Netball Scoop Newsletter – Suncorp Super Netball – Round 4, 2020
West Coast Fever 63 beat Collingwood Magpies 62 (21-11, 16-18, 14-18, 12-15)
Queensland Firebirds 61 drew with Giants Netball 61 (14-18, 17-11, 13-18, 17-14)
Sunshine Coast Lightning 65 beat NSW Swifts 58 (17-14, 12-12, 21-14, 15-18)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 54 beat Melbourne Vixens 47 (10-11, 12-12, 13-14, 19-10)
LADDER AFTER ROUND FOUR
Position . Points . Percentage
- Vixens . 12. 122.55%
- Lightning . 12 . 107.87%
- Swifts . 12 . 104.42%
- Fever . 8. 101.84%
- Thunderbirds . 8 . 94.09%
- Giants . 6 . 98.8%
- Magpies . 4 . 94.81%
- Firebirds . 2 . 80.99%
Housby (Swifts) left the court with a corked thigh but came back on for supershot periods.
Courtney Bruce returned to the court for the Fever but only played half the match.
Maddy Turner returned to the court for the Swifts for her first match of the 2020 season.
Congratulations to both Verity Charles and April Brandley who played their 100th national league games in Round 4.
Congratulations to Steph Wood who played her 50th National League match.
A belated congratulations to umpire Bronwen Adams who umpired her 50th national league game in Round 3.
ROOKIE OF THE ROUND
Georgie Horjus and Molly Jovic share the honours for this week. While Horjus had a slow start for the Thunderbirds, she was instrumental to their third quarter fightback and calmly nailed two supershots in the final quarter.
Molly Jovic shone in midcourt for the Magpies for the second time in as many weeks. Her ability to drive play was important, as was her speed across the line in wing defence, which quelled her opposing wing attack on the centre pass. A crucial defensive gain in the last few minutes cemented her place alongside Horjus.
PLAY OF THE ROUND
Gabi Sinclair (Magpies) sprinted to retrieve a ball that was heading out of bounds, flicking it up and backwards to keep it in court. What was so impressive was her ability to think on her feet, tapping the ball high into the air, and giving Shimona Nelson a better than even chance to outjump her opponents.
TEAM OF THE ROUND
The Adelaide Thunderbirds have had a rough ride through the first few seasons of the Suncorp Super Netball, but their impressive win over the ladder-leading Vixens showed the strength they have all over the court. The return of Layla Guscoth to the side has been instrumental in setting up goal keeper Shamera Sterling for intercepts and if the Thunderbirds continue this form, they are in with a chance for finals.
Shamera Sterling’s best game of the season so far included nine gains against a rotating Vixens shooting circle. With a ripping nine deflections for the game (four with a gain), she ran rings around the Vixens shooters and only gave away seven penalties across four quarters.
For a wing attack, Jemma Mi Mi had a great defensive game. She collected one intercept, three pick ups and four deflections, to go along with her 25 centre receives and 29 feeds.
Kim Jenner of the Firebirds had a brilliant game and was rewarded with player of the match. She also beat Jo Harten’s score from round 3 to finish with the highest NS Fantasy score of the year so far… 170.
The score wasn’t the only even part of the Giants v Fever draw with the Giants recording just one more penalty for the game than the Firebirds (51-50).
The Swifts will be disappointed with their lack of ability to convert gains and turnovers. While they are a team well known for taking care of the ball, they were simply unable to withstand the defensive pressure from the Lightning and recorded 28 turnovers for the game. Likewise, the Vixens who had just 15 turnovers last week had 25 in their loss to the Thunderbirds.
TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND
Just in case there wasn’t enough excitement during 2020, Round 4 brought the most talking points of the season so far …
The first was the scoring controversy in the Magpies v Fever match. In such a hotly contested league where percentage may be the deciding factor between a finals berth and missing out, teams undoubtedly need to have confidence in the scorers. However, there are two question marks over this one match:
- During the second quarter, Alice Teague-Neeld sunk a penalty shot from the 2 goal zone. However, the umpire singled the score as a single point and league rules state that all umpire decisions are final…
- In the third quarter, the scoreboard looked to not tick over for one of the Magpies scores.
Both teams are allegedly lodging investigations with the League. Watch this space.
Fans were excited when the Suncorp Super Netball board announced that this season would see extra time played in the event of a draw after 60 minutes of match play. However, to manage player load, the rule was retracted once the condensed season was introduced. Unfortunately that leaves the Firebirds and Giants without a decision as they produced the first drawn game of the season. How will that impact both teams later in the season?
The excitement continued on Sunday with two unexpected results.
We knew that the Lightning v Swifts match was going to be a tight contest yet didn’t predict that third quarter surge from the Lightning which won them the game. See full match report below.
The Adelaide Thunderbirds have broken their hoodoo to topple the Vixens for the first time in Suncorp Super Netball history. The full 60 minute performance against the competition leaders, no doubt paints a bullseye on their backs.
The Thunderbirds had their first win over the Vixens since the competition began and this cements them as a real chance for finals on current form. The defence of the Vixens goal circle and the ability to shine in big moments from rookie Georgie Horjus were crucial for the side securing a win over the previously unbeaten Vixens.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
STAND OUT STATISTICS
Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) 54/56 96.4%
Cara Koenen (Lightning) – 53/58 89.8%
Romelda Aiken (Firebirds) – 49/57 86%
Helen Housby (Swifts) 6/10
Jo Harten (Giants) 6/11
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) – 9 (2 intercepts, 3 rebounds, 4 deflections with gain)
Karla Pretorius (Lightning) – 8 (3 intercepts, 3 rebounds, 2 deflections with gain)
Kim Jenner (Firebirds) – 7 (4 intercepts, 2 rebounds, 1 deflection with gain)
Sam Poolman (Giants) – 6 (3 intercepts, 3 rebounds)
Laura Langman (Lightning) – 35
Kelsey Browne (Magpies) – 33
Liz Watson (Vixens) – 32
Ingrid Colyer (Fever) – 32
Mahalia Cassidy (Firebirds) – 32
Kiera Austin (Giants) – 7
Kelsey Browne (Magpies) – 7
Alice Teague-Neeld (Fever) – 6
Sam Wallace (Swifts) – 6
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Nissan Net Points – 492
Shooting – 64/75 85.3% (63/70 1 point, 1/5 super shot)
Gains – 20
Deflections – 24
Turnovers – 22
Penalties – 31
Turnovers by team
Swifts – 28
Fever – 26
Giants – 26
Vixens – 26
Magpies – 24
Thunderbirds – 23
Firebirds – 22
Lightning – 22
West Coast Fever 63 defeated Collingwood Magpies 62
By Jenny Sinclair
Magpie Madi Browne had a smart game through the midcourt, finding her shooters with ease and coming up with three gains. Browne also reduced her high turnover rate from the last round, giving the ball away on just two occasions, and was a deserved MVP.
For the Fever Jhaniele Fowler was her usual formidable self, putting up 53/54, and hauling in 8 rebounds. Courtney Bruce came on at half time, and was increasingly influential in her return from injury. Her three gains came at pivotal moments in the game.
West Coast Fever played possession netball, holding on to the ball for 54% of the game, which denied the hard-finishing Collingwood a win. While Alice Teague-Neeld was unsteady under the post (4/12, 33% accuracy), and Kaylia Stanton wasn’t much better (2/4, 50%), they had the confidence to put the ball up knowing that Fowler was there for the rebound.
Sunday Aryang has been a revelation this year, and she’s covered all back three defensive positions at times. Her foot speed to cover her opponent, elevation, and hands-over ability should see her continue to get regular court time.
Fever’s preferred game plan is to link with their wing attack at first phase on the centre pass, leaving the circle feeding to Verity Charles or Jess Anstiss at centre. When Molly Jovic was moved to wing defence, her foot speed allowed her to limit this. Fever’s wing attack options took 13 centre passes while Jovic wasn’t at wing defence, compared to just six when she was.
It was also perhaps no coincidence that the Magpies were at their best with Madi Browne at centre, winning three of their four quarters while she was on court.
The defensive connection between Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward is looking increasingly polished, and they are set to become one of the more formidable defensive combinations as the season wears on.
WHAT needs improvement?
For the Magpies, Kelsey Browne was a strong contributor, but her seven turnovers were also expensive. Learning when to play on, and when to stop and look for the best outlet pass will add to her game.
It was a similar situation for Verity Charles and Teague-Neeld, who coughed up 10 turnovers between them. While the rapid fire feed into Fowler is critical to catch opponents napping, it needs to be tempered with ball placement.
Despite being shorter than many of the goal shooters she faces, Olivia Lewis has been doing a sterling job at goal keeper for the Fever in the absence of Bruce. In this game she allowed Shimona Nelson to edge her too close to the circle perimeter, allowing plenty of space for the attacking lob to drop into. Positioning is a work-on for Lewis, and should improve with more experience.
WHERE was it won?
Fever set up their win with an 11 goal first quarter lead, which left the Magpies looking a little shell shocked. Fever managed to come up with three intercepts, while committing just two turnovers of their own.
To the Magpies’ credit they fought their way back during the rest of the game, but it proved to be too little, too late. After steadily picking away at their eleven goal deficit, the Magpies overhauled the opposition in the fourth quarter after some sterling defensive work and misplaced feeds by Fever. However the Western Australians hit back, and some brilliant tactical work by Aryang and Bruce saw them prevent a last gasp two point shot that would have levelled the score.
WHERE was it lost?
In hindsight, the decision to leave Madi Browne on the bench for most of the first quarter probably cost the Magpies the game. Her ability to settle the speed and youth around her, direct play, and connect with the circle was impressive throughout the game. The Magpies won the three quarters that she was on court, and lost the quarter that she was mostly on the bench.
WHEN was the game won and lost?
The game was won and lost in the first quarter, when Fever skipped out to an 11 goal lead. Fever have won all their first quarters this season, through some slick attacking play and desperation on the pick up.
Magpies coach Rob Wright put his hand up for the Pies, saying that he was too slow to react to the onslaught, and should have called a time out sooner than he did.
HOW did she do that?
There were two moments that caught our eye this week.
In the first quarter, a ball appeared to be headed out of court, when Gabi Sinclair caught it. Thinking on the fly, she managed to flip it back in, at a high enough trajectory that the athletic Nelson would have a better chance than her opponents to reel it in.
In the second quarter, the shortest player in the game, Ingrid Colyer, challenged one of the tallest, Geva Mentor, in the air. Colyer showed impressive elevation, and while she didn’t quite reach the ball, she did enough to startle Mentor into dropping it. A win for Colyer and on the score board.
MVP: Madi Browne
Queensland Firebirds 61 drew with Giants Netball 61
By Katrina Nissen
The Firebirds finally get competition points on the board after their most complete performance of the season.
Firebirds goal defence, Kim Jenner dominated for the second match in a row. She was in everything and kept international goal attack Jo Harten quiet during the first half. She really came to life in the second quarter, collecting one intercept, three deflections and two pickups which sparked her side’s resurgence.
As it did last week, the Firebirds full court defence and determination kept them in the hunt. Their second quarter fight back filled them with confidence. The introduction of Rudi Ellis at goal keeper during the Power 5’s helped the Firebirds as she was a better height match the tall Giants goalers.
The introduction of Kiera Austin at goal attack during the third quarter worked a treat for the Giants. Her evasive dodges, hard baseline drives and fluid movements around the circle, created a bit of havoc for the Firebirds defenders. Austin’s combination with Jo Harten in the final quarter was a highlight for the match.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Firebirds shooters need to start finding the confidence – and accuracy – to take shots from the 2-point zone. Their decisions to merely keep the scoreboard ticking over with the ones during the Rebel Power 5 is not sustainable against teams like the Giants who have superior accuracy from the zone. Tippah Dwan found that belief in the last quarter, will she keep it heading into Round 5?
The Giants transition play was not as slick as we’re used to. Key ball carriers Jamie-Lee Price and Kiera Austin were costly in turnovers. They needed to slow the play and work the ball over the transverse rather than forcing it.
WHERE was it …. DRAWN?
This was one of the most equally played matches fans have seen all season. There is no distinctive place where the game was either won or lost. Both teams were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard, and they both won two quarters each, by similar margins.
This was just a case of gritty, hard-fought netball.
WHEN was the game won and lost?
Both teams had an opportunity to seal the game:
The Firebirds will rue that lost opportunity to close out the match with 10 seconds to go. A poorly placed feed into Aiken was a brain fade which Rose Jencke will no doubt scrutinise this week.
Credit also needs to be given to Sam Poolman and Kristiana Manu’a who made the placement of that pass so difficult and saved their side from a loss. Manu’a’s movement in the circle to keep Dwan out but then double back on Aiken when needed was a masterclass in defensive pressure.
The second missed opportunity which went begging was the Giants’ Jo Harten missing a two point shot. Unfortunately, with three seconds to go she rushed her shot and it bounced off the rim and was snaffled by the hustling Firebirds defence.
HOW did she do that?!
A couple of times during the match, Romelda Aiken pulled off the fadeaway shot or pass. That little bit of Jamaican flare has been missing this season, so it was a pleasure to see it return.
WHAT lessons can they learn?
This is the third match of the season where the Giants failed to put the foot down when the opportunity presented. Whether it was a testament to their opponents’ defensive ability or the Giants inability to capitalise, they will need to do some correction before they face Round 5 opponents, Sunshine Coast Lightning.
MVP: Kim Jenner (Firebirds)
Sunshine Coast Lightning 65 defeated NSW Swifts 58
by Kate Cornish
The 2019 Grand Final rematch was the one fans had been waiting for. Sunshine Coast Lightning have had a lot of time to mull over exactly what went wrong in the demolition they suffered at the hands of the NSW Swifts. This match saw Swift Maddy Turner return to the court after missing the first three rounds with an ankle injury.
Lauren Moore once again had a great impact in the first 30 minutes. She spent some time on the bench, allowing Turner some much needed court time, but returned to the fray when she was needed.
As the game evolved, Lightning young gun Cara Koenen quickly became the dominant player on court, having an immense impact with superb timing and baseline movement. The Swifts did not have answers to the Koenen game as she went from strength to strength as the minutes ticked on. She was set up beautifully by the players sitting out in front of her, and the attacking combination of the Lightning had hot hands and the confidence to take control of their attacking end. It was a master-class and they produced some classy netball that Koenen was able to put her own lovely finish on. Reliable and steady, she held the Swifts defenders at bay.
Lightning shrugged off their slow starts to be the first team to settle in an opening 15 minutes that was littered with errors from both teams early on. At the seven-minute mark Steph Wood, Laura Scherian and Laura Langman all took a breath and their combination started to fall into place. At the same time and early into the second quarter their defensive end of Karla Pretorious and Phumza Maweni started to fire.
This game for Scherian was a much-improved performance from the one she had against the Vixens mid-week. Against Kate Eddy she was unable to hit the circle edge due to intense defensive pressure that was being applied. This week however, she was back to her usual fast-footed and electrifying self. The combination of Koenen’s baseline magic and the interplay between Laura Langman, Scherian and Wood had the Swifts’ heads spinning. Scherian finished the game with 15 goal assists and 25 feeds and was impossible to stop when she hit the circle edge.
In the Swifts line-up Lauren Moore was again brilliant when she was on court, five gains and three intercepts and two rebounds showcased the ability she has to read the game with ease. Her ability and speed to challenge any cross-court pass and attack the ball with a hard-one-on-one style of defence has made her a revelation in 2020.
The combination of Sophie Garbin and Sam Wallace for the Swifts is starting to take shape. This season, as legs will need to be rested and Helen Housby will need to take a seat on the bench, Garbin out at goal attack gives defensive units something else to contend with. Garbin offers different timing and movement in the attacking end and she holds space with her body so well giving feeders an obvious space to pass the ball into. Both Wallace and Garbin are also strong on offensive rebounds so they offer great support to each other on court.
WHAT needs improvement?
In defence for the Swifts Klau and Turner will now have some time to work on their timing again as a duo. They’ve formed an impressive over recent years, but Turner has some work to do to find her rhythm again, and not much time in which to do it. With Moore providing something quite different, the three defenders will be quite the handful of cards for coach Briony Akle to have up her sleeve.
Such is the nature of this season; tired bodies were all over court and just as we saw the Lightning struggle against the Vixens in their round three mid-week game, today it looked like the Swifts were running out of puff. Uncharacteristic errors and connections that were breaking down were happening more often than we usually see. Swifts players were worrying more about calls the umpires were making rather than switching straight into defensive transition play which indicates that their minds and bodies were tiring. All teams will have to learn to deal with games where fatigue sets in, and how they manage that part of their game will no doubt have an overall bearing on the outcome of the season.
WHERE was it won
When the Lightning attack end clicked in the third quarter, there was not much that could be done as far as the Swifts were concerned. They did put up a valiant effort to keep in touch on the scoreboard for the first 30 minutes, but there was always a sense that after half time, this was the Lightning’s game to lose.
WHERE was it lost?
The midcourt and attacking ends for the Swifts did not look comfortable today. The pressure applied by Langman and Pretorius that built as the game went on, with help from Jacqui Russell and Maddy McAuliffe sharing wing defence, set up Maweni to be able to get defections and have a hunt for the ball.
The Swifts timing was well off, but they did look more settled when Nat Haythornthwaite was on at wing attack. While it is nice to have the rolling subs in the attacking mid-court that she has, Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley are having more impact at centre, leaving Haythornwaite in control of the circle edge.
HOW did she do that?!
Winning MVP of the match and shooting 53/58 (89.8%) was Cara Koenen for the Lightning. Unstoppable from under the post and the movement and timing she had to get herself in that position was everything that netball dreams are made of. Making her feeders look like magicians and spinning the heads of four different Swifts defenders throughout the game, she was clearly the best on court and just like Sophie Garbin had done for the Swifts a few matches prior, made an exceptional point for why the holding shooter should not be lost to our game even with the introduction of the two-point shot. If you are picking a Diamonds squad after round four performances, Koenen would surely be receiving the nod.
MVP Cara Koenen (Lightning)
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 54 defeated MELBOURNE VIXENS 47
By Jane Edwards
Shamera Sterling – two intercepts, nine deflections and three rebounds do not even begin to convey how her play deterred the Vixens attack end, particularly the timing of coordinated leads in the goal circle.
Georgie Horjus’ combination at GA with Lenize Potgieter at GS and Maisie Nankivell at WA. She had a fabulous game against a range of Vixens GDs, led the feeds for the Thunderbirds, and scored two vital 2-point shots in the final minutes of the game.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Vixens looked tired following their domination of Lightning only three days ago, while the Thunderbirds were clearly relishing the challenge. The Vixens will need to re-establish their stamina in this weirdo season, but expect every team to struggle at some point to front up to the contest.
WHERE was it won?
Why don’t we have a name for the area of the court outside the goal circle in the goal third? From a birdseye view it’s shaped like a netball bib, so I’m going to call this the defensive bib zone. Anyway, this was where Adelaide won the game today. While Sterling was performing her usual athletic superlatives in the goal circle, it was the stultifying pressure from the Adelaide defenders in the bib zone that slowed the approach to the circle and retarded the feeds to the shooters. It added an extra layer of pressure in the Vixens’ attack end, resulting in a range of uncharacteristic stepping, bad hands and bad pass turnovers in addition to spectacular intercepts from Sterling.
WHERE was it lost?
The Vixens have dominated the two point zone in the first three rounds, but today they sank only four 2 point shots for 8 goals. This compares with 6 two-point goals in Round 3, 13 in Round 2 and 10 in Round 1. And it wasn’t just inaccuracy – the Vixens attempted only one two-point shot in the whole first half. The Thunderbirds did a brilliant job of keeping them out of the 2-point zone, and consequently the Vixens finished the game with only 47 goals. This is their equal lowest score in SSN (in 2019 they lost 60-47 to the Swifts in the preliminary final, and 58-47 against the Magpies in Round 14), but comparatively this total is much more significant in 2020 given the availability of the super shot is inflating scores.
WHEN was the game won and lost?
Against the short-burst intensive pressure specialists, the Thunderbirds carved out a period of their own dominance. Over five minutes from 2:20 in the final quarter, the Thunderbirds won three defensive gains to take the score from 35-38 to 42-39 – a six goal turn around.
With four minutes remaining in the match, Thwaites sparked some hope by sinking a 2 point shot, to bring the score back to 45-48. However, Georgie Horjus put the result beyond doubt, sinking two of her own in the following two minutes.
HOW did she do that?!
Shamera Sterling, streaming out of her defensive goal circle to intercept an attempted midcourt pass to Vixens WA Tayla Honey, with a neat pirouette to avoid crossing the left sideline.
MVP: Shamera Sterling
Tue 18 August 5pm Fever v Vixens Nissan Arena Telstra TV / Netball Live
Tue 18 August 7:30pm Firebirds v Swifts Nissan Arena Telstra TV / Netball Live
Wed 19 August 5pm Magpies v Thunderbirds USC Telstra TV / Netball Live
Wed 19 August 7:30pm Lightning v Giants USC Stadium Telstra TV / Netball Live
NETBALL SCOOP PODCAST
Please tune into the Netball Scoop Podcast on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball Season. Co-hosts Alexia Mitchell and Phoebe Doyle cover the latest Suncorp Super Netball news, including post-match discussions and analysis, coach and player interviews, and have a special focus on the rookies of the competition. Just like the netball, the episodes are short and sharp – perfect for listeners on the go!