Netball Scoop – Suncorp Super Netball – Round 5, 2021
Contributors: Katrina Nissen, Jenny Sinclair, Ian Harkin, Kate Cornish, Georgia Doyle, Amy Cooper, Andrew Kennedy
Photographers: Simon Leonard, Danny Dalton, Sue McKay, Clinton Bradbury
Melbourne Vixens 66 def. Queensland Firebirds 64 (16-24, 19-13, 16-16, 15-11)
Sunshine Coast Lightning 59 def. Adelaide Thunderbirds 58 (15-12, 15-17, 12-14, 17-15)
New South Wales Swifts 62 def. Collingwood Magpies 53 (14-14, 19-15, 12-15, 17-9)
West Coast Fever 66 def. GIANTS Netball 65 (13-17, 16-20, 18-13, 19-15)
Maddy Proud (Swifts) – Ruled out of Round 4 and 5 with a foot injury sustained in Round 3
Emily Mannix (Vixens) – will miss Rounds 5 and 6 with a fractured knuckle
Helen Housby (Swifts) – left the court with an injured finger, but returned to the match.
Kiera Austin (GIANTS) – ACL (season)
Liz Watson (Vixens) – foot (season)
Ash Unie (Lightning) – ACL (season)
Maddie Hinchliffe (Lightning) – foot
April Brandley (GIANTS) unavailable due to Covid restrictions (see story below)
Melbourne Vixens training partner, Rahni Samason, made her Suncorp Super Netball debut.
Congratulations to Jo Harten who shot her 4000th national league goal.
ROOKIE OF THE ROUND
Rahni Samason (Vixens) was named as a temporary replacement player for Emily Mannix and played a huge role in their first win of the season over the favoured Queensland Firebirds. Samason not only nailed the winning shot from distance on a penalty after the siren, AND the same buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter, but also delivered 27 goals from 29 shots (including eight supershots from ten attempts), 11 goal assists, an intercept and just two turnovers. Her pass timing and selection were particularly impressive, as she was needed at both shooting positions throughout the game, without showing any sign of the pressure. This would have to rate as one of the most monumental debuts of any player in the five years of the league.
The question on everyone’s lips is where to now for the Vixens. They have nine contracted athletes, with Hannah Mundy the only athlete on a temporary contract. With the wing attack unlikely to be dropped, unless a loophole is found, Samason may have to return to her role as a training partner once Em Mannix recovers.
PLAYS OF THE ROUND
It’s difficult to go past the final 45 seconds of the first game of the round, as Vixens picked up their first win of the season. The Vixens had just scored a goal off a Firebirds centre pass and went to take their centre pass. Gabi Simpson got her hands to a ball on the circle edge and managed to keep the ball in. Then just as it looked like the Firebirds were about to take the game, Kadie-Ann Dehaney read a cross-court ball beautifully and tipped it back to the Vixens’ favour. It looked like they had lost the ball again on the circle edge, but a contact was called on Rudi Ellis giving Samason the opportunity to seal the game from supershot range, which she did without batting an eyelid.
TEAM OF THE ROUND
While Round 5 was one of the most thrilling that the SSN has ever seen, we are handing out two boxes of chocolates for off court performances. The first goes to the commentary teams involved in every game. From their Indigenous Rounds colour coordinated clothing and earrings, to the ex-players side-line commentary, the commentators kept us informed, enthused and entertained.
The second award goes to every club who participated in Indigenous Round. The uniforms were eye-catching, the ceremonies meaningful, and it was obvious how much Indigenous Round meant to the athletes involved. Australian netball still has a long way to go in achieving and respecting diversity in sport, particularly of our First Nations’ people, but 2021 appears to be a step in the right direction.
While it was the closest round in SSN so far this season, once again gains to goals proved to be the best predictor of a match winning performance. Those teams who were able to convert their hard won turnovers went on to win the game.
Vixens 73% – Firebirds 40%
Lightning 58% – Thunderbirds 43%
Swifts 63% – Magpies 53%
Fever 75% – Giants 55%
Across the five rounds, Fever (78.6%) sit comfortably 11% above the second best team Lightning (67.8%), while it’s a surprise to see the GIANTS 6th on the list, at just 59.4%. If GIANTS can convert more of their gains to goals as the season progresses, they should be unstoppable.
Another interesting stat that caught our eye is the quarter by quarter breakdown of scores for the Giants. Their greatest strength is in their first halves, having won all but one of their first and second quarters, with the outlier a draw. From there things head slightly downhill, winning three of their third quarters, and just ONE of their fourth quarters. Dr Alice Sweeting provided a graphic of what Rounds 1 to 4 have looked like for each club.
TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND
In 2021, Indigenous Round will be split across Rounds 5 and 6, giving all clubs the opportunity to have ceremonies in their home state. Netball Scoop will be publishing a special Indigenous Round wrap after the completion of Round 6.
Netball fans were once again left seething after Australian radio presenter Neil Mitchell was at his condescending worst. Near the MCG, there are 35 sporting statues of which 29 are men, three are of horses, and just three are of women. When the Victorian government announced that it would co-fund two statues of netballers, Mitchell was outraged that tax payers dollars would be spent on the project, and said that most people would be hard pushed to name a famous name other than Liz Ellis.
Mitchell has conveniently forgotten that for more than 100 years, government funding has been used in a variety of ways to support male sport, including the building of behemoths such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Marvel Stadium.
The project will be co-funded by global organisation, Statues for Equity.
The latest Covid outbreak in Melbourne has sent shockwaves through Suncorp Super Netball. With a seven day lockdown imminent, the league acted to preserve Round 5, with the Vixens flying to Brisbane on Wednesday (Saturday game), the Magpies flying to Sydney on Thursday (Sunday game) and GIANTS flying to Perth also on Thursday (Monday game). It was some fancy footwork by all concerned, and the impacted clubs are to be congratulated for their fuss-free approach to the move.
Unfortunately for GIANTS, WA government restrictions changed mid flight, and the team was thrust into isolation, with limited training ability, on arrival. Due to the uncertainties around border closures, and the difficulties of isolation for her 15 month old son, April Brandley made the decision to return home to NSW prior to the match. It must have been a difficult and stressful situation and decision for April, Clay and the GIANTS’ family, and our thoughts were with them all. The ongoing challenges that teams are facing during Covid are very significant.
It’s regrettable but understandable that the Magpies and Vixens Round 6 fixtures will be moved to Sydney and the Sunshine Coast respectively.
The biggest talking point of the round however, was the disgraceful trolling that Jo Harten received on her social media accounts after the GIANTS match. Unfortunately it’s happening far too often and has no place in our sport. While Harten has received public support from various SSN clubs and England Netball, at the time of publishing Netball Australia or the SSN were yet to officially respond. Netball Scoop has made the following statement on social media platforms, and stand in support of Jo Harten and the many people impacted in this blight on society.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
STAND OUT STATISTICS
Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) 55/56 (98.2%
Sam Wallace (Swifts) – 46/48 (95.8%)
Romelda Aiken (Firebirds) 41/46 (89.1%)
Shimona Nelson (Magpies) 41/43 (91.5%)
Jo Harten (GIANTS) – 9/13
Rahni Samason (Vixens) – 8/10
Steph Wood (Lightning) – 5/7
Maisie Nankivell (Thunderbirds) – 26
Paige Hadley (Swifts) – 25
Kelsey Browne (Magpies) – 21
Verity Charles (Fever) – 21
Sarah Klau (Swifts) – 9 (6 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain, 2 rebounds)
Kadie-Ann Dehaney (Vixens) – 7 (3 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain, 3 rebounds)
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) – 7 (4 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain, 2 rebounds)
Geva Mentor (Magpies) – 7 (4 intercepts, 2 deflections with gain, 1 rebound)
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) – 11 (1 with gain)
Sarah Klau (Swifts) – 7 (1 with gain)
Ash Brazill (Magpies) – 5
Jodi-Ann Ward (Magpies) – 5 (1 with gain)
Geva Mentor (Magpies) – 5 (2 with gain)
Maddie Hay (GIANTS) – 5
Ash Brazill (Magpies) – 3
Jemma Mi Mi (Firebirds) – 3
Maisie Nankivell (Thunderbirds) – 3
Peace Proscovia (Lightning) – 3
Shimona Nelson (Magpies) – 9
Kate Moloney (Vixens) – 8
Elle McDonald (Thunderbirds) – 7
Jamie-Lee Price (GIANTS) – 7
Centre Pass Receives
Hannah Mundy (Vixens) – 31
Kelsey Browne (Magpies) – 25
Maddie Hay (GIANTS) – 25
Kadie-Ann Dehaney (Vixens) – 24 (9 contact, 15 obstruction)
Maddy Turner (Swifts) – 19 (8 contact, 11 obstruction)
Kim Jenner (Firebirds) – 19 (14 contact, 5 obstruction)
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) – 96.5
Rahni Samason (Vixens) – 84
Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) – 83.5
Overall Shooting Accuracy
Thunderbirds – 93.3% (54/56 and 2/4 supershots)
Vixens – 91.8% (46/47 and 10/14 supershots)
Fever – 90% (60/66 and 3/4 supershots)
Vixens – 10
GIANTS – 10
Lightning – 5
Magpies – 17
Swifts – 16
Firebirds – 15
Vixens – 15
Firebirds – 79 (58 contact, 21 obstruction)
Lightning – 66 (51 contact, 13 obstruction)
Thunderbirds – 65 (47 contact, 17 obstruction)
Vixens – 29
Thunderbirds – 28
Magpies – 27
Swifts – 27
Firebirds – 12
Vixens – 10
GIANTS – 9
MELBOURNE VIXENS 66 def QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 64
Match Report by Andrew Kennedy
In a must-win stoush for these two proud teams, the Firebirds leveraged their home-ground advantage to score the largest total for the season so far in the first quarter, putting the Vixens on the back foot with varied and creative play from the Queensland shooters. However, the visitors were set to adapt and showed passion in defence, combined with inspiring shooting from an international veteran and an utter debutant. Knowing the season was on the line, both teams rushed making the game more and more messy, yet thrilling and unpredictable.
Melbourne were saved right at the end by the successful conversion of a penalty shot, winning by just two points. They have regained some of their mojo at the right time, now urgently needing to account for Thunderbirds in round eight and Magpies in round nine. Firebirds however have a tough road ahead against two-time premiers Lightning and the rampaging West Coast Fever.
Vixens have big retirements and injuries to cover in the attack line in season 2021, and in debutant training partner Rahni Samason, they may have found the perfect solution. While Hannah Mundy had an improved and consistent match at wing attack, it was the 23-year old goaler that stole the show, giving a spark in the first quarter and showing calmness and creativity til the final whistle. Samason felt natural to turn and shoot from any range, even before the Power Five started, but her 8/10 supershots was a standout, along with her mere two turnovers. And in another rarity, she got a start and 60 minutes of game time in her first year.
The clash saw a lot of changes of possession and runs up and down the court, with defence instrumental. It was Kadie-Ann Dehaney who came out on top. Despite 24 total penalties, the Jamaican not only surpassed Tara Hinchliffe’s five gains with eight of her own, but built into the match and took two impressive intercepts in the final quarter when those key plays meant the most.
For the most part, the Vixens shooters had variety and balance of tactics. Both Mwai Kumwenda and Samason played each shooting position, and there were hallmarks of assistant coach McMahon’s patterns in attack in decisively controlling the middle channel. They also had exceptional accuracy, 98% from regular shots and 71% for supershots.
Mundy started slowly but started to dominate centre passes with 62% of centre pass receives after the first quarter. Although Jo Weston was keen and able to assist with that stat and general attacking play, it was more effective to leave the Diamonds goal defence closer to the back end, where she got two surprising intercepts in the last quarter to keep Vixens neck and neck with the hosts.
Gretel Bueta continues to impress just four months after becoming a first-time mother. Despite frequent changes of position dictated by coach Megan Anderson, she appears not just comfortable but inspired, shooting 16/18 one pointers and 2/6 supershots. She also is galvanised by having her old mate Kim Ravaillion back in centre playing another safe and sneaky game, leading with 18 goal assists and only two turnovers. Romelda Aiken also did everything possible, scoring 41/47 but taking six rebounds to compensate.
WHAT needs improvement?
Vixens won with their thrilling victory due to Samason’s buzzer-beating supershot on a penalty after the final siren, despite their worse turnover rate of 28 to Firebirds 23. Some of these errors were failures to adjust to the quicker three second calls from the umpire, and some were just wrong pass selection, especially to Mundy, or pass execution to Kumwenda.
Both teams have plenty to analyse, with the second half quite a scrap. The combined possession changes in the first half was 23, but in the second it was 34, and teams found it hard to get from centre third to goal circle at different points. Firebirds had had a magnificent start, but as the game went on they didn’t adapt to the new Vixens’ defence pattern, as coach McKinnis directed Eddy, Weston, and Dehaney to come off the body to make a pass seem open before closing the space. Queensland then seemed to have blinkered passing and feeds, and a lot of the Melbourne gains in the second half were just a bit too easy. Vixens for their part need to have a way to adapt their backline structure during play, rather than waiting for a timeout or quarter time break.
Vixens used eight of their squad and Firebirds all ten – it’s incumbent on the coaches to make it clear what the purpose of frequent rotation is, to give confidence to the athletes. Only Kim Jenner had the whole match for Queensland, while Aiken, Bueta, Ravaillion, Simpson, and Hinchliffe all had 5-10 minutes on the bench. The rolling substitution rule begs the question – who needs a rest, who needs to watch the game, who needs some instructions, and who is simply playing off the pace and should be dragged? It’s a different kind of complex judgement for Super Netball coaches, one that is difficult to master.
WHERE was it won?
You could be forgiven for writing off the Vixens in the first fifteen minutes – down by eight, playing away from home, and with no wins this season. However, they never gave up, and built throughout. The shooters were very composed, always delivering for their backline efforts – goals from gains was 11/14 at 79%. And it was the critical three gains of Dehaney in each of the third and fourth quarters that came at precisely the right time to turn the tide for Melbourne.
WHERE was it lost?
Firebirds had a below-par supershot output with 4/9 at 44%. In the second quarter, they had no attempts for two-pointers, and Dwan had zero attempts from distance for the whole game, where she can normally be influential. Better use of shot selection and adaptation to pressure will help them over the line.
Both goal defenders had moments of brilliance, but overall patchy games. Jenner got herself in penalty trouble, out of play 19 times, 7 in the first quarter alone. The new Diamonds squad member needs to pick her battles rather than merely enjoying the rumble – this was made harder by two Vixens shooters balancing the workload and shooting so accurately.
HOW did she do that?!
Rahni Samason didn’t only shoot solidly, she instigated the play of the day. She took a low-down intercept deep towards Firebirds’ attacking transverse line, and motored on back to score not only one but two consecutive supershots!
Firebirds: GS Aiken, GA Bueta, WA Mi Mi, C Ravaillion, WD Simpson, GD Jenner, GK Hinchliffe
Vixens: GA Kumwenda, GA Samason, WA Mundy, C Moloney, WD Eddy, GD Weston, GK Dehaney
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 59 def ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 58
Match report by Georgia Doyle
Adelaide Thunderbirds were looking to get their first points of the season in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, while Sunshine Coast Lightning hoped to continue their good form and maintain a top two position on the ladder. The game started very messily, with several turnovers and intercepts early on, both teams struggling to settle into a rhythm. The consistency and versatility of Lightning was highlighted, with seamless substitutions and positional switches being made as needed. Thunderbirds opted for a more settled line up, only rotating through C and WA but ultimately fell on the wrong side of the score line in the final minutes of the game.
A strong performance from Kate Shimmin when she was injected for the second half, returning to her former hunting ground, alongside her fellow Lightning defenders matched up well against a Thunderbirds side still looking to solidify their attacking connections. Neither team was able to break the game open, but played steady netball that kept them with the chance of winning for the whole game. With an ever-growing Vixens team to face next week, a strong performance against a top two side should give Thunderbirds confidence. The impact of Shimmin and growing work of McAuliffe in centre should give Lightning confidence in their versatility as they head into tough games against Firebirds and Giants in coming weeks.
Phumza Maweni picked up from where she left off last week, finishing the game with six intercepts, and combining superbly with Karla Pretorius to shut down space in the Thunderbirds shooting circle. While her South African opposition Lenize Potgieter had good numbers, shooting 34/35, it was the work Maweni did to force Potgieter away from the post, and cause her to pass off and then get the re-feed that provided the opportunity for the other Lightning defenders to pick up ball on the edge of the circle and send it down court to be capitalised on by their shooters.
Pretorius and Maweni worked tirelessly in defence to shut down the supershot zone during the Power Five, knowing how dangerous Georgie Horjus can be from this range. Horjus was only able to take four shots from this range, sinking two, compared to taking aim at a total of nine from the same area last week against the Fever. A more settled line up from the Thunderbirds also saw them build into the game, rather than having to continuously adjust to the new combinations being put out on court. They only made six changes throughout the game, compared to previous weeks where they averaged 22 changes each game.
WHAT needs improvement?
The first quarter from both teams was full of errors, with nine general play turnovers for Thunderbirds and eight for Lightning. This resulted in a relatively low scoring quarter, 12-15, favouring the visitors. The Thunderbirds had errors across the court, with only two players error free at the end of the first 15 minutes while Lightning attackers were responsible for the majority of their turnovers. Comparing this start to each team last week, where Adelaide and Lightning committed three and four turnovers in the first quarter respectively, figuring out how to have a consistent and error free start to games could be the key to setting them up for a strong performance in the remainder of the game.
WHERE was it won?
The biggest lead throughout the game was only four goals to Lightning in the first quarter, so for the majority of the game the result could have gone either way. Both teams hustled for the whole 60 minutes, but no team was able to break the game open and run away from the opposition. The lead was changing through the final minutes of the game, Steph Wood drew the game level nailing a single goal with 45 seconds on the clock and Adelaide centre to follow. An offside call put the ball back in Lightning’s hand, and then a vintage Wood step-back long range shot sealed the deal for the Lightning, leaving the Thunderbirds as the only team without points on the board at the end of Round 5.
WHERE was it lost?
In such a closely contested game, identifying a single factor that lost the game can be hard. While Thunderbirds could be commended for sticking with a more settled line up compared to previous weeks, the dominance of the Lightning defenders, particularly with the supershot zone, maybe a change up in the shooting end for Thunderbirds, bringing in supershot specialist such as Sam Gooden could have given them the lift they needed. Similarly, the change of McDonald into WA for the 3rd quarter may be questioned, in her 15 minutes of play in the second half she committed seven general play turnovers, the most of any player despite her limited court time compared to others.
HOW did she do that?!
In the second quarter Maisie Nankivell took an intercept off the Lightning centre, which in WA is impressive in itself, but was knocked to the ground by teammate Shadine Van de Merwe in the process. Nankivell was able to maintain possession of the ball, get up and pass off all within her three seconds while keeping her feet on the ground to avoid a footwork call!
Kylee Byrne (Lightning Coach)
On the tough 60 minute battle
“We talk about just doing the grind in this team, we actually spoke prior to the game that [Thunderbirds will] be with us at half time, they might actually be with us the last minute, and we’ve gotta be alright with that. And so it actually played out that way, we’d gone through that scenario because they’re a team that can just keep coming back at you”
Tania Obst (Thunderbirds Coach)
On the reduced rotations this game compared to previous weeks
“It’s more about the flow, the changes are more around what’s happening on the court…there’s been times when we’ve had illness and we’ve had to make some changes. I think today’s game we just needed to grind that out…they were doing a really good job. Hannah hasn’t been well so she probably needed a little bit of a rest and then we were able to inject her back into the game, so it is more about reading the play of the game”
Matilda Garrett (Thunderbirds)
On the improvement the Thunderbirds have been making with each game
“I think today we were just a bit more consistent, we started the game strong and I think we just kept with it so that’s something we’ve had. Obviously in every game of netball there’s momentum swings, and I feel like today we didn’t let it blow out and in the past that might’ve been something that would’ve happened”
Thunderbirds: GS Potgieter, GA Horjus, WA Nankivell, C Petty, WD van der Merwe, GD Garrett, GK Sterling
Lightning: GS Koenen, GA Wood, WA Scherian, C Cassidy, WD McAuliffe, GD Pretorius, GK Maweni
NSW SWIFTS 62 def COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 53
Match report by Kate Cornish
Before the whistle blew for this round five clash, both of these teams sat on the same amount of wins and losses for the 2021 season and the winner of this match would jump the other and claim a top four position with some breathing room on the ladder.
The Magpies were coming off two wins in a row, while the Swifts were licking their wounds from a loss against the Lightning where they let a commanding lead slip, eventually losing the match. The Swifts were also still missing co-captain and mid-court star, Maddy Proud, who was still sidelined with an undisclosed foot injury.
Proud out for the Swifts instantly limited the movements of the mid-court which could have potentially exposed their lack of a specialist wing defence; in contrast the Magpies have that position locked away for former Australian Diamond Ash Brazill, who has been in blistering form the past two weeks.
This game was possibly going to hinge on how well the player (or players) tasked with wing defence bib from the Swifts camp could control the impact that Kelsey Browne, the Magpies wing attack, would have on the game. Co-captain Paige Hadley has switched between centre and wing defence during the start of the season, but it is clear that in the big moments Hadley is best utilised in centre for the Swifts, so crafty defender Lauren Moore (traditionally a goal defense) has been moved out into wing defence, as has been a common theme for teams over the past 12 months. The Diamonds for example have toyed with Jo Weston at wing defense and the Sunshine Coast Lightning have also used their star defender Karla Pretorious in the wing defense position, despite both of them being international stars at goal defence.
It has not been an easy evolution for Moore to find her feet in wing defence and against the fast wing attacks in the competition, she has been caught in chase mode and facing Browne for the Magpies was not going to make it any easier for her, as heading into this round she has been learning her new craft on the fly.
Early in the game the skill and closing speed of Brazill in wing defence was making the job of English Rose, Nat Haythornthwaite incredibly difficult. Brazill was in the head of the usually crafty wing attack early with an intercept within the first few minutes where her closing speed exposed Haythornthwaite who had stopped on her drive to the ball. Brazill continued to cause havoc for the Swifts attacking line-up nullifying the preliminary work Haythornthwaite was attempting to do on the centre pass; she was working hard but she was able to make an impact.
Such was the confidence that Brazill was generating she sent Haythornthwaite to the bench in the second quarter and Tayla Fraser entered the game in an attempt to get some confidence back in the Swifts attack line-up, and it worked, all of a sudden in the second quarter the Swifts, who had been in chase position for the whole game found a slightly easier way to post and the game tightened right up.
In the second quarter, after Haythornthwaite had been muscled off-court by an in-form Brazill, Fraser entered the game and made an immediate impact. Instead of trying to match Brazill for speed on a drive, Fraser would drive and then cut away and dodge to lose Brazill off the body and the players around Fraser seemed more confident in her ability to take the pressure applied from Brazill than they had been when Haythornthwaite was on court. This freer style of play allowed Sam Wallace and Helen Housby to come into the game and after what had been a shaky start for the Swifts ended up being a dominant second quarter that they won by four points. As the game continued Fraser continued to be used effectively around the circle edge and though every ball was strongly contested by a determined Magpies team, the feed in from Fraser found its mark.
The Shimona Nelson and Kelsey Browne show continued to impress in this game. Nelson had been under criticism early in the season for her ability to take ball under pressure, but to her credit she has taken that criticism in her stride and in each game since round two continued to prove her doubters wrong. While she feeds off the confidence that Browne gives her, Nelson has improved her holding position and her strength in the air against the best defenders in the competition grows each week.
Late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line, we saw handling errors from Nelson, but it would harsh to say they were her fault; both were fed in by Kalifa McCollin who entered the court in goal attack for Gabby Sinclair. The connection between the two was simply not there and the finesse on the feed from McCollin to Nelson was lacking. There was enough time to put McCollin back to the bench, but coach Nicole Richardson decided to leave McCollin on court and unfortunately the loss of possession and subsequent conversions by the Swifts stole the game from the Magpies grasp.
The Magpies dominated the Nissan Net Points ladder for close to 50 minutes of the game, but the match was broken open with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter by a Swifts line-up who were gifted turnover ball and ultimately made the Magpies pay for their errors. It had been such a close game where the score line changed hands numerous times; it was disappointing to see the Magpies fall away in the last 10 minutes.
Hadley sensed the occasion for the Swifts and stepped up a gear in attack, firing in some bullet passes to Wallace under the post on a number of occasions; and in defense Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner lifted as a defensive combination and eventually the pressure that they had been building all game cracked the fourth quarter attacking line up of McCollin and Nelson.
WHAT needs improvement?
For the Magpies to be successful in the Suncorp Super Netball they need to believe they can win. They have no excuses this season with Brazill and Browne back in their line-up. Close to a win is not good enough and they will be disappointed that they did not take their opportunities in that game. The score line at the end of the match (63-53) was in no way reflective of the immense and hard work they had produced for 50 minutes, and unfortunately a few handling errors cost them the game and gave the Swifts momentum to put their foot down.
Last week Nicole Richardson was praised for making positional changes when the game was on the line against the Thunderbirds, this week she rolled the dice again and put McCollin in at goal attack. That decision proved to be costly as up until some mis-fed passes from McCollin that Nelson was unable to pull in, the teams could not be separated. Richardson then left McCollin on court (who has not had many minutes this season), and after three bad passes in a row, we could ask why she was not taken from court at that point. It is a fine line coaches walk when they roll the dice on decisions when the game hangs in the balance, this particular time it did not work for Richardson, but there will be learnings to take from that last 10 minutes where the Magpies will be able to identify where it went wrong.
Nat Haythornthwaite will need to do some work and reflect about how she tackles players with the speed of Brazill. There will be games where she will not be able to be taken from court, and good players will find a way to work smarter, not harder when they are faced with an opposition who is beating them on court. Haythornthwaite made the mistake of trying to match Brazill for speed and she was beaten convincingly every time. To be an effective player for the Swifts and a real option for Akle, she will need to work on her preliminary movements and her positioning on court because in a foot race with a player like Brazill, she will lose more often than not.
Lauren Moore had a significant improvement this week in being able to quash the impact of her opposing wing attack, and it was not an easy task given Browne played a full 60 minutes; however, unlike last week Browne was unable to have the same impact and as the game went on Moore was able to keep Browne from hitting the circle edge and also provide some great coverage in defense for Proud and Turner. That duo have a formidable partnership in goal defence and goal keeper respectively, which does not give Moore much of a look in in respect to those positions, so this could be where she fits in to the Swifts as starting seven player as she continues to improve each week.
WHERE was it won?
If this was a battle of coaching moves, Briony Akle won this round. Identifying that Haythornthwaite was being bullied off court by Brazill, Akle made the call during the second quarter to substitute inTayla Fraser. While Fraser has not had much court time this year, in this game she proved to be the difference for the Swifts in the attacking line up, offering more speed and options. She played fearless netball against one of the best wing defences in the world and showed Akle why she was correct in elevating her to the squad in 2021.
Similarly, when Akle realised that Sophie Garbin (who got the start at goal attack over Helen Housby) was not up to task in this game, she made the change. In commentary Liz Ellis mentioned that Garbin had been given the starting spot as she had been ‘training the house down’, but that did not translate out on court. This season Garbin has looked shaky on her shot and seems to be lacking confidence. She is a great player but has lost a bit of form and we have not seen the best of her in 2021. Housby has also been suffering with form this year and though she briefly had to be taken off due to a finger injury, when she came back on court she was firing.
WHERE was it lost?
Coach for the Magpies, Nicole Richardson decided in the fourth quarter to introduce Kalifa McCollin into the mix at goal attack, in hindsight it probably was not the best move. The combination between McCollin and Nelson was under pressure straight away and at least two feeds into Nelson went over the baseline. With McCollin on court the Magpies attacking structure that has gone toe-to-toe with the Swifts for 50 minutes was starting to show cracks and we saw Nelson end the game with nine general play turnovers. McCollin is a skilled player and has a long-rang shot that is beautiful to watch; however, in this particular game and at such a crucial stage of the match, Richardson was probably best to stick with the line-up that had kept her in the game so far.
HOW did she do that?
In the first few minutes of the game Brazill took an intercept on a pass meant for Haythornthwaite and from that moment, she nullified the impact that she was able to have on the game and ultimately Brazill’s dominance over Haythornthwaite sent her to the bench to watch on from the side-lines. That is the sort of leadership that Brazill has taken upon herself this season. She can feel that this team is on the brink of a handful of wins and she will work as hard as she can to give the players around her the confidence to believe they can not only take it to the top teams, but that they can beat them.
Similarly, Fraser came on court against Brazill under very difficult circumstances. She had watched for a quarter and a half as Brazill dismantled the game of her team mate and then was asked to go on and have an impact. Fraser, who has not had many minutes on court in 2021 could have easily been overwhelmed by the occasion, instead she came on court with incredible confidence, giving the Swifts some extra speed and structure like a seasoned professional, in fact as the game went on Fraser had nullified the impact that Brazill had enjoyed for the first half of the match, which is impressive against a player the calibre of Brazill.
Swifts: GS Wallace, GA Garbin, WA Haythornthwaite, C Hadley, WD Moore, GD Turner, GK Klau
Magpies: GS Nelson, GA Sinclair, WA Browne, C Jovic, WD Brazill, GD Ward, GK Mentor
WEST COAST FEVER 66 defeated GIANTS 65
Match report by Amy Cooper
The final score may say otherwise but the GIANTS came out swinging, and controlled most of the game.
After a disrupted lead up to the game in Perth the GIANTS were forced into hotel quarantine since arriving early on Thursday due to COVID-19 enforced border restrictions. Due to the difficulties of quarantine with a child, April Brandley flew home, and was replaced by Amy Sligar who landed the day before the match.
Fired up, a solid start saw the GIANTS out to a 4 goal lead by the first break, and hitting a match high lead of 9 goals in the third quarter. With the GIANTS controlling the game, West Coast Fever struggled to play their fast style, with the ball stalling at the second phase of play several times.
Fever managed to draw score level late in the final quarter to set themselves up for a thrilling final few minutes.
Fever were quick to make a change when required, with all players spending time on the court. Goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld was swapped out for Sacha Glasgow after three turnovers and missing both her shots in the first quarter. Glasgow started the Fever fight back with a super shot within her first minute.
Goal keeper Olivia Lewis and wing defence Stacey Francis Bayman also took to the court and allowed Fevers fresh legs to come home strong.
Fever’s defensive unit were crucial in creating turnover ball, with Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang picking off 6 and 4 gains respectively.
The GIANTS did well to keep their penalties under control in the first half of the game, skipping out to an eight goal lead by half time. They looked clinical across the court, with Maddie Hay once again influential on the centre pass and in feeding the circle. GIANTS through court defence was formidable, with all athletes on court, other than Sligar in her brief cameo, collecting intercepts as they troubled the Fever’s passage to goal.
WHAT needs improvement?
With both teams known for their physical game, the penalty count was high, with a combined total over 100 penalties in 60 minutes. Both teams were untidy at times, and several calls were advanced for unnecessary or late charges. Fever tightened up their game and managed to rein the count in, giving them the momentum swing and less whistle in the final quarter.
In such a defensive game, there were a higher number of turnovers than either team would be comfortable with, with the Fever creating 25 to the GIANTS 24. Disappointingly for the GIANTS, they made 6 crucial errors in the final term when the game tightened up, as Fever scented the possibility of victory.
Both teams found it challenging to convert their wins, with a gains to goal percentage sitting as low as 60 % (GIANTS) and 69% (Fever).
WHERE was it won?
The battle of the captains was the barometer of the game. After a slow start Fever were trailing by 9 late in the third quarter. Defender Courtney Bruce worked hard on Jo Harten, moving with her opposition out to goal defence and the back into goal keeper as Harten changed positions. Both players lifted when needed, Harten sinking 9 supershots and Bruce picking up 4 intercepts and 3 deflections.
It was Bruce’s late surge in the final quarter that finally rattled Harten, missing three-consecutive shots in the dying minutes of the last term as well as making the final mistake to hand Fever the victory.
Fever have been particularly strong in the back half of games, winning all of their 3rd and 4th quarters this season. In contrast, the GIANTS have faded out in their fourth quarters, winning just one of the last five rounds.
WHERE was it lost?
With less than 10 seconds left in the match, goal shooter Harten was penalised with a controversial held ball call, placing the ball into Fevers hands. Centre Jess Anstiss long bombed into the circle to Fowler, who despite being double-teamed by defenders Kristiana Manu’a and Sam Poolman, managed to hold on and scored with a after the siren penalty, giving Fever a 66-65 win over the devastated Giants.
West Coast Fever is now the only undefeated Super Netball team after five rounds.
HOW did she do that?!
Once again Fever star Jhaniele Fowler shows us all why she is the best goal shooter in the game. Converting 55 goals from 56 attempts, she also took a number of great takes from messy circle feeds and her after the buzzer shot is one for the highlights reel.
Fever: GS Fowler, GA Teague-Neeld, WA Cosh, C Charles, WD Anstiss, GD Aryang, GK Bruce
Giants: GS Harten, GA Dwyer, WA Hay, C Price, WD Parmenter, GD Manu’a, GK Poolman
Saturday, 5th June – 3pm. Magpies v Fever, Ken Rosewall Arena
Sunday, 6th June – 1pm. GIANTS v Swifts. Ken Rosewall Arena
Sunday, 6th June – 3pm. Lightning v Firebirds. USC Arena
Sunday, 6th June – 5.45pm. Vixens v Thunderbirds. USC Arena
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.