Contributors: Georgia Doyle, Kate Cornish, Jenny Sinclair, Katrina Nissen, Megan Maurice, Ian Harkin, Clinton Bradbury, Danny Dalton, Kirsten Daley
Collingwood Magpies 66 defeated NSW Swifts 58 (12-15, 16-18, 22-11, 16-14)
Queensland Firebirds 72 defeated West Coast Fever (15-18, 18-15, 20-20, 19-15)
Melbourne Vixens 64 defeated Sunshine Coast Lightning 60 (19-13, 16-13, 17-14, 15-17)
GIANTS Netball 59 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 50 (18-7, 14-11, 12-15, 15-17)
Super Netball’s First Nations Round is running over Rounds 12 and 13 this season, with each team hosting a match during the two rounds. In a positive sign that the league is moving in the right direction, each club created fan activation zones which embraced First Nations Culture, including fan participated Indigenous artwork, Net Set Go games between young Indigenous teams, and cultural and language quizzes.
First Nations culture was celebrated in all aspects of the round including the ball and centre circle artwork designed by Yorta-Yorta / Wurundjeri artist Simone Thomson in collaboration with Dreamtime Art Creative. The umpires also wore uniforms containing First Nations artwork designed by Simone and Dreamtime Art Creative.
One of the highlights of the first week of the First Nations Round was the emotional win of the Queensland Firebirds. After putting in their worst performance of the year in round 11, they somehow lifted to beat the 2nd-placed West Coast Fever on their home court. And significantly, the competition’s only two Indigenous players, Donnell Wallam and Jemma Mi Mi both played a big part in the victory, leading to joyous scenes at full time. It is a huge contrast to just two years ago, when Mi Mi was the only Indigenous player in Super Netball and was left off court during this round.
The Indigenous All-Stars once again played a curtain raiser against the Giants’ Academy team, showcasing their skills, while in a number of states, Indigenous Net Set Go teams took to the court at half time, giving young players a taste for the future.
The topsy-turvy nature of the race for finals spots took further twists in round 12. The only certainty at the moment is that Vixens and Fever will be in the top two positions, while Lightning would appear to be out of the running now after their loss to the Vixens. But after that, it’s anyone’s guess. Five teams are battling for two spots. Having lost four in a row, Firebirds put themselves right back in the picture with their win in Perth. Collingwood also rebounded from two losses with an impressive win over Swifts to join the group of teams on 20 points. Then on Sunday, Giants defeated Thunderbirds to climb back up to third on 24 points. With two rounds to go, and with teams playing so inconsistently, there are many different possibilities.
Maddy Turner (Swifts) – 100 national league matches
Most goals – 60/60 Jhaniele Fowler (Fever v Firebirds)
Most supershots – 5/8 Steph Wood (Vixens v Lightning)
Most intercepts – 5 Amy Parmenter & Shamera Sterling (GIANTS v Thunderbirds)
Most deflections – 11 Latanya Wilson (GIANTS v Thunderbirds)
Most goal assists – 28 Maddy Proud (Magpies v Swifts)
Most feeds – 52 Maddy Proud (Magpies v Swifts)
Most gains – 9 Jodi-Ann Ward (Magpies v Swifts)
Most turnovers – 10 Laura Scherian (Vixens v Lightning)
Most penalties – 19 Sarh Klau (Magpies v Swifts) & Courtney Bruce (Fever v Firebirds)
Jess Anstiss (Fever) – foot
Rahni Samason (Vixens) – knee, was named in the team on Thursday but was not cleared
Donnell Wallam (Firebird) – calf strain. She left the court during the third quarter and said after the match that she had cramps but will be fine.
Stacey Francis-Bayman (Fever) – ankle roll in third quarter, but returned to the match
Steph Wood (Lightning) – started the match after her knee injury last week but quickly left the court for some additional strapping, and then appeared the be on managed minutes for the remainder of the game
Break out performances of the round
Firebird Mia Stower had one of her best performances of the season when she was injected during the third quarter of her side’s match against the West Coast Fever. Up against Stacey Francis-Bayman and Courtney Bruce, Stower was calm and calculated. She showed maturity when choosing which shots to put up and which to pass and ended her 20 minutes with 6/6 including two supershots.
Fellow Firebird Jemma Mi Mi channeled the emotion and power of First Nations Round to produce her best performance of 2022. Having only played 89 minutes all season, this was Mi Mi’s first full match. She was involved in everything and could not be contained by the more experienced Stacey Francis-Bayman as she put in 27 feeds for 19 goal assists, collected one intercept, had 12 second phase receives and only gave away two turnovers. With another First Nations match to be played next round, fans will be hoping she can replicate the performance.
Collingwood Magpies 66 defeated NSW Swifts 58
By Megan Maurice (originally published for Fox Netball)
The Collingwood Magpies have kept their finals hopes alive with a 66-58 win over NSW Swifts in front of a small but passionate home crowd in Melbourne.
The intensity was high from the first whistle and it was clear how important the game was to both teams.
With the ladder incredibly tight in the middle, neither team could afford a loss and the desperation was evident in every pass.
It was the Swifts who settled first, as the Magpies struggled to find their connections in the attacking third – the Swifts’ defence successfully stifled wing attack Kesley Browne, shutting down the Magpies’ main avenue to goal shooter Shimona Nelson.
The Magpies managed to claw back some ascendancy, but every time they began to close the gap, they gave away careless turnovers and the slick Swifts attack was able to capitalise.
The half-time break revitalised the Magpies in both attack and defence, scoring eight of the first 11 goals with pinpoint feeding accuracy to Nelson under the post and tenacious defence from Jodi-Ann Ward and player of the match Geva Mentor at the back.
Swifts’ coach Briony Akle went to her go-to change in attack, bringing Sophie Fawns on for Kelly Singleton – the young shooters have shared court-time across the season, which has allowed them to take time on the bench to observe and work their way back into a game.
Both teams have been renowned for their focus on the one-point shot in key matches, but with their seasons on the line, the super shots became a major factor.
For the Magpies, Gabby Sinclair led the charge with three two-point shots in the third quarter alone, while Helen Housby attempted to counter at the other end of the court with mixed success.
Prior to this match, Sinclair was shooting at 62% from the two-point zone, but she lifted tonight with four super shots at 100% accuracy.
After an incredibly dominant third quarter by the Magpies, which they won 22-11, the Swifts made a plethora of changes in a final attempt to regain their lead.
Singleton returned to the court and young defender Teigan O’Shannassy was injected in goal keeper, forcing a reshuffle down the court.
Despite the best efforts of Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud, the Swifts were not able to work their way back into the game and were forced to rely on the super shot in the final five minutes, but it was too little, too late and the Magpies took the win by 12 goals.
BATTLE OF THE SPURNED MID-COURTERS
Two of the most fascinating players to watch were mid-courters Maddy Proud (Swifts) and Kelsey Browne (Magpies) who were both omitted from the Australian Diamonds squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Both players have been in sensational form since the announcement of the squad and have been letting their on-court play send a strong message to selectors. Both continued their attacking dominance this week, with Proud finishing the game with 28 goal assists and Browne 24.
KEEPING THE WHISTLE OUT OF IT
The penalty count proved a barometer in this game, with the Swifts’ ability to keep their penalty count low a key factor in their early dominance. While the Magpies were heavily penalised in the mid-court in the first half, the Swifts were able to keep it clean in defence as they moved down the court. Penalties in the mid-court are most common when defenders are stuck behind their players, but the speed and fitness of Proud, Hadley and Tayla Fraser allowed them to stay ahead of their opponents and block the Magpies’ passage down court. Once momentum swung in the third quarter, the Swifts’ desperation led to more penalties and they finished with 61 penalties – only one fewer than the Magpies.
Shimona Nelson has been widely criticised during her time in Australia for her inability to pull in high balls at critical moments. However this season has been the making of her, with strong hands in the air and a shooting load that is incredibly hard to fault. She was again impeccable in this game, shooting 52 goals at 100% accuracy, showing she will be a genuine alternative to Jhaniele Fowler for Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games when required.
Shimona Nelson 52/52 (100%)
Gabi Sinclair 7/7 (100%)
Sophie Garbin 3/5 (60%)
Helen Housby 33/44 (75%)
Kelly Singleton 18/23 (78%)
Sophie Fawns 2/4 (50%)
Queensland Firebirds 72 def West Coast Fever 68
by Georgia Doyle
While the First Nations Round involves significant games for all teams, it holds a special place for Queensland Firebirds who are the only team to have First Nations athletes in their contracted 10. Donnell Wallam made her homecoming to Western Australia, while Jemma Mi Mi was back in the match day ten following some time sidelined with an achilles injury. Both players rose to the occasion, with strong performances that highlight the importance of continuing to empower Indigenous athletes to progress and succeed in the netball pathway. The emotion and elation on both players’ faces at the end of the game showed how important the match was for them, representing their culture with pride.
It was a fast start from the home side, who were finding Jhaniele Fowler with ease and at the other end Courtney Bruce was hunting outside the circle early, knowing how difficult it can be to win ball off Wallam when she is strong on the hold. Firebirds showed the tenacity that has been somewhat missing in the last few weeks, fighting back to be level at half time.
Neither team was rattled as the third quarter went goal for goal, and finished with each team scoring 20 goals and the scores remained tied heading into the final quarter. Firebirds turned up the heat in the final term, with less turnovers, less penalties and more pick-ups they put the foot down and secured the four point win, seeing them jump from seventh to fourth on the ladder with two rounds remaining to secure them a second finals appearance from six super netball seasons.
Fever defenders had no answer for MVP Gretel Bueta, who came up against three players at goal defence and had the better of them all. Bueta dominated the outer part of the goal circle, but her impeccable timing and athleticism saw her wind up under the post more often than not. And if she ever did find herself in an uncomfortable shooting position she was able to re-feed with her midcourters or pop a high ball over to Wallam for a closer shot at goal.
The Firebirds had their season on the line, and played a game that showed why they have spent much of the season in the top four. While they started on the back foot, behind by five goals within the first five minutes they mounted an impressive comeback to push out by as much as five goals themselves in the fourth quarter. They forced Fever into uncharacteristic turnovers, with Gabi Simpson doing a strong job to interrupt the usually strong connection between Alice Teague-Neeld and Fowler. Simpson was spectacularly electric during the final term, hustling hard for the ball collecting two gains and three deflections at crucial moments where Fever looked like they were ready to take back momentum.
Where the match was won and lost?
Fever were struggling before the first whistle blew, missing their usual mid-court duo of Jess Anstiss and Verity Simmons out due to injury and COVID respectively. This meant the elevation of training partners Chelsea Pitman and Zoe Cransberg, with the latter earning her first start for the season at centre. In just her fourth appearance at this level, Cransberg held her own against the experience of Kim Ravaillion.
The relatively untested combination she had with Pitman showed in the final moments of the game, where the connections to Jhaniele Fowler and Sasha Glasgow in the circle crumbled under the scoreboard pressure that is so often talked about by coach Dan Ryan as something they try to inflict on their opposition. Firebirds were able to take this opportunity, and keep the scoreboard ticking over with single goals to secure them the win.
Which players/combinations stood out?
Wallam relished her opportunity to return home and play on home country, putting out one of her best performances of the season after a few quiet games. However she experienced calf cramps in the third quarter, sending her to the bench. In her 40 minutes on court she had the better of both Courtney Bruce and Rudi Ellis, shooting 24/27, recording 10 goal assists and only one turnover. Mi Mi also had a strong game, returning for a full 60-minute performance after missing two rounds due to an Achilles injury. Her speed often left her opposition in the dust, allowing her to hit the circle edge and deliver a team high of 19 goal assists.
West Coast Fever
Fowler 60/60 (100%)
Glasgow 6/11 (55%)
Bueta 40/41 (98%)
Wallam 24/27 (89%)
Stower 6/6 (100%)
MVP: Gretel Bueta (Firebirds)
Melbourne Vixens 64 defeated Sunshine Coast Lightning 60
By Jenny Sinclair (first published by Fox Netball)
Melbourne Vixens celebrated a win on Wurundjeri country in First Nations’ Round, despite a less than convincing four point margin over eighth placed Sunshine Coast Lightning. Vixens are now super-glued to the top of the ladder, and almost guaranteed a home semi-final.
Looking for their fifth consecutive win, Vixens jumped out to an early lead after a disastrous start by Lightning, that included fumbles, a breaking call, and the loss of captain Steph Wood after just thirty seconds on court.
While Wood returned to court with four minutes to play in the first, she was proppy at times after jarring her knee last week.
In contrast, the Vixens game was seamless early on. Defenders Emily Mannix and Jo Weston picked off multiple intercepts and rebounds, which their team transitioned smoothly through court and into good shooting range.
With the second quarter looking like a training drill at times for the Vixens, Lightning’s coach Kylee Byrne implored her team to ‘step up’. Led by defenders Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Tara Hinchliffe, Lightning lifted their energy, and dragged the game back to just a three goal deficit at half time.
With Mwai Kumwenda’s radar off, and with the Vixens sinking just 78% of their shots in the first half, Lightning capitalised with their superior accuracy. Wood, Cara Koenen and Reilley Batcheldor all rotated through the circle and both shooting positions, giving different options for the Vixens’ defenders to think about, but also creating some confusion for the Lightning’s feeders.
In a scrappy third quarter, the Vixens steadied first. Kiera Austin was an important piece of the puzzle with her calmness and perfectly timed leads into the circle. With star wing attack Liz Watson smothered by her opponents, Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis also shuffled her troops, bringing Hannah Mundy onto wing attack, and sending Watson to centre and Kate Moloney to wing defence.
Through more measured play, Lightning chewed into the final quarter deficit, leveling scores and setting up a pulsating finish. Lightning continued to sink the supershots, but a last gasp intercept and then rebound by match MVP Mannix set up the Vixens for an unconvincing but important win.
Lightning gave away five more turnovers, but it was the Vixens superior ability to score from them – 70% compared to the Lightning’s 61% – that proved the ultimate difference between the two teams.
While on tenterhooks during the game, Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis was pleased with her team’s ability to get over the line. Speaking after the game she said, “Looking at that last quarter, the fight, the composure, the heart that they show in the moments when it’s really tight.”
SIGNING OF THE SEASON
Signing Kiera Austin, during her recovery from a serious knee injury, was a huge risk by the Melbourne Vixens, but one that is ultimately paying off. After a year’s absence from the court, the goal attack is now back to her best and once again pushing for Diamonds’ selection. Her form has played a significant role in Vixens’ ladder topping position, and outright favoritism for the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball title.
Austin was once again important in the Vixens’ win, shooting 20/26, with 17 centre pass receives and one crucial intercept.
STARS ON SHOW
With selection for the Commonwealth Games team just a few short weeks away, the Vixens-Lightning clash featured six squad members all eager to be in the green and gold.
For Lightning, Cara Koenen (29/29 in today’s game) and Steph Wood are back to their best, although Wood’s ongoing knee issues are a concern.
Vixens’ players Jo Weston and Liz Watson are certainties, while Austin and Kate Moloney have put themselves in box seat positions with outstanding performances in recent weeks.
Today’s loss not only cemented Lightning’s wooden spoon position, but is the first time in their proud six year history that the club will miss finals. Having to rebuild their entire back end, after the loss of starting seven players Phumza Maweni, Maddy McAuliffe and captain Karla Pretorius, was the tipping point for Lightning’s demise.
Mwai Kumwenda 43/51 (84%)
Kiera Austin 20/26 (77%)
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Cara Koenen 29/29 (100%)
Steph Wood 13/16 (81%)
Reilley Batcheldor 10/14 (71%)
MVP: Emily Mannix (Vixens)
Giants Netball 59 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 50
By Kate Cornish
With ladder positions and finals hopes that will go down to the final round of Super Netball 2022, the last game of round 12 featuring Giants Netball and the Adelaide Thunderbirds was the match of the round and for the winner it would cement a buffer of four points between third and fourth spot on a very congested ladder.
The Giants were coming off a disappointing round 11 loss against the West Coast Fever, while the Thunderbirds had great momentum after shooting up the ladder and into the top four with an impressive win against Collingwood Magpies. It would be a test of resilience for the Thunderbirds to see if they could capitalise on their efforts in the previous round.
The Welcome to Country performed at Ken Rosewell Arena by Glen Doyle was a special way to start the first week of First Nations Round.
While it was not a complete 60-minute performance from the Giants and there will be plenty for coach Julie Fitzgerald and her team to work on, they can be pleased with the intensity that they brought to this game. Of the two teams, it was the Giants who showed their experience in a season defining moment, showing why they have been a force in Super Netball over the years.
The left handed shooting duo of Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer were punishing in under the post, their combination looking as fluent as we have seen all year. They were complemented beautifully by Maddie Hay and Jamie-Lee Price in attack who had found better timing with their entry into the goal third and on their feed to their shooters. Harten worked hard for her team playing smart netball against the best goal keeper in the world, Shamera Stirling, pushing her away from under the post, where her vertical jump and wing-span could not be utilised.
Where the match was won and lost?
In this clash with the Giants the Thunderbirds were simply unable to bring the enthusiasm and energy that had seen them skyrocket into third position on the ladder. Their general play turnovers mounted quickly in the first quarter and the Giants were able to punish them on the scoreboard. Being kept to score only 7 goals in the first fifteen minutes proved to be much too costly and is not indicative of the standard that the Thunderbirds are capable of.
Though Thunderbirds captain Hannah Petty commented that South African international Lenize Potgieter was fit to play this contest, she sat on the sideline for the entire match while young shooter Lucy Austin took the reins under the post. While Austin is a strong target for the Thunderbirds, they were incredibly hesitant to release the ball to her the first half of the match, paying great respect to the defensive combination of Matilda McDonell and April Brandley. Georgie Horjus, ruled out with illness for this match, was sorely missed as a playmaker in attack for the Thunderbirds. Without Horjus their timing was missing, as was their ability to transition smoothly into their goal third.
Tippah Dwan played a full game at goal attack in the absence of Horjus and was unable to inject herself into the game. Marked tightly by Brandley, Dwan shot only 8/9 (89%) and her volume was not enough to make an impact for her team. In comparison, Sophie Dwyer in goal attack for the Giants shot at 28/30 (93%).
While the Thunderbirds mounted a comeback in the second half winning the last two quarters, the damage had been done in the first half by an enthusiastic Giants team who were desperate to get into the top four and secure third position. The loss for the Thunderbirds sees them drop out of the top four and makes their finals aspirations challenging with only two rounds remaining.
Which players/combinations stood out?
In wing defense Amy Parmenter had an incredible impact for the Giants and produced a performance that would have given Australian Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich a headache as she attempts to select her 12 for the Commonwealth Games. Parmenter finished the game with five intercepts and four deflections and provided plenty of support out in front of McDonell and Brandley. With Price also having a strong game in centre, she rounded out their defensive unit nicely.
In the second half as the Thunderbirds defensive energy lifted and Stirling also raised her work rate, she provided her team with five intercepts and seven deflections that allowed them some possession and some extra points on the scoreboard. In attack they finally found a connection with Austin and she was able to finish on 34/39 (87%), which was a pleasing improvement from the first half.
The Thunderbirds won the second half of the match, and while that is a small consolation, they will look back on this clash and wonder what might have been had they been able to match the intensity of the Giants from the first whistle.
Jo Harten 25/28 (89%)
Sophie Dwyer 28/30 (93%)
Lucy Austin 34/39 (87%)
Tippah Dwan 8/9 (89%)
MVP: Jamie-Lee Price (Giants)
Firebirds coach Megan Anderson spoke of how much the First Nations Round means to Donnell Wallam and Jemma Mi Mi.
“It was so special for us as a club. We are all on this cultural journey and to have Jem and Donnell in the team and share with them. And to be back here in her country is so special for us. I am so glad we were able to do her proud and meet her family and for them to get the win today is so amazing.”
Jo Harten on her combination with Sophie Dwyer.
“I always know where Sophie is, for 60 minutes usually. She rarely knows what I am about to do, but I always have my eyes on her. I love playing with Sophie, it is such a unique combination. It is a 33 year old playing with a 20 year old. I have all the bags experience and she has all the bags of potential.”
(Team / Pts / %)
Melbourne Vixens. 40. 104.8%
West Coast Fever. 32. 109.3%
GIANTS Netball. 24. 100.7%
Queensland Firebirds. 20. 100.9%
Adelaide Thunderbirds. 20. 98.7%
NSW Swifts. 20. 96.7%
Collingwood Magpies. 20. 96.7%
Sunshine Coast Lightning. 16. 92%
Next Round – First Nations’ Round Part 2
All matches will be shown live on Fox Sport and Kayo Sports. Sunday matches will be available on Kayo Freebies for those who don’t have a subscription
Sat, Jun 4, 5pm – Queensland Firebirds v GIANTS Netball
Sat, Jun 4, 7pm – Adelaide Thunderbirds v Melbourne Vixens (6:30pm local time)
Sun, Jun 5, 2pm – NSW Swifts v West Coast Fever
Sun, Jun 5, 4pm – Sunshine Coast Lightning v Collingwood Magpies