COLLINGWOOD'S star-studded line-up has fallen to its second loss of the Super Netball season after being outplayed in its battle of the league's new franchises against the Giants at Hisense Arena.
Magpies vice-captain Sharni Layton this week rated the Giants as the "threat of the season" and the GWS-aligned side indeed proved they are going to be a one of the team's to beat after their 59-51 victory.
The Magpies, widely regarded as favourites for the opening Super Netball crown after recruiting five current Diamonds to their line-up, now have a 1-2 record after the first three rounds of the season, while the Giants - led by former Diamond Kim Green and English star Jo Harten - remain undefeated.
After bringing up their first win as a team against the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane last week, the Magpies are still searching for on-court cohesion as they now look ahead to a round four clash against the Adelaide Thunderbirds at home next Sunday.
In the opening match of a double-header before the Vixens-Swifts clash, the Magpies relied heavily on the shooting of Caitlin Thwaites (42 goals from 46 attempts), who had two partners at goal attack - Alice Teague-Neeld (6/10), who was replaced in the second half by Cody Lange (3/4).
Harten was brilliant for the Giants, nailing 43/45 to be named the MVP for the match in her impressive partnership with Susan Pettitt (16/21).
It was a fierce opening to the match, with the Giants flaunting their strength in the goal circle. The brilliant delivery from Green and England's Serena Guthrie had Magpies midcourters Kim Ravaillion and Ash Brazill working overtime to shut down the supply.
The Giants emerged with a three-goal lead at the first change, with Harten missing just the one goal in the opening quarter with her superb long-range shooting.
After the lead blew out to five goals midway through the second quarter, Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell didn't wait much longer to make change and replaced the hesitant Teague-Neeld with Lange at goal attack seeking more support for Thwaites in the goal circle.
It was Lange's first run for the Magpies after being cleared to return to action after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament playing for the Thunderbirds last season.
At the other end, defensive enforcer Sharni Layton was heavily penalised by the umpires, amassing 12 penalties to her name in the first half.
The Giants took a six-goal lead into the second half and extended it to seven before their attack started to struggle to find a clear path into the circle as the Magpies defence stepped up a gear.
The Magpies managed to close the margin to three goals, before the Giants pulled away again to a six-goal buffer at the final change.
Collingwood made another change for the start of the final quarter, bringing Shae Brown on at centre in place of Ravaillion, but the change didn't provide the spark the Magpies would have been hoping for as the Giants showed their strength across the court.
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