CHAMPIONS AGAIN: The Firebirds celebrate their extra-time grand final win over the Swifts yesterday.
CHAMPIONS AGAIN: The Firebirds celebrate their extra-time grand final win over the Swifts yesterday. Glenn Hunt

Birds pull win over Swifts out of the fire

TOWERING Firebird Romelda Aiken bounced back from the worst shooting display of her career to make one of the biggest shots of her life to clinch an epic ANZ Netball Championship final win over a gallant Sydney Swifts.

Aiken registered her 5000th goal in the first quarter before becoming gripped by the dreaded shooting yips, missing 14 first-half shots and having an "air ball" before dropping the winning goal in the 69-67 extra-time win.

The sellout crowd of almost 11,000 packed into Brisbane's Convention Centre were spellbound as the lead changed several times during a pulsating finale.

Young Swifts extra-time substitute Stephanie Wood had a long bomb a second before the end of the first extra time period that could have snatched a stunning victory, but it hit the rim.

She has made her only previous three shots after being thrown into the battle in extra time.

A Gabi Simpson mid-court intercept led to the Firebirds' winning goal but the pressure on Aiken, who'd struggled with her shooting radar all game, missing 26 shots, made the one that counted most.

An emotional Aiken fell to the court, bursting into tears as her emotional teammates hugged and kissed her, knowing the pressure she had been under all game from a tenacious Sharni Layton. .

Firebirds Laura Geitz (captain) intercepts a pass during the Netball Grand Final between the Queensland Firebirds and NSW Swifts in Brisbane, Sunday, June 21, 2015. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Swifts shooter Susan Pettitt bagged the last two goals in regular time to lock the scores at 54-all and sent the pulsating grand final into extra time.

But the Firebirds, with captain Laura Geitz grabbing three massive extra-time rebounds, became the first back-to-back winners of the Championship.

Layton did everything in her power to overcome the eight-centimetre height difference, pushing, bumping, banging, and even yelling at Aiken as she succeeded in putting her taller rival off.

Aiken admitted she was "over thinking" her shot and waiting for Layton to hit her.

But she appeared to make a statement early in the third quarter as she flung Layton over the baseline before levelling the game score at 42-all.

"My goodness Sharni gave it a really good crack," said Aiken, tears still flowing.

"I was nervous from the get-go, but I just kept going for the rebounds (she finished with 20 for the match).

"My teammates told me to relax but the more relaxed I got the more I missed. They kept reassuring me they had my back no matter what happened and the crowd was incredible."

Geitz, who continually hassled Swifts goal shooter Caitlin Thwaites (34-41) finished with six rebounds, half of them in the crucial final period.

"That's one of the toughest games of netball I've ever played," said Geitz, who will now consider her future after her third title win.

"Congratulations to the Swifts, they were absolutely sensational."