NS Scoreboard: SSN Round 4 2024

NS Scoreboard: SSN Round 4 2024

Writers: Georgia Doyle, Andrew Kennedy, Katrina Nissen, Ian Harkin, Jenny Sinclair 

Photographers: Shaun Sharp, May Bailey, Hannah Howard



Melbourne Mavericks 65 def Sunshine Coast Lightning 64

Adelaide Thunderbirds 69 def GIANTS Netball 49

Melbourne Vixens 68 def Queensland Firebirds 55

West Coast Fever 75 def NSW Swifts 59




Helen Housby – 150 National League Matches (101 SSN and 49 NSL)

Isabelle Shearer debuted for the Firebirds.




Rolene Streutker (Mavericks) – Ankle

Ava Black (Lightning) – Ankle 

Zara Walters (Vixens) – Back

A few athletes left the court and didn’t return during the Lightning v Mavericks match, including Courtney Bruce (calf cramp – advised by medical staff not to push through it), El Cardwell (ankle) and Mahalia Cassidy (ankle), while Steph Fretwell pushed on through a rolled ankle.


Shamera Sterling was left winded and in some discomfort after a heavy knock from Jamie-Lee Price. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media




News of the Week


To widespread acclaim, this week former Diamonds captain Liz Ellis was elected as a director of the board of Netball Australia. While she was quick to point out that she is part of a wider team and not a quick fix to recent woes, Ellis has a unique skill set that includes involvement from grass roots through to the elite level, experience with governance and a law degree. With her passion, drive and wide-ranging knowledge, she is sure to have a positive impact.  


This week, SSN celebrated Inclusion Round, which is an opportunity for the league to highlight that netball is a sport for everyone. Each club chose one or more causes to champion and hosts had a range of activations, artists and information for fans to engage with. Many clubs also held special in-house celebrations where they invited speakers to educate the athletes and staff about their cause.  

Lightning chose Pride and disability inclusion as their main causes. Speaking after their match vice captain Tara Hinchliffe said, “Inclusion Round means a lot to us. We want netball to be a sport for all and we want everyone in the Pride community to feel welcome. We had a lovely guest speaker, Tristan from Powerchair Football team, come in during the week. It is great for the Pride community, but I think it is also great for the disability community as well. We want netball to be a place where everyone can come, be a part of and be celebrated.”


Pride socks. Image: May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography


Kristiana Manu’a has rejoined Super Netball after being signed by the Mavericks as an injury replacement for Lauren Moore, who ruptured her ACL at the Team Girls Cup. She played only 19 minutes in her first game in blue, but got one deflection and a tidy five penalties. Mavericks captain Amy Parmenter said that playing on the same team as Manu’a again felt seamless. “We have a connection that has come straight back to where it was a few years ago. She has such a great energy and a great personality and will bring a lot to our group. She brings a wealth of experience.”


Thunderbirds assistant coach Cathy Fellowes has been appointed as the Australian U21 coach, and will lead the team into the 2025 Netball World Youth Cup. The highly credentialed Fellowes is the genius behind the league’s best defensive end.


Don’t be caught out by the time change for the next round. The game at RAC Arena between West Coast Fever and Queensland Firebirds had to move, so it will be played at 6:30 pm Perth time on Friday, May 10, which is 8:30 pm AEST.



The rookies


In a match which Helen Housby would likely want to forget, Sophie Fawns stood up. The young Swifts shooter continues to grow in confidence each season and with more court time. She was instrumental in her side’s second quarter fight back against the Fever and handled the imposing pressure from their international back line like a pro. She finished the game with 12 from 17, including eight supershots.

With Tippah Dwan having a nightmare under the post (1/5), Emily Moore took the court during the second quarter for the Firebirds. In her 36 minute appearance, Moore slotted 10/11, including 3/3 supershots, 9 centre pass receives, 7 feeds into Donnell Wallam, managed a deflection and had just one turnover. 

While Lucy Austin has had limited court time this season, sitting behind Thunderbirds new recruit Romelda Aiken-George, she’d be pleased with her 23 minutes on Saturday. Austin slotted 21/24, including 2 supershots, picked up a rebound and a deflection, and gave up just one turnover. 


Lucy Austin was one of our rookes of the round. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



The shooting circle


Gabby Sinclair became the hero as Mavericks recorded their first win in Super Netball. In a match where Lightning appeared to have the edge for much of the 60 minutes, Sinclair and her sharp shooting helped to keep her team in contention. Then, with an injured Eleanor Cardwell cheering on from the sidelines, first Sinclair and then Shimona Jok took advantage of the chances they were given to grab an unlikely victory. Sinclair landed two super shots in the final minute under incredible pressure. 

Thunderbirds had a much more proactive approach to the supershot this week, a necessary tactical change when coming up against the long range specialists at the GIANTS. Attacking the post from range from the first quarter, this change in tactics also saw Lucy Austin rack up her most minutes so far this season, combining with both Georgie Horjus and Lauren Frew throughout the match for a double super shot threat. They finished with five supershots from nine attempts for the game, compared to three from seven across their previous three matches. 

Sophie Garbin was tremendous for Vixens in their match against Firebirds. She was as solid as a rock and a great target for the Vixens feeders all match. She ended the game with 49/57, the only weakness being a return of 1/5 in super shots. In fact, Vixens struggled from two point range, scoring just 5/14. They would be hoping to improve on that in future matches. 


Sophie Garbin has taken her game to a new level in the past 9 months. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun



The midcourt


Tayla Williams capped a fine game for Thunderbirds with Player of the Match honours. She finished the game with 20 assists, 36 feeds and four possession gains. For a centre, her defensive work is exceptional and she often comes up with an intercept out of nowhere. So far this year, Williams has formed a solid midcourt partnership with Georgie Horjus, and in this match also with the experienced Laura Scherian while Horjus spent time in the shooting circle. 

Despite all her years of experience, Kelsey Browne has been somewhat of a revelation at Fever this year. While it’s no surprise to find out that she’s a top player, she’s having a resurgence in a new team, having been given a chance by Fever and Dan Ryan. After years of playing almost exclusively as a wing attack, this year she is playing centre, and taking some of the pressure off Alice Teague-Neeld. Against Swifts, Browne had 22 assists, three deflections, one pickup and no turnovers.  

The Vixens’ midcourt worked like a well-oiled machine against Firebirds. At wing attack, Hannah Mundy played her first full game for the season and promptly took out the MVP with a tremendous performance. Meanwhile, captain Kate Moloney steered the team beautifully from centre, and Kate Eddy just went about her business at wing defence. Eddy is surely one of the most underrated players in the competition.  


Kate Eddy flies through for the intercept. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun


Alice Teague-Neeld and Kelsey Browne have built a formidable combination in a short time. Image: May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography



The defenders


Dan Ryan continues to be a master puppeteer, expertly pulling the strings of his defensive backline at the right time. In his side’s 75 – 59 win against Swifts, each of his defenders made a strong impact. Sunday Aryang played a key role shutting down Helen Housby and keeping her to only 3 goals. Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Fran Williams are both playing their part in the defensive circle. Additionally, Fever’s full court defence is smothering. Collectively, the side hunted down 18 loose ball pickups with 8 of the 10 athletes getting a mark in that column.

There were some top defensive performances when Vixens hosted Firebirds. For the home team, Jo Weston was back to her brilliant best. Tippah Dwan had been in fine form over the first three rounds, but Weston was successful in putting her off her game and getting her benched as a result. Weston’s defensive partner, Emily Mannix also played well. Meanwhile, Firebirds’ Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran combined for 14 gains and seven deflections as they tried to keep their team in the hunt. 


Sunday Aryang had an MVP performance, as she kept Helen Housby to just 3 goals. Image: May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography


Remi Kamo finished with an exceptional 8 gains. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun





In Thunderbirds’ match against GIANTS, it was noticeable that coach Tania Obst took the chance to try different combinations and give all ten players a solid hit out. Laura Scherian had a long stint in the midcourt, while Georgie Horjus spent more than half the game at goal attack. Shooter Lucy Austin was also given the chance to find some confidence. Only three players, Horjus, Latanya Wilson, and Shamera Sterling-Humphrey, played the full 60 minutes. Despite the changes, the team didn’t miss a beat with the new players slotting into the lineup well. Games like this should keep the team in good stead for future matches where positional changes may be necessary. 


Match MVP Tayla Williams is having a consistently strong season for the Thunderbirds. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



Stat of the week


In this week’s round of matches, three teams managed the feat of racking up more possession gains than general play turnovers. All three teams won comfortably, and they just happen to be the top three teams on the ladder. On Saturday, Thunderbirds had 19 gains and 16 turnovers against Giants, and in the early game on Sunday, Vixens had 14 gains and just 10 turnovers against the Firebirds. Then in the final game of the round, Fever just came out on the positive side of the ledger with 13 gains and 12 turnovers in their match against Swifts. This was actually the third time this season that Fever has had more possession gains than general play turnovers, which shows just how well they’re traveling.   

And speaking of turnovers, most teams this round were able to reduce their general play turnovers from their season average to date, as combinations start to settle into place. Two teams in the top four – the Vixens and the Thunderbirds – had the equal highest average turnovers for the first three rounds of the competition, hinting that we can expect further improvements in their game as they bring these under control.

Team/Turnovers for Rd 4/Turnover average Rds 1-3/Net change

Fever          12     12     Same
Swifts         16     18     -2
SCL             13     19     -6
Firebirds    22    20     +2
Mavs           15     21      -6
Vixens        10     22    -12
TBirds        16     22     -6
Giants        26     22     +4


Sophie Dwyer had a night to forget with 10 turnovers, as she came up against the best defensive unit in the league. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



Rolling stat of the season


Does it feel like there are more blow outs this season? Well, the numbers say that the average margin is 10.4 goals per game this year, compared to 8.7 goals per game for the same period last season. That’s something to keep an eye on. One team on the end of some of those big margins is GIANTS Netball, and it’s certainly been a tough start to the season for them.

For the first time in their eight season history, they’ve started the season with four straight losses. Last week, we mentioned the great disparity between their effectiveness during regular play and during the Power Five. That was only made more so in round four where they were actually level with Thunderbirds during the 20 minutes the super shot was in play, but outscored by 20 goals when it wasn’t. So, that stat now reads this way.

Giants in the Power Five: +1 goal (94-93)
Giants during regular play: -62 goals (126-188)

Another disappointing feature of Giants’ past two matches in particular, is extended periods of being unable to score. In Round three, they went for a period of 10 minutes without scoring, while Vixens piled on 11 goals at the other end. Then in round four, it was over 7 minutes between goals while Thunderbirds scored 12. In both instances, Giants only managed to put up one unsuccessful attempt, while watching the margin blow out. In those two games, they committed a total of 56 general play turnovers. 


Latty Wilson pulls in an intercept over Chelsea Pitman. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



Quotes Corner


Amy Parmenter, Mavericks Captain

 on growing as a leader

“I’m definitely getting out of my comfort zone. I know my strength is probably my relationships and getting around the girls on and off the court. But I need to take that next step in that more outward leadership and that is something I feel very supported in and am doing more and more every week. Our team has a lot of leaders. So it’s also about finding the balance between stamping my own authority and letting everyone else shine as well.” 


Tracey Neville chimes in, “Amy has a lot of heart. I think that is a positive but can also be a negative for her. We’ve had a few coffees to discuss it. There is a lot of work that goes into being a leader. And as much as you would expect her just to step up and be a leader in the team, there is still more to be done in that space. Amy is loving it. She definitely has her heart on her sleeve for every single one of our athletes and staff.”


Julie Fitzgerald, GIANTS Head Coach

Overall thoughts on the match

“I’m very disappointed, we’ve worked ourselves into a hole that we’re struggling to get out of. But all we can do is keep reviewing, keep training, keep looking at what we have to do and then hopefully do it better. I think a lot of that is timing, when we’re under pressure everyone is trying to help and everyone is going a bit early which throws the timing off all the way down the court. It all comes back to confidence, if we can get ourselves out of the hole we’re in at the moment, all of that will help”


“Our attacking ball speed in preseason was awesome, we were so happy with it and it was one of the features of our game – that and loose ball gets. But that seems to have evaporated now the season has started. We have to figure out how to get back to that, and the confidence we played with during preseason. We had that first game, against Fever, which knocked the stuffing out of us and now we’re trying to rebuild.”


On the shooting end

“I think Matisse did really well, it’s not quite the game that suits her style of play as well as others do but she put some good goals up for us and scored well. We had a patch in the second quarter where Sophie was in a bad situation where she just kept getting pulled every time the ball was down there but I thought she fought out of that quite well. In some ways I think Sophie played a really strong game, there were patches where she went off the boil, but when everything in front of her is off I can’t blame it all on her”


On the wing attack dilemma

“At the moment I kind of wish I had two Sam Winders’. She does give us a lot of punch down that attack end, she doesn’t have as much finesse on the feed that Chelsea has, but that’s understandable because she hasn’t played a lot there. In a game like this where we were struggling to get ball into the circle, maybe we needed Chelsea’s feed and Sam with some punch in the defensive end”


Tilly McDonell, GIANTS Defender

On why the loss hits so hard

“I think that’s why we’re so shattered and at a bit of a loss at the moment. It hurts even deeper today because I felt like coming into today we were stronger than ever and I know that the scores aren’t reflecting just how tight knit of a bunch we are. But it’s nothing to do with culture, it’s the strongest it’s ever been this year which is so frustrating”


Tania Obst, Thunderbirds Head Coach


On Lucy Austin’s season so far

“Lucy is a bit of a sponge, she wants to be the best version of her out there. She knows there’s a lot to grow in her game, having Georgie in front of her feels like home, she’s played a lot of netball with her through underage. And to have Laura’s experience to bring the ball to her, and almost coach her on the court as well is great. And tonight we saw the Lauren Frew, Lucy Austin combo which has had success on the Premier League court and it was nice to see that out there”


Laura Scherian, Thunderbirds Mid Courter

On adapting to her new team

“It’s really exciting working on new combinations. Working with Georgie, she’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with and her creativity is just amazing. I’m still learning off her, and that combination will keep growing. Right across the court that flexibility in combinations is something that we value a lot and have the ability to change it up so much which is exciting for us. 


Jamaican and Thunderbirds teammates celebrating their heritage during Inclusion Round. Image Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media



The games


Lightning v Mavericks

Melbourne’s new franchise took their first ever win in dramatic fashion, courtesy of an incredible performance by Molly Jovic at centre, and some inspirational shooting in the last power-five from Gabby Sinclair. Sunshine Coast were composed, with fewer penalties and turnovers, and a slightly better conversion rate of all possession. The Diamonds connection of Liz Watson and Cara Koenen at times showed moments of truly poetic play. Meanwhile, ever-tenacious Melbourne kept clawing back the margin, learning from errors and adjusting smartly to their opponents. 

The hosts grew an eight-goal lead late in the third quarter, then injuries appeared to strike randomly to influence the run of play. Star Courtney Bruce suffered calf cramps just before the last quarter and failed to get back on court, leaving the home team with a sizeable chink in their defensive armour. A painful right ankle injury to Elle Cardwell made it necessary to bring back Shimona Jok to see out the game. The athletic Jamaican’s impact at this moment was crucial, as without Bruce there were suddenly two excellent shooting options for Mavericks. Having been four goals down with 70 seconds remaining, a fateful small contact and resultant stepping call against Lightning with 22 seconds to go allowed Mavericks to steal the win..


Thunderbirds v GIANTS 

The 2024 season is going from bad to worse for the GIANTS, as they remain the only team winless after their 69-49 loss to the Adelaide Thunderbirds. While it was their best defensive game of the season with 14 gains, they were costly with turnovers committing 26. Thunderbirds continue to show why they shouldn’t be written off despite their new shooting line up, seamlessly using all 10 of their players, with everyone getting at least 20 minutes on court. 

GIANTS were more proactive in their substitutions this week, but they failed to have the same impact. Sam Winders  was their strongest option both in wing attack and wing defence, while Matisse Letherbarrow struggled against the lankiness of Shamera Sterling-Humphrey. Tayla Williams earned MVP honours, serving her shooters ball on a silver platter with 20 goal assists and contributing defensively with four gains. Tilly McDonell also lifted to another level in this game, spending some time at both goal keeper and goal defence with a team high four gains. 


Hulita Veve pulls in a screamer against Hannah Mundy. Image Shaun Sharp/Sporting Moments by Shaun


Vixens v Firebirds

Despite losing Zara Walters, it was business as usual for the Vixens, as they completed a 68-55 victory over Firebirds. Hannah Mundy was outstanding in her first full game of the season adding 24 goal assists and splitting the centre pass load with Kiera Austin quite evenly. Vixens’ ball speed was what undid the Firebirds as they found themselves reacting and getting caught on the body too often. The smooth switching between Emily Mannix and Jo Weston disrupted the vision into the circle for the Firebirds and caused disruption. 

Tippah Dwan was benched in favour of Emily Moore who had a solid first outing of 2024. The Firebirds defence end continues to show that they can take it to the best in the league, collecting 14 gains between them. Despite their best efforts however, Sophie Garbin stood tall under pressure with 49 goals.


Swifts v Fever

Fever underlined their status as competition leaders with a 75-59 win over Swifts at Ken Rosewall Arena. They led by eight goals at quarter time, before Swifts fought back and narrowed the gap to just two at half time (35-33). It was then that Fever put the foot down, and Swifts just couldn’t go with them. The visitors won both the third and fourth quarters by seven to run out comfortable winners. Fever didn’t have a single poor player as they showed their depth across the court. 

Sunday Aryang was awarded the MVP after a great defensive display, but it could have been almost any of the Fever players. Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard was as strong as ever with 60 goals. Her shooting partner, Shanice Beckford only scored eight goals, but that included six super shots from as many attempts, which proved incredibly valuable as Swifts tried to fight back through use of two-pointers. Kelsey Browne and Alice Teague-Neeld were excellent in the midcourt, combining for 46 assists. For Swifts, once again, Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud did everything they could to keep their team in the game. 


Toss up, anyone? Sunday Aryang and Maddy Proud both seem to have simultaneous possession. Image: May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography


Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard pulls in a ball. Image: May Bailey/Clusterpix Sports Photography




Team / Pld / Pts / %
1 . FEVER . 4 . 16 . 127.7
2 . VIXENS . 4 . 16 . 118.8
3 . THUNDERBIRDS . 4 . 12 . 110.9
4 . SWIFTS . 4 . 8 . 94.0

5 . LIGHTNING . 4 . 4 . 94.8
6 . FIREBIRDS . 4 . 4 . 94.4 
7 . MAVERICKS . 4 . 4 . 91.0
8 . GIANTS . 4 . 0 . 78.3



Next Round

Fri, May 10 – 8:30 pm – FEVER v FIREBIRDS (6:30pm local time)
Sat, May 11 – 5:00 pm – MAVERICKS v THUNDERBIRDS
Sat, May 11 – 7:00 pm – GIANTS v LIGHTNING
Sun, May 5 – 2:00 pm – SWIFTS v VIXENS


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