The NSW Swifts are the 2021 Super Netball Champions, clinching their seventh national netball league trophy and their second title in just three years, with a 63-59 win against the Giants.
For many fans, the match might have felt like a serious case of déjà vu, with the winning team playing out the decider in a similar sort of fashion to their 2019 victory.
To start with, eight of the 10 players that took the court today were also present two years ago, when the Swifts beat the Sunshine Coast Lightning 64-47.
In that game, they applied pressure from the very first whistle, starting on a run of three unanswered goals to assert their intentions early.
On Saturday they also took an early lead of six goals.
In both instances, these goals came through the hot hand of Trinidad and Tobago shooter Sam Wallace, who faced personal set backs in the lead up to both grand final matches.
In 2019, Wallace’s father suffered a debilitating stroke. Knowing he was watching back home, she channelled his pain as motivation to spur the team to a win.
Sadly, he died not long after that day, but Wallace took comfort knowing he saw her play one of the best games of her life on the Super Netball stage.
In the weeks before Saturday’s decider, the Wallace received more heartbreaking news, when her family called to let her know her aunty had passed away.
Stuck in Australia for her career and unable to help her family grieve, Wallace paid tribute to her aunt in the best way she knew how, shooting 51 goals at 93 per cent to get the job done.
Another similarity between the club’s 2019 and 2021 titles, includes the position the team found themselves heading into the final quarter.
Two years ago, they were up by 10 at the last break, knowing they had it in the bag if they could just continue to attack the ball.
It was a joy to watch them play that final 15 minutes, soaking it in and enjoying their netball, with one hand already on the trophy.
On Saturday it was a similar story, as the team lead by nine to start the final period of play.
Although the two-point super shot has been introduced since their last victory, allowing teams to claw their way back into games with long-range goals, they had another really strong hold on the game and momentum on their side.
The Giants tried their absolute best to get back into the contest, but couldn’t get the super shots to fall, missing four attempts in a row at one stage and wasting time on the clock.
This meant that the Swifts couldn’t quite lap up the moment in the same way they had in 2019, but you could certainly see the smiles on their faces as they held on to seal the deal.
As the siren went, the team celebrated with their signature pile-on, running from all over the court to embrace each other in a tight hug.
For all the similarities, it is important to note there are also some crucial differences in each of the Swifts’ Grand Final wins.
This time co-captain Maddy Proud was involved in an on-court capacity, playing the full sixty minutes in the centre bib.
The achievement will be very precious to her, as one of the players that missed out in 2019, coaching from the sidelines after being ruled out for the season with an ACL injury.
This moment will also be special to NSW fans, stuck at home in lockdown and unable to travel to the game to support their team in person.
Whether they’re a Giants or Swifts fan, NSW netball was the winner today, with both team’s efforts giving us all something to smile about during a difficult time.