Once again, the big news this week revolves around the Collingwood club which has decided to withdraw its licence to compete in Super Netball after this year. We feel for the players and coaches and hope they can finish the season off well. It will be tough. Unfortunately, the Collingwood news has also distracted some attention from two things. Firstly, the coming two weeks are set aside for the First Nations Round for each of the teams. And secondly, we have just two points separating the top four teams, and those four teams are involved in two crucial blockbuster matches this week.
In Australia, the matches will be broadcast on Fox Sports and Kayo. In New Zealand, the matches will be shown on Spark Sport. And in the Pacific Islands, two games of each round will be shown on PacificAus TV. Elsewhere in the world, you can stream all the games on Netball Australia TV. You can also follow live scoring and statistics thanks to Champion Data.
Before we get on to this week’s games, check out our wrap of Round ten
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING v COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES
UniSC Arena, Saturday, May 27, 5pm AEST
(7pm NZ, 4:30pm SA, 3pm WA, 8am UK)
How will the Collingwood Magpies get up for this? After such a tumultuous fortnight, it will be tough for them to lift. Last week, the Magpies were competitive against Swifts for the first 20 minutes, and from then on, it was just one way traffic. Sunshine Coast Lightning on the other hand, are now out of the race for the finals and could have a possible let down, knowing that people will expect them to win this match.
It’s easy to forget that after two rounds of this year’s competition, Lightning was actually sitting on top of the ladder with two wins and a good percentage. In the eight rounds since, they’ve won just one more game. While they’ve come close on other occasions, they just haven’t been able to get over the line. Shooters Steph Wood and Cara Koenen are vital to the team and consistently among the best players, while at the back, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Karla Pretorius have also played well regularly. But the midcourt has been lacking consistency.
It’s also easy to forget that Magpies won their first round match against Swifts comfortably, and looked like winning their second, before a Vixens comeback and that infamous centre pass controversy. Like Lightning, they’ve won just one game in the eight rounds since. There’s no secret where Magpies’ strength has been. Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward have both been tremendous in defence, consistently coming up with multiple possession gains, but sadly they’ve too often been squandered at the other end.
When these teams met on ANZAC Day, the Magpies’ attack end misfired badly as they have done on several occasions this year. Pretorius was dominant. She picked up 10 gains and Dehaney had six. They will be ready to pounce once again. In all, there have been 13 matches between these two teams in Super Netball, and Lightning has a significant advantage. They lead the head-to-head by 10-3. With the current situation at Collingwood, it would take a mighty effort for them to register win number four.
Shooters – Cara Koenen, Steph Wood, Charlie Bell
Midcourt – Laura Scherian, Mahalia Cassidy, Annie Miller, Ava Black
Defence – Karla Pretorius, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Ash Ervin
Shooters – Shimona Nelson, Sophie Garbin, Kelly Singleton
Midcourt – Kelsey Browne, Molly Jovic, Ash Brazill, Maddie Hinchliffe
Defence – Jodi-Ann Ward, Geva Mentor, Jacqui Newton
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS v WEST COAST FEVER
Netball SA Stadium, Saturday, May 27, 6:30pm SA time
(9pm NZ, 7pm AEST, 5pm WA, 10am UK)
This is the first of two big games featuring the top four teams in the league. Competition leaders, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, host third-placed West Coast Fever in a crucial clash which will have a big bearing on playoff positions. And it’s another chance to see a clash between Jhaniele Fowler and Shamera Sterling. That’s always a highlight. Fever has the advantage when looking at the head-to-head records. From 13 matches in Super Netball, they have won 9 and Thunderbirds 4.
Of course, Thunderbirds famously won their last encounter when Eleanor Cardwell sank a super shot at the death to give them a 64-63 victory at RAC Arena in Perth. In that game, Latanya Wilson had the better of Alice Teague-Neeld. Now we come back to Thunderbirds’ home court, so you would suspect that gives them the edge. Except that the two teams are coming into this match off very different form. Fever broke a series of records including the highest ever national league score of 97 in last week’s astonishing match against the Firebirds.
After losing three of their previous four matches by just one goal, Fever was clearly keen to assert their authority and not give their opposition even a sniff. A large part of the 34-goal win was down to the performance of Sasha Glasgow, whose 14 super shots smashed the previous record of 10. Another star of the game was captain Courtney Bruce. Given her high standards, she’s been relatively quiet this year, but she was back to her best. Bruce’s battle with Cardwell will be all important.
Cardwell has had issues with her knee in recent weeks, and like the rest of the Thunderbirds’ attack end, she wasn’t at her best last week in the 60-39 loss to Vixens. The Thunderbirds’ defence gained enough possession, but it wasn’t converted efficiently. There were 36 turnovers in all against the Thunderbirds including 10 missed goal turnovers. Tippah Dwan and Hannah Petty were both missed, and they are set to return this week. The attack will have to be back to their best to combat Fever here.
Shooters – Eleanor Cardwell, Tippah Dwan, Lucy Austin
Midcourt – Georgie Horjus, Tayla Williams, Maisie Nankivell, Hannah Petty
Defence – Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling, Matilda Garrett
Shooters – Jhaniele Fowler, Sasha Glasgow, Emma Cosh
Midcourt – Alice Teague-Neeld, Verity Simmons, Jess Anstiss
Defence – Sunday Aryang, Courtney Bruce, Kim Jenner, Rudi Ellis
MELBOURNE VIXENS v NSW SWIFTS
John Cain Arena, Sunday, May 28, 2pm AEST
(4pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 5am UK)
This is another huge game as fourth hosts second. And both teams come into the game in red hot form. NSW Swifts have won six straight games, the first five by narrow margins, and then last week they defeated Magpies by 29 goals. Vixens have won four of their last five, including last week’s comprehensive victory over Thunderbirds. The one match they lost in that time was against, you guessed it, the Swifts. By one goal.
Vixens really made a statement in last week’s match. As they have done on several occasions this year, they were trailing in the second quarter, when suddenly it was as if someone flicked a switch and they went into top gear. They went on a run of goals and the Thunderbirds were powerless to stop them. Liz Watson and Kiera Austin starred in the attack end, but it was Emily Mannix in defence who stole the show with 11 gains including eight intercepts.
Olivia Lewis is often given task of opposing the taller shooters, and indeed she played the full 60 minutes against Romelda Aiken George in round six. But it would be a big call to not start Mannix after her form from last week. Meanwhile, it will be up to Jo Weston to combat Helen Housby. The England international is in incredible form at the moment, and combined with Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley in the midcourt, they are converting a huge percentage of the chances they get.
This match promises a lot. It’s hard to find one area where either side has a definite edge. And that’s how it has been through all of Super Netball. These two teams have played each other 14 times in SSN and the head-to-head record is 7-6 in Vixens’ favour with one match drawn. They could well be meeting again in the finals, so as well as the crucial four points, both teams will be looking for any psychological advantage they can get here. And the Sargeant-McKinnis Cup goes on the line too.
Shooters – Mwai Kumwenda, Kiera Austin, Kim Borger
Midcourt – Liz Watson, Kate Moloney, Kate Eddy, Hannah Mundy
Defence – Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Olivia Lewis
Shooters – Romelda Aiken-George, Helen Housby, Sophie Fawns
Midcourt – Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud, Tayla Fraser, Lili Gorman-Brown
Defence – Maddy Turner, Sarah Klau, Kelea Iongi
GIANTS NETBALL v QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS
Ken Rosewall Arena, Sunday, May 28, 4pm AEST
(6pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 7am UK)
GIANTS Netball has a faint mathematical chance of making the playoffs this year, but in reality, they’re probably just hoping to finish the season on a good note after what was a disappointing first half of the season. In round 10, they defeated Lightning 70-64. On the other hand, the Queensland Firebirds would simply be hoping to get off the bottom of the ladder. They find themselves there after being on the receiving end of a record breaking score line by Fever.
For GIANTS, Amy Parmenter was the star at wing defence last week. She is surely putting forward an impressive case for inclusion in the Diamonds’ world cup team. The shooting combination of Sophie Dwyer and Matisse Letherbarrow once again shone in the absence of captain Jo Harten, and Maddie Hay was also back to something like her best with 22 goal assists. If the GIANTS’ attack end combines well this week, Firebirds will find it hard to counter them, but surely not as difficult as in round 10.
Defenders Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran have been two of the stars of the season for Firebirds, but they struggled to get a look in last week, especially in the first half. They will be hoping to do a far better job defensively against the GIANTS to provide opportunities for their attack end. Donnell Wallam, Mia Stower and Emily Moore combined for a respectable 63 goals against Fever, but that looked tiny compared to the record breaking score of 97.
These two teams have met on 13 occasions and GIANTS lead the head-to-head 7-5 with one match drawn. But when they last met in round six, it was actually the Firebirds who prevailed 70-66 with Wallam proving to be the star. Accuracy was a big factor in the game with Firebirds shooting at 96% and GIANTS 78%. This match is a big milestone for GIANTS’ defender April Brandley, who will be playing her 150th national league game.
Shooters – Sophie Dwyer, Matisse Letherbarrow, Ang Frketic
Midcourt – Maddie Hay, Jamie-Lee Price, Amy Parmenter, Amy Sligar
Defence – April Brandley, Matilda McDonell, Lauren Moore
Shooters – Donnell Wallam, Mia Stower, Emily Moore
Midcourt – Lara Dunkley, Kim Ravaillion, Hulita Veve, Leesa Mi Mi
Defence – Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Remi Kamo, Ash Unie