Jennifer Moles looks at the day session from Day 2 of the Super Netball’s #TeamGirls Cup.
Magpies Netball 51 def New South Wales Swifts 29
Long-held state rivalries were on show today between these always competitive Melbourne and Sydney teams. Magpies Netball showed what a fast and energetic unit they will be this season, with the dynamic midcourt combination of Madi Robinson, Kelsey Browne and Kim Ravaillion on display.
Four stitches in the side of her face after a collision on Friday didn’t stop New South Wales Swifts’, acting captain, Paige Hadley from getting in the thick of the contests today. But, it wasn’t enough to slow down the speed and agility of Robinson in the centre.
Browne had another awesome game in wing attack. Having a natural understanding with her sister, Robinson, they seem to have an intuitive sense of where each other is and where they are going, which moves the ball down the centre court at lightning speed.
For Magpies, shooter Shimona Nelson was on the mark, with her basketball background coming into play under the post. Pulling in extraordinarily high passes, her incredibly long reach enables her to seemingly pluck the ball out of the air, high above her opponents.
In just her second season of netball, Nelson is a joy to watch and her game will only go from strength-to-strength. She was on fire against the Swifts, downing 22 goals from 22 shots in the first half.
Assisting Nelson in the circle was the very capable Gabi Sinclair. Like Samsung Diamond Steph Wood before her, Sinclair is a protégé of coach Rob Wright. A great playmaker, with great timing, and a style similar to Wood. Sinclair is a champion of the future.
Veteran player and new Magpies recruit, Nat Medhurst, took to the court for just the third quarter, to bring her calm and assured presence to the team. Medhurst combined well with the explosive centre court and Nelson in the circle.
At the other end of the court, Magpies’ Geva Mentor was able to contain Sam Wallace. Although working vigorously to move around the circle, the Trinidad and Tobago import was held tight by Mentor. With both Magpie defenders at times concentrating on Wallace, this opened up several opportunities for Sophie Garbin to get under the post and score.
Magpies’ Matilda Garret was impressive after being brought on at half time and she combined well with Mentor. With this strong defence, along with their centre court brilliance and steady shooting circle, a massive third quarter saw Magpies take it out 16-5, stretching their lead to 24 goals.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Swifts. The appearance of English import Natalie Haythornthwaite was a burst of fresh energy they desperately needed. An efficient utility player, Haythornthwaite’s appearance in goal attack, helped steady the sinking Swifts. Her speed and accuracy in the circle helped lift them in the last quarter.
Although the final score reflected Collingwood’s absolute dominance, the Swifts did have moments of brilliance. However, lacking fluency in today’s game, they will need to work harder on their combinations to be a force in this year’s competition.
GIANTS Netball 40 def West Coast Fever 28
With champion shooter Jhaniele Fowler sidelined, Kaylia Stanton started the game for West Coast Fever in goal attack with Alice Teague-Neeld providing support at goal shooter. Teague-Neeld started well in feeding the ball to Stanton, but was timid in her play; not attempt any shots herself. This lack of confidence forced Fever attack to avoid passing to her, preferring to feed the ball to Stanton.
As the teams settled, the pairing of Giants Netball’s shooters, Kiera Austin and Jo Harten was a highlight of the first quarter. A great combination, they fired off well together, coming away with a 10-6 lead at quarter time.
Fever, in particular, their captain Courtney Bruce, displayed strong defence in the circle. Despite this, Austin and Harten were difficult to contain. With Caitlin Bassett still to return to the team after fracturing her arm, the prospects for the Giants shooting circle are very exciting indeed.
There were several flashes of brilliance from Bruce, with strong passing up the centre and robust rebounding, even when delayed by being out of play!
The experience of Giants captain, and 18 season veteran, Kimberlee Green, was on show as a steadying and calming influence in what was at times a rough and scrappy game. Her experience and ability to think a couple of steps ahead, gives the younger players confidence and assurance.
Speaking after the game, Green said her team was just hoping to learn from their performance against the Swifts, improve their communication with each other and steady their game with short, sharp passes.
Amy Parmenter was a standout in centre for the Giants in the first half. A fast, versatile player, with a never-say-die attitude, she was everywhere in defence, and transitioning beautifully into attack. Green commented that Parmenter “has been working hard for the last four years, chipping away” and she was thrilled to see her finally cement her place in the run on team.
Fever had flashes of intensity, bringing the ball down the court. But, they were unable to reward these plays with a goal. Teague-Neeld’s confidence under the goal had disappeared. With her reluctance to take shots, the Giants were soon able to pick their play and defend accordingly. Fever needed to open up the circle and mix up their play to give the Giants defenders something to think about.
The second quarter saw the brief appearance of Giants training partner Latika Tombs at wing attack. Tombs is the daughter of former Australian Diamond, Carissa Tombs, and is a player to watch. While brief, it was great to see the Giants bring on some of their up and coming players for a bit of court time.
Not afraid to try new combinations, the second half saw versatile Jess Antsiss on at wing attack for Fever, and young training partner Emma Cosh at goal attack. Olivia Lewis also came on at goal keeper, combining with Stacey Francis at goal defence.
With the absence of Green in the second half, the Giants struggled to move the ball down from the top end of the defence third. However, once in the goal third, Parmenter provided strong feeds into the circle.
Play came to a brief stop following a hard clash between Jamie-Lee Price and Jess Antiss, with Price leaving the court bleeding, holding her mouth. Going into the last quarter with the Giants having a 14 goal lead, the game saw lots of collisions. With a sense of urgency, and lots to prove, players were going hard for any loose ball.
Although this was only their second game of the tournament, players on both sides looked tired and fatigued. With each team struggling to get the ball into their circles, the game became scrappy and disjointed.
The Giants came away with the win, beating the Fever convincingly 40-28. Harten ended the game with 19 goals from 21 attempts at 90%. With both teams experimenting with new combinations, they will take time to settle on court, but the number of unforced errors is an area which will need to be addressed.
Melbourne Vixens 30 def Adelaide Thunderbirds 24
The game started in a scrappy fashion, with lots of errors as new combinations on both teams took time to settle. Without Maria Folau and Chelsea Pitman, the Adelaide Thunderbirds were missing some serious firepower.
Melbourne Vixen’s Caitlin Thwaites started the game at goal attack. Normally a goal shooter, it was a surprise to see her playing out. It was a good challenge for her, and it’s what this tournament is all about – trying different player combinations.
Not to be swayed by this change, Thunderbirds’ new Jamaican import, Shamera Sterling, was up for any challenge. Sterling loves a battle and is a fierce and competitive defender.
Thwaites missed two of her four first-quarter shots. Despite this, Vixens pulled ahead to lead 7-4 at this first change.
The second quarter saw the appearance of Vixens captain Kate Maloney at centre and Jamaican, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, at goal keeper, with Thwaites moving back into shooter. South African, Ine-Mari Venter, came on at goal attack. Venter is a confident player and always willing to learn from her more experienced shooting partner.
The change in the Vixens was instant, with Thwaites visibly more comfortable back, lifting up her percentage with every shot she took. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Thunderbirds’ shooter Cody Lange, who in the first 16 mins of the match, only had 2 attempts at goal with no success.
The Vixens defenders, Jo Weston and Kadie-Ann Dehaney held tight and kept close to their opponents. After the game, Weston explained that due to the ‘moving circle’ of play the Thunderbirds, Vixens played a one-on-one game to rein in the shooters. It worked. Vixens went into half time with a seven goal lead.
In the second half, Emily Mannix moved into GD for the Vixens. Mannix is looking fitter and faster this season. It is obvious she has been doing some serious work in the off season, which will no doubt put her in a good position for Diamond selection for the World Cup later this year.
She had her work cut out for her though, defending Thunderbird Georgie Horjus in GA. Small and fast, with great play-making skills Horjus proved a challenge for the 188cm Mannix. A champion of the ‘dodge’, Horjus needs to make every shot count as her height will make it difficult to rebound against much taller opponents.
It was at this point experience began to shine through, Vixens put the foot down and began controlling the pace. With the combination of Lara Dunkley (WA), Kate Maloney (C) and Renae Ingles (WD) through the centre, Vixens stepped their game up a notch.
After the game, Weston praised young training partner, Dunkley, saying that not only is she speedy and composed, but with a strong and athletic body, she “is great in defence and has the ability to turn the ball over and back into attack”.
Play towards the end of the game became messy, as players were going for every ball. But the Vixens, despite being held to just five goals during the last quarter, were able to contain the Thunderbirds under pressure. Holding on to take the win, while still having champions like Thwaites, Watson and Weston on the bench, the season ahead looks very promising for the Vixens.
Sunshine Coast Lightning 40 def Queensland Firebirds 36
Games between these two powerhouse teams are always hotly contested. There was an electric atmosphere in the new Queensland State Netball Centre, with the Firebirds fans at their vocal best. This much anticipated match-up between cross-town rivals Sunshine Coast Lightning and Queensland Firebirds did not disappoint.
Powering out to a 5-0 score in the first 3 minutes of the game, Firebirds were, well… on fire! It seemed an ominous start for the reigning champions, the Lightning.
Firebirds shooters Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett have developed a strong understanding and are a formidable partnership. Looking fit and strong, Tippett brings pace into the circle and offloads long shots into the safe hands of Aiken under the post.
Buoyed by the large and vocal crowd, Tippett shot 100% in the first quarter, with the ‘smiling assassin’ steering her team to a 12-8 lead at the first break.
Lightning gradually settled and slowly reeled the Firebirds back in, with Ugandan import Peace Proscovia and the experienced Steph Wood in the shooting circle. Proscovia is a strong, dependable shooter and combined with Wood’s speed and accuracy these two will be a combination to watch this season.
Lightning remained composed and was able to keep the Firebirds in check. Speaking after the game, Steph Wood credits coach Noelene Taurua for their composure. “Noels instils confidence in ourselves. It is only the first five minutes – you can always scrape that stuff back.”
“We need to go back and have a look at that and see what we need to settle ourselves. We need to ask ourselves are we trying to be a little too fancy too quickly? We just need to do those basics right, especially in those first five minutes, to settle us for the game,” Wood said.
Peace Proscovia is not a shooter happy to sit static on the back line. She is constantly moving about the circle, in amongst the play and with her massive stretch, proved challenging for the Firebirds’ Tara Hinchliffe. Although struggling at times with the sheer height of Aiken, GK Phumza Maweni put in a plucky display of tenacity and perseverance.
Gabi Simpson provided great drive down the centre of the court for the Firebirds with Jemma Mi Mi providing strong, fast feeds into the circle. But it wasn’t enough for the Firebirds to hang onto their four goal lead, with the score levelled 18-18 at half time.
Speaking afterwards about how the team managed to let such a lead slip, Gabi Simpson was reflective. “We need to find whatever it is that lifts us, what caused that intensity, what created it and how do we replicate it?”
Much to the delight of the Brisbane crowd, the 2nd half saw Simpson take on the role of centre up against Laura Scherian, who was off the bench. Lightning made some interesting change in their combinations with Langman back into WD, Wood out to WA and Cara Koenan off the bench into GA.
Wood’s excellent playmaking skills came into action out on the wing. She is a fast and strong feeder into the circle. Post-game, she commented that “it’s exciting to have different combinations we can use. We can change it around if one combo is not working or if someone is injured. We can just mix it up”.
And that is exactly what’s been happening across all the teams this weekend, players mixing it up in different positions and creating different combinations. Which is going to make the season ahead so exciting!
Although we didn’t see much of Koenan in 2018, don’t let her slight frame deceive you. Working hard in the gym in the off season, she is renowned for her power and strength and held her own against fierce Firebirds defender Kim Jenner. Shooting 8/9 goals for the game, she is a great addition to Lightning’s shooting line-up.
Keeping Lightning defenders Pretorius and Maweni on their toes, Tippett mixed up her play in the Firebirds circle – sometimes drawing her player out to the pocket to allow Aiken to get in under the post, and other times executing her famous fast and hard layup towards the goal.
Applying a strong zone defence, Firebirds were able to keep within a goal of the Lightning at the final change. However, it was the Lightning’s patience and perseverance, steadily bringing the ball down to their goal, and the accuracy of their shooters which enabled the them to steadily pull away in the final 10 minutes and come out winners 40-36.
If this was only a pre-season game, then we are in for an incredible Super Netball season. Games between these two Queensland teams are always played with incredible passion and enthusiasm and never disappoint. Simpson said that clashes with the Lightning are “always intense and heated”, and the vocal and excited crowd “only adds to the intensity and fun”.
And that’s got to be a good thing.
That was a really enjoyable report, Jennifer, and great photos from Marcela: I love the dynamism of #3, with Harten running one way and Austin moving the other