When Australian shooter Kiera Austin went down with an ACL injury in the Giants’ season opener, all eyes turned to 19-year-old Sophie Dwyer.
Dwyer had been expecting to play a few minutes here and there in her first Super Netball season; Austin’s injury meant she was expected to play every minute of every game.
Dwyer, who re-signed with the Giants this week, says the experience of playing in a grand final – which the Giants lost 63-59 to the Swifts – will stand her in good stead but that there were plenty of lessons to learn.
Earlier this week, Austin spoke about the atmosphere before the Giants ran out onto the court for the grand final. She said the nerves were palpable before the game: a product of a lack of finals experience within the room.
“That step up to finals was quite big, the intensity is definitely on another level. So many of us hadn’t played finals before,” Dwyer said.
Those nerves showed within the first few minutes. The Giants had led the league for most of the year but it was the Swifts that opened with six unanswered goals in the first three minutes.
Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald was forced to call a time-out in a desperate bid to reset her side. It worked, but the side struggled to recover from the shaky start.
Dwyer admitted the Giants’ lack of experience played a part in their loss.
“We didn’t want to focus on that too much, because we knew that regardless of experience that we’d been playing really great netball all year, and we could win,” she said.