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 Proud, Natalie 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.