Contributors: Marcela Massey, Sue McKay, Clinton Bradbury, Katrina Nissen, Georgia Doyle, Ian Harkin, Jenny Sinclair, Cara Gledhill
NSW Swifts 61 defeated Sunshine Coast Lightning 60 (14-12, 15-12, 13-19, 19-17)
Melbourne Vixens 70 defeated West Coast Fever 64 (23-14, 14-15, 15-18, 18-17)
GIANTS Netball 69 defeated Collingwood Magpies 60 (17-15, 20-16, 10-24, 13-14)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 68 defeated Queensland Firebirds 55 (20-16, 16-15, 16-16, 16-8)
Is this going to be the year that Lightning loses their proud record of having played finals in every year of their existence? It’s looking very likely. Sitting last with just three wins and a poor percentage, it’s not impossible for Lightning to still make the playoffs from here, but very close to it. The one goal loss to Swifts was particularly damaging as Swifts are one of the teams they would have been hoping to get past to make the top four.
The Vixens scored their second win over Fever for the season and will take a psychological edge into a likely finals’ match-up. One of the keys to the victory was the coaching of Simone McKinnis. Her starting lineup was somewhat of a masterstroke, with a shuffled midcourt and with Olivia Lewis up against her former teammate in Jhaniele Fowler. For the second time this year, Lewis was instrumental in helping restrict Fowler to under 50 goals.
For Vixens, Liz Watson absolutely starred at centre, with youngster Hannah Mundy playing well in Watson’s regular position of wing attack. Kate Moloney also did a good job at wing defence, having Alice Teague-Neeld benched after the first quarter. But what does that do for Moloney’s Australian Diamonds prospects? Does it give her a greater chance of selection because of versatility, or a lesser chance because she’s not playing in her customary role of centre?
We saw an interesting tactical use of the super shot in the Magpies v GIANTS game. In the first half, Magpies were on top, but Jo Harten kept her side within striking distance with six super shots. GIANTS then turned it all around with a dominant third quarter, and once again, Harten scored another three super shots to give her team a handy lead. But come the power play in the last quarter, GIANTS now decided to play it safe, just take the one, and let Magpies take all the risks. In the end, both teams were successful with 58 shots, and yet GIANTS won by nine.
Thunderbirds turned in an incredible form reversal against Firebirds. Just three days prior, they gave up the highest number of general play turnovers (33) for the year when they scored just 40 goals against Swifts. In this game however, they scored 68 goals, easily their highest score for the season, while the 20 goals they put on in the opening quarter is also their highest scoring quarter for the year. They came up with just 13 general play turnovers. In round five when these same two teams met, they had 30!
We haven’t seen much of umpires, Josh Bowring and Rachel Stebbings this year, but they made history in Round 9 when the two Tasmanian-based umpires oversaw the match between Queensland Firebirds and Collingwood Magpies. Stebbings also oversaw the Magpies Round 10 match against GIANTS Netball.
Most goals 50/55 Shimona Nelson (Magpies v GIANTS)
Most supershots 10/11 Jo Harten (GIANTS v Magpies)
Most intercepts 4 Courtney Bruce (Fever v Vixens)
Most deflections – 11 Courtney Bruce (Fever v Vixens)
Most goal assists – 31 Liz Watson (Vixens v Fever)
Most feeds – 53 Liz Watson (Vixens v Fever)
Most turnovers – 9 Cara Koenen (Lightning v Swifts)
Most penalties – 20 Geva Mentor (Magpies v GIANTS)
Jess Anstiss (Fever) continues to recover from a foot injury
Rahni Samason (Vixens) continues to recover from knee surgery
Jemma MiMi (Firebirds) a late out due to an achilles injury
Sasha Glasgow (Fever) had a heavy fall, and only played limited minutes after that.
Break out performance of the round
Vixens defender, Olivia Lewis has perhaps given the league the answer of how to defeat Jhaniele Fowler. The last time the two teams met, Lewis made a cameo appearance but in this Round 10 performance she played the full 60 at goal keeper and was ably assisted by Jo Weston and Emily Mannix. While still no match for Fowler in the air, Lewis utilised quality footwork to get around the body and get her hands to ball off the feeders. Most of the damage was done in the first quarter where she collected three gains and a very tidy two contact penalties. These early gains spooked Fever’s feeders enough to cough-up ball which saw Vixens take a handy lead that Fever were unable to come back from.
Thunderbirds midcourter Tayla Williams continued her great Round 9 form seeing out a full 60 minutes against the Firebirds. The youngster played a really controlled game and was involved in everything, with 22 feeds, one gain and seven second phase receives.
Sunshine Coast Lightning 60 def by NSW Swifts 61
by Georgia Doyle
This match was one both teams desperately needed to win if they were to push themselves towards the top four and a chance of playing finals in 2022. Swifts have seemed to find their feet, in what they are calling Season 2022B, after making the adjustments in the attacking end needed to be playing without spearhead Sam Wallace as she recovers from her ACL injury. While Lightning have been struggling to put together strong performances across the court, often having their defence end firing in a game where the attackers have struggled and vice versa.
The match saw Swifts blow out to a match high seven goal lead in the first quarter, but Lightning didn’t let this startle them and they slowly pegged their way back through a strong defensive showing, but as has been the case for much of the season the home team were unable to capitalise on these gains, only scoring from 55% of their gained ball. While the Swifts weren’t much better in this statistic, they gave away less ball with four less turnovers and were able to capitalise when it counted.
The steady head of Maddy Proud in the middle was able to keep the Swifts under control as the Lightning continued to come back at them. She continues to dominate the mid court statistic, and has been racking up MVP awards and making many continue to wonder how she missed selection in the initial Diamonds squad. The young Swifts shooters showed they have been taking notes from Helen Housby, coming up clutch in important moments to secure them a single point win and taking one step closer to being able to defend their 2021 Premiership.
After clawing their way back in the back end of the first half, Lightning injected some changes to the attacking end that we saw in their previous match against Fever. Reilley Batcheldor came on to shooter, pushing Cara Koenen to goal attack and Steph Wood into wing attack. Wood’s accuracy was well below her usual standard in the first half, but her play making ability continues to be key in the smooth operation of the Lightning front end and Batcheldor continues to impress in her ability to enter a match and come up against the best defenders in the world unphased. She only missed one shot, a super shot, in her 30 minutes on court, and recorded a single turnover. Her ability to combine well with both Koenen and Wood while also giving opposition defenders a more mobile player to focus on was key in Lightning winning the second half by four.
Also in the attacking end, the continual mix up of Kelly Singleton and Fawns alongside stalwart Housby is proving successful for Swifts. Both younger players offer something different, and also give Housby a different role to play either at goal attack or goal shooter. The confidence of Singleton to go to post and use her sleek movement through the attacking third has grown over the last few weeks. Fawns has the ability to add movement at goal shooter, letting Housby play her more traditional goal attack game while Singleton provides movement out the front giving Housby the opportunity to dominate under the post. Housby was particularly strong in using her speed and footwork to beat Kadie-Ann Dehaney on the double play with circle feeders to edge herself closer to the post.
Where the match was won and lost?
Lightning did well to keep this game within reach, and finish push Swifts right to the final seconds. It looked close to getting out of reach in the first quarter when they had only scored three goals in seven minutes and were down by seven. In previous matches where they would have dropped their heads and let the lead blow out, they instead rallied, knowing their season was on the line and showed the never say die attitude they have been known for in seasons past. Smart coaching moves saw some positional switches, and a strong zone defence that paid dividends and allowed them to bring the game back and take the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Swifts; however, didn’t get spooked and their experience and tenacity shone through. A string of turnovers from Lightning ahead of the super shot period gave Swifts seven unanswered goals, pushing them out by six so that even with five super shots in the final five minutes Lightning were unable to claim a win in their second last home game of the season, leaving their finals chances hanging by a thread while Swifts still have a glimmer of hope that they will get a chance to defend their 2021 title.
Which players/combinations stood out?
The Swifts defensive duo of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner continue to demonstrate the importance of having a strong defensive connection, while also pushing to both be on the plane to Birmingham come July. Combined they had seven gains and nine deflections, while also forcing a high number of turnovers from the Lightning attackers, in particular Koenen with nine. They successfully adapted to the changes in the circle, with all three Lightning players rotating through in various combinations. They got in Wood’s head early, causing her to miss her first two goals and forced her to play out much of the match at wing attack due to her low accuracy in the first half.
While Klau and Turner were highly penalised, with 14 and 11 respectively, we are beginning to see a pattern emerging when playing the Lightning who are a team that often don’t respond well to physicality. Not all penalties are created equal and if committing some early ones to get in the head of your opponent throws them off their game then maybe the high penalty count at the end of the game is worth the risk.
Dehaney also played her best game in Lightning colours since moving up from Melbourne Vixens in the off season. In her 55 minutes she collected five gains, four deflections and only had eight penalties. While she has taken the court in all bar two of their matches, she has struggled to have the impact many expected of her after her strong showing in Melbourne over the past several seasons. With Kate Walsh out due to COVID protocols, Dehaney took this opportunity with both hands and showed she has the ability to be a 60 minute player. While she often struggled to match Housby for speed in the circle, her rangy arms put pressure over the shot and were also able to get around the body to disrupt the feed.
Koenen 33/39 (85%)
Batcheldor 12/13 (92%)
Wood 9/14 (64%)
Housby 41/45 (91%)
Fawns 10/11 (91%)
Singleton 7/10 (70%)
MVP: Maddy Proud (Swifts)
Melbourne Vixens 70 defeated West Coast Fever 64
By Jenny Sinclair (originally published for Fox Netball)
West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens might have kissed and made up after last year’s postponed game – which ultimately led to the Vixens being fined $50 000 (half suspended) and ordered to pay more than $30 000 in costs – but there was plenty of heat in their Tuesday night Suncorp Super Netball clash.
The battle between first and second was a mouthwatering feast of action, with Vixens prevailing by six points to sit one game clear on the top of the table.
Playing their second game in three days, both teams were missing personnel – Fever with three outs to the Vixens’ one.
After pulling a selection surprise and starting Hannah Mundy, Liz Watson and Kate Moloney at wing attack, centre and wing defence respectively, Vixens stunned their opponents by clearing out to an early nine goal lead, thanks to their crisp ball movement and some uncharacteristic ball handling errors by Fever.
In a highly physical game, there was more bodywork than a panel beater’s shop, with the parochial Fever crowd vocally unhappy about some of the heavy hits and umpiring calls.
With Vixens’ players pouncing on any loose balls – picking up 16 to the Fever’s 7 across the game, supply to goal shooting machine Jhaniele Fowler was limited early on.
While Moloney didn’t feature heavily in the Nissan Netpoints, she forced Alice Teague-Neeld to the bench for Chelsea Pitman. The change of wing attack added some urgency to Fever’s game, and settled their front end with safer supply into the circle.
At the half time break, Jo Weston was substituted out of the game, and her absence and formidable arms-over-the-pass presence was noticeable, as the Fever went on a scoring run at the start of the third quarter. However, some questionable decision-making by Emma Cosh to shoot long rather than pass off to the reliable Fowler, saw Vixens push their lead back out again.
At the opposite end, Kiera Austin and Mwai Kumwenda rarely missed, and when they did were able to mop up their rebounds. Defenders Courtney Bruce – still sporting a black eye from her last game – and Sunday Aryang picked off plenty of tips, but only converted a limited number of them to possessions.
With the final quarter played at a frenetic pace early, Vixens clung onto their lead despite a Sasha Glasgow super shot clinic, to take the match and their second win over Fever this season.
Match MVP Liz Watson continues to demonstrate why she’s the preeminent midcourter in the world, dominating stats with 53 feeds, one intercept and 25 second phase receives.
Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis described the fixture as the ‘toughest road trip’ her team undertakes, and said post match, “I loved our start, I loved our ball movement. We just played.
“I loved the intent and purpose from the word go – it was really important in setting us up for the game.”
WOULDN’T OR COULDN’T COVID CRISIS!!
When three key Vixens’ personnel made a cross-border holiday dash from Queensland to Byron Bay last year, they unwittingly entered a Covid hot-spot and were refused entry to Western Australia. Missing their stars, the rest of the team didn’t embark the plane, and an ugly stoush resulted about whether the Vixens wouldn’t or couldn’t travel.
Fever had sold the best part of 9000 tickets to the game, a significant financial loss to the club, although with WA entering lockdown that day, it’s debatable whether fans would’ve been able to attend.
The game was rescheduled in Queensland, Fever lost the public shouting match, and Vixens were hit with hefty fines, including $50 000 (half suspended) and more than $30 000 to reschedule the match.
LONG BOMB OR BRAIN EXPLOSION
As the 2022 season plays out, both Fever and Vixens have chosen reward over risk when it comes to the super shot. Both teams have used it sparingly, keeping the scoreboard ticking over with single goals. Which begs the question – are they winning more games than they lose because they don’t use it, or don’t need to use it?
Mwai Kumwenda 45/48 (94%)
Kiera Austin 24/29 (83%)
Fever Jhaniele Fowler 48/51 (94%)
Sasha Glasgow 9/12 (75%)
Emma Cosh ⅖ (40%)
MVP: Liz Watson (Vixens)
GIANTS Netball 69 defeated Collingwood Magpies 60
By Jenny Sinclair (originally published for Fox Netball)
In what captain Jo Harten described as a “game of two halves”, Giants Netball have overcome a midseason slump to return to the winner’s circle in Wednesday night’s Suncorp Super Netball match, defeating a spirited Collingwood Magpie’s outfit by nine points. The result comes as a welcome relief for the Giants, who are seeking redemption for last year’s grand final loss, and have clung to third place on the ladder.
The Magpies’ first loss in Tasmania anchors them in sixth, and will go close to snuffing hopes of their first finals campaign since 2019.
After a messy start of fumbles and umpiring attention, Magpies settled first and dominated early play. However, every time they threatened to blow the margin out in the first half, Harten’s ability to sink supershots drew the Giants back into the game.
With pivotal match-ups all over the court, none was more enticing than the physical Giants’ midcourt trying to slow down the league’s fastest midcourt. The Magpies wing attack/centre combination of Kelsey Browne and Molly Jovic left opponents in their rear-vision mirror, and with minimal turnovers provided a dangerous amount of ball to their shooters.
At the opposite end of the court, Ash Brazill and Jodi-Ann Ward kept Giants’ Maddy Hay and Sophie Dwyer well under wraps, with neither attacker able to have their usual impact early on. It was left to centre Jamie-Lee Price to do the bulk of the feeding into the circle until the game settled.
The Magpies threatened to run away with the game in the second quarter, clearing out to an 11 goal lead. However, Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said of her team’s performance, “We really addressed that at half time and came out firing.”
Giants surged in the third quarter, while costly errors from the Magpies resulted in a 19 goal turnaround that left coach Nicole Richardson with her head in her hands.
With Giants leading by eight at the start of the final term, Amy Parmenter stepped up her workrate, keeping Browne far quieter than usual, and the last 15 minutes came down to which team held their nerve. Jamie-Lee Price continued to dominate the midcourt, with 49 feeds but it was Giants’ shooter, captain and MVP Jo Harten who led from the front, as her team sealed the win. Harten finished with 41/45 including 10 super shots – a long bomb record equalling night out.
While the Giants had few answers to the shooting dominance of Shimona Nelson at the start of the match, supply dried up in the Magpies circle. After scoring 31 goals in the first half, Nelson managed just 19 in the second.
Wooden floored sports such as basketball and netball have long questioned the safety of oncourt decals and whether they contribute to injury. The issue once again cropped up at the Silverdome, with multiple players slipping not just on the decals, but all over the court.
YOUNG TALENT TIME
Giants’ coach Julie Fitzgerald has an extraordinary capacity to spot and develop young talent in the Netball NSW pathways, while at the same time showing reluctance to give them much court time in Suncorp Super Netball. With captain Jo Harten benched due to illness in last week’s fixture, rising star Matisse Letherbarrow made the most of her 40 minutes of game time. She shot the lights out with 13/14 regular goals, and 9/11 supershots, but was left off court for the Round 10 fixture.
With Vixens and Fever set to play finals, there is a logjam for the remaining places in the top four. Currently, any of the other six teams are a mathematical chance, but based on current form alone, the Giants and Magpies look the most likely to join the mix. Giants need another two to three wins to cement their place, but the Magpies’ poor start to the season might prove to be their undoing, in a case of perhaps too little, too late!
Jo Harten 41/45 (91%)
Sophie Dwyer 17/23 (74%)
Shimona Nelson 50/55 (91%)
Sophie Garbin 6/9 (67)
Gabi Sinclair 2/5 (40%)
MVP: Jo Harten (Giants)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 68 def Queensland Firebirds 55
by Georgia Doyle
Both teams came into this match with something to prove, Thunderbirds wanting to show that their early season form wasn’t a fluke and that they aren’t destined to be cellar dwellers for six seasons running, while Firebirds needed to show they are genuine finals contenders after losing their last two matches.
Thunderbirds came out strongly, with Jamaican duo Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson imposing themselves on the game early and dominating Gretel Bueta and Donnell Wallam. They then refused to take the foot of the pedal, leading for the entire game despite several comebacks mounted by the Firebirds. The experienced Firebirds midcourt struggled to find the space they normally do, and were forced into long feeds that were off the mark, giving the Thunderbirds defenders plenty of opportunity. Their attackers took these gains, and converted them to goal, with an 80% conversion rate across the match – equal highest with their Round 7 match against Fever, and well above season average of 58%.
Firebirds defenders struggled to get as much ball as they usually do against a slick and safe Thunderbirds attacking unit. The injection of Kim Jenner failed to have the same impact as last week, who was unable to collect a single gain or cause much disruption coming up against former team mate Tippah Dwan. While Mia Stower’s injection to goal shooter lifted the team, the effect didn’t last. Firebirds were only down by four heading into the final quarter, but they were unable to rally and the vocal Adelaide crowd pushed their team over the line and closer towards a maiden finals appearance.
The injection of Mia Stower provided a good mix up for the Firebirds attacking end, and made things more difficult for Sterling who matches up against tall holding shooters like Wallam. While her accuracy was not quite up to standard, her movement opened up space in the circle for Bueta and she was also the only Firebirds player to sink a super shot, 3/5 when they were forced into it to try and get back to the lead.
Most things worked for Thunderbirds, their attacking connections were strong, the mid court was steady and safe with ball in hand and the defenders were mobile and tenacious. Georgie Horjus played her first full game at wing attack and showed that having her on court in pivotal to Thunderbirds success, she dominated feeds, goal assists and centre pass received for her side, all with only one turnover. Her connection with Potgieter is just as strong when they are not in the circle together, and she was able to effectively use her speed and smarts to get around Gabi Simpson who struggled to play her usual strong shut down role.
Where the match was won and lost?
It was the most clinical performance from Thunderbirds this season, winning all four quarters and only recording 13 turnovers across the court. Firebirds, conversely, struggled to find connections into the goal circle, Kim Ravaillion was particularly expensive with six turnovers in her three quarters at centre before being shifted back to wing defence in an attempt to quell the impact of Georgie Horjus. Firebirds will have to regroup quickly, as they face Lightning next week which they must win in order to try and re enter the top four. Thunderbirds will be brimming with confidence, and must now look at how they can repeat that performance four more times in order to push themselves up the ladder, which will be no easy task as they face a dominant Collingwood side in Round 11.
Wilson also showed why Sterling shouldn’t be the only Jamaican defender in pink being raved over. For the third time this season she had more gains, with five and she had her second highest number of deflections with eight. But perhaps more impressive was her ability to match it with arguably the best goal attack in the world in Bueta. Shutting down her is the key to beating the Firebirds, and Wilson was able to disrupt Bueta’s connections which is her key strength and is also able to match her for speed and agility which proved critical in the Thunderbirds securing the win.
Which players/combinations stood out?
The shooting combination of Lenize Potgieter and Dwan put out their best performance of the season, which also happened to coincide with the fact that they played a full 60 minutes. Potgieter was able to use her foot work and incredible split to take ball at what appeared to be mid-range, but was actually right under the post while Dwan was entering the circle earlier than previous weeks, meaning Firebirds defenders had to focus on their own players. Potgieter nailed all 46 of her goals, while Dwan was strong from short range she struggled in the super shot zone with only 2/7 but this didn’t impact the final outcome of the game.
Gabi Simpson, former Firebirds captain, showed glimpses of heroics in the third quarter when her team were trying to mount a comeback. She got an impressive deflection off the centre pass, that unfortunately wasn’t collected by a team mate but then snagged an intercept just minutes later. While Firebirds converted all three of their gains in this quarter, it wasn’t enough to put them in front heading into the final term.
Potgieter 46/46 (100%)
Dwan 20/27 (74%)
Bueta 27/29 (93%)
Wallam 19/23 (83%)
Stower 6/12 (50%)
MVP: Latanya Wilson (Thunderbirds)
FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN TALENT
After the Swifts v Lightning match on Tuesday night, both coaches were complimentary toward the young stars who took the court.
Swifts’ coach, Briony Akle, said of Sophie Fawn’s multiple super shots and confidence, “That’s the beauty of being 18 years of age, she can come out with no fear. I am grateful that she did that. She took those super shots when we needed.”
Of Lightning’s Reilley Batcheldor, Akle said, “That’s what we want, the future is bright. And we want them taking it to the World’s and Commonwealth Games in the next few years.”
Of defender Bridey Condron, Kylee Byrne said, “We have been watching her and coaching her for six or seven years when she was a 13 year old Mackay girl. She has this mongrel you want in defenders and she has a great ability to get ball and that was what we were hoping for to put her on in a pressure situation with a couple of minutes at the end. We backed her and had belief. She is someone we brought in this year and hope to be around for a long time.”
Tania Obst, Thunderbirds Head Coach
On the quality performance of the attacking end
“I think that we had a specific game plan that we wanted to implement down there, Tippah was heading into the circle a lot earlier which was then giving the Firebirds more to think about than just Lenize in the circle. That then allowed Tayla and Georgie to work the ball closer, or on to circle edge and then we had the two options in the circle. I think Tippah’s speed, she’s very zippy and a bit slippery which is something a little bit different. I thought she had a really good game against her old team”
On if they start to look ahead to finals, having moved to one win out of the top four
“Probably not, as we know this competition is so tough and I don’t say that from a negative point of view. You can’t think too far ahead, we had a bit of a focus on this week with the three games, and it probably wasn’t what we wanted to put out there on Sunday against Swifts. Our last 20 minutes wasn’t the netball we want to be known for but tonight I think we were very, very good. But we come up against a Magpies, who lost tonight, so the ladder is too tight and the games are too even to start thinking about finals – we’ll just try and put together another four quarter performance”
Megan Anderson, Firebirds Head Coach
General thoughts on the game
“I can’t really identify one of our players who won their position out there tonight. I think defensively they’re super dynamic and they turn over the ball really well and their attack end was really safe tonight. We just didn’t win enough ball and we didn’t convert enough of our turnovers when we did get them either, so pretty disappointing really from us. Every time we got on a bit of a roll something would happen and we’d go back down a couple or two so we were always just constantly battling, and we probably just stayed in third gear all game which wasn’t great”
On Donnell Wallam’s struggle against the Adelaide defenders
“She’s still working out her place in this league and playing on each of the defenders, it doesn’t help when the ball is coming down pretty statically in front of her and trying to fight for that position. But she knows what her strengths are, and to get on that good hold and hopefully we can find her, but it just wasn’t happening out the front of her today”
On regathering and pushing for finals after dropping to fifth on the ladder
“I think anyone can beat anyone on their day, so we’ve just got to make sure that we’re mentally ready and in with the fight every time we go out on court and get ready to take any opportunity that we get”
(Team. Pld. Pts. %)
Melbourne Vixens . 10 . 32 . 104.1%
West Coast Fever . 10 . 28 . 110.7%
GIANTS Netball . 10 . 20 . 100.8%
NSW Swifts . 10 . 20 . 98.5%
Queensland Firebirds . 10 . 16 . 103.7%
Adelaide Thunderbirds . 10 . 16 . 99.2%
Collingwood Magpies . 10 . 16 . 95.7%
Sunshine Coast Lightning . 10 . 12 . 88.0%
Sat May 21 – 5pm AEST Queensland Firebirds v Sunshine Coast Lightning
Sat May 21 – 7pm AEST Melbourne Vixens v NSW Swifts
Sun May 22 – 2pm AEST West Coast Fever v GIANTS Netball (12pm local time)
Sun May 22 – 4pm AEST Collingwood Magpies v Adelaide Thunderbirds