Mavs knock on top-four door, extend Firebirds' misery

Steve BarrettAAP
Shimona Jok has starred in the Mavericks' Super Netball win over the Firebirds. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconShimona Jok has starred in the Mavericks' Super Netball win over the Firebirds. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

The Melbourne Mavericks have kept alive their hopes of playing finals in their debut Super Netball season, while adding further angst to the Queensland Firebirds' tumultuous week with a 73-61 victory.

Still without star import shooter Eleanor Cardwell (quad injury), the Mavericks held a slender upper hand during an absorbing opening half at John Cain Arena on Sunday before strengthening their grip in the third quarter.

The hosts missed two shots all match, with on-target attacking duo Shimona Jok and Gabrielle Sinclair consistently set up beautifully by Molly Jovic, who collected game-highs of 29 assists and 38 feeds.

"It's our last home game at John Cain for this year and to give back to them (fans) for supporting us, it's super special" said Jovic, whose thirst for the contest was personified by sitting out the dying seconds with a bloody nose, incurred in an accidental collision with opposition centre Macy Gardner.

"The Firebirds had a tough week so we knew they would keep coming back at us.

"The second half was super-important for us."

Lauren Brown took the caretaker reins for the last-placed Firebirds, who parted ways with head coach Bec Bulley on Thursday, less than two seasons into her four-year deal following a player revolt.

Firebirds team members reportedly approached the Australian Netball Players' Association to have Bulley removed.

Brown had the Queenslanders up for the fight but it was the Mavs, through Jovic, who led narrowly 16-15 at the end of a frenetic, physical opening quarter.

Bodies continued to fly in the second as Queensland turned their quarter-time deficit into a 28-26 lead before the Mavs finished the half with an 8-2 burst to creep back ahead 34-30 at the main break.

The Mavericks maintained that momentum with a commanding 19-12 third period.

Jovic continued to thrive in the middle, Kim Jenner exerted her presence in defence and the home side pulled clear 53-42 at three-quarter-time.

The Firebirds fought until the end but the Mavs didn't let up, rubber-stamping an impressive performance - which saw them move to 4-6 - when long-range specialist Sinclair sank her seventh super shot from as many attempts on the full-time bell.

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