Netball Scoop – Suncorp Super Netball – Semi-finals, 2021
Contributors – Kate Cornish, Andrew Kennedy, Jenny Sinclair and Ian Harkin
Photographer – Marcela Massey
NSW Swifts 62 d GIANTS Netball 61 (20-12, 14-16, 15-20, 13-13)
West Coast Fever 75 d Sunshine Coast Lightning 67 (19-16, 21-17, 14-19, 21-15)
April Brandley, Tilly McDonell, Paige Hadley and Steph Wood had all sat out the previous round, but were declared fit to play in the semis.
A collision between Maddy Proud and Tilly McDonell in the 4th quarter left them both in some distress. Proud took no further part in the game, but reportedly passed concussion protocols.
ROOKIE OF THE ROUND
While Tayla Fraser recorded just one deflection and one pickup to her name, her contribution to the Swifts win was immense. In the first quarter her tagging role kept Maddie Hay extremely quiet. While Hay is always busy on the centre pass receives, it’s perhaps feeding the circle that makes her so valuable. Fraser was able to shut down many of her second phase drives to the circle edge, limiting her connection with the shooting circle.
Fraser was tag-teamed with Lauren Moore, who’s additional height and hands-over pressure kept Hay on her toes.
PLAYS OF THE ROUND
During the week Netball Australia announced it’s support for netball’s inclusion in the 2032 Olympics, vowing to work tirelessly towards this end. Support came from around the world, from larger bodies such as World Netball and England Netball, to lesser known netballing nations such as Israel and France. Well done by all, let the hard work begin.
TEAM OF THE ROUND
In a topsy turvy game, the Swifts stormed out to a 9 goal lead early in the second quarter, only to be pegged back by the GIANTS. When the latter hit the front just before three quarter time, their momentum could have won them the game. Instead the Swifts regained the lead, and despite another GIANTS challenge late in the game, were able to hold their nerve and win through to the grand final.
An interesting statistic to come out of the two semi finals was the “turnover from missed goal” stat. It played a part in both semis, but especially in the major semi-final between GIANTS and Swifts. During the entire match, Swifts did not lose possession once from a missed shot. Every single time the Swifts shooters missed, the team was able to retain possession. In contrast, the GIANTS lost possession four times due to missed shots. In a game decided by just one goal, that was vital. In the minor semi-final, the margin was eight goals, so you may think this statistic was not as crucial. But even so, Lightning lost possession seven times from missed shots compared to just three for Fever. It stopped their momentum on four separate occasions in the last quarter when they were trying to narrow the gap.
Another stat to come out of the semi finals was the difference between the 40 minutes of regular play and the 20 minutes of power play. In the major semi-final, there was almost nothing between the sides. The score from regular play was 37-all, meaning that Swifts’ slim one goal advantage was achieved in the power 5 which they won 25-24. In the minor semi-final, it was a different scenario. Fever dominated regular play, winning that 40 minutes comprehensively 49-36, but Lightning did better during the power 5, winning that 20 minutes 31-26. Interestingly, in both games, the team which scored the fewest super shots, went on to win the game.
TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND
The announcement of the 21 player Australian Diamonds and 19 player Development squads got everyone talking. From the size of the two groups to the exclusion of players such as Kim Ravaillion and Kelsey Browne, fans all had an opinion, many of them critical.
However, with just a year until the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and preparation interrupted by the beast that is Covid, it’s time to throw our support around the Diamonds.
The squad will be narrowed down to a team of 12 plus 3 reserves, for the Constellation Cup later in the year.
Best wishes to all the athletes selected.
The Daily Telegraph planted a brain teaser in their newspaper on Sunday, urging readers to spot how many things were wrong with the images used. Netball Scoop counted four mistakes in the captions alone.
- Paige Hadley mislabelled as Amy Parmenter
- Amy Parmenter mislabelled as April Brandley
- NSW Swifts mislabelled as Sydney Swifts
- GIANTS Netball mislabelled as Giants
For any newspaper, let alone a NSW edition, this simply isn’t good enough.
With five teams now having finished their season, there’s still no Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, meaning that clubs can’t yet sign players for next season. With the Commonwealth Games next year, and it becoming increasingly challenging for international athletes to travel home for training camps and trials, the big question is how many of them will stay on for Suncorp Super Netball 2022.
STAND OUT STATISTICS
Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) – 54/55 98%
Sam Wallace (Swifts) – 45/48 94%
Steph Wood (Lightning) – 6/13
Sophie Dwyer (GIANTS) – 5/10
Verity Charles (Fever) – 48
Laura Scherian (Lightning) – 41
Verity Charles (Fever) – 28
Helen Housby (Swifts) – 19
Courtney Bruce (Fever) – 8 (including 3 intercepts and 2 rebounds)
Phumza Maweni (Lightning) – 5
Sarah Klau (Swifts) – 5
Centre Pass Receives
Paige Hadley (Swifts) – 31
Laura Scherian (Lightning) – 30
Jess Anstiss (Fever) – 5
Mahalia Cassidy (Lightning) – 8
Courtney Bruce (Fever) – 19
Nissan Net Points
Jess Anstiss (Fever) – 116.5 (16 assists, 2 gains, 2 deflections, 5 pickups)
Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) – 113.5 (54/55, 2 gains, 3 deflections, 1 rebound)
Sam Wallace (Swifts) – 101 (45/48, 4 super shots, 2 rebounds, 3 pickups)
Fever – 71/78 (91%)
Swifts – 57/63 (90.5%)
GIANTS – 8/16 (50%)
Lightning – 6/15 (40%)
Nissan Net Points
MAJOR SEMI FINAL: NSW SWIFTS 62 def GIANTS NETBALL 61
by Kate Cornish
The cross-town rivalry between these two teams should not be underestimated and while there is mutual respect, there is very little love lost on court between the two NSW netball franchises.
Their derbys always deliver an exciting and physical contest with the Carole Sykes trophy and bragging rights usually up for grabs. However, this game would trump all encounters that had come before, as this Major Semi Final was sending one team straight through to the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final, while the other would be forced to take the long road around and head into a sudden death Preliminary Final to keep their season alive.
Both teams had players who stood up in this hotly contested match but it was Swifts goalkeeper, Sarah Klau who had an energetic start to the game and set the tone and intensity for her team; with four gains and two intercepts in the first 15 minutes against a formidable opponent in Jo Harten, Klau had managed to do just enough to frustrate the GIANTS attacking line up and cause some hesitancy. Strong defensive work out the front of Klau by Maddy Turner and revolutionary wing attack-turned-wing defence, Tayla Fraser, helped to disrupt the GIANTS midcourt for the first half.
Fraser had an exceptional first half nullifying the impact that GIANT Maddie Hay was able to have, and it took a massive effort from Hay in the second half of the match to find space and have an impact. When Hay finally found her timing, she was impressive, and in the space of 30 seconds in the third quarter she took a defensive intercept and moments later delivered a perfectly placed feed into Harten, for one of the more spectacular plays of the game.
While Hay is a player who is still finding her feet in elite netball, the way she worked herself into the game showed great maturity and resilience; she finished the game on 88.5 Nissan Net Points, well ahead of any of her teammates. In the dying seconds of the game, another defensive gain from Hay could have won the game for the GIANTS.
Tayla Fraser was the right choice for coach Briony Akle to start against Hay. To the credit of Hay, she has been in exceptional form and for the Swifts to have a chance of winning, they knew how important it was going to be to try and nullify her impact in the game. Fraser played the perfect ‘tagging’ role against Hay and almost had her tripping over her own feet at times as she tried to find space. In transition for the Swifts, Fraser was not only a great option, but helped to set up the attacking end with clever ball over the transverse line.
Sensing that the GIANTS were a little flat, coach Julie Fitzgerald brought young star Matilda McDonell on to inject her enthusiasm and energy. McDonell did not disappoint and in the post-match press conference Fitzgerald credited her young goalkeeper as a big contributor to them being able to get back into the game. With two gains and two intercepts in her time on court, McDonell helped the GIANTS claw their way back into the game after being down by as many as 8 points.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Swifts had a blistering first quarter, (20-12) pulling away in the final minutes with two sensational super-shots off the hand of Sammy Wallace; this lead was just enough to get them the win in the end, however the Swifts second half performances this year not only leave a lot of improvement and things to work on, but expose an area of weakness the team they meet in the Grand Final will try and capitalise on.
It is not enough in this competition to try and hang onto a lead and before their Grand Final appearance the Swifts will want to look at why they are falling away in the final 30 minutes of the game. In this match the introduction of McDonell for the GIANTS and the Swifts being caught napping saw their lead eventually erode by the end of the third quarter.
WHERE was it won?
The Swifts set themselves up with a strong first 15 minutes and it was the hard work of their defensive end who were rewarded on the scoreboard by the accuracy of their shooters in Wallace and Helen Housby that really hurt the GIANTS; and it happened in the blink of an eye. The intensity of the game was incredible for most of the first quarter, but a lapse in concentration from the GIANTS, even though it was only for a few minutes, was enough to ultimately be enough to seal the fate of the minor premiers, sending them into a sudden death match next week.
WHERE was it lost?
This was an impressive game by two quality teams and to the delight of netball fans it came down to the last minute. The GIANTS who had scraped and scrambled their way back into the game had the opportunity to steal the win right at the death as the Swifts played their characteristic (albeit risky) style of possession netball trying to wind the clock down when midcourter Natalie Haythornthwaite threw a pass that was intercepted by Hay. The ball ended up in the hands of Sophie Dwyer, who in her first finals appearance had a rush of blood to the head and looked long to Harten. Klau had the pass covered and took the intercept which was enough to guarantee Swifts the win by one point, in what was an exhilarating finish.
HOW did she do that?!
Sam Wallace was a strong and safe target for the NSW Swifts today and despite the pressure and a few weeks of nervous form, she found something extra in this game for her team. It is such a luxury for the Swifts attacking line up of Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud so look up and see Wallace hold space. A well placed ball into Wallace is almost certainly a point (or two) and with some of the best feeders of the ball out in front, it is a lethal attacking combination. In this game Wallace mixed up her hold, her starting position and took leads out of the circle to keep Sam Poolman and McDonell occupied. She just pipped Hay to the post on Nissan Net Points (95 to 92) and shot with superb accuracy, ending up on 93.8%.
From the bench – GIANTS Head Coach, Julie Fitzgerald:
“We are bitterly disappointed to go down by one goal and give up that spot in the Grand Final, but we are still alive and we are grateful for the fact that we have got the second chance.
I think we tried to prepare as best we could, but there was a little bit of inexperience in that start and we were a little overawed even though we did not think we were going to be, I think it was quite evident that we were, but to be eight goals down and to be able to fight back the way we did, you have to give them credit for that and be proud of the effort.”
Giants: GS Harten, GA Dwyer, WA Hay, C Price, WD Parmenter, GD Brandley, GK Poolman
Swifts: GS Wallace, GA Housby, WA Hadley, C Proud, WD Fraser, GD Turner, GK Klau
MINOR SEMI FINAL: WEST COAST FEVER 75 def SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 67
By Andrew Kennedy
Two proud teams with much finals experience were fighting to keep their title hopes alive. Lightning had the advantage of a “home” state final and their recent victory against Fever in round ten, but they had lost three games since then, while West Coast had won three. Early on both teams’ defence was able to stymie the usual fast flowing structures of their opponents, but it was Fever who were more patient and worked their way into form. In the third quarter Sunshine Coast sparked a revival courtesy of electrifying shooter-to-shooter play and 19 goals from Wood and Koenen. However it wasn’t enough, and in the final throes of a tough season Fever were able to use their classy fast run-on plays to target Jhaniele Fowler to win their 15th final quarter in 15 matches, triumphing 75-67, and sending Lightning to their off season.
So many players had good patches, but it was the Fever midcourt that were most consistent. Verity Charles picked her moments for a run on versus considered play and resetting very well. Jess Anstiss had a particularly brilliant game – in 2021 she averaged 12.5 goal assists, and against Lightning in round ten she only had two. In this game she had an outstanding seventeen, and used her body strength to block, frustrate, and fatigue her opponent Cassidy, who was worst for turnovers and penalties for Lightning. Including her 5 pickups, Anstiss led all four teams for NNP on 116.5.
Stacey Marinkovich made a savvy call in replacing Alice Teague-Neeld with new club recruit Sasha Glasgow. Although the former hit 4/4 supershots, the substitute at goal attack made only one turnover rather than four by Teague-Neeld, with similar accuracy. Glasgow also pulled out deeper and wider and allowed Charles and Anstiss more room out front to drive to the circle edge.
For Sunshine Coast it again was Cara Koenen lighting the way. She was first for netpoints with 78, precisely what she had in the last match against Fever, and her stats at goal shooter of five rebounds and two intercepts with 85% were solid. The irony is that she played against the Netball Scoop MVP of the entire season, Courtney Bruce, who actually had an inspired game-high eight gains.
The excitement of the game was the coaching adaptation every quarter, without changing players. Fever only used one positional change, and Lightning none, but the plethora of timeouts allowed the bench to rejig structures and timing.
For a large part of the first half, Lightning swamped the Fever centre pass, forcing them countless times to go back to Francis-Bayman. Fortunately, the English import and rising star Aryang were up for the attacking workload there, and in transition from defence. Fever still converted 70% of centre passes in the first half, but it was when they changed their first and second phase plans that it rose to 94% in the last quarter.
They deliberately ran defenders onto the centre pass, allowing deep options on the second phase. When that was used a few times, Charles was again able to get first phase, and Fowler gave a wide option on second phase, such that the feeders had time and space to drive towards her.
Lightning had been very stifled in the first 20-25 minutes, as Scherian and Wood were tracked and doubt made them pull off their leads. Once coach Kylee Byrne revved them up and told them to drive more strongly and give the pass early to the close driving player, they got their spark back, and dominated the third quarter 19-14.
WHAT needs improvement?
Focusing on Fever, they share one win apiece with GIANTS in 2021, their opponents in the preliminary final next week. There are a few areas that Marinkovich could highlight and exploit.
In the recent game, GIANTS sent 26% of their centre passes backwards to Parmenter and Manu’a. Both Teague-Neeld and Charles are good defenders in their own right, and this area could be targeted for gains. At the same time they need to improve their own centre pass, switching between a few set plays and adapting earlier if GIANTS use the defensive wall as Lightning did so often today. Fever also needs to be wary of Hay’s excellent midcourt defence, and keeping her busy and away from the ball side is important, as she can even get an intercept against a taller player.
Marinkovich will also be pleased that her squad has many options, and confident that substitutions will take effect quickly. It’s really up to the coach to make sure the defenders intimidate and exhaust the GIANTS attack early and continuously, so it might be wise to start with the one-on-one style and Francis-Bayman at goal defence, bringing Aryang on later to float and take intercepts.
Thirdly, the wing attack Hay for GIANTS was double teamed at times by the Swifts effectively earlier today. Whilst you certainly can’t leave Price alone as she will give great feeding service, a mixture of suffocating Hay with otherwise leaving her utterly open but forcing long passes may bear fruit.
WHERE was it won?
West Coast had the upper hand for most of the match, even looking resolute when Sunshine Coast came within one goal late in the third quarter. What clinched it for Fever was their tight fourth quarter in attack, defence, and transition. In the final stanza they had a match equal five gains, with their match best two turnovers, while Lightning had only one gain but four turnovers. It was the composure, belief, and return to executing plan A that pushed Fever out to their eight-goal win.
WHERE was it lost?
Sunshine Coast weren’t keeping up with Fever and chose risky play in the power 5 of the second and fourth quarters. The Queensland shooters certainly nailed their court play but not their accuracy. In round ten they had six rebounds from their seven misses. In this minor semi-final they missed 17 times, including 9 missed supershots, and had only five rebounds. The margins in those critical super shot periods didn’t really budge much, making it clear that if they had just kept choosing single point shots, where they nailed 87%, they actually could have closed the gap rather than long range attempts at 40%.
Fever: GS Fowler, GA Teague-Neeld, WA Charles, C Anstiss, WD Francis-Bayman, GD Aryang, GK Bruce
Lightning: GS Koenen, GA Wood, WA Scherian, C Cassidy, WD McAuliffe, GD Pretorius, GK Maweni
The preliminary final between GIANTS Netball and West Coast Fever will take place on Saturday, 21st August, at 1pm
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.