By Ian Harkin
Super Netball is just over two months away. Don’t worry, it will be here before we know it. I thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the statistics from last year, to see if it gives us any pointers to the upcoming season. And because well, why not? It’s interesting. This article is all thanks to the fabulous crew at Champion Data who look after the stats for all the major netball in Australia (and New Zealand). Great work, guys!
Firstly, just some basic numbers around the season…
The biggest winning margin in 2021 was in round 11 when Fever defeated Thunderbirds by 25 goals (69-44). Fever also defeated Magpies by 23 goals (78-55) in round 6 and then repeated the dose against Magpies in round 13 with the third biggest winning margin of the year; 20 goals (75-55).
In 2021, a total of 24 out of 60 games (40%) finished with a margin of five goals or less. There were five matches which were decided by just one goal. Two of these occurred in round 5 which is one of the closest rounds in SSN history as it also featured a two goal margin.
The highest total score was 148 goals, and it happened on three occasions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fever was involved in all three. One was the exciting round 14 clash where Giants beat Fever 75-73. The others are the two times that Fever and Firebirds met in 2021. Incredibly, in both fixtures, Fever beat Firebirds by the exact same score; 79-69. Those two scores of 79 by Fever are also the highest score by any team in 2021. Fever scored 70 goals or more seven times. Giants and Magpies did it once each.
Now, to the other end of the scale. The lowest total score in 2021 was 98 goals and this occurred twice, firstly in round 3 when Swifts beat Vixens 55-43 and then in round 8 when Giants defeated Thunderbirds 57-41. That 41 by Thunderbirds is the lowest score by any team. There were nine occasions when teams failed to reach 50; five of those were from Vixens, three from Thunderbirds and one from Magpies.
The average total score per game in 2021 was 120.2 goals. Fever had the highest average team score per game at 69.5, well ahead of second-placed Firebirds with 62.9. Vixens were at the bottom with an average score of 51.3 and just above them were Thunderbirds with 54.6.
Now let’s delve a bit deeper into the statistics, starting with the shooting category, and it’s no shock who comes out on top here.
Jhaniele Fowler scored over 250 goals more than the next shooter on the list, Shimona Nelson. Fowler just pipped Lenize Potgieter for highest shooting percentage too. Not surprisingly, the Giants shooters topped the super shot count, although their reliance on this method of scoring, meant their accuracy dropped. One interesting figure is that over half of all super shot attempts in SSN 2021 were successful. As a point of interest, the most accurate super shot exponent was Rahni Samason, who in two games for the Vixens, scored 14/19 at 74% from 2 point range. Next was Helen Housby with 24/38 at 63% over the whole year.
Another interesting statistic regarding shooting is the missed shot conversion percentage. What this means is how often a team misses an attempt at goal, but still manages to score from it because they rebound the ball, get another shot and put it in. With Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken there to do the rebounding, it’s no surprise that Fever and Firebirds topped this list, while Thunderbirds and Giants were at the bottom.
Now, on to the feeders, and the ability to create and convert opportunities. One of the unheralded stars of the 2021 season was definitely Maddie Hay, topping two of the main lists, centre pass receives and feeds with an attempt. Verity Charles and Jamie-Lee Price were also regularly high up in the feeding statistics. In the team context, West Coast Fever was a clear winner. They were able to score from just over three out of every four centre passes they had. They also topped the conversion rate from possession gains and turnovers. Contrasting that efficiency were Magpies, Vixens and Thunderbirds. The Adelaide team converted less than half of their possession gains into goals.
The defensive category was dominated by four names; Courtney Bruce, Shamera Sterling, Sarah Klau and Jodi-Ann Ward. Bruce finished slightly ahead of Sterling in overall possession gains, but she played two more games. Largely thanks to Sterling, Thunderbirds had the most possession gains per game, but as mentioned previously, they managed to convert less than half of those into goals.
Now on to the negative statistics. Firstly turnovers, and Giants players finished on top of these categories. The most noticeable thing here was how many missed goal turnovers Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer had. They had 109 between them in all, which is clearly not a good thing. That’s a result of the team’s reliance on super shot goals. Overall, Fever had the fewest total turnovers per game, while Vixens were at the other end of the table.
Now to penalties, and this is all about the Firebirds. They averaged 7.5 more penalties per game than any other team. Perhaps surprisingly, the Swifts’ Maddy Turner was actually the most penalised player overall, just ahead of Courtney Bruce. Firebirds’ Kim Jenner was just behind them though and she played two less games. Possibly also surprising to some was that Magpies’ Jodi-Ann Ward had the most contact penalties.
Finally, some interesting extra little sidelights in the stats from 2021…
Shamera Sterling of the Thunderbirds blocked the most shots of any defender with 11. Next best was April Brandley with six. Interestingly, Sterling’s teammate Georgie Horjus had the most shots blocked of any shooter with four.
Kate Moloney was called for held ball the most. Nine times in all. She finished just ahead of Vixens teammate Kaylia Stanton with eight and Fever’s Alice Teague-Neeld with seven.
One amazing stat is that as a team, Thunderbirds were called for offside 56 times. The next most was Firebirds with just 23. Thunderbirds’ captain Hannah Petty was offside an incredible 25 times. That was 16 more than Maisie Nankivell, Kate Moloney and Maddy McAuliffe who shared second spot with nine.
Likewise, Kim Jenner of the Firebirds dominated another unwanted category; breaking at the centre pass. She was called for this 18 times. The next most were Stacey Francis-Bayman and Mahalia Cassidy with eight.
Unfortunately for Laura Scherian of Lightning, she had the most passes intercepted in 2021 with 28. Hannah Mundy, Maddy Proud, Jamie-Lee Price and Kelsey Browne, all had 26.
And finally, Giants’ captain Jo Harten played the most minutes of any Super Netball player in 2021, just ahead of her teammates Jamie-Lee Price and Maddie Hay.