Giants netball team already targeted

Only a few months and seven games into their existence, the Super Netball ladder-leading Giants are already getting used to being the No.

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1 target.

Halfway through the inaugural competition, the Giants lead by one point from Melbourne Vixens, the only team to beat them, and Sunshine Coast Lightning, another of the new franchises.

Three-time trans-Tasman competition champions Queensland Firebirds, who the Giants play this weekend, round out the top four.

The third, and most heavily-favoured, newcomers Collingwood, are down in fifth, with established clubs West Coast Fever, NSW Swifts and Adelaide Thunderbirds, occupying the three lowest places on the ladder.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the Giants, who lost captain and midcourt maestro Kim Green to a season-ending knee injury after round five.

Adversity struck them even before their first game, when Diamonds defender Kristiana Manu’a was ruled out of the entire campaign after rupturing her achilles tendon.

The Giants also needed a strong late comeback to win their most recent game against crossstown rivals the Swifts, who have won just once.

‘When you are leading the table, teams want to beat that team, so people tend to lift another level,” Giants’ coach Julie Fitzgerald told AAP.

“I knew we had a good team and I was always hoping that the combinations would come together and I certainly hoped that we would be a little bit better every week.”

“We’ve taken a couple of steps back in that, but we’ve also shown some great improvement and we’ve still got improvement to go.

“I want to convert more ball when we do actually get an intercept or a possession gain and I do think all of our through-court defence can be better.”

The Firebirds, whose three wins have come against the three lowest-placed teams, are the only side the Giants haven’t played yet.

“Up and down is what does characterises them, so I’m very very wary of them,” said Fitzgerald.

“When they are on the up, they are an extremely strong team and that’s how we are looking at them.”