Category: News

Mainland Tactix rally to produce first win of 2021

THE home crowd seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mainland Tactix as they registered their first win of the season defeating Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by four goals (63-59). It was a heart in your mouth finish to the game as the Tactix pulled out all the stops in the final term to sneak home.

The Tactix got off to an absolute flyer as they nailed three goals in the opening minute. With speed to burn the Tactix sliced through the Magic defence with Ellie Bird standing steadfast inside the circle as Karin Burger plied her defensive trade to win the ball off Waikato Bay of Plenty’s centre pass. Despite bursting out of the gates, the Tactix lead dwindled away with Caitlin Bassett commanding the ball under the post and taking advantage of the backspace against the aerial Jane Watson. It went goal for goal throughout the middle stage of the term before Watson pounced on a loose ball in defence to send her side into attack. momentum started to lean towards the home side as their quick transition down court caught the Magic defenders off guard.

Nailing five goals in a row enabled the Tactix to claim the ascendancy with the presence of Te Paea Selby-Rickit undeniable. Her workrate out the front was impressive as she helped to dictate the flow in attack with her deft passes causing all sorts of havoc for Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere. The attacking unit as a whole was humming for the Tactix with Georgia Tong injected into the game for the Magic in hope to get some hands to ball and cause the chance for a turnover – and that she did. Her energy filtered down the court as the Magic went on a goal scoring spree of their own to cull the margin back to four goals at quarter time.

Looking for a change of pace in attack, youngster Khiarna Williams came on in goal attack and had an immediate impact with her drive at the centre pass and smooth movement inside the circle helping to reduce the deficit. The Magic came out with a real pep in their step in the second quarter with their defensive connections solidifying as Tong got plenty of hands to ball. After a fast start from Erikana Pedersen the wing attack headed to the bench as Samon Nathan entered the match. Sam Winders started to come into the game for the Magic with the centre using her turn of speed to hit the top of the goal circle while her perfectly weighted passes into Bassett kept Burger and Watson on their toes.

The Tactix were forced to throw the ball around in attack as the Magic defence upped the ante as Georgie Edgecombe covered Nathan’s every move. But the composure of Selby-Rickit in the attacking third was exactly what the home side needed as she used her peripheral vision to  set-up plays. Only one goal separated the two sides for majority of the term as accuracy from all four shooters out on court did not falter. The Tactix converted off a Magic turnover and that gifted them the opportunity to skip ahead as Bird steadied the ship and got her side out to a four goal lead.  With the clock ticking down the Magic mounted another comeback with Tong and Mikaere winning ball back. The swing in momentum saw the Tactix ring in the defensive changes as Burger pushed out to wing defence and Sophia Fenwick pulled on the goal defence bib as the Magic piled on five goals straight to steal the lead.

Kimiora Poi looked to get things underway in the second half, but the Magic quashed that thought, immediately scoring off the Tactix centre pass and then delivering off their own as they established a handy two goal buffer. Still without Grace Kara, youngster Tori Kolose imposed herself around circle edge with her nifty footwork and ball placement encouraging signs for the Magic attacking unit. The vision into the circle for the Tactix was key as they bombed it long to bypass the defensive mess. Things really started to tighten up for both sides while a bit of scrappiness also entered the game as the quarter wound down.

The term was well and truly dictated by the Magic with their connections in attack tracking along nicely. Up the other end it was incredibly laboured for the Tactix as they had to work double as hard as their opponents to weave the ball into the circle and build any form of scoring momentum. But all of a sudden a flick switched for the home side as they piled on five goals straight and subsequently stole the lead.

A big defensive win to start the term played into the hands of the Tactix but their inability to capitalise gifted the Magic with a chance to stay in the hunt. The ball flew up and down the court in the first few minutes of the quarter as both sides continued this blow for blow style of netball. The Tactix skipped out to a three goal lead with a tick over six minutes to play and while Selby-Rickit left the court and Jess Prosser entered the fray the Tactix had their tails up and could sense a win and that they did, largely in part to some strong defensive plays from Watson and Burger.

Bird had a game to remember for the Tactix only missing the one shot to nail 54 of her 55 attempts. Selby-Rickit was influential with her nine goals, 25 goal assists and 23 centre pass receives as Poi found her groove around circle edge with 18 goal assists. Burger picked up two crucial intercepts as Watson recorded eight gains and two pickups. Bassett had arguably her best game for the Magic posting 45 goals from 48 attempts while the injection of Williams paid dividends as the 18-year-old finished with nine goal and 20 goal assists. Tong starred collecting five intercepts and four deflections as Mikaere also got busy with her four gains.

Firebirds record first win of 2021

QUEENSLAND Firebirds got their first win on the board for season 2021 downing Adelaide Thunderbirds in style, 68-57. The home side won three of the four quarters but led at every change showcasing their classy ball movement and defensive nous in what was a strong and consistent performance.

It was an even start to the game as both sides capitalised off their centre pass going goal for goal. But an intercept from goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe put a stop to that as the Firebirds went down the other end of the court to create the first break of the game. Romelda Aiken made history sinking her 2000th Suncorp Super Netball goal as the Firebirds skipped out to a handy four goal lead. Hinchliffe popped up again for Queensland but Matilda Garrett proved anything you can do, I can do better with a nifty intercept to send the Thunderbirds into attack.

The speed with which the Firebirds were playing caused all sorts of havoc for Adelaide with Shamera Sterling struggling to combat Aiken who was having a field day under the post. Her strength on the take was impressive and so was the delivery into the circle as Kim Ravaillion and Lara Dunkley released pinpoint passes. With the lead getting out to 10 goals the super shot period could not have come quick enough with Sam Gooden making her presence felt for the T’Birds with a handy two-point goal to reduce the margin to eight. The Thunderbirds started to rally as Lenize Potgieter got involved under the post cutting the margin to four goals but Kim Jenner and Hinchliffe employed some strong hands over pressure and contested each and every pass that came their way. Gretel Bueta re-entered the game this time in goal shooter, as Tippah Dwan showcased her playmaking skills out in goal attack. It was turning into somewhat of a super shot shoot-out as both Gooden and Dwan flexed their muscles from downtown.

Adelaide created plenty of opportunities throughout the early stages of the second quarter with Garrett impressing not only in defence but so too through transition. After a quiet start to the game, Sterling started to cause plenty of concern with her attacking mindset well and truly coming to the fore. The Firebirds’ defence also cranked things up as Jenner and Hinchliffe seamlessly combined to swat ball away and reel in the intercepts. The lead ballooned out to seven goals once again but the efforts of Maisie Nankivell did not go unnoticed as the wing defence forced a turnover and sparked a mini run for the Thunderbirds as they got back to within four goals.

Megan Anderson proved she was not afraid to ring in the changes in attack with Bueta, Aiken and Dwan all rotating through the circe while down the other end Rudi Ellis pulled on the goal keeper bib. An errant pass over the sideline for Thunderbirds gifted Bueta a chance to nail a super shot as things continued to tick along for the girls in purple. Hannah Petty plied her trade around circle edge to get a hand in and disrupt the attacking momentum for the Firebirds but Queensland’s flair and ball speed enabled them to extend to a 10-goal lead once more at half time.

The old firm of Ravaillion, Bueta and Aiken was hard to match for the Thunderbirds as their silky connections enabled them to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The overall defensive tenacity for the Firebirds increased as Gabi Simpson burst through for a pickup and the home side continued to motor exposing their opponents in every which way, and Georgie Horjus struggled to get into the game given Simpson was on her hammer. With the game slipping away from the Thunderbirds, Shadine van der Merwe was injected into the game and made an immediate impact with her drive through the centre and hands over pressure.

The rolling subs were well and truly alive for both sides as the Firebirds continued to tinker with the defensive line-up as Latanya Wilson also made her way onto the court for the Thunderbirds. The short, sharp passing from Queensland allowed them to weave their way through the court with their composure evident. Gooden once again turned it on with her super shot shooting sending tongues wagging and most importantly keeping her side within touching distance.

Looking for some fresh legs through the centre, Jemma Mi Mi got her time to shine with her speed and dynamic movement helping to slow the transitional speed. Dwan had a hot hand with the youngster composed to post and slotting them from everywhere. The fluidity in transition for the Firebirds enabled them to keep motoring and to build momentum, as the party tricks started to come out for the home side as Hinchliffe came screaming out for an intercept and Bueta showcased her sheer athleticism with a layup. It was a scrappy couple of minutes of play to ride out the game as Ravaillion got busy in attack to provide a steady head. In the end it was the class of the Firebirds that earned them the win.

Aiken had the ball on a string in attack for Queensland sinking 34 goals at 92 per cent while Bueta also impressed in her second game back with 18 goals, three of which were super shots. Bueta also displayed her playmaking tendencies with 13 goal assists however it was Ravaillion that really shouldered the load in attack notching up a team-high 17 goal assists and a deflection. The combination of Jenner and Hinchliffe was something to behold as they recorded nine deflections, 10 gains and six intercepts – five courtesy of Hinchliffe. Potgieter was the most proficient for the Thunderbirds nailing 29 goals from 32 attempts while Gooden dazzled from range landing six of 10 super shots. Sterling shone in defence with 10 deflections, three intercepts and six gains as Garrett also imposed herself with two intercepts.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS | 22 | 16 | 14 | 16 (68)
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS | 15 | 13 | 16 | 13 (57)

Queensland Firebirds:

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

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Georgie Horjus
WA: Elle McDonald
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Maisie Nankivell
GD: Matilda Garrett
GK: Shamera Sterling

Stars too strong for youthful Steel

THE Northern Stars remain atop the ANZ Premiership ladder after breezing past Southern Steel, collecting a 14-goal victory over one of the top challengers for the season so far. Despite inspired efforts across the court, the Steel could not match the class or intensity of the Stars, who claimed all four quarters on their way to the 59-45 victory.

It was a goal for goal start between the two sides, with neither able to arrest momentum or claim the early ascendancy. That being said, the defensive pressure was on with Maia Wilson and George Fisher both missing early attempts credit to the work rate of their opposition defence, with Anna Harrison starting on the England international in Fisher and physical defender Taneisha Fifita tasked with shutting down the Stars captain. Whilst the first quarter was a tough contest, it was the Stars who rode through it better as Harrison used her footwork to not only confuse the Steel goalers but also the feeders, as Kate Heffernan and Shannon Saunders were forced to work hard around circle edge. Tiana Metuarau was unable to do as much of her playmaking with Fisher buckled down on, while at the other end it was the excellent combination of Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton that allowed the Stars to skip out to the early three goal lead.

Whilst the first break was a chance for the Steel to reset and regroup, it was the Stars that came out with renewed confidence and intensity as the second quarter continued where the first left off. The Steel were able to retain control at the front-end but were at the whim of a hefty offensive effort from the Stars, which they were unable to rein in or stop when they found circle edge. A six-goal run from the Stars – which saw no Steel goals for almost four minutes as both Metuarau and Fisher missed opportunities at the post – saw the lead edge out to 10 goals as Elle Temu switched on the gears for two intercepts and both Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather stepped up to limit Heffernan and Saunders access to circle edge. Wilson was afforded far too much space in the goal circle courtesy of slick movement from 50-gamer Jamie Hume, as Fifita and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit struggled to contain their high intensity, seeing the Steel trail 23-32 at the main change.

Whilst the Steel’s defensive effort picked up in the third, so did the Stars’ in a much lower-scoring term of play with just 19 goals scored. Fifita lifted her intensity to pile on the defensive pressure with two intercepts for the quarter, whilst Temu equalled her four-gain effort to all but force Metuarau out of the contest with the goal attack unable to contend with her smothering pressure. While Fisher was certainly capable of holding up alone, the volume just was not there as she put on seven of the side’s eight goals for the quarter, as Wilson put up nine at the other end as Crampton continued to find her at the post with ease. With the lead well and truly secured, the Stars almost fully emptied their bench in the final term – and still managed to retain the lead to win the final term, showcasing just how intense their full court defence was. Another two intercepts to Mather saw her continue that excellent midcourt defensive effort the side had kept up all game, keeping Saunders quiet and uncomfortable out the front. Despite a 100 per cent shooting effort from Fisher in the final term, it was the Stars that ground out the 14-goal victory to go two wins clear of Steel in third.

For the Stars, Wilson was rendered much more inaccurate than usual with 33 goals from 43 attempts at 77 per cent, while Hume finished her milestone match with 22 goals at 71 per cent. Crampton (24 assists from 47 feeds) and Reuelu-Buchanan (19 from 39) starred out the front while Harrison and Temu finished with seven gains apiece, with Temu’s three intercepts matched by Mather. For the Steel, Fisher (34 from 37 at 92 per cent) and Metuarau (11 from 19 at 58 per cent) put up a solid effort but did not quite get the same volume as the Stars, while Saunders racked up 20 assists from 44 feeds and Fifita piled on nine gains (three intercepts, five rebounds, one deflection) and 21 penalties.

Lightning escape Vixens comeback with huge first half

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning have escaped a close shave after claiming a five-goal victory over the Melbourne Vixens, 56-51. A huge first half from the Lightning set up an 11-goal margin at the main break, before the reigning premiers fought back to produce a remarkable comeback but unfortunately just fall short of the result they wanted.

The Lightning came out with a point to prove from the get-go, with a phenomenal start seeing the side pile on three straight goals off a broken Vixens centre to create a lead which they maintained for the remainder of the match. The combination of Steph Wood and Cara Koenen was rightfully credited by the Vixens defenders in Jo Weston and Kadie-Ann Dehaney – who got the start over Emily Mannix with the other defender on limited minutes due to being unwell during the week – as the Lightning attackers got right to work and did not relent out the front. At the other end, the Vixens attack was rendered messy and crowded by the impressive effort of Maddy McAuliffeKarla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni who forced errant passes with their double-up on Mwai Kumwenda, forcing Kaylia Stanton to shoulder some of the goaling load as the Vixens struggled to make use of the turnover ball the defensive end was creating. A Wood super shot allowed the Lightning to stop a three goal run from Kumwenda and regain momentum, running out the remainder of the quarter with a four-goal lead.

A huge second quarter showcased the explosiveness of the Lightning when they get going, racing out to a nine-goal lead almost immediately as Koenen blew Mannix out of the water with her quick footwork and goalline drive, forcing the hand of Simone McKinnis who added Ruby Barkmeyer and Dehaney back to the fray, but it was too little, too late as the Lightning went on another five-goal run to extend their run and prove just what they are capable of. It was a five gain to two quarter as Pretorius starred against the inexperienced Barkmeyer, while both McAuliffe and Mahalia Cassidy got in on the fun with an intercept apiece and speedster Laura Scherian outclassed Kate Eddy with her drives to circle edge. A significant 11-goal margin saw the Lightning head into the second half with their heads held high.

It was a renewed Vixens side that stepped onto the court in the third term though, as the change was made for dogged defender Allie Smith to tag out Scherian and Hannah Mundy stepped up in the front-end, tidying up her hands to propel ball into Kumwenda. The Vixens were still under a mountain of pressure which saw the Lightning put on two goals for every one the Vixens scored, seeing a change as Stanton replaced Kumwenda and forced a different approach from the Lightning defence. Whilst the Vixens then lacked the accuracy of the Malawian sharpshooter, they gained a shared workrate in the front-end as Kate Shimmin was handed the goal keeper bib to take on some of the defensive load and create more hands over pressure in the circle. A third quarter win to the Vixens at the front-end went a long way to allowing the back-end to step up too, as Weston worked her way into the game, and the Lightning were uncharacteristically penalty-ridden.

Whilst Smith’s workrate on Scherian was not super noticeable in the third quarter, it was evident in the final term with the wing attack failing to find the ball near circle edge and forcing Wood to step up in attack. Defensively, not much changed for the Vixens as Mannix and Weston continued to pressurise the circle, however it was the midcourt effort that changed up as Kate Moloney, Smith and Mundy worked to win back ball and reduced their error-rate, allowing the combination of Kumwenda and Barkmeyer to utilise the turnover ball and pile on the offensive pressure they had lacked earlier. Intriguingly Peace Proscovia was handed the goal shooter bib despite Koenen ruling the roost, however a nine-goal to five start to the term saw the young Aussie take the court once more as the Vixens crept up on the scoreboard. It was too late though, even with the super shot in play, as the Vixens were unable to whittle down the eventual six-goal margin.

It was McAuliffe who was handed the player of the match award, impressing with her ability to transition through midcourt and track both Mundy and Moloney. She picked up two intercepts and four pickups for only two penalties and one turnover, and was joined by Pretorius and Maweni on two intercepts apiece to go with their respective five and four gains. Koenen was influential as ever with 43 goals at 91 per cent while Wood put up nine goals (one super shot) from 13 attempts in a quiet day at the office, credit to Weston’s work rate. Weston finished with four gains to lead the Vixens pack, as Dehaney (two intercepts) and Mannix (five deflections) worked hard down back, and Moloney picked up an errant intercept through the midcourt to go with her 14 goal assists. Despite being rendered slightly less accurate than intended, the Vixens three-pronged attack in Kumwenda (25 goals from 26 attempts, including two super shots), Barkmeyer (12 from 18, one super shot) and Stanton (10 from 16, one super shot) had an excellent second half and will want to build on that, especially if the side can limit the general play turnovers.

MELBOURNE VIXENS 11 | 9 | 16 | 15 (51)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 15 | 16 | 15 | 10 (56)

STARTING SEVENS

Vixens:

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Kaylia Stanton
WA: Hannah Mundy 
C:
Kate Moloney
WD:
Kate Eddy
GD:
Jo Weston
GK: 
Kadie-Ann Dehaney

Lightning:

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

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

West Coast Fever prevail in thriller

IN front of a home crowd it was the West Coast Fever that got the last laugh defeating New South Wales Swifts by eight goals (63-55) to make it two from two to start the season. The Swifts had their chances, but in the end it was the strength of Jhaniele Fowler that stood head and shoulders above the rest as the goal shooter dominated at the post.

It was a shaky start to the game for the Swifts as goal  shooter, Sam Wallace took a few attempts to find the net missing the opening two goals of the quarter. But while her radar was off it was a different story for Fowler up the other end who picked up where she left off, controlling proceedings under the post. Fowler did not have it all her own way as both Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau worked in overdrive to confuse the space and pick-up some early turnover ball.

The game was played at a much more patient and cautious approach in the opening stanza as the two sides wrestled for momentum. Capitalising seemed to be an issue for both teams as errant passes somewhat dictated the term but the Fever started to get on top with their slick feeds into the circle proving critical. With a timeout called, it provided a chance for the Swifts to re-assess and re-group and that they did as Lauren Moore got busy to pickpocket an intercept and send it flying down into attack for New South Wales. Wallace started to find her groove as did Helen Housby with the duo forging ahead to create a four goal lead at quarter time.

It was a very different turn of events in the second term as the Fever looked to eat into the margin and get the game back on their terms. The increase in defensive pressure from the Fever gifted them plenty of opportunities to attack as both Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang got to work. The home side nailed two quick goals and within a blink of an eye were back to within a goal. By the three minute mark scores were all tied up as Emma Cosh led the charge in attack with some classy passes into the circle.

Looking for a spark and a way to disrupt Bruce who was generating a wealth of ball out of defence, the Swifts made the change with Sophie Garbin entering the court in goal shooter. She was a steady and calming presence in the goal circle for the Swifts as the visitors snuck back out to a two-goal lead. Bibs started to shuffle around as Maddy Proud switched into centre and Paige Hadley pushed into wing attack while the Fever also shook things up as Verity Charles went to the bench allowing Jess Anstiss to swing into centre and Stacey Francis into wing defence. Both sides took a minute or two to settle into the changes, but it was the Fever that settled first going on a mini three-goal run. Things lifted a notch throughout the super shot period as the Swifts skipped out to a five goal lead before Fever pegged thinks back.  Fowler was once again a formidable target under the post, while Alice Teague-Neeld could not buy a goal missing both her super shot attempts.

Entering the second half and the intensity only rose as the changes came thick and fast as Hadley went back into wing defence and Natalie Haythornthwaite made her way onto the court in wing attack. A stray elbow to the head for Klau forced her to the sidelines but that was not before her side capitalised off her turnover. It was pretty much goal for goal for majority of the term before the Fever started to take control. The introduction of Sasha Glasgow paid dividends as things opened up inside attack and created a new-look shooting combination for the Swifts defenders to combat. The momentum continued to shift throughout the game as the ferocity and hunt of the contest ensued but it was the Fever that boasted the narrowest of leads at three quarter time.

With it all to play for in the final quarter the game went right down to the wire. The Swifts once again tinkered with their line-up as youngster Tayla Fraser got the nod in centre and Garbin re-entered the match in goal attack. For the Fever, their consistent line-up seemed to do the job as they worked as a unit to release the ball with great speed and precision into Fowler. A goal from Anstiss -albeit from outside the circle – gave the fans and players alike something to laugh about in the heavily contested game. It got scrappy for both teams as Bruce and Fraser reeled in the intercepts for their respective sides as they willed them to win. But as the clock ticked down Fever could not be stopped with the final nail in the coffin a super shot off the hands of Fowler right on the whistle.

Shooting at 100 per cent for the first half, Fowler’s first miss came at the two minute mark of the third as she finished with 54 goals from 59 attempts at 92 per cent. Teague-Neeld was unable to find the post with a mere two goals and eight goal assists to her name, as Glasgow slotted four from five. Cosh was crafty with ball in hand, shouldering the load in attack, amassing 22 goal assists and 24 centre pass receives highlighting the mountain of work she did throughout the match. the combination between Aryang and Bruce was once again on fire as the pair produced nine gains with the latter picking up four intercepts.

Wallace was the main port of call for the Swifts thanks to her 32 goals at 89 per cent with Housby registering 11 and Garbin boasting an unblemished record with nine goals straight. Proud led the charge in the midcourt with 17 goal assists as Turner got busy in defence thanks to her two intercepts.

FEVER 13 | 13 | 18 | 19 (63)
SWIFTS 17 | 11 | 15 | 12 (55)

STARTING SEVENS

Fever:

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

Swifts:

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

GIANTS clean up Magpies

IT was a tough physical battle from the get-go between GIANTS Netball and Collingwood Magpies in the opening match of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) Round 2 with the former notching up their second win (64-54). Both teams boasted new-look squads as young talent came out with a point to prove given the number of missing key cogs across the court.

The hard-fought matchup saw neither side give an inch as the GIANTS flew out of the blocks, forcing a heap of early errors from the ailing Magpies. Missing both Geva Mentor and Molly Jovic, the Magpies looked impotent and lacked pressure across the court, and while the GIANTS were arguably more hard done by with the likes of Kiera Austin, Amy Parmenter and Kristiana Manu’a missing from the fray, the squad appeared to cope much better as Amy Sligar grabbed her debut opportunity with both hands and Sophie Dwyer continued to perform under pressure.

But despite the GIANTS dominating the contest the match ups across the court continued to see players fly with the physicality really stepping up. Jamie-Lee Price was given a real run for her money by Ash Brazill, while Sligar did a really good job shutting down Kelsey Browne, forcing a clogged attack-line for the Magpies as the lack of leadership from Mentor in the backline hurt the side. Jo Harten‘s ability to impact the contest was never in question out the front for the GIANTS, and it did not take long for the goal shooter to stand up and really hurt the Magpies with her ability to find the ball.

Both sides boasted plenty of flare across the court but it was arguably the GIANTS that controlled it the most and took advantage of the opportunities. The Magpies just could not seem to connect and appeared to give the GIANTS too much space on the drive in a tense matchup. Despite their new faces, the GIANTS’ connection across the court was very impressive finding the loose ball with ease and most importantly making the most of it down the court. A 20-goal lead was extended midway through the third quarter as the Giants started and whilst Shimona Nelson improved off her sloppy first term output it just was not enough for the Magpies to whittle down the GIANTS’ lead.

With the wheels starting to fall off for the Magpies, and Brazill having an uncharacteristic sloppy performance, the Pies rung in the changes with Browne pushing into centre and 26-year-old Maggie Lind making her SSN debut in wing attack. Lind came on with a real pep in her step, slicing through the defence and delivering pinpoint passes into the circle as Collingwood cut the margin to 13 goals. It was a much improved quarter from the Magpies as they nailed 17 goals to 14 and started to find their groove in attack with the new connections across the court proving to be the missing.

There was plenty to play for in the final term as both the Magpies and GIANTS worked in overdrive to solidify their partnerships and mount scoreboard pressure. The defensive efforts from Jacqui Newton, Jodi-Ann Ward and former Adelaide Thunderbirds and Scotland Thistles representative Fiona Themann did not go unnoticed as they contested every high ball and forced Harten to go from long range but that did not seem to faze the English international who maintained her accuracy. Maddie Hay was influential in attack for the GIANTS using her impressive timing and spatial awareness to deliver quickfire passes into the circle.

Although it was a better term of play for the black and white, the GIANTS did not seem to skip a beat with April Brandley and Sam Poolman impacting the play with their hands over pressure and ball winning ability. Matilda McDonnell provided a real spark in the wing defence position, using her extra height to get in the head of Lind and cause all sorts of havoc as the GIANTS secured their second win of the season.

Looking at the key contributors and it is hard to go past the services of Harten with the goal shooter and captain recording 37 goals from 45 attempts at 82 per cent while her willingness to attempt the super shot was paramount as she managed four from 10. Dwyer was influential with her 23 goals and seven goal assists as Hay also chimed in with 16 goal assists and two gains. For the Pies Nelson showcased her accuracy with 40 goals from 43 attempts as Gabby Sinclair also plied her trade with 11 goals at 69 per cent. Browne proved to have a hot hand thanks to her 21 goal assists while in her debut game, Lind collected 10 goal assists. Brazill was a key ball winner for Collingwood amassing two intercepts with Ward also getting plenty of hands to ball as shown through her three intercepts and seven deflections. Price had a standout game through the centre for the GIANTS racking up 19 goal assists, four intercepts and two deflections as Poolman also had a game to remember credit to her four intercepts, six deflections and three rebounds.

GIANTS NETBALL 19 | 19 | 14 | 14 (66)
COLLINGWOOD 8 | 13 | 17 | 16 (54)

STARTING SEVENS:

GIANTS:

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

Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabrielle Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Ash Brazill
WD: Mel Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Jacqui Newton

VNSL 2021: Round 15 preview – Lightning look to gain on Bath

THE pointy end of the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season has arrived, with just five more rounds to come with teams needing to get their connections and wins in order heading into the final stretch. Loughborough Lightning could very well overtake Team Bath on the ladder if margins and results fall their way, whilst Saracens Mavericks receive a much-needed breather but will hope that Strathclyde Sirens do not get another win on the board with the middle of the table growing ever closer.

SUNDAY, MAY 9

Severn Stars v. Loughborough Lightning

The Severn Stars may be coming into this one off the back of a Round 13/14 win, but so are the rampant Lightning who will want to take any chance they can get to close the gap between them and top-ranked Bath. With just three wins on the board compared to Lightning’s 11, the Stars will have a hard time but have proved they will not relent throughout each and every contest. While the Lightning registered a 28-goal victory back in Round 4, expect the Stars to come out hunting in this match.

Expect midcourt duo Liana Leota and Kyra Jones to continue their smooth partnership through the midcourt, injecting plenty of speed, strength and class into the Stars side in recent weeks and allowing their less experienced players to step up to the plate. But they will have their work cut out for them against the likes of Nat Panagarry and Beth Cobden, with the latter in her best form since prior to her 2019 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, and will need to pile on the defensive pressure as Lucy Herdman and Iman Thomas have the tough ask of negating Lightning goalers Mary CholhokElla Clark and Suzie Liverseidge. That being said, Paige Reed and Georgia Rowe have been combining well at the other end, so will look to evade the Lightning’s defensive efforts to at east make for a closer matchup this time around.

Team Bath v. Leeds Rhinos

Whilst this match is not necessarily a must-win for Bath, it is for the Rhinos who need the wins now ahead of the final stretch, and realistically it is too for the Lightning who will rely on Rhinos upsetting Bath here to potentially take top spot. It has only been a few weeks since these two sides went head-to-head, but worth keeping in mind that Bath claimed the victory despite Rhinos sharpshooter Donnell Wallam making her return, in turn setting up another huge clash this week. Given Bath’s season so far they should still be favourites here, however Rhinos’ form and dangerous ability to pile on the goals quickly could prove crucial in an upset.

Expect a huge battle at the post between Eboni Usoro-Brown and Wallam, especially given Wallam’s capacity to control the goaling on her own. Layla Guscoth has been in excellent form in goal defence and will need to ensure that as much as she keeps Rhea Dixon quiet, she also will want to force the goal attack to take some of the goaling load in the side’s effort to shut down Wallam. Moving up the court, both Serena Guthrie and Imogen Allison have been in excellent form and will have their work cut out for them against an improved Brie Grierson and ever-impressive Jade Clarke. The opposite goaling end could be where the match is won and lost, with the Rhinos defensive unit growing ever stronger with Vicki Oyesola at the helm and Tuaine Keenan bodying up at the post, well-matched when looking at Bath’s front combination of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Borger.

Strathclyde Sirens v. Surrey Storm

It should be an interesting matchup between the Sirens and Storm, with Sirens realistically the favourites coming in based on form alone, although the Storm have been hunting and gaining on a third win for the season. That being said, fine-tuned and secure connections have paid off for the Sirens while the Storm have struggled at time to find clean movement down the court, and become predictable on drives allowing for easy intercepts. Expect the Storm to remain close early but fall away as the much improved Sirens fire on all cylinders to gain on the franchises above them on the ladder.

There are some intriguing head-to-heads in this match, with the midcourts relatively evenly matched. Sirens may boast Gia Abernethy and Taylor Cullen, but Surrey has formidable names of its own with Mikki Austin heading up the side along with continual threat Yasmin Parsons, with both able to create a tough one-two punch across the court. The real difference across the court though is in the goal circles, with tough Malawian goal keeper Towera Vinkhumbo having the season of her life down back for the Sirens but sitting out for much of last round putting question marks on this match. Without Vinkhumbo the likes of Karyn Bailey would be able to hold up the Storm front-end alone, however it could be a matter of who can step up in goal attack if Vinkhumbo is named in the squad. At the other end, Emma BarrieBethan Goodwin and Niamh McCall have been impressive for the Sirens in the circle, creating a real headache for the likes of Storm’s Leah Middleton and Alima Priest.

Celtic Dragons v. Manchester Thunder

Expect the Thunder to star in this matchup, given just like the Lightning they are hoping to gain on Bath in top spot. But the Dragons have showcased plenty of improvement in recent weeks, getting their first win on the board last round and challenging Bath for a full half before releasing the pressure in their Round 12 encounter. Whilst it is safe to say the Thunder should have this one in the bag, teams are realising they can no longer afford to underestimate the Welsh side if they want to gain on the leaderboard, as Manchester will want another big win here to remain in the hunt for a top four finish.

With so much front-end class, there is little stopping the Thunder from getting the job done with Ellie Cardwell and Joyce Mvula continuing to star in the goal circle and Laura Malcolm and Caroline O’Hanlon rarely beaten on the drive. The two-pronged attack from the Manchester side allows them to pile on offensive pressure as a moving circle combining effortlessly to share the load or adjust to a holding goaler, making the side even more impressive and hard to stop for the Dragons who will need to match them for adjustments. Annika Lee-Jones has shown glimpses of what she is capable of but will not be able to purely focus on limiting Mvula back in goal shooter, while midcourt-wise the Dragons will want to treasure ball as much as possible given the swiftness with which the Thunder can turn over possession and score. Dragons’ attack is its prime target at the moment with Rebekah Robinson and Amy Clinton in fine form, while Clare Jones has been consistent through the midcourt.

Tip: Lightning by 12, Bath by 3, Sirens by 6, Thunder by 16

MONDAY, MAY 10

Loughborough Lightning v. Surrey Storm 

Both Lightning and Storm will shape up for their second matches of the round, and could well be coming in with opposite records given both sides’ form and opposition over the two days. Lightning should win this one fairly easily in a battle of second and second last, although a close call in this match could be enough to bump the Storm up a position on the ladder which is surely what will drive them to push the Lightning for the full four quarters.

Storm defenders Priest and Middleton will well and truly have their work cut out for them down back in this one, so expect the likes of Felisitus Kwangwa to look to impact the contest where required and provide a more physical matchup on Cholhok. In the midcourt it will once more be down to Parsons, Austin and Emily Gulvin to shut down Panagarry and Cobden, although Lightning’s midcourt depth will prove useful here with Lauren NichollsHannah Joseph and Hannah Williams all more than capable of taking the mantle and retaining pressure through the centre third and elsewhere. For Storm, the likes of Emma MageeFrankie Wells and young gun Sophie Kelly will need to work hard to assist Bailey at the post and force one-on-one defence to open up space for the goal shooter.

Wasps Netball v. London Pulse

The final match of the round will pit the Wasps and Pulse against one another, with the Wasps yet another team that needs to keep collecting wins against the lower-ranked sides ahead of the tough matches in the coming weeks, while the Pulse are hunting for consistency and will hope to challenge the Wasps at the very least. Unfortunately the Pulse have lost co-captain Halimat Adio following a meniscus tear suffered during Round 13/14, so will need to utilise its versatile backline to fill the hole she leaves and look to build pressure from the defensive end all the way up the court.

With Adio out of the side, expect plenty of defensive movement from Pulse as they look to cement a clear duo with Funmi Fadoju, Zara Everitt and Lindsay Keable all capable of causing pressure in the defensive end, while Ellie Rattu is also an adaptable player who could have an impact if required. They will have the hard task of limited Rachel Dunn and Katie Harris, with the duo rarely stopped in the front-line given their read of the play and ability to switch up in an instant. The Pulse will hope Adean Thomas and Sigi Burger are good to go this round, while Kira Rothwell will want to step back up to her early season form out the front after lacking some intensity over the past few rounds. Lefebre Rademan and Olivia Tchine have proved they can uphold the front-end if the midcourt is willing to propel the ball in, so Fran Williams and Josie Huckle are sure to do everything in their power to disrupt that while Iona Christian and Amy Flanagan will do the hard yards through the midcourt to limit ease movement.

Tip: Lightning by 14, Wasps by 10

Picture credit: Morgan Harlow

2021 ANZ Premiership preview – Round 4

NORTHERN Stars will be looking to keep their undefeated record intact heading into Round 4 while all eyes will turn to the winless Mainland Tactix who despite putting in a strong effort last round fell agonisingly short.

Northern Stars vs. Southern Steel
Sunday, May 9 @4:15pm

It is going to be an enthralling clash between the Stars and Southern Steel as both sides are coming in off wins. The Stars are in scintillating form, yet to drop a game with their experience and class causing all sorts of havoc for opposition teams, while the youth throughout the Steel unit has provided the side with an element of unpredictability to give them a winning edge.

With Maia Wilson at the helm, the Southern Steel are going to have their hands full down in defence. The Northern Stars captain has only grown with confidence throughout the season with her accuracy and range a couple of notable features in her game play. She will once again need support from Jamie Hume who has proven to be a key playmaker out the front with Monica Falkner missing in action due to her niggling knee injury. Youngster Taneisha Fifita will have to be on her A-game if she is to limit Wilson under the post and will need the experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit to provide additional support in the circle to nullify any easy ball movement. The midcourt battle will also be one to watch as Stars’ midcourter Gina Crampton comes up against her old side and will be hoping to exploit the inexperience of Renee Savai’inaea and Kate Heffernan around circle edge.

But the Steel have an ace of their own up their sleeve boasting the services of George Fisher. The English international has been a rock in attack with her volume and willingness to go to post key. Up against the long arm brigade in Oceane Maihi, Elle Temu and of course Anna Harrison the Steel will have to be crafty with their delivery into the circle to ensure that they are not predictable and do not provide too many opportunities for the Stars defensive unit to gobble up free ball. Expect Tiana Metuarau to shoulder a lot of the load in attack given her attacking nous alongside seasoned campaigner Shannon Saunders.

Mainland Tactix vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, May 9 @6:15pm

After making the grand final last year, it has been an incredibly disappointing start to the 2021 season for the Tactix who have been kept winless from three games so far meaning their clash against the Magic could be season-defining. For the Magic, it has been an inconsistent season notching up a win in Round 1 but unable to recapture those highs in their past two outings. With pride on the line expect both teams to throw everything they have at each other in order to keep their seasons alive.

It is fair to say that the Tactix look like a much better team when Te Paea Selby-Rickit is out on court and that is exactly what we saw last week. Returning from a broken foot and still on limited minutes it will be interesting to see much court time the goal attack gets this round. Her presence provides great confidence to Ellie Bird under the post while her impressive workload also alleviates the pressure on Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi through the midcourt. If the Magic midcourt in Sam Winders and Georgie Edgecombe can get on top early it will go a long way in shutting down the Tactix, while their versatility and depth in the defensive circle is another trump card they hold with Temalisi Fakahoktau knowing both Bird and Selby-Rickit’s game inside out given she was a former Tactix player, while Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong are capable of putting on an aerial masterclass.

Speaking of versatility, the Magic goal circle has a number of options which allows them to switch from a holding circle to a moving one very quickly. With the likes of Caitlin Bassett, Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple at the helm, Waikato Bay of Plenty are bursting at the seams with talent but just need to finesse the entry into the circle. If Grace Kara gets out on court this round it will go a long way in setting up a win, but the Magic will have to combat a developing defensive combination in Jane Watson and Karin Burger to get there. The two are still fine-tuning their connections but have proven their ability to disrupt attacking forays with their tenacity and hands over pressure something that will need to be front and centre in this clash if they are to notch up their first win of the season.

Central Pulse vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, May 10 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Central Pulse play host to the Northern Mystics in what is set to be an exciting battle. The Pulse have been dealt a couple of blows of late with a suspected ankle injury to dynamic midcourter Maddy Gordon and are still trying to fill the void left by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio. However in saying that they have shown glimpses of brilliance but will have to pull out all the stops against a confident Mystics side who are coming off a narrow one-goal win.

The Mystics midcourt will look to exploit Pulse’s developing connections if Gordon is out of action with youngster Paris Lokotui likely to get the nod in wing defence. With Peta Toeava in devastating form with ball in hand and Tayla Earle a real workhorse through the midcourt, their partnership with shooting sensation Grace Nweke is the real concern for the Pulse given their tendencies to deliver no-look bullet like passes into the circle and release the ball with great precision to allow Nweke free reign in the circle. Throw in the experience of Bailey Mes and the other viable options in Filda Vui and Saviour Tui – yet to take the court in 2021- and the Mystics have plenty of explosive shooting power. However, all eyes will turn to the starting position of Kelly Jury with the Pulse defender spending majority of the season in goal defence but does her best work in goal keeper and will need to shut down Nweke. Kelera Nawai has been strong down back but often draws the attention of the umpire which Pulse cannot afford if they want to win, while she also gives away some centimetres to the tall timber in Nweke.

With no Ekenasio – now effectively for the rest of the season following the goal attack’s pregnancy announcement – Aliyah Dunn has picked up the slack in the front-end commanding the ball and controlling proceedings with her strong holds and accuracy to post. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is steadily finding her feet in the attacking unit but will have to combat the niggling style of defence from Kate Burley while Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick is a menace with her court coverage, deceptive closing speed and fancy footwork. It will be up to Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten to bypass the Mystics defenders with their pinpoint passes into the circle.

2021 SSN Round 2 – Head to head

THE Melbourne Vixens are set to host the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 3 of the Suncorp Super Netball this weekend at John Caine Arena. While there are some fierce competitors all the way along the court, the key matchup to go under the microscope is Kate Moloney and Karla Pretorius.

Melbourne Vixens vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning

Kate Moloney (WA) vs. Karla Pretorius (WD)

In something that the Suncorp Super Netball has never seen before, there is a chance that Moloney and Pretorius will be competing head to head in Round 2 of the SSN this weekend, as the Melbourne Vixens take on the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

With Liz Watson out for the season with a foot injury, 19 year-old Hannah Mundy was called up to fill her shoes for the Vixens. Mundy debuted for the Vixens in Round 1 of the SSN in wing attack, but it was clear that the reigning premiers were missing Watson’s hard drive off the transverse line, with the eventual decision last round to put Mundy into her preferred position of centre, resulting in moving captain Moloney out to the wing. This provided the Vixens with that strong lead they needed to make the journey to the post a little more smooth. Moloney plays hard and fast, finding a way to drive into the space, keeping up her endurance throughout the full 60 minutes on the court. She also has an amazing skill in directing and creating passages of play, and often leads the team for goal assists with her ability to find the edge of the ring and feed to the shooters. Having started her career as a wing defence, she understands a defenders mindset, making her a real threat to her opponents. Moloney also provides a cool, calm and collected option in the attack, making strong drives and proving reliable with ball in hand.

While normally settling in under the ring, Lightning decided to change up their defence in Round 1, with the addition of goal keeper Kate Shimmin allowing them to move seasoned defender Pretorius out to the transverse line to have a run in wing defence. Standing at 181cm, she is on the smaller side for a defender, but she does not let that stop her. She has an unmatched ability to to get her hand to those high balls, and is mostly clean in her execution, often leaving her opponents stunned. The connection she has with teammate Phumza Maweni adds to her game, often letting Maweni to set up under the ring and allowing Pretorius to go out hunting. As one of the older players on the court, she has a wealth of experience and knowledge behind her game, and help her teammates often by directing and setting up play passages of play all the way down the court.

The chance of Moloney and Pretorius competing head to head in Round 2 of the SSN is not all that great, but not impossible. If it comes to fruition, this is a matchup that fans have never really seen before. Both players boast amazing endurance to play to their full 60 minutes, as well as their skills in directing play down the court. Pretorius has a height advantage that, combined with her ability to get her hand to those high balls, Moloney may have trouble competing with. However, Moloney’s attacking skills and ability to drive hard and fast for the ball could make up for it, and she may just outpace Pretorius.

2021 SSN preview: Round 2

ROUND 2 of the Suncorp Super Netball season gets underway this week. The GIANTS, West Coast Fever, NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning head into the round with a win under their belts. We preview the entire round of action to come.

GIANTS vs. Collingwood Magpies
Saturday, May 8 @3:00pm

Collingwood will have their work cut out for them against the GIANTS, who had a good win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds last week. The Magpies showed glimpses of brilliance in the opening round but will need to sustain that level for a full four quarters if they are to worry the GIANTS in their upcoming clash. 

With an announcement yesterday that confirmed GIANTS shooter Kiera Austin has torn her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will be out for the rest of the 2021 season, it is unclear who will step up to take her place. They still have a strong shooter in captain Jo Harten, and Sophie Dwyer has also proven she can be competitive under the post, putting up an equal amount of shots as Harten in Round 1. The GIANTS may also be looking to training partner Matisse Letherbarrow to step into Austin’s place.

A key matchup to watch in this game will be between the Magpies Ash Brazill and GIANTS Jamie-Lee Price. Going head to head in the centre, both Price and Brazill have are very physical and have incredible stamina.

International netballer Geva Mentor took a bit to get her feet in their game against Lightning last week, actually getting benched in the third quarter, so it will be interesting to see how she goes this round up against Harten, who remains a steady hand in the ring. It will also be good to watch how Dwyer handles going up against such a well-seasoned defender like Mentor.

West Coast Fever vs. NSW Swifts
Saturday, May 8 @6:00pm

Both coming off a win, audiences will be in for a showdown between Fever and Swifts. Fever looked calm and collected over there win against the Vixens last week, while the Swifts kept up the intensity for most of the 60 minutes against the Firebirds to come out on top in the first ever game played in extra time.

The defensive duo of Sunday Aryang and Courtney Bruce put out an awesome performance against the Vixens, but they will have their work cut out for them against Sam Wallace, who shot 49 goals at 100 percent accuracy last week. While Aryang and Bruce both are not afraid to keep the attackers moving or go for a hunt, Wallace is able to shoot from anywhere in the ring and is not one to hang back, and is particularly dangerous with Helen Housby out front.

It will also be interesting to see the matchup between Swifts goal keeper Sarah Klau and Fever goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler. Klau took a bit to get into the game last week, not making much of an impact until the dying minutes and while Fowler put up 55 goals, she was thrown a little off her game when Kadie-Ann Dehaney was introduced on court. Klau may have to be quick on her feet and not be afraid to try new things to get on top of Fowler, whose strong hold under the post is unmatched.

Melbourne Vixens vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Sunday, May 9 @1:00pm

Coming off a loss, the Vixens will be looking to redeem themselves this week again Lightning, but it will be a struggle for them. The Lightning have shown great versatility and depth while the Vixens’ frontend struggled to generate much scoring power given the plethora of fresh faces which could play into the hands of Sunshine Coast.

Last week saw Karla Pretorius moved into wing defence for Lightning, and the Vixens tried something new in the fourth quarter by moving Kate Moloney into wing attack and giving debutante Hannah Mundy a chance to have a run in the centre. It would be amazing to see Pretorius and Moloney go head to head – two seasoned veterans that we have not really ever seen play against each other before.

Dehaney came out firing against Fever last week, with five gains and four deflections. Hopefully she will bring the same energy this week, matching up against shooter Cara Koenen. Out in front of them both will be Jo Weston and Steph Wood. Weston also had a reasonable game last week with seven deflections, but Wood likes to keep defenders on their toes with her fast drives and quick cuts, so it will be a good matchup to see play out.

Queensland Firebirds vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Sunday, May 9 @3:00pm

Both the Firebirds and Thunderbirds will go into Round 2 with a loss, and both will be wanting to make sure it does not happen twice in a row. Queensland fell agonisingly short in overtime in Round 1 while the Thunderbirds were less than impressive, unable to move the ball with much conviction down court. 

Gretel Bueta did not disappoint in her highly anticipated return to SSN last week and while she did not put up a massive amount of shots, she did a lot of the work out the front for Romelda Aiken, creating space and demonstrating her signature lay-up move. She also combined well with young gun Tippah Dwan, showing the versatility of the Firebirds ring and their different shooting combos. Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling will have to show off her impressive aerial abilities and quick bursts of speed to keep on top of Bueta, who proved she is not off her game after having a baby earlier this year.

Also back from having a year off to give birth, Kim Ravaillion showed the crowd that she is still extremely fit, and while not exactly up to where she left off, she is certainly making a comeback. She will be a real challenge for Thunderbirds captain Hannah Petty and Maisie Nankivell given their tenacity and endurance.