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Giants stun Melbourne Vixens 60-57 in Super Netball comeback win

April Brandley has ended her decorated career in style as the Giants defeated Melbourne Vixens on Sunday.

April Brandley has ended her decorated career in style as the Giants defeated Melbourne Vixens on Sunday. Photo: AAP

The Giants have brought the Super Netball regular season to a dramatic end after coming from behind in the fourth quarter to complete a stirring 60-57 victory over Melbourne Vixens and send out retiring defender April Brandley as a winner.

After trailing for most of Sunday’s contest at Ken Rosewall Arena, the Giants rode a wave of emotion to outscore Melbourne 14-7 in the final term and spark wild celebrations after the 33-year-old Brandley played a vital role in her side’s stunning turnaround.

Brandley produced a pair of crucial intercepts in the fourth quarter to cap a stellar 13-year career that included 153 national league games with five clubs and 39 appearances for the Australian Diamonds.

“Obviously, we wanted to send April off in the best way possible and I thought she personally lifted to amazing levels today and we really followed her lead,” Giants midcourter Maddie Hay told Fox Sports.

Brandley joined the Giants in 2020 following the birth of her son Clay.

“She’s a very classy defender. I love coming up against April because she always tests me and I think she made me work really hard and got some real crucial ball for them when they needed it,” said Vixens goal attack, and former Giant, Kiera Austin.

The result sees the Giants close the season in sixth place on the ladder after snapping a three-game losing streak to record their fifth win of the year.

With a place in next Sunday’s minor semi-final against West Coast Fever already secured, the Vixens used the match to test out different combinations but they could not hold on in the closing stages and paid the price for committing 72 penalties and 23 general play turnovers.

Melbourne appeared to grind its way to a handy first-quarter advantage before a costly turnover allowed Sophie Dwyer to convert a two-point penalty shot as the siren sounded to cut the Vixens’ lead to 17-16.

The physicality lifted in the second period as both sides battled away at every contest but the visitors managed to close the half ahead 34-29.

The Giants managed to reduce the margin to two goals in the dying seconds of the third quarter, but the Vixens found Mwai Kumwenda in space on their final possession and the Malawi international shot truly from two-point range to keep Melbourne ahead 50-46.

But the Vixens’ attack collapsed in the fourth period and despite missing numerous opportunities to hit the front, a Jo Harten goal in the final minute finally handed the Giants their first lead of the game before Dwyer iced the win with a picture-perfect two-point shot as time expired.

-AAP

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