Author: Sophie Taylor

Magpies’ excellent form continues as they close in on top sides

THE Collingwood Magpies have swooped on the Suncorp Super Netball competition, clinching two huge wins in as many days to give themselves a fighting chance of making the finals, downing the Queensland Firebirds in a competition-first Pride Match at Nissan Arena on Thursday night. The Firebirds suffered some key losses over the past week and it showed on the court, as the renewed Magpies came out blazing, holding on in a tight final quarter to claim the 66-59 victory.

It was a tight start between the two sides, as both teams came out firing and not giving an inch throughout the contest. Whilst it was the Romelda Aiken show out the front for the Firebirds, with the Jamaican finding plenty of space early on despite the tight marking from Geva Mentor, a shared effort from Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair seemed to do the trick as the Magpies’ goalers worked seamlessly to create chances out the front, with Sinclair’s long range shooting ability on full show with a couple of early super shots on the board allowing the Magpies to get the upper hand. Kim Ravaillion worked in overdrive to find entry into the goal circle as Gretel Bueta was kept quiet by an in-form Jodi-Ann Ward, with the goal defence relentless from the opening whistle and showing no signs of stopping. While Ravaillion fired out the front, her direct opposition in livewire Molly Jovic was no slouch and wreaked havoc of her own out the front, teaming well with Kelsey Browne to find Nelson and Sinclair with ease. A Sinclair super shot put a nail in the coffin of the first quarter, as the Magpies came away with a 19-13 lead at the first break.

The Magpies had a couple early chances to pile on the pressure in the second, missing a couple opportunities with three shots within the opening minute and sinking just one as the Firebirds made them pay with three straight off the hand of Aiken. An unprecedented change was made as Sinclair was forced off the court momentarily with a dislocated finger – but fortunately was back later in the quarter – but the Magpies took hold of every opportunity that came their way as Kalifa McCollin was injected into the fray. Nelson continued to rule the roost though, working around Rudi Ellis seamlessly to find and slot into the back space, as the Firebirds made the switch in the front-end with Tippah Dwan entering the contest to create a moving circle. But every time the Firebirds looked like they were getting going, it was the Magpies that found a way, as Ward continued to be a threat in the back-line, while Ruby Bakewell-Doran tried her hand on Browne and picked up an intercept for her troubles as aa tight second quarter saw the Magpies add a goal to their lead with a 34-27 scoreline at the main break.

A goal for goal start to the second half did not last long, as Nelson continued to assert herself on the contest and wreak havoc under the post with her great reach and accuracy. Ellis worked hard to limit Nelson’s impact while Sinclair did not put up a wealth of shots but ensured she kept Kim Jenner busy and away from the action, as the goal attack fired pass after pass into the circle. A couple of Magpies runs kept the Firebirds at an arm’s length, and the Firebirds were laboured in attack as Lara Dunkley and Ravaillion continued to work in overdrive but to no avail as Ash Brazill, Mentor and Ward asserted their dominance in the backline. While the Magpies pulled away in patches, putting up two goals for each Firebirds shot, two late super shots from Dwan pulled back the margin to eight goals, and another could have chipped back the margin even further as a miss allowed the Magpies to finish off on a high with a 10-goal lead heading into the final change.

Inaccuracy was an issue for the Firebirds as the final quarter began, with Aiken returning to the fray and putting up three goals from five attempts in the opening minutes to pin back the margin slightly, as the Magpies made them pay for it with five straight to show how it was done, with Nelson’s three book-ended by Sinclair’s goals. Another miss from Aiken proved how much of an impact Mentor and Ward were having down back, as Bueta cleaned up the scraps to continue her solid outing. But while the Magpies had all the momentum early, the Firebirds clicked into gear as the quarter went on, lacking the hunt of Gabi Simpson but with Jenner and Ellis imposing themselves well. But it was too little, too late, as the Firebirds looked to the super shot to get them over the line, with a couple of chances going missing as Aiken looked to post from all around the circle, but missed six of her last 10 attempts of the match as the Magpies outlasted the Firebirds comeback to claim a seven-goal victory, 66-59.

For the in-form Magpies, Nelson impressed once more firing with 49 goals from 51attempts, as Sinclair’s hot start was hampered by her finger injury but still finished with 14 goals from 19 attempts and 18 goal assists. Browne (22 assists) and Jovic (16 assists and one intercept) were also hard to stop, while Ward was fired up finishing with five gains (two intercepts), as Mentor picked up two gains and four pickups. For the Firebirds, it was an inaccurate showing from Aiken who seemed shaky with 29 goals from 42 attempts, including two super shots, as Bueta (18 from 21) and Dwan (seven from 10) held up well. Ravaillion finished with 17 assists to lead all comers with Dunkley next in line with 12 and two gains, while Ellis held up well to record five gains (one intercept). Jenner, Dwan and Bakewell-Doran all collection one intercept apiece.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS | 13 | 14 | 14 | 18 (59)
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES | 19 | 15 | 17 | 15 (66)

STARTING SEVENS

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Gretel Bueta
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Rudi Ellis

Magpies

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

 

Picture credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Fever claim grudge match over Vixens in Queensland

ONE of the rivalries of the season between the two 2020 Suncorp Super Netball grand finalists was made much bigger a couple of weeks ago as the Round 8 Clash between the West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens was postponed due to stringent Western Australia border restrictions, as the New South Wales COVID situation worsened. With everything on the line the two sides came into this delayed Thursday night outing fired up and ready to go, although it was the Fever that ultimately ran out victorious, 64-50.

Courtney Bruce was on from the get-go, spoiling the Vixens party from the get-go and causing a held ball off the hand of Kaylia Stanton and getting a sniff on another feed not long after. Some great feeds into Jhaniele Fowler saw the Fever earn the early ascendancy as the Vixens long arm brigade halted movement to circle edge but Verity Charles’ jump feeds paid dividends over the defence of Kate Eddy. In her 100th national league outing, Mwai Kumwenda was up and about early trying to egg her side on, with both sides getting into a rhythm as a 13-7 lead was extended by the Fever. Defensively, the Fever worked in overdrive to force errant and risky passes from the Vixens attack but while it took the Vixens off-guard early, Kate Moloney and Hannah Mundy played the ball around with plenty of patience. 

But suddenly the Vixens had reduced the margin, chipping away with single shots despite the super shot period beginning. The workrate from Jo Weston and Emily Mannix was immense with the goal keeper clearly playing for her position with Kadie-Ann Dehaney on the bench, and a bout of confidence across the court paying off in spades as they evened the ledger at 13-apiece with just over minutes on the clock and forcing a Fever timeout. A Vixens centre to follow saw the side take their first lead of the match before Fowler quickly evened the scores once more, as the Fever defensive unit pounced on the loose ball and stole back the lead once more. Despite both sides claiming great runs throughout the quarter, it was the Fever that led 17-15 at the first break.

It was a goal for goal start to the second term as both sides looked to build off strong opening quarter efforts. A huge battle waged between Stacey Francis-Bayman and Mundy, with Francis-Bayman making herself a real nuisance flying for the loose ball time and time again, as Mundy’s improved feeds into the goal circle paid off. Elsewhere, it was no Sasha Glasgow, no worries for Alice Teague-Neeld, whose vision was on song finding Fowler inside the circle  despite appearing to have the yips under the post credit to the long arms of Weston.

Defensive efforts from the Fever back-end saw the Fever extend a five-goal lead once more as the Vixens called a time out, and Moloney made her intentions clear, hoping to fire her side into action. But it was the Fever that added to the margin, getting out to a game-high eight-goal lead, clogging up the Vixens attack and allowing Francis-Bayman and Sunday Aryang to get involved on the transverse line. The Fever’s confidence was palpable as the Vixens rung in the changes, with Dehaney working her way on court before Ruby Barkmeyer took on the goal attack role with under five minutes on the clock. An immense second quarter effort from the Fever saw them pile on 21-9 to earn a 14-goal lead leading into the second half.

The physicality ramped up as the third term began, with neither side letting up in the contest as the Fever looked to extend their lead and Vixens hoped to fire up and reduce the buffer. Allie Smith hit the court in wing defence and made her mark on Charles straight away, as the Vixens reduced the margin to 10 goals. Jess Anstiss used her physicality to full effect as she tested the whistle, doing everything in her power to limit Moloney’s impact and drive towards the ball. An improved effort from the Vixens saw them control proceedings despite patches of form from the Fever with Fowler continuing to wreak havoc with her height and strength. Charles’ vision continued to pay dividends, but it was the tenacity of Moloney that paid off as the centre turned over the ball and drove strong with Mundy towards circle edge as Kumwenda turned on the super shots. Despite the Fever still looking to hold the momentum, it was the Vixens that claimed the third quarter by a single goal, as they trailed 52-49.

A huge final quarter erupted as the Fever took control once more, firing out of the blocks with a massive 8-1 start hurting the Vixens. A Weston knee niggle did not make things any simpler for the Vixens as Mannix took the court in the unfamiliar goal defence role, while the Fever emptied their bench with Emma Cosh and Olivia Lewis both earning valuable game time with a 19-goal buffer extending out. Barkmeyer and Kumwenda’s movement in the circle paid off as the super shot period came up once more, and while the scoreline still saw the Fever leading by a significant margin, it was the confidence from the side that would benefit, especially with so much still unknown for the upcoming rounds. Hesitance from Cosh both in and outside the circle saw some chances go wanting, with fatigue creeping in through the midcourt and a couple of messy moments from Anstiss shaking the Vixens attackers. Despite leading by 20 goals part way through the final term, the Fever claimed a 14-goal victory over the Vixens, 64-50.

Teague-Neeld earned player of the match despite struggling with accuracy, shooting at 45 per cent accuracy (five goals from 11 attempts) but worked in overdrive in and around the circle, finishing with 19 goal assists and 24 centre pass receives. Fowler (58 from 59) was immense as per usual, as Charles racked up 22 assists, with majority well away from circle edge credit to her vision and speed, while Bruce worked in overdrive finishing with nine gains (six intercepts). For the Vixens, the combination of Moloney (13 assists, five pickups one intercept) and Mundy (12 assists, 22 centre pass receives) was solid as ever, finding Kumwenda well as the goal shooter finished with 35 goals from 41 attempts, including four of eight super shots and four rebounds. Stanton (nine from 14) and Barkmeyer (one from three, all super shots) worked hard to assist, as Mannix, Weston and Dehaney combined for four gains.

WEST COAST FEVER | 17 | 21 | 14 | 12 (64)
MELBOURNE VIXENS | 15 | 9 | 15 | 11 (50)

STARTING SEVENS

Fever

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Alice Teague-Neeld
WA: Verity Charles
C: Jess Anstiss
WD: Stacey Francis Bayman
GD: Sunday Aryang
GK: Courtney Bruce

Vixens

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Kaylia Stanton
WA: Hannah Mundy
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix

 

Picture credit: West Coast Fever

Five things we learnt: Round 11

ROUND 11 of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) saw the competition take a trip across the border to South Australia as Victoria headed back into lockdown, with rescheduled matches and team lists impacted long the way. In this series, Draft Central will look at five key learnings from the round whether it be consistent themes or standout performances.

The SSN is more than equipped to handle last-minute changes

Netball Australia pulled all the strings it was capable of last week to keep the 2021 season alive, and while the situation may still not be ideal, with four of the eight teams – NSW Swifts, GIANTS Netball, Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood Magpies – forced to relocate once more to keep the season alive, it is a result that everyone is grateful for purely because of the quick thinking and actions surrounding it. With a new CEO in Kelly Ryan at the helm ensuring transparency across fans and the media, as well as things clicking into place prior to Victoria’s late lockdown announcement last Thursday afternoon, Netball Australia proved it has the capacity to pull the trigger and make those hard decisions to ensure the season can be finished. With fresh restrictions across the nation and players like Tippah Dwan impacted, forced to go into 14-day quarantine, it is safe to say there are still more decisions to be made and jobs to be done, especially now that Adelaide has been confirmed to go into lockdown from tonight onwards.

What if the season has to be condensed once more?

It is safe to say that the season has ben dealt its fair share of fallbacks this season, starting out nation-wide, before heading to Queensland, Victoria, and now south Australia, will all three states suffering lockdowns of some sort. With the latest move – to Adelaide, where they have now announced further restrictions – the question has been posed about whether the remainder of the season should be condensed to ensure the season is complete and that players left in limbo can head home as soon as possible. Something we learnt last year was that players are certainly up to the tough task, however it took extra hands on deck, namely an extra two players on the bench, to do so. If there is anything we have learnt this season, it is that younger, developing players are more than capable of stepping up – think Sophie Dwyer and Rahni Samason – with depth appearing to be no issue for some sides, for example Lightning, with Peace Proscovia and Kate Shimmin on the bench with both capable of holding down a starting position, and Firebirds’ Rudi Ellis who played out her first full SSN game on Monday and was hard to stop when she got going. While it would not necessarily be ideal to condense the season once more, it may be the best possible decision at this point in time with so many changes still happening around the country.

Weekend of SSN derbies provides the goods

Four huge matches played out across a rescheduled round of action with Victorian and NSW derbies played back-to-back on Saturday with four-goal deficits apiece, and the Queensland derby playing out on Monday night in the sunshine state. While the South Australian-West Australian rivalry did not play out quite as tightly as hoped after a huge first quarter from Shamera Sterling, and the Queensland Battle of the Bruce saw injuries mount up – both prior to and during the match – there was plenty to take out of the action-packed round. The ladder was shaken up once more, with the Firebirds keeping their finals hopes alive and the GIANTS earning a critical win to take top spot of the ladder once more. Percentage is sure to play a vital role once finals come around with GIANTS and Swifts going toe-to-toe, and if the Firebirds can rack up a couple more wins they could claim a big scalp of the Lightning who have a lower percentage. It is safe to say that Round 11 was a huge one in terms of the final finish, with everything on the line heading into the final stretch.

Who is Australia’s leading goal defence right now?

Defensively, the Suncorp Super Netball is no slouch when it comes to producing stellar defenders with international and domestic players alike sharing the spotlight. But all that is to say, who would be the Diamonds’ starting goal defence? Starting with the current starter in Jo Weston, it is clear the Vixens’ lack of success this season is not because of the side’s defensive issues, but rather their offensive prowess. But at the same time, Weston certainly has not been at her most potent this season, likely down to a lot of positional switches around her, and ultimately opening up chances for other Australian defenders to get a look in at that starting goal defence position. If April Brandley were to put her hand up for selection, it is safe to say the former Diamond has been one of the most reliable and impactful defenders this season with a renewed confidence and willingness to contest. Sunday Aryang would also be a viable option, now earning the starting goal defence bib at Fever almost every round, but could perhaps be pegged as too inexperienced, while Kim Jenner has been nowhere near her typical ball-hunting self this season, but was part of the Diamonds’ extended bench during the Constellation Cup earlier this year. Further on the outer would be Maddy Turner – who is definitely in better form than last season but not quite at her peak 2019 form – and Matilda Garrett, who had a stellar start to the season but appears to have fatigued as the season has gone on. Two clubs in Magpies (Jodi-Ann Ward) and Lightning (Karla Pretorius) have international starters in goal defence.

Steph Wood is key to Lightning success

It is safe to say that when Steph Wood is not on, both physically and mentally, the Lightning struggle to win games. With a couple of knee niggles over the past year or so keeping Wood from performing at her best, the goal attack has been creating a starring role out the front for the Lightning this season with her workhorse attitude and renewed winning mentality. With fresh confidence to go to post and an excellent combination with Koenen, Wood’s form is a huge part of the Lightning’s success and potent front-end, but whether she is taken out of the game by a rogue knock – like during the Queensland derby on Monday night, only taking the court for 11 minutes – or taken out mentally by a zoning defender such as Weston, the Lightning’s confidence and winning attitude seems to fade entirely. Realistically, it is not ideal for so much of the success of the team to be focused on one player, with so much heat directed on Wood’s shoulders as a goaler already, however there is no denying that when Wood steps up and takes control, the entire team rallies and looks the better for it. In the case of this round, the loss of Wood certainly took the wind out of the sails, and even though they still kept close to the Firebirds throughout the contest, struggled to generate that momentum in the final quarter with both Wood and Laura Scherian on the sidelines.

 

Picture credit: Jono Searle/Getty Images

Firebirds take off despite missing pieces

QUEENSLAND Firebirds have kept their season and finals hopes live with a huge 10-goal win over Sunshine Coast Lightning to finish off Suncorp Super Netball Round 11, claiming a 59-49 victory and not relenting throughout a highly physical matchup. While the Firebirds were notably without key defender Tara Hinchliff and impact goaler Tippah Dwan, the side rallied in their absence to shake up the competition.

it was Gretel Bueta who drew first blood before Cara Koenen piled three straight goals on, with both sides providing plenty of dash and dare in both the front and back-ends early as pressurised defence from the midcourts made it a tough battle through the centre. Romelda Aiken had the early yips credit to the long arms of Phumza Maweni, missing a couple of chances but gobbling up her own rebounds while Steph Wood was forced off the court within the opening minutes after a fall stuck her on the sidelines and Peace Proscovia holding ground in goal shooter. Elsewhere, Laura Scherian was firing early, piling on the offensive pressure with her smooth feeds into the goal circle, while Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was front and centre with her defensive nous through the centre third paying off as she snatched an intercept. A couple of late – but justifiable – challenges from Rudi Ellis ensured the Firebirds goal keeper would be eyed off throughout the contest as she relished the extra court-time in Hinchliffe’s absence. But that did not seem to be an issue for the Lightning who held onto a lead for majority of the opening term, with Koenen sinking a super shot to finish the first on a high and claim an early two-goal lead (16-14).

Gabi Simpson fired up as the second quarter got going, making her intents clear as she snatched a critical intercept early to spur her side into action. But every time the Firebirds looked like they had a chance to pull away, the Lightning ensured it did not happen as they put their full-court athleticism to good use with Maddy McAuliffe and Mahalia Cassidy working hard to negate the workrate of Ravaillion and Lara Dunkley. While the Firebirds got showy, especially in the front-end, the Lightning ticked away at the scoreboard. Wood returned to the court out in wing attack, firing pinpoint passes into the circle, but defensively the firepower did not appear to be there as Aiken and Bueta gained confidence and appeared to lap the defensive pursuits of Maweni and Karla Pretorius. Accuracy was no issue for either team as Koenen worked in overdrive to defy Kim Jenner, with a couple late goals from Aiken sealing the deal as the two sides sat on 28 goals apiece at half-time.

A hug second half was set with both sides contesting hard and unwilling to give up the fight, but while it was Koenen who once again started off proceedings to post as the two teams went goal for goal, it was the Firebirds that managed a seven-goal run, credit to defensive pressure forcing a Proscovia miss. But a six-goal buffer did not seem to worry the Lightning too much as the physicality continued, with the combination of Maweni and Pretorius pulling off another excellent defensive get to ensure the Lightning piled some scoreboard pressure back on again. The Firebirds continued to do anything physically possible to win ball back as the Lightning threw up the bibs, with Kate Shimmin taking the court in wing defence for some fresh hands over pressure and Scherian moved to the bench for the remainder of the match. A couple of Bueta super shot attempts went astray, and a Proscovia super shot miss on the three-quarter time siren ensured the Firebirds headed into the last with a two goal buffer, leading 43-41.

A huge final term opened up as neither side relented, with the Firebirds piling on seven of the first 10 goals of the quarter to take a seven-goal lead. Defensively, the Firebirds fired up with Jenner in particular working her way into the game with a couple of gains, as Ravaillion continued to work in overdrive. An Aiken ankle roll could have turned the tides but the goal shooter remained on court, easing her way back into the contest as the Firebirds pulled out to  nine-goal lead. Misses started to pile up for the usually accurate Lightning goalers and it was a game of risk versus reward for Lightning as they turned to the super shot, but consecutive misses handed the Firebirds a 12-goal buffer with less than two minutes on the clock. Two more goals went the way of the Lightning as Pretorius stepped up defensively to finish things off, going down by 10 goals with their shaky 16-8 last quarter pulling the pin on what had been a tight game.

Despite registering eight misses, it was Aiken who led the charge with 40 goals at 83 per cent, as Bueta ticked along nicely with 18 goals from 20 attempts and 12 goal assists. Ravaillion (17 assists, two intercepts) was a livewire, while Simpson registered one goal assist from wing defence to go with her intercept and four pickups. Jenner and Ellis impressed combining for 10 deflections. For the Lightning, Koenen (31 from 36) and Proscovia (17 from 22) worked in overdrive while Scherian led the assists chart for the side with 10 despite only playing 28 minutes, with McAuliffe and Cassidy working hard to make up the lost offensive workrate with Wood also only playing 11 minutes total. McAuliffe (two intercepts) impressed defensively, as Pretorius (two intercepts, both in the final term) and Maweni (two gains) were tested all night.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS | 14 | 14 | 15 | 16 (59)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING | 16 | 12 | 13 | 8 (49)

STARTING SEVENS

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Gretel Bueta
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Rudi Ellis

Lightning

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Maddy McAuliffe
WD: Mahalia Cassidy
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

 

Picture credit: Jono Searle/Getty Images

GIANTS claim worthy win over cross-town rivals

WITH clashing colours and a last minute fixture change, it was always going to be a tough clash between cross-town Suncorp Super Netball rivals NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball during Round 11 of action. While the GIANTS were yet to beat a top side, and the Swifts were looking to continue an incredible run of form, it was the “away” side – the GIANTS – that got the job done to steal top spot on the ladder with a 59-55 win.

With key matchups across the court and partnerships on song, there was little doubt from the starting whistle that neither side would be giving away a win easily. It was Sophie Dwyer that opened her account first as the GIANTS got busy, with both sides going goal-for-goal early before Sam Wallace made her mark felt with three straight to claim an early two-goal lead. But an uncharacteristic miss from the Trinidad and Tobago product saw the GIANTS pile back those goals on as their speed down court and ability to transition from defence to attack came to fruition. Defensively, Sam Poolman and Sarah Klau were making their presence felt for each side, with the GIANTS keeper applying plenty of physicality as April Brandley provided the dash and dare blocking Helen Housby from having an early impact, as Klau and Maddy Turner wreaked havoc on Dwyer and Jo HartenTayla Fraser earned the start in wing defence on speedster Maddie Hay and worked in overdrive to create the turnover ball the Swifts needed, while the matchup between Paige Hadley and Amy Parmenter was one to watch with neither giving an inch.Elsewhere, Jamie-Lee Price shook off the cobwebs with an excellent start, filing the pressure onto Maddy Proud as the GIANTS weathered the early storm to lead by a goal at the first change.

It was a seesawing contest throughout the second quarter with neither side relenting, bodies flying and perfectly weighted passes paying dividends. Another goal for goal start saw the GIANTS hold onto a narrow lead as Hay continued to find access into the goal circle with speed and precision, while Harten and Dwyer continued to be reliable inside the goal circle. Three straight goals to the Swifts saw the “home” side steal back a lead, before the lead changed another two times over the next five minutes, credit to the defensive workrate across the court. Tight one-on-one defence was the name of the game as both teams pulled out all the stops, with both Hadley and Parmenter shadowing the other out of the contest credit to their respective prowess. A super shot from Harten was exactly what the doctor ordered, as the side skipped ahead once more but another three straight goals from the Swifts saw scores levelled again at 29 apiece at the main change.

The third quarter saw the momentum well and truly swing the way of the GIANTS, despite not quite showing on the scoreboard, as unforced errors and miscommunication hurt the Swifts. While it saw another even start, the GIANTS were quicker to take control as Wallace’s typically excellent positioning was negated by Poolman, and Housby was replaced out the front by Sophie Garbin. Two late super shots from Harten saw the momentum swing heavily in the favour of the GIANTS as a five-goal lead erupted despite continuous efforts from Proud, Klau and Turner, who worked in overdrive to not only win ball back, but also transition up the court. Dwyer and Hay continued to work seamlessly as they drove strong around the court, with Dwyer’s evasiveness allowing her to fire both inside and outside the circle, while Hay battled a fired up Lauren Moore for positioning on circle edge. The injection of Nat Haythornthwaite into wing attack paid off in some areas but not others as Proud was rotated off the court, yet everything seemed to be coming up GIANTS as they claimed a five-goal lead heading into the final change.

But while the Swifts had another good start, it was the GIANTS that weathered the storm with their physicality and pinpoint passes making it hard for the Swifts to scrap for the loose ball. The misses kept coming from the Swifts front-end as they tried in earnest to take control, making a wealth of changes as the bibs were thrown around through the midcourt once more, but ultimately they were unable to find purchase and forced to work hard to find circle entries credit to the pressure from Parmenter and Price on circle edge. The GIANTS extended a seven-goal lead toward the end of the term as they looked to pull away, however a couple of last ditch super shot attempts paid off for the Swifts as they went down by four goals in a frantic last passage of play.

Hay earned player of the match credit to her dynamic movement and defensive second efforts, coming away with 19 goal assists and two gains, as Poolman was immense with eight gains (two intercepts). Parmenter also added two intercepts to her tally as Price (18 assists) worked hard to create opportunities for Harten (33 goals from 40 attempts) and Dwyer (21 from 23 and 13 assists). For the Swifts, Wallace was rendered much less accurate than usual with 39 goals from 48 attempts at 81 per cent, as Housby (nine from 10) and Garbin (three from four) were accurate but did not have a huge scoreboard impact. Hadley (17 assists) worked in overdrive all day as six players around her picked up intercepts, including Wallace, Proud and Fraser. Moore was the only player to register more than one intercept with two to her name, as Turner (two gains) and Klau (four gains) struggled to have an impact against the zippy moving circle.

NSW SWIFTS | 15 | 14 | 13 | 13 (55)
GIANTS NETBALL | 16 | 13 | 18 | 12 (59)

STARTING SEVENS

Swifts

GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Paige Hadley
C: Maddy Proud
WD: Tayla Fraser
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau

GIANTS

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Sophie Dwyer
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: April Brandley
GK: Sam Poolman

 

Picture credit: AAP / Matt Turner

2021 VNL Round 10 wrap

A NEW-LOOK fixture made its mark during Round 10 of Victorian Netball League (VNL) action on Wednesday night, with two sides navigating a last-minute bye and a shock loss to Melbourne University Lightning blemishing an otherwise blowout night of state league Championship division action.

Southern Saints (40) defeated by Geelong Cougars (76)

Geelong Cougars did not stutter during a huge 36-goal victory over the Southern Saints, overwhelming the Saints from the get-go as they worked in overdrive to power ahead to an early lead. With confidence and a winning mentality on their side, the Cougars piled on close to 20 goals in each quarter as they raced ahead, and while the Saints never gave up, fatigue came to the fore early as they struggled to contain the Geelong outfit.

It was Julia Woolley and Zanna Woods who got the start in goals with the two working hard from the get-go to negate the workrate of Stephanie McNay and Kirsty Clark. But the moving circle duo just could not be stopped with their rotation and combinations outside with Kaitlyn Sheringham and Emily Post making the going tough for Ashleigh Gill and Lyshae Barry to stop the pinpoint feeds from reaching the goalers. Woods piled on 32 goals from 36 attempts while Woolley finished with 34 from 38, as Bridgette Furphy also took the court to finish with 10 from 15. Geelong have become known for their constant rotations, with Madi Browne and Vanessa Augustini also receiving plenty of court time, with Kellie Davidson and Alana Mcgurgan utilised by the opposition for fresh feet through the midcourt to no avail. For the Saints, Ella Quinlan and Sinead Lumsden were accurate as ever, combining at 82 per cent throughout credit to feeds from Gill and Alesina Toleafoa, however the defensive combination of Brooke Allan and Victoria Honner brimmed with confidence, forcing errors as the goals continued to pile up for Geelong.

Melbourne University Lightning (46) defeated by Boroondara Express (48)

Lightning were dealt their second loss in a number of weeks by a heaving Express outfit, with scores level throughout the first half before Boroondara edged ahead in the second half and held on despite heavy pressure applied by the Uni defence. The return of Melbourne Vixens squad-member Ruby Barkmeyer appeared to be the change the Express needed, utilising the goal attack’s services at the post for the middle two quarters with her newfound experience at Suncorp Super Netball level doing wonders.

But while Barkmeyer’s impact helped, putting up nine goals from 12 attempts, it was a 91 per cent ball-game from Uneeq Palavi that proved to be the match-winner as the goal shooter fired on all cylinders with 37 goals to her name. With evasive footwork and clean hands under pressure, Palavi stepped up against the combination of Fiona Fowler and Gabby Coffey, with feeds from Eleanor Leydin, Barkmeyer and Steph Gorrie, while the side overall was unafraid to throw up the midcourt bibs to combat the workrate of Uni. To Uni’s credit, Shae Brown and Cransberg sisters Zoe and Jordan plied their trade effectively throughout, with Kelsie Rainbow and Maddy Stewart also wreaking havoc. An accurate showing from Mikaela Vaughan and Claudia Mawson made life hard for the Express with Casey Adamson and Taylah Brown working in overdrive out the front of Sophie Shoebridge and Michelle Massarany to ensure the ball was turned over before it entered the goal circle and in the calm hands of the Lightning shooters.

City West Falcons (80) defeated North East Blaze (60)

A fired-up Blaze outfit was not enough to combat the ladder-leading Falcons, with three close quarters seeing an eventual blowout as the Falcons’ class and composure won through. Only leading by three goals at quarter time, the Falcons fired up after the first break to pile on close to 20 goals each term for the remainder of the match, with the Blaze unable to maintain their intensity for the full 60 minutes.

Falcons goal shooter Jane Cook is one of the best targets in the competition, and it was truly evident in this matchup with the powerful goal shooter putting up a whopping 74 goals from 75 attempts at 99 per cent accuracy. Towering over Ruby Turner and Tayissa Coppinger, Cook utilised her height and strength to position well under the post and was assisted by both Maddie Gray and Tahnysha Salanoa while Maggie Lind propelled ball in with ease. To Turner and Coppinger’s credit, they worked in overdrive throughout with Chloe Lambert and Olivia Ellis also working hard to create turnovers and pounce on the turnover ball. But with Soli Ropati on the hunt it was to no avail with the wing defence turned centre firing on all cylinders throughout the clash and dulling the spark of Alex Moody and Ella Bayliss in the Blaze front-end. Georgia Moody had a game to remember, using her safe hands to negate the influence of ball-winner Zoe Davies, although instead it was Sarah Szczykulski who mopped up the scraps. Moody (24 goals from 30 attempts) continues to create an impressive combination with Nyah Allen (36 from 39), with the duo’s shooter to shooter interplay working wonders.

Peninsula (51) defeated by Ariels (80)

It was a hot start from the Ariels that kept them ahead of a fired-up Peninsula outfit on Wednesday night, with an 18-11 start paying off as they extended their lead at every change. While the Waves fought hard, the Ariels pulled away as the match went on with an influential defensive effort in the last term doing the trick as they ran away with a 29-goal victory.

Melbourne Vixens training partner Rahni Samason provided the goods for the Ariels with a whopping 60 goals to her name with just three misses at 96 per cent, and coupled with the 100 per cent work rate of Olivia Morris out the front with 18 goals it was an immense attacking effort which proved too strong. Waves defenders in Eliza McGuigan and Tara Cecil worked in overdrive throughout but lacked that extra bit of hunt and tenacity to put the two accurate goalers off their game, as the likes of Leah Percy and Sienna Kelly worked hard to propel ball up the court but to no avail. The combination of Monique Tarrant‘s speed and Maddison Wallmeyer‘s pinpoint feeds worked wonders for the Ariels as Dionne Douglas and Jessica Maher utilised their dogged defensive style in wing defence to limit the workrate of Kelly and Gabby Dwyer, who also took a turn in the goal circle with six goals to her name from 12 attempts. Stacie Gardiner was the topscorer for the Waves with 34 goals at a shaky 74 per cent credit to the defensive effort from Monique Clark, while Brodie Smith and Alice Paget maintained control of Georgia Hernan who finished with 11 from 12, as Maher also had a run in goal defence.

 

Picture credit: Netball Photos

2021 VNL: Round 10 preview

TWO Victorian Netball League (VNL) teams have byes during Round 10 as a series of bye rounds begin, with just four matches playing out each week for the remainder of the season, bar last minute changes per COVID-19 restrictions. The ladder suffered a real shake-up last round so expect some interesting performances this week. Hawks and Casey Demons will have the bye and a week to recover from respective losses last round.

Southern Saints vs. Geelong Cougars

Geelong got a big confidence boost last week so will be raring to go against the Southern Saints, who are still labouring along at the bottom of the ladder with just one win to their name. That being said, the Cougars beat Casey last round, who the Saints also had a really good match against, so the Saints will be hoping to bring that same heat when they take on Geelong, despite coming in with a 32-goal loss on their minds from back in Round 5.

The real test for the Saints in this match will be the circle matchups with Sinead LumsdenSam Silvester and Ella Quinlan sure to be tested every which way by the formidable Brooke Allan and Victoria Honner. The defensive prowess across the Cougars back-line is outstanding with all three defenders great ball-winners and rebounders, meaning the likes of Ashleigh Gill, Alesina Toleafoa and Alana Mcgurgan will need to be clean and precise feeding into the circle. That is easier said than done though with Madi Browne and Vanessa Augustini on the hunt, and the Cougars are more than happy to switch up roles to make it harder for the opposition. At the other end, Lyshae Barry, Stephanie McNay and Lorna Clark will be looking to create a heap of turnover ball to provide to their attack, taking on the likes of Julia WoolleyBridgette Furphy and Zanna Woods.

Melbourne University Lightning vs. Boroondara Express 

Sitting second on the ladder with just one loss to their name this season, the Lightning are looking comfortable and confident in their winning ability and this clash should prove no different. While Boroondara also claimed a victory last round, it was against the lowly Peninsula, so while Express will be brimming with confidence they will need to take their form to a whole new level this round, especially against a side that kept them to just 36 goals last time they met.

For two sides which boast highly powered front-ends, it will be the defensive workrate that wins this one with the ball needing to be stopped well before it reaches the highly accurate goalers. For Express, Uneeq Palavi has been the go-to girl at the post with her accuracy, footwork and strength to body up on her opposition making her hard to match up on. But realistically, the likes of Steph Gorrie and Isabelle Hodgson do not play a huge role in goal attack, both playing as more of an assisting role than putting up shots left, right and centre, meaning Palavi will likely bear the full brunt of Fiona Fowler‘s skill and physicality. Gorrie and Hodgson will have their work cut out for them against Gabby Coffey, while Kelsie Rainbow and Maddie Stewart both run the gamut of the defensive midcourt positions. Shae Brown will be a tough task in centre with Jordan Cransberg in tow, as Eleanor Leydin, Casey Adamson and Taylah Brown look to limit their respective impact on the game. Defensively, Michelle Massarany and Tegan Stephenson will need to be switched on from the get-go, with Mikaela Vaughan and Claudia Mawson ruling the roost in the Lightning attack.

City West Falcons vs. North East Blaze

Sitting just outside the top four on percentage, the Blaze will be looking to step up to the tough task of City West this round, with the undefeated Falcons proving almost untouchable at this point with only a Round 1 draw blemishing their great run of form. Blaze just escaped with a win last round and will want to one-up that victory with another strong effort when the going gets tough, while the Falcons earned the win last time around but only by eight goals so will be looking for an improved performance this time around.

While there are a number of matchups across the court that provide intrigue in this match, the battle between Zoe Davies and Nyah Allen will be one to watch with both players highly influential in their own right, and even better when combining with those around them. Davies is backed by the reliable Sarah Szczykulski and Melissa Oloamanu, with Soli Ropati providing that extra buffer in wing defence, while Allen is backed by the likes of Georgia Moody and any number of viable wing attacks, namely Alex Moody and Ella Bayliss. Expect Meg Williams to run the centre for the Blaze while the Falcons typically rotate their midcourt for fresh legs, with Ropati, Montana Holmes and Emma Walters all handed the bib last round. At the other end, Jane Cook has been an immovable force for the Falcons and will be the difference in this one, with Madelyn Gray and Tahnysha Salanoa more than capable of adding to the scoreboard themselves, meaning Tayissa Coppinger and Ruby Turner will have their work cut out for them.

Peninsula Waves vs. Ariels

Expect an intriguing clash to finish off the night, with two of the bottom sides going head to head. While Ariels sit just ahead in eighth with two wins, their only two wins have come against the Saints and Peninsula meaning a win from the Waves is not entirely out of the realm of possibility here. Last time they met it was the Ariels that triumphed by 23 goals, meaning they have a proven winning formula on their side that could push them over the edge.

Rahni Samason is the lynchpin for the Ariels so will surely be the focus for the Waves in this clash, with feeds off the hand of Maddison Wallmeyer and Monique Tarrant paying off time and time again, although perhaps lacking scoreboard presence from Stacey Gannon and Olivia Morris who typically play more of an assisting role. The circle trio is likely to take on the likes of Shannon Rennison and Tara Cecil, with the two versatile defenders bolstered last round by the agility of Joanna Weitrzyk. At the other end, Clare Vearing and Stacie Gardiner have been holding up well in the Waves goal circle, with Gabby Dwyer a crucial cog propelling ball into the circle, working well despite a raft of changes happening around her with the centre bib often rotated. Defensively, the Ariels boast Alice Paget, Brodie Smith and Jessica Maher who have proven fairly consistent, with Maher’s versatility and the adaptability of Dionne Douglas paying off in spades.

 

Picture credit: Netball Victoria

Five things we learnt: Round 10

ROUND 10 of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) action produced intriguing results across the board, as four huge clashes took the court including another upset over the West Coast Fever, and a slow start from the Melbourne Vixens. In this series, Draft Central will look at five key learnings from the round whether it be consistent themes or standout performances.

Milestones aplenty paving the way

The SSN is arguably the best competition in the world with so many formidable figures across the league and continuous milestones being celebrated. With no less than five milestones celebrated this round alone – 50 national league matches for Tara HinchliffeCara KoenenMahalia Cassidy and Hannah Petty and 200 national league matches for Geva Mentor – the competition for spots has never been greater, with plenty of talent in each team’s back pocket. For the four Australians who celebrated milestones this round, it is a testament to their consistency and form against some of the greatest international talent worldwide to earn 50 caps at the national level. Meanwhile, there is no arguing what a player like Mentor has done for the sport, with the English international’s milestone coinciding with her 20-year international debut for the Roses and 20 years of paving the way for young players across the world. With plenty of milestones already passed this season and plenty still likely to come, there is no doubting the impact the aforementioned players have made, with two captains – Mentor and Petty – and a co-captain – Hinchliffe – amongst the group, and leading the way.

Are the Fever in a slump or has their formula been figured out?

With a second straight loss going the Fever’s way on the weekend, it begs the question of whether the side is simply in a slump of form following a high-power start to the season, or whether it is more sinister than that, with the alternative that their winning formula has been figured out. While this loss could simply be one or the other, it could also well be a combination of the two as they remain in fourth on the ladder. Either way, it is safe to say that the side did not look quite as confident as usual against the Sunshine Coast Lightning this week, despite dominating the head-to-head in recent seasons, with a number of players failing to fire under pressure and Stacey Marinkovich forced to show her cards once more with a moving circle to finish. Both the NSW Swifts and Lightning have been in fine form over the past few rounds and show no signs of slowing, but the Fever have been hugely reliable and tricky to overcome this season, meaning that the winning formula could well be there for the taking. Realistically, the Fever have every chance of making it to the grand final if they can continue their early season form when they left no prisoners, but they are certainly the hunted right now.

The difference between the top and bottom sides grows every week

While it is safe to say that there are front-runners in every SSN season, there is no doubt this season that there is a much greater difference between the top and bottom ends. Whether it is looking at the scoreline, quality of games or even statistics, there is a stark comparison with only a couple of upsets breaking up fairly predictable results. At this point in time, it is safe to say that the top sides are Swifts, Lightning and Fever, with GIANTS and Firebirds making up the very small middle ground, and the Vixens, Thunderbirds and Magpies labouring away at the bottom. While all eight teams boast plenty of firepower all across the court, it is becoming easier and easier to anticipate which teams will win each round, and bar a couple of shock upsets it is clear which sides are still in the rebuild phase. Unfortunately, with three teams – Vixens, Magpies and Thunderbirds – still realistically rebuilding and Firebirds in the recovery period of their rebuild a few seasons ago, these four sides are not viable finalists; even if the Firebirds make finals their consistency has left a lot to be desired this season.

Vixens still lack winning mentality

There is no doubt when looking at the Vixens’ list, there is talent in droves across the court despite their struggles on game day. But that in itself is where lies the issue – the talent is there, but the hunt is lacking, with an inexperienced front-end failing to fire when required. The defensive effort has not skipped a beat from 2020 with Jo Weston, Emily Mannix and Kadie-Ann Dehaney combining better than ever, and Kate Moloney leading the charge up the court with the long arm brigade in tow, but there just seems to be no bite in the front-end. While Mwai Kumwenda is an incredibly dangerous goaler, her accuracy and ability to pile on the scoreboard pressure is nothing without ample feeds and a goal attack drawing attention and wreaking havoc out the front. While it is safe to say that Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkmeyer are both fighting for that starting position and offer very different roles in goal attack, neither is quite able to do what they need to – or Kumwenda needs them to do – to work the Malawian sharpshooter into the game. With only two wins under their belt this season the Vixens are not playing like winners or looking like winners, and need to redeem that soon if they want to ensure they do not finish the season with the wooden spoon.

Who will finish at the top of the ladder? 

Just four rounds remain for a season 2021, and while it is becoming very clear that at least three of the top four spots are sewn up now, top spot is where the real question lies. While the Swifts currently hold top spot with Lightning, GIANTS and Fever narrowly in tow, home court advantage could become crucial as sides look to generate some momentum heading into finals. Three teams sit on seven wins with just GIANTS trailing on six, and still two wins ahead of the Firebirds in fifth, while the Fever still have a game in the bank, meaning there is still plenty that could change in the coming weeks. Fever still hold the best ladder percentage (113.7 per cent) despite sitting on 16 points alongside the Firebirds, meaning if they can finish off the remainder of the season successfully they should not have any issue making finals even if the Firebirds edge closer to contention, while realistically it will be either Swifts or Lightning that takes top spot with the form of the GIANTS just not quite hitting the mark as we get down to the nitty-gritty point of the season.

 

Picture credit: Collingwood Magpies Netball

Pulse claim narrow win over rallying Magic

A HARD-FOUGHT clash between the Central Pulse and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic went down to the wire during Round 13 of the ANZ Premiership, with a huge second half from the Magic almost handing them the win but a late flurry from the Pulse ensuring they held onto a 55-51 victory.

The matchup started out relatively evenly, with neither side really able to find momentum as both teams starred defensively and boasted plenty of accuracy. All four goalers were quick to get on the board having no issue finding the post, with the reliable combination of Te Amo Amaru-Tibble and Aliyah Dunn heading up one end, and Khiarna Williams and Caitlin Bassett firing at the other. But while both Pulse and Magic were able to find patches of form to put a couple goals on the board at a time, defensively they canceled one another out as both sides worked hard to generate turnover ball. The midcourt battles were fascinating with Claire Kersten and Sam Winders wreaking havoc on one another, while the matchup between Whitney Souness and Holly Fowler created plenty of intrigue as to who would earn the upper hand, with Souness finding circle edge fairly well but Fowler winning ball back. A couple of late opportunities for the Magic to lead at the first change went missing with a couple of errant attempts not paying off, as a late Dunn goal on the whistle saw scores levelled at 15-apiece at quarter time.

While it appeared the Magic may have a chance following a tight first quarter, it all fell apart in the second as the Pulse stepped up their game massively. While two huge runs of seven goals and five goals respectively, it did not take long for the Pulse to showcase what they are made of and really flip the switch, with an 11-goal lead extending by the 10-minute mark of the second. With Kelera Nawai reading the feeds into Bassett like a book and blocking the goal shooter’s movement, the Magic struggled for an answer with Georgia TongErena Mikaere and Fowler failing to find turnover ball credit to the smooth movement of Souness and Kersten, who were having a field day out the front. Volume was the main issue for the Magic, shooting accurately with ball in hand but not receiving ample feeds off the likes of Grace Kara and Winders of circle edge, as the defensive prowess of both Maddy Gordon and Kersten came to the fore along with a seven-goal buffer (31-24) credit to a huge 16-9 quarter.

But despite their struggles in the second, the Magic came out with a point to prove as the second half began, controlling the airways defensively and finding a couple of runs throughout the quarter. Consistency proved crucial as Williams and Bassett continued to fire in goals with accuracy on their side, while the turnover rate lowered as the side began to treasure possession more. Better placement of feeds off the hand of Winders paid off as Georgie Edgecombe worked hard to block Souness’ speed and ability to find circle edge, taking away that easy access to Dunn and Amaru-Tibble. With evenly matched one-on-ones across the court and all four circle defenders forcing inaccuracy and hesitance on the feed, there was not much between the two sides as the Pulse retained the lead at the final break, albeit by a reduced six-goal margin, 44-38.

Despite winning the final quarter, it was one of missed opportunities for the Magic who had plenty of chances to pile on the scoreboard pressure but had the yips going to post. While the Pulse was still in the lead they did not quite have control, as Dunn and Amaru-Tibble worked hard out the front to tick over the scoreboard. The two goal shooters controlled proceedings missing just one apiece, while it was the Pulse midcourt that took advantage of errant passes as Souness and Kersten gathered pickups and generated momentum out the front. Kara’s ability to find Bassett and Williams inside the circle paid dividends as the margin lessened, however a late flurry from the Pulse attack proved crucial as they ran away with a tense four-goal victory.

For the Pulse, it was Dunn who led all-comers with 41 goals from 44 attempts, as Amaru-Tibble was kept to a lower total than usual with 14 goals to her name. Souness finished with 23 assists while it was hard to come by clean intercepts, with Jury and Nawai registering one and three gains apiece. For the Magic, Bassett (31 from 36) and Williams (20 from 23) shared the load well, with Winders (16 assists) leading her side, registering one of the Magic’s three intercepts in the process.

GIANTS regain winning form with win over Magpies

GIANTS Netball returned to their winning ways on Sunday afternoon, claiming a nine-goal victory over Collingwood Magpies to keep their season on track. In Geva Mentor‘s 200th national league game, the milestone was soured by the GIANTS’ form as they kept a narrow buffer throughout the content to eventually claim the 58-49 victory.

One Magpies blow was traded for another this week as Gabby Sinclair returned, however the loss of Kelsey Browne hurt the side as they struggled to generate circle movement with the GIANTS defence fired up from the get-go. A hot start from Sophie Dwyer and Jo Harten was all the GIANTS needed to generate a bit of confidence, as the duo combined for nine of the first 14 goals as April Brandley controlled the airways, blocking Sinclair’s advances, and Sam Poolman made life hard for Shimona Nelson at the post. Despite Jodi-Ann Ward having a hot start in goal defence, piling on three intercepts in the first alone, the ease feeding into the circle from Maddie Hay was immense, despite racking up a couple of early turnovers. Super shots were put up early as the two sides looked to generate some momentum, with Sinclair sinking two to take Collingwood’s score to a more convincing nine goals at the first break, with the GIANTS leading by five (14-9) early.

An improved start did the Magpies no harm as they reduced the first quarter margin within the first five minutes of the second, with Nelson asserting herself on the contest and presenting much better in the goal circle. Despite a couple of uncharacteristic misses, the goal shooter’s improved confidence did a wealth of good for the Magpies as they limited access to the GIANTS goalers. The matchup between Jamie-Lee Price and Molly Jovic was intriguing as Maggie Lind worked in overdrive to replace Browne’s dynamic movement in attack, covered well by the ever-reliable Amy Parmenter. A couple of straight goals to the away side kept them ahead by a three-goal buffer that both sides struggled to change. But a valuable super shot opportunity went wanting as Sinclair missed from range and the GIANTS defence gobbled up the loose ball, allowing the GIANTS to add three straight goals to their three-goal buffer. With five of the last eight attempts of the quarter going the way of the Magpies it did a world of good as they headed into the main change with a four-goal deficit.

A huge second half arrived with unexpected misses from both sides starting off the third. Harten continued to fire on all cylinders with the strong drives and willingness to shoot from range, and while Mentor was getting hands to the loose ball and Ward continued to pile the pressure onto Dwyer, who struggled to find her range early, the Magpies failed to take advantage of their defensive pursuits. as the GIANTS retained the upper hand. Four straight goals from Nelson saw the margin reduce to that three-goal margin once more, but each time the Magpies managed to generate a bit of form the GIANTS fired right back. Hay’s influence in the front-end continued to showcase her connection with both Dwyer and Harten, as the midcourt combination of Parmenter and Price wreaked havoc elsewhere creating intercepts. Brandley’s newfound confidence has been working wonders this season and appeared no different as she blocked Sinclair’s impact almost entirely, seeing the GIANTS gain the upper hand once more to lead by seven goals (42-35) at the final break.

It was goal for goal as the final quarter began, with both sides treasuring the ball much more and taking advantage of each opportunity that headed their way. But still, no matter how hard the Magpies rallied, the GIANTS did not take the foot off the pedal as they remained in the lead and retained that same defensive pressure. With neither side able to change the tempo of the game, with the Magpies struggling to reduce the margin and the GIANTS unable to extend it much further, it was a couple of last ditch efforts from Nelson and Sinclair that really sealed the deal, missing successive super shots as the GIANTS mopped up the crumbs and piled on three straight as they completed the march with their largest lead of the day, a nine-goal margin (58-49).

Hay finished with 23 goal assists and two gains to her name in another impressive outing, although could tidy up finishing with five turnovers. Dwyer (31 goals from 38 attempts, three from five super shots) also finished with five turnovers but overall did a solid job up against the imposing Ward, as Harten (24 from 29) showcased her reliability, also managing three rebounds. Every single GIANTS player who took the court managed a gain, with just Dwyer not picking up an intercept to go with it. Poolman and Parmenter managed two intercepts apiece, as Brandley managed five deflections. For the Magpies, Ward impressed with 10 gains (six intercepts) while Mentor had her hands full with Harten, registering seven deflections overall (one gain). Jovic finished off the match in wing attack and register 17 goal assists overall to lead the side, as Sinclair struggled to have her same impact with nine goals from 12 attempts (three from five super shots) and nine assists. Nelson (37 from 44) was reliable as ever but just did not get her hands to enough ball to really fire for the side.

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES | 9 | 14 | 12 | 14 (49)
GIANTS NETBALL | 14 | 13 | 15 | 16 (58)

STARTING SEVENS

Magpies 

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Maggie Lind
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

GIANTS

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Sophie Dwyer
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: April Brandley
GK: Sam Poolman

 

Picture credit: AAP