Author: Taylah Melki

SSN Head to Head: Round 13

IN each round of Suncorp Super Netball we will identify key match-ups, provide an analysis of players and compare the two styles. This week’s head to head looks at a couple of internationals who are major barometers for their respective teams in Sam Wallace and Shamera Sterling.

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS v. NSW SWIFTS
Shamera Sterling (GK) v. Sam Wallace (GS)

Although finals is out of their reach, the Thunderbirds can still impact ladder positions and subsequently the postseason. Meanwhile, the NSW Swifts will be hoping to unlock some consistency and recapture their winning ways. Both players are renowned for providing that spark for their respective sides with Sterling often out hunting while Wallace is just about as accurate as they come under the post.

Sterling is an aerial mastermind, able to read the play with great ease and force a timely turnover. Even if it looks like she is out of position her speed off the mark and long rangy arms enable her to consistently get hands to ball and cause a ruckus. Contesting from behind does not seem to hinder Sterling with the goal keeper able to cleanly get over the top of her opponent and propel the ball back down court. Her strength on the rebound and ridiculous lean over the shot can offset the goalers and in recent weeks her timing on the shot to come up with a rejection has become a huge asset for the Thunderbirds. Her constant movement creates doubts for feeders while her partnership with both Layla Guscoth and Kate Shimmin in the circle enables her to roam freely and go out hunting in the defensive third. Sterling’s effort in transition is also critical to the Thunderbirds’ quick movement through the centre, often linking up with Maisie Nankivell, Hannah Petty and Shadine van der Merwe.

It has been somewhat of an up and down season for the Swifts but one constant has been Wallace at the post. The goal shooter has been a formidable option in the goal circle for the reigning premiers throughout 2020 with her goal sense and laid back style frequently on display. Wallace has steadily added to her repertoire, backing herself from range to seek out the super shot while her increased movement has given the Swifts more versatility under the post. Pair that with her athleticism, aerial strength and ability to score quickly and Wallace is an extremely damaging prospect in the goal circle. her connection with the likes of fellow goalers Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin is strong, able to quickly adapt to their varying style but quite often shouldering the load when it comes to scoreboard impact. Wallace is most damaging when she receives the ball quickly as she position accordingly to keep her defender at bay and score ,and has relished the speed and ball placement of Maddy ProudNatalie Haythornthwaite, Tayla Fraser and Paige Hadley.

The high ball into the circle is the bread and butter for both players given their impressive leap and read of the play. If the Swifts are to build form ahead of the finals they will have to vary up the passes and resort to low, flat and quick passes to keep Sterling guessing and most importantly away from contesting in the air as the goal keeper builds off confidence. However, if the Thunderbirds goal keeper gets a taste early with a couple of intercepts or deflections it will be hard to stop her and subsequently the Thunderbirds as they feed off her energy and ball winning ways down back.

Potential Australia Development Squad players

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season edging ever closer, Draft Central casts an eye over potential new inclusions to the Australian Diamonds Development Squad based on their performances throughout the 2020 season. The Development Squad focuses on up and coming players that would benefit from the opportunity to train in an elite environment but are not yet ready for the call-up to the international stage. Players that were named in the 2019 Australian Development Squad such as Tayla Fraser, Olivia Lewis and Hannah Petty have not been included. These notes are purely based on the individual opinions of each writer.

ATTACK:

Typically renowned for holding shooters, the next generation of Australian goalers coming through the ranks could be more focused on movement and versatility with some smaller goalers in development, particularly in goal attack. Versatility and an ability to put up goals from range is abundant in the up-and-coming pool of goalers, although the lack of height among the group we have selected could be an issue.

Georgie Horjus – Adelaide Thunderbirds (Sophie Taylor)

One of the most exciting young prospects to take the court in season 2020 is Georgie Horjus. A breakout season for the young South Australian goaler has seen her provide a crucial link throughout the Thunderbirds attack, using her burst of speed and excellent vision to weave around her opposition and find purchase both in and around the goal circle. An impressive long range shooter, Horjus has proved this season that the young talent coming up through the pathways is more than capable of holding down a starting spot, using her flair and technique to wow her more experienced opposition time and time again.

Tippah Dwan – Queensland Firebirds (Taylah Melki)

Youngster Tippah Dwan has taken the competition by storm in 2020 with her smooth movement and long bomb shooting a couple of key elements in her game play. The goal attack is an exciting prospect for the future of Australian netball, able to glide across the court while also taking the hard drive into the circle to draw the attention of her defender. Her work rate is unquestionable, constantly popping up in the Firebirds attacking third to bring the ball down the court while her defensive efforts are also commendable, getting hands to ball and picking off intercepts. 

Emma Cosh – West Coast Fever (Sophie Taylor)

A player who has had a real opportunity to ply her trade this season is Emma Cosh, with the smooth-moving goaler inadvertently handed the wing attack bib due to Ingrid Colyer’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Cosh has proved to be a highly versatile option in attack, and while she has not played in goals since she pulled on the wing attack bibs a few weeks ago, she is a great evasive attacker who can put up shots from anywhere in the goal circle. Her feeding ability has stood out, with excellent ball placement on or off circle edge and the clean hands and quick release to pull it off.

MIDCOURT:

Through the midcourt, defensive capability is what stands out amongst our three picks. With the ability to adapt and transition well between positions through the centre third, the potential Diamonds of the future could be a bit more versatile. All three of the players we have listed boast both offensive and defensive traits, much like many of the young up-and-comers through the Australian pathways.

Maisie Nankivell – Adelaide Thunderbirds (Taylah Melki)

There is no denying that Maisie Nankivell has taken her game to a whole new level in 2020, often using her defensive attributes in attack and vice versa. Accustomed to the wing defence position, Nankivell has not looked out of place in centre for the Thunderbirds with her strength and high endurance paving the way for the Adelaide side. She is never out of the contest thanks to her impressive footwork, read of the play and deceptively rangy arms. Nankivell works in overdrive around circle edge to pick up clean ball or create opportunities for turnovers while her transition down court is another impressive trait. Her cleanliness with ball in hand, spatial awareness and confidence to deliver bullet-like passes has quickly become a focal point in the Thunderbirds line-up.  

Molly Jovic – Collingwood Magpies (Sophie Taylor)

A talented midcourter who has burst onto the SSN scene in 2020, Molly Jovic has proved a critical member of the Magpies lineup this season in the absence of Collingwood experience. Jovic has rarely looked out of place or out of her depth on the SSN stage, consistently stepping up to the plate with her quickfire passes and adaptability on court. A hugely versatile midcourter, Jovic can rotate through all three centre court positions which allows her to continuously impact on the play, with her transition between attack and defensive excellent especially given her relative inexperience when it comes to this level.

Maddie Hay – GIANTS Netball (Taylah Melki)

Still finding her feet at SSN level, Maddie Hay has proven that she has a relatively big bag of tricks and is not overawed by the physicality of the game. Slotting into that wing attack position seamlessly for the GIANTS, Hay has become a key cog through the attacking third with her strong second phase play and clever ball placement. She is a strong option around circle edge, tussling for prime position and using her netball smarts to ward off her opponent. Although still adjusting to the high intensity of SSN, the midcourter has proven that she is cool, calm and collected under pressure and can deliver pinpoint precision passes into the likes of Kiera Austin, Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett

DEFENCE: 

The tenacious defensive unit we have selected very much follows the footsteps of its predecessors with a heap of ball-winning tendencies and the ability to consistently wreak havoc down back. Learning behind some impressive defenders at SSN level, these defenders have showcased the ability to lift when required and deliver under pressure.

Sunday Aryang – West Coast Fever (Sophie Taylor)

Ethiopian-born Sunday Aryang may be young but she has shown in season 2020 that she is more than capable of filling a position on court with her versatility, flair and take-off speed. While she showed glimpses of her exciting potential in the late stages of 2019 and early in 2020, she has been an excellent impact player for the West Coast Fever especially in the latter stages of this season, able to jump on court and create turnover ball. She has continued to grow not only in confidence but also skill with Courtney Bruce behind her, and her ability to not skip a beat regardless of her opposition will make her a huge defensive prospect.

Lauren Moore – NSW Swifts (Taylah Melki)

Defender Lauren Moore burst onto the scene this season with her ability to impact the contest and take big intercepts. Out with injury last season, Moore has relished the opportunity to get a run out on the court for the Swifts in 2020 and has showcased her versatility to swing between goal defence and goal keeper with great ease. The defender has impressive closing speed, reads the play well and is a real energiser bunny down back with her constant movement and hunt for the ball to keep the attackers guessing. She attacks any high or cross court ball and most importantly does it cleanly to win back possession for her side.  

Matilda McDonell – GIANTS Netball (Sophie Taylor)

Matilda McDonell may not have had a heap of consistent court time, but has proven her worth on the court when she has made SSN appearances this season. A tall timber who can use her long arms and elevation to fly for intercepts, McDonell has taken her opportunities and shown plenty of exciting traits in goal keeper, able to come off the body or be a niggling defender blocking drives. Her clever timing allows her to bat the ball away while her hands over pressure is excellent with long limbs blocking vision both in and around the goal circle.

There are a number of other players that would value the opportunity to develop in the elite environment, but currently do not have the SSN exposure to warrant a call-up. In saying that, there are a few players who have showed glimpses of potential and deserve a mention, with midcourters Macy Gardner and Lara Dunkley developing their midcourt craft well at the Firebirds this season, while South Australian Nyah Allen has proved she is capable of having an impact where required, despite not managing a heap of court time. Gardner and Allen have both been selected for the Australian Under 21s squad, proving their capacity to impress. 

Courtside Comments

Maisie Nankivell // Tippah Dwan // Sunday Aryang // Molly Jovic // Georgie Horjus // Lauren Moore //  Maddie Hay

2020 Suncorp Super Netball Preview: Round 13

WITH one game already done and dusted for Round 13 the remainder of Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous round is set to play out over the weekend as the race for finals intensifies. The GIANTS are still in with a shot but rely on results from other games as the Fever and Swifts tussle for prime position in the top four.

West Coast Fever v. GIANTS Netball
Saturday, 19 September

It is a do or die clash for the GIANTS as they look to keep their finals chances alive, however the West Coast Fever have been in scintillating form and will be keen to secure the win in order to rise up the ladder and potentially claim at top two finish.

The GIANTS will have to be on their A-game in defence with Jhaniele Fowler simply unstoppable in the past couple of weeks, recording a whopping 124 goals and showcasing just how damaging she can be at the post. Alice Teague-Neeld has elevated her game in 2020 and while she does not put up a wealth of shots, working alongside the likes of Emma Cosh and Verity Charles the Fever have been able to weave their way down the court with great ease and allow Fowler to do the heavy lifting. To stop Fowler and the Fever the GIANTS will have to employ full court defensive pressure to stop the ball from flowing freely into attack and ending up in Fowler’s hands – meaning the likes of April Brandley, Sam Poolman, Kristiana Manu’a, Amy Parmenter and Jamie-Lee Price will all have to ply their trade consistently in order to stop the ball from coming down with pace.

With everything on the line the GIANTS attacking unit will have to be on song from the first whistle. Caitlin Bassett has not received a wealth of court time this season but given the speed and accuracy with which she can score, she could definitely make a handy cameo and alter the course of the game. There is no denying that Jo Harten and Kiera Austin are fast becoming the super shot queens with their ability to turn and sink them from long range, something the Fever defenders in Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis will be acutely aware of heading into the clash.

 

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. NSW Swifts
Saturday, 19 September

The Adelaide Thunderbirds are a team that should not be underestimated given the amount of international prowess they have across the court, and while they cannot make finals they are still in a position to have an influence on ladder positions. The Swifts have struggled to find their mojo in season 2020 but heading into finals they will be eager to find some continuity across the court and claim the all-important win.

Hopefully returning after missing last week’s clash with concussion, Helen Housby will be a great addition into the attacking end given her experience, class with ball in hand and willingness to go to the post. Her connection with England roses teammate Natalie Haythornthwaite is also pivotal to the Swifts attacking unit while Sam Wallace is a strong target under the post thanks to her athleticism and creativity with ball in hand. However the high release into Wallace will play directly into the hands of Shamera Sterling with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper renowned for her athleticism to reach up and gobble any looping passes .The support she receives from the likes of Layla Guscoth out the front, Kate Shimmin, Shadine van der Merwe and Maisie Nankivell allows her to go out and hunt the ball with freedom.

The midcourt battle will be intriguing with both sides not afraid to throw the bibs around as shown with Paige Hadley sliding back into that wing defence position allowing the likes of Maddy Proud, Tayla Fraser and Haythornthwaite to take the reins in attack. As for the Thunderbirds, Nankivell, Hannah Petty, Tayla Williams and Georgie Horjus have all floated through various centre court positions, though it is fair to say Horjus does her best work inside the goal circle with South African Lenize Potgieter. The Thunderbirds will hope to welcome back co-captain Chelsea Pitman with her class and ball placement critical to their attack if they are to keep Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner and Lauren Moore busy and out of the contest.

 

Melbourne Vixens v. Queensland Firebirds
Sunday, 20 September

The final game of the round sees minor premiers Melbourne Vixens take on a young and exciting Queensland Firebirds outfit. The Vixens have been in ripping form in season 2020 while the Firebirds have showcased that they have plenty of potential and are building towards a strong 2021 season, making for an exciting contest between the two sides.

Inside the shooting circle the Melbourne Vixens have a plethora of options with Caitlin Thwaites, Mwai Kumwenda and Tegan Philip all able to seamlessly rotate in and out of the game and have a profound impact when called upon. Their innate understanding and connection with their midcourters in Liz Watson and Kate Moloney enables the Vixens to constantly create space and find easy avenue to goal meaning the Firebirds defenders will have to be on song if they are any chance of slowing down the Vixens’ attacking unit. Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe are a formidable duo for the Firebirds down back, able to hunt ball and cause chaos, while Rudi Ellis can add that extra height if required. It will be up to captain Gabi Simpson to nullify Watson if she returns or limit the impact of Tayla Honey or Elle McDonald if the Firebirds are any chance of an upset.

Boasting a different style in attack to their opponents, holding shooter Romelda Aiken has been a lynchpin under the post for the Firebirds with her strong and clear holds, aerial ability and increased accuracy consistently on display. Aiken is the Firebirds’ get out of jail free card with the likes of Mahalia Cassidy, Jemma Mi Mi, Lara Dunkley and Macy Gardner all able to bomb it long into the shooter when there are limited options, an area the Vixens will be hoping to shut down with Kate Eddy’s long arms to block vision. Dunkley has been crucial over the past couple few rounds, due in part to her strength around circle edge and composure with ball in hand. Youngster Tippah Dwan has also proven to be a revelation with her speed, confidence and super shot shooting meaning the Vixens defensive duo in Emily Mannix and Jo Weston cannot afford to pay all their attention to Aiken.

Australia and New Zealand release Under 21 squads

BOTH Australia and New Zealand have released their Under 21 squads ahead of the Netball World Youth Cup expected to take place in 2021, with some familiar and exciting names amongst the ranks for both countries.

AUSTRALIA

Coached by Kylee Byrne there is no shortage of excitement looking at the Australian Under 21s squad which is filled with speed and tenacity. Taking the reins in 2020 for the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Byrne is accustomed to the high expectations and will be keen to make the most of her options in the shooting circle and in defence.

It is fair to say that South Australian Georgie Horjus has taken the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) competition by storm, quickly becoming a fan favourite thanks to her long bomb shooting, clever drives and spatial awareness. On the shorter side, Horjus uses her speed to dart around the court and has proven to be unfazed by the physical nature of SSN. Fellow South Australian goaler Nyah Allen has showcased glimpses of brilliance, albeit with limited court time. She is a smooth mover and has good composure under pressure. On the other hand, the likes of Matisse Letherbarrow plays more of a holding shooter role, and uses her height to dictate play giving Byrne plenty to work with in inside the goal circle. Mia Stower is another one to keep an eye on while Melbourne Vixens training partner Sacha McDonald is a real playmaker out the front and oozes a sense of calmness and leadership with her decision making.

The Diamonds Under 21 side has speed to burn through the midcourt with the likes of Macy Gardner and Tayla Williams able to dart across the court and have an influence with their give and go. Gardner has steadily built into the 2020 season for the Firebirds while Williams has injected plenty of excitement for the Thunderbirds when on court. Tyler Orr is highly versatile, has a high netball IQ enabling her to adapt quickly to the scenario unfolding and boasts plenty of speed. Melbourne Vixens training partner Allie Smith is another exciting squad member given her ball tracking ability, hands over pressure and skill to swing between wing and circle defence.

West Coast Fever defender, Sunday Aryang has been a revelation in 2020 with her tenacity, cleanliness at the contest and speed off the mark all vital aspects of her game. She brings an element of excitement to the game, able to transition between goal keeper, goal defence and wing credit to her versatility. Matilda McDonell is another livewire in defence for Australia with her leap and hustle on constant display and while Chelsea Blackman has not received a wealth of court time at SSN level but has proven that she can have an impact with her hunt for the loose ball and pressure over the shot.

Sophie Dwyer (NSW)
Matisse Letherbarrow (NSW)
Mia Stower (QLD)
Nyah Allen (SA)
Georgie Horjus (SA)
Sacha McDonald (VIC)
Ruby Barkmeyer (VIC)
Lucy Austin (SA)
Reilly Batcheldor (QLD)
Sloan Burton (WA)
Latika Tombs (NSW)
Macy Gardner (QLD)
Allie Smith (VIC)
Tayla Williams (SA)
Tyler Orr (SA)
Georgia Dent (SA)
Hannah Mundy (VIC)
Leesa Mi Mi (QLD)
Annie Miller (NSW)
Matilda McDonell (NSW)
Chelsea Blackman (SA)
Sunday Aryang (WA)
Clare Iongi (NSW)
Olivia Coleman (NSW)
Sarahpheinna Woulf (QLD)
Gabby Coffey (VIC)
Molly Watson (SA)
Amy Sligar (NSW)

NEW ZEALAND

Headed by two-time ANZ Premiership coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, it is fair to say that the New Zealand Under 21s side is in good hands and has a wealth of talent to choose from given the number of athletes that have played throughout the ANZ Premiership season. New Zealand is bursting at the seams when it comes to shooting talent while the midcourt boasts just as much excitement as they look to make it three consecutive titles.

There is a plethora of talent inside the goal circle with Grace Nweke arguably one of the biggest targets thanks to her high volume of shots, strong holds and accuracy to post. she hardly missed a minute of action throughout the ANZ Premiership while teammate Saviour Tui has also been named in the squad. Khiarna Williams burst onto the scene in the 2020 season with her smooth movement, deceptive strength on the hold and aerial ability despite not boasting the height of someone like Nweke. While more accustomed to the goal shooter position, Williams proved she could play out in goal attack which could be handy. Coming off another premiership, Tiana Metuarau is another exciting prospect with her drive, hot hand and composure and having played before in the 2017 Botswana World Cup knows what to expect at this level.

The midcourt is stacked with plenty of speed and talent with youngster Maddy Gordon announced in the Under 21s squad after a phenomenal season, winning the MVP award in the ANZ Premiership grand final and a call up to the Silver Ferns squad. Fellow Central Pulse teammate, Renee Savai’inaea has also been included in the squad with the former defender shaking up her game to play through the centre third and have an impact with her defensive manner. Joining them through the centre is Tayla Earle with the Northern Mystics midcourter no stranger to the big stage, racking up the minutes throughout the ANZ Premiership season and starring with her high work rate and clever feeds into the circle.

Defensively the likes of Taneisha Fifita oozes athleticism and tenacity with the goal keeper not afraid to put her body on the line and contest every ball that comes her way, as shown throughout the ANZ Premiership season with the Southern Steel. Nanise Waqaira is another player to keep an eye out for as New Zealand hope to make it three Netball World Youth Cups in a row.

Hannah Glen (Mainland)
Vika Koloto (North)
Tiana Metuarau (Central)
Grace Nweke (North)
Saviour Tui (North)
Khiarna Williams (WBOP)
Tayla Earle (North)
Georgie Edgecombe (WBOP)
Maddy Gordon (Central)
Kate Hartley (South)
Holly Mather (North)
Ainsleyana Puleiata (Central)
Renee Savai’inaea (Central)
Teuila Sotutu (North)
Taneisha Fifita (South)
Paris Lokotui (Central)
Parris Mason (Central)
Greer Sinclair (WBOP)
Carys Stythe (North)
Jessie Taylor (North)
Nanise Waqaira (North)

Lightning grind out 10-goal win against Collingwood to hold onto second spot

KICKING off Indigenous Round in style, the battle between the Sunshine Coast Lightning and Collingwood Magpies was tight to start with before the two-time premiers showed their class and poise to secure a 10-goal victory (53-63). The momentum shifted slightly throughout the game however the Lightning maintained relative control unfazed by Collingwood’s attempts.

It was a goal attack shoot out to start the game as both Gabby Sinclair and Steph Wood opened the accounts for their respective sides before the goal shooters injected themselves into the game. Collingwood applied a wealth of pressure in defence, clogging up the space for the Lightning attackers and forcing them to work in overdrive to hit circle edge. A missed shot at the hands of Shimona Nelson sent the Lightning into transition as they skipped out a to a two goal lead thanks to Cara Koenen finding her groove under the post with her impressive timing and baseline drives. Up the other end, Phumza Maweni was proving to be a menace creating doubt in the feeders’ minds and most importantly winning back a wealth of ball.

The Lightning seemed to swing the ball across the court with great ease and precision to open up the options in attack and keep the Collingwood defenders guessing. Playing out in wing defence, albeit not for long, Laura Langman was proving to be a handful with the Kiwi international showcasing her hands over pressure to create turnovers. Establishing a five goal lead in favour of the Lightning, the Magpies called a timeout and capitalised instantly. Their purple patch continued as they pegged the margin back to two goals as the momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the quarter. With less than five minutes on the clock Collingwood drew level but Sunshine Coast fought back with Koenen leading the way under the post with her fancy footwork and shooter to shooter interplay with Wood. A rush of blood seemed to plague both teams as the ball trickled over the boundary line however the Lightning’s control gifted them a four goal buffer.

A couple of changes in attack did not seem to faze the Lightning with Peace Proscovia entering the game with great confidence while Koenen continued her merry way in goal attack. Maweni came out with a real fire in the belly taking a huge intercept in the opening minute of the quarter as Sunshine Coast looked to put the foot down. Laura Scherian started to motor in wing attack after being well held by Mel Bragg in the opening term with the wing attack finding good space in the pockets. The Lightning had a point to prove pushing out to a seven goal lead as their connections in the goal circle started to settle. However, Collingwood continued to tussle and while they laboured down the court Nelson managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Wood made her way back onto the court combining with Proscovia while for Collingwood Kelly Altmann and Molly Jovic swapped bibs. Altmann had an immediate impact in centre picking up a loose ball in defence as the Pies scored back-to-back goals to cut the margin to six goals. Jodi-Ann Ward worked her way into the contest, getting hands to ball to create timely tips but the Magpies seemed relatively disjointed through the centre. Bragg injected some defensive flair with her work around circle edge to throw herself at everything as Sinclair delivered up the other end with the super shot. But the experience of Wood came to the fore as the goal attack sunk consecutive super shots allowing the Lightning to regain an eight goal lead.

Bragg came out with a spring in her step, gobbling up a couple of huge intercepts and sending the Pies into attack. She was involved in just about everything with her drive out muscling Scherian. Binnian Hunt made her way onto the court and was involved in the action straight away with a huge rejection and follow up hustle to regain possession. After somewhat of a quiet first half Karla Pretorius sprung into the game with an intercept as increased defensive pressure seemed to be the method for both sides. It was goal for goal for the first five minutes or so as neither team could assert themselves however the Lightning retained their eight goal margin.

Still trying to wrestle momentum into their favour Collingwood pulled the trigger with Nyah Allen making her way onto the court, replacing Sinclair as Matilda Garrett also pulled on the goal defence bib. Geva Mentor continued to be a ball winning machine for the Pies with her work to read the play and swat away ball time and time again to try and slow down the Lightning attack but it was simply not enough as they trailed by nine at three quarter time.

The last quarter continued at a relatively frantic pace however the Lightning managed to extend the lead as their cleanliness came into play. The shooter to shooter interplay between Wood and Koenen was near on unstoppable as Mentor and Garrett continuously got caught out by their speed. both sides rung in the changes with Ashlee Unie getting the nod at goal defence and starring with a huge intercept while for Collingwood Tyler Orr pulled on the centre bib in the second half of the quarter. Collingwood really rallied in the backend of the term with the defence taking it up a notch as Sinclair sunk a timely super shot to get back within six. In the end, the Lightning flexed their muscles running away with a 10-goal victory with the stellar performance from Maweni playing a key role.

Koenen continued to be a menace under the post, picking up where she left off last round with 41 goals at 91 per cent while Wood was equally as impressive especially from range nailing four super shots from five attempts while also recording 21 goal assists. Nelson was the main avenue to goal for the black and white with the goal shooter converting 40 goals from 44 attempts while Sinclair was crafty out the front amassing 17 goal assists to accompany her 10 goals. In defence, Mentor was a lynchpin for the Pies collecting two intercepts and nine deflections as the Lightning defensive duo of Pretorius and Maweni picked up plenty of ball, with the latter walking away with the player of the match thanks to her stats-stuffing performance of five intercepts, four gains and 10 deflections.

>>> MAGPIES TEAM PAGE
>>> LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL MATCH STATS

— 

Collingwood Magpies 12 | 15 | 13 | 13 (53)
Sunshine Coast Lightning 16 | 19 | 14 | 14 (63)

STARTING SEVEN: 

Collingwood Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Kelly Altmann
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Mel Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

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

How is the top four shaping up two rounds out from Super Netball finals?

ALTHOUGH the Melbourne Vixens have already secured the minor premiership thanks to their impressive win-loss ratio in season 2020 there is still plenty of flexibility surrounding the remaining top three teams. There are plenty of moving pieces that come into play when looking at how the season could play out as the GIANTS sit on the cusp of a top four spot, while the NSW Swifts, West Coast Fever and Sunshine Coast Lightning all currently hold a top four position but could chop and change positions depending on the outcomes.

Sunshine Coast Lightning

Current adder position: 2nd
Best: 2nd
Worst: 4th
Win-loss ratio: 8-4
Run home: Round 13 Collingwood, Round 14 Melbourne Vixens

Currently holding onto second place on the ladder, the Lightning will be hoping to end the season on a high and notch up another two wins to give themselves a real confidence boost heading into finals. The two-time premiers have played in every grand final since the inception of Suncorp Super Netball and will be eager to keep their good run going. Although they cannot claim top spot, a win against Collingwood in Round 13 will put them in good stead and create further separation between them and the Fever who are hot on their tails. Round 14 will see a potential grand final preview against the Vixens, which will be a good test for the Lightning who have been up and down this season despite sitting pretty towards the top of the table. If they drop both matches and the Fever and Swifts win their respective clashes the Lightning could fall to fourth meaning at least one win is necessary for them to hold onto their current spot.

West Coast Fever

Ladder position: 3rd
Best: 2nd
Worst: 4th
Win-loss ratio: 7-1-4
Run home:  Round 13 GIANTS Netball, Round 14 Adelaide Thunderbirds

The Fever have been in scintillating form headlined by Jhaniele Fowler under the post. Her dominance has sparked her side to rise up the ladder in 2020 as they are shaping up to be real premiership contenders given their high scoring power and defensive options with Courtney Bruce, Stacey Francis, Sunday Aryang and Olivia Lewis all handy choices. A game behind the Lightning in second spot the Fever will be keen to leapfrog Sunshine Coast while also knocking the GIANTS out of finals contention with a win in Round 13. Although it took a while for the Fever to get going if they end the season strongly they could secure second spot due to their impressive percentage thanks to a couple of huge wins throughout the course of the season. If they win one game and lose the other, the Fever are likely to remain in the same spot but lose the opportunity to get the all-important double chance but that only comes into play if the Swifts do not win both of their matches. Worst case scenario and the Fever lose to both the GIANTS and Thunderbirds they slip to fourth spot on the ladder and are not likely drop out of the top four credit to their percentage.

NSW Swifts

Ladder position: 4th
Best: 2nd
Worst: Miss finals
Win-loss ratio: 7-5
Run home: Round 13 Adelaide Thunderbirds, Round 14 GIANTS Netball

The reigning premiers have not had things all their own way in 2020 with most teams latching onto their game plan and shutting them down, however in saying that the Swifts currently hold onto fourth spot and will be determined to prove last year was not a fluke. If they win back to back games and the Fever drop at least one the Swifts could skip into third spot and gain some much needed momentum heading into the finals series. Given their percentage if everything goes right for the Swifts they could potentially move into second spot if the Lightning and Fever are unable to register a win in the next two rounds. With Helen Housby likely to return to the line-up after missing with a concussion the Swifts will be hoping to put their best foot forward and throw everything they have at their opponents to keep those slim second spot chances alive.

GIANTS Netball  

Ladder position: 5th
Best: 3rd
Worst: Miss finals
Win-loss ratio: 5-1-6
Run home: Round 13 West Coast Fever, Round 14 NSW Swifts

The GIANTS have absolutely everything to play for in the final two rounds of the home and away season and while it has not been the smoothest season they are not out of the contest yet. Showing glimpses of brilliance the GIANTS will have to leave no stone unturned if they are to edge their way into the top four and will also be relying on some good old fashioned faith for things to fall their way in terms of teams around them dropping games. It will not be easy for the GIANTS as they have to come up against both the Fever and Swifts and most importantly have to win both clashes in order to clinch fourth spot. The GIANTS missed out on finals last year on percentage alone and will be wanting to rectify their shortcomings with a strong finish this year. If the Swifts lose both games and the GIANTS win both of their games then fourth spot or potentially third place depending on the Fever’s win-loss ratio in the next two rounds. By the end of Round 13 the GIANTS fate could ultimately be decided as they face-off against the Fever and must win if they are any chance to sneak in, while their finals shot lies on whether or not the Thunderbirds cause an upset and get over the top of the Swifts.

2020 SSN Preview: Round 13 – Collingwood Magpies vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning

IN the standalone midweek game, Collingwood Magpies and Sunshine Coast Lightning are set to lock horns with the latter hoping to secure second spot on the ladder. It has been a trying season for the Magpies, losing a couple of key cogs over the off-season and then being marred with injury throughout their 2020 campaign while the Lightning have been solid, but yet to peak.

Collingwood Magpies vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Wednesday, 16 September

Round 13 marks Indigenous Round with the contest between the two sides taking place at Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre. Sitting at vastly different ends of the table and with pride on the line for the Magpies expect them to come out all guns blazing as Sunshine Coast hope to find some continuity heading into the finals series. Both sides have a couple of key players able to change the course of the game, however the experience and class of the Lightning could prove too much for the black and white who have had patches of brilliance have struggled with consistency.

In the goal circle, Shimona Nelson has pulled together a couple of strong performances starring in the air and most importantly converting while her connection with Gabby Sinclair is steadily developing. Sinclair has proven that she can be a real menace when it comes to the super shot, however another menace is that of Karla Pretorius with the goal defence coming off her 100th game and another strong outing. Pretorius is building some hot form at the right time for the Lightning while partner in crime Phumza Maweni has showcased she is no easy beat under the ring with her impressive positioning on the rebound and read of the play to go out hunting. The possibility of a moving circle could favour the Pies if the likes of Nyah Allen was to come onto the court and nail the super shots, and while Emma Ryde offers a similar style to Nelson, she is another option if things are not going to plan in the circle for Collingwood.

Through the midcourt the Lightning have no shortage of international experience with Laura Langman headlining the centre third. Langman is a real barometer for the side acting as the link between defence and attack while her combination with Steph Wood is next level. The duo bring each other into the game and often seem to have the ball on a string while Laura Scherian is no slouch in wing attack with her ability to dart around the court and zip into the pockets to hit up the goalers with ease, meaning Collingwood’s Mel Bragg will have her hands full. Still finding their feet but well and truly proving their worth Molly Jovic and Kelly Altmann will have their work cut out for them up against the silky Lightning midcourt who are dogged in defence and attack. Jacqui Russell and Maddy McAuliffe consistently butter up therefore the cuts and drives of Altmann, Jovic and potentially Tyler Orr will have to be on song to keep them busy.

There are options aplenty inside the circle for the Lightning with Wood a real playmaker and super shot specialist while Cara Koenen is coming off an impressive 100 per cent accuracy shooting spree. Koenen has elevated her game to a whole other level in season 2020 but will be tested against experienced campaigner Geva Mentor with the Collingwood goal keeper in ripping form, able to read the play with ease and gobble up a wealth of ball. Although not registering as much court time as last season, Peace Proscovia should not be underestimated given her strong holds and rebounding abilities. Jodi-Ann Ward will have to keep Wood busy and keep her away from entering the circle while Matilda Garrett is another option for the Pies inside the defensive circle.

The Pies are renowned for their fast starts while the Lightning have been caught on the back foot in the past couple of weeks with their slower than usual start. If Collingwood can gain some early ascendancy it could set them up for a strong game however Sunshine Coast have all the tricks of the trade and ooze nothing but composure and netball smarts to consistently work their way back into the contest.

Nissan Arena set to host 2020 Suncorp Super Netball grand final

WITH the home and away season wrapping up, the Suncorp Super Netball finals dates have been released with teams set to enjoy longer breaks between the matches instead of being subjected to the condensed season.

The entire finals series will be played in Queensland with no games set to be played in Western Australia or South Australia despite the latter playing host to a couple of games in the backend of the season. The matches will be spread across both USC Stadium, home of the Lightning and Nissan Arena, located in Brisbane. Finals will be played over three weeks as USC Stadium welcomes the semi-finals weekend with the major semi-final taking place on Saturday 3 October and the minor semi to be played the following day at 1pm.

The team that losses the major semi-final then has the choice to decide which venue they want to play the following final at whether it be USC or the Brisbane-based arena. In what has been an unconventional Suncorp Super Netball season, teams that finish one and two respectively will be asked to nominate the location to play their preliminary final clash immediately after Round 14 to allow for scheduling.

The preliminary final will take place on Sunday 11 October at the chosen venue either USC Stadium or Nissan Arena by the losing team of the major semi-final. However teams will not have a choice when it comes to the grand final as Nissan Arena has been locked in to host the big dance which is set to take place on Sunday 18 October at 1pm.

It will be familiar territory for all teams given the entire season has been played up in the Sunshine State given the COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions that followed. Working in conjunction with the Queensland government and abiding by the appropriate COVID safe requirements there is hope that a crowd of 2000 people will be able to flock to the grand final to cap off what has been an action packed season.

After a heavily condensed season with 14 rounds played in just over two months the finals have been space out to allow enough time for recovery something Super Netball CEO Chris Symington took into consideration when scheduling the finals.

“We have taken guidance from our clubs in spacing the finals matches over three weeks after the condensed home and away season to ensure all teams involved in finals have adequate time to recover and prepare,” he said to Suncorp Super Netball.

The Melbourne Vixens have already secured the minor premiership while Sunshine Coast Lightning, West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts currently hold a top four position as the GIANTS fight to keep their finals hopes alive making for an intriguing end to the season.

2020 Suncorp Super Netball: Five Talking points – Round 11/12

ROUND 11 and 12 of Suncorp Super Netball saw the Melbourne Vixens secure the minor premiership sitting two games ahead of the next comers while other major talking points surround player injuries to some big names. The past two rounds have also brought attention to the lack of court time the Australian Diamonds captain is getting, while the Queensland Firebirds have showcased their growth and development to secure their fourth victory of the season.

Melbourne Vixens are the team to beat and boast a wealth of depth
Missing two of their star players in alternating rounds the Melbourne Vixens proved that they have a winning formula. Facing the reigning premiers in Round 11 without starting goal keeper Emily Mannix and missing lynchpin in attack Liz Watson in Round 12 against Collingwood, the Vixens resorted to their bench showcasing just how much talent they have. Not getting a wealth of court time so far this year, Kadie-Ann Dehaney came out with a real purpose while the youngsters in Elle McDonald and Tayla Honey stepped up to the plate. Typically criticised for their lack of bench usage, the Melbourne Vixens have showcased in 2020 and especially in recent weeks that their full roster can come on and have an immediate impact, proving why they are the team to beat in finals after securing the minor premiership with two rounds left in the season.

Firebirds building for the future
There is no denying that the Firebirds have a wealth of young talent coming up through the ranks with Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe, Tippah DwanLara Dunkley and Jemma Mi Mi all stepping up to the plate this season. Their growth and cohesion is undeniable and that has shown recording their third win in Round 11, highlighting their increased intensity and ability to ride out games. Hinchliffe and Jenner have become one of the most dynamic and impressive defensive duos in the competition while Dwan has taken the competition by storm. In Round 11 the goal attack had a stats-stuffing performance with 14 goals, 15 goal assists and an impressive three intercepts. Spearheaded by two experienced players in Romelda Aiken in the goal circle and captain Gabi Simpson in wing defence, the young players around them have proven they are not afraid to elevate their game, relishing the extra and more consistent time on court as they steadily build towards the future.

West Coast Fever shaping up to be likely grand finalists
It is the Fever of 2018 with the West Australian side blowing teams out of the water thanks to the sheer volume produced at the hands of Jhaniele Fowler. in the past two rounds the goal shooter has managed a staggering 124 goals proving to be unstoppable under the post and causing headaches for opposition sides. Despite missing Ingrid Colyer who is set to miss the remainder of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury the Fever have not skipped a beat, with Alice Teague-Neeld finding her groove although not hitting the scoreboard regularly and Verity Charles starring through the centre. Defensively the Fever have tightened up with Courtney Bruce, Stacey Francis and youngster Sunday Aryang all making it incredibly difficult for their opponents to score.

Caitlin Bassett struggling to get court time
GIANTS goal shooter, Caitlin Bassett found herself on the bench once again in Round 12 and while the side did win – their first without her taking part in the match – it begs the question of why she is not getting the court time and ultimately where the Australian Diamonds captain will end up next season. There is no denying that the GIANTS are blessed with options inside the goal circle with Kiera Austin and Jo Harten a damaging duo, able to shoot the long bombs or convert from directly under the post. However Bassett offers plenty of stability, control and firepower able to score with great ease and speed; something the GIANTS have struggled with this season. The goal shooter has proven that she is an impact player coming on for 36 minutes in their clash against Collingwood in Round 11. In doing so she changed the course of the game, nailing 19 of 20 goals and providing a sense of composure in attack with Jamie-Lee Price and Austin able to identify her holds instantaneously.

Injuries starting to come into play
Round 11 and 12 saw a couple of notable names miss games through injury or management due to the condensed season. The Melbourne Vixens missed the services of Watson and Mannix for one and two rounds respectively while the Fever will be without Colyer for the season. in the Thunderbirds camp, co-captain Chelsea Pitman sat on the sidelines in Round 12 with a calf complaint while GIANTS wing defence Amy Parmenter also missed a round of action with the same niggle. Although not an injury as such, Helen Housby was also forced to the sidelines for precautionary measures after suffering a concussion in Round 11 showcasing how gruelling and taxing this 2020 Super Netball season has been, with her head knock and resulting time off court mirroring earlier injuries this season.

SSN Momentum shifts: Round 12

WITH finals right around the corner, Suncorp Super Netball Round 12 saw some phenomenal matchups across every games and some highly talented players take the court. The condensed fixture and introduction of rolling subs this year have seen plenty of young names already jump on the court and have a huge impact despite their lack of experience. We take a look at each game and note which players shifted the gears and switched up the momentum.

West Coast Fever (80) defeated NSW Swifts (71)

A fast start from the Fever all but gifted them the ascendancy throughout the remainder of the game. Jhaniele Fowler was once again formidable under the post sinking a staggering 20 goals straight in the first quarter alone and while Alice Teague-Neeld only put up two shots her work rate was impressive separating Lauren Moore and Sarah Klau in defence to allow Fowler to dominate. The Swifts defence had no answers for the Jamaican goal shooter who could do no wrong under the post such was her prowess throughout the opening term. In the absence of Ingrid Colyer, Emma Cosh has stepped up to the plate and this quarter was no different as the wing attack found a wealth of space to deliver ball into Fowler time and time again.

Collingwood Magpies (53) defeated by Melbourne Vixens (61)

After being well beaten in the opening term the Vixens came out with a point to prove in the second term as Jo Weston turned the jets on in defence. The goal defence came out firing hunting every single ball that came her way, nullifying the influence of Gabby Sinclair both under the post and in the attacking third with her smothering pressure. Weston worked in tandem with Emily Mannix to stop Shimona Nelson while Kate Eddy plied her trade out the front in wing defence as the defensive trio denied ball from entering the circle. Weston single-handedly swung the momentum into the Vixens favour collecting four deflections with two resulting in gains. Her efforts were matched by the shooters as Mwai Kumwenda and Tegan Philip found their rhythm rendering the Magpies ineffective across the court.

Sunshine Coast Lightning (75) defeated Queensland Firebirds (67)

Although they did not win the first quarter the introduction of Lightning and Diamonds goal attack Steph Wood was exactly what Sunshine Coast was looking for. Starting the game on the bench, Wood injected a wealth of speed into the attacking third and brought the likes of Laura Langman and Laura Scherian into the game. Her speed was unmatched by Kim Jenner while her playmaking skills were on full display. Coming on in the final five minutes of the quarter, her injection was not fully felt until the second quarter where she settled into the match and set the court alight with her dynamic movement, quick hands into Cara Koenen and vision to keep the Firebirds guessing. Wood seemed to have the ball on a string and changed the course of the game with her get up and go mentality.

Adelaide Thunderbirds (54) defeated by GIANTS Netball (64)

The midcourt shake-up from the GIANTS proved to be crucial to keeping them in the hunt after struggling to get going in the opening term. Amy Parmenter injected a wealth of speed and excitement through the centre while the longer arms of Kristiana Manu’a in wing defence seemed to pay dividends for the GIANTS. April Brandley added a touch of class and experience down back as the GIANTS started to win back a wealth of ball and generate some strong defensive plays that translated into goals as things started to kick into gear. Despite not spending a lot of time in centre on the SSN stage, Parmenter took to the switch like a duck to water, finding the circle edge with great ease and most importantly linking up with Kiera Austin who found her range to turn the tables on the Thunderbirds and claim the lead and subsequent momentum.