NS Scoreboard: SSN Round 11 2024

NS Scoreboard: SSN Round 11 2024

Writers: Ian Harkin, Jenny Sinclair, Katrina Nissen 

Photographers: Marcela Massey, Hannah Howard, Shaun Sharp, Kylie de Souza

Cover Image: Marcela Massey



Queensland Firebirds 78 def West Coast Fever 70

Adelaide Thunderbirds 67 def Melbourne Mavericks 41

Melbourne Vixens 69 def NSW Swifts 49

Sunshine coast Lightning 71 def Giants Netball 66


Vixens take out the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup for 2024. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun




Montana Holmes made her SSN debut with the Mavericks.

Uneeq Palavi made her SSN debut for the Swifts. 



Uneeq Palavi made her debut for the Swifts, to the huge delight of her many fans. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun




Molly Jovic (Mavericks) – Concussion

Matisse Letherbarrow (Giants) – foot

Macy Gardner (Firebirds) was forced from the court late in the match under concussion protocols. She took no further part in their win over the West Coast Fever. 


Kadie-Ann Dehaney became the league’s second suspension after a late challenge on Macy Gardner sent her crashing to the ground. Image Marcela Massey





News of the Week


Incoming Firebirds coach Katie Walker is their third in just three rounds, after the club parted company with Rebecca Bulley and then Lauren Brown – who temporarily stepped into the breach – lasted just one week before resigning. With Netball Queensland about to embark on a search for a permanent replacement ahead of the free agency period, pundits agree they will need an experienced coach to restore confidence in the playing group, who’ve struggled to play at their best through the turmoil. However, Walker’s success today might change that narrative.

Walker will coach jointly with Roselee Jencke, who led the Firebirds to three premierships between 2009 and 2020.


Joint head coaches Katie Walker and Roselee Jencke masterminded the win. Image Marcela Massey


After a tournament MVP performance at last week’s Pacific Netball Series, Uneeq Palavi was recruited to replace Sam Wallace-Joseph at the Swifts. The Tongan goal shooter has been a training partner at the Mavericks but was yet to take to the court for the Melbourne side. She made her debut during the second quarter and looked just as comfortable in Swifts red as Tongan red. She finished the match 21 from 24 including three supershots.


Not something we see too often, but Jo Harten managed to hold time during a game, argue with an umpire, get the call changed, and successfully see her shooting partner sink a two pointer. Multi-tasking wins!


Jo Harten was among the Giants best, especially when she argued the toss with the umpire and won! Image Kylie de Souza/Captured by Kylie


Mavericks coach Tracey Neville catches up with some of her former Thunderbirds. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



Rookies to Watch


Isabelle Shearer had her first 60-minute match for the Firebirds – and against the world’s best goal shooter no less. Shearer took time to warm into the game and didn’t really make an impact until the second half. But her height, imposing reach and footwork were enough to cause a few wayward feeds which her teammates were able to pick off. Shearer’s best moments came in the final five minutes of the match where she was instrumental in blocking Fowler-Nembard from two rebounds which could have turned the match in Fever’s favour. 

Speaking post match about Shearer’s performance, interim coach Katie Walker said, “Rose was the driver in making that decision [to start Shearer]. She has been training beautifully this week and deserved that opportunity. But we said to her that this wasn’t just an opportunity to get your feet and get some court time or experience. She had to come ready to play. She played like someone who knows she deserves to be in that dress. She mixed things up and contested balls. It was a tough ask. But she was out there to do a job, and she did it beautifully.” 


Isabelle Shearer earned the start against Jhaniele Fowler, and had some crucial moments in the game. Image Marcela Massey



Diamonds’ watch


Between injuries and illness, Donnell Wallam’s opportunities with the Diamonds have been limited. Named as a reserve for the Netball World Cup, during which time both Sophie Garbin and Cara Koenen starred, fans have been wondering if she’d be able to force her way into the 12. The weekend’s win against Fever took her one step closer. 

Having looked dispirited in recent weeks, Wallam rose to the occasion under incoming coach Katie Walker. Sometimes guilty of being a post only shooter, Wallam’s combination of a strong hold with movement left her opposition with no answers. In her best game of the season and an MVP performance, Wallam finished with 48/53, including nine supershots which was the ultimate difference between the two sides. In a post match press conference aired on Fox Netball’s Pivot, Wallam spoke of the confidence that Walker inspired in her.


Lightning’s Ash Ervin couldn’t be doing anything more to force a Diamonds’ debut. The 21 year old has gone from strength to strength across the season in Courtney Bruce’s absence, and had an absolute blinder against the Giants this round. Ervin finished with nine gains, five intercepts, six deflections, and three rebounds. Diamonds captain Liz Watson, acknowledged Ash as someone who is going to “push the standard at the Diamonds.”

It was a big call at the time, but Netball Scoop has been on Ervin’s bandwagon since she troubled New Zealand’s Grace Nweke at Fast5 last year. While it’s early days, it would surprise none of us to see her starring in Sydney 2027.


Donnell Wallam was brilliant from range. Image Marcela Massey


Ash Ervin with one of her nine gains. Image Kylie de Souza/Captured by Kylie



The shooting circle


It’s hard to go past Donnell Wallam’s form against the Fever. When the Firebirds slipped behind by 8 points in the first quarter, many were expecting a repeat of the walloping they received in the first round. Wallam had different ideas. She banged in four supershots to draw the game back to level, inspiring her teammates who all lifted around her. Wallam didn’t stop there, continuing to shoot long as she finished with 48/53, including 9 supershots. 

Vixens again showed how well balanced their circle is, with Sophie Garbin and Kiera Austin sharing the goal shooting load. Garbin finished with 36/45, and Austin with 25/29, while both were dangerous from the two point zone, hitting six between them. For a new look combination, albeit with some Diamonds experience together, the duo are hitting their straps at the right end of the season.


Sarah Klau got up for five rebounds. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun



The midcourt

Vixens’ MVP Kate Moloney led an impressive performance by her midcourt, in which she finished with 34 feeds, three intercepts and just one turnover. Sharni Lambden earned her second start, and picked off two gains. With 11 feeds in the first quarter, Hannah Mundy looked set for a big haul until Swift veteran Paige Hadley was shifted back to wing defence against her. Hadley kept the exciting youngster to six, five and four feeds in the next three quarters. 


If Donnell Wallam starred in the Firebirds circle, it was their midcourt who provided her with silver service. Lara Dunkley had a sterling 27 centre pass receives, 35 feeds, one intercept for 4 turnovers, while Macy Gardner was also en route to a strong game with 25 feeds and 0 turnovers before she was forced from the court with injury in the fourth quarter. `


Kate Moloney earned another MVP for a brilliant performance marshalling the midcourt. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun



The defenders


We bang on about the Thunderbirds defence each week, but they were again sublime in Round 11. The back three ended with an astonishing 17 gains, of which 10 belonged to Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, 5 to Latty Wilson, and 2 to the shut down queen, Tilly Garrett. 


While the Thunderbirds have long been touted as having the best defensive unit in the league, Lightning are doing their very best to change the narrative. While Courtney Bruce is their out and out superstar, in her injury enforced absence rookie Ash Ervin and Tara Hinchliffe – on the comeback trail from an ACL injury – have become a formidable combination. With Bruce still on managed minutes, Ervin took charge of the defensive circle against the Giants, pulling in five intercepts. Interestingly, Ervin leads the trio for the average number of intercepts taken per game across her career. She’s currently sitting on 2.6, compared to Hinchliffe’s 1.5 and Bruce’s 1.2.


Latty Wilson showcased her ability to play across three positions. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media


Tara Hinchliffe is having a fine season. Image Kylie de Souza/Captured by Kylie





Increasingly, coaches are using the depth of their bench across the course of the game. It’s been fascinating watching how the top three ranked teams handle their personnel.

Sitting at the top of the ladder, Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis has used her whole side just once, and are averaging just 5.7 interchanges per match – the lowest of any side. While this has been somewhat forced by a swathe of injuries to her side, have her athletes had the chance to rest any niggles or tired bodies, or will the build of combinations benefit them? Huge credit has to go to McKinnis – despite the injuries, she’s produced a conveyor belt of quality athletes to keep them at the top of the ladder.

In second place, Tania Obst has used the depth of her Thunderbirds bench in every game. It’s been a clever approach giving valuable game time to her new look attacking combinations, particularly rookie Lauren Frew. The young goal attack has been gradually eased into the action with experienced heads around her, giving her the best possible introduction to Super Netball. As a result, the Thunderbirds have the crew to tackle just about any opposition under a wide range of circumstances.

At Fever, Dan Ryan has used his entire bench in all but one of the games, as he’s tried to bed in six new players to the team, four of them SSN debutantes. Each section of the court has two new personnel, meaning combinations have had to be bedded in throughout each third of the court. Season 2024 has exposed a few cracks in Fever’s new look side, but if he can keep them together, they should all be stronger for the experience.


Liv Lewis flies through for an intercept against Georgie Horjus, who has played across wing attack and goal attack for the Thunderbirds. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



Stat of the week


In previous seasons, Thunderbirds have been guilty of not rewarding the great work of their defence, but they definitely seem to be improving in that area. Round 11 against the Mavericks, was an example of the more efficient and more ruthless Thunderbirds team. They converted 75% of their centre passes to goal. Along with a 68% conversion of gains and 80% from opposition errors, this meant they made great use of the advantage their defence was giving them. All three of those categories were an improvement on their season average leading into the game. 

Goals from centre passes – 75% (69.8%)
Goals from gains – 68% (58.6%)
Goals from unforced turnovers – 80% (72.2%)

In their upset win over Fever, Firebirds also significantly improved on their season average in all three categories.

Goals from centre passes – 76% (69.0%)
Goals from gains – 86% (59.5%)
Goals from unforced turnovers – 67% (61.7%)


The Shamera Sterling-Humphrey fan club! Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



Rolling stat of the season


How’s this for a stat? The Thunderbirds defence has been so outstanding this season, that every one of the other seven teams in the league have recorded their lowest four quarter score for the year against them. After 11 rounds, Thunderbirds have conceded 96 less goals than the next best defensive team, the Vixens. And as we can see here, 96 goals is like two full games to them. This list shows the average number of goals each team has conceded in the four quarters of a match (extra time was not counted).

Average goals conceded per 4 quarters
Thunderbirds – 47.9
Vixens – 57.2
Lightning – 65.1
Fever – 65.2
Mavericks – 65.3
Swifts – 66.5
Giants – 68.7
Firebirds – 69.5

This incredible defence is what has Thunderbirds with such an imposing percentage, despite not being a high scoring team themselves. Unsurprisingly, Fever heads this list.

Average goals scored per 4 quarters
Fever – 72.2
Vixens – 66.4
Lightning – 66.0
Firebirds – 63.5
Swifts – 61.5
Giants – 58.9
Mavericks – 58.6
Thunderbirds – 58.4


She’s back! Courtney Bruce with the speccy intercept. Image Kylie de Souza/Captured by Kylie



The games


Firebirds v Fever

Firebirds pulled off what is surely the upset of the season, with a 78-70 victory over Fever in Brisbane. The match started in routine fashion with Fever pushing out to a good lead of 20-12 late in the first quarter, and it looked like this could be another big Fever win, just like the previous two clashes between these sides. But that’s when MVP Donnell Wallam stepped in. She landed four super shots in quick time, and had the scores level at 20-20 at the first break. As the match wore on, Wallam continued to be a problem for Fever, and the Firebirds grew in confidence. They won each of the last three quarters, and responded each time that Fever challenged. Young defender Isabelle Shearer impressed with a full game against Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard. After a tumultuous past two weeks, the Firebirds players and coaching staff were overcome with emotion after the victory. For Fever, this was the third loss in their past five matches. 


Firebirds celebrate their win. Image Marcela Massey


Thunderbirds v Mavericks

Thunderbirds claimed second spot on the ladder, with a dominant 67-41 victory over Mavericks in Adelaide. The match started well for the visitors. In fact, they led for much of the first quarter, before Thunderbirds eventually took the lead just before quarter time. From there, the match went decidedly in Thunderbirds’ favour. Once again, their defence end suffocated the opposition, with Mavericks’ quarter scores of 14, 11, 9, and 7, showing how much of a battle they had as the game wore on. Although Mavericks welcomed back Eleanor Cardwell for this game, they definitely struggled without the services of Molly Jovic. In attack, Thunderbirds capitalised on the opportunities they got. MVP Georgie Horjus in particular, had a sublime game at both wing attack and goal attack, and once again, coach Tania Obst was able to get all ten players on court. 


Two supersubs who haven’t had a lot of court time this season, but still play an important role – TBirds captain Hannah Petty and Mavs Tayla Fraser. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media


Shimona Jok – 11th player of the season! Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media


Vixens v Swifts

Vixens consolidated top spot on the ladder with a convincing 69-49 win over Swifts in front of a packed house at John Cain Arena in Melbourne. MVP Kate Moloney was outstanding for Vixens. She didn’t stop running all day and was involved in everything. She finished with 19 assists, three gains, and three pickups. Once again, Sophie Garbin and Kiera Austin combined beautifully and piled on the goals as Swifts’ performance gradually dropped off as the match wore on. Sharni Lambden had another strong game at wing defence. For Swifts, Uneeq Palavi played her first game in Super Netball. In her time on court, she showed more than enough to suggest she has a future in this league. 


Paige Hadley showed her versatility, playing across all 3 midcourt positions. She was at her most damaging against Hannah Mundy, keeping her relatively quiet. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun


Lightning v Giants

Lightning recorded a vital 71-66 win over Giants to confirm their spot in the top four. Giants got off to a tremendous start, and led 21-18 after the first quarter. In fact, they won three of the four quarters. Where it came undone for them was in quarter two, which Lightning dominated to the tune of 23-12. Lightning defender Ash Ervin played a starring role in the first half and helped Lightning establish an 8-goal lead. For Lightning, experience came to the fore as things got tighter in the second half. MVP Liz Watson was as solid as a rock throughout the game and captain Steph Fretwell backed herself in to shoot two-pointers under pressure. She scored eight of them from 11 attempts, which was just enough to maintain some breathing space with Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer scoring six each for Giants. 


Jamie-Lee Price and Leesa Mi Mi went at it all game. Image Kylie de Souza/Captured by Kylie


Liz Watson was MVP for her job controlling the feeds. Image Kylie de Souza/Captured by Kylie




Team / Pld / Pts / %
1 . VIXENS . 11 . 40 . 116.1
2 . THUNDERBIRDS . 11 . 32 . 122.3
3 . FEVER . 11 . 32 . 110.7
4 . LIGHTNING . 11 . 20 . 100.0

5 . MAVERICKS . 11 . 16 . 89.8
6 . SWIFTS. 11 . 12 . 92.4
7 . FIREBIRDS 11. 12. 91.2
8. GIANTS . 11 . 12 . 86.7



Next Round

Sat, Jun 29 – 5:00 pm – THUNDERBIRDS v VIXENS (4:30pm local time)
Sat, Jun 29 – 7:00 pm – MAVERICKS v LIGHTNING
Sun, Jun 30 – 2:00 pm – SWIFTS v FIREBIRDS
Sun, Jun 30 – 4:00 pm – FEVER v GIANTS (2pm local time)

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