Author: Stephanie Smarrelli

Side by side the Magpies march to finals

WITH finals on the line the Collingwood Magpies rose to the occasion defeating the Melbourne Vixens by 11 goals (58 – 47) at Melbourne Arena on Sunday.

The Magpies needed to win at least three quarters and the match by seven goals or more to steal fourth place on the ladder from the Giants and sneak back into the top four for finals. Securing the first three quarters of the match and drawing the last, the Magpies did enough to rob the Giants of their position on the ladder by 0.6 per cent. Collingwood made the most of their opportunities early scoring from turnovers while the Vixens struggled to work the ball into their goal circle to convert.

Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst were composed in Collingwood’s attack end, moving around the goal circle with precision allowing Ash Brazill and Kimiora Poi to easily feed into them. While down the other end of the court, the Vixen’s were uncharacteristically stuck with superstar midcourters Liz Watson and Kate Moloney both recording their lowest number of feeds for the season, credit to the amount of work the Magpies did in defence. Collingwood wing defence Kim Ravaillion had every move from the Vixens covered while April Brandley and Geva Mentor were out hunting for the ball, putting pressure on passes entering the goal circle. Tegan Philip was a star for the Vixens throughout the match, driving into space well and confidently slotting goal after goal only missing one goal in the first quarter, while teammate Caitlin Thwaites nailed four from four of her first quarter attempts.

Only two goals ahead at the first break, the Magpies came out strong once again in the second with Mentor tipping the ball to Brandley for a Medhurst goal off a Vixens’ centre pass and a few minutes later scoring off another with a Brazill intercept. The Magpies were able to get ahead by eight goals at one point during the quarter but the Vixens settled as the quarter wore on. Emily Mannix and Jo Weston worked hard in defence to try to throw off the Magpies and when the opportunities came the Vixens took them with Renae Ingles, Moloney and Watson safely transitioning from defence to attack closing the gap down between the two teams to only three goals by halftime.

Collingwood swooped in the third quarter, winning it 17 goals to nine. The pairing between Medhurst and Nelson shone with both players scoring from 100 per cent of their attempts in the quarter, although Nelson put up 11 more goals the work Medhurst did out the front to open space for Nelson at the back was terrific. The Magpies were smarter with their ball use, treasuring it with only three general play turnovers for the quarter in comparison to seven from the Vixens. Tweaking with their line-up the Vixens tried to find a way to throw off Collingwood, however, the Magpies ended the quarter 11 goals up and with an important third bonus point.

The Vixens matched the Magpies during the final quarter, midcourters Watson and Moloney worked well together to feed the ball safely into the circle and found room to break free of the Magpies defence while Mwai Kumwenda brought some fresh movement to the Vixens’ goal circle. Aware of what was riding on the final margin, the Magpies remained strong not allowing the Vixens to trim down the margin they had worked so hard to build. Mentor deflected pass after pass to slow the Vixens while Brazill continued to apply pressure across the court. It was a four-quarter performance from the Magpies that sees them heading to finals on a high, leaving the Vixens with a week to bounce back before coming up against the Magpies again in the minor semi-final.

Speaking after the match Vixens head coach Simone McKinnis said she was disappointed in the loss but they still have next week.

“Magpies were all over us right from the word go, so disappointing but we have to look at next week,” she said. “We seemed a bit hesitant across the court particularly down in that attack so maybe it’s that confidence and that bit of belief that’s maybe missing at the moment so we’ve got to talk that through.”

“We went into this game wanting it to be about us and our season playing in preparation for next week, certainly playing against a team who’s playing for their season but heading into finals you should be able to withstand that sort of drive from a team and I don’t think that we handled it very well,” McKinnis said.

While assistant coach for the Magpies Nicole Richardson who along with fellow assistant coach Kate Upton filled in for Collingwood head coach Rob Wright again this week said she was proud of her team.

“If they were going to bring it, today was the day to bring it. We spoke to them before the game, I speak a lot about their heart and their head and I thought they brought that today. We also spoke about they had a choice, the door was ajar they just needed to take a foot through it and they were given a choice a choice in what they wanted to do and the performance they wanted to put out there and you can’t fault them. From a club we’re so proud of what the girls put together and I’m sure Rob back in Sydney will be just so proud and pumped of the performance the girls have been able to put out and it’s not just about today their past month’s been very good we knew they could play that brand of netball, it’s just taken a little bit to get it out of them so hopefully we’ve got some momentum going into finals and we’re actually there not to make up numbers we’re there to do some damage,” Richardson said.

“It is a massive step for the club to play finals you put it in the perspective of the year with Rob losing his mum and the two Brownes going down they are a big big part of our club and we spoke about that before the game. We spoke about the people who weren’t here today and the people who weren’t on the court it was about doing it for them and about doing it for themselves,” she said.

Brazill was named the Nissan Player of the Match for the third week in a row for the Magpies and Richardson had nothing but praise for the new-found centre.

“She just offers a different style of game, we felt that we were struggling to punch through down into the circle edge and when you’ve got such a post-up goaler like Shimmy you really need to try to get to the circle edge to create those feeds and Brazzy’s just raw athletic ability she’s able to punch through and get to the circle edge to create those easier feeds for us,” Richardson said.

Looking to next week and reflecting on the game Richardson said she does not think the Vixens held back knowing they were going to finish third on the ladder either way the day went.

“I think Vixens even though they had nothing to play, the rivalry between the two clubs is massive so what they had to play for today was to knock us out of the finals so they still gave it their all and their heart and soul so I would expect the same intensity of the game and we need to ensure that we can then lift to another level to can match it again,” she said.

STARTING LINE-UP:

Collingwood Magpies:

GK | Geva Mentor
GD | April Brandley
WD | Kim Ravaillion
C | Ash Brazill
WA | Kimiora Poi
GA | Nat Medhurst
GS | Shimona Nelson

Melbourne Vixens:

GK | Emily Mannix
GD | Jo Weston
WD | Renae Ingles
C | Kate Moloney
WA | Liz Watson
GA | Tegan Philip
GS | Caitlin Thwaites

Magpies overcome the Fever in Perth

THE Collingwood Magpies stayed in the hunt for finals with a six-goal victory over the West Coast Fever, 57-63. Collingwood were without Head Coach Rob Wright who was unable to travel due to an illness in the family, leaving assistant coaches Nicole Richardson and Kate Upton in charge of the Pies.

Despite the final margin the Fever kept up with the Magpies for much of the match, winning two bonus points and drawing another. There were 10 lead changes during the match showcasing the closeness and intensity of the game, however late in the third quarter Collingwood blazed away, scoring seven goals in a row to draw out the margin.

During the first quarter Fever looked confident, quickly transitioning from defence to attack where Jhaniele Fowler dominated the circle. The Magpies had trouble moving the ball forward off their centre passes early but once the connections clicked Collingwood made the most of them with Shimona Nelson holding strong in the circle, scoring eight goals from nine attempts then going on to finish the match with 43 goals from 50 attempts.

The Magpies started with Gabrielle Sinclair on the court for the second week in a row and while she made her presence felt early, two general play turnovers and a clogged up attacking third prompted a change to start the second quarter with the two sides sitting on 14 goals apiece. Veteran Nat Medhurst took the court and instantly the Magpies looked more dangerous in attack, with Medhurst’s experience opening up plenty of space for Nelson despite the physicality of Fever’s defence. Neck-and-neck for much of the quarter, it was Fowler’s shooting and Ingrid Colyer’s speed that saw the Fever edge ahead of the Magpies by a goal at halftime.

The Magpies took control of the match in the third quarter with Ash Brazill making the centre bib her own as she zipped back and forth across the court, applying pressure to the Fever while finding the circle edge and feeding with ease. Geva Mentor did enough to cause trouble for Fever’s feeders and it was on the back of a Mentor intercept that the Magpies were able to pull away.

Fever altered their line-up to start the final quarter with Shannon Eagland coming on court into goal defence, moving Stacey Francis to wing defence and Jess Anstiss to the bench. Despite the changes, the Magpies continued to outplay the Fever with Kelsey Browne, Brazill and Medhurst starring with hard drives and pinpoint connections.

With less than five minutes on the clock, Fever head coach Stacey Marinkovich pulled the trigger on more changes moving Courtney Bruce into goal defence and sending Eagland back to the bench while Olivia Lewis came on into goal keeper. Marinkovich also moved Verity Charles to the bench with Anstiss returning to the court to take the centre position. The changes did have an impact however it was too little too late for the Fever to claw back the margin by enough to win – though they did stop the Magpies from claiming another bonus point.

Despite the victory, Collingwood still sit outside the top four behind the GIANTS by one point with two rounds left before finals. It is still possible for the Magpies to make a finals appearance but with matches against ladder-leaders the NSW Swifts and the third-placed Melbourne Vixens on the cards, the GIANTS have an arguably easier run home with the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Fever in the coming weeks. Out of finals contention, Fever will be looking to finish their season off with a high coming up against the Firebirds on Sunday before travelling to meet the GIANTS.

STARTING LINE-UP:

West Coast Fever:

GS | Jhaniele Fowler
GA | Alice Teague-Neeld
WA | Ingrid Colyer
C | Verity Charles
WD | Jess Anstiss
GD | Stacey Francis
GK | Courtney Bruce

Collingwood Magpies:

GS | Shimona Nelson
GA | Gabrielle Sinclair
WA | Kelsey Browne
C | Ash Brazill
WD | Kim Ravaillion
GD | April Brandley
GK | Geva Mentor

GIANTS abolish the Thunderbirds

THE Adelaide Thunderbirds are still yet to beat the GIANTS in Suncorp Super Netball while the 11-goal win puts the GIANTS in the top four after six rounds. Errors swung the ball backwards and forwards for the first few minutes of the match before the teams settled in. The Thunderbirds were the first to score with both sides off to a slow start before the GIANTS gained their composure with their transitions from defence into attack seamless. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds struggled to work the ball down to their attacking end safely.

Shadine Van de Merwe was tasked with a difficult opponent in her first Suncorp Super Netball game, up against GIANTS veteran Kim Green. It was a physical contest from the first whistle with both players doing their best to get in front of the other and out-muscle one another to win the ball for their respective side.

The GIANTS got ahead of the Thunderbirds by a couple of goals in the first quarter with Jo Harten slotting her 1000th Suncorp Super Netball goal. Harten found good space in the opening term, outscoring her shooting partner with nine straight and showcasing her sheer class to create clever attacking forays. The battle between Roses’ teammates Harten and Thunderbirds goal defence, Layla Guscoth provided plenty of excitement with both players going toe to toe throughout the match. Guscoth picked up four deflections, one intercept and one gain for the game but was outshone by Harten who put on a show in the goal circle. However, in the final minutes of the first term the Thunderbirds were able to convert a much needed goal to only be one goal down heading into the second quarter.

The GIANTS stretched their lead in the second quarter, taking full control of the match. Jamie-Lee Price was exceptional through the mid-court, hitting the circle edge quickly and feeding the ball over the top of the Thunderbirds defenders. Sam Poolman and Kristiana Manu’a were strong in defence with their footwork making it difficult for the Thunderbirds to find a safe place to feed the ball. They both worked well to confuse the space and applied good hands over pressure to limit entry into goal for the Thunderbirds shooters.

Five-goals up at halftime, the GIANTS continued to power on in the third quarter. Struggling to find their way across the court and transition, the Thunderbirds made some big changes to shake up their midcourt and defensive end. Hannah Petty came on for the Thunderbirds with Kelly Altmann moving to the bench to start the quarter. Shamera Sterling was also moved to the bench during the quarter with Caitlin Bassett dominating their battle on the court. Bassett showcased her experience and netball knowledge to outsmart Sterling who struggled to combat the attacking prowess of the Australian captain under the ring. Kate Shimmin replaced Sterling in the third term and immediately got a deflection, but it was not enough to spark the Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds upped the ante in the last quarter moving the ball into the circle better but it was not enough as the GIANTS proved too strong for the Thunderbirds, extending their eight goal lead from three quarter time to win by 11. Sasha Glasgow and Maria Folau both shot well for the Thunderbirds, but the defensive pressure from the GIANTS continued to make each feed into the circle difficult.

Down the other end of the court, the GIANTS were smooth as they carefully threaded the ball through the midcourt, with their connections increasing with each and every game. GIANTS young gun Amy Parmenter was named player of the match for her job on Chelsea Pitman, finishing the match with seven gains and four intercepts. In comparison, the entire Thunderbirds side finished the match with only four intercepts between them, a low number for the side. The combination between Harten and Bassett is also continuing to grow for the Giants with the two shooters sharing the workload, with Harten slotting one more goal than Bassett.

The Thunderbirds will take on the Sunshine Coast Lightning next while the GIANTS will go up against the West Coast Fever.

STARTING LINE-UPS:

GIANTS Netball:

GS| Caitlin Bassett
GA| Jo Harten
WA| Kim Green
C | Jamie-Lee Price
WD| Amy Parmenter
GD| Kristiana Manu’a
GK| Sam Poolman

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS| Sasha Glasgow
GA| Maria Folau
WA| Chelsea Pitman
C | Kelly Altmann
WD| Shadine Van de Merwe
GD| Layla Guscoth
GK| Shamera Sterling

Team of the Week: SSN – Round 3

ROUND 3 of Suncorp Super Netball brought plenty of excitement and interest, with only two sides remaining undefeated- the Swifts and Vixens, while last year’s minor premiers, finally got a win on the board. The Melbourne Vixens were dominant against the Adelaide Thunderbirds while the West Coast Fever had 80 goals scored against them for the second week in a row. The Sunshine Coast Lightning steamrolled their state rivals while the GIANTS shocked the Magpies. Strong performances from the Lightning and Swifts sees them dominate the Round 3 edition of Draft Central Team of the Week, with four players for the Lightning featured and three for the Swifts. While the Melbourne Vixens have one player selected from their match against the Thunderbirds. Despite the loss, one Thunderbirds player has made the team, alongside a standout from the Firebirds in their loss to the Lightning. Although, the GIANTS were good in their win against the Magpies, they were unable to take a position in this week’s team, missing out alongside the Fever and the Magpies.

GK: Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

Coming off an average performance last week, Shamera Sterling was outstanding against the Melbourne Vixens. Sterling had six gains and four intercepts in the last quarter alone which contributed to her haul of 13 gains and five intercepts for the match. She kept on her toes to confuse the space around Caitlin Thwaites and despite losing the match did well enough to earn herself a position in this week’s team.

GD: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Karla Pretorius returns to the team for the first time this season after an impressive match against the Firebirds. She worked well alongside SPAR Proteas teammate Phumza Maweni, their connection evident as she was able to drift from her opponent and intercept the ball throughout the match. Pretorius’ quick footwork and ability to read the play resulted in turnover after turnover going the way of the Lightning. Ending the match on eight gains and seven intercepts Pretorius was vital to the Lightning in their win over the Firebirds. Pretorius also claimed her 100th league intercept becoming the first to do so in Suncorp Super Netball.

WD: Renae Ingles (Melbourne Vixens)

After returning to netball halfway through last season, Renae Ingles often flies under the radar as many unsung heroes in the wing defence bib do, however, she shone against the Thunderbirds. Stealing the attention away from many of her other big-name teammates, Ingles finds herself in our team this week with her five gains and two intercepts. Not only did Ingles hunt the ball well, she effectively took Hannah Petty and Kelly Altmann out of the match, keeping their feeds low. Ingles also did a good job on Chelsea Pitman before Pitman suffered an injury that unfortunately took her out of the match.

C: Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts)

Paige Hadley is having a ripper start to the season. She has been consistent and driven for the NSW Swifts making her a key part of their undefeated run. Bringing a defensive edge to the centre position she was outstanding against Verity Charles on the weekend. Pairing well alongside teammate Maddy Proud, there is not much the dynamic mid-court duo cannot do at the moment. Finishing the match with the highest number of feeds for the round on 42 she worked well across the court, shutting down the momentum of Fever’s attack while firing in her own attack end.

WA: Maddy Proud (NSW Swifts)

It is hard to talk about one of the NSW Swifts key mid-court players without talking about the other. Maddy Proud was fantastic against West Coast Fever’s Jess Anstiss. Proud shared the workload with Hadley, only passing one less feed into the circle. Her feeds into the circle were solid and their accuracy alongside the accuracy of Hadley’s were part of how the Swifts managed to score 80 goals against their opposition. Proud was also quick at switching into defence alongside Hadley with both players adding an intercept and a gain to their names this week.

GA: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

It may seem a little contradictory to have two players who were directly opposed to each other in the Team of the Week, however, no one else took on the role of goal attack like Gretel Tippett did this week. She put up a massive number of goals compared to her usual workload and nailed every single one of them, finishing the match with 40/40. Tippett did a wealth of work in the goal circle to open up room for her teammates and used her athleticism to burn off her opponent. Tippett also stepped up to the challenge of being her team’s primary shooter as Romelda Aiken was shut down and youngster Amy Sommerville struggled to break free of the strong opposition.

GS: Peace Proscovia (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

It was a tough decision over who should get the goal shooter bib this week, but in the end, Lightning’s Peace Proscovia won, for the second week in a row. Proscovia shot 53/55 during the match against the Firebirds. Her movement and dominance in the goal circle made it easy for her teammates to feed the ball in. On occasion when an off feed flew near her she was able to pluck it from the air with ease as if nothing were wrong. The inexperience of the Firebirds’ defence was exploited with how easily Proscovia was able to out-manoeuvre her opponents. In their struggle to find an answer to Proscovia and the Lightning’s fast attack, Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke threw their goal shooter Aiken down into goal keeper to try to make an impact. The move did work for a bit, however, Proscovia and the Lightning adjusted credit to her ability to hold strong and command the ball.

BENCH: Sam Wallace (NSW Swifts), Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning), Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning) Two more Lightning players in Laura Scherian and Phumza Maweni have made their way onto this week’s bench alongside Swifts superstar Sam Wallace. Goal keeper Maweni was massive against the Firebirds, keeping Aiken to only 10 goals in a half while doing plenty of work to give Pretorius space to chase the ball. Maweni also finished the match with six gains and five intercepts of her own. Lightning teammate Laura Scherian takes the mid-court position on our bench for her speed and agility which outclassed the Firebirds. Scherian was able to zip back and forth across the Lightning attacking end to hit the circle edge smoothly time and time again with 37 feeds and a strong unit around her she made it look easy. Rounding out our bench is Sam Wallace who missed out on our goal shooter position by the smallest fraction this week. Wallace has been up there as one of the top shooters so far this season but has gone under the radar a little. This week she was part of the Swifts’ record equalling 80 goals, scoring 62/66. Her command of the goal circle resulted in the Fever trying player after player in goal keeper to try nullify her, but they were unable to halt Wallace’s onslaught of goals.

Lightning triumph over the Firebirds in the Queensland derby

THE Sunshine Coast Lightning struck against their state rivals on the weekend, taking three bonus points in their 15-goal win against the Queensland Firebirds.

The Firebirds went into the match without their captain Gabi Simpson after straining her hip at training forcing the late change. Without Simpson on court the Firebirds lacked that experience and guidance down back but tried hard all game. Maddison Hinchliffe twin of up and coming defender Tara Hinchliffe was brought into the squad for Simpson, but did not get any court time.

It was goal-for-goal early, but a strong intercept from Phumza Maweni resulted in a Peace Proscovia goal which she then backed up, giving the Lightning a two-goal lead. During the rest of the quarter, the Lightning demolished the Firebirds with Laura Scherian and Laura Langman speeding through the mid-court, delivering the ball easily into the goal circle.

Down the other end, the Lightning suffocated the Firebirds’ attack with Maweni and Karla Pretorius making it hard for the Firebirds to get a clean feed into the circle. Although the Firebirds were finding it hard to score, Gretel Tippett slotted in her 1000th league goal during the first quarter and continuously injected herself into the game to make her an option both in the goal circle and across the court.

The Firebirds made some much needed changes in the second term to try and combat the brilliant start that the Lightning had with their quick ball movement, precision and accuracy to post. Coach Roselee Jencke tinkered with the defence end moving Hinchliffe from wing defence into goal keeper and forcing Laura Clemesha to the bench after an ordinary start. But the changes did not stop there with Mahalia Cassidy swapping the centre bib for wing defence while Jemma Mi Mi came off the bench onto centre in hope to provide some more speed and defensive pressure on the Lightning attackers. The Firebirds moved better, with Kim Jenner and Hinchliffe in the defensive circle, but Lightning’s Proscovia was still too good under the net, only missing one goal in the quarter following a 17/17 first quarter.

Often going under the radar, Madeline McAuliffe shone for the Lightning pairing well with Langman to effectively slow down the Firebirds mid-court. 11 goals down at half-time, the Firebirds swung momentum their way in the final minute of the first half with a clever pick up from Mahalia Cassidy quickly transitioning into a goal further down the court.

They carried that momentum into the third quarter, taking a risk that threw the Lightning off their game and stole a bonus point in doing so.

Firebirds’ shooter Romelda Aiken was moved into goal keeper as the Firebirds tried to find an answer to the Lightning’s Proscovia. Aiken appeared uncomfortable at first, but the switch worked well for the Firebirds. The move altered the dynamic of the Lightning’s attack as they slowed down, appearing unsure of where to place the ball. The defensive pressure from Aiken also seemed to throw Lightning’s goal attack Steph Wood who uncharacteristically only scored 3/8 of her goal attempts.

With Aiken playing in defence, the Firebirds brought Amy Sommerville on in goal shooter. Sommerville scored five from six of her goal attempts during the quarter proving she is a viable option in the Firebirds attack end.

Alongside Sommerville, Gretel Tippett shot 12/12 in the third quarter, her largest haul for the match. Tippett’s accuracy carried on from earlier quarters and went straight through to the last as she finished the match on a perfect 100%. Tippett’s work rate was impeccable doing a wealth of work to bring the ball down the court and recording a huge 40 goals for the match.

The Lightning returned to the court in fourth quarter, much more settled than the previous one. Despite the Firebirds having pulled back the margin to only nine goals, the Lightning were able to stretch it back out. The Sunshine Coast blitzed down the court with strong transitions making it easy to regain control against a Firebirds side who appeared to be tiring after a strong third quarter.

Proscovia backed herself under the post in her first full four-quarter performance of the season and was named Player of the Match, having racked up 116.5 Nissan NetPoints.

The match highlighted the youthfulness of the Firebirds’ defence and showcased the Lightning as serious finals contenders once again.

The Firebirds will face an in-form Giants next, while the Lightning will be looking to deliver the New South Wales Swifts their first loss of the season this weekend.

STARTING LINE-UPS:

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS | Peace Proscovia
GA | Steph Wood
WA | Laura Scherian
C | Laura Langman
WD | Madeline McAuliffe
GD | Karla Pretorius
GK | Phumza Maweni

Queensland Firebirds:

GS | Romelda Aiken
GA | Gretel Tippett
WA | Caitlyn Nevins
C | Mahalia Cassidy
WD | Tara Hinchliffe
GD | Kim Jenner
GK | Laura Clemesha

Swifts outclass Thunderbirds

THE New South Wales (NSW) Swifts were too good for the Adelaide Thunderbirds over the weekend with the Swifts controlling the game and ball from start to finish claiming an 18-goal victory.

Sam Wallace was deadly in attack shooting at 100% accuracy throughout the match and scoring her 1000th goal Super Netball. She was dominant under the post and used her casual, laid back style to win the ball time and time again. Sophie Garbin also nailed every shot she took on court during the fourth quarter after replacing Wallace and Helen Housby finished on 86% with only four misses for the game credit to her ability to turn and shoot. Housby did an immense amount of work across the court, resulting in her being rewarded with Player of the Match on 105 Nissan NetPoints.

The two sides spent much of the first quarter trading goal-for-goal before the Swifts broke away with six minutes remaining in the quarter to establish a three-goal lead. The Thunderbirds struggled in defence, a stark difference to last week, with the Swifts treasuring the ball to avoid any passes that could give Shamera Sterling or Layla Guscoth the opportunity to intercept.

The Swifts intensified during the second quarter, with a 21-goal quarter. Paige Hadley and Maddy Proud tore up the mid-court for the Swifts, running rings around their opponents with their hard drives and clever leads into space. Proud found herself in wing attack for the match while Hadley relished the extra space in at centre with her attacking and defensive work superb giving Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner plenty of time to turn over the ball.

Midway through the second quarter, the Thunderbirds shook up their line-up as their connections failed to fire. The only player to keep her bib was Chelsea Pitman, while Maria Folau moved from goal attack to goal shooter bringing Cody Lange on for the first time this season in her new colours. Lange’s inclusion at goal attack forced Sasha Glasgow to the bench, Kelly Altmann who was tiring against Hadley also joined the bench with Hannah Petty taking her place. In defence, Beth Cobden joined the bench allowing Guscoth to move into wing defence, Sterling to goal defence and Kate Shimmin onto the court in goal keeper. The changes brought a spark of energy to the Thunderbirds. Petty was good making an immediate impact as was Shimmin who was quickly out hunting for the ball in her defensive third. Despite the shuffle, the Swifts remained composed forcing the Thunderbirds to run into each other and crowd the court. The Swifts did the basics right to power home to the half-time break with a 14-goal lead.

Down by a fair bit, the Thunderbirds reshuffled once again for the third quarter as coach Tania Obst struggled to find a combination that could dampen the Swifts. However, the third quarter was the Thunderbirds’ best, both Folau and Glasgow were strong in the goal circle, with well-placed feeds from Petty and Altmann helping to settle the side. It was also the Thunderbirds best quarter in terms of general play turnovers with only six compared to the Swifts’ eight. Impressive work across the court kept the Swifts ahead of the Thunderbirds in the chase for the third bonus point as they took it by one goal, while, their prolific second quarter kept them 15 goals ahead.

The Swifts put the finishing touches on their strong four-quarter performance by keeping most of the starting line-up on court. Wallace took to the bench in the fourth quarter giving Garbin her moment on court and Lauren Moore also came on for Kate Eddy. Both players had an impact with Garbin solid in attack and Moore tight on Petty, stealing an intercept and a gain.

With the Swifts now two from two, it is clear that the Swifts should not be underestimated this season, while the Thunderbirds will be needing to fix their connections so they can challenge the Melbourne Vixens in their upcoming round 3 clash.

STARTING LINE-UPS:

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Helen Housby
WA | Maddy Proud
C | Paige Hadley
WD | Kate Eddy
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS | Sasha Glasgow
GA | Maria Folau
WA | Chelsea Pitman
C | Kelly Altmann
WD | Beth Cobden
GD | Layla Guscoth
GK | Shamera Sterling

Swifts send a message with inspiring win

THE NSW Swifts have claimed the Carole Sykes Trophy against GIANTS Netball by seven goals in the Round 1 New South Wales Derby.

The Swifts went into the match as underdogs missing two key players in Nat Haythornwaite and Kate Eddy. Replacing the two the Swifts brought in training partners Tayla Fraser and Sophie Halpin. Swifts captain Maddy Proud was gutsy putting her body on the line time and time again throughout the match leading her side to victory.

The Swifts started well against the GIANTS announcing themselves as real contenders, given their settled line-up. Sarah Klau was menacing in defence with four gains and two turnovers, while Sam Wallace was a strong target in attack. Her laid back nature and ability to hit the scoreboard put NSW in good stead allowing them to control the flow of the game. The GIANTS took a bit longer to fire despite some good work in defence by Sam Poolman who put pressure on the Swifts’ feeds. Jamie-Lee Price was sent off in the first quarter with the blood rule, giving Maddie Hay her debut. Hay was quick on her feet while on court, but she did not stay on for long with Price returning to the court a few minutes later.

Two goals down after the first quarter, the GIANTS lifted in the second. Poolman’s defensive efforts turned the ball over giving the GIANTS the lead. Price lifted delivering the ball spectacularly into the goal circle multiple times during the quarter with some bullet like passes piercing the defence. She seemed to relish the extra space in centre and showcased her attacking flair down the court. The Swifts fell behind, losing the second quarter credit to the pressure of the GIANTS however, Paige Hadley and Proud kept their team in it by making the most of their possessions with Wallace shooting at 100 percent for the quarter.

Having swapped positions with their opponents the Swifts sparked again in the third term. Goal-for-goal, a footwork call against the GIANTS and turnovers from, Proud, Klau and Turner helped the Swifts pull momentum back their way with the Swifts escaping out to a five-goal lead. However, the GIANTS stayed with them once again forcing their way back with a Jo Harten intercept only two-goals down at the end of the quarter thanks to a quick three goals from Caitlin Bassett. The two shooters took a while to gel on the court given their similar game styles but both were accurate under the post.

Under immense pressure from the GIANTS the Swifts weathered the storm well, staying calm and collected in the final quarter. Five goals in a row from Wallace early in the quarter pushed the GIANTS further behind as mistakes started to get the better of them. The Swifts continued to fire with the win within their grasp. Julie Fitzgerald brought Kiera Austin on midway through the last quarter for Bassett in an injury time after the Swifts extended their lead to six goals. Austin showcased her accuracy under the post shooting three from three at 100 percent. She offered plenty of movement in the goal circle which had been missing throughout the game given the tall timbers. But unfortunately it was all but too late with the Swifts outshining the GIANTS in the Sydney Derby.

The Swifts proved that they have what it takes to go up against one of the best in defeating last year’s minor premiers, while the GIANTS will be looking to piece everything together better next week against the Vixens who are coming off a big win.

STARTING LINE-UPS:

GIANTS Netball:

GS | Caitlin Bassett
GA | Jo Harten
WA | Kim Green
C | Jamie-Lee Price
WD | Amy Parmenter
GD | Kristiana Manu’a
GK | Sam Poolman

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Helen Housby
WA | Paige Hadley
C | Maddy Proud
WD | Lauren Moore
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

Tips and Tricks: Round 1

VICTORIA dominated while two teams caused upsets in the first round of Suncorp Super Netball for 2019, as new-look teams took the court for their first official hitout.

Saturday’s double header played out as expected with the Melbourne Vixens walking away 12-goal winners over the Queensland Firebirds. The Collingwood Magpies dismantled the Sunshine Coast Lightning in similar fashion, beating the back-to-back premiers by 14 goals.

On Sunday, despite having a few exclusions due to injury, the New South Wales Swifts stood up on the big stage and came out seven-goal winners against GIANTS Netball. Over in South Australia, the Adelaide Thunderbirds broke their 27 match losing streak with a one-goal victory over the West Coast Fever.

Melbourne Vixens
There were a lot of positives on the weekend for the Melbourne Vixens. In the shooting circle both Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip were accurate, only missing one goal each , while Liz Watson didn’t miss a beat with 46 feeds into the circle. Defensively, Emily Mannix effectively shut down Romelda Aiken, as Renae Ingles made her mark in wing defence to shut down feeds into the circle. On the less positive note for the Vixens, a slow start meant they were chasing the Firebirds for majority of the first half, only able to take advantage of their momentum in the second half of the match.

Queensland Firebirds
The Firebirds had a strong start to their match against the Vixens, however they faded out of the match as the Vixens lifted. Defensively, it was a case of experience versus young talent in the goal circle, with the likes of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe tremendous in defence early to prevent the Vixens from getting on the board, however struggled to regain momentum after the first quarter. Gretel Tippett was accurate in the goal circle with only one goal missed throughout the match. Heading into next week the Firebirds will be looking to improve on their penalty count through defence, with 79 penalties compared to the Vixens’ 53.

Collingwood Magpies
The Magpies continued on from their strong preseason with a comfortable win over the 2018 premiers. Shimona Nelson put out a very strong performance at the post, aided by accurate feeds from Kelsey Browne and Kim Ravaillion. Defensively, the Magpies were settled with Geva Mentor and April Brandley stealing the ball with ease. The Magpies will be looking to pull off a full quarter performance after losing the second quarter by a goal. They also will be wanting to clean up on a few mistakes and have their bench players transition onto the court a little bit smoother in coming weeks.

Sunshine Coast Lightning
Despite losing their first match of the season, there were some positives for the Lightning to take from their battle with the Magpies. Laura Langman‘s return to the team paved the way for their midcourt with 28 feeds and two intercepts. SPAR Proteas teammates, Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni were strong in defence with five and three intercepts respectively. Moving forward, the Lightning will need to hold onto the ball better after this match saw 36 general play turnovers, the highest of any team in round one.

NSW Swifts
The NSW Swifts had a strong season opener against their state rivals, GIANTS Netball. Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner led the way from defence, with Klau’s eight gains, four intercepts and Turner’s three gains and three intercepts shooting the ball back forward. Down in their attack end, Sam Wallace (46/49 goals) proved that she could not only shoot but could nail a lay-up. There wasn’t too much to be disappointed with from their round one match, though Helen Housby‘s accuracy was a little rusty. Housby showed her experience, adjusting her play and opting to pass off and feed the ball rather than risk turnovers.

GIANTS Netball
Though the GIANTS fell short against the Swifts on Sunday, there were a few positives to come out of the match. Jamie-Lee Price and Kim Green worked well in attack, sharing the workload and racking up 27 feeds apiece. Sam Poolman had a good match in defence with seven gains and two intercepts. Despite not really having much momentum, the GIANTS won the second quarter which they’ll be wanting to replicate across four quarters next week. The biggest issue for the GIANTS was the goal circle, with the likes of tall shooters, Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett struggling to gel. Taking into account that Bassett missed a fair bit of training and preseason with an arm injury sustained ahead of the Northern Quad Series, it’s not really surprising that the GIANTS attack was an issue in their first match.

Adelaide Thunderbirds
The Adelaide Thunderbirds can hold their heads high after winning their first match since 2017. Their defensive end starred with Shamera Sterling finishing the match with 10 gains and five intercepts against 2018’s highest goal scorer in Jhaniele Fowler. Layla Guscoth was also strong with five gains and seven intercepts, showing some versatility moving into wing defence. In attack, Sasha Glasgow was phenomenal to watch, rebounding and breaking free of her opponents to score and create space for her shooting partner Maria Folau. Despite the win, the Thunderbirds lost the middle two quarters of the match and had a nervous start with five general play turnovers in the first five minutes, so will want to improve on their consistency.

West Coast Fever
The West Coast Fever will be disappointed with a loss to start their season, though they had some good patches throughout the match. A strong second and third quarter kept them on par with the Thunderbirds. Jhaniele Fowler shot at 100 per cent accuracy, while Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld did well to give Fowler the space she needed. However, the Fever had some trouble moving the ball downcourt and struggled in defence, with the likes of captain, Courtney Bruce injuring her wrist in the first quarter. Despite issues, Bruce fought through the pain to put constant pressure on in the circle. Olivia Lewis replaced Bruce at times during the match and played well with two gains. The other problem for the Fever came towards the end of the match with Fowler helped from the court after injuring her ankle. Without Fowler the attack end fell apart, and the Thunderbirds flipped the script to steal the win after falling behind.

NSW Swifts Season Preview

THE New South Wales (NSW) Swifts will hit the court wanting to prove they can be one of the best this season. The Swifts finished sixth last year after a solid season that saw them challenge the top teams and come away with a few unexpected wins.

The 2019 Swifts line-up remains mostly unchanged with their only loss being former captain Abbey McCulloch who has stepped away from elite netball to rest and recover after damaging her knee. Defender Lauren Moore has been elevated into the team following two seasons as a training partner for the Swifts.

Up their attacking end, the Swifts have plenty of talent with Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin. Helen Housby who scored the winning goal in last year’s Commonwealth Games Gold Medal match will also be important for the team with her ability to stay cool under pressure.

Housby’s England Roses’ teammate Nat Haythornwaite will also be an asset to the Swifts after joining the team towards the end of last season. Haythornwaite is quick in the midcourt but also able to step into the shooting circle if needed. Alongside Haythornwaite the Swifts midcourt is strong with Paige Hadley who only has eyes for the ball. Following an impressive preseason performance Hadley has recently been called back into the Australian Diamonds camp. One of the team’s most exciting players is Maddy Proud. Proud was relentless during the second half of 2018 and has been named as the Swifts new team captain.

Though the Swifts defenders may not have the icon status of some of the other teams, they do the little things well and work seamlessly in the back end and should not be underestimated. Kate Eddy who was good last season is likely to get more court time in wing defence following McCulloch’s departure. The partnership between Sarah Klau, and Maddy Turner is likely to only grow stronger with Turner’s ability to wear an opponent down and Klau’s skill to hunt the ball.

Through keeping their squad mostly the same as last season, the Swifts are backing themselves, their belief in each other and their coach Briony Akle to push them through the tough matches. Expect the Swifts to grow from last year and once again catch some of the other teams off-guard. The challenge will be whether or not the side is able to match it week in week out with the best.

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We also previewed some of the teams in detail in the return episode of the Centre Pass Podcast now hosted by Draft Central. Listen to the link below to hear about the NSW Swifts as well as Collingwood Magpies, Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens:

Collingwood Magpies Netball Season Preview

THE Collingwood Magpies fell short of expectations again in season 2018, finishing seventh despite a star-studded line-up, which has seen the team turn to rebuilding during the off-season. Under new head coach Rob Wright, the Magpies took out the inaugural preseason #TeamGirlsCup.

The new look Magpies side consists of another group of superstars, however, they also lost some key players at the end of last season. Retiring from netball the Magpies lost an icon of the sport, Sharni Layton, along with experienced shooter Erin Bell and the reliable Shae Brown. Another missing face from the Magpies this season is Caitlin Thwaites who has returned back to the Melbourne Vixens making way for former Adelaide Thunderbirds player Shimona Nelson and former West Coast Fever goaler Nat Medhurst.

With the goal attack position a problem for the Magpies in the first two seasons of Super Netball, bringing in a veteran like Medhurst should strengthen the side’s attack. While Nelson is still quite young, she will learn a lot from Medhurst. Rounding out the shooters is Gabby Sinclair who has been elevated into the squad as a former Magpies training partner.

The Magpies have a midcourt stacked with talent. Two-time premiership player Kelsey Browne has moved from the Sunshine Coast Lightning to the Magpies following a standout season that saw her get the call-up to the Australian Diamonds squad. At the Magpies, Browne will be playing once again alongside her sister former Diamond Madi Browne and their connection in the midcourt appears as strong as ever. It is no secret that Magpies player Kim Ravaillion did not have her best season last year, however, she is still an Australian Diamond and her performances in this year’s preseason matches have been outstanding.The reigning Best and Fairest for the Magpies, Ash Brazill is an integral part of Collingwood’s defence, the unsung hero of the Magpies lineup has been in career best form despite juggling netball with her AFL Women’s commitments.

Down the defensive end of the court the Magpies may have lost a legend of the sport, however, they have replaced Layton with another legend in Geva Mentor. A Commonwealth Gold medallist with the England Roses and two-time premiership captain of the Lightning Mentor’s ability to read the play will be essential to the Magpies. Her leadership will help to guide the Magpies down back with Diamond April Brandley and Matilda Garrett likely to rotate between the goal defence bib this season. Garrett is currently recovering from an injury, however, this will not dampen the Magpies too much with her return expected after the first few matches.

It is the third year in a row the Magpies have lined up with a team full of netball stars, but with new a head coach, the gears seem like they are finally turning for the Magpies. If they can continue to build on their strong preseason and are able to handle the World Cup well, then the Magpies should finally be able to deliver for the black and white army.

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We also previewed some of the teams in detail in the return episode of the Centre Pass Podcast now hosted by Draft Central. Listen to the link below to hear about the Collingwood Magpies as well as Adelaide Thunderbirds, NSW Swifts and Melbourne Vixens: