There was no revenge for the NSW Swifts in the grand final rematch as the Queensland Firebirds eased to a 62-53 win in Brisbane.
A seven-goal surge in the second quarter gave the hosts a 28-21 lead, which the Swifts chased in vain for the rest of the match.
The Firebirds’ Jamaican goal shooter Romelda Aiken led the way shooting 44 from 56 and was well assisted by Gretel Tippet (18 from 23), who also had a game-leading nine turnovers.
The Swifts’ own Caribbean sharp shooter, Sam Wallace of Trinidad, made 48 from 55 shots at the other end.
The Firebirds won their second straight ANZ Championship title last July with a double overtime victory over the Swifts, though only seven players from the 2016 grand final were in action at the sold-out Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Both teams came into the fourth-round fixture with a win and a draw to their name but the Firebirds now move to second on the ladder ahead of the Sunshine Coast, who play unbeaten leaders the Giants on Saturday night.
Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson said her team did what was asked by coach Roselee Jencke when the game was there for the taking early in the final quarter.
“She told us to lift,” Simpson said.
“She said: ‘Let’s take it a step up and make sure we lift the intensity in the first five minutes.'”
The champions did just that scoring the next four goals.
Swifts wing attack Paige Hadley bemoaned the lack of experience her side showed during the most crucial period of the game.
“The nine goals is obviously frustrating because it definitely didn’t reflect the type of game but in the end they converted every turnover they got,” Hadley said.
“We’re young and that lack of experience showed at the end there.”