NS Scoreboard: SSN Round 3, 2024

NS Scoreboard: SSN Round 3, 2024

Writers: Ian Harkin, Georgia Doyle, Jenny Sinclair

Photographers: Shaun Sharp, Simon Leonard, May Bailey, Kylie/CBK Photography 

Cover Image: Kylie/CBK Photography



Adelaide Thunderbirds 60 def Sunshine Coast Lightning 56 (after extra time)
West Coast Fever 69 def Melbourne Mavericks 62
NSW Swifts 77 def Queensland Firebirds 73 (after extra time)
Melbourne Vixens 63 def GIANTS Netball 44




Helen Housby – 100 national league caps
Lily Graham – SSN Debut


Helen Housby’s flying pony tail has become as much of a signature as has her two point prowess. Image Simon Leonard.




Jodi-Ann Ward left the court in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter after rolling her ankle after landing on an opposition’s foot. She didn’t return to the court. 




News of the Week

There were once again some heavy hits dished out across the weekend, yet no player has been issued with a warning, much less a suspension. And yet with both the English and New Zealand national leagues experiencing a number of them, there once again seems to be quite a difference in how World Netball’s rules are interpreted. 


Maddy Proud sent Macy Gardner heavily to the floor with a late charge, but escaped sanction. Image Simon Leonard.


Lest We Forget. ANZAC Day may have fallen on a Thursday this year, but clubs remembered those who served, and continue to serve, Australia and New Zealand. 

Mavericks have been quick to show their support for significant issues, donning orange to raise awareness of family violence, which impacts one in four Australian women. The Mavericks joined forces with Lumo Energy and Respect Victoria to make a strong statement about what has tragically become an epidemic.


In the lead up to round three, a new initiative was announced by Suncorp Super Netball. The Super Netball Reserves is a new pathway program, developed after consultation with member organisations and SSN teams, and with the support of the Australian Netball Players’ association. It will run over five weeks from June 1 to July 7 and feature teams from seven of the eight SSN clubs. Melbourne Mavericks expressed interest, but understandably, they won’t take part this year as they are busy putting all their efforts into their inaugural SSN season. 

Super Netball Reserves will be open to fans and some of the games will follow SSN matches. It will feature athletes currently in or on the cusp of playing SSN, including training partners and state league players. The series will be a way for those players as well as umpires, coaches, and support staff to all gain further experience at a high level. This year’s matches will be a trial program as Netball Australia continues to look at ways to provide more pathway opportunities in future years.

Another initiative in Suncorp Super Netball this year is the ability for teams to sign an 11th player who can be added to the contracted 10 and be substituted into the match day team for tactical reasons and not just in case of injury. This week, two more such signings were announced; shooter Grace Whyte to NSW Swifts and midcourter Maddie Hinchliffe to Sunshine Coast Lightning. They join Ali Miller (Firebirds), Emily Andrew (Vixens), Shimona Jok (Mavericks), Tyler Orr (Thunderbirds), and Ruth Aryang (Fever) as nominated 11th players. 

Some may not have noticed, but there has been a change to extra time rules this year, and we had two extra time games in round three to show how they work. In last year’s competition, there was just one five minute period of extra time, and the teams simply carried on in the same direction that they were going in quarter four. This year, there are two five minute periods, which means the teams get the chance to go in both directions and be under the control of both umpires.


Fever assistant coach Sara Francis-Bayman has wasted little time whipping her new look defensive line into gear. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun



The rookies

Matisse Letherbarrow got her first minutes for the 2024 season, as the GIANTS fought an uphill battle against the Melbourne Vixens. While she’s been a contracted player since 2022, courtesy of Julie Fitzgerald’s frugal rotation policy, she hasn’t seen much court time with the exception of when Jo Harten was battling her knee injury in 2023. Despite only scoring six goals in the first quarter, it took until halfway through the second quarter, when they were down by 18, for her to enter the court. From the time she stepped on court, Giants looked a better team as there was more natural movement in the goal circle and more accurate shooting. Letherbarrow finished with 20/22 regular shots, and 6/12 super shots. And in the second half they only went down 30-32 compared to the first half 14-31.

Vixens’ youngster Zara Walters started her third straight game in the match against Giants. She performed creditably with five assists, 18 feeds, seven centre-pass receives, and two pickups. However, Hannah Mundy returned from injury and took over at half time. It will be interesting to see how much court time Walters receives in the coming weeks now that Mundy is back.  


Matisse Letherbarrow made a strong difference for the GIANTS when she was on court. May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography



The shooting circle

Halfway through the final quarter of Fever’s match against Mavericks, Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard brought up the incredible tally of 8,000 career goals at this level. Once again, she was the star for her team as she held her nerve in what was a scrappy match. Receiving her second MVP in three rounds, Fowler-Nembhard seems to have gone up a gear, courtesy of a full pre-season in Perth and her partnership with Jamaican teammate Shanice Beckford. And if her recent two-point shooting is any indication, she’s also added this to her toolbox, making her ever more dangerous under the post. She has now scored 183 goals from 186 attempts this season at 98.4%.

Matters have been badly awry at the start of 2024 for the Giants, and their Round 3 loss was perhaps their shooting end’s worst performance. Up until the introduction of Matisse Letherbarrow midway through the second quarter, the Giants shooting circle had scored just 7 goals. While Sophie Dwyer was shifted out to wing attack after shooting 3/5, Jo Harten’s contribution at goal shooter and goal attack was an unfortunate 7/12. Letherbarrow, who hit the court for the first time this season, returned 26/34 in her 2 ½ quarters, with six of the misses being long attempts at supershots. 


The frustration shows on Jo Harten and Matisse Letherbarrow’s faces. May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography



The midcourt

Our attention turns to some of the most underrated midcourters in the competition, who go quietly about doing their job week in, week out. Most of them are wing defences, whose brilliance is rarely reflected on the Nissen Netpoints table. 

Tongan captain Hulita Veve (Firebirds) starred this week against the Swifts, and could easily have been given MVP in a losing side. Veve contributed 2 gains and 1 pick up, as opposition coach Briony Akle tried both Maddy Proud and Lili Gorman-Brown against her. Veve forced the pair into 5 turnovers. 

Tayla Williams was also a standout for the Thunderbirds, contributing 39 feeds at centre, for one gain and five turnovers. The youngster is turning into one of her side’s most consistent contributors, and should be in with a shot at making the Diamonds in the years to come. 

Jess Anstiss doesn’t always have the speccy stats but quietly goes about keeping her opponent quiet. Captaincy of the Fever seems to suit Anstiss – she did another sterling job on Australian captain Liz Watson last week, and this week was used against Tayla Fraser and Maisie Nankivell to good effect. Anstiss finished her game with 2 gains and 2 pick ups. 

Kate Eddy is perhaps unlucky not to be a member of the Diamonds wider squad, as she’s shown her class at wing defence for a few years now. In todays game she was matched against Chelsea Pitman and Sophie Dwyer, holding them to a combined 20 feeds (10 of which were in the last quarter) and forcing them into 7 turnovers. Eddy finished with 2 gains and 3 pickups. 


Hulita Veve putting the brakes on Paige Hadley. Image Kylie/CBK Photography


Fever captain Jess Anstiss always puts her body on the line for her club. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun


Kate Eddy consistently does her job week in, week out. May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography



The defenders

Once again, the defence of Thunderbirds played a crucial role. Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, Matilda Garrett, and Latanya Wilson combined for another 16 possession gains, bringing the total of these three players to an astonishing 55 gains in just three rounds of netball. In Round three, Lightning began with the less experienced Reilley Batcheldor at goal attack instead of Steph Fretwell. The Shammy-Tilly-Latty combo poured on the pressure, and by quarter time, that resulted in a score line of 17-6 in their favour. When Fretwell entered the game to team up with Cara Koenen, that made things tougher for the defence, but they still had their wins throughout the game. As she has done previously, Wilson put Liz Watson off her game, resulting in seven turnovers from the Australian captain.

Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran are becoming a powerhouse defensive duo. As one of only two defensive circles without significant international experience they have proven their strength against some of the league’s strongest shooting combinations this year. This week, against the NSW Swifts they combined for 11 gains, 11 deflections and three rebounds. Their pre-existing combination from state league has continued to grow, with Bec Bulley’s defensive prowess rubbing off on the pair. Bakewell-Doran kept Helen Housby particularly quiet in the first half, forcing her to the bench for a spell to re-evaluate her play. As one of only two defensive circles without significant international experience, it’s a remarkable achievement. 


Remi Kamo gets airborne, while Sophie Fawns can only watch on. Image Kylie/CBK Photography




The tactics of teams during the Power Five, when the super shot is in play, have really come into focus this season. In close matches, teams that are leading in the final minutes, have generally been happy to ‘take the one’ and slow things down while the chasing team goes for the super shot to close the gap. It’s nerve racking for fans of both teams as there are risks associated with both methods. In Brisbane, Firebirds held the lead over Swifts who were closing the gap thanks to use of the super shot. They then tried to play keepings off to eat up the clock and deny Swifts the last possession. They managed to do that for well over a minute, but unfortunately, it eventually came unstuck and Swifts equalised with just seconds to go, sending the game to extra time where they prevailed. 

Mavericks’ coach Tracey Neville made a surprise move in their game against Fever. Shimona Jok started the match at goal shooter and began well, but during the second quarter, she was struggling to make an impact, and she was replaced. It was just a short time later that she was moved all the way to the other end of the court to play goal keeper up against Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard. During the rest of the match, Jok shared time between both positions. Exactly how effective the tactic was is up for debate, but she was far from disgraced as a defender and there’s no doubt that it adds versatility to the team.  


Shimona Jok made her way into the Mavericks’ game day 10, with immediate impact. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun



Stat of the week

Shooter Helen Housby celebrated her 100th game for the Swifts with victory against the Firebirds where her 7/8 from super shot territory proved crucial. This is her eighth season in the Suncorp Super Netball competition after playing four seasons with Manchester Thunder. 

Helen Housby in SSN
Matches: 100 (Wins 57, losses 39, draws 4)
Total goals: 1942 at 83%
Super shots: 238 at 61.8% (62 matches)
Goal assists: 966
Possession gains: 80


While she already notched up 100 games for the Vixens last season, defender Emily Mannix has just played her 100th Super Netball game for them. She was responsible for one of the performances of the round against Giants, with 11 gains, six intercepts, and seven deflections.

Emily Mannix in SSN
Matches: 100 (Wins 62, losses 36, draws 2)
Possession gains: 409
Intercepts: 207
Deflections: 344
Def Rebounds: 107



Rolling stat of the season

It won’t come as a surprise that Giants have scored the most super shots and had the most two point attempts in the first three rounds so far. But their accuracy hasn’t been what they would have liked. At the other end of the scale, Thunderbirds have surprised with their lack of attempts. Swifts have been the most accurate super shot team and that is largely down to one player. Helen Housby has the incredible record of 22/25 at 88% so far this year. 

Super shots / attempts / %  
Giants – 33/61 (57.4%)
Swifts – 31/45 (68.9%)
Mavericks – 31/50 (62.0%)
Lightning – 21/32 (65.6%)
Firebirds – 19/30 (63.3%)
Vixens – 19/35 (54.3%)
Thunderbirds – 3/7 (42.9%)

It’s not all about scoring super shots, but also how and when you use them, how you defend them, and how you play tactically. This is how each of the teams have fared so far during regular play and also when the super shot was in play. The difference is quite large for some teams. 

Super shot not in play
Fever: +39 goals
Thunderbirds: +19 goals
Vixens: +12 goals
Lightning: +5 goals
Swifts: -2 goals
Firebirds: -4 goals
Mavericks: -27 goals
Giants: -42 goals

Super shot in play
Vixens: +15 goals
Fever: +12 goals
Firebirds: +2 goals
Mavericks: +2 goals
Giants: +1 goal
Swifts: +1 goal
Thunderbirds: -15 goals
Lightning: -18 goals


Sophie Garbin pulls a ball in under some close checking attention. Image: May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography



Coaches Corner

Briony Akle, Swifts Head Coach

On revving the team up ahead of extra time

“They had the energy, once they knew they were back in the game. It was then going to the strategy, what we were going to do in that time, what we’d practiced to do in that time. I knew once we got it even, I knew we had it. We’re the team that can do it. The Firebirds brought it to us for 60 minutes, so we had to be smarter and I think we were smarter”


On the tactical changes such as starting Sophie Fawns and bringing on Elle Temu

“The message I want to get across is we’ve got three great shooters. Sophie is young, so starting her, which we haven’t done this year, was important. Exposing her to this level of competition is vital for us to build across the season”

We wanted Turner out the front with big hands, then Klau is tall and Temu is tall and that made Firebirds second guess themselves in the attack end”


On her team’s ability to fight back

“I think coming from behind and then holding a lead or going into a pressure situation is what these guys thrive in. It’s the other 30 minutes at the start of the game that I’d love to see that pressure applied. When you get ball back, you must treasure it in this league. Teams are too good, they’ll get it back and score two points on you. It’s about going back to what we do well, which is possession based netball. We know we’re good at it, for us as a team it’s about the moments that we think don’t matter that we drop that see us get 10 down. 


On the growth of the Firebirds under Bec Bulley

You can see the results, they’re pushing every single team and I certainly think their unity looks a lot stronger. Their defensive pressure is next level, it reminds me of Bec Bulley when she played. For her to bring that to her team, get the GIANTS win, take it to Thunderbirds, take it to us – they are a team that will keep getting better for sure 


Helen Housby, Swifts Shooter

On playing 100 games and becoming a Swift Centurion

“It’s pretty special, it’s not one I’m going to forget. We made it hard for ourselves, but that spirit and that fight sums up what I believe the Swifts are like and it’s an honour to get 100 caps for this club”


On the physicality of the match

“It was very physical, both teams give it as good as they get and that’s what you expect for a match of this level, there’s going to be bodies on the line because it does mean a lot. Naturally when people are running fast and running hard there are going to be collisions. As you get to the extra time there’s a bit of desperation and people get later with challenges but there’s always going to be physicality in Super Netball and I like that”


On the Swifts v Firebirds rivalry

“When I came to the Swifts there was this big rivalry, they’d come off losing two grand finals to the Firebirds but both teams have had a lot of changes over the years since then but it’s nice to always have a great battle and you know what to expect. There is bragging rights on the table for the state, and luckily NSW got this one”


Bec Bulley, Queensland Firebirds Head Coach

Overall thoughts on the game

“I’m disappointed because I really thought we had that win. You just have to learn from it, we are growing every game and a big improvement from last season. But we can’t shy away from it, we want to win those games. We should’ve kept extending our lead, not sat on it. Swifts are such a quality side, all of a sudden they were up and about, really composed, really good decision making and we’ve got to make sure we are dogged in defence but calm and composed in attack to continue the work we’d been doing at the start of the game”


On how they plan to learn from the tight loss

I came into this game and I was nervous, because I thought we could win. We had the game plan, we just had to execute, everyone had to do their job. For three quarters we did our job; however, now it’s about when we put ourselves in that position we need to keep executing and winning the games. We can’t be the team that doesn’t close out games. We want to win. No one deserves to win, you have to earn it and do the work. And I think tonight Swifts earned it, they got on top of us in the last quarter. We have to keep doing the work for 60 minutes, or 70 minutes if that’s what it takes.”


Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Firebirds Defender

On her strong performance against Helen Housby

“It’s been about taking care of your own and doing your own job. I think the people around me were doing that so I stuck to her in that first half and tried to do my best to keep her out of the game. In the second half our transition went downhill a little bit and that gave them a few more opportunities to find their groove which we needed to stop”


Donnell Wallam feels the pain of a loss, after being ahead for most of the game. Image Simon Leonard.



The games

Adelaide Thunderbirds, notched their second win of the season, defeating the Sunshine Coast Lightning 60-56 in a match that went to extra time. This was the third straight thriller involving the Thunderbirds, having previously had a one-goal win and a one-goal loss. Once again, it was the suffocating Thunderbirds’ defence of Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, Matilda Garrett, and Latanya Wilson that came to the fore as they held Lightning to just six goals in the opening quarter. Lightning captain Steph Fretwell started on the bench and it was her introduction that sparked a comeback. Gradually, the home team narrowed the gap, largely thanks to the defensive pairing of Courtney Bruce and Ash Ervin. They tied the scores at 50-50 in the dying seconds to take the game to extra time. It was in the second period of extra time that a couple of Lightning errors allowed the visitors to steady the ship and run out winners. The in-form Georgie Horjus starred again for the Thunderbirds in attack.  

West Coast Fever maintained its unbeaten record and top spot on the ladder with a 69-62 victory over Melbourne Mavericks at John Cain Arena. Fever had been in such tremendous form from the first two rounds, many would have expected them to have an easy time against the competition newcomers. But that wasn’t the case. Shimona Jok was brought into the Mavericks starting lineup and immediately rewarded her team with 14 first quarter goals as they led 17-14 at the first break. That woke Fever up and they produced a scintillating second quarter to take an 8-goal halftime lead. The second half was a real battle and the home side won the last quarter to make Fever a little nervous. Throughout it all, Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard stood tall, sinking 50/50 for Player of the Match honours. 


Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Sunday Aryang put pressure over Eleanor Cardwell’s shot. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun


Liv Lewis sees the humour in coming up against her former Fever teammate. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun


NSW Swifts charged home to a 77-73 point win over the Queensland Firebirds in the second extra time match of the round. Firebirds lead for much of the match, as the Swifts struggled to recover from starting Sam Wallace-Joseph on the bench which led to some confusion in the goal circle. Helen Housby celebrated her 100th Super Netball match, but was quiet in the first half courtesy of the Firebirds strong defensive unit. She fired up in the second quarter, leading the charge to draw the score back by nailing all five of her super shot attempts. Hulita Veve was one of the Firebirds best, forcing three players through the wing attack bib for the Swifts and finishing with two gains and three deflections while adding vital pressure that helped the Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran to their combined 11 gains. Paige Hadley secured MVP honours for her steady head through the middle, which included only three turnovers for her 26 goal assists. 

Melbourne Vixens beat a dejected GIANTS Netball side 63-44, with the home side unable to find any answers despite ample court rotation. GIANTS had an abysmally low scoring first half, with only six and eight goals scored in the first and second quarter respectively. In fact, there was one period of ten minutes where they didn’t score at all. Vixens’ goal keeper Emily Mannix wreaked havoc any time the ball entered the goal third. She finished the match as MVP with 11 gains, seven deflections and three pickups. Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer were out of sorts, with the latter making the surprise move to wing attack as both Chelsea Pitman and Sam Winders had only three goal assists in a quarter and a half. This made way for Matisse Letherbarrow to get her first minutes of the season at goal shooter. It wasn’t necessarily a clean game for the Vixens, still with 23 turnovers and a shooting accuracy of just 78%. Simone McKinnis took the chance to give Lily Graham her debut, getting six minutes on court but with minimal positive impact, missing her one super shot attempt and giving away two turnovers.


Jamie-Lee Price and Kate Moloney went head to head all afternoon. May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography


Jodi-Ann Ward and Sophie Garbin reach for the ball. May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography




Team / Pld / Pts / %
1 . FEVER . 3 . 12 . 127.9
2 . VIXENS . 3 . 12 . 117.1
3 . THUNDERBIRDS . 3 . 8 . 102.3
4 . SWIFTS . 3 . 8 . 99.5

5 . FIREBIRDS . 3 . 4 . 99.0 
6 . LIGHTNING . 3 . 4 . 93.6
7 . MAVERICKS . 3 . 0 . 87.8
8 . GIANTS . 3 . 0 . 80.7



Next Round

Sat, May 4 – 5:00 pm – LIGHTNING v MAVERICKS
Sat, May 4 – 7:00 pm – THUNDERBIRDS v GIANTS (6:30pm local time)
Sun, May 5 – 2:00 pm – VIXENS v FIREBIRDS
Sun, May 5 – 4:00 pm – SWIFTS v FEVER



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