By Ian Harkin
Earlier in the year, we took a deep dive into the statistics associated with the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season. Now it’s time to have a look at the 2022 season just recently completed, and see how the numbers compared. Once again, a big thanks to the crew at Champion Data who look after all the stats for all of the major netball in Australia.
Firstly, some basic numbers around the season…
The biggest winning margin in 2022 was 28 and in both cases, Lightning was the unfortunate victim, beaten 82-54 by Firebirds in Round 2 and then Giants defeated them by exactly the same score in Round 7. In total, 22 out of 60 games (37%) finished with a margin of five goals or less. This included one game which went to extra-time when Vixens defeated Giants. There were seven matches which were decided by just one goal. Two of these occurred in round 13 which is now the second closest round in SSN history.
The highest total score was 163 goals, and unsurprisingly, it involved Fever. It was the Round 11 match that they won 86-77 over Giants. That score of 86 is now the record score for any Australian National League team. However, it must be pointed out that Fever scored six super shots in that game, which means they were successful with 80 attempts. That only equals the previous highest score recorded by several teams from the days before the introduction of the super shot.
Now, to the other end of the scale. The lowest total score in 2022 was 89 goals. This was in Round 4 when Swifts beat Thunderbirds 45-44 in Adelaide. There were ten occasions when teams failed to reach 50 goals; four of those were from Thunderbirds, two from Swifts and Giants, and one each from Lightning and Magpies.
On the whole, scoring was higher in 2022, with the notable exception of one team. The average total score per game in 2022 was 124.4 goals, up from 120.2 in 2021. Fever once again had the highest average team score at exactly 72 goals per game, and once again Firebirds were next highest with 66.6. Thunderbirds were at the bottom with an average score of just 51.7, which was 6.6 goals less than any other team and it put them over 20 goals a game below Fever.
Now let’s delve a bit deeper, and it’s a familiar name at the top of the shooting statistics for 2022. Jhaniele Fowler was once again well on top in the goal scoring category. She broke her own scoring record and ended the season over 200 goals ahead of her nearest rival, fellow Jamaican Shimona Nelson. She was also number one in terms of overall accuracy, again ahead of Nelson.
In terms of the teams’ overall shooting, the big difference this season was with NSW Swifts, and it’s no secret why. The loss of Sam Wallace in game one had a huge impact. In 2021, Swifts were the most accurate shooting team in the whole competition at 90.2%. In 2022, they dropped all the way down the ladder to become the least accurate with 79.9%. On the back of the one and only game she played, Wallace still made the top ten list for accuracy this year.
With regard to super shots, the overall success rate in SSN increased from 50.3% in 2021, to 51.6% in 2022. Giants again led the way in terms of volume, but this season, they were also the most accurate, making for a dangerous combination. Meanwhile, at Fever, as if Fowler’s dominance wasn’t already enough, Sasha Glasgow’s super shot ability was utilised to greater effect in 2022 and this played a big part in them claiming their first title.
Glasgow finished equal second with Helen Housby on 56 super shots, behind only Jo Harten (64), and she had a slightly better % than both of those renowned long range shooters. The most accurate super shot taker for the second season running was Rahni Samason, at 70%, closely followed by Matisse Letherbarrow (68%) and Georgie Horjus (66%).
With their heavy use of the super shot, it’s little surprise that Giants finished at the bottom in terms of missed shot conversion percentage. Just 15.4% of the time when they missed a shot, they were able to regain possession and score. Thunderbirds were not much better and finished second from bottom again. Compare that to Fever, already the most accurate team in the competition, and even when they missed, they still converted over half of their misses into goals. Jhaniele Fowler proving the difference again.
Now, on to the feeders, and there were a few real stars in this category in 2022. After missing 2021 through injury, Vixens’ co-captain Liz Watson was back in a big way in 2022. She topped the list for both feeds and assists. She also turned in one of the standout performances of the season in her less customary position of centre. In round 10 against Fever, she had 51 feeds, 30 assists, three gains and six pickups.
Watson had the advantage of playing three more games than Swifts’ Maddy Proud in 2022. So in fact it was actually Proud who ended the season with the most feeds (44.4) and assists (26) per game on average, just beating Watson (40.4 and 23.8). Kelsey Browne from Magpies also had a tremendous year, while the Firebirds’ star shooter Gretel Bueta topped the list for centre-pass receives.
In the team context, once again West Coast Fever was a clear winner here. They were able to score from almost four in every five centre passes they had. They also topped the conversion rate from turnovers, while Vixens had the highest conversion rate from possession gains. At the other end of the scale for attacking efficiency was Thunderbirds, who converted only 61.8% of their centre passes, clearly below every other team.
The defensive categories saw some new names in 2022, but they were once again dominated by Thunderbirds’ Shamera Sterling, and Fever’s Courtney Bruce. Bruce finished slightly ahead of Sterling in terms of overall possession gains, but as she played two more games, it was Sterling who averaged the most gains per game (7.4) compared to Bruce (6.7). These two defenders were streets ahead of the next players on the list.
In round two, Sterling had an astonishing game against Giants; 15 gains, five intercepts, five deflections, and eight rebounds. In all, she averaged 3.7 intercepts per game which put her well ahead of the competition in that category. Sterling has been an exceptional defender since arriving in SSN, but in 2022, she also formed an incredible partnership with fellow Jamaican Latanya Wilson. Thanks to this defensive combination, Thunderbirds had easily the most possession gains per game of any team, totally dominating what was otherwise a close category.
Bruce had another outstanding year. She was way ahead of the pack in terms of total deflections. One very interesting fact however is that of Bruce’s incredible tally of 116 deflections, less than one in five actually resulted in a gain for her team. In fact, Fever as a team had the second lowest number in that statistic. That doesn’t diminish Bruce’s season though. She also topped the tally for most defensive rebounds, and was unquestionably a huge part in Fever’s drought-breaking victory.
When it comes to the all important category of pickups, Kate Moloney just edged out her fellow Vixens co-captain Liz Watson for the top spot individually. However, it was the Firebirds’ Kim Ravaillion and Magpies’ Molly Jovic who pipped both of them with the the most pickups per game on average (2.6), and on a team level, Swifts actually topped the table, with an amazing four players in the top ten!
Now on to the negative statistics. Firstly turnovers, and it has become apparent in recent seasons that a low turnover count is one of the strengths of Fever’s game, and once again, this proved to be the case in 2022. It is no coincidence that on all four occasions Fever were defeated this season, their opponents kept their general play turnovers to a minimum and beat Fever at their own game.
Fever ruled the roost in both general play turnovers and missed goal turnovers, and ended the season averaging just 19.8 total turnovers per game which is quite incredible. At the other end of the scale is the Thunderbirds who totalled almost 10 turnovers per game more. Individually, it was Liz Watson who committed the most general play turnovers. This is a stat she will definitely be looking to improve on, but it’s probably not a huge surprise as she plays such a big part in Vixens’ attack and has her hands on the ball so much.
In terms of missed goal turnovers, the big change here was Helen Housby. Without Sam Wallace in the Swifts lineup, Housby had to shoulder more of the attack, and this led to more turnovers. Jo Harten finished clearly on top in terms of total turnovers last season, but in 2022, she was joined by Housby, with Sophie Dwyer and Kiera Austin also close behind. Having played less games than the other three, Housby’s average of 7.6 turnovers per game was the highest.
Now to penalties, and if you thought there was more whistle this year, you’d be right. On average, there were seven more penalties per game this year than last. Several teams were affected, but most notably the Magpies who conceded 10 more penalties per game in 2022 compared to 2021. They finished as the most penalised team this season and this is something they will need to address. Swifts also gave away almost nine penalties per game more this year than last and dropped from the number one spot to number four.
Completely bucking the trend this year was the Queensland Firebirds. They were clearly the most penalised team in 2021, but this season, they were the only team in the competition to improve. And they did so dramatically. They conceded seven less penalties per game this season, and there’s no doubt it is largely down to the arrival of Ruby Bakewell-Doran. She took the goal defence spot from Kim Jenner, one of last season’s most penalised players. Of all eight teams, Sunshine Coast Lightning came out on top in terms of least penalties. They conceded 15 penalties less per game than the Magpies.
Individually, despite her great season, Courtney Bruce was the most penalised player in the competition this year. She averaged 16.5 penalties per game. Matilda McDonell from the Giants was the second most penalised player, while Jo Weston and Geva Mentor rounded out the top four. Or should that be the bottom four?
Now, on to some extra stats from 2022…
Once again, Shamera Sterling of the Thunderbirds blocked the most shots of any defender with 13. Next best was Kate Walsh with eight. Kiera Austin, Gretel Bueta and Helen Housby were the shooters to have the most shots blocked during the season (four).
Liz Watson took over from Kate Moloney this season as the player most called for held ball. She was penalised nine times. Next was Jamie-Lee Price with seven. Vixens dominated this negative stat with four other players (including Moloney) in the top nine. In all, Vixens were called 32 times for held ball during the season, which is almost two per game.
Thunderbirds were once again called for offside more than any other team. But it was only 32 times in 2022, which is a big improvement on their total of 56 in 2021. Captain Hannah Petty was at it again. She was penalised for offside 20 times, which was double that of the next two players on the list, Liz Watson and Molly Jovic. Lightning’s Mahalia Cassidy (16) just pipped the Firebirds’ Gabi Simpson (15) in another unwanted category; breaking at the centre pass. Those two teams were penalised for breaking more than any others.
Unfortunately for Shimona Nelson of Magpies, she topped the “bad hands” category in 2022 with 28. She had ten more fumbles/drops than the next player on the list which was fellow Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler. Meanwhile, two players tied for the most passes intercepted. Kiera Austin and Kim Ravaillion both had 28 passes snapped up by the opposition, just ahead of Laura Scherian (27) and Verity Simmons (25).
One interesting little side note is that during 2022, Vixens called time-outs less frequently than any other team. They were the only team to average less than two time-outs per game. By comparison, Firebirds averaged almost three per game. In all, there were 270 time-outs during the season which is 4.5 per game.
And finally, the Super Netball player who played the most minutes this year was Liz Watson. She went from zero minutes in 2021, to playing every single minute of every single one of Vixens’ 17 games in 2022. And that even included a five minute stint of extra time. So, in all, Watson had 1025 minutes of court time, which is 36 minutes ahead of the next player, her Vixens teammate Jo Weston. Jhaniele Fowler also played every minute of Fever’s 16 matches this season.
Who’s ready for some more great Suncorp Super Netball action in 2023? Don’t worry, it will be here before you know it, and once again, Netball Scoop will be covering it all for you.