Cover image: Hannah Howard / On The Ball Media
This is the second week of First Nations Round, with Magpies, Fever, Swifts and Firebirds getting their chance to host. The finalists are locked in and with the draw featuring matches between the top four and the bottom four over the next two weeks, you would suspect the order may not change much. But you can be sure that those teams down the bottom will be trying to throw a spanner in the works, by knocking off one of the top sides.
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 eleven
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES v ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS
John Cain Arena, Saturday, Jun 3, 5pm AEST
(7pm NZ, 4:30pm SA, 3pm WA, 8am UK)
Off court, Netball Australia is currently calling for nominations for the eighth Super Netball licence to replace the Collingwood Magpies, after the club’s announcement that it wouldn’t be part of SSN from 2024 onwards. On court, this week will be the Magpies’ last Melbourne home game. Hopefully, a good crowd will be at John Cain Arena to say goodbye, and the team will no doubt put everything into it.
These two teams had very different results last week. Magpies started well and led at half time, before ultimately coming up short against Lightning. Meanwhile, Thunderbirds started slowly, trailing 20-12 at quarter time, before a defence-led recovery that saw them get their second one-goal win over Fever for the season and retain top spot on the ladder.
Once again, this match is likely to be decided in the Magpies shooting circle. Shimona Nelson has generally done a good job at goal shooter, but try as she might, Sophie Garbin hasn’t found the form required at goal attack. She has committed clearly the most general play turnovers (59) of any player in Super Netball this year. The Thunderbirds’ defence of Shamera Sterling, Matilda Garrett and Latanya Wilson will be ready to pounce on any error. For Thunderbirds, it’s all about how they convert the opportunities they get.
The head-to-head record between these two teams sits at six wins apiece with one match drawn. When they met in Adelaide in round seven, Thunderbirds had a solid but unconvincing 52-47 win. On that occasion, they dominated the first quarter, but Magpies were more than a match for the remaining three quarters. With the crowd set to be right behind Collingwood, Thunderbirds will want to be right on their game for 60 minutes this time to get the win and stay on top of the ladder.
Shooters – Shimona Nelson, Sophie Garbin, Kelly Singleton
Midcourt – Kelsey Browne, Molly Jovic, Ash Brazill, Maddie Hinchliffe
Defence – Jodi-Ann Ward, Geva Mentor, Jacqui Newton
Shooters – Eleanor Cardwell, Tippah Dwan, Lucy Austin
Midcourt – Georgie Horjus, Tayla Williams, Maisie Nankivell, Hannah Petty
Defence – Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling, Matilda Garrett
WEST COAST FEVER v SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING
RAC Arena, Saturday, Jun 3, 5pm WA time
(9pm NZ, 7pm AEST, 6:30pm SA, 10am UK)
This season is developing into a pattern for West Coast Fever. Quick starters, slow finishers, not great in the last quarter when under pressure. So near but yet so far. Dan Ryan has to be getting frustrated with all of the one goal defeats his team is on the receiving end of – four from the last six games. So he will be looking for a strong four-quarter performance and a win here against Sunshine Coast Lightning.
To date, it is only against other top four teams where Fever is having trouble getting over the line. They have a perfect winning record against the bottom four, and so will be expected to win this game. When these two teams met in round seven, Fever defeated Lightning relatively easily. The score was 74-64. But even in that game, Fever lost the second half. From Lightning’s perspective, captain Steph Wood said last week that although they won’t make finals, they’re going to try to make life as difficult as possible for the teams that will.
Fever will want to rediscover their form after being put off their attacking game so much by the Thunderbirds last week. They went from a record score of 97 in round 10 to just 53 in round 11. Alice Teague-Neeld and the newly selected English Rose Sasha Glasgow will both be looking to bounce back after below-par performances. But there’s no big secret where the danger lies for the visitors in Fever’s attack end.
From their past three meetings, Jhaniele Fowler has averaged 65 goals from 66 attempts against Lightning. Kadie-Ann Dehaney has proven to be largely ineffective against her countrywoman, so perhaps promising youngster Ash Ervin will be given that incredibly difficult task. Fever has the advantage when looking at the overall head-to-head records. From 16 matches in Super Netball, they have won 10 and Lightning 6. They will be expected to make it win number 11 here.
Shooters – Jhaniele Fowler, Sasha Glasgow, Emma Cosh
Midcourt – Alice Teague-Neeld, Verity Simmons, Jess Anstiss
Defence – Sunday Aryang, Courtney Bruce, Kim Jenner, Rudi Ellis
Shooters – Cara Koenen, Steph Wood, Charlie Bell
Midcourt – Laura Scherian, Mahalia Cassidy, Annie Miller, Ava Black
Defence – Karla Pretorius, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Ash Ervin
NSW SWIFTS v GIANTS NETBALL
Ken Rosewall Arena, Sunday, Jun 4, 2pm AEST
(4pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 5am UK)
Time for the NSW Derby and the Carol Sykes Trophy goes on the line once again. These two teams have played each other 15 times in Super Netball and the head-to-head record shows nine wins to Swifts, five to GIANTS, and one match drawn. Despite that advantage, these games are traditionally hard-fought and close and it was no different in round seven when Swifts came from behind to win 67-64. Swifts have continued on their merry way since then.
They’ve now won seven matches in a row and sit in second place on the ladder, behind Thunderbirds only on percentage. After being on the right side of several heart-stopping thrillers, they’ve won their past two matches comfortably, laying claim to the title of form team in the competition. Last week, they defeated Vixens by eight, but the win was really more convincing than that, having led by as much as 20 goals at one stage in the last quarter.
It has been a great team effort from Swifts to put themselves in this position, but there’s no doubt that one of the main catalysts for their recent form has been Helen Housby. The goal attack has put in a series of outstanding performances. In this match, she comes up against GIANTS’ goal defence April Brandley who played her 150th National League match last week. It will be up to Brandley to try to minimise Housby’s influence, but that’s no easy task at the moment.
The battle in the midcourt will once again be great to watch; Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud and Tayla Fraser, up against Amy Parmenter, Jamie-Lee Price and Maddie Hay. GIANTS are out of contention for finals after a disappointing 68-50 loss to Firebirds last week, but they will no doubt want to finish strongly over the last three rounds. The motivation of playing in the NSW Derby should be enough to lift them, but Swifts will be favoured to come away with the win.
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
Shooters – Sophie Dwyer, Matisse Letherbarrow, Jo Harten
Midcourt – Maddie Hay, Jamie-Lee Price, Amy Parmenter, Amy Sligar
Defence – April Brandley, Matilda McDonell, Lauren Moore
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS v MELBOURNE VIXENS
Nissan Arena, Sunday, Jun 4, 4pm AEST
(6pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 7am UK)
These two teams have met on 13 occasions and there’s a big discrepancy with Vixens having won 10 times and Firebirds just 3. When they last met in round seven, the final score was 72-60 in favour of the Melbourne team. But that score line perhaps doesn’t tell the whole story. For much of that game, Firebirds actually looked in control.
They led by nine goals in the third quarter when in-form midcourter Macy Gardner had to leave the court after being on the wrong end of a heavy collision with Olivia Lewis. From that moment on, Firebirds lost all cohesion and Vixens clicked into gear, running away with the match. Liz Watson led the way with 33 assists and 49 feeds, while Lewis had seven possession gains.
Gardner has now been ruled out of the Firebirds team for the year. She’s been replaced by Leesa Mi Mi, who performed well last week, and will now hope to back it up at home in the second week of First Nations Round. The other First Nations athlete, Donnell Wallam, scored a remarkable 24 goals in the final quarter as Firebirds beat GIANTS by 18 goals. In defence, the combination of Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran dominated.
Vixens will be looking to pick themselves up after being outplayed at home by the Swifts last week. Watson and Kiera Austin both had good games, but on the whole, the team will be disappointed with how they played. When challenged by the Swifts, they seemingly had few answers. A fourth quarter surge was a bright spot, but the final score possibly flattered them. They will be very keen to assert some authority over this match early on to avoid the chance of an upset.
Shooters – Donnell Wallam, Mia Stower, Emily Moore
Midcourt – Lara Dunkley, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Leesa Mi Mi
Defence – Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Remi Kamo, Ash Unie
Shooters – Mwai Kumwenda, Kiera Austin, Kim Borger
Midcourt – Liz Watson, Kate Moloney, Kate Eddy, Hannah Mundy
Defence – Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Olivia Lewis