NS SCOREBOARD – SSN Round 1

NS SCOREBOARD – SSN Round 1

Netball Scoop – Suncorp Super Netball – Round 1, 2021

Contributors – Jenny Sinclair, Cara Gledhill, Jane Edwards, Katrina Nissen and Ian Harkin

 

RESULTS

West Coast Fever 65 def Melbourne Vixens 51 (16-12, 18-12, 13-11, 18-13)

Sunshine Coast Lightning 67 def Collingwood Magpies 56 (17-16, 16-14, 21-16, 13-10)

NSW Swifts 69 def Queensland Firebirds 66 (18-13, 17-17, 13-15, 16-19, ET: 5-2)

Giants Netball 66 def Adelaide Thunderbirds 52 (14-10, 22-15, 17-14, 13-13)

 

LADDER AFTER ROUND ONE

Round 1 Ladder

 

Vixens unfurled their premiership flag, and farewelled two retiring favourites. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

INJURIES

Giants Netball vice captain, Kristiana Manu’a, missed Round 1 due to a calf strain. 

Kiera Austin (Giants) went down with what looked like a serious knee injury in the second quarter. 

 

A thumbs up after the game from Kiera Austin. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography

 

MILESTONES

Sunshine Coast Lightning’s newest defender, Kate Shimmin, celebrated her 100th National League Cap. Congratulations, Kate.

Congratulations to James Matthews, who umpired his 50th National League match on the weekend. 

Congratulations to Ruby Barkmeyer (Vixens), Kalifa McCollin (Magpies), Hannah Mundy (Vixens), and Latanya Wilson (Thunderbirds) on their Suncorp Super Netball debuts.

 

Hannah Mundy, who closely resembles her famous mother, Shelley O’Donnell, made a strong debut. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

ROOKIE OF THE ROUND

In her first official contracted game for West Coast Fever, Sunday Aryang was impressive! In 55 minutes of play she only picked up three penalties but managed to collect a match high six gains (see breakdown below) and conceded zero turnovers. Aryang is a versatile, mobile defender and teamed nicely with Courtney Bruce at GK and Stacey Francis in front of her at WD. The future looks bright for this youngster. 

When Kiera Austin (Giants) was forced from the court by injury, Sophie Dwyer had huge shoes to fill. She was excellent for the Giants, scoring 19 goals including four supershots, and collected three rebounds and 12 centre pass receives. 

 

Sunday Aryang isn’t there, until she is. With lightning-quick footwork, she can appear out of nowhere to tap or intercept the ball. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

PLAYS OF THE ROUND

Ok, Kiera Austin’s knee injury comes up a lot today. But when she was on the ground, clutching her knee in agony, opponents Shamera Sterling and Matilda Garrett immediately offered their support, comforting Austin until she was safely in the hands of the medical staff. Well played, ladies. 

 

When Austin went down with her knee injury, Shamera Sterling and Matilda Garrett were immediately on hand for support. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography

 

TEAM OF THE ROUND

We’re splitting the chocolates this week between GIANTS Netball and the NSW Swifts. After a nasty looking knee injury felled Kiera Austin early in the second quarter, GIANTS were able to maintain their composure. Captain Jo Harten kept the young players around her settled, and from that point on they extended their narrow two goal lead into an eventual 14 goal win.  

The Swifts played some of the best attacking netball we’ve seen in a Round One game, using speed and some brilliant triangular play around the circle. They were able to absorb all the pressure that the Firebirds threw at them, and ended with their noses in front at the end of extra time. 

 

Tiippah Dwan gets her shot away under some serious Swifts’ pressure. Image Marcela Massey

 

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

Defensively, alarm bells should be ringing for the Queensland Firebirds. They racked up 95 penalties, which is quite possibly a record for 60 minutes of netball. Concerningly, players weren’t able to adjust to the whistle, with 22, 20, 25 and 20 penalties in the respective quarters. Given that the game was so close, if the Firebirds had remained in play more, would the result have been different? There’s some homework to be done during the week.

As is usual, Sunshine Coast Lightning continue to be the team who drew the least amount of whistle, with just 39 penalties.

 

The Firebirds racked up 95 penalties in some close physical contact. Image Marcela Massey

 

TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND

West Coast Fever started the season with -12 premiership points, along with a $300 000 fine (half suspended) after serious salary cap breaches relating to the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Fans are unhappy with a lack of clarity over who was responsible for the breaches, and many believe that the penalty didn’t go far enough. The issue has cast a dark shadow over the club, although the players and coaches have been cleared by Netball Australia of any involvement in the scandal. As a talking point, it won’t be going away anytime soon.

No one likes to see injuries, and it was devastating to see Kiera Austin go down with a serious knee injury. Austin was the first choice goal attack in the recent Constellation Cup, and appeared to have one hand on a plane ticket to the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Early in the second quarter, she appeared to slip on the pink court decal. While there’s no research linking injuries with decals, the NBL and the Australian Basketball Players’ Association has been at loggerheads over the issue.

With other codes using augmented reality, Suncorp Super Netball urgently needs to assess if they contribute to injury, and what other options they have for additional court markings. Austin wasn’t the only athlete to take a spill on the decals in Round 1, with multiple athletes across each game spending time on the pine after slipping on the stickers. Player welfare should always come ahead of sponsorship and interesting court colours. 

As a sign of respect to two young South Australian netballers, many of the Adelaide Thunderbirds wore black armbands during the match. For Georgie Horjus, the homages were extra meaningful: the arm band was for Ivy-Rose Hughes who was killed in a car accident during the preseason, and the gold laces were for Charlotte Agostino who lost her battle with cancer. Netball Scoop offers condolences to the families of both of these bright stars.

Georgie Horjus

Georgie Horjus wore and arm band for Ivy-Rose. photo: Sue McKay

Georgie Horjus laces

Georgie Horjus wore gold laces for Charlotte. Photo: Sue McKay

While the results didn’t fall Vixens way, they unfurled their 2020 premiership flag, and also farewelled two of their favourite daughters, the recently retired Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip. Having shared the court for so much of their career, it seems only fitting that both stars are also pregnant at the same time, and were sporting their gorgeous baby bumps at the game.

The Magpies also farewelled Madi Browne and Nat Medhurst, who attended with her beautiful bub, Edison, in tow. 

The Queensland Firebirds and the New South Wales Swifts were the first teams to play under the new extra time rule. After 60 minutes of regular time, the scores were locked at 64-all. This sent the teams into 5 minutes of extra time. The nerves were palpable, but it was the Swifts who came out victorious, having played the result many times in training. 

With recent Covid cases emerging in Western Australia, and some restrictions in place, the league will be on tenterhooks to see if any new cases develop during the week. WA has only recently emerged from lockdown, with Fever unable to train for three days in the lead up to Round 1. If lockdown is reinstated, the clash against Swifts next Saturday could be in serious doubt. 

 

 

TWEET OF THE WEEK

 

Kate Shimmin

A bit of Kate Shimmin love for her 100th National League match.

 

 

Tweet of the Week Round 1

We love a retweet from Suncorp Super Netball! If you want to join in the fun of Super Netball Bingo, head to our Instagram and hit on the ‘Fun Stuff’ tab.

STAND OUT STATISTICS

INDIVIDUAL 

 

Shooting volume

Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) – 55/60 91.7%

Sam Wallace (Swifts) – 49/49 100%

 

Supershots

Sam Gooden (Thunderbirds) – 5

Jo Harten (Giants) – 4

Sophie Dwyer (Giants) – 4

Gabrielle Sinclair (Magpies) – 4 

 

Gains

Sunday Aryang (Fever) – 7 (2 intercepts, 2 deflection with gain, 3 rebounds) + 1 pick up

Jodi Ann Ward (Magpies) – 6 (2 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain, 3 rebounds) + 2 pick ups

 

Feeds

Jamie-Lee Price (Giants) – 38 (30 with attempt)

Verity Charles (Fever) – 33  (22 with attempt)

Kate Moloney (Vixens) – 33 (21 with attempt)

 

Centre Pass Receives 

Gretel Bueta (Firebirds) – 27 

Steph Wood (Lightning) – 26 

Nat Haythornthwaite (Swifts) – 24 

 

Penalties

Kim Jenner (Firebirds) – 26 (15 contact, 11 obstruction)

Tara Hinchliffe (Firebirds) – 19 (16 contact, 3 obstruction)

Amy Parmenter (Giants) – 17 (14 contact, 3 obstruction)

 

Nissan NetPoints 

Sam Wallace (Swifts) – 94

Steph Wood (Lightning) – 84.5

Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) – 84 

 

Kim Ravaillion has returned “home” after three years at the Magpies, and looks fitter than ever after the birth of her daughter, Georgie. Image Marcela Massey

 

TEAM 

Gains

Lightning – 15

Giants – 15

 

Penalties

Firebirds – 95

Thunderbirds – 66 

Fever – 57 

 

Turnovers

Thunderbirds – 26 

Firebirds – 24 

Vixens – 23

 

Supershots 

Giants – 9 

Firebirds – 6

Magpies and Thunderbirds – 5

 

Kate Shimmin flies high. Image Aliesha Vicars.

 

RESULTS / MATCH REPORTS

 

WEST COAST FEVER 65 def MELBOURNE VIXENS 51

Vixens:
Kumwenda 31/32 (97%)
Stanton 11/14 (79%)
Barkmeyer 5/8 (63%)
TOTAL 47/54 (87%)

Super shots 4/5 (Stanton 2/3)
Assists 44 (Moloney 16)
Gains 11 (Dehaney 5)

Fever:
Fowler 55/60 (92%)
Teague-Neeld 4/7 (57%)
Glasgow 3/4 (75%)
TOTAL 62/71 (87%)

Super shots 3/5 (Teague-Neeld 2/3)
Assists 59 (Charles 18)
Gains 13 (Aryang 7)

Penalties: Fever 57-54
Turnovers: Vixens 23-15

MVP: Jhaniele Fowler (Fever)


Match report – Vixens v Fever

by Jane Edwards

WHO dominated?   

Does it go without saying that Jhaniele Fowler was imperious in the Fever shooting circle, shooting 54 from 59 attempts, which represented 83% of Fever’s total. She was closely marked by Emily Mannix for three quarters, but gave the Vixens GK very few opportunities to win the ball – Mannix finished the match with only one defensive gain. Fowler’s game featured very few heroics – she was simply at the end of a series of smooth, disciplined approaches to the goal circle, with the feeders in general working the ball carefully to the circle edge before executing accurate deliveries that rarely placed her under pressure.

Fowler’s quarter scores were 13 – 15 – 11 and 14. The slight dip in her scoring rate in the third quarter was entirely due to Kadie-Ann Dehaney, who had immediate impact coming on at GK late in the second quarter. Where Mannix was frequently caught on the body giving clear space for Fowler to receive the ball, Dehaney moved her feet well, and in 20 minutes of court time won three rebounds, three deflections and one intercept for five defensive gains. Her reach over Fowler’s shot was actually disruptive: Fowler missed four shots on goal when opposed by Dehaney, her only misses for the match. Vixens coach Simone McKinnis observed after the match that Dehaney is a valuable impact player in defence, and that the challenge is to get her to perform consistently for longer periods.

WHAT worked?   

Fever had done their homework on the Vixens, and had a number of defensive strategies to exploit their opponents’ tenuous new connections. Verity Charles, Jess Anstiss and Sunday Aryang worked hard to push the Vixens feeders wide so that several lateral passes were needed to progress from the transverse line to the goal post. Aryang is a fleet-footed player, and she danced through the clogged-up spaces to win deflections and loose balls. The Vixens’ favourite clearing tactic is for Kumwenda to lead at the last second up the central corridor, but there was rarely vacant space for her to execute these leads, and Bruce is not the sort of GK who allows these leads on her watch. The Vixens struggled to get feeds from the circle edge due to the diligent marking of the Fever defenders.

Despite having Fowler as an entirely reliable long-bomb target at the goal post, Fever played a disciplined short-passing game, a tactic that enabled them to move the ball at speed in attack. It meant that the Vixens defenders were entirely occupied marking their own opponents, and ensured that the Vixens defenders had minimal opportunities to intercept the ball or muscle their opponent out of position.

WHAT needs improvement? 

Obviously the whole Vixens attack end is a work in cohesive development. Too many times players were running across each other’s leads and forward spaces, there was little variation in ball speed to make defenders think twice, and there was a lack of considerate timing in offering alternative options to the ball carrier.

The Vixens’ championship-winning moving circle from 2020 was nowhere to be seen for three quarters as Kumwenda undertook the majority of Vixens’ scoring. But for a short passage in the fourth quarter, Stanton and third shooting option Ruby Barkmayer created a little more open space with some nice moving options, and they scored seven goals on the last five centre passes with a couple of successful supershots. 

WHERE was it won? 

Fever was inexorable all over the court, and at every point of the game. There was little new to see here from the form and strategy that took the team close to winning the bubble premiership of 2020: Charles started in Centre, to be replaced by Anstiss for the second half when Stacey Francis entered the game for two quarters at WD. Sunday Aryang started in GD, and her speed and general youthful bounciness were a considerable force in defence. She combines beautifully with Bruce, whose powers of deceptive space invasion were employed here with great subtlety, resulting in slower feeds and longer-range shots rather than outright intercepts and defensive gains.

WHERE was it lost? 

It was perfectly predictable, but the two Vixens debutants Kalia Stanton and Hannah Mundy were responsible for five midcourt turnovers between them in the first quarter. This provided Fever with a four goal lead at the first break, which they consistently extended in each quarter.

HOW did she do that?! 

In a game that was low on athletic spectacle, Dehaney’s vigorous play was a highlight. In one passage of play in the Fever goal circle, she transitioned from defending a feed to position herself at three feet from Alice Teague-Neeld’s shot and reject it over the baseline. It didn’t result in a defensive gain for the Vixens, but it gave the Vixens fans a reason to overcome the new “atmospheric” game soundtrack for a moment.

Starting lineups:

Vixens: GS Kumwenda, GA Stanton, WA Mundy, C Moloney, WD Eddy, GD Weston, GK Mannix

Fever: GS Fowler, GA Teague-Neeld, WA Cosh, C Charles, WD Anstiss, GD Aryang, GK Bruce

 

Netball can be a game of millimetres – Jo Weston sooo close to pulling in an intercept. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

Sunday Aryang is one of the leagues most promising rookies. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

Ruby Barkmeyer was one of three Vixens’ debutantes on Saturday. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

Kadie-Ann Dehaney bothered Jhaniele Fowler – seen here breathing a sigh of relief after her shot dropped. Image Kirsten Daley.

 

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 67 def COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 56

Magpies:
Nelson 39/43 (91%)
Sinclair 10/18 (56%)
McCollin 2/2 (100%)
TOTAL 51/63 (81%)

Super shots 5/10 (Sinclair 4/9)
Assists 46 (Browne 17)
Gains 11 (Ward 6)

Lightning:
Koenan 38/44 (86%)
Wood 20/24 (83%)
Proscovia 6/6 (100%)
TOTAL 64/74 (87%)

Super shots 3/5 (Wood 2/3)
Assists 61 (Scherian 22)
Gains 15 (Maweni 5)

Penalties: Magpies 47-39
Turnovers: Magpies 20-16

MVP: Steph Wood (Lightning)


Match report – Magpies v Lightning

By Cara Gledhill

WHO dominated?

Steph Wood was brilliant after sitting out the recent Constellation Cup series for Australia. She was a strong moving presence in the shooting circle for the Lightning and was accurate from range regardless of when in the quarter she was shooting. While Geva Mentor and Jodi Ann Ward doubled back on Cara Koenen and later Peace Proscovia, Wood was left to run play from outside the circle and used her netball smarts to brilliant effect.

Laura Scherian had a strong start to the season and connected well with debutante Mahalia Cassidy in attack. Scherian’s approach to the circle was instrumental for the Lightning, with her quick cuts and dodges running rings around the usually smothering Magpies defence.

Jodi Ann Ward showed her defensive prowess and was the best player for the Magpies. She had the most defensive gains of any player on court (six) and was able to disrupt a Lightning attacking line that was positively humming.

WHAT worked?

The Lightning defence was able to effectively stifle a relatively inexperienced attacking line by confusing space in the circle. This forced two early handling errors from Shimona Nelson and the Magpies continued to struggle to find their attackers throughout the game.

This was the case even when a significant defensive change occurred in the third quarter with Kate Shimmin coming on at goal defence and Karla Pretorius moving out to wing defence. This change had the intended effect with the Lightning pushing out their advantage in the final minutes of the quarter.

The Lightning also had outstanding through court defence and looked to have identified Kelsey Browne as a key driver in attack. She was blanketed in attack, often marked by two players and was replaced in the third quarter.

After the departure of one of the greatest netballers to have ever played the game in Laura Langman, the Lightning midcourt were impressive. Cassidy who was recruited from the Firebirds formed a strong combination with Scherian in attack. This was key to the quick movement of the ball down the court and made it difficult for the Magpies to set up in defence.

The Magpies looked their best with Ash Brazill at centre with her ability to read gaps in the overbearing defence of the Lightning and her ability to outrun Cassidy onto loose ball. This was also where the Magpies excelled in bringing the ball through court after turnovers, having the most success when they were able to go directly through the middle. It will be interesting to see how the midcourt develops over the season with Molly Jovic one of the better performers for the Magpies.

WHAT needs improvement?

The Magpies lacked finesse in attack and struggled to find Nelson early. Nelson had a nervous start to the game turning over the ball with the first two feeds. They were forced by the torrid Lightning defence into multiple cross-court passes which were easy for the Lightning defence to lap up. Part of this was also the lacklustre efforts to run onto loose ball or confusion between which player was going for the ball. More often than not, the 50-50 balls were ending up with the Lightning.

The Magpies also had a low rate of centre pass conversion, particularly in the last half of the game as players started to tire and changes didn’t have the intended effect. As Nicole Richardson lamented after the game, this made it impossible for them to bridge what would have been a manageable gap.

The Lightning will be disappointed that they were only able to press their clear advantage in the third and final quarters. The game went in fits and starts with the Lightning clearly the superior team, but unable to string enough goals together to put the foot down until the last minutes of the third quarter.

WHERE was it won?

The Lightning were able to extend their lead in the third quarter after a raft of key changes for the Magpies. The entrance of Shimmin in the game saw Gabrielle Sinclair unable to get the same opportunities for supershots while Steph Wood was able to break free and continue to press the advantage.

WHERE was it lost?

The Magpies fell to an eight goal deficit by three-quarter time and were never able to claw it back. The Pies opted to bench captain Geva Mentor early in the quarter and gave Jacqui Newton a run. For a player like Mentor who gets the bulk of her defensive gains in the second half. This was a significant change that didn’t have the intended effect and while she re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, the damage had been done.

HOW did she do that?

Ward had an impressive gain in the first quarter. With the ball headed for Cara Koenen, Ward tipped it in the post and was then able to collect it as it rebounded back towards her.

Quotes: 

I think our centre pass conversion in the last quarter was at 36% and overall 56-57 compared to [Lightning’s] 71, you’re never going to win a game that wayNicole Richardson, Collingwood Magpies Coach 

Starting lineups:

Magpies: GS Nelson, GA Sinclair, WA Browne, C Jovic, WD Brazill, GD Ward, GK Mentor

Lightning: GS Koenen, GA Wood, WA Scherian, C Cassidy, WD McAuliffe, GD Pretorius, GK Maweni

 

Shimona Nelson pulls in a perfectly weighted ball. Image Aliesha Vicars.

 

Steph Wood returned from knee surgery in an MVP performance. Image Aliesha Vicars.

 

Nat Medhurst, with son Edison, after her retirement presentation. Image Aliesha Vicars.

 

Madi Browne receiving a gift on her retirement from Suncorp Super Netball.Image Aliesha Vicars.

 

Phumza Maweni, who continues to grow in confidence, pulls in an intercept against Gabi Sinclair. Image Aliesha Vicars.

 

NSW SWIFTS 69 def QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 66 (Extra time)

Firebirds:
Aiken 39/47 (83%)
Bueta 16/17 (94%)
Dwan 5/8 (63%)
TOTAL 60/72 (83%)

Super shots 6/11 (Bueta 3/4, Dwan 3/6)
Assists 53 (Bueta 17)
Gains 6 (Simpson 3)

Swifts:
Wallace 49/49 (100%)
Housby 12/14 (86%)
Garbin 5/6 (83%)
TOTAL 66/69 (96%)

Super shots 3/4 (Housby 3/4)
Assists 61 (Proud 19)
Gains 4 (Klau 3)

Penalties: Firebirds 95-46
Turnovers: Firebirds 24-20

MVP: Sam Wallace (Swifts)


Match report – Firebirds v Swifts

By Katrina Nissen 

 WHO dominated?   

With 49 goals at 100%, Sam Wallace was dominant under the post. The Trinidad & Tobago athlete played with her usual calm demeanour and was unphased by the on-body attention she received from the Firebirds defence. The Swifts plans ‘to get Sammy the ball’ during the extra time period was proof enough of the kind of imposing presence she produced.

 WHAT worked?   

The Swifts applied pressure through the middle corridor to force the Firebirds wide. This resulted in rushed, across-court passes and turnovers. The away team was able to then utilise that same middle channel to quickly transition to their goal end. In the first term they converted 6 of their gains. They ended the game with a turnover conversion rate of 68%. 

 The Firebirds moving circle of Gretel Bueta and Tippah Dwan worked well. With both goalers able to pop up the 2-point shot, the Swifts defence were unable to double-up on any one shooter. As the duo continue to build their combination, expect their confidence to also flourish, which will result in more headaches for defenders.   

 WHAT needs improvement? 

Firebirds Penalties. Firebirds Penalties. Firebirds Penalties. It has been a topical discussion for the last few years, and it doesn’t look to have improved at all. The Firebirds notched up a staggering 95 penalties during today’s match. Liz Ellis has argued that provided they are winning the ball, it doesn’t matter how many penalties they get. However, spending that much time spent out of play is adding unnecessary pressure to the side and disabling them from winning turnovers. If they hope to compete with the top team and push for finals, they will need to tidy up.  

 WHERE was it won? 

In Extra Time. This was the first game to play under the new extra time rule and the Swifts were the side who prepared for it best. They looked calm and in control during the 5 minutes. In fact, they looked to enjoy the added pressure of the situation.  

 WHERE was it lost? 

In the closing minutes of the third quarter, the Firebirds squandered three opportunities to convert turnovers and take a lead into the final quarter. 

 HOW did she do that?! 

The Firebirds added a little versatility to their defence end with Tara Hinchliffe donning the wing defence bib during the third term. Her extra height and long arms immediately impacted for her side, with an intercept. 

Quotes: 

Briony Akle (Swifts coach) on preparing for extra time: 

“We have done a lot of those scenarios and I think it prepared us beautifully. There was no room for panic. We have literally trained for that over and over again.” 

Starting lineups:

Firebirds: GS Aiken, GA Bueta, WA Dunkley, C Ravaillion, WD Simpson, GD Jenner, GK Hinchliffe

Swifts: GS Wallace, GA Housby, WA Haythornthwaite, C Proud, WD Hadley, GD Turner, GK Klau

 

Gretel Bueta made a welcome return to the court after her maternity leave. Image Marcela Massey

 

Paige Hadley is a picture of concentration as she races Lara Dunkley to the ball. Image Marcela Massey

 

The high flying Sam Wallace pulls in a pass over Tara Hinchliffe. Image Marcela Massey

 

GIANTS NETBALL 66 def ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 52

Thunderbirds:
Potgieter 28/29 (97%)
Gooden 15/22 (68%)
Horjus 4/10 (40%)
TOTAL 47/61 (77%)

Super shots 5/12 (Gooden 5/9)
Assists 39 (Nankivell 11)
Gains 10 (Sterling 5)

Giants:
Harten 26/32 (81%)
Dwyer 26/33 (79%)
Austin 5/9 (56%)
TOTAL 57/74 (77%)

Super shots 9/15 (Dwyer 4/6, Harten 4/7)
Assists 51 (Price 22)
Gains 15 (Brandley 5)

Penalties: Tbirds 66-49
Turnovers: Tbirds 25-19

MVP: Jo Harten (Giants)


Match report – Thunderbirds v Giants

By Ian Harkin

This was a comfortable, almost routine round one victory for Giants over Thunderbirds in Adelaide, but the 66-52 win was soured by an injury to star goal attack Kiera Austin in the fifth minute of the second quarter. The seriousness of the injury is unknown at this stage, but the way that Austin went down is all too familiar for the netball fans watching. Fingers crossed it is not as it looked.

WHO dominated?

Giants controlled this almost from the start. And Jo Harten led the way with a great captain’s performance. Not only did she put on a show herself, but she steadied her team and helped in getting young shooter Sophie Dwyer into the game.

The whole Giants front four of Harten, Dwyer, Maddie Hay and Jamie-Lee Price just ticked over nicely for the duration of the game with little or no fuss. Hay in particular is very unassuming. She ended the match with 29 feeds and 17 assists, and you could be forgiven for not knowing she was even out there. Much is made of the fact that there are no specialist wing attacks in the team, but Hay has been impressive in her time in the position. It’s hard to see how a specialist wing attack would have fared distinctly better.

The Giants defence all worked well together in stifling their opposition. April Brandley led the way with 5 possession gains while Sam Poolman and Amy Parmenter both had four. Parmenter at wing defence had three different opponents and finished on top of all of them.

On the other hand, try as they might, there wasn’t a single Thunderbirds player who you can say got on top of their opponent. Their best were shooter Lenize Potgieter, defender Matilda Garrett and captain Hannah Petty in the midcourt.

WHAT worked?

The ball movement from Giants was very slick, and their quick passing often had them one step ahead all the way down court. Players were able to find space and the passing was for the most part crisp and clean, especially around the shooting circle. It was just classical netball teamwork, rather than outstanding individual play.

When Austin’s injury occurred, the Giants players would have obviously been distressed to see their team mate go down in that way. And for Dwyer, it was a tough ask to come on and slot straight into the goal attack position unexpectedly. But thanks to some cool heads, the Giants team from that point on just went about their business professionally, and Dwyer showed calmness and composure that belied her age. It would have been easy for her to take a back seat and let Harten do the majority of the work. But Harten didn’t let that happen. She trusted Dwyer’s ability to play at this level, and Dwyer backed her up.

For Thunderbirds, Sam Gooden was successful with five super shots. Unfortunately, she wasn’t backed up by Georgie Horjus, but in future, the power play will certainly be one area of the game where the team can look to gain an advantage.

WHAT needs improvement?

There was a distinct lack of defensive pressure on occasions from Thunderbirds. Shamera Sterling picked up five possession gains and yet still wasn’t really a dominant factor that she has been so often in the past. Harten doesn’t play like a regular goal shooter and this match up didn’t suit Sterling.

It was a real struggle in the Thunderbirds midcourt. There just wasn’t a great connection there. Three players were tried at wing attack; Horjus, Maisie Nankivell and new recruit Elle McDonald. And it must be said that none of them were able to impose themselves on the game in the manner that Chelsea Pitman has been able to do previously. Petty did her best to hold it all together at centre, but errors flowed too regularly.

In what was somewhat of a nightmare game for Horjus, she also struggled in the goal circle, with just four goals from 10 attempts. Known as a long range sharp shooter from last season, she failed to score with any of her five super shot attempts in this game. After a tremendous 2020 season in the big league, opposition teams have no doubt been working on ways of combating her. And her lack of height will always make things that much tougher. She will have to find a way around that, but if last season is any guide, she will.

WHERE was it won and lost?

It was the second quarter that really killed Thunderbirds in this game. Giants asserted their superiority and the home team just couldn’t go with them. Giants piled on 22 goals, won the quarter by seven and effectively shut their opponents out of the game. And it’s amazing to think that they did all that, despite the disappointment of losing Austin in that quarter. If Thunderbirds were to cause an upset in this game, they had to stay competitive in the first half, but the lead was 11 goals at the main break and Giants seemingly already had the game in the bag.

HOW did she do that?!

Early on in that second quarter, Jo Harten rebounded a missed shot that was heading out of court. Realising that she was also heading out of court, she somehow managed to maintain balance by switching feet, while staying just inside the baseline, then she put up a shot while falling backwards out of court. And she scored the goal. Then, no more than five minutes later, a wild pass was again about to go astray over the baseline, when Harten stuck out her left hand. She caught the ball in one hand while fully stretched, then with fingertip control, flicked out a pass to Hay, who passed it back to her and once again without any fuss, she scored the goal. Just Jo Harten doing Jo Harten things.

Starting lineups:

Thunderbirds: GS Potgieter, GA Horjus, WA Nankivell, C Petty, WD van der Merew, GD Garrett, GK Sterling

Giants: GS Harten, GA Austin, WA Hay, C Price, WD Parmenter, GD Brandley, GK Poolman

 

Jo Harten had an exceptional captain’s game, steadying her team after Austin’s injury. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography

 

 

Shamera Sterling has eyes only for the ball. Image Sue McKay/Kick It To Me Photography

 

Sophie Dwyer had a strong debut, despite coming on in difficult circumstances. Image Sue McKay/ Kick It To Me Photography

 

WHAT’S NEXT 

 

Round TWO

Sat 8 May  3pm  Giants v Magpies Ken Rosewell Arena 

Sat 8 May 6pm(WA) Fever v Swifts RAC Arena

Sun 9 May 1pm Vixens v Lightning John Cain Arena 

Sun 9 May 3pm Firebirds v Thunderbirds Nissan Arena 

 

PODCASTS

 

This year, Netball Scoop has teamed up with The Netball Show Podcast and The Netty Life Podcast to bring you all of our Suncorp Super Netball post-match interviews. Hear from your favourite players and coaches as they dissect the matches and get candid about ways they can improve throughout the season. 

Listen now on your favourite podcast aps.  

 

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