Netball Scoop – Suncorp Super Netball – Preliminary final, 2021
Contributors: Drew Kennedy, Ian Harkin, Katrina Nissen, Jenny Sinclair
Photographer: Simon Leonard
GIANTS Netball 64 defeated West Coast Fever 61 (16-13, 19-14, 16-14, 13-20)
Olivia Lewis (Fever) was ruled out of the preliminary final after fracturing her elbow at training.
Sophie Dwyer (GIANTS) has played the last few matches with a heavily strapped thigh.
Jhaniele Fowler notched up her 6000th Suncorp Super Netball goal during the match.
ROOKIE OF THE ROUND
It’s hard to separate Sophie Dwyer and Maddie Hay, so we won’t. The connection between Hay and the shooting circle was crucial, and she finished with 26 centre pass receives, 41 feeds and a timely intercept. Dwyer continued to show why she will most likely take out the Rising Star award this year, with a cool-as-you-like 25/28, together with 17 feeds, 19 centre pass receives and a deflection.
PLAY OF THE ROUND
In an incredible performance, Sam Poolman did what few other goal keepers achieve in getting the better of Jhaniele Fowler. While Poolman officially finished with just two gains and three penalties to her name, she forced Fowler into numerous errors and created much hesitation in the feeders’ minds. Fowler was kept to just 41 goals, while her 6 turnovers and 9 penalties were costly. Far too often Fowler was seen leaving the circle in an attempt to shake Poolman off, rather than using her height and athleticism as a target under the post.
GIANTS recorded the lowest penalty count of the entire Super Netball season to date, finishing on just 30 for the match. During the first half they were only penalised 11 times, with Sam Poolman conceding just one penalty for the half, and three for the entire game. That is almost unheard of for a goal keeper!
Poolman’s game was a good reminder that statistics don’t tell the whole story. Apart from her incredibly low penalty count, her stats were not outstanding; two gains, one intercept, two deflections and one rebound. But her game was certainly outstanding. Jhaniele Fowler, was restricted to her lowest number of goals for the year (41). She has been kept to less than 50 goals just three times during the season and Fever have lost all three times.
Another stat which shows that GIANTS match up well on Fever… on only four occasions this season has Fever conceded more penalties and also more turnovers than their opponents. Included in those four matches are all three clashes between these two teams. GIANTS have had the better of Fever in both the penalty and turnover counts in round five, round 14 and now the Preliminary Final.
TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND
Uncertainty over the Collective Bargaining Agreement continues, and with the grand final just one week away, there’s still no signature been put to paper. It’s understood that the current hold up is between Netball Australia and the clubs – as of Thursday players still hadn’t sighted the agreement.
After 20 years with the Perth Orioles and West Coast Fever as player, captain, assistant coach and coach, Stacey Marinkovich’s tenure in the west has come to an end. Across her time with the club, Marinkovich has taken them from cellar dwellers to a powerhouse, and should be congratulated on all that she’s achieved. Marinkovich will head east to focus solely on the Diamonds as they head into Commonwealth Games and World Cup campaigns.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
STAND OUT STATISTICS
Nissan Net Points
Jamie-Lee Price – 84.5
Maddie Hay – 68.5
Sophie Dwyer – 67.5
Maddie Hay – 24
Jamie-Lee Price – 19
Amy Parmenter – 5 (4 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain)
Courtney Bruce – 5 (1 intercept, 1 deflection with gain, 2 rebounds)
Jhaniele Fowler – 7
Verity Charles – 6
Maddie Hay – 6
GIANTS – 18
Fever – 22
GIANTS – 30
Fever – 58
GIANTS NETBALL 64 def WEST COAST FEVER 61
By Andrew Kennedy
Two closely matched foes had so much more on the line than one mere game of netball. West Coast were set on a maiden premiership and a grand farewell for their coach, while GIANTS knew they were an inspiration to the residents of New South Wales who were in the middle of months of lockdown.
There were nerves evident on both sides, with atypical errors of timing and pass execution. It was the Sydney team that won the mental battle and started enacting their game plan of short sharp safe moves and passing, increasing their centre pass conversion from 43% in the first quarter to 80% for the rest of the match, while Perth could only bump 54% in the first up to 64% in the remainder. GIANTS stifled the normal confidence and flow of Fever, who put in a great effort to win the final quarter 20-13 due to defensive tenacity and nailing supershots. However the gap was too great, and it was the minor premiers that prevailed, the 64-61 victory giving GIANTS their first grand final appearance since 2017.
Two key defenders for Giants had outstanding games. Sam Poolman kept the mental edge over Jhaniele Fowler from their recent encounters, making the West Coast shooter forget her key strengths and play too much variation. Even in the opening minute Fowler was moving outside the circle often, also taking ambitious step-ins on the shot, resulting in an amazing four turnovers in the first quarter alone. The presence of Poolman was a psychological barrier for the Fever feeders throughout.
Wing defence Amy Parmenter also put in her best showing of 2021. She covered Verity Charles on the second phase time after time, and was equal first for gains with six. The Fever feeders looked flat and confused, as Parmenter and her teammates clogged the transverse line and stopped the normally fluid drives towards Fowler. Verity Charles was so out of sorts she was benched for seven minutes in the second quarter, and Parmenter kept on her merry way keeping Emma Cosh well off the circle.
The loss by Fever wasn’t without endeavour, especially from the three starting defenders. Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang never said die and came up with nine gains between them, and Stacey Francis-Bayman was constantly energised and forcing Maddie Hay into second and third efforts.
The shooting combination of Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer clicked into a new gear in this final. The structure was fairly simple, but elegant and effective. Harten would generally take a side hold on Bruce just barely inside the goal circle, being an option for the feed directly above, or on a drop to the post. From this position, GIANTS used excellent triangles and swings across the circle, while always looking for the other goaler darting to the post. The timing and accuracy of 19-year old Dwyer was miraculous, 88% for 1-pointers and 100% for supershots, her performance under pressure showing she could be ready for a Diamonds call up sooner rather than later.
Team defence by Giants was the sharpest of the season. They were picking their battles and timing was astute. One key was April Brandley’s availability – while Kristiana Manu’a had 19 penalties against Fever in their last encounter, in this game Brandley had only eight. In fact, the back three seemed like totally different athletes – across wing defence, goal defence and goal keeper they went from 3 gains and 42 penalties in round 14, to 11 gains and a meagre 16 penalties today.
WHAT needs improvement?
GIANTS now have to prepare for their second Super Netball grand final in the tournament’s five year history, against the NSW Swifts next weekend. They have shown much greater composure in the past five games, and success is coming from sticking to a low-risk game plan. If they play as well as in this match, they might be hard to stop, but there are certain question marks. Against Fever in the past two weeks they shot at 86% and 89%, but against Swifts last week they were at 79% due to 8 missed supershots. They only kept so close due to Harten’s six rebounds – they will need heightened accuracy because the Swifts defenders will be all over the rebounds in the grand final.
Another vital decision is which defenders to use. Brandley is in favour at goal defence, but it’s unclear which of Poolman and Tilly McDonnell should be at the back. The former has presence against a hold and intimidation over the shot, but the latter is more useful on faster moving shooters and switching when players like Helen Housby are on fire. In their major semi-final loss, each of the athletes had 30 minutes against Sam Wallace and neither were fully effective.
Fever simply didn’t stick to their strengths and patterns that served them well all year. The anxiety of needing to play forward quickly but being stuck by tight defence resulted in Fowler coming out far too often, rather then resetting to their capable defenders Aryang and Francis-Bayman. This rush was shown in the stark difference in possession time, 60-40% in favour of Giants, who were not troubled by passing often and finding the right angles.
The Fever will lick their wounds and celebrate the positives of a chaotic season. Coming from a three-match penalty to start, they would be very proud to have even made the finals. In the end, they didn’t have their heads in the right space for this crucial match. The motivation and desperation seen in the final minutes was what they needed from the first whistle.
“The season is the most successful one that Fever’s had in terms of wins”, reflected Stacey Marinkovich post match. “When you look at the predicament we were in at the beginning, I’m just so incredibly proud of the girls. Not once did they back away. When everyone ruled us out, we came back firing, and we fought, and we’ve been under pressure for a long time. GIANTS were the better team on the day. But I couldn’t be more proud of everything they’ve tried to accomplish this season.”
WHERE was it won?
GIANTS were able to pounce on weak moments of an under confident Fever. The biggest jump was early in the second quarter when GIANTS went on a 7-1 run, while Fever had an accuracy of only 76% for the term. There weren’t many other decisive streaks of scoring, just steadiness and adherence of the Sydney team to keep and convert possession.
GIANTS also interrupted Fever’s usual centre pass plays throughout the match. They were hotly aware of the danger of a driving West Coast player cutting through their defence at the transverse line into open territory near the circle, and they would double team those drives and shepherd them to the side.
WHERE was it lost?
“In the last timeout,” said GIANTS’ coach Julie Fitzgerald, “I told them, all we have to do is control for five minutes, it WOULD become hectic, they WOULD try to shoot 2’s [supershots], as long as we could be calm, it would be enough. I just didn’t want them to panic when they started to go for 2’s”.
She was exactly right. The Fever were always in chase position, and failed to adjust until late in each quarter, leaving their inspired fourth quarter push too late. They won all of the power five periods, by 1, 1, 2, and 5 points. Contrary to past tactics, GIANTS only shot 3/7 supershots, while Fever made 9/18, and it actually was Fowler who was the most accurate at 67%. If they had tried the surprise change of more 2-point attempts from the Jamaican, they would have gone close to a draw and extra time.
Fever: GS Fowler, GA Teague-Neeld, WA Charles, C Anstiss, WD Francis-Bayman, GD Aryang, GK Bruce
Giants: GS Harten, GA Dwyer, WA Hay, C Price, WD Parmenter, GD Brandley, GK Poolman
It will be an all NSW showdown, when GIANTS Netball take on the NSW Swifts in the grand final. It’s some good news for the Covid-beleaguered state, with a guaranteed win coming their way. Both teams have faced immense hardships this centre, and which ever club wins will produce one of the feelgood stories of the season.
Super Netball Grand Final
Sat 28 August 2:30pm NSW Swifts v GIANTS Netball Nissan Arena
Broadcast live on Channel 9 and Netball Live
This year, Netball Scoop has teamed up with The Netball Show Podcast and The Netty Life Podcast to bring you all of our Suncorp Super Netball post-match interviews. Hear from your favourite players and coaches as they dissect the matches and get candid about ways they can improve throughout the season.
Listen now on your favourite podcast aps.