Scoop Preview: SSN 2023 Round 3

Scoop Preview: SSN 2023 Round 3

Wow. Has everyone recovered yet? Wasn’t round 2 packed with interest, not all of it for the right reasons. So much drama, so much controversy. Now it’s on to round 3 and hopefully we can focus on the brilliant play we’re seeing. And don’t forget, daylight saving ends this weekend, so that may mean a change of start times depending on where you live.

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 two

And here is Jenny Sinclair’s profile of Romelda Aiken-George 

Romelda Aiken. Photo: Narelle Spangher, Netball NSW


Charlie Bell made her SSN debut for the Lightning against former teammate Ruby Bakewell-Doran. Image: Simon Leonard

Firebird Ruby Bakewell-Doran had a great game last week when switched to goal keeper. (Image: Simon Leonard)



Ken Rosewall Arena, Saturday, Apr 1, 5pm AEDT
(7pm NZ, 4:30pm SA, 4pm AEST, 2pm WA, 6am UK)

It’s almost as if it was scripted this way. Perhaps it was? Acclaimed goal shooter Romelda Aiken-George played for Queensland Firebirds for 14 terrific seasons and won three titles with them, but after leaving on not the best of terms, here she is now set to play game number 200 against them for her new team, the NSW Swifts. That certainly adds some spicy intrigue to what should already be an interesting game. This fixture is often wrongly hyped up as “State of Origin”. It far from that. But there is nevertheless a tradition of great battles between these two teams, including when Aiken-George tormented the Swifts in two epic ANZ Championship grand finals.

Both clubs would be frustrated with their progress so far in 2023. Firebirds especially, have had a very poor start, being on the receiving end of two double-figure losses at home. Swifts’ form has been better, but they haven’t registered a win yet. They do have two points from last week’s crazy abandoned match in Adelaide though. A big plus for them is that they now come back to Sydney to play on their home court after two weeks of travelling. How will Aiken-George perform on such a big occasion? She didn’t have the best 30 minutes of netball last week, but you would expect her to lift big time for this game.

And who will line up against her? Will it be Remi Kamo or Ruby Bakewell-Doran? Last week, after being embarrassed by Lightning early on, several changes were made to the Firebirds team. One of these was Bakewell-Doran moving back to goal keeper, where she proceeded to play a starring role, finishing the match with seven gains and six deflections. It will be interesting to see if coach Bec Bulley shows faith in the the players that finished strongly in round two, or reverts to the seven she started with. It was unusual to see former captain Gabi Simpson spend the second half on the bench.

Swifts started strongly in their match against Thunderbirds, winning the first quarter 16-12, but then errors crept in. Level at half time, we have no way of knowing if they would have gone on to win, but in any case, there were some encouraging performances, with Maddy Proud, Sarah Klau and Helen Housby all playing well. Klau’s battle with Donnell Wallam will be one to watch this week. These teams have met 12 times previously in Super Netball. Swifts are leading 7-5 in the head to head. They’ve won their last four clashes with Firebirds in Sydney and will be favoured to do so again and extend the Firebirds’ poor start to the season.

Shooters – Romelda Aiken-George, Helen Housby, Sophie Fawns
Midcourt – Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud, Allie Smith, Tayla Fraser
Defence – Maddy Turner, Sarah Klau, Teigan O’Shannassy

Shooters – Donnell Wallam, Mia Stower, Emily Moore
Midcourt – Lara Dunkley, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Macy Gardner
Defence – Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Remi Kamo, Ash Unie


Elle Cardwell and Helen Housby catchup after the match was called off. Image: Hannah Howard | On the Ball Media

What else to do but catch up with your countrywoman when the power goes out. (Image: Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media)


Annie Miller is relishing the start in WA in just her second season of SSN. Image: Simon Leonard

Annie Miller is relishing the start in WA in just her second season of SSN. (Image: Simon Leonard)


UniSC Arena, Saturday, Apr 1, 6pm AEST
(9pm NZ, 7pm AEDT, 6:30pm SA, 4pm WA, 8am UK)

This is a clash of two exciting teams who finished in the bottom two spots in 2022, but are currently sitting first and third after two rounds. Having finished with the wooden spoon last season, Sunshine Coast Lightning now sits proudly on top, with two wins and a healthy percentage. Their opponents, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, have six points from an impressive win in Brisbane and that infamous draw at home last week. It’s only round three, but this match feels like one that could possibly end up having a big bearing on playoff spots come season’s end. Thunderbirds’ captain, Hannah Petty will miss the game due to reaggravating an ankle injury she suffered in the pre-season. Her spot will be taken by Chelsea Blackman, while Eleanor Cardwell and Shamera Sterling will share the captaincy.

While no doubt delighted with their two-from-two start, Lightning coach Belinda Reynolds would have been disappointed with the way her team performed as the match went on last week. After starting brilliantly and leading by 18 goals at half time, Lightning was outscored by a rejigged Firebirds line up in the second half. Did they take the foot off the pedal with the game well in hand? The quarter by quarter scores give an indication of how they faded. 21 goals for Lightning in the first quarter was followed by 18, 15, and 11 goals in the remaining quarters. The team will have to be at their best for the full 60 minutes this week.

As was the case in round one, the Thunderbirds started slowly, but once replacements were made, the team turned things around. After a strong second quarter against Swifts, they must have been fancying their chances of victory, when the game was unfortunately called off. The shooting circle in particular played a big part in the turnaround. It’s still early days, but the partnership of Cardwell and Tippah Dwan has looked more cohesive so far than that of Lucy Austin and Cardwell. But whoever is in the circle, they will have a tough time this round against the Lightning defence of Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Karla Pretorius which has started the season on fire.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the court, the match up of Lightning’s attack and Thunderbirds’ defence is mouth watering. One of the stars of Lightning’s early season form has been Annie Miller. As a result of off-season moves, she has gone from bench player to starting wing attack. And she is thriving. Her combination with shooters Steph Wood and Cara Koenen has been working brilliantly. But they will have to be at their very best against Sterling and co. This is a great game in prospect. History is on the side of the home team. These two clubs have met 12 times in Super Netball, and the head-to-head stands at 10-2 in Lightning’s favour, although last season’s matches were evenly split.

Shooters – Cara Koenen, Steph Wood, Charlie Bell
Midcourt – Laura Scherian, Mahalia Cassidy, Annie Miller, Shannon Eagland
Defence – Karla Pretorius, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Ashleigh Ervin

Shooters – Lucy Austin, Eleanor Cardwell, Tippah Dwan
Midcourt – Georgie Horjus, Tayla Williams, Maisie Nankivell, Chelsea Blackman
Defence – Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling, Matilda Garrett


Stadium staff did a great job of entertaining the crowd when the lights went out. Image: Hannah Howard | On the Ball Media

Stadium staff did a great job of entertaining the crowd when lights went out. (Image: Hannah Howard/On the Ball Media)


Jhaniele Fowler was once again unstoppable. (Image by: May Bailey/Netball Scoop)


RAC Arena, Sunday, Apr 2, 12pm WA time
(4pm NZ, 2pm AEST, 1:30pm SA, 5am UK)

It was certainly very contrasting emotions for these two teams in round two. West Coast Fever survived a last quarter fade out as Jess Anstiss came up with a late intercept and they clung on desperately to win a 74-73 thriller against GIANTS. They’ve now started the season with two one goal wins, something that hasn’t happened before for any team in Super Netball. But what about Collingwood? After dominating for most of their match, they also had a last quarter fade out and saw victory snatched from them on full time by Vixens. But even worse, in the aftermath, it was confirmed that Vixens had been given two consecutive centre passes late in the game, which undoubtedly helped them to win. Magpies coach Nicole Richardson was livid, and rightly so. Now, she has to get her team up for the toughest trip in netball.

For Fever, champion goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler has now had two perfect shooting games (114/114) to start the season. In fact, she has now scored 167 straight goals without a miss in Super Netball, with her last missed attempt coming halfway through the first quarter of last year’s grand final. And once again, she was well supported by her shooting partner in Sasha Glasgow (25 assists), and wing attack Alice Teague-Neeld (26 assists). The match ups in the Fever attacking third are just so interesting – Fowler v Geva Mentor, Glasgow v Jodi-Ann Ward, and Teague-Neeld v Ash Brazill. Ward, in particular, has been one of the players of the season so far for Collingwood.

For the visitors, it’s much the same story in attack. Their front three in Shimona Nelson, Sophie Garbin, and Kelsey Browne have been starring in the opening two rounds, and their set up is similar. Nelson, playing the role of dominant shooter, has come close to matching Fowler’s feat, having missed just one attempt so far. Meanwhile, Garbin and Browne play the feeding role and have combined for 85 goal assists already this season. Garbin’s transformation at goal attack has been pivotal in Magpies’ performance so far, and her greatly improved long-range shooting has added an extra string to her bow.

This should be a good one. Magpies will undoubtedly be fired up after last week’s events, but beating Fever on their home court will be tough. These two teams have met on 12 occasions, and the head-to-head is 9-3 in Fever’s favour. Even more stark is the record since Fowler moved to Super Netball. That is 9-1 in Fever’s favour. It must be said however, that Magpies really challenged Fever strongly in Perth last season. They led going into the final power five before a late rev up from coach Dan Ryan and three super shots from Glasgow saw Fever get the win.

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 – Shimona Nelson, Sophie Garbin, Kelly Singleton
Midcourt – Kelsey Browne, Molly Jovic, Ash Brazill, Maddie Hinchliffe
Defence – Jodi-Ann Ward, Geva Mentor, Jacqui Newton


Nicole Richardson sits in stunned silence after the match. Image: Shaun Sharp | Moments by Shaun

Nicole Richardson sits in stunned silence after the match. (Image: Shaun Sharp/Moments by Shaun)


Elated Melbourne Vixens. Image: Shaun Sharp | Moments by Shaun

Elated Melbourne Vixens. (Image: Shaun Sharp/Moments by Shaun)


John Cain Arena, Sunday, Apr 2, 4pm AEST
(6pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 6am UK)

This promises to be another beauty, and again, these two teams come in off very different results. The Melbourne Vixens claimed a last second one-goal victory over Melbourne rivals Collingwood with a Mwai Kumwenda super shot on full time. As we now know, they were helped by an officiating blunder, but nevertheless, it was a brilliant fightback in a match they looked like losing for most of the duration. Meanwhile, GIANTS were on the wrong end of another one-goal result against Fever in Sydney. Like Vixens, they were well down for most of their match, before a last quarter comeback saw them fall agonisingly close.

Vixens have now been involved in two one-goal results to start the season. They could easily have been 0-2, so they will be hoping to keep some momentum going out of last week’s dramatic comeback. Liz Watson was heavily involved in the action, with assists, gains, deflections, and even a caution. She is spending more and more time at centre, which allows the impressive Hannah Mundy to play wing attack. And Kate Moloney has been just as reliable when switched to wing defence. The battle of the midcourts will be crucial in this game. Whoever takes on Jamie-Lee Price, whether it be Moloney or Watson, will be in for a feisty battle.

The impact that two players can have on a team was well demonstrated in the performance of GIANTS last week. There was just no comparison to the team which played in round one minus Jo Harten and Maddie Hay. People regularly talk about Harten’s influence, but the work of Hay can not be underestimated. With those two regulars back, the confidence returned, and although trailing for much of the match, there was a feeling that it would only take a hot hand from Harten or Sophie Dwyer for GIANTS to be right back in it. That is something Vixens will have to be wary of once again, as three of the best super shot exponents in the competition are all in this team.

Anyone who watched the nail-biting preliminary final last year, will be waiting out for this one. It was a classic game, and another occasion when Vixens came from behind to snatch an unlikely victory. Overall, there have been 14 matches between these two teams and the record stands at 8-6 in Vixens’ favour, including wins in all three matches between the two teams in 2022. We should expect a close game.

Shooters – Mwai Kumwenda, Kiera Austin, Emily Andrew
Midcourt – Liz Watson, Kate Moloney, Kate Eddy, Hannah Mundy
Defence – Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Olivia Lewis

Shooters – Jo Harten, Sophie Dwyer, Matisse Letherbarrow
Midcourt – Maddie Hay, Jamie-Lee Price, Amy Parmenter, Amy Sligar
Defence – April Brandley, Matilda McDonell, Lauren Moore


Maddie Hay celebrated her 50th national league game. (Image by: May Bailey/Netball Scoop)

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