We still have six rounds to go, but has the top four already been settled? Adelaide Thunderbirds, West Coast Fever, NSW Swifts and Melbourne Vixens will be mighty hard to dislodge from the semi-finals. A couple of vital matches this week will go a long way towards deciding that outcome.
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 eight
With her now back in the Firebirds, here’s Katrina Nissen’s recent profile on Tongan captain Hulita Veve
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS v QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS
Netball SA Stadium, Saturday, May 13, 4:30pm SA time
(7pm NZ, 5pm AEST, 3pm WA, 8am UK)
After claiming top spot on the ladder last week, Adelaide Thunderbirds kick off round nine when they host the seventh-placed Queensland Firebirds. The head to head record between these two teams in Super Netball is 9-4 in favour of Firebirds. However, Thunderbirds have won the last two meetings convincingly (68-55 and 59-44) and will be heavily favoured to take this one out too. It’s fair to say that Firebirds have improved quite a bit since their last meeting in round one though.
Firebirds’ recent form has been solid, with two wins from their last three games and a two-goal loss to champions Fever before that. The side has a more settled look to it. And coach Bec Bulley is looking more settled in her role as well. Emily Moore has proven to be a good fit at goal attack, and the rejigged midcourt has worked well. Unfortunately, Macy Gardner is no longer there, but that just gives Hulita Veve a chance to shine, which she did in the second half last week. Meanwhile, the Firebirds defence of Remi Kamo and Ruby Bakewell-Doran is going from strength to strength.
It will be another big test for Donnell Wallam this week, up against the competition’s leading goal keeper in Shamera Sterling. Sterling’s numbers in the round one clash between these sides were just extraordinary. She had 11 possession gains, five intercepts, 12 deflections, four rebounds, and seven pickups. Thunderbirds’ defensive combination of Sterling, Matilda Garrett and Latanya Wilson is forcing all other sides into error, and although it’s not perfect yet, the attack is now converting more of their opportunities. Georgie Horjus was terrific last week. Thunderbirds will be looking to stamp their authority on this one.
Shooters – Lucy Austin, Eleanor Cardwell, Tippah Dwan
Midcourt – Georgie Horjus, Tayla Williams, Maisie Nankivell, Hannah Petty
Defence – Latanya Wilson, Shamera Sterling, Matilda Garrett
Shooters – Donnell Wallam, Mia Stower, Emily Moore
Midcourt – Lara Dunkley, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Hulita Veve
Defence – Ruby Bakewell-Doran, Remi Kamo, Ash Unie
WEST COAST FEVER v NSW SWIFTS
RAC Arena, Saturday, May 13, 5pm WA Time
(9pm NZ, 7pm AEST, 6:30pm SA, 10am UK)
This is a battle of second versus third as West Coast Fever hosts the NSW Swifts. The head to head record between these two teams in Super Netball is 9-5 in favour of Fever, and they have won the last three. In round four, they won comfortably (78-67) on Swifts’ home court, and now they head back to Perth at RAC Arena. This will be a big test for Swifts. Since that round four defeat, they’ve won four tough matches in a row by small margins. In fact, they’ve played in five matches this season with a margin of four goals or less, and won them all.
In contrast, Fever has lost just two matches, both by one goal, and both times it took a super shot in the dying seconds to defeat them. That shows what it takes to beat the champions. Once again, it’s the three attacking players, Jhaniele Fowler, Sasha Glasgow, and Alice Teague-Neeld, that Swifts will need to combat the most. In round four, Swifts won the first quarter, but Fever dominated the next three thanks to Fowler’s 55 goals, Glasgow’s 15 goals and 21 assists, and Teague-Neeld’s 32 assists.
The Swifts’ defence of Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner, and Teigan O’Shannassy will have to be right on their game. One area where Swifts could possibly have an advantage is in the midcourt with Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley. They have been in terrific form in recent weeks, and their connection with shooters Helen Housby and Romelda Aiken-George is flourishing. Once again, the battle between Aiken-George and Fever captain Courtney Bruce will be a highlight and pivotal to the result. Allie Smith is sidelined for Swifts and Kelea Iongi replaces her. This should be a great game, but Fever will be favoured to 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 – Romelda Aiken-George, Helen Housby, Sophie Fawns
Midcourt – Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud, Tayla Fraser, Kelea Iongi
Defence – Maddy Turner, Sarah Klau, Teigan O’Shannassy
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING v MELBOURNE VIXENS
UniSC Arena, Sunday, May 14, 2pm AEST
(4pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 5am UK)
This is a crucial game for both sides. Lightning desperately needs the win, not only to score a vital four competition points for themselves, but also to prevent Vixens from getting them. If Vixens win, it all but wraps up a spot in the finals for them as they will be 12 points ahead of the fifth place side, no matter what the result of the other games. The head to head record between these two teams in Super Netball is very close. It is 8-7 in favour of Vixens, and they have won the last two clashes, both by four goals.
In round four, Steph Wood and Cara Koenen both had sensational games for Lightning, but it wasn’t enough for victory against a solid team effort from Vixens. A key factor in this game was the introduction of Kate Eddy at wing defence for Vixens at half time. She was instrumental in restricting the Lightning to just 23 goals in the second half, compared to 33 in the first. Lightning wing attack Annie Miller had a disappointing game on this occasion with seven turnovers and an improved showing in this game, up against Eddy, will be important.
Vixens goal attack Kiera Austin has just come off a brilliant game against Fever. Her combination with goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda and their connection with co-captains Liz Watson and Kate Moloney in the midcourt, has really begun to fire. One suspects it will take a supreme performance from the Lightning defensive combination of Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Karla Pretorius if Lightning is to come away with a win here. Vixens will be slight favourites to win this and continue on with their good form.
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 – Mwai Kumwenda, Kiera Austin, Kim Borger
Midcourt – Liz Watson, Kate Moloney, Kate Eddy, Hannah Mundy
Defence – Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Olivia Lewis
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES v GIANTS NETBALL
John Cain Arena, Sunday, May 14, 4pm AEST
(6pm NZ, 3:30pm SA, 2pm WA, 7am UK)
This is surely the last possible chance for either of these teams to make a run at finals. Collingwood Magpies are struggling for form, having lost their past four matches. Meanwhile, GIANTS have been competitive but not able to get over the line. Each of their last seven matches has been decided by five goals or less, but they’ve won only two of them. The head to head record is remarkably lopsided. It is 14-1 in favour of GIANTS including the last 13 in a row. Ash Brazill is the sole remaining member of that successful Magpies team from 2,213 days ago.
In the last clash in round five, GIANTS were in control for most of the game before a late Magpies surge came up just short. On this occasion, there is no Jo Harten and that will give Magpies renewed hope. Matisse Letherbarrow will fill Harten’s big shoes in this game, and while she is a capable replacement, the captain’s big game experience will be missed, especially as Letherbarrow will come up against the most experienced player on court in Geva Mentor. Expect to see Jamie-Lee Price, Maddie Hay and Sophie Dwyer lift in Harten’s absence.
At the other end of the court, Lauren Moore has proved a hit since being given the chance at goal keeper by Julie Fitzgerald in recent weeks. She will likely get the job of containing Shimona Nelson, but once again, Magpies need to improve their attacking work before the ball even gets that far. Sophie Garbin’s performance was improved last week, but she still gave up seven turnovers. It will take a solid combined effort from Garbin, Kelsey Browne and Molly Jovic to provide enough ball for Nelson to capitalise. Could the loss of Harten turn the tables in favour of Magpies as they search for that drought breaking win against GIANTS?
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 – Sophie Dwyer, Matisse Letherbarrow, Ang Frketic
Midcourt – Maddie Hay, Jamie-Lee Price, Amy Parmenter, Taylah Davies
Defence – April Brandley, Matilda McDonell, Lauren Moore