SOUTHERN Steel goal shooter Donna Wilkins kept the Queensland Firebirds in the hunt to win consecutive premierships in the trans-Tasman Netball Championship.
Wilkins had the chance to send the match into extra-time on the final whistle, but her penalty shot rimmed out and the Queenslanders sneaked home in a 61-60 thriller in Invercargill on Sunday night.
The Firebirds had dominated for the first three quarters and led at every break.
They were five in front at the start of the final quarter before the hosts fought back to give the champions a real fright.
Romelda Aiken (37 goals from 42 attempts) and Natalie Medhurst (24 goals from 27 shots) had earlier put the Firebirds in a commanding position before the Queenslanders lost their way.
The win was the fourth of the season for the Firebirds and third in-a-row.
They are now sixth on the ladder, just behind Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on percentage.
In other results, the Melbourne Vixens crashed to their second straight loss, suffering a 49-45 defeat at the hands of the Northern Mystics, while the New South Wales Swifts registered their fifth consecutive win, beating West Coast Fever 52-47.