Contributors: Georgia Doyle, Jenny Sinclair, Katrina Nissen, Nick Bleeker, Ian Harkin, Sue McKay, Simon Leonard, Danny Dalton.
GIANTS Netball 73 def Queensland Firebirds 72 (19-17, 15-16, 18-20, 21-19)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 47 def by Melbourne Vixens 51 (13-10, 14-17, 15-11, 5-13)
West Coast Fever 73 def NSW Swifts 72 (20-17, 20-14, 21-15, 20-18)
Sunshine Coast Lightning 62 def by Collingwood Magpies 68 (17-16, 16-18, 17-17, 12-17)
This week was the second part of Super Netball’s First Nations Round with each club getting the opportunity to showcase Indigenous culture on their home court. From Welcome to Country, to smoking ceremonies, interpretive dance and artwork, players and fans alike were genuinely invested in a journey of learning and growth. As the oldest living culture in the world, there is so much to learn from Australia’s Indigenous peoples, who have been generous with their time and knowledge. Reconciliation is a challenging process, but if First Nations’ Round has shown anything, sport has a vital role to play in the process.
Congratulations to Maddy Proud and Ruby Bakewell-Doran, who both received a Diamonds’ squad call up this week. Proud makes her way back in after some strong recent form, while it’s Bakewell-Doran’s first time in.
Shockwaves rippled through the netball community this week, as a cash-strapped Netball Australia sold off the grand final hosting rights to the highest bidder for the next five years. In a move widely disputed by the majority, players weren’t consulted during the process, breaking a promise made to the ANPA after the introduction of the super shot. A heartbroken letter published by the ANPA condemned the move.
The highest bidder for 2022 was the WA government, with the grand final to be held in Perth. It’s a particularly disappointing result for all associated with the first placed Vixens – who finished with the minor premiership and were in the box seat to host the grand final – and second placed Fever, who once again feel the burden of community unrest.
When it came to the on-court action, round 13 was the second closest round in the history of Super Netball with a total margin of just 12 goals. All four matches went down to the final minute, with two of them literally decided in the final seconds. And the results had a huge impact on the makeup of the finals. Thanks to their wins, Vixens have wrapped up the minor premiership, Fever have sealed second spot, and GIANTS have clinched a spot in the playoffs. With their victory, Magpies jumped up from seventh to fourth. If they defeat Vixens in the final home and away game of the season next Monday, they will play finals. If not, then one of Swifts, Firebirds or Thunderbirds could possibly take that last spot.
Almost two years since its introduction, the super shot is still unpopular with many fans, but it can’t be denied that it helped to generate a lot of excitement in this round, in particular, Saturday’s Firebirds v GIANTS match. The conclusion of that game was a perfect example of what the powers that be would have been hoping for when they introduced the super shot. First Donnell Wallam, and then Jo Harten, shot superbly under pressure as the fortunes of their teams changed dramatically in the last 60 seconds.
The Adelaide Thunderbirds went into the record books with an unwanted statistic in their match against Vixens. After matching it with the competition leaders for most of the match, they picked a bad time to equal the Super Netball record for lowest score in a quarter (five goals) in the final 15 minutes. Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson had 14 possession gains between them in the match, but once again, it was Thunderbirds’ inability to convert those gains into goals that cost them dearly. The Thunderbirds team was dejected post-match, with Sterling in tears.
Most goals – 64/66 Jhaniele Fowler (Fever v Swifts)
Most supershots – 8/15 Helen Housby (Swifts v Fever)
Most intercepts – 5 Jodi-Ann Ward (Magpies v Lightning)
Most deflections – 14 Courtney Bruce (Fever v Swifts)
Most goal assists – 25 Kelsey Browne (Magpies v Lightning)
Most feeds – 49 Maddy Proud (Swifts v Fever)
Most gains – 9 Courtney Bruce (Fever v Swifts)
Most turnovers – 9 Gretel Bueta (Firebirds v GIANTS)
Most penalties – 20 Geva Mentor (Magpies v Lightning)
Congratulations to Lenize Potgeiter on reaching 100 national league games during the 2022 season.
Matilda Garrett – left the court at the beginning of the third quarter with a calf injury, didn’t return.
Break out performance of the round
While Allie Smith has been around for a few years, her 35 minute cameo at wing defence just about won the game, and a place in the finals, for the Swifts. Smith was introduced against a rampant Alice Teague-Neeld in the second term, and managed to lock her down for the best part of the third.
In the process Smith snagged three intercepts and two pick ups, including a vital circle edge rebound that bounced off the post. It swung the third quarter Swifts way 21-15 and turned the game.
GIANTS Netball 73 defeated Queensland Firebirds 72
By Katrina Nissen (originally published on Fox Netball)
Giants Netball have dealt a devastating blow to the Queensland Firebirds’ finals hopes as they ran out one point winners in front of a sold out purple crowd at Nissan Arena. The victory will be a relief for Giants, securing them a spot in the finals with one match to go in the regular season.
This second of two First Nations’ Round matches was to be a celebration which lifted the Firebirds to another level. But going down in the dying seconds of the match will leave them anxiously relying on results falling their way next week, if they have any chance of going further in the season.
After a nervous start where both teams coughed up ball, it was the Giants who were able to settle first.
Veteran defender April Brandley was instrumental in Giants gaining the lead, getting her feet around and collecting two early possessions.
As they have done all season, Giants brilliantly utilised the Supershot to get out to a five goal lead. The Firebirds opted for a less risky style of play, preferring to sink high percentage one point goals through each power five period and take selective two-point goals.
A key matchup of the game was played out between English internationals Jo Harten (Giants) and Eboni Usoro-Brown (Firebirds). Usoro-Brown took bragging rights in the first half, keeping Harten to -16.5 Nissan Net Points and only 16/21, while the defender also collected four rebounds and one intercept. Harten turned it around in the second half to finish the match with 40/45.
Harten’s shooting partner, Sophie Dwyer produced one of her best games of the season. She was accurate at the post shooting 27/29 but was also a workhorse out the front. After the match, coach Julie Fitzgerald sung Dwyer’s praises, “This was a real display of how much she has grown and how much she has developed as a player. It wasn’t just how calm she was, she put some expert moves on today. Some of her weaves and front cuts showed how well she played today.”
Giants’ midcourt had a solid defensive game, with match MVP Jamie-Lee Price leading the way with one intercept, one deflection and two pickups, to go with her 40 feeds.
If finals are decided by percentage, Firebirds will be ruing missed opportunities and costly turnovers, with veteran Gretel Bueta the most expensive, giving away nine, including one breaking call which swung the momentum of the match in the visitor’s favour.
In one of the most exciting finishes of the season, the match came down to a long bomb shootout with both Firebird’s Donnell Wallam and Harten exchanging blows. With just 4 seconds to go, Harten took a clutch shot to close out the match.
Giants coach, Julie Fitzgerald expressed how uncomfortable she was with such a close finish, “I left the court straight away and went to the change room because I was still shaking. Games like that, which are so close all the way through, take a lot out of you.”
FIRST NATIONS ROUND
Last week’s memorable win over West Coast Fever occurred on the first of two First Nation’s Rounds and coincided with Indigenous athlete Donnell Wallam’s first professional match in front of her Noongar family on home Whadjuk soil.
This week, the focus shifted to the Firebirds other Indigenous athlete Jemma Mi Mi. The former New South Wales athlete now calls Brisbane home and celebrated with close friends and family in the stands who cheered as she took to the court on Turrbal and Jagera people’s land.
Young Queensland Firebirds defender Ruby Bakewell-Doran was this week rewarded for her consistent season with a Diamonds Squad elevation. The goal defence has been solid for the Firebirds in her first contracted season. After 12 Rounds, she sits seventh in the league for intercepts (taking 18), sixth for deflections (42), and 12th for rebounds (14th). But her attacking statistics are also impressive, with her having taken 43 centre receives, and 59 second phase receives.
Bakewell-Doran and her Firebirds teammate Donnell Wallam will enter the Diamonds camp as the two newest Diamonds squad members vying for a Commonwealth Games selection.
Wallam 41/43 (95%)
Bueta 27/28 (96%)
Harten 40/45 (89%)
Dwyer 27/29 (93%)
MVP: Jamie-Lee Price (Giants)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 47 def by Melbourne Vixens 51
by Georgia Doyle
This match provided the Melbourne Vixens with the chance to seal the minor premiership, and the Adelaide Thunderbirds the opportunity to push themselves one step closer to their maiden finals appearance in Suncorp Super Netball. All of the outside noise from Netball Australia relating to the Grand Final venue initially seemed to have thrown the Vixens off their game, and they trailed for the majority of the match.
But when it really counted they showed why they are the minor premiers, having locked it up with their win now sitting one game clear of West Coast Fever. Thunderbirds also put out a valiant performance against the ladder leaders, in front for the majority of the game but a combination of poor gained ball conversion, player substitutions and a Vixens side who wouldn’t back down meant they were unable to get the job done and will once again most likely miss the chance to play finals netball.
For much of the game the lead didn’t stretch beyond four, until the third quarter when Thunderbirds broke ahead to stretch out to a seven goal lead. They failed to hold on thanks to a resurgent Vixens side and some on court changes that were both forced by injury to Matilda Garrett and enacted by coach Tania Obst who was searching for answers as she saw her team begin to fade away.
Vixens took the lead with five minutes remaining in the game, and showed their discipline by playing precision, possession netball which is a dangerous game against the likes of Sterling and Wilson. They managed to hold on and secure the win, giving them the chance to host the Major Semi Final and making the incredible come back from wooden spoon in 2021.
The Jamaican duo of Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson were once again phenomenal in defence, in the first quarter alone they collected five gains between them, and put a lid on the usually dominant Mwai Kumwenda who took seven minutes to score her first goal instead leaving Kiera Austin to dominate the shooting circle. They finished the match with 14 gains and eight deflections, but as has been an all too common story for Thunderbirds the attackers failed to convert their turnover ball, finishing with only 65% gain to goal conversion.
Much of the game winning play Vixens are known for they struggled to put on show in this match, their turnovers were high, they struggled to gain ball and what ball they did gain was difficult to convert. They had more turnovers, less gains, lower centre pass conversion and only marginally better gain to goal conversion than Thunderbirds which would generally not result in a win, unless the super shot was used.
But in this case, it was pick-ups that may have put them over the line, with Vixens snatching in 12 compared to Thunderbirds seven, including four from MVP Kate Moloney. This is no surprise with Vixens topping the pick-up statistic this year, recording 145 across the season, 20 more than the next best team – NSW Swifts. Interestingly enough, this works out to be approximately 12 per game – the exact number they recorded in this match.
Where the match was won and lost?
Vixens showed their grit and determination, refusing to let the game get out of reach as Thunderbirds edged further and further away from them in the mid part of the match. They had an uncharacteristically high number of turnovers, with 24, half of which were from mid court maestro’s Watson and Moloney, with seven and five respectively. Luckily for them Thunderbirds were just as expensive, and a superior conversion rate helped push the away side over the line.
Changes continued to be used by Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst, some forced due to injury but some were looking for impact. Unfortunately this impact wasn’t always positive. The rotation of Tayla Williams on and off court seemed to unsettle her after getting consistent game time the last few rounds. She finished with eight turnovers, the most on court, in her 47 minutes. Matilda Garrett was also forced to the bench after sustaining a calf injury at the start of the third quarter, forcing Obst back into a line up she had switched after it didn’t have the desired impact in the second quarter.
From this point Thunderbirds started to fall away, and despite the best efforts of Sterling and Wilson they weren’t able to get back in front, scoring only five goals to the Vixens 13 in the final quarter which lost them the game and secured their fate of not playing finals for a sixth year running.
Which players/combinations stood out?
Kiera Austin continues to remind Stacey Marinkovich why she should be on a plane to Birmingham next month. She was cool under pressure, and handled the physicality of the Thunderbirds defensive end with poise. Her sweep around the circle kept the ball low and made it difficult for Thunderbirds defenders to get a clean line on to the ball for an intercept or deflection. She shared the load with Liz Watson for centre pass receives, while also hustling hard for loose ball with three pick-ups. Her understanding with Watson and Moloney has been growing through the season, and will no doubt be keeping her in Diamonds contention.
Georgie Horjus was a welcome return to Thunderbirds attacking line, starting at wing attack before shifting to goal attack in the final quarter for the first time in since Round 9 matches. She dominated all the attacking statistics for her side, and even pipped Watson for the highest number of goal assists in the game by one, with 22. Only twice has Watson not delivered the most number of goal assists on court, in the Vixens Round 5 loss to Lightning where she had a season low 12, and again in their Round 8 win against Firebirds where she was second to Lara Dunkley.
Horjus’s shift to goal attack didn’t give the impact that was desired, she was too often facilitating play outside the circle and leaving Tippah Dwan in a two on one against Jo Weston and Emily Mannix who were able to easily pick off the ball, collecting four gains in this quarter, when the circle defenders only had three in the previous three quarters.
Potgieter 36/40 (90%)
Dwan 10/12 (83%)
Kumwenda 33/38 (87%)
Austin 16/20 (80%)
MVP: Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)
West Coast Fever 73 defeated NSW Swifts 72
By Jenny Sinclair (originally published for Fox Netball)
An injury and illness plagued West Coast Fever have cemented second place on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder with a gutsy one point win over the NSW Swifts. The victory gives Fever a double chance in the finals, while Swifts remain a mathematical but unlikely chance to defend their 2021 premiership.
Playing on Sydney’s Wangal land in the second First Nations’ Round, Fever jumped out to a strong lead before three super shots by Helen Housby clawed the margin back to three.
On her return from Covid, Fever’s Verity Simmons had to run centre for the match, and often chose to put the ball long and high to Jhaniele Fowler. The Jamaican superstar was up for the challenge, winning the aerial battle against Sarah Klau and finishing with 64/66.
At the opposite end of the court, goal keeper and match MVP Courtney Bruce menaced the Swifts’ shooting circle, picking up one intercept, 14 deflections and six rebounds across the game.
Under immense pressure, Housby’s and Kelly Singleton’s radars were off, and a much needed second quarter time out helped them settle. However, Bruce and fellow circle defender Sunday Aryang imperiously pulled in any misses, as Fever finished with 15 rebounds.
With Fever leading by nine points at half time, Swifts’ coach Briony Akle switched her circle shooters. With Housby playing at her more familiar goal attack role and three intercepts and a crucial circle edge rebound by wing defence Allie Smith, the margin was reduced to just three at three quarter time.
The scent of victory brought the passionate Swifts’ crowd back into the match, and renewed their team’s intensity out on court.
With the game running down to the wire, the Swifts all-Diamonds’ midcourt of Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud continued to swing the ball through the midcourt, while Alice Teague-Neeld provided plenty of movement for her team.
The gap narrowed to just two points, and with six minutes to play, Fever coach Dan Ryan called a time out and implored his group to ‘work hard’. The game came down to the last second heroics of Bruce, who nailed a vital rebound, and sealed the game by just one point.
Unfortunately, the Swifts shooting percentage of 72%, compared to the Fever’s 92%, was the ultimate difference between the two teams.
Speaking after the game, Swifts’ coach Briony Akle said, “I’m really proud of our team. They fought back really hard.”
A relieved Dan Ryan said he was pleased with his team’s ability under pressure to “endure and adapt to it, and hold our nerve to the end.”
A PROUD MOMENT
After being omitted from the Australian Diamonds’ squad earlier this year, Maddy Proud has let her netball do the talking, earning a belated call up during the week. National coach Stacey Marinkovich said, “We have been really pleased with how Maddy responded to feedback and adapted those learnings across both the WA and C positions.”
Proud will be eligible for selection for the Commonwealth Games.
Injury and illness continue to plague Fever in their run home to the finals. With Jess Anstiss (foot) and Zoe Cransberg (illness) unavailable, and Verity Simmons returning from Covid, Fever’s midcourt was under pressure again in Round 13. With the full team available for just five of the past 13 rounds, trying to bed in combinations has been nigh on impossible.
Housby 39/55 (71%)
Singleton 14/19 (74%)
Fawns 11/14 (79%)
Fowler 64/66 (97%)
Glasgow 6/10 (60%)
MVP: Courtney Bruce (Fever)
Collingwood Magpies 68 defeated Sunshine Coast Lightning 62
By Nick Bleeker (originally published for Fox Netball)
The Collingwood Magpies kept their finals hopes flying with a massive four point away win against the Sunshine Coast Lightning. The result lifts them from seventh to fourth on the Suncorp Super Netball ladder, but with a less-than-healthy percentage, they will need results to fall their way to stay there.
After the match, Magpies coach Nicole Richardson said she was elated and relieved. “We are in charge of our own destiny now which is nice.”
In a tight tussle early on, Collingwood’s defensive end played a hyper-physical game in an attempt to disrupt any attacking flow the Lightning looked to gather. It was a plan that the Magpies stuck with throughout, but proved effective with Geva Mentor continuing her return to rock-solid form.
Mentor finished with one intercept and nine deflections, rattling Sunshine Coast’s confidence with Steph Wood flashing glimpses of frustration whenever the Magpies pulled away. Mentor wasn’t alone in her efforts with Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward combining her blistering pace and timing into a statline flex of five intercepts, three deflections and three rebounds.
Diamonds’ squad member Sophie Garbin struggled with her shots but Magpies goal shooter and match MVP Shimona Nelson steadied the ship as she’s done all season. Garbin was pulled early in the first quarter and spent the game riding the bench after a rough start that included two turnovers and two missed shots.
Of the change, Richardson said, “We changed our starting line up as we have done all year. I wasn’t sure what the would do to the mindset of Gabi and Sophie. Sophie had done nice job for us but I felt like we needed to inject Gabi.”
Gabi Sinclair proved an effective sub and helped Collingwood with a one-two punch, keeping the Lightning defence quiet. Kadie-Ann Dehaney struggled as the game went on, racking up 15 penalties and getting caught against Nelson who held her own beautifully under the post.
The Magpies penalty count blew out to 70 by game’s end with the midcourt and defensive end – at times – playing too quickly for their own good, turning the ball over with swing passes and tired lobs. However, the steely efforts from Sinclair and Nelson kept Collingwood’s wheels on track with the latter shooting 57 goals at a scorching 93.4%.
Overall, Collingwood utilised their opportunity beautifully, converting their four defensive rebounds and two intercepts at a much higher rate than Lighting could manage. Netball’s pocket rocket, Kelsey Browne, was again a wonderful facilitator for the Magpies midcourt with a grab-bag of 25 assists, 43 feeds and just one turnover.
The match played neck-and-neck until Collingwood put their foot down in the fourth, leading to panic mode for the Lightning as the clock ticked down. A common theme for the Sunshine Coast this season as they now play for pride, player development and a positive end to their season next week while Collingwood will hope for the chance to play finals for the first time since 2019.
Koenen 29/33 (88%)
Wood 26/36 (72%)
Batcheldor 1/4 (25%)
Nelson 57/61 (93%)
Sinclair 10/15 (97%)
Garbin 0/2 (0%)
MVP: Shimona Nelson (Magpies)
Tania Obst, Adelaide Thunderbirds Head Coach
On the closeness of the match and the disappointing finish
“I just think it shows the margins in the league and how ruthless you need to be and we’re not there yet. We got a lesson in that last quarter from the Vixens in how to play out a quarter. But for three quarters we were fantastic, and I commend the team on that but the last quarter was a bitter pill to swallow. I think we could’ve been more up honestly, I think we wasted a bit too much ball and we weren’t rewarding leads…making it more difficult than it had to be. We had some really fantastic passages of play for probably 50 minutes of the game and then really fell away at the end.”
On the reason for replacing Potgieter with Dwan in the final quarter
“To score goals… five goals in a quarter probably isn’t going to win you a quarter and I felt like we needed a little bit safer ball handling in [the attacking end] and bringing [Potgieter] off and removing the tall target perhaps means we needed to handle the ball a little bit more. But we weren’t putting the ball through the ring and that’s what wins the game. We probably didn’t play it as well as we would’ve liked but I felt like we had to put something out there because the tide was turning and we needed to somehow stop that and get back into the game.”
Simone McKinnis, Melbourne Vixens Head Coach
On how the game played out
“I always knew we were in the contest, we’d get ourselves into a tricky situation but bring ourselves back. That’s a sign that [the players] recognise the moments and can [push for more], but Thunderbirds were also playing very well. It was a really good experience too , it was a great venue and great crowd and that’s a really good experience to be having under pressure.”
“The last quarter was great for us, I was really impressed with the way we stood up and finished that game out but it was a tough, tough game…I’m really pleased with how we managed to find a way to get that win… there was poor execution and disappointing basic skills out there which was also due to the pressure that they were under so we need to tidy up a little bit but that gives us some things to work on. ”
On if the Netball Australia decision for the Grand Final venue affected their preparation
“No, not at all. But it was like ok [we talk about it] now we move on, it’s not in our control and we move on and do what we do and that’s play. We control how we play [and we want to play well]. I hope that we do [go to Perth], that’s the goal. We’ve got that major semi final [at home], but we want to be in Perth playing that grand final but there’s a fair bit of netball to go still before that so we can be happy with minor premiership and the win today but we want to be winning next week against magpies, that’s the next thing for us”
(Team. W. Pts. %)
Vixens 11 . 44 . 105.06%
Fever 9 . 36 . 108.64%
Giants 7 . 28 . 100.73%
Magpies 6 . 24 . 97.64%
Firebirds 5 . 20 . 100.69%
Thunderbirds 5 . 20 . 98.23%
Swifts 5 . 20 . 96.91%
Lightning 4 . 16 . 91.95%
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 11th June Giants v Lightning at 7pm
Sun 12th June Fever v Thunderbirds at 12 noon local time (2pm EST)
Sun 12th June Swifts v Firebirds at 4pm
Mon 13th June Magpies v Vixens at 1 pm