Contributors: Esther Nelson, Cara Gledhill, Andrew Kennedy, Jenny Sinclair, Katrina Nissen
Photographers: Danny Dalton, Kirsten Daley, Simon Leonard
Lightning 69 defeated Swifts 62 (19-15, 13-16, 19-17, 18-14)
Melbourne Vixens 53 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 47 (12-12, 16-12, 10-12, 15-11)
Collingwood Magpies 67 defeated Queensland Firebirds 59 (18-16, 19-15, 14-17, 16-11)
GIANTS Netball 74 defeated West Coast Fever 74 (21-17, 17-16, 17-25, 19-15)
This week, Donnell Wallam has become only the third Indigenous athlete to make the Diamonds squad. And, if she takes to the Commonwealth Games court, she will be the first Indigenous Diamond in 22 years, and the first at Commonwealth Games level in 32 years!
Her achievements will surely inspire the next generation of First Nations’ netballers to follow in her footsteps, with hopefully less time between debuts.
Chelsea Pitman is one of the surprise bonus pickups of the season and as a temporary replacement at wing attack for a half played a massive hand in the West Coast fightback to almost topple the GIANTS. In a rare moment of humour and candor, a relieved GIANTS head coach Julie Fitzgerald cut back for a moment on her legendary reserve. “I thought Lauren [Moore] did a good job when she came on to Chelsea, and it gave me a little time to see what Chelsea was up to…. Chelsea’s a great player! I thought she looked better in orange than green!”
There was an unusual stoush in the win of Lightning over Swifts between veteran Kate Walsh and rising star Sophie Fawns, including contact and ongoing niggles in the circle.
Walsh is renowned for her expertise in blocking shots, and some shooters have a flatter arc when lining up from two-point range, giving the Sunshine Coast defender more opportunity to intercept the ball. After two successful blocks, there was a clear coaching directive to the Swifts attackers to screen Walsh away from shots, and they started to back into the Lightning goal defence’s space to prevent her leaping.
There is plenty of debate over who contacted who, and it’s sure to be addressed in future matches.
Most goals 62/65 Jhaniele Fowler (Fever v GIANTS)
Most intercepts 3 Kate Walsh (Lightning v Swifts) & Kiera Austin (Vixens v Thunderbirds)
Most gains 10 Tara Hinchliffe (Lightning v Swifts) – 3 intercepts, 7 rebounds
Most feeds 57 Maddy Proud (Swifts v Lightning) – Including 34 assists
Most turnovers 6 Hannah Mundy (Vixens v Thunderbirds)
Lenize Potgieter (Thunderbirds) – knee niggle
Jacqui Newton (Magpies) – eye injury
April Brandley (Giants) – minor ankle injury suffered late in fourth quarter this round
Jamie-Lee Price (Giants) – minor knee hyperextension injury this round
Break out performance of the round
Reilley Batcheldor from the Lightning shooting four supershots in a row in the third quarter of the game against the Swifts. Batcheldor’s shooting secured the victory for the Lightning as the Swifts were unable to recover the deficit this created in the final quarter.
In the absence of Lenize Potgieter, training partner Lucy Austin got the start at goal shooter for the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Austin played 36 minutes of the match and proved an easy target for feeders, with a back hold similar to Potgieter. She was also accurate on the shot with 18/21 including 1/3 supershots.
Magpies elevated training partner Zoe Davies. The stats don’t reflect the amount of work Davies did in shutting down Gretel Bueta. She matched Bueta for pace and provided intense pressure over the feed, forcing Bueta into risky and rushed passes. Her work in transition was also accurate as she only had one turnover for the match.
Jemma Mi Mi (Firebirds) celebrated her 50th national league match.
Sunshine Coast Lighting 69 defeated NSW Swifts 62
By Esther Nelson
While overall this was a game where the defence for both sides showcased their skills, what it really demonstrated was how the Lightning used the supershot to decisively win a game.
This was always going to be a close game between the sides. The Swifts are still adjusting to a new shooter after the injury of Sam Wallace in Round 1, while Lightning, having found their form, were coming off a spectacular win over the Vixens in Round 5.
The Lightning defensive combination of goal defence Kate Walsh and goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe appears to be working well, with Hinchliffe finishing on 80.5 NNP including 7 rebounds, 3 intercepts and 6 deflections. In the first quarter Walsh caused two amazing rejects over the shot of Swifts GA Kelly Singleton. This seemed to spook Singleton, leading to three general play turnovers at the end of the first quarter. Sophie Fawns was then brought on at GS and Helen Housby moved to GA for the rest of the game. Despite the change the Swifts hesitated passing to Fawns at times, which meant a disjointed approach into the circle. Walsh had another successful rejection of shot on Fawns but she seemed to cope with this a bit better.
Three of the four defenders for both sides finished in the top 5 for NNP with Maddy Turner (number 2) on 86 NNP, Hinchliffe (number 3) on 80.5 NNP and Sarah Klau (number 4) on 70.5 NNP. This was not surprising as the centre pass to goal rate for both teams was low, particularly in the first two quarters, but the gain to goal rate was high for both teams.
Where the match was won and lost?
In the third quarter, just before the Power 5, the Lightning were down 38 to 41 to the Swifts. Lightning coach Kylee Byrne brought on GS Reilley Batcheldor who clearly was given a job to shoot super shots. Batcheldor did this with aplomb. She was unfazed by the Swifts defence and shot four super shots in a row, bringing the score at the end of that quarter to 51 to 48, Lightning’s way.
This strategy was something Lightning has shied away from in the previous rounds. Lightning has always had a great long range shooter in Steph Wood and with the addition of Batcheldor, they have the opportunity to really punish their opponents during the Power 5. Until this game, Lightning would generally rely on the super shot to play catch up, placing a lot of pressure on the shooters. By taking the initiative to utilise the super shot early and get ahead of their opponents it left the Swifts in chase mode to make up a large deficit in the last quarter. This pressure likely was the cause of Fawn and Housby both missing crucial super shots during the final Power 5, leaving the Swifts without enough time to catch the Lightning. Conversely in that same quarter the Lightning were left feeling confident, with Wood easily sinking her own super shot in the final minutes of the game for a decisive win.
Which players/combinations stood out?
In the Swifts defence, starting Sarah Klau in GD and Maddy Turner in GK seemed to work well with Klau monstering Wood for the first quarter. The positional change came in the second quarter with Klau returning to GK and Turner to GD. After this the Lightning shooters seemed able to effectively split the defenders, allowing Koenan to rely on her signature baseline drive with relative ease at times. It would have been interesting to see if bringing on Swifts defence player Teigan O’Shannassy could have had an impact.
There was also an interesting WA/WD battle going on between Maddy Proud from the Swifts and Mahalia Cassidy from the Lightning. The push and shove between the two both during play and sometimes when the ball moved further down the court became heated at times with Proud hitting the deck after one exchange. Although Proud finished first overall with 107.5 NNP, Cassidy’s tagging and niggling game managed to place a lot of pressure on Proud when taking the centre pass receive, which meant at times the Swifts had no option coming forward.
Sophie Fawns 20/24 (83%)
Helen Housby 26/31 (84%)
Reilley Batcheldor 4/4 (100%)
Steph Wood 7/8 (88%)
Cara Koenen 48/49 (98%)
MVP: Cara Koenen (Lightning)
Melbourne Vixens 53 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 47
By Cara Gledhill (as originally seen on Fox Netball)
The Melbourne Vixens are back on the winners list after posting a closely fought win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Melbourne’s ANZAC Commemorative Round.
Both sides had late outs, with Vixens co-captain and Diamonds squad member Kate Moloney ruled out under the COVID health and safety protocols and Thunderbirds shooter Lenize Potgieter rested with a knee complaint.
The Thunderbirds slumped to their fourth straight loss and now sit outside the all important top four.
In the absence of Potgieter, the Thunderbirds started with training partner Lucy Austin playing in her SSN debut. She looked strong in the first half of the game, providing an excellent holding target, but tired under relentless pressure from the Vixens’ defence. Coach Tania Obst swung the change to a shorter moving circle during the third quarter, with Tippah Dwan and Georgie Horjus combining.
The scoreline was tight throughout the game with the Vixens leading at almost every stage, but unable to press their advantage. In a low-scoring third quarter, the Thunderbirds were able to eat into the lead and threatened to draw even at multiple points during the final quarter. .
The Vixens maintained the same starting seven throughout the game with the only change a positional switch between Hannah Mundy and Liz Watson. The Thunderbirds rang the changes throughout with all of their players making an appearance, which appeared to unsettle them at times.
Inaugural Edith Hull medalist Liz Watson had a strong game at wing attack and then centre. She finished on 19 goal assists from 45 feeds and exhibited strong leadership on court in the absence of her co-captain.
Vixens’ shooter Kiera Austin was announced in the Diamonds squad during the week, but took some time to work into the match as she looks to cement a spot in the Commonwealth Games team. In an MVP performance, she finished with 13/20 goals at just 65%, but claimed three crucial intercepts to turn the tide in the Vixens’ favour.
The Thunderbirds defensive end struggled for impact all game, as the Vixens starved them of opportunities by using short, sharp passes in and around the circle. Goal keeper Shamera Sterling had an unusually quiet game finishing on just five gains (four in the final quarter) compared with her 12 gain haul in Round 5.
Both teams were highly penalised with the Thunderbirds finishing on 70 penalties across the court to the Vixens’ 60, which is something both teams will need to address.
With Liz Watson and Jo Weston all but locked into the final Commonwealth Games team, Kiera Austin continues to build a strong attacking relationship with Liz Watson, making a case for her selection. While she was slow to build into the game, she ended with the highest intercepts of anyone on court with three.
Both teams struggled with turnovers at key moments throughout the game. The Vixens missed several chances to put their foot down in the third quarter and allowed the Thunderbirds to come back into the game. While the Thunderbirds put in a much improved performance from Round 5, they still struggled with turnovers at key moments of the game including multiple occasions in the final quarter where they won the ball in defence, only to squander it at the other end of the court.
HONOURING THE ANZACS
The Melbourne Vixens awarded the Edith Hull Medal for the first time to Liz Watson, who best exemplified the ANZAC spirit in her performance. The medal is named for Edith Probyn Hull (1909-1995), who was a key figure in the development of netball (then called Women’s Basketball) in Victoria and Australia and was also a contributor to the Australian Women’s Land Army during World War II.
Mwai Kumwenda 38/42 (90%)
Kiera Austin 13/20 (65%)
Lucy Austin 18/21 (86%)
Tippah Dwan 15/20 (75%)
Georgie Horjus 11/14 (79%)
MVP: Kiera Austin (Vixens)
Collingwood Magpies 67 defeated Queensland Firebirds 59
By Katrina Nissen
The Collingwood Magpies have reignited their finals hopes after an inspiring eight goal win over the Queensland Firebirds.
The stunning upset by the bottom placed Pies comes despite having a less than impressive shooting accuracy of just 77%. Despite the loss, the Firebirds retain third spot on the ladder.
The Magpies were more settled with four of their key personnel returning to the side after missing the last two rounds under Covid protocols. From the first whistle, they played with an intensity that has often gone missing for them this season.
The Magpies defensive efforts against Gretel Bueta and Donnell Wallam were outstanding. Captain, Geva Mentor didn’t give Wallam an inch, bodying up hard and putting intense pressure over every shot. Her efforts rattled Wallam as she produced her lowest accuracy for the season (31/41 at 75.6%).
Two defenders stepped out against Gretel Bueta – Jodi-Ann Ward and Zoe Davies. Ward had a fantastic first quarter, collecting three rebounds. In the back hand of the match, Davies matched Bueta for speed and was generally menacing, putting feeds under pressure and confusing space.
Where was it won or lost?
The Firebirds shooting accuracy was down, which wouldn’t be a problem if they collected their own rebounds. However, in the first term, they missed 4 rebounding opportunities. By the end of the match, Bueta and Wallam had only collected 4 of a potential 13 rebounds.
Turnovers also caused problems for Firebirds, with them giving away 14 unforced errors.
The usually solid Kim Ravaillion was also a little quiet today. Perhaps it was the disappointment of missing out on Diamond’s selection because while the Firebirds captain was the leading feeder for her side, her defensive pressure was lacking and she lagged behind play more than usual.
Which combinations stood out?
Collingwood’s midcourt was outstanding today. They were fast, they were chatty and just generally up and about.
Ash Brazill produced one of her best games of the season, helping her case for a Commonwealth Games selection. She outpaced Firebirds dominant wing attack, Lara Dunkley and minimised her access to circle edge. Brazill’s defensive pressure produced clean wins for her side in the form of five gains, and she also delivered two goal assists from the mid third.
Brazill’s efforts saw Dunkley benched for the first time in three matches, making way for Jemma Mi Mi who celebrated her 50th national league cap when she entered the match in the 4th term.
Kelsey Browne in wing attack led the feeds with 53 for the game and she took more centre receives than any athlete on court.
Centre, and match MVP, Molly Jovic was also in everything, her second phase work was impressive as was her defence as she collected three pickups for the match.
Donnell Wallam 31/41 (75.6)
Gretel Bueta 24/27 (88.9)
Shimona Nelson 54/65 (83.1%)
Sophie Garbin 11/18 (61%)
Gabi Sinclair 2/4 (50%)
MVP: Molly Jovic (Magpies)
GIANTS Netball 74 defeated West Coast Fever 73
By Drew Kennedy
In one of the loudest and most riveting finishes to a fixture in Super Netball history, victory was in the grasp of both teams during the final quarter. Both teams had punished their opposition by at least 15 goals in round five, and they knew this matchup would be a sterner task. Momentum swung regularly, making onlookers too confident of the final result, before another radical change in tactics and intensity would push it the other direction.
Statistics could tell us nothing about the winner, as instead it was passion and fortitude that uplifted the GIANTS in the last few minutes, while a COVID-depleted Fever were left to dissect another extremely tough and narrow loss to last year’s grand finalists and relinquish top of the ladder, as the Sydneysiders rejoined the top four.
GIANTS’ form and belief was back, especially the electrifying connection and confidence of their shooters, managing a total of 92%, with Sophie Dwyer on 5/6 supershots. MVP and captain Jo Harten reduced her assistance down court, cutting turnovers by more than 70%, and picking her battles. Her judgement as when to hold off and when to drop away from Courtney Bruce was exceptional. This allowed Dwyer to show a new level of maturity in taking authority in the front space, or sizzling along the baseline to get exquisite passes from Jamie-Lee Price. Coach Julie Fitzgerald was clearly proud of her young goal attack’s efforts. “Sophie’s growing in confidence with every game, and she’s really taking the defence on. She’s always had that ability, but sometimes she’s doubted herself. Now I think she’s really pushing through.”
In their turn, Price and Maddie Hay had great assuredness and vision in choosing their passes, watching for when Bruce was too committed to space marking, or the one-handed grab of Harten, or when to zing the ball to the opposite pocket. Price built her great form from last week, taking advantage of holes across the transverse line to dominate second phase receives, and also goal assists with 25 for the game.
Hay was often targeted by the visitors, but quickly adapted, especially varying her centre pass and the intuitive timing of her dodges. Diamond’s goal keeper Bruce averages over eight gains per match – the hosts nullified her impact in round six, with a total of only three. Price reflected post-match, “Courtney’s such a strong and key player, and she’s a confidence player, so the more ball you give her, the more she’ll fly at the ball. As much as we can keep her away and isolate her from getting those flashy intercepts, the more we can score those goals. It’s very important for us to play it short and keep her out of that game.”
There were several good midcourt coaching adjustments by Dan Ryan. Firstly, he identified that both Emma Cosh and Stacey Francis-Bayman weren’t even close to winning their positions on the wings. Cosh was replaced, and Francis-Bayman was given directions to mark much harder on first and second phases, with some effect. The tactic of collecting all GIANTS in the middle on the centre pass momentarily confused their structures. And also, a brief switch of Sunday Aryang to wing defence, using her space marking and long reach, and driving Hay further to the sidelines, is an option that shows promise.
Where the match was won and lost?
The match wasn’t over before it started, but the rearrangement of Fever at short notice due to Sasha Glasgow’s and Jess Anstiss’ absence from the starting line created dilemmas. Unfortunately, Cosh struggled in wing attack, leading too early especially on the centre pass, then barely available for second phase. She was also trying too hard to release the ball quickly to Fowler, without taking in all her options, as she topped with team with four turnovers in only 30 minutes.
Fever relied on the outstanding statistics of Jhaniele Fowler, with 62/63 1-point goals. Alice Teague-Neeld only hit 1/2, but with 5/8 supershots, she definitely could have employed them more instead of passing off. What really stung was a basic umpiring error in the final minutes, where April Brandley moved blatantly early from a penalty and it was not reset as a supershot attempt. That long-range goal could have altered the momentum and the tactics for the rest of the quarter.
With the lead changing three times in the final quarter and Fever sinking a supershot with 5 seconds remaining, it was the hunger of the GIANTS and the rampantly roaring crowd that made the difference. The hosts seemed to find the extra few centimetres which made fifty-fifty decisions and loose balls fall their way. This carried across into the confidence of the shooters who smashed 18/18 in the final quarter compared to West Coast’s 14/18. “I think it’s showing a level of maturity, we know we CAN do it,” said Fitzgerald, “so we maintain our composure in those pressure moments. I think it’s a big win from us, not only in points, but what we’ve learnt tonight.”
Which players/combinations stood out?
Chelsea Pitman came on as a temporary replacement player for Glasgow and completely revolutionised the attacking play for the visitors. Her value is not measured just in big game experience, but fundamentally a different tempo. Her strength and angles down the court made Amy Parmenter nearly disappear from the game, and her total control of how to time a pass and immediately get around her defender was a key factor in almost giving Fever an amazing win from behind.
Most importantly she gave away no turnovers, was hot on defence, and allowed Verity Simmons to relax in centre and fit in where she was needed, focusing more on closing down Price.
Jo Harten 33/36 (92%)
Sophie Dwyer 34/37 (92%)
West Coast Fever
Jhaniele Fowler 62/64 (97%)
Alice Teague-Neeld 5/9 (56%)
MVP: Jo Harten (GIANTS)
Chris Voge – Assistant coach, Lightning: Reflecting on Lightning GD Kate Walsh’s performance in the game against Swifts shooters Kelly Singleton and Helen Housby.
“I think for us it was a tagging game. So against Kelly (Singleton), Walsh used her presence to stamp her authority early on in the quarter and I think she did that well. Helen (Housby) is a different kettle of fish. You can’t scare Helen as easily…and (Walsh) just had to tag and tag and tag and do the grind out there.”
Jamie-Lee Price – On the drop in performance in some recent games and the fightback in the final quarter of round six against Fever.
“We had a drop or a lull in those three games in a week and we all were very disappointed. It was just going back to basics and enjoying our netball again, and that’s really shown in these last two games – we’ve just been playing with heart and giving energy and celebrating the little things.
In that third quarter, I felt the lungs and the brain fades a bit, so I’m coming back [from COVID] slowly and feeling a bit back to normal each game. Fever were a bit smarter and wanted the ball more than us, and they were driving harder to the ball. So in that fourth quarter, it was WE WANT THIS, we’ve worked bloody hard for it! Let’s bring back the energy and that really showed, we tightened up on defence as well.”
- Melbourne Vixens. 6. 20. 106.88%
- West Coast Fever. 6. 16. 113.27%
- Queensland Firebirds. 6. 12. 107.96%
- GIANTS Netball. 6. 12. 94.75%
- Sunshine Coast Lightning. 6. 12. 91.2%
- Adelaide Thunderbirds. 6. 8. 99.67%
- NSW Swifts. 6. 8. 94.49%
- Collingwood Magpies. 6. 8. 92.71%
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
Saturday 5pm Queensland Firebirds v NSW Swifts
Saturday 6.30pm Adelaide Thunderbirds v West Coast Fever (7pm AEST)
Sunday 2pm Sunshine Coast Lightning v GIANTS Netball
Sunday 4pm Melbourne Vixens v Collingwood Magpies