Netball Scoop – Suncorp Super Netball – Round 9, 2021
Contributors: Cara Gledhill, Jane Edwards, Phoebe Doyle, Katrina Nissen, Ian Harkin, Jenny Sinclair
Photographers: Aliesha Vicars, Kirsten Daley, Sue McKay
Round 9 threw up plenty of surprises, with three of the top four teams losing their matches, albeit Fever going down to new ladder-leaders NSW Swifts. Home court advantage proved to be a winning edge for the Vixens and Thunderbirds, while notching up frequent flyer points, hotel quarantine, stay-at-home orders and controversy all took their toll on some of the sides.
However, the most physically and emotionally draining factor, according to a number of athletes and coaches, is the current uncertainty hanging over the season. Teams aren’t sure where they will be laying their head from one week, or on some occasions, a day, to the next. Fever are currently in a two week hotel quarantine, while due to a governmental snafu, the GIANTS and Swifts will endure three weeks of lockdown unless commonsense prevails. The Magpies were quarantined in Adelaide, and are unsure of what restrictions will remain on their return home to Victoria. All teams remain on stay-at-home restrictions, which isn’t far removed from quarantine.
So it’s an almighty and commendable effort by all those involved, to keep Suncorp Super Netball 2021 rolling along.
Melbourne Vixens 55 def. Sunshine Coast Lightning 52 (12-14, 11-16, 16-15, 16-7)
New South Wales Swifts 66 def. West Coast Fever 65 (14-19, 21-13, 20-14, 11-19)
Adelaide Thunderbirds 62 def. Collingwood Magpies 54 (15-14, 17-12, 13-14, 17-14)
Queensland Firebirds 63 def. GIANTS Netball 52 (15-10, 14-13, 19-13, 15-17)
Kiera Austin (GIANTS) – ACL (season)
Liz Watson (Vixens) – foot (season)
Ash Unie (Lightning) – ACL (season)
Maddie Hinchliffe (Lightning) – foot.
Phumza Maweni (Lightning) left the court at the start of the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a foot injury. Kylee Byrne said after the game she had been told that the injury was minor.
Gabby Sinclair (Magpies) – a late withdrawal after sustaining a thigh injury in the gym and failing to pass the fitness test, Nicole Richardson said after the game she is expected to be back next week
Jodi-Ann Ward – left the court at the end of the second quarter after a fall in the circle, she returned in the fourth quarter with some strapping to the knee. Nicole Richardson said after the game there was no structural damage
Rudi Ellis (Firebirds) sat out the game against the GIANTS with illness.
Congratulations to Maddy Proud who played her 100th national league game. In what should have been a home game for the Swifts, Proud was celebrated in style by her teammates and waved her thanks to the non-existent crowd.
Congratulations to Ruby Bakewell-Doran (Firebirds) who debuted in wing defence after coming into the side as a replacement player for Rudi Ellis. Bakewell-Doran performed well, managing a deflection in her three minutes on court.
ROOKIE OF THE ROUND
After starting the match strongly, Hannah Mundy and Kate Moloney were blanketed by their Lightning opponents in the 2nd quarter. Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis pulled off a masterstroke in switching Mundy into centre, and Kate Moloney into wing attack. The latter looked far more comfortable creating space and feeding the circle, while Mundy was a strong presence through the middle of the court. She had the nous to work around Moloney, and contested strongly in defence, picking off an intercept.
When Laura Scherian was moved into centre, Mundy kept her far quieter than normal, with Scherian notching up just four goal assists in the second half of the game.
PLAYS OF THE ROUND
When the GIANTS and Swifts left Sydney, then Brisbane, at short notice, there were always going to be casualties – favourite pillows left at home, a shortage of warm weather gear for Melbourne, and most importantly, activities to while away the quarantine hours.
Liz Ellis’ post, asking if anyone could help supply the kids with some goodies, was met with an outpouring of support. Before too much time had passed colouring in kits, playdough, cards and a range of board games had found their way to the teams. There were some happy faces among the children, although with Maddy Proud’s close relationship with the floor, she made a wise decision to stay away from Twister.
With a mini-hub thrown together in a hurry, and many commentators grounded in their home states or in hotel quarantine, Tom Rehn (South Australia) and Seb Costello (Victoria) stepped into the breach as play-by-play commentators. Both were ably assisted by Bianca Chatfield, Nat Medhurst and Chelsea Pitman, all usually side-line commentators, while Fiona Crowe stepped up as side-line commentator for the Thunderbirds game.
While much of our focus is on the difficulties faced by teams and umpires, credit must go to Channel 9 and the team listed above, without whom the game wouldn’t be televised.
TEAM OF THE ROUND
The New South Wales Swifts take out the award this week for showing that beating the Fever is indeed possible, even for a team that had to leave their home state in a hurry and stay in quarantine in much of the lead-up to the game with only limited time for training.
The Swifts showed consistency and control in their win over the Fever and walked away one goal victors after playing the ball around beautifully in the final minute of the game. The final margin was flattering to the Fever who were adrift by as much as ten goals at one stage. The Swifts did nothing overly flashy, but simply played with more consistency and converted more turnover ball from their opposition. Their use of the supershot was sparing The use of the bench by Briony Akle was a key for the Swifts. Despite being played without a crowd, the Swifts bench were more than happy to vocalise their support throughout the game.
With Diamonds’ selection in the back of many fans’ minds, Netball Scoop turned our attention to the form of the league’s goal defences this week. We looked over the numbers from Rounds 1 to 7, by which time each team had played each other once, with interesting results. Some of these athletes are ball winners in their own right, while others provide more shut down protection for the goal keeper behind them, an ability that doesn’t have a number placed on it.
As expected, Karla Pretorius (16) leads the way for intercepts, followed narrowly by Jodi-Ann Ward (15), Matilda Garrett (14) and Sunday Aryang (12). Adding in pickups (where Pretorius was again ranked first on 15), and rebounds (Aryang and Maddy Turner ranked first on 10), saw Aryang and Ward ahead of the pack with the most gains – 31 each. Pretorius sat in third place, with 29 to her name.
Reflective of the difficult season their teams are having, Jo Weston has the least number of intercepts (6) and gains (19), followed by Garrett on 20 gains.
Negative statistics threw up some talking points, with Aryang the least penalised goal defence (62), well clear of April Brandley (84) and Garrett (85). General play turnovers were impressively low, with Pretorius (6), Turner (6) and Aryang (8) leading the pack.
At the wrong end of the scale, Kim Jenner has been stood out of play on 116 occasions, closely followed by Turner on 110, while turnover errors have been greatest from Garrett (16) and Ward and Weston (both on 15).
Netball Scoop then applied a score to each of the metrics (1 = best result, through to 8 = worst result), tallied the scores, and came up with an overall ranking, with lowest being the most effective based on Champion Data figures. Sunday Aryang came out marginally in front of Karla Pretorius, with a substantial gap over over goal defences.
While these rankings can’t take into account “invisible” acts such as reducing their opponents number of possessions or shutting down circle space, they do reflect the measurable actions of each goal defence.
TALKING POINTS OF THE ROUND
With most of the teams relocating with just a few hours notice, there were families, friends, assistant coaches, pets, jobs and comfort items left in the wake. But spare a thought for Kylee Byrne, Stacey Marinkovich and Megan Anderson, who all made the difficult decision to leave their children at home, while Briony Akle had to split her family in two, taking two children interstate and leaving two with her husband. There is no timeline on the Victorian mini-hub, so it could be weeks, or even months, before these families are reunited.
These women are mothers as well as coaches, and while they are playing a major role in keeping the Covid-ravaged season alive, it has come at this considerable cost. There are also undoubtedly support staff in the same situation – all of whom deserve our applause and respect.
Our thoughts are also with Lightning assistant coach Chris Voge who continues to battle lymphoma. Speaking during the broadcast, Coach Kylee Byrne was quick to credit her for continuing to work with the team from her hospital bed.
Once again Covid has left hundreds of athletes disappointed. Netball Australia made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 National Championships (17/U and 19/U) while the Australian Mens & Mixed Championships were also deferred for the second year running. For all of these athletes, who’ve spent months training, and may no longer meet age group requirements, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Also of concern is the loss of pathway opportunities, as the member organisations and Australia look to develop athletes of the future.
Alright, it’s not strictly SSN, but former Thunderbirds head coach Dan Ryan, appeared at Leed’s Rhinos’ no-undie-Monday dressed as Queen Elizabeth II, replete with corgi. All was going swimmingly, until a close encounter between an electric fence and Lizzy’s buttocks ended unhappily. Cue much holding of cheeks, cursing, and of course, a team of athletes rolling around in the grass in uncontrollable giggles. (Thanks to Sienna Rushton for recording the event on her now expired Insta story)
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Esther Nelson’s article on Stacey Francis made quite an impression on the Summer Hill Lakers Netball Club. Congratulations to them for supporting diversity, after holding their first Pride Round in June.
STAND OUT STATISTICS
Jhaniele Fowler (Fever) – 47/48
Lenize Potgieter (Thunderbirds) – 41/45
Sophie Dwyer (GIANTS) – 7
Nyah Allen (Magpies) – 5
Maisie Nankivell (Thunderbirds) – 31
Kim Ravaillion (Firebirds) – 29
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) – 12 (8 intercepts, 2 deflections with gain, 2 rebounds)
Tara Hinchliffe (Firebirds) – 9 (2 intercepts, 1 deflection with gain, 6 rebounds)
Courtney Bruce (Fever) – 10
Karla Pretorius (Lightning) – 8
Centre Pass Receives
Paige Hadley (Swifts) – 29
Helen Housby (Swifts) – 24
Emily Mannix (Vixens) – 19
Jo Weston (Vixens) – 18
Gretel Bueta (Firebirds) – 10
Jo Harten (GIANTS) – 8
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) – 122
Helen Housby (Swifts) – 107.5
Fever – 92.2%
Firebirds and Swifts – 88.6%
GIANTS – 10
Magpies – 7
Thunderbirds – 23
Firebirds – 18
Magpies – 31
GIANTS – 28
Magpies – 73
GIANTS and Vixens – 66
MELBOURNE VIXENS 55 def SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 52
Match report by Cara Gledhill
The Vixens had standout players all over the court.
Hannah Mundy started the game in wing attack, but really starred when she was moved into centre during the supershot period of the second quarter. Not only did Mundy lead her team for goal assists, but her shift into centre showed her prowess in defence as well. Mundy finished the game on 15 goal assists, an intercept, two deflections and two pickups and was crucial in shutting down the circle edge drives by the Lightning midcourt in the final quarter.
Emily Mannix was strong on shooter Cara Koenen from the first whistle. She was forcing Koenen out of the circle to receive the ball and making it very difficult for her to use her usual drives along the baseline by confusing the space for the feeders. This coupled with the full court pressure from the Vixens was a key part of the win.
Kaylia Stanton had her best game of the season so far and should hold onto the goal attack bib going forward. She shot with confidence throughout the game and was a vital component of the Vixens’ attack, delivering a team high 15 centre pass receives and helping the team to keep in touch with the Lightning throughout the game. Her confidence to put up shots grew over the game, leading to a timely supershot in the final five minutes.
For the Lightning, Karla Pretorius was a strong pillar in defence and provided the Lightning with plenty of opportunities to put the foot down and extend their lead. Pretorius finished with seven gains and no turnovers to her name.
Shifting Mundy into centre was a masterstroke from Simone McKinnis. Where Mundy had struggled against the defensive work of Mahalia Cassidy, the shift into centre changed up this dynamic and also allowed her defensive skillset to come to the fore. We can expect to see more from Mundy in this position in future rounds.
The swarming Vixens defence was also a key component of the win. While the Lightning could have felt vaguely comfortable with their lead going into the last supershot period, this defence was crucial in the collapse of the Lightning during this period. McKinnis paid tribute to the defence all over the court, mentioning that while you don’t always win the gains in the moment, but they can reap rewards at the end of the game.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Vixens lacked structure in attack in the first half of the game with Kate Moloney often receiving the ball five to six times in a single centre pass. Once Mundy shifted into centre, they began to find their shooters more and their transition after defensive gains was a lot cleaner.
The Lightning will rue their inability to close out this game when they only needed to convert their own centre passes towards the end of the game. A lack of composure in attack from some of their key players was the beginning of their demise, despite being in front for much of the game.
Steph Wood shifted into goal shooter in the final quarter after running in goal attack and wing attack. This change didn’t have the desired effect with the Lightning missing her ability to receive the centre pass and drive the second phase ball with her netball smarts.
WHERE was it won?
It wasn’t until the final 30 seconds of the game that the Vixens looked like pulling off an unlikely victory. With five minutes on the clock, the Swifts led by five goals. They then scored just one regular goal to the Vixens’ nine (including two supershots) to run away with the win.
WHERE was it lost?
The Lightning appeared to lose their control of the game in the final minutes, throwing away the ball on multiple occasions under the desperate and stifling pressure from the Vixens. Even when they were able to turn the ball back over, their structure all but disappeared and they couldn’t find their shooters. .
HOW did she do that?!
Kate Shimmin blocked a two point attempt from Kaylia Stanton when the game hung in the balance, a difficult thing to do at the best of times and one she is known for in this league. Perhaps more impressively, an undeterred Stanton was able to catch the deflection, turn around and put the ball through for a super shot anyway.
MVP: Kaylia Stanton (Vixens)
Lightning: GS Koenen, GA Wood, WA Scherian, C McAuliffe, WD Cassidy, GD Pretorius, GK Maweni
Vixens: GS Kumwenda, GA Stanton, WA Mundy, c Moloney, WD Eddy, GD Weston, GK Mannix
NSW SWIFTS 66 def WEST COAST FEVER 65
Match report by Cara Gledhill
Sophie Garbin replaced Sam Wallace at goal shooter five minutes into the second quarter and made an immediate impact. She partially nullified the influence of Courtney Bruce by holding close to the circle edge and then rolling off the hold to hit the baseline. She shot 31 goals at 94% and held her own with two rebounds, a pickup and no turnovers for the match.
Garbin’s shooting partner in Helen Housby also had a huge impact on the game. She had 21 goal assists for the Swifts, not batting an eyelid when her shooting partner changed.
Courtney Bruce continued her good form this season and was the best player for the Fever. She kept the Fever in the game, allowing them to come within one goal of the Swifts to end the game. She finished the game on an intercept, 10 deflections, 2 rebounds, 2 pickups and zero turnovers.
Bringing Garbin on at goal shooter was a brilliant decision from Swifts coach Briony Akle. Garbin had an immediate impact and offered a different style of play for Bruce to think about. Impressively, the Swifts were quick to adjust to the change and the attacking midcourt of Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud were able to find her with ease.
Akle also opted to bring on youngster Tayla Fraser at wing defence to replace Lauren Moore. While the long arms of Moore could have been effective in blocking the path into the circle, Fraser offered more speed on Verity Charles and also played a key role in bringing the ball through court in attack
For the Fever, many were surprised to see Jhaniele Fowler take a seat on the bench given her propensity for rebounds during the supershot period in the final quarter. However the Fever steamed home with the combination of Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow shooting four supershots between them and coming within just a point of the Swifts.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Fever will be disappointed with their inability to rein in the Swifts, particularly in the middle two quarters. During the supershot period of the third quarter when the Fever had started to fall behind, they didn’t make any supershot attempts. Meanwhile, Housby was only too happy to extend the lead with three in a matter of minutes. The Fever finished the quarter adrift by nine goals.
While Fever continued their strong run of converting their own centre passes 90% of the time, their transition after the ball was turned over by the Swifts left much to be desired. The Fever converted just half of the Swifts’ unforced errors, while the Swifts capitalised on 90% of the Fever’s.
WHERE was it won and lost?
This was a real nail biter with the result not at all clear until the final ten seconds. With the Fever behind by a single goal, the Swifts played the ball around for the final minute of the game, in a move reminiscent of the Silver Ferns at the Netball World Cup final. A notoriously dangerous game, the ball retention strategy from the Swifts in this final minute saw them play it all the way back to their defensive third. If the Swifts had let it go to their shooters and they had scored a regular goal, it would have allowed the Fever to draw the game with another successful supershot. The Swifts showed patience with the ball and an ability to find each other despite the desperate defence of the Fever.
HOW did she do that?!
Despite the Swifts being ahead at the time, Housby calmly slotted three super shots in two minutes to end the third quarter and further extend the lead for the Swifts. This made the lead an eventually unassailable one for the Fever to chase down.
MVP: Sophie Garbin (Swifts)
Swifts: GS Wallace, GA Housby, WA Hadley, C Proud, WD Moore, GD Turner, GK Klau
Fever: GS Fowler, GA Glasgow, WA Charles, C Anstiss, WD Francis-Bayman, GD Aryang, GK Bruce
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 62 def COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 54
Match report by Georgia Doyle
Two teams at the bottom of the ladder, coming off vastly different preparations for this game. Magpies played out an extra time thriller against Sunshine Coast Lightning and finished on the wrong end of the scoreboard, while Thunderbirds had a 16 point loss to GIANTS netball in which they failed to win a single quarter. Both teams sit in the bottom half of the ladder, but are still a chance of making finals if some other results fall their way, meaning they were both looking for a win with a big margin to add some percentage points and boost them up the ladder.
A game with high penalties and high turnovers, it stayed tightly contested for the majority with Collingwood mounting continuous comebacks but never quite able to get back into the lead. In the end, too much ball was played into Shamera Sterling’s aerial playground, and the lack of regular play maker Gabby Sinclair at GA left Collingwood unable to find answers to combat the strong Thunderbirds team.
With five rounds left, now more than ever is the time to win, and win big, if Collingwood want to scrape into the top four come finals time. Thunderbirds have beaten two bottom four teams plus ladder leaders NSW Swifts, so even if they can’t quite get to a maiden SSN finals appearance, expect them to have a significant say about who is playing finals netball.
Maisie Nankivell for the Thunderbirds had another solid game at wing attack, forcing the change in Magpies midcourt to try and nullify her impact on the game. In her 60 minutes she managed 46 feeds and 31 goal assists, while also showing her defensive prowess picking up three gains including two intercepts.
While she led her team for turnovers, with six, she stayed clean in penalty territory, only collecting two for the game compared to high numbers in previous weeks. She was finding her shooters with ease, and seems to have settled into the position nicely after rotating through both C and WA earlier in the season. McDonald also had one of her more solid performances in the pink dress, notching up five feeds and one gain in her 27 minutes at C.
Shamera Sterling showed the ability to change up her game and keep the attackers guessing for the entire 60 minutes. She started the game holding behind Shimona Nelson and pushing her high into the goal circle, either forcing the longer shot or re-feed. When this was not getting dividends defensively, she switched to holding front position and started getting her hand to ball with some deflections, finishing with four for the game, two of which became gains.
Front position also allowed her more freedom to get out and hunt for ball, pulling in eight intercepts across the game, most of which came in the second half. The Magpies did not seem to have any answers for Sterling, rotating through all three shooters as well as moving Ash Brazill into C to try and find something that worked in the attacking end.
WHAT needs improvement?
The Magpies really struggled with the forced change in their attacking end, with starting goal attack Sinclair sidelined at the last minute with a quad injury. While Kalifa McCollin and Nyah Allen provided 18 goals between them, they combined for only 13 feeds, leaving the work for the midcourters to get the ball to Shimona Nelson. The strength of the Magpies attacking end is its versatility, meaning defenders never know who will be providing the ball into Nelson. When this becomes one dimensional, it is easier for opposition defenders to shut down.
Magpies also struggled with getting their hand to enough ball in order to bring back the deficit. They finished the game with only eight gains compared to 23 from the Thunderbirds. With an international defensive circle consisting of veteran Geva Mentor and exciting talent Jodi-Ann Ward, the Magpies need to find a way to optimise their potential if they want to get more wins on the board as the season progresses.
WHERE was it won?
After a bump in the road against Giants last week, the Thunderbirds have now had two consistent games of netball. While this word ‘consistency’ is flouted by players and coaches all season long it is the ability to maintain pressure for a full 60 minutes that will get teams over the line. Thunderbirds only lost one quarter in this game, being outscored 13-14 in the third, and this is something they have been working towards for seasons now. With limited time to gel in the pre-season due to a high number of international athletes, it has taken them time to build combinations and be able to maintain the connections for a full 60 minutes.
Add into this the growing leadership of Sterling in the defensive end, who is quickly becoming a player who can win back ball at a time of need rather than one who struggles under pressure. The second half in particular she was having a fly at balls outside the circle, as opposed to scrapping for pick ups in the circle or intercepting the high ball while holding front position. Her confidence is growing across the season, and this will be a key factor in Thunderbirds future success.
WHERE was it lost?
The Magpies defensive end seemed lost throughout the game, struggling to get their hand to ball and to effectively shut down their opponents. Early in the game Lenize Potgieter was on the move out of the circle and managed to keep Mentor well occupied, limiting her to just three gains for the game. Ward and Mentor often got caught in a positional switch on their opponents in the circle, and while that made it difficult to get ball to Georgie Horjus against a much taller Mentor, it left an easy high option to Potgieter who has a significant height advantage over Ward.
Magpies also racked up a whopping 73 penalties across the game compared to 59 from Thunderbirds. These penalties can be accounted for if it results in winning ball back, but unfortunately for Collingwood this was not the case. Two of the three highest penalised players were in the mid-court, being Ash Brazill and Mel Bragg, accruing 13 and 12 penalties respectively. When players are getting penalised outside the goal circle, it releases the pressure, the attacking access to the circle gets much easier and it takes away some of the protection circle defenders need in order to get their hand to clean ball. Cleaning up their penalties could go a long way in allowing Mentor and Ward to take more gains.
HOW did she do that?!
In the opening minutes of the final quarter, Mentor got her hand to a rare deflection that she and Nankivell chased down. Nankivell ended up second best, on the floor after doing a 360 degree turn in the air only for the ball to be given as a throw-in to Magpies. Determined to win back the ball for the team, during Magpies defensive transition Nankivell got her hand to a deflection of her own, this time taking on Ward for the pick-up, Nankivell ended up on the floor for a second time in 15 second but this time managed to secure possession for her team.
MVP: Maisie Nankivell (Thunderbirds)
Thunderbirds: GS Potgieter, GA Horjus, WA Nankivell, C Petty, WD Van de Merwe, GD Garrett, GK Sterling
Magpies: GS Nelson, GA McCollin, WA Browne, C Jovic, WD Brazill, GD Ward, GK Mentor
Post Match Interviews
Tania Obst (Thunderbirds Coach)
On the learnings from today’s game
“With a younger forward line we’re still working through when we play a…faster play or when we do need to just maintain possession and control and have a change of release, so that’ll probably be one of the biggest take outs I’ll have from today”
“We know every team in SSN is going to come back at us but it’s about how do we just stop that flow so we can continue to push on, I believe that’s our biggest learning for this group”
On the growing form of her players
“I thought Shamera [Sterling] was pretty brilliant in some critical moments for us in that 3rd quarter, turning ball back for us when we were giving it up too easy in the forward line. I’m really enjoying the leadership now that has developed with her over the last two and a half years, she wants to be a leader and what she’s doing on court is certainly showing that”
“Elle [McDonald] has been really plugging away at our trainings, she’s very diligent with her preparation and her analysis of what her game is and what she needs to bring for us. I thought she was a little bit different to Hannah but she brought us a steadiness…while our structures changed a little bit, her maturity on the court showed at times for us”
Nicole Richardson (Magpies Coach)
On where the game broke down for them
“We lost our structures up front, we started to get a little bit too long and cross court which really opened up into [Sterling’s] hands… we needed to go back to playing basic netball…and play the short game to keep her out of the equation”
“Thunderbirds did a great job to isolate the ball carrier which gave them an extra body defensively which we struggled to counteract effectively…and we weren’t able to adapt quickly enough to what they were implementing out on court…we’ve got a game where we can go long and create depth… and if they’re denying us depth we’ve also got a great, short chip away game and I don’t think we recognised quick enough to switch between the two styles”
On the lack of defensive gains throughout the game
“It’s hard to win ball at this level, so any turnover we create we’ve really got to make sure we value …and get it down to a scoring position… I keep saying to this group I want them to get off the leash a little bit and have the courage to fly at balls and you have to start trying to create something defensively, whether you play some different defensive structures to unsettle the attack end and probably finding better angles to play off some balls too…it’s the capacity to play a hard one on one and ensuring you find yourself at a good angle so you can come off your player to intercept somewhere else”
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 63 def GIANTS NETBALL 52
Match report by Jane Edwards
This was a game where every Firebird player comprehensively won their matchup, so perhaps the dominator award should be presented to the coaching panel, for preparing the players with a specific, straightforward game plans. Kim Ravaillion led the way at C, her fluid and unobtrusive movement through the centre corridor linking swift and direct passing to careful close marking in defence. With 29 goal assists, Ravaillion dominated the feeding through carefully-timed leads to the circle edge, her deceptive speed leaving Giants centre Jamie Lee-Price few opportunities for disruption via contest or hands-over the ball defence.
The most impressive aspect of the Firebirds’ demolition of the Giants’ game was the even spread of the attacking and defensive burden across all players on court. Apart from Ruby Bakewell-Doran’s 3 minute debut at WD in the second quarter, the starting seven played out the game in their positions, and they happily repaid this faith. In attack, Bueta scored 23 goals to Romelda Aiken’s 39, a healthy one third/two thirds split of the scoring responsibilities.
Bueta alternated sharp forward leads to the feeders and strong cuts around the circle with impeccable timing, allowing Aiken plenty of straightforward holding spaces to drop back to the post. The nicely complemented offers to the feeders kept the Giants starting defence of April Brandley and Sam Poolman so busy following their opponents that they made few attempts to pick off intercepts outside the circle, despite a number of invitingly proppy pocket lobs put to Firebirds WA Laura Dunkley.
The Firebirds had 18 defensive gains for the match, with GK Tara Hinchliffe winning half of them. Giants shooter Jo Harten was unusually static in attack, which may have been a deliberate strategy to clog intercepting space for GD Kim Jenner and Hinchliffe in the goal circle. Jenner took two fabulous intercepts at the transverse line on centre passes in the second quarter, and this pressure likely caused a couple of additional Giants turnovers from breaking.
Jenner in particular used her mobility to switch seamlessly from double teaming the GS position and confusing feeds from the pocket, complementing her free movement with much cleaner contests. Coming into Round 9, Jenner was averaging more than 11 contact penalties per match, so incurring only 8 in a high-scoring contest against Harten and Sophie Dwyer was a particularly effective defensive contribution.
What needed improvement?
The final margin of nine goals flattered the Giants, who were trailing by 20 goals halfway through the final quarter. Five super goals in the last five minutes saved them from losing all four quarters of the match. The team has followed a challenging trail to this week’s Melbourne hub, which may explain the lack of cohesion in attacking play from the centre third all the way to the goal post. The Giants lost possession several times as a result of wild passes flying out of court, when more patient movement of the ball to players at eyeball distance was needed.
Where was it won and lost?
The centre corridor was the Firebirds domain in this match.They controlled the attack by spiralling movement around this zone, and their defence dominated by spreading the Giants attackers out of it. This meant that they were scoring with straightforward speed on their own centre passes, and causing delay, confusion and space pressure for the Giants attackers in return.
How did she do that?!
Bueta had some delightful fast leads from the circle edge to the post. The most spectacular had her landing on her pointes next to the baseline, and scoring as momentum carried her out of court – vintage, gasping-in-mixed-exasperation-and-wonder ball sense from a player who is rapidly regaining her pre-pregnancy consistency over a full game.
MVP: Tara Hinchliffe (Firebirds)
Firebirds: GS Aiken, GA Bueta, WA Dunkley, C Ravaillion, WD Simpson, GD Jenner, GK Hinchliffe
Giants: GS Harten, GA Dwyer, WA Hay, C Price, WD Parmenter, GD Brandley, GK Poolman
Sat 10th July Vixens v Swifts at 3pm, John Cain Arena, Melbourne. (EST)
Sat 10th July Fever v Lightning at 6pm RAC Arena, Perth. (WST)
Sun 11th July Thunderbirds v Firebirds at 1pm, Netball SA (SA time)
Sun 11th July Magpies v GIANTS at 3pm, John Cain Arena (EST)
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.