Scoop Preview: SSN 2023 Round 4

Scoop Preview: SSN 2023 Round 4

In Round 3, two teams stamped themselves as potential teams to beat for the title – defending champions West Coast Fever, and last year’s 7th placed Adelaide Thunderbirds. But it’s still early days. Now we move on to round 4. Let’s see who impresses 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 three

Vixens’ injury replacement Kim Borger was playing for Team Bath last season. Photo: England Netball



John Cain Arena, Saturday, Apr 8, 7pm AEST
(9pm NZ, 6:30pm SA, 5pm WA, 10am UK)

Both of these teams come into the game with a record of two wins and one loss. But they’re coming in off very different results last week. Sunshine Coast Lightning were comprehensively outplayed on their home court by a rampant Thunderbirds line-up. Meanwhile, Melbourne Vixens had a gritty five goal win over GIANTS. They showed great composure to come away with the win when under pressure in the final minutes. It was their third straight tight match to start the season, and it’s noteworthy that they’ve played each of the other three semi-final teams from 2022.

An old favourite returns to the team with the announcement that Vixen #41 Kim Borger will join as temporary injury replacement until Rahni Samason is right to return. Borger last played for the team in 2018 before spending four seasons with Team Bath in the UK. She will add valuable experience to the shooting circle if the top duo of Mwai Kumwenda and Kiera Austin isn’t firing on the day. So far this season, that combination has been working well, but they now come up against Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Karla Pretorius who have been two of Lightning’s stars so far. Dehaney is currently sitting equal first for intercepts, while the pair are both in the top three for deflections.

Lightning will be hoping for a much improved showing all round after being completely dismantled by Thunderbirds in round three. Steph Wood is the barometer of the Lightning team. If you can put her off her game, it tends to put the entire team off their game. And that was the case last week, as nothing seemed to work in the attack end. The jury is still out on Lightning this year. In the first two rounds, they played a depleted GIANTS side and Firebirds who sit on the bottom of the ladder. Did that greatly flatter their performance? That remains to be seen, but they will certainly have to be at their very best against last year’s runners-up. Bench defender Ash Ervin is out of the team for this week with illness, replaced by Ava Black.

Expect to see Vixens’ experienced co-captains leading from the front. After a below par performance in round one, Liz Watson has racked up 20 assists in her past two matches, while Kate Moloney has just been going about her business and doing her job effectively in each game. Once again, it is probably up to Wood to lead the way for Lightning. Her battle with Jo Weston will go a long way toward deciding this game. Interestingly, these teams have met 14 times previously in Super Netball and there’s nothing in it. They have seven wins apiece. But Vixens will be favoured to take the lead in the head-to-head after Saturday.

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

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


Donnell Wallam copping some close attention. Image Danny Dalton.


John Cain Arena, Sunday, Apr 9, 2pm AEST
(4pm NZ, 1:30pm SA, 12pm WA, 5am UK)

Both of these teams are coming off losses, but by very different margins. Collingwood returns home after a humbling 27-goal defeat in Perth to the Fever. Meanwhile, Firebirds put in their best showing of the season so far as they led Swifts for much of the game before finally going down by just three goals. If they can replicate their form from round three, Firebirds would consider themselves a strong chance. But no doubt there would have been some tough conversations in the Magpies camp in the aftermath of their big loss, and we should expect a strong response this week.

Collingwood’s game fell down in the attack end last week, with the front four of Shimona Nelson, Sophie Garbin, Kelsey Browne and Molly Jovic, all being shut down effectively by the strong Fever defence. Only one Magpies player, defender Jodi-Ann Ward played the full 60 minutes as coach Nicole Richardson looked in vain for answers. But now they go from playing the competition front-runners to the team at the other end of the table. You would expect that respite to lead to a much better performance in round four. Sophie Garbin in particular will be looking for an improved showing after a hesitant, unsure performance last week.

The Firebirds’ defence will be looking to put the same pressure on the Magpies this week. Although not greatly experienced at this level, Ruby Bakewell-Doran and Remi Kamo are a formidable combination, having played together for several years. They will be ready to pounce on any errors. At the other end of the court, we saw a different plan of attack last week. Donnell Wallam became almost the complete focus of the Firebirds’ attack, with Mia Stower taking on largely a feeding role. And this plan worked beautifully for much of the game, but how it holds up against Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward will be crucial.

Despite their poor performance last week, Collingwood will be favoured to turn it all around back at home, especially considered the head-to-head record. The two teams have met 12 times previously and Magpies have had 9 wins, Firebirds just 2, and one match was drawn. Magpies have won each of the last four clashes. In the corresponding match last year, Collingwood won 71-67, with Shimona Nelson scoring an incredible 65 goals and Kelsey Browne providing 27 assists.

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


Tippah Dwan on the drive. Image Marcela Massey


Netball SA Stadium, Sunday, Apr 9, 3:30pm SA time
(6pm NZ, 4pm AEST, 2pm WA, 7am UK)

GIANTS Netball is yet to win a game in 2023, and they face a tough task in getting on the board here. In round three, they went close for the second week in a row with their full strength team, but ultimately came up short against the Vixens. Entering the final power 5 period on level terms, the team’s game plan of relying on the super shot appeared to work against them, as they failed to add a single goal to their score in the final five minutes. Meanwhile, Adelaide Thunderbirds are coming off a dominant win last week over Lightning.

Thunderbirds’ performance was a real eye opener. Coach Tania Obst settled on a starting seven, stuck to it for 60 minutes, and was rewarded with a team which suddenly seemed to put everything together and played like potential winners of the competition. The Thunderbirds’ defence has been strong for several years, but now the attack is clicking into gear. Having spent time in both shooting positions in the first two rounds, Eleanor Cardwell was far more comfortable playing a full game at goal shooter. Her combination with Tippah Dwan at goal attack and Georgie Horjus at wing attack worked beautifully and they will be looking to build on that as the season goes on.

Another Thunderbirds player who stood out was centre Tayla Williams, with 19 assists, 3 gains, 4 deflections, and 2 pickups. Her battle with the more experienced Jamie-Lee Price will be a highlight this week. Price has been a constant in the opening three weeks. While the form of some of her teammates is not quite there at the moment, Price has been consistently very good. As is often the way with GIANTS, a lot depends on captain Jo Harten and whether she can lift her side or not. She didn’t have the happiest of games last week and will be looking to improve, but now she comes up against Shamera Sterling. That is a mouth watering clash. Neither player is one to back down.

While the home side will be favourites in this clash, the visitors should be buoyed by history. These two teams have met on 12 previous occasions, and the head-to-head is overwhelmingly in GIANTS’ favour. It stands at 10-2, although last year’s matches were split. In their last clash in round 12 last year, GIANTS won 59-50 at home. The current Thunderbirds team looks considerably stronger than that one, on paper at least.

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

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


Helen Housby bracing for impact. Image Danny Dalton.


Ken Rosewall Arena, Monday, Apr 10, 1pm AEST
(3pm NZ, 12:30pm SA, 11am WA, 4am UK)

Round four finishes on Easter Monday with an exciting clash between the winners of the past two Suncorp Super Netball titles. Last year’s winners West Coast Fever currently sit on top of the ladder with three wins. After two one-goal heartstoppers, they put the competition on notice dominating Collingwood to the tune of 80-53 last week. Swifts, the 2021 premiers, have had a very different season to date, with one win, one loss, and the abandoned match in Adelaide. Their form has been good in patches, but not consistent.

Although it’s a daunting task, Swifts have a team capable of beating the champions. But they will need to be right on their game for the full 60 minutes if they’re to challenge Fever. Last week, they appeared headed for possible defeat before digging deep in the final quarter to get over the top of the Firebirds. Maddy Proud and Helen Housby were both outstanding and a victory in this game will rest heavily on their shoulders once again along with Paige Hadley. They will need to cut down on turnovers and treasure the possession they get. But the most pressure will fall on the Swifts’ defence end which has the toughest job in netball – trying to restrict Fever’s scoring.

Jhaniele Fowler had her first miss of the season last week, and not to be outdone, her shooting partner Sasha Glasgow equalled the record for most successful super shots in a game with 10. Fever wing attack Alice Teague-Neeld is also having a brilliant start to the season, currently sitting second for goal assists and centre-pass receives. But it’s not just in the attack end that Fever has winners. The whole team was on fire against the Magpies. Verity Simmons had a tremendous game at centre, Sunday Aryang was solid, Courtney Bruce picked up 10 gains, and Jess Anstiss was pivotal at wing defence.

Fever go into this game as favourites, but Swifts should consider themselves a chance. Overall, there have been 13 matches between these two teams in Super Netball and the record stands at 8-5 in Fever’s favour, including wins in both matches between the two teams in 2022. But the last encounter was an absolute thriller on this court. In a memorable finish, Fever won 73-72 after Housby missed two late super shot attempts which would have won Swifts the game.

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 – Jhaniele Fowler, Sasha Glasgow, Emma Cosh
Midcourt – Alice Teague-Neeld, Verity Simmons, Jess Anstiss
Defence – Sunday Aryang, Courtney Bruce, Kim Jenner, Rudi Ellis


Alice Teague-Neeld has built on last season to become one of the best wing attacks in the league. Image Martin Poole/SpeedLite Photo

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