Cover image: Shaun Sharp/Moments by Shaun
Contributors: Ian Harkin, Katrina Nissen, Tash Rudd, Georgia Doyle, Esther Nelson, Jenny Sinclair,
Photographers: Danny Dalton, Shaun Sharp, Simon Leonard, May Bailey
Queensland Firebirds 73 def Collingwood Magpies 67 (15-15, 20-22, 19-12, 19-18)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 54 def GIANTS Netball 50 (18-13, 13-15, 9-13, 14-9)
Melbourne Vixens 74 def West Coast Fever 73 (18-16, 19-19, 16-19, 21-19)
NSW Swifts 67 def Sunshine Coast Lightning 63 (15-17, 20-17, 18-15, 14-14)
Suncorp Super Netball held its inaugural Inclusion Round, designed to celebrate diversity and inclusion. Pride was a common theme for clubs, while the Thunderbirds celebrated multiculturalism, and the Vixens and Fever championed three communities including LGBTIQ+, CaLD (cultural and linguistic diversity) and people living with disabilities. From Tshirts and bibs, to hair styles and seat covers, clubs represented their chosen communities with pride.
Our condolences go to Lightning’s Charlie Bell, who lost her father midweek. Charlie remained behind in Queensland with her family, and both the Lightning and the Swifts wore black armbands in a sign of respect.
English national coach Jess Thirlby has been busy out in Australia. As well as casting an eye over the form of her own players, she’s undoubtedly been casing the Diamonds. Thirlby and Tracey Neville also made a presentation to the internationally retiring Jo Harten, on behalf of the Roses and netball fans everywhere.
There are still six rounds to go but it looks as if the final four is almost settled. While not impossible for one of the bottom four teams to make the playoffs, it’s going to be extremely difficult.
In round eight, GIANTS Netball lost, leaving them on 8 points, while Queensland Firebirds defeated Collingwood Magpies, meaning both of those teams are also on 8 points. Sunshine Coast Lightning also lost, leaving them on 12 points. There is now an 8 point gap between those bottom four teams and the top four.
Melbourne Vixens played in their fourth one-goal thriller of the year, when they defeated West Coast Fever 74-73. That kept Vixens in the top four and it means that Adelaide Thunderbirds have taken over top spot on the ladder from Fever after their defeat of GIANTS.
Fever have lost two games this season, both by just one goal, and both from super shots in the dying seconds. In the last game of the round, NSW Swifts cemented their spot in the top four with their win over Lightning.
Magpies players Kelsey Browne and Jodi-Ann Ward celebrated milestones. Browne played her 100th national game and Ward played her 50th SSN game.
Melbourne Vixens co – captain Kate Moloney celebrated her 150th national league game.
Most goals – 65/68 Donnell Wallam (Firebirds v Magpies)
Most supershots – 9/11 Steph Wood (Swifts v Lightning)
Most intercepts – 3 Lauren Moore (GIANTS v Thunderbirds)
Most deflections – 11 Kadie-Ann Dehaney (Swifts v Lightning)
Most goal assists – 29 Alice Teague-Neeld (Vixens v Fever)
Most feeds – 44 Liz Watson (Vixens v Fever) & Maddy Proud (Swifts v Lightning)
Most gains – 8 Shamera Sterling (GIANTS v Thunderbirds)
Most turnovers – 7 Sophie Garbin (Firebirds v Magpies)
Most penalties – 26 Courtney Bruce (Vixens v Fever)
It was confirmed that Shannon Eagland (SCL) ruptured her ACL last week, and will require surgery ahead of a long period of rehabilitation. It was terrible luck for Eagland, who had only recently been called into Lightning as injury replacement cover, and who did her other ACL back in 2017.
After a heavy collision with Liv Lewis last week, Macy Gardner (Firebirds) has fractured her arm. The injury will take at least six weeks to heal, effective ruling her out for the rest of the season.
Allie Smith (Swifts) missed Round 7 with a foot injury.
Mahalia Cassidy (Lightning) went off with a head knock, and after passing concussion protocols returned to the court.
Break out performance of the round
Following Lightning’s horror run with injury this season, Ava Black was called into the match day 10 as a replacement for Shannon Eagland. She came into wing defence when Mahalia Cassidy was forced from the court after a nasty looking collision with teammate Kadie-Ann Dehaney. Black had a big job, coming up against Diamonds mid-courter Paige Hadley but she had a solid impact. She played just over half a game, came up with one intercept, one deflection and didn’t give away a single turnover
FIREBIRDS 73 def MAGPIES 67
By Esther Nelson
In their third annual Pride match the Firebirds hosted the Collingwood side at Nissan Arena. It was hard not to be immensely proud of both teams, who have been leaders in this space, and encouraged the league to follow suit with their first ever Inclusion Round.
The game also marked milestones for Magpies Kelsey Browne and Jodi-Ann Ward. With her parents courtside, Browne was playing her 100th national league match. For the Jamaican international it marked her 50th SSN appearance.
Both sides were desperate for a win as Diamonds coach, Stacey Marinkovich, watched on. With just over a week since the Diamonds World Cup squad was named, Sophie Garbin, Ash Brazill, Donnell Wallam and Ruby Bakewell-Doran were under pressure to perform. No doubt the other players on court eligible for selection were keen to impress knowing that a further three players can be elevated to the squad based on performance.
Where was the match won and lost?
With shades of last week’s game, the Magpies started the game down by five goals in the first few minutes. Fortunately for Collingwood they managed to fight back to 15 goals apiece by the end of the first quarter. Overall the game was relatively even for the first half with supershots on both sides.
Coming into the second half with a change up in the midcourt, the team in purple were too strong for the Pies. Garbin’s missed supershot opportunity on the third quarter buzzer was yet another example of where the Victorian team were unable to capitalise on opportunities to bring themselves back into the game.
The home side won the third quarter by seven goals leaving the Pies in a desperate but ultimately unsuccessful fight in the final quarter to win back ball. But it was not to be. After a blistering game against the Thunderbirds last round, the Victorian team’s defensive end were relatively quiet with only five gains and one intercept for the whole game. Watching the last hard won gain from co-captain, Geva Mentor, being squandered was frustrating.
With fans crying out for the move all season, Garbin was finally moved into goal shooter and Kelly SIngleton came on at goal attack in the last power five of the game. Coach Nicole Richardson gave specific instructions to Singleton to keep going for the supershot. It was too little too late as Singleton failed to nail two of her supershots and her lack of concentration meant she fumbled the ball when Garbin did as instructed and passed off to her. These missed opportunities to score robbed the black and white team of any chance of winning.
There has been a lot of speculation over Garbin’s form in goal attack this season. As co-captain Brazill told Fox Sports in the warm up interview, the attacking end’s issues did not solely lie with Garbin as she’s often been in a position with no one to pass to. This was evident in a number of plays in the third quarter where Garbin took the centre pass receive but struggled to find depth on the second pass receive. After seeing Garbin’s stellar form in more recent Diamonds outings she clearly has the ability to seal wins for her side. As a confidence player, the external commentary and pressure cannot be helping Garbin achieve her potential for the Pies and may even impact her Diamonds selection.
Which players/combinations stood out?
Captain of the Tonga National team, Hulita Veve, was outstanding as Firebirds centre in the second half of the game. Veve returned to the side after a seven year absence, to replace an injured Macy Gardner. The midcourt player’s calmness during play allowed the home side to put pressure on their opponents.
MVP of the match, Emily Moore played her first full game of goal attack for the Firebirds, finishing with 84.5 NNP and 19 goal assists and 22 feeds. Moore played a supportive role to the unstoppable Wallam but shot crucial goals when needed. Wallam played with her now-trademark flair as Gretel Bueta watched on with a smile. The goal shooter’s impeccable form this season should definitely turn the heads of Diamonds’ selectors.
The mid-court of the home team was also impressive. Wing attack Lara Dunkley finished with 101.5 NNP. Kim Ravillion moved into wing defence and was able to match the speed of Browne.
For the Magpies, Shimona Nelson finished the game with 105 NNP, despite being on the bench during the last power five of the game.
Overall it was a disappointing outing for the Pies, who have more experience than their Queensland opponents. Coach Richardson gave her team clear instruction during the breaks and timeouts but her players were unable to execute them cohesively. The Firebirds’ second win of the season showed coach Bec Bulley that her young team is finally starting to gel.
Donnell Wallam 65/68 (96%)
Emily Moore 6/9 (67%)
Shimona Nelson 56/58 (97%)
Sophie Garbin 4/8 (50%)
Kelly Singleton 2/4 (50%)
MVP – Emily Moore
THUNDERBIRDS 54 def GIANTS 50
By Tash Rudd
One might describe the game as scrappy whilst others might say that was a game played with pure pressure! In a match that seemed to have more back and forths than any other this season, GIANTS and Thunderbirds fought tirelessly till the end! GIANTS, who are on just two wins in 2023, took it to the top of the table Thunderbirds for the whole 60 minutes, forcing them to grind out a four goal win.
Tiring of her side’s poor showing, Thunderbirds’ coach Tania Obst finally blasted her players half way through the 3rd quarter. In a timeout she said, “You all look like you don’t want to be here, get in the game!”
The tough love seemed to pay off positively as the Thunderbirds actually came back out with some grit and determination to push on!
The Giants defensive end put so much pressure on the Thunderbirds feeders that they were continuously over-cooking the pass into goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell. Lauren Moore worked hard to confuse the space, using her footwork to move around the body, allowing her to get up in the air and contest. This work from Moore made it hard for the feeders to see where the space was to pass into Cardwell, meaning the placement was poor and Cardwell was under immense pressure often ending up out of court or flicking a hail mary ball back into court.
There were errors and gains throughout the match but it was ultimately the Thunderbirds ability to remain calm in the last five minutes of the game that secured the win. In the defensive end in particular Shamera Sterling took two crucial defensive rebounds, saying post match, “I took those rebounds with my life”.
Over the last couple of matches Thunderbirds coach Obst has used her captain Hannah Petty as an impact player towards the end of the game. Young centre Tayla Williams, who was up against the strength of Diamonds mid-courter Jamie-Lee Price, was doing a great job but the injection of fresh legs and a calm head for the last quarter really helped to control the transition play for the Thunderbirds. Petty was also able to take a crucial intercept in the dying minutes.
Where the match was won and lost?
The match was evenly balanced throughout the 60 minutes. Both teams won two quarters as the lead changed hands multiple times. It all came down to the last five minutes. Sterling had started a little bit flat, but as she slowly built into the match, she was completely in the head of GIANTS’ star goal attack Sophie Dwyer. Sterling had a few rejections on the shot during the previous super shot periods and by the fourth quarter Dwyer was hesitant, looking to fake the shot or offload to Jo Harten, leading to a held ball and some big misses. Harten was doing all she could to step up, but unfortunately two attempts went in and out of the ring.
Which players/combinations stood out?
Sterling had a quiet start to the game but when it counted she showed up, particularly with the last two rebounds. The interchange of captain Petty coming on at the right time was a good call by coach Obst, as she brought fresh legs and a clear head into the centre role.
Moore and Maddie Hay had solid games for the Giants. Moore played out her first 60 minutes in orange, forcing bad feeds and getting up for three intercepts and two deflections.
Hay was able to keep Latanya Wilson quiet, with only one intercept and two deflections, a quiet performance considering what she has done against current and former Diamond wing attacks in the last few rounds.
Harten left it all out on the court as she always does, she wanted the ball in her hands, desperate to get her side over the line. You can’t fault a player who doesn’t shy away from a challenge and those tough moments.
A tribute to a champion
Post match, Jo Harten was acknowledged for her recent retirement from international netball with the English Roses. In a presentation for her contribution, achievements and paving the way for the next generation, Harten was presented with flowers and a gift from current and former Roses coaches Jess Thirlby and Tracey Neville. It was the perfect opportunity with Thirlby in Australia visiting her current squad members, and Commonwealth Gold medal coach Neville at the match with Thunderbirds. A special moment for a special player who brought so much to the Roses and helped to create history by shooting the winning goal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games semi final match that set them up for their history making Gold Medal win.
Jo Harten 25/35 (71%)
Sophie Dwyer 20/30 (67%)
Eleanor Cardwell 29/33 (88%)
Lucy Austin 13/17 (77%)
Tippah Dwan 8/11 (73%)
MVP – Georgie Horjus
VIXENS 74 def FEVER 73
By Georgia Doyle
(Originally published for Fox Netball)
The Melbourne Vixens took sweet revenge with their victory over West Coast Fever during Super Netball’s inaugural Inclusion Round. They took a one goal victory after the buzzer, courtesy of a super shot from MVP Kiera Austin. It was a fitting celebration for co-captain Kate Moloney who celebrated her 150th match in the navy dress.
After missing last week’s game with injury, Vixens wing defence Kate Eddy made her presence felt from the first whistle. She drew first blood, picking the pocket of Verity Simmons and from there Vixens stormed out to a five goal lead.
Eddy continued to wreak havoc, reeling in two intercepts and three deflections, with her impressive wingspan also restricting Alice Teague-Neeld’s vision to the circle,
Fever coach Dan Ryan recognised the intensity and pressure on the game. Where he would usually encourage his team to attack the two point shot, during a second quarter time out he instead told sharp shooter Sasha Glasgow “You don’t need heroics. We just need to stay in touch”.
And stay in touch they did, with three successful super shots to head into the main break trailing by just two goals.
Feeling the effects of playing their last four out of five games on the road, Fever were visibly fatigued. In attack, leads towards the ball were sparse, while in defence everyone seemed to be in chase mode. As a result they were highly whistled, with 60 penalties compared to 45 from Vixens.
Vixen’s head coach Simone McKinnis was impressed with her side’s ability to maintain defensive pressure and composure as Fever mounted their comeback.
“Our defensive pressure across the whole game was brilliant, we got some good balls and we were close to 100% on our centre pass conversion in the last quarter. There were super shots being sunk against us left, right and centre which is hard, it’s important you don’t let them get into our head” she said after the game.
Contentious umpiring calls had the score locked at 66 heading into the final super shot period. Fever were flustered and made uncharacteristic errors, giving Vixens a narrow lead. Fowler came to the rescue nailing two super shots to give them a one goal lead.
But a final penalty from Bruce in the super shot zone gave Vixens an opportunity, and Austin capitalised, nailing the shot and solidifying Vixens in the top four.
It was business as usual for Jhaniele Fowler, unperturbed by the elevation and aerial prowess of Liv Lewis, as she scored 50/52 and reeled in six vital rebounds.
IMPORTANCE OF INCLUSION
As part of the league’s inaugural Inclusion Round, both teams highlighted three inclusive initiatives under the heading “Everyone Belongs”. This focused on LGBTQIA+ folk, people with a disability and those who are culturally and linguistically diverse and showing how they are welcomed and valued within the netball community.
Vixens co-captain Kate Moloney played her 150th domestic match in their victory against Fever. She debuted for the club in 2013, taking over captaincy in 2017. In this time she has won two premierships, two Sharelle McMahon Medals for Vixens MVP and notched up 25 test appearances for the Australian Diamonds, including a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
COMING UP ROSES
Fever sharp shooter Sasha Glasgow was a notable omission from Stacey Marinkovich’s Australian squad, opening the door for her to be selected for the England Roses, courtesy of her parentage. With the recent announcement of Jo Harten’s retirement, her strong performance with 13 goals and 17 feeds will no doubt have her on the radar of the Roses selectors.
Mwai Kumwenda 47/52 (90%)
Kiera Austin 24/33 (73%)
Jhaniele Fowler 50/52 (96%)
Sasha Glasgow 13/19 (68%)
MVP – Kiera Austin
SWIFTS 67 def LIGHTNING 63
By Jenny Sinclair
(originally published for Newswire)
NSW Swifts’ coach Briony Akle endured the agonies of yet another close game, as her side edged out Sunshine Coast Lightning by just four points. The Swifts have made a habit of winning ugly this Super Netball season, with their other victories coming by three points or less.
Co-captain Maddy Proud acknowledged how difficult the tight matches are for her coach. Shortly before the match, she joked, “We are causing her a little bit of pain!”
Despite the narrow margins, Swifts have now won four games in a row and cemented third place on the ladder. Speaking after the match, shooter Helen Housby explained that the string of tight games have been hard work.
She said, “More than anything it takes it out of your legs, but it’s given us a lot of confidence in our belief to win.”
An undermanned Lightning placed Swifts under pressure from the start, pouncing on any loose balls in defence. However, in their eagerness to get to the ball, Mahalia Cassidy became a victim of friendly fire. She looked dazed on the sidelines as the medical team assessed her for concussion, but was able to return to play in the second half.
With the worst defensive record in the league, the Swifts defenders needed to impact Lightning’s all-Australian shooting circle. Struggling initially, they made a crucial player switch in the second quarter.
Eventual MVP Sarah Klau moved out to goal defence, while Maddy Turner took over her bib at goal keeper. The long arms of Klau worked wonders in limiting Wood’s vision into the circle, turning a deficit into a narrow one goal lead by half time.
In a bid to add further height, Teigan O’Shannassy came on at goal keeper shortly after play resumed. Standing at 188 centimetres tall, she kept Cara Koenen to just six goals in the third term as the Swifts built their lead.
Frustration crept into Lightning’s game, with Steph Wood rolling her eyes at a number of calls. However, coach Belinda Reynolds was having none of her team’s grumbles, calling on players to have a crack at the ball rather than throwing their hands in the air.
With both teams laying down plenty of two-pointers, the final quarter came down to a shootout. Housby ended up with seven in a 22 goal haul, while at the other end Wood scored nine, out of a total of 15.
Maddy Proud had a monster game, directing traffic in the middle and recording 44 feeds and even chiming in for an intercept.
While Akle was happy to take the win, she said there’s lots to work on before meeting Fever next week.
“We are building every week. To build a premiership takes time.”
During their inaugural Pride match, both teams wore black armbands in support of Charlie Bell, whose father passed away during the week. Lightning were also missing Shannon Eagland, who ruptured her ACL last week.
THIRD TIME (UN)LUCKY
It was confirmed midweek that Shannon Eagland’s knee injury, sustained during Round 7, was a ruptured ACL that will require surgery. It’s the third injury of its kind for the embattled club this season, leaving many of their players traumatised and in tears. Eagland ruptured her other ACL in 2017.
The Swifts have the worst defensive efficiency in Super Netball, by some margin. However, they are sandwiched inside the top four through sheer attacking brilliance. The Swifts score off their own centre pass more than any other team, bar Fever, at a 77 per cent success rate.
Aiken-George 38/49 (78%)
Housby 22/25 (88%)
Koenen 38/44 (86%)
Wood 15/19 (79%)
MVP – Sarah Klau
(Team . Pts . %)
Thunderbirds . 26 . 114.5%
Fever . 24 . 109.5%
Swifts . 22 . 98.6%
Vixens . 20 . 102.0%
Lightning . 12 . 99.6%
GIANTS . 8 . 95.2%
Firebirds . 8 . 92.7%
Magpies . 8 . 91.8%
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, May 13 – 5:00pm – Thunderbirds v Firebirds (4:30pm local time)
Sat, May 13 – 7:00pm – Fever v Swifts (5pm local time)
Sun, May 14 – 2:00pm – Lightning v Vixens
Sun, May 14 – 4:00pm – Magpies v GIANTS