Netball Scoop – Suncorp Super Netball – Round 8, 2021
Contributors: Katrina Nissen, Ian Harkin, Kate Cornish, Esther Nelson, Jenny Sinclair
Photographers: May Bailey, Danny Dalton, Simon Leonard
New South Wales Swifts 64 defeated Queensland Firebirds 52 (15-11, 15-14, 18-9, 16-18)
GIANTS Netball 57 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 41 (15-8, 14-9, 15-11, 13-13)
Sunshine Coast Lighting 67 defeated Collingwood Magpies 65 (14-19,17-15, 12-13, 19-15, ET 5-3)
The game between Melbourne Vixens and West Coast Fever did not go ahead.
Kiera Austin (GIANTS) – ACL (season)
Liz Watson (Vixens) – foot (season)
Ash Unie (Lightning) – ACL (season)
Maddie Hinchliffe (Lightning) – foot. Maddie was seen at the stadium without her moon boot. Fingers crossed we will see her on court before the season’s end.
Our condolences go to long term Netball Scoop member, Ian Harkin, whose sister passed away unexpectedly.
Magpies shooter, Shimona Nelson played her 50th national league game.
Magpies coach, Nicole Richards, said they celebrated Shimona’s milestone pregame.
“It was important to do that so it doesn’t get lost in whatever the result was going to be. It was a brief acknowledgment of where she has come from in the last 3-4 years. She is developing nicely. She is still raw in terms of her development within the sport and I think she has a massive future if she continues to progress the way she has been progressing.”
ROOKIE OF THE ROUND
While she’s not exactly a rookie, after notching up her 50th game in the league, it’s easy to forget that Shimona Nelson (Magpies) is still just 22 years of age. Nelson has shown incredible development across the 2021 season, and is now a dominant force in goals. She sits second behind only Jhaniele Fowler, for the most goals scored to date this year. Nelson is just the latest of a long list of phenomenal goal shooters churned out by Netball Jamaica.
PLAY OF THE ROUND
The Magpies take out a few categories this week. With coach Nicole Richardson celebrating her birthday while the team was in Queensland, the athletes decided to give her a surprise. A startled Nic may have had extra years added to her official age, and it’s yet to be seen how she will take her revenge.
TEAM OF THE ROUND
Netball Scoop’s teams of the week were both the Collingwood Magpies and the Sunshine Coast Lightning. While the Pies were unable to snatch a win, they were in front of the ladder leading Sunshine Coast Lightning for much of their game, missing out narrowly after an extra-time thriller. Credit to the Lightning who maintained their composure despite being 6 goals down at one point, and snuck ahead after a pivotal Karla Pretorius turnover.
Sunshine Coast Lightning would be disappointed with their gain to goal rate over the weekend, averaging just 22% in their narrow win against the Magpies (46%). It bucked the Round 8 trend, with both the GIANTS (68%) and Swifts (75%) superior margins helping them to victory against the Thunderbirds (4715) and Firebirds (60%) respectively.
The Lightning made 9 gains across their match, and only converted two of them to goals. With just the Vixens and Thunderbirds having a worse conversion rate, it’s an area the Lightning will want to tidy up as they march towards finals.
Athletes desperate for a win notched up some startling penalty counts this week. Leading the pack were Jodi-Ann Ward (28), Matilda Garrett (21), Phumza Maweni (19) and Kristiana Manu’a (15 in 27 minutes of court time). Overall, the Firebirds had a team penalty count of 66, closely followed by the Thunderbirds on 65. Not only do the high counts impact the ability of a team to build defensive pressure, but the constant whistle detracts from the game. In the words of one of our favourite umpires, perhaps it’s time to “tidy up ladies.”
TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND
As previously covered, Sunday’s fixture between Fever and Vixens didn’t go ahead. It was a difficult time for both clubs with neither able to agree on a range of tabled options, but after Fever released a less than gracious statement, they were harshly judged in the court of public opinion.
Ire should also be saved for the Suncorp Super Netball Commission, who’ve been aware of the unfolding situation since Thursday. It should have been their role to make a decision and release a subsequent statement, rather than leaving the clubs to duke it out publicly.
The Commission is investigating the events that led to the match not being played, and it’s to be hoped that in the interests of transparency the report is made public rather than tucked away in a file.
While the Commission are still deciding whether/when the game will go ahead, the slamming shut of numerous state borders will make the task more difficult. Future games are already in doubt, all SSN players are on ‘stay at home’ restrictions, and a move back into hub life may be the only way to save the season.
Another disappointment was the lack of post-match coverage shown on TV after the Lightning-Magpies game. While the allocated time was eaten up when the match went into extra-time, it’s frustrating not to view post-match analysis and athlete reactions. While TV stations are generally unable to extend the allocated time slot, there’s no excuse for online match coverage who have no such constraints.
And for something positive, how good have the Sunshine Coast Lightning been again this season! While formidable under former coach Noeline Taurua, bench players were given limited court time. It’s a testament to incumbent coach Kylee Byrne, and assistants Christine Voge and Vicki Wilson, that the Lightning now have a deep squad of ten, with each athlete used strategically depending on form, individual opponents, the score or the need to inject fresh legs. As a result the coaching panel has developed a number of combinations that work seamlessly and confidently together, and can call the changes as soon as they are needed.
There were some familiar faces at Ken Rosewall Arena this week, as a number of former Swifts’ athletes turned up to see the next generation in action. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Swifts’ formation.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
STAND OUT STATISTICS
Maisie Nankivell 10
Gretel Bueta, Jamie-Lee Price, Sophie Dwyer, Molly Jovic 6
Jodi-Ann Ward 28
Matilda Garrett 21
Phumza Maweni 19
Shamera Sterling 10
April Brandley 8
Jodi-Ann Ward 7
Maddy Proud 6
Maisie Nankivell, Hannah Petty 4
Centre pass receives
Paige Hadley 25
Kelsey Browne, Gretel Bueta 24
Gabi Sinclair 26
Paige Hadley 22
Kim Ravillion, Maddy Hay 18
Romelda Aiken 11
Lenize Potgeiter 6
Sam Wallace 3
Firebirds, Thunderbirds 13
Swifts, Thunderbirds 17
NSW Swifts 64 def Queensland Firebirds 52
by Kate Cornish
When these two teams met back in round one it went down to the wire. It was the first game where we saw the new extra time rule implemented, and it was the NSW Swifts who won that game by three points.
The Swifts were licking their wounds after being beaten by an enthused Adelaide Thunderbirds team in round seven and they desperately needed a win over the Firebirds to build consistency and to stay in contention with the top of the ladder. In contrast the Firebirds, who were tipped by many to have a scorching season, have been searching for the form that had many talking about them being grand final contenders during their pre-season; so far, they have under-delivered in key moments and not been able to rise the challenge or their potential in 2021. Desperately searching for a 60-minute performance that could get them the win and four points, the Firebirds needed to leave nothing in the tank against a Swifts team, who at their best, are virtually unbeatable.
With both teams having similar targets in their goal circles the battle that presented itself before the first whistle was how both teams would capitalise on the easy points that both goalers could provide. Up one end, Sam Wallace has been having a dominant season for the Swifts and Firebirds stalwart, Romelda Aiken, delivers plenty of points under the post.
The Swifts started the game with intent and purpose on the feed into Wallace, something that they were not able to do against the Thunderbirds. It looked like a clear message from coach Briony Akle was to get the ball in early to Wallace and with confidence. Paige Hadley started the game at wing attack and Maddy Proud took control of the court in centre, they both worked good space off each other well and found circle edge with relative ease considering Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion were in their way.
Though she finished the game on six general play turnovers, Wallace was again hugely dominant and won the battle of the goalers in this game, easily. While she was put under pressure at times by the defensive unit of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe, this week her body positioning and eye contact with her feeders and goal attack, Helen Housby, was clear and purposeful. When she was in the air under the high ball, she went up strong and even when the feed was not perfect, she was committed to the ball and held her space. Wallace has shot at 100% on a few occasions this season, and this game she was at 89.5%, again taking the bulk of the shots for the Swifts.
Proud played centre for the whole game and landed herself player of the match. The Swifts tinker with their mid-court a lot during games, and we have not yet been convinced that they have found their starting seven, but it is clear that Proud should be on court for the Swifts, and in centre for this game she was controlled and worked hard in defence. The match-up against Ravaillion was fantastic as they are two of the best mid-courters in the game and neither took a backwards step. By the third quarter Proud was firing in centre and she won that mid-court battle against Ravaillion, which went a long way in helping to secure a win for the Swifts.
Proud finished the game with a solid 32 feeds to her name and no general play turnovers, and in a dominant performance by the swifts attacking line up, Hadley in wing attack shared the load with 35 feeds to her goalers. With Proud and Hadley taking almost equal responsibility for feeds into the circle it meant that neither were able to be left alone and both were making an impact.
In attack the Swifts started the game with much more confidence than they did in round seven. The combination of Hadley and Wallace was working well for the team in red and the Swifts were rewarded with some easy points as a result of that combination.
Again, against the Firebirds the Swifts patience was a feature of their game as it so usually is and despite the constant pressure being built by a Firebirds who were changing up their defensive structure between a one-on-one style and a box style of defence, the Swifts were able to work the ball around until they were under the post.
Had the Firebirds come up against another team, not as patient as the Swifts, they could have won the game due to their defensive pressure. Their box defense was causing a huge amount of struggle for the Swifts and against a less disciplined team they could have come up trumps with such a performance. With their strong defence they won back ball and mounted a valiant comeback in the second quarter, but they were unable to maintain the intensity for longer than fifteen minutes.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Firebirds came back to within one point in the second quarter but they were not able to capitalise on the great comeback they had made. Towards the end of the quarter, they allowed Wallace space to successfully sink two super shots and they again released the pressure they had built by spilling the ball over the line on one of their centre passes. Small moments during games, but for the Firebirds they add up to six losses and two wins for season 2021.
In this game when the Firebirds had their opportunities, and in fact they won the last quarter 18-16 but overall, they did not take them and when the pressure was applied by the Swifts, they were not able to keep up. The question is why? They are a well-drilled team littered with stars, but none of them have been quite up to the task this season. While we keep in mind they have a new coach and returning players, this should not equal the performances we are seeing on court. They are a better team than what they have produced so far this season and the feeling is that once this team clicks, or finds their rhythm, they could beat anyone; what they will need now is to win all their games going forward and for another team to stumble on route to finals.
One thing they will need to work on (and we have been saying this all season) is to reduce their penalty count. They were out of play a massive 33 times more than the Swifts during this game and a penalty count of 66 in a 60-minute game of netball is way too much for a team with as much potential as the Firebirds. They are known as being one of the more physical teams in the competition, however this game did not come across as particularly physical, so this lack of discipline from the team in purple needs to be addressed, and fast, by coach Megan Anderson.
Their target in the goal circle, Aiken also suffered some confidence issues during this game. We have not seen this for some time from the Jamaican international, but early on in the first quarter she had a held ball and two air shots to her name. She never looked confident on the shot after that and unfortunately, she was in her own head for the rest of the game. Aiken will need to quickly shrug that performance off and look forward to next week. While she is the leading offending rebounder in the competition, that is probably the one stat that goalers do not want to lead in as it would seem that most of the offensive rebounds are off her own shot.
The Firebirds have also not locked down a starting wing attack, and while they have two solid options in Jemma Mi Mi and Laura Dunkley, neither have been a dominant partner for Ravaillion who seems to be working overtime in the attack end. If Mi Mi or Dunkley could fill this role full time and take some pressure off the attacking third, we could see an unstoppable attacking line up.
The Swifts have struggled in transition down court this season and this struggle was on display again today. At times both Hadley and Proud were caught too high up court which affected the timing of the leads their teammates were making. While the defensive set up of the Firebirds was part of the problem, the other part was that Proud and Hadley needed to trust their teammates to bring the ball to them. You often find players working overtime due to not having enough confidence in players around them, and with a lack of consistency in their performances this year, perhaps they can be forgiven for overplaying their hand in transition. In this game however, they were at times, more of a hindrance than of help. A harsh call perhaps on a duo that was so dominant in the Swifts win, but timing is everything on a netball court and against a top four team, this could have proved costly for the Swifts.
WHERE was it won?
The unwavering patience from the Swifts, despite an intense defensive performance by the Firebirds was what won the game for the NSW team. They are an outfit who know each other’s game so well that they do not panic and even when things are difficult, they simply continue to play their game and, in the end, this relentless style of play breaks other teams down. In the third quarter the Swifts tightened the screws and in a blink the score was out to 10. They had managed to successfully work their way around the solid box defense that the Firebirds had wasted so much energy setting up and executing.
The pressure on Aiken from Sarah Klau also culminated in the third quarter and with some good front positioning and anxious feeds into the circle, Klau was beginning to assert her dominance and her first game did not come until late in the third, it was the moment that helped the Swifts stamp their authority on the game. They will take a lot of confidence from this win and look to set up some better consistency in their performances over the coming weeks to stay in the top four.
The Firebirds held on for as long as they could, but glimpses of quality play in this competition will not be enough to win you games and they clearly have some work to do back in camp. They will have a bye round next week, and it seems like it could be good timing to re-group if they have any chance of salvaging their season.
HOW did she do that?
Late in the fourth quarter there was a beautiful piece of broken play, where the Swifts flew down court in transition, and Sam Wallace stole the show with a lay-up and a goal to get the crowd on their feet.
MVP – Maddy Proud (NSW Swifts)
GIANTS 57 defeated Adelaide Thunderbirds 41
By Esther Nelson
After a number of losses, the GIANTS came into the match looking to restore their start of the season form. Walking out onto court, the GIANTS fans gave Jo Harten an especially loud welcome cheer in recognition of the difficulties she has faced over the past few weeks. It was definitely the most vocal the GIANTS fans have been since moving to Ken Rosewall arena. And the GIANTS fans were rewarded by a decisive win over the Thunderbirds.
The battle of the GIANTS’ defence and Thunderbirds attack started early. April Brandley in goal defence took three intercepts in the first ten minutes and racked up 84 Nissan Net Points (NNP) in the first half alone. Amy Parmenter, Jamie-Lee Price and Maddie Hay also had strong games for the GIANTS as together with Brandley they were in the top 5 NNP for the match. Only Shamera Sterling on the Thunderbirds side had a relatively successful game at 89 NNP.
In a nice change Kristiana Manu’a came on at GK for the GIANTS in the second quarter and did well to keep Lenize Potgieter quiet in GS after Sam Poolman went to the bench. It was nice to see Manu’a out on court as her time has been limited due to a pre-season injury. Matisse Leatherbarrow also had some time on court for the GIANTS in the fourth quarter, coming on at GS as Harten moved to GA and Sophie Dwyer went to the bench. Leatherbarrow even took a successful penalty super shot after the buzzer had gone at the end of the game.
Compared to the last few games Harten seemed to have the belief back in her game. There were a few moments early on where it looked like Harten could lose confidence after the ball bounced out of the ring after taking a shot but Harten was able to shake this off. She seemed to flag a bit in the second half but by then it appeared too difficult for the Thunderbirds to make a comeback. The GIANTS looked much better on court compared to last week whereas the Thunderbirds looked a bit lost when the game started to get away from them.
Thunderbirds coach, Tania Obst, went through 30 substitutions during the game, utilising all players on the bench as she looked for an answer to the GIANTS’ defensive pressure. Some changes in the midcourt, moving Maisie Nankivell into centre and bringing on Elle McDonald into wing attack later in the second quarter had some impact and it would be nice to see more of this combination in future rounds.
The GIANTS won the first three quarters and the Thunderbirds only managed to tie in the fourth quarter when the GIANTS seemed to slow down and lose focus. The GIANTS’ defence and midcourt managed to disrupt the Thunderbirds attacking play for most of the game, making it difficult to get the ball to Potgieter. Potgieter’s timing looked out during the game and she appeared frustrated at times, including when she was penalised by an offensive contact against Manu’a in the third quarter.
The Thunderbirds defensive combination was solid, but their front end couldn’t make the connections work. The GIANTS paid homage to Sterling’s aerial abilities by using short sharp passes across and into the circle, limiting Sterling’s intercepts. Even so Sterling still managed 3 intercepts and 7 deflections.
Both teams had 19 gains so were relatively even on that front.
The GIANTS did not rely on the super shots to get them through the game, with 5/12 super shots (42% accuracy). Generally, they shoot an average of 15 super shots per game with a 50% success.
It was good to see Leatherbarrow take the court as giving her more court time will increase the GIANTS’ shooting options
What needs improvement?
Both teams need to improve their shooting accuracy. The GIANTS shot at 77% accuracy compared to the Thunderbirds 67%. Sam Gooden’s specialist super shot ability failed to materialise as the Thunderbirds only had 2 successful super shots out of their 10 attempts.
The number of turn overs for both teams was high with 31 for the Thunderbirds and 25 to the GIANTS. The Thunderbirds had some uncharacteristic mistakes that haven’t been present in the last few games. Dwyer for the GIANTS had 7 turnovers including an offensive contact call in the second quarter. The GIANTS were better at scoring off turnovers compared to the Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds need to reduce their penalties with 65 for the game compared to the GIANTS at 49. Garrett had 21 penalties, the highest on court, closely followed by the GIANTS’ Manu’a who had 15 even though she only came on during the second quarter.
Where was it won?
The GIANTS had a total of 386 NNP to the Thunderbirds’ 227 NNP and dominated time in possession at 56% to 44%. In reality the game was won in the first half. The GIANTS kept up their defensive pressure, giving them an early lead that the Thunderbirds were never able to claw back. Brandley had an amazing game, earning MVP and the strong midcourt allowed Harten and Dwyer to shoot with confidence for the GIANTS. Hay was a safe pair of hands with only two turnovers for the game.
Where was it lost?
The attack end for the Thunderbirds never quite clicked as the last pass into the circle was made difficult and led to a lot of hesitation on circle edge. Bringing Sam Gooden on during the super shot period did not seem to help the Thunderbirds as it has in the past in keeping them in touch with the game.
How did she do that?
Although it is not unusual for Sterling, there was a great rejection off the shot from Potgieter by Manu’a. This is something we haven’t seen a lot of from her before.
MVP April Brandley (GIANTS Netball)
Tania Obst, Thunderbirds coach
“We were a little bit bewildered with what was going on when we first came out. It was like we weren’t prepared for the physicality of the GIANTS…We just couldn’t get our flow in the attack end, missing goals that we shouldn’t.”
Julie Fitzgerald, GIANTS coach
“I think our attack was much steadier and there were much better leads…I think defensively we managed to build intensity. April obviously got a lot of ball. I think there was a lot of pressure built up down the court which forced them into error and gave us ball back”
Sunshine Coast Lightning 67 defeated Collingwood Magpies 65
by Katrina Nissen
Laura Scherian was a playmaker for the Lightning. The dynamic wing attack was in everything and had all the tricks. She started the game with 5 consecutive centre pass receives before Magpies wing defence, Ash Brazill was able to shut her down. In response, Scherian started further back and put in a plethora of prelims to lose Brazill over the line.
Around the circle, Scherian pulled from her usual bag of tricks. She held space strongly78 against her defenders, ran off the court and around the baseline and fed the ball an impressive 30 times.
Cara Koenen was also dominating and kept international veteran Geva Mentor to only 1 rebound for a match. Koenen’s superior foot speed and aerial athletics allowed her to get to ball first on a number of close occasions in order to put up an impressive 46/52 goals.
During the first quarter, Magpies played a short, sharp game. The combination of Molly Jovic, Kelsey Browne and Gaby Sinclair worked the ball fast, blitzing the Lightning’s defence. Sinclair, to her credit, was able to draw Karla Pretorius away and to the top of the circle, which allowed the feeders to place an easier pass into Shimon Nelson.
Any ball the Magpies won was treasured during the first quarter: they converted 100% of their gains to goals. They also had a superior centre pass to goal percentage of 94% to the Lightning’s 71%.
But come the second quarter, Lightning stepped up their defensive work rate. During transition play, they formed a diamond style of defence, separating the Magpies and forcing them to play long. The strategy allowed them to close the gap and level the game partway through that quarter.
One of Lightning’s strengths this season has been their ability to rotate through their roster and not lose a beat. And coach Kylee Byrne isn’t afraid to play her athletes out of their usual positions. Tonight, Steph Wood had a run at wing attack, which allowed them another strong feeding option.
WHAT needs improvement?
Lightning needs to find a solution for their slow starts. In 6 of their 8 games this season, they have been either drawn or losing at half time.
Steph Wood’s ability to protect the space to allow Koenen free reign of the baseline or to pop out for the ball shows how much this partnership is humming. But, if the side is to contest finals, they will need a higher shooting volume from Wood.
Magpies had a 5 goal lead heading into quarter time. Their coach, Nicole Richardson, wants them to find the ability to push those leads out even further.
WHERE was it won?
Lightning’s tight, patient press saw them fight back and draw the game. But it was two perfectly timed intercepts from their captain, Karla Pretorius, and careful conversions from Wood and Koenan which won the game.
WHERE was it lost?
A few times in the last quarter, Magpies had an opportunity to seal the game. One such occasion in the final quarter saw them apply such tight defensive pressure that Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius were forced to play the ball across the court to each other several times before the pressure was eased by a penalty. Patience and off the body work during this occasion could potentially have stubbed the momentum of Lightning’s attack.
No doubt Shimona Nelson will also be ruing the missed shot on the buzzer, which could have sealed the game.
HOW did she do that?!
Cara Koenen pulled off an impressive win against Ash Brazill late in the final quarter. During Koenan’s stint in goal attack, she and Brazill were both hunting a loose ball up near Magpie’s transverse. Koenen got the deflection, but the ball went sailing over the sideline. During the tussle, both Brazill and Koenen ran offside, but Koenan still won the ball.
MVP – Cara Koenen (Lightning)
Kylee Byrne (Lightning coach)
On NOT being premiership favourites despite sitting on top of the ladder
“We’re used to people writing us off, so we’re pretty comfortable with that. Even reading midseason reviews, no one is looking at us and we don’t mind that. We like going under the radar.”
Nicole Richardson (Magpies coach)
On training for the extra time.
“Our training environment and our work ethic surpasses what the girls put out in a match. So, they have the legs and they the effort to run out an extra five minutes. And, that extra 5 minutes, nothing really changes in the game. It is still the game.
On that last missed goal,
“I think the key thing we train for and we did it in our last training session – and this is why it is so disappointing for us – is to run that ‘we’ve got 10 seconds left on the clock and being able to score off it’. We did it at our last training session, and the scenario presented and got it to a shot, and unfortunately, we could have won it because we had the last shot at goal. But it is not about that shot; it’s about having a bit more courage, when we are 4 or 5 up, to let the longer ball go and get 6, 7 or 8 up. We have to learn to do that and put another nail in the coffin.”
Sat 3 July 3.00pm Swifts v Fever Ken Rosewall Arena
Sat 3 July 7.00pm Firebirds v Giants Nissan Arena
Sun 4 July 1.00pm Lightning v Vixens USC Stadium
Sun 4 July 3.00pm Thunderbirds v Magpies Netball SA Stadium
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.