Tag: brooke allan

Top 15 SSN training partners: #4 Brooke Allan

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is taking a look at the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) plate in 2020. Inside the top five and in at number four is Collingwood defender Brooke Allan. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration 2019 form, individual potential and future development.

The 21-year-old defender is still coming into the prime of her netball career but has already shown that she has the potential to become a permanent figure in the Magpies outfit. Having spent time with the successful Geelong Cougars in the Victorian Netball League (VNL) and Victorian Fury in the Australian Netball League (ANL), Allan has displayed her class and defensive tenacity. Her ability move between goal keeper and goal defence is a testament to her on-court netball nous and endurance.

In her short career, the skilled goal keeper has been recognised for her netballing prowess with selection in the Under 19 Australian team while also taking home the grand final MVP in 2017 for her impressive efforts with Victorian Fury. After switching to the Tasmanian Magpies in 2018, Allan tasted further success helping guide her side to their first ANL premiership. With so many accolades already to her name, Allan will be hoping to extend to her trophy cabinet and take the leap to the next level and become a more commanding figure in the goal circle. Her pressure over the shot and physicality in the goal circle are just a couple of key components of her game style.

While she is yet to make her debut at Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) level, Allan displayed her elite capabilities in New Zealand taking part in the Super Club tournament where Collingwood came out victorious. Her strength under the post to keep the shooters at bay and put doubt in their mind is impressive. She consistently displays her ability to hold her own against challenging shooters with her quick footwork and ability to cleanly get around the body. Allan is deceptively light on her feet given her height and stature and makes full use of her long limbs to cause disruptions to the oppositions attacking flow. The Magpies defender is not afraid to back herself in the contest and is strong in the air, able to compete and force a turnover with her impressive timing and positioning.

Still honing her craft, Allan has exposure to one of the worlds most renowned goal keepers in Geva Mentor. The England Roses star oozes class, composure and sheer brilliance, always able to make something out of nothing such is her netball mind and skill. Throw in new recruit and Jamaican representative Jodi-Ann Ward and Allan has plenty of talent to model her craft off. With fellow youngsters Mel Bragg and Matilda Garrett also amongst the Collingwood defensive line-up, expect Allan to draw plenty of confidence from their rise up the ranks, hard work and on-court impact. Further exposure to the highest level of professionalism and netball talent will only help the young defender to perfect her role and become a force to be reckoned with in years to come.


#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)
#4 Brooke Allan (Magpies Netball)

SSN training partners to watch in 2020

WITH the Suncorp Team Girls Cup announced and the Suncorp Super Netball season creeping up we take a look at one key training player from each team to watch over the season.

Adelaide Thunderbirds: Charlee Hodges (GA/GS)
Hodges is returning home after a stint in the ANZ Premiership in 2019 with the Northern Stars where she was a key cog in the attacking third. The talented goaler took her game play to another level last season using her silky movement and strong drives across the court to full effect. She will have to work on her accuracy and volume to post often fading in and out of games but that development will come with further exposure to the highest level and confidence. The goal attack can be a real playmaker in the goal circle with her deft touch and high netball IQ to read the play and deliver carefully crafted passes into the circle.

Collingwood Magpies: Brooke Allan (GK/GD)
She is a real excitement machine down back and has a plethora of skills in the defensive circle. Allan uses her height to impose herself on the court with her lean over the shot a key aspect of her game play. The tenacious defender is not afraid to back herself and could be a star of the future for the Pies with her read of the play and quick feet in the circle to continuously get hands to ball. Allan can switch between keeper and goal defence effortlessly making the most of her deceptive speed to gain control of the ball and propel it back down the court.

GIANTS: Matisse Letherbarrow (GS/GA)
At the ripe age of 18, Matisse Letherbarrow has made the switch from the Swifts to the GIANTS and could be a handy inclusion if called up. While the goal shooter is on the shorter side at 188cm, she is an exceptional mover and her accuracy to post is second to none. Her continued development and strength on the take will be key for the talented shooter who is not afraid to go to post from range. She has a high netball IQ able to identify the space with ease and change up her game play from a holding shooter to a moving one in the blink of any eye showcasing her talent.

Melbourne Vixens: Allie Smith (WD/GD)
Smith has untapped potential with the young defender plying her trade in the lesser leagues and hoping to bring that ruthless intent to the Vixens line-up. she is a real go-getter type of player throwing herself at every ball that comes her way and using her dynamic footwork to clog up space both in the middle and defensive thirds. Her versatility is a strong point of her game play along with her netball smarts to sense the moment and hunt for an intercept.

NSW Swifts: Tayla Fraser (WA/C)
Fraser has already made a name for herself on the Suncorp Super Netball stage, taking the competition by storm in the latter half of the season with her dynamic movement but will be looking to go one better in 2020. Although costly at times with ball-in-hand credit to her inexperience, the talented midcourter works tirelessly in the attacking third to find the circle edge and deliver bullet like passes into the goal circle. She uses her speed and change of direction to evade defenders and cause havoc in the attacking third making her an exciting prospect for the Swifts.

Queensland Firebirds: Rudi Ellis (GK/GD)
The talented defender has plenty of knowledge and experience having been with the Vixens for the past couple of years which can she bring to the young Firebirds line-up. Ellis is light on her feet able to cover the court with ease and uses her long reach to disrupt the flow of play time after time. The young defender backs herself with cross-court balls often out hunting for intercepts. She is versatile able to move from keeper to goal defence seamlessly and help with transition play down the court.

Sunshine Coast Lightning: Sienna Allen (GK/GD)
The young defender will add another element to the Lightning’s already stacked defence end with her read of the play and solid movement across the court. She still has plenty of development left in her, given her young age but her potential is endless.

West Coast Fever: Sunday Aryang (GK/GD)
The lanky defender is relatively unknown still but has plenty of potential with her defensive pressure and quick feet key attributes of her game. Her ability to confuse the space and use her lean over the shot to disrupt the flow in attack is impressive. She works tirelessly to win the ball back and create turnovers to give her side a chance to stay in the contest.

New Zealand Super Club wrap: Day 2

IT was an action packed Day 2 of the Super Club tournament with the Central Pulse getting on the board with a convincing win over Vitality Super Netball League team Wasps Netball. Collingwood Magpies kept their winning streak alive notching up another victory while the Southern Steel and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic also registered a win.

Southern Steel (45) defeated Northern Mystics (41)

Both sides could not be separated throughout the first half all tied up at 24 goals apiece proving just how close the match was. But they call it the premiership quarter for a reason with the Steel going on a scoring spree to pile on 13 goals to seven in the third to all but set up the win. The new look goal circle for the Steel took a while to kick into gear but once they found their feet they managed to score with ease a relatively high accuracy sitting at a combined 75 per cent. Jennifer O’Connell led the way under the post with 20 goals from 26 attempts while Kalifa McCollin was the most accurate of the lot with 10 goals from 11 attempts at 91 per cent. Kate Heffernan was strong through the midcourt hitting the circle edge with ease racking up 13 feeds while her defensive efforts were equally as impressive amassing two intercepts, six gains and five deflections. Once again goal shooter Grace Nweke stood tall owning the circle with her imposing figure, clever positioning and accuracy scoring 35 goals from 40 attempts. Bailey Mes and Saviour Tui both struggled to trouble the scoreboard but played a key role out the front feeding the ball into Nweke.  Defensively Sulu Fitzpatrick and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson put up a wall blocking any easy entrance into the goal circle with Sokolich-Beatson really putting in the hard yards and reaping the rewards with six gains, two intercepts and nine deflections. Despite their defensive efforts it was not enough to nullify the rotating goal circle of the Steel who ultimately proved too strong.

Northern Stars (39) defeated by Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (53)

It was a disappointing outing for the Stars; were well beaten by the Magic who came out with a real fire in the belly from the first whistle. The Magic put their foot down in the second quarter keeping their opponents to a mere four goals compared to their 14 highlighting their ability to sense the moment and capitalise. Kelsey McPhee led the charge in attack with the goal shooter proving to be the go to girl thanks to her composed nature, control of the ball and accuracy sitting at 92 per cent with 35 goals from 38 attempts. She paired well with Abigail Latu-Meafou out the front while the addition of Georgia Marshall and Khiarna Williams in the fourth quarter paid dividends only missing one goal between them. Whitney Souness was integral through the midcourt using her speed to deliver ball into the goalers. Up the other end Jenna O’Sullivan showcased her defensive prowess picking up six gains, one intercept and five deflections. The Northern Stars had their moments and mounted somewhat of a comeback bringing on towering goaler Maia Wilson in the second half who provided a key target under the post and most importantly did the job converting 21 of her 23 attempts at 91 per cent. But fellow shooters Juliana Naoupu, Vika Koloto and Jamie Hume who rotated through the circle struggled to have the same impact and accuracy. Storm Purvis plied her trade in defence working hard to get hands to ball with three gains and an intercept to her name while Kate Burley also provided plenty of excitement across the defensive third with three gains and two intercepts.

Mainland Tactix (38) defeated by Collingwood Magpies (51)

The Trans-Tasman clash saw the Magpies prevail after a tight tussle in the first quarter. Collingwood struggled to get separation early but upped the ante in the following quarters to secure their second win of the tournament. Goal attack and fan favourite Nat Medhurst claimed player of the match honours after her impressive efforts slotting 14 goals from 17 attempts at 82 per cent along with 17 goal assists highlighting her high workload across the court. Medhusrt paired exceptionally well with Shimona Nelson who showcased her aerial ability and improved accuracy only missing four out of her 37 shots at 89 per cent while new training partner Nyah Allen made a solid cameo appearance in the final term to sink four from five. Geva Mentor and Matilda Garrett were on song once again with the defensive duo causing confusion and contesting the ball in the air amassing seven gains, three intercepts and six deflections such is their prowess. But Brooke Allan was not about to be outdone by Mentor imposing herself in the goal circle while Melissa Bragg also came to play shutting down the likes of Samon Nathan and Jess Prosser. For the Tactix Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit showed plenty of promise with the two flicking the ball around the circle to reposition and score. Bird set the tone holding strong and commanding the ball with her height while piling on 22 goals and Selby-Rickit put on 12 goals. Up against her old side- albeit a replacement player for Collingwood, Kimiora Poi proved her worth donning the centre bib and running both ways to provide an offensive and defensive option. But the Magpies were simply too strong and outclassed their opponents at almost every turn.

Central Pulse (56) defeated Wasps Netball (39)

After dropping their first game of the Super Club, Central Pulse did not want to make that mistake twice bringing out the big guns to run rampant against international rivals Wasps. Pulse were in control from the get-go setting the tempo of the game and dictating the flow of play credit to key players such as goal shooter Aliyah Dunn and Katrina Rore. Dunn only played three quarters but had a huge influence on the rhythm of the game with Maddy Gordon and Clare Kersten finding her with ease under the post. Dunn slotted 27 goals from 28 attempts at 96 per cent, while Ameliaranne Ekenasio took the court for the first time this tournament and did not skip a beat converting 14 of her 15 attempts. Pulse proved accuracy and rotation was no issue with Tiana Metuarua also sitting at 94 per cent while for the Wasps volume and variety seemed to be the underlying issue. Rachel Dunn led the Wasps contingent with 34 goals from 40 attempts but struggled to get support from the likes of Katie Harris (five from eight) and youngster Alexia Baker who made her debut. Josie Huckle and Hannah Knights failed to control the explosiveness of the Pulse shooters while on the other hand, Karin Burger, Elle Temu and Rore played their role shutting down the free reign in attack and picking off passes. Temu provided a real spark in defence pick pocketing opponents to rack up five gains, one intercept and six deflections.

New Zealand Super Club wrap: Day 1

DAY 1 of the New Zealand Super Club tournament saw some surprise losses and the rise of young stars putting their name on the international netball map. The Magpies got their campaign off to a hot start in the first game of the series while fellow international invitees the Wasps did not have the same fortune going down to the Steel. ANZ Premiership champions, Central Pulse dropped their opening match, with the Northern Mystics getting the wood over competition favourites early.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (33) defeated by Collingwood Magpies (52)

Collingwood led from the get-go all but doubling their opponents score in the opening quarter and did not let up for the remainder of the game. The Magic failed to combat the Magpies star-power in Geva Mentor who notched up seven gains, one intercept and five rebounds clearly denying any easy access into the circle for her opposition goalers. The addition of Brooke Allan brought plenty of spark to the Collingwood line-up, while goal defence Matilda Garrett staked her claim with a strong performance against the likes of Abigail Latu-Meafou picking up three gains, one intercept and six deflections. The Magic struggled to find a way forward credit to the Magpies strong defensive wall with Latu-Meafou only converting 11 goals from 16 attempts while partners-in-crime Kelsey McPhee (12 from 18 attempts) and Georgia Marshall (10 from 12) could not post a high enough total to keep in touch with their opposition. It was a clinical performance by the Magpies who were led by goal shooter Shimona Nelson who nailed 41 goals from 44 attempts at 93 per cent efficiency, while Gabby Sinclair played a nice cameo role with nine goals from 12 attempts. After making the switch from premiership winning side Pulse, Whitney Souness found her feet through the midcourt pairing well with Ariana Cable-Dixon and Sam Sinclair but it was not enough to get her side the win against a relatively full-strength Collingwood line-up.

Southern Steel (50) defeated Wasps Netball (36)

From the first whistle, the Steel had a point to prove racing out of the gates and scoring with ease able to transition from defence to attack in seconds. The Steel had no issues exploiting the gaps and capitalising on any turnover ball against Vitality Netball Super League team, Wasps in what was a convincing performance throughout. Despite boasting a highly experienced team with some key players, the Wasps struggled to make inroads against a dominant Steel team that would simply not give up led by the likes of Jennifer O’Connell in the goal circle with a team high 24 goals from 26 attempts at 92 per cent efficiency. Fellow shooter Kalifa McCollin followed that same vein of form only missing one of her 15 attempts while Georgia Heffernan also hit the scoreboard but not with the same accuracy nailing 12 goals from 19 attempts. Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton were up to their usual tricks through the midcourt slicing through the opposition defence and hitting the circle edge with ease. For the Wasps Jade Clarke stood tall switching between wing attack and centre, using her signature ball movement to penetrate the goal circle and create attacking forays with Roses goaler Rachel Dunn on the end of most deliveries thanks to her clever positioning. Dunn made the most of her opportunities under the post sitting at 88 per cent accuracy, with 29 goals to her name from 33 attempts.

Central Pulse (39) defeated by Northern Mystics (49)

The Northern Mystics had a point to prove and they well and truly proved it thanks to young gun and star goal shooter Grace Nweke who put on a clinic under the post. Nweke singlehandedly sliced up the Pulse defence with her dynamic footwork, strong holds and aerial ability. She carried the load in the goal circle sinking 37 goals from her 44 attempts at 84 per cent efficiency, meanwhile Bailey Mes and Saviour Tui chipped in to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The attacking end seemed to have all the answers despite being up against an ‘A’ grade defensive unit of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger who are both renowned for their physicality and ability to hunt the ball while up and coming defender Elle Temu also got some valuable court time. Up against her old team, goal keeper, Sulu Fitzpatrick pulled out all the stops defensively to quell the influence of towering shooter Aaliyah Dunn. Fitzpatrick and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson worked well to confuse the space and get hands to the high ball coming in, amassing 10 gains, five intercepts and nine deflections collectively. Silver Ferns goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio did not make an appearance for the Pulse leaving the shooting load to Dunn who converted 36 goals from 34 attempts at 77 per cent and youngster Tiana Metuarau who did a wealth of work out the front but was a bit shaky on the shot sitting at 13 from 21 at 62 per cent.

Mainland Tactix (46) defeated Northern Stars (43)

It was a high intensity filled final game of the day with the Mainland Tactix prevailing by a mere three goals after trailing in the first quarter. The Tactix worked their way back into the contest to edge ahead when it counted with new recruit Te Paea Selby-Rickit combining well with Ellie Bird in the goal circle to cause havoc for the Stars defenders in Storm Purvis, Kate Burley and Oceane Maihi. Despite only being on for a half Purvis made her presence felt Bird used her commanding presence to receive the ball and capitalise scoring 23 goals from 28 attempts while Selby-Rickit notched up 15 goals from 19 attempts in her debut game. Temalisi Fakahokotau was stellar down in defence for the Tactix picking up four gains, one intercept and five deflections highlighting her defensive prowess and ability to stand up under pressure. The Stars had a heavy rotation of shooters with Juliana Naoupu, Vika Koloto, Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson all influencing the scoreboard with Wilson the biggest contributor with 17 goals from 21 attempts at 81 per cent efficiency. Hume made herself useful switching between goal attack and wing attack meanwhile youngster Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was influential through the midcourt using her speed and strong connection with Wilson to deliver well weighted passes into the circle. But the Stars fell away in the dying minutes of the game unable to maintain their early intensity.

2019 New Zealand Super Club: Young players to watch

WITH a host of marquee players named for the Super Club test series we look at an up and coming player from each of the eight teams competing. For the likes of invitational teams in particular – Magpies (Suncorp Super Netball) and Wasps (Vitality Netball Superleague) – some of the players will be a relatively unknown quantity, and are considered the young and developing players of their respective countries.

Northern Mystics: Grace Nweke – GS

Nweke broke onto the scene midway through the 2019 season and will be wanting to replicate her hot form in the Super Club to really put her name on the map. Nweke is a strong talented shooter who moves with ease and puts up a high volume of shots. Nweke could be the difference for the Mystics in this tournament given she is a fairly unknown quantity for the international teams and is a developing player in New Zealand. Nweke can stand up under pressure, often unfazed by the physical nature of her defenders and thinks her way through the pressure.

Northern Stars: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan – WA/C

A dynamic midcourter who has speed to burn and is an exciting prospect for New Zealand, able to break lines with her quick ball movement to shake the defence. She started to become more confident throughout the 2019 season and will be aiming to bring that same intensity and excitement into the Super Club. Reuelu-Buchanan works hard across the court running both ways to re-offer around the circle edge and deliver carefully crafted passes into the circle.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic: Holly Fowler – WD/GD

Fowler will be looking to prove her worth at her new club after making the switch from the Northern Stars. She has plenty of X-factor about her with her impressive aerial ability to pick off errant passes and read the play to have an impact across the court. She could be a game changer throughout the tournament if given enough time to find her feet and build up a connection with her teammates. Fowler’s versatility is another key aspect of her game while her transition work is equally as important, coming out hard to receive the ball and bring it down the court.

Central Pulse: Tiana Metuarau – GS/GA

Despite being in her fifth year at the club the 19-year-old is a raw talent filled with plenty of potential and skill and will benefit from further court time. She is a smooth mover and can have an impact under the post when called upon and most importantly will be hoping to prove herself on the big stage against some key defenders. Metuarau is crafty in the attacking third able to dish off passes into her fellow goaler and swing the defenders’ heads with her quick ball movement. Expect her to come out all guns blazing and assert herself on the competition.

Mainland Tactix: Kimiora Poi – C/WA

Despite being on the international radar for a while now Poi is still only 22 and has plenty to give. She showed glimpses of her brilliance throughout the 2019 season in both the ANZ Premiership and Suncorp Super Netball highlighting just how damaging she can be. Poi has speed to boot, can find space with ease and exploit opposition weaknesses with her give and go ability. The talented midcourter backs herself across the court and can switch between the positions with ease, so will want to bring that strong form into the Super Club tournament.

Southern Steel: Kate Heffernan – C/WD/WA

The 20-year-old midcourter offers plenty of class across the court and paired with her strength and versatility she is shaping up to be a real star of the future. Heffernan uses her height to full advantage applying strong three-foot marking to block her oppositions’ vision and cause headaches. Credit to her athleticism and ability she can get hands to ball and cause a disruptive influence through the midcourt to stop the ball hitting circle edge.

Collingwood Magpies: Brooke Allan – GK/GD

The talented defender is a real excitement machine, able to turn a game on its head with her flair and defensive pressure. Allan poses a constant threat down in defence thanks to her commanding height and lean over the shot. She makes her opponent work for the ball, clogging up the space and forcing turnovers such is her pressure. With limited experience with the Magpies she will be hoping to have an immediate impact when on court and use her defensive assets to full affect.

Wasps Netball: Alexia Baker – GA/GS

The former Queensland Firebirds training partner has made the big move to play with the Wasps and will be aiming to have an immediate impact for her new squad. She has talent to boot but is a very raw prospect that has not gained much court time in Australia. If she can hone in her craft and really lift her game play to the next level to pair with her strong timing and silky movement Baker could pose a real threat in years to come.

Victorian Netball League Awards

WITH the Victorian Netball League (VNL) season officially over there were plenty of award winners across all three divisions, along with a Team of the Year announced for the 19 and Under, Division One and Championship leagues.

19 and Under

Jasmine Mackie claimed the 19 and Under Hot Shot award for her efforts throughout the season. Mackie left her mark on the competition with her scoring ability on full display for the Peninsula Waves while Ellen Doyle took home the MVP for the same age group. Doyle was instrumental in the Geelong Cougars line-up with her accuracy to post and slick movement in the circle while her versatility across the court also impressed. She switched between defence and attack seamlessly, bringing down errant passes and propelling the ball back down the court. both Doyle and Mackie made their way into the Team of the Year credit to their impressive form and skill across the court.

19&U Team of the Year:

Ellen Doyle-Geelong Cougars
Jasmine Mackie- Peninsula Waves
Georgia Moody- Southern Saints
Daisy O’Kane-City West Falcons

Emma Allman- Boroondara Express
Keara Fitzgerald- North East Blaze
Sienna Kelly- Peninsula Waves
Emma Walters- City West Falcons

Ashlee Barnett- Peninsula Waves
Anna Donnelly- Southern Saints
Melissa Oloamanu- City West Falcons
Sophie Shoebridge- Geelong Cougars

Division 1

After a dominant first season in the VNL, Abigail Gedge claimed the Division One Hot Shot Award. She finished the season with a whopping 564 goals at 88 per cent and was a lynchpin in North-East Blaze’s attack end, holding strong and backing herself to post. Boroondara Express midcourter Maddy Wallmeyer won the MVP award for her impressive skill and dynamic movement across the court. She proved to be an integral player for Express throughout their finals campaign with her ability to hit the circle edge with pace and precision while delivering pinpoint passes into the goalers. They were among 12 players named in the Division One Team of the Year.

Division One Team of the Year:

Ruby Barkmeyer- Boroondara Express
Georgie Cuthbertson- Geelong Cougars
Abigail Gedge- North East Blaze
Daisy Hill- Hawks Netball

Samantha Coppinger- North East Blaze
Jasmine Ferguson- Hawks Netball
Georgia Finn- Geelong Cougars
Maddy Wallmeyer- Boroondara Express

Laura Giles- Geelong Cougars
Nakita Singe- North East Blaze
Tegan Stephenson- Boroondara Express
Ruby Tidd- North East Blaze


Libby Nicol notched up her third consecutive Hot Shot award, steering the ship for North East Blaze with her ability to control the tempo of the game in the attacking third. She was the key for Blaze in attack with her dynamic movement, strength, volume and sheer accuracy backing herself time and time again. She finished with a staggering 835 goals at 90 per cent highlighting her skill and rhythm in the goal circle. After an impressive finals performance and stellar 2019 season Julia Woolley was named the Championship MVP to cap off an already successful year. Woolley won the grand final with the Geelong Cougars showcasing her experience, skill and class both under the post and across the court.

Championship Team of the Year:

Libby Nicol- North East Blaze
Julia Woolley- Geelong Cougars
Emma Ryde- Casey Demons
Tahnysha Salanoa- City West Falcons

Molly Jovic- City West Falcons
Maggie Lind- City West Falcons
Elle McDonald-North East Blaze
Kaitlyn Sheringham- Geelong Cougars

Brooke Allan-Geelong Cougars
Kaitlyn Black- North East Blaze
Stephanie McNay- Southern Saints
Jacqui Newton- City West Falcons

Player Focus: VNL Grand Final

THE grand final of the 2019 Victorian Netball League brought plenty of excitement with the Geelong Cougars defeating Casey Demons for their inaugural VNL Championship title. We attended the match and took notes on one player from each side, analysing their impact on the match.

Brooke Allan (Geelong Cougars)

The goalkeeper had no easy opposition in the goal circle, but despite a significant height difference lining up on Casey’s Emma Ryde, Allan took every opportunity to make Casey pay for any wayward feeds. Her aerial ability was second to none, attacking the hands to cause turnovers and making it tough for the Demons to enter the goal circle. Allan’s composure in the contest found her with plenty of ball despite her highly experienced opposition in Ryde and Erin Bell, while her ability to read the game saw her create plenty of opportunities to reset play and send the ball back down to attack. Allan took a number of key intercepts throughout the match to turn the tides, but came out flying in the third as the Cougars extended their lead to 16 goals, crowding Casey’s attack and forcing errors with a solid defensive effort spoiling the party for the Demons. She applied plenty of hands over pressure while her never say die attitude was a real feature of her game willing herself to each and every contest throughout the match.

Shannon Blackman (Casey Demons)

The versatile midcourter has had a breakout season in 2019, capping off her effort with a dominant performance in the grand final and showcasing her ability to be that key cog through the midcourt for Casey. Despite the loss, Blackman exhibited some real game smarts with her impeccable drives to the pocket in attack. She found plenty of elevation to ensure clean hands to ball and fed well into the likes of Bell and Ryde in the circle time and time again. Blackman started in centre driving the ball downcourt before a short three minute stint in wing attack to start the second, though the side then seemed to lack the defensive pressure around the circle she had applied early credit to her read of the play and quick footwork. Blackman finally found herself in wing defence for majority of the second half and was put to good use providing a strong option transitioning back through the midcourt and using her game smarts to disrupt the strong drives of Cougars wing attack, Vanessa Augustini.

Victorian Netball League: Grand Final Preview

AFTER a stellar performance against City West Falcons, the Casey Demons earnt a spot in the grand final against Geelong Cougars. The Cougars secured their spot in the semi-final with a strong performance against the Falcons. Both teams have hit their stride at the right time with the Demons hoping to claim their first premiership in their short history while Geelong will be wanting to capitalise on their opportunity on the big stage.

Casey has taken the competition by storm, surging its way into the grand final with a couple of convincing performances. The Demons have gone from strength to strength and are relishing the opportunity with Emma Ryde and Erin Bell at the post. Both shooters have shown that they have plenty of class and can post a handy total if they can get hands to ball. They are not short of star power through the midcourt with Shannon Blackman and Kassidy Withers crucial through the centre third with their attacking play. Both midcourt players are renowned for their ability to hit the circle edge hard and claim prime position at the top of the circle. Meanwhile the partnership between Demi Woodlock and Karli Foster has steadily developed throughout the season with both defenders able to pick off any errant passes and cause confusion making for an intriguing battle between the Cougars shooters. Out in wing defence, Christie Hillberg and Zali Mifsud have showcased their skill to take their opponent out of their game with their clever footwork and hands over pressure.

The Cougars ooze class, composure and skill to grind out games and work their way through traffic to capitalise under the post. They have a plethora shooters with Ruby Horton, Julia Woolley and Bridgette Furphy all viable options under the post credit to their accuracy to post and silky movement. All three combine effortlessly and pose a dominant threat while the work of Vanessa Augustini out the front allows them to get first access to ball. Emily Post is a real playmaker for Geelong in the attacking third with her quick ball movement and vision into the circle hard to stop. Defensively the Cougars are solid with all four knowing each others game plan relatively well, able to sag off or go hunting at the right time credit to their connection. Victoria Honner, Brooke Allan, Allie Smith and Jessica Standfield have all shown they have what it takes to turn a game on its head and win ball back for their side when things get tight making for an exciting match-up. Melissa Bragg is also a key player for Geelong given her experience and versatility able to switch between a defensive and attacking position with ease.

Both sides can score quickly and are accurate to post, meaning it will be won and lost either through the midcourt or in defence given the fire power under the post. Expect both sides to come out with a real fire in the belly and intent.

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Victorian Netball League Semi-Finals: Cougars pounce on Falcons in overtime

City West Falcons (65) defeated by Geelong Cougars (67)

THE first game of the 2019 VNL finals series was arguably the most exciting and jaw-dropping game of the round with the match between City West Falcons and Geelong Cougars sent to overtime with scores level at full-time. In the end, it was the Cougars that prevailed by two goals, credit to the intent and desperation of every player on court. Geelong jumped out to an early eight-goal lead at half-time credit to their slick ball movement and defensive pressure across the court, but the Falcons did not go down without a fight, steaming home in the last quarter to draw even but it was not enough, falling in extra time.

It was a gruelling and high pressure match but Cougars shooters Ruby Horton and Julia Woolley stood up under pressure time and time again. The two combined effortlessly in the goal circle with silky movement, strong drives and ability to turn and shoot a real feature of their game. Woolley finished at 90 per cent converting 33 from 37 attempts, while Horton slotted 28 from 33. Bridgette Furphy also made her presence felt on court, coming on and slotting six goals from seven attempts. The goalers relished the work of Emily Post, Vanessa Augustini and Kaitlyn Sheringham through the midcourt with all three finding good space in the attacking third and feeding seamlessly into the circle. With the attack end firing, the defensive combination of Brooke Allan, Victoria Honner, Jessica Standfield and Allie Smith all stood tall, applying strong hands over pressure, clogging up space and causing confusion to force turnovers.

City West only dropped one game all season prior to this match but were simply outrun by Geelong who had a point to prove. In the goal circle Jane Cook commanded the ball and used her imposing figure to hold space and shoot, nailing a whopping 58 goals from 63 attempts. Cook shouldered the load in attack with Tahnysha Salanoa and Madelyn Gray unable to find the net to combine for only seven goals. Through the midcourt Maggie Lind and Molly Jovic worked tirelessly to slice through the defensive pressure and deliver ball into the shooters, using their precision passing and timing to their full advantage. Meanwhile the defensive duo of Sarah Szczykulski and Zoe Davies worked in overdrive to try and create half chances while the inclusion of Jacqui Newton was crucial.

The win sees Geelong move into the grand final while the Falcons will face Casey in the preliminary final next Wednesday.

Victorian Netball League Preview: Semi-Finals

SEMI-finals are about to kick off with City West Falcons set to take on Geelong Cougars while North-East Blaze will face Casey Demons in hope to progress through to the big dance on August 14. All four sides are renowned for their ability to score with speed while their quick transitions down the court makes for some exciting match-ups.

City West Falcons v. Geelong Cougars

The Falcons have been the in-form team all season and only dropping one game, showcasing their sheer dominance. But the Cougars are no easy beats credit to their slick ball movement and dynamic goal circle. Geelong have given the Falcons a run for their money in their previous encounters, making for an exciting contest between the two sides with both coming off big wins in the last round of the home and away season.

The key to cracking the code for the Cougars is to shut down shooting machine Tharjini Sivalingam. The Sri Lankan shooter showcased her dominance on the world stage and has continued her hot form in the VNL, holding her space well and taking full advantage of her reach to drag in loose passes. Sivalingam can turn a game on its head but it will be up to Victoria Honner, Brooke Allan and Jessica Standfield to limit her impact to post and cut off the ball from getting to her. Another key player in defence for the Cougars will be Melissa Bragg who will be tasked with reducing the impact of Maggie Lind from delivering the ball into Sivalingam.

The Geelong Cougars have a plethora of options in the goal circle with Julia Woolley, Ruby Horton and Bridgette Furphy all able to hit the scoreboard with ease. All three shooters know each other’s game inside out and rotate through the circle making it hard to defend. They have proven that they are not afraid to turn and shoot while their accuracy is no issue, so if the Falcons are to progress through to the next stage of finals they must shut their movement down immediately. The Falcons defensive duo of Zoe Davies and Sarah Szczykulski works exceptionally well together, bouncing off one another and reading the play well to get clever tips and important intercepts, making this a key match up for the game.

North East Blaze v. Casey Demons

In their inaugural season the Casey Demons will have a point to prove to the rest of the competition but must first overcome Blaze who have been in hot form in recent weeks. Both sides have very differing styles of play but have shown that they know what it takes to win and create moments of magic to spark them into action. The last time these two sides met the Demons claimed a convincing win over Blaze credit to their strong structures and good ball placement.

Goal shooter Elizabeth Nicol can shoot the lights out and is an integral member for the Blaze side given her ability to capitalise from anywhere in the circle and back herself to perform. The talented shooter is often the go-to girl, posting high totals each game and asserting herself on the game with her clever footwork and strong holds while the likes of Sarah Hogan also plays an important feature role in attack. Through the midcourt Ella Bayliss is a real playmaker credit to her impressive vision, quick feet to hit circle edge and dynamic movement to open up space in the attacking third. The Casey defensive unit will have to be on red alert given their strong connections across the court with the likes of Karli Foster a lynchpin in defence.

Although they are a new team the Demons have some highly experienced players with the likes of Emma Ryde and former Australian Diamond, Erin Bell in the goal circle. Ryde has been essential in mounting the Demons’ campaign with her height and strength a real asset for Casey while Bell has oozed composure to deliver the ball accurately into her as well as shoot when viable. The Demons have shown that they can score quickly and accurately through Ryde and given the growing connection between the two goalers, Kaitlyn Black, Tayissa Coppinger and Georgia Bowkett must up the ante if they are to disrupt their rhythm in attack.