Swifts out to cut Giants down to size in opening-day derbyDecember 4, 2018
"We want to claim back NSW."
That's the Swifts' mission statement for 2019 as outlined by Paige Hadley, who lit the fuse for an explosive round one derby against state rivals GWS.
The Swifts have yet to finish a season with a winning record over the Giants since their formation two years ago. But Hadley and Co will get their chance to claim early bragging rights when the teams come face to face on April 28 to open the new season.
"It's only been two years since that rivalry started and it's bigger than ever," Hadley said.
Derby day: NSW Swifts star Paige Hadley (second from left) is determined to defeat the Giants, who have won three of the teams’ last four encounters.Credit:Louise Kennerley
The Giants won both derbies in the 2017 season — their first in Super Netball — but the teams shared the spoils last year. "In 2019, we want to get both," Hadley said.
Swifts head coach Briony Akle echoed Hadley's statement of intent, emphasising the importance of coming out firing in the season opener.
"The Swifts have been NSW's team for a long time, but we need to front up in that first game. We’re no longer the only team in town but we have a long history and connection with the state," Akle said.
"Our young players are connecting with that and the greats who have worn our yellow and red dresses in the past.
“Credit to the Giants, they have played very well against us over the past two seasons, but now we know we're good enough to win. It's going to be pretty ferocious out there, but what a way to start the season."
After the first derby in April, the two sides will face off again in round eight in June, and co-host two double-headers at the Qudos Bank Arena during the season.
The Western Sydney side made the finals last year but bowed out to the Sunshine Coast Lightning, who went on to win their second straight title.
Super rivalry: The Swifts and the Giants come face to face in the 2019 opener.Credit:AAP
Since then, the Giants have strengthened their roster, signing Diamonds captain and last year's grand final MVP Caitlin Bassett from the Lightning – a pick-up Hadley described as a "really big coup" both for GWS and netball in Sydney.
But Hadley is not intimidated.
"There's no one that you don't want to go up against though — [the quality of the GWS team] just makes us more motivated to beat them," she said.
The Swifts play the defending champions in rounds four and 11, with the grand final rematch between the Fever and Lightning in round two another highlight of the 2019 season draw, which is released today.
2019 is a chance for the Swifts to bounce back from their disappointing sixth place finish last year.
"We were in a position to win most games and we didn't take it," Hadley said. "For us it's about taking those small wins each time. We have the capability to put our foot down and absolutely nullify teams this season."
This season will also debut a new venue for the Swifts, with the team travelling to Tasmania for the first time to play the Collingwood Magpies.
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