THE Burger was late and the Firebirds went cold as the table-topping Giants got on a roll to claim a 55-51 victory in the Suncorp Super Netball on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.
Queensland centre Erin Burger arrived at the Gold Coast Convention Centre at quarter-time after her flights from South Africa were delayed but her injection of class was not enough to get the Firebirds over the line.
Every time the Firebirds seriously challenged the Giants, GWS would find an extra half-gear and some valuable breathing space, aided by Firebirds turnovers.
Queensland had a chance to go into the last change locked together with the Giants but a turnover in the last minute saw GWS kick away to a 40-37 advantage at three-quarter time.
The Giants went on with the job in the fourth term and put the contest on ice with Jo Harton (28/32) and Susan Pettitt (27/31) clinically putting the Firebirds to the sword.
Romelda Aiken hit 37 goals from 42 attempts for the Firebirds.
The result ensures Queensland will drop out of the top four after Collingwood's win over West Coast on Friday night.
The Firebirds started without Burger who was on the team sheet as a bench player but nowhere to be seen after being back in South Africa last week for personal and business commitments.
Queensland did their warm-up one player short and started with Jemma Mi Mi at centre with Caitlyn Nevins back at wing attack.
Queensland had planned for Burger to be available for the clash with the Giants but she did not appear on the sideline until quarter-time.
GWS led 27-23 at halftime but Queensland showed greater poise and patience after quarter-time and drew level with the Giants with five minutes left in the term, forcing the visitors to take a tactical timeout to halt the Firebirds' charge.
The Firebirds were on top early in the scrappy opening quarter with goalkeeper Laura Clemesha prominent for the home side.
But costly - and all too familiar - turnovers from Queensland handed the momentum back to the Giants who surged to a 14-10 buffer by quarter-time.