolman.#SSNFinals#SSNGIANTSFever
NEWCASTLE'S Sam Poolman has produced one of the performances of her career to help the Giants set up an all-NSW Super Netball grand final against the Swifts.
Poolman was player of the match as the Giants booked their berth in the championship decider with a 64-61 win against West Coast Fever at USC Stadium on Saturday.
The Giants' rousing preliminary final victory means next Saturday's Suncorp Super Netball decider will be an intra-state showdown with derby rivals the Swifts.
Poolman silenced the world's best shooter Jhaniele Fowler and midcourters Maddie Hay, Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Parmenter soared over their direct opponents.
"It's been a really tough season and to have an all-NSW grand final after what our state's been through is incredible," Poolman said post-match on Saturday.
"I knew it was going to be super tough against that team and Fowler can win them a game, scoring so many goals, so I knew I had a massive task on my hands today.
"Losing by one last week was pretty disappointing and the one-goal loss [to Fever in round five] in Perth still motivates us, plus a spot in the grand final doesn't come around every day, so there was definitely a lot on the line.
"We knew we needed to start well. That was something that's been spoken about and I think we did that today."
Giants led 16-13 at the first break, were up 35-27 by half-time and took a 51-41 advantage into the final quarter against Fever.
It will be Poolman's second Super Netball grand final. The Giants made it through to the championship game in the inaugural season in 2017 but lost to Sunshine Coast Lightning.
"Obviously, last time we finished up second, so there's a lot of motivation to win it and we know what it takes," Poolman said.
Poolman rarely rates a mention as one of the competition's top goal keepers but Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald beamed as she reflected on her shutdown of Fowler.
"I'm very excited for Sam," Fitzgerald said.
"She maintained it across the four quarters which is what we asked for.
"It was such a big job and she did it so well today."
Any mere mortal would have been happy with 10 goals in a first quarter, except for Fever superstar Fowler who was under pressure in the eliminator.
Giants defenders Parmenter and Poolman pushed the Jamaican into some uncomfortable areas, and at one point Fowler had almost as many turnovers as goals.
Poolman's statistics do not reveal how effective she was.
Approaching three-quarter time, the Giants defender had just one gain but it was the hesitancy she inflicted on Fowler that told the story.
Fowler finished the game with 41 goals, her lowest tally for the season, even after a pair of super shots in the last term.
Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich fought back tears after her final game at the helm before taking over as Australia's national coach.
The left-handed shooting combination of Jo Harten (37 goals) and 19-year-old Sophie Dwyer (24 goals) shared the scoring load but more importantly showed amazing composure in the grand final qualifier.
Swifts booked direct passage to the grand final by beating Giants 62-61 on August 14.
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