Tag: cara koenen

2020/21 Diamonds: Young gun focus

THE 2020/21 Diamonds squad has been announced with a couple of young up and coming players making the cut. Although there will be no international tests for the Diamonds this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions there is talk of a training camp. Draft Central takes a look at the newcomers to the squad aged under 24, their overall Suncorp Super Netball season and what they could potentially bring to the table for the Diamonds.

Jess Anstiss (West Coast Fever)

Wing defence Jess Anstiss has recaptured her 2018 form, with the midcourter finding her speed and rhythm to have a commanding presence across the court. The 23-year-old has added to her craft able to move into centre and impact the play with her cleanliness, hunt for the ball and netball smarts. She is a menace in defence and while she might not do all the fancy stuff, digs in hard to nullify her opponent’s influence such is her dogged style of defence. Anstiss is strong around circle edge to create tips and deflections a characteristic the Diamonds will value down back while her speed in transition is also another notable trait. She has racked up eight intercepts and 20 deflections throughout the season highlighting her defensive tendencies.

Kiera Austin (GIANTS Netball)

Versatility has been key to Kiera Austin’s game play in 2020 consistently switching between wing attack and goal attack. Her movement is impressive able to glide across the court or take the hard drive depending on the GIANTS needs something that will only add to the Diamonds line-up. Playing in goal attack, Austin has proven that she is not afraid to back herself from range and while her accuracy is not always there, she is able to follow it up with the rebound. Her speed off the mark is another key component of her game, able to burn off her opponent on the drive into the circle. Austin’s spatial awareness and deft touch enables her to play a dominant role in either position as she has racked up 147 goal assists with a round remaining. Applauded for her attacking efforts, Austin is just as damaging when it comes to defence thanks to her ball tracking ways collecting 12 intercepts and 25 deflections.

Sophie Garbin (NSW Swifts)

There is no denying that Sophie Garbin has proven that she has all the star power in the world to tear a game apart as shown back in Round 2 when she slotted an impressive 21 goals in a term. The typical goal shooter has proven she is more than capable of playing in goal attack however looks much more comfortable under the post, playing that holding style. Garbin is incredibly strong in the air, able to ward off defenders with her body positioning. Another key attribute of her game is her rebounding ability consistently able to track the ball in the air or off the rim. She has added range to her game when it comes to shooting, able to back herself from further out while timing to pop out at the right time is something the Diamonds will value. Although not the most accurate shooter, sitting at 74 per cent for the season, Garbin has managed 15 rebounds and 128 goals.

Kim Jenner (Queensland Firebirds)

Although there is one game left in the home and away season, Kim Jenner has been an integral player in the Firebirds defensive unit with her ball winning capabilities. Her tenacity and ability to change the course of a game in an instant is commendable and while she is still somewhat of a raw prospect will benefit from the Diamonds call-up. Her work through the midcourt to transition the ball into attack, hands over pressure and nagging style of play makes her an exciting prospect for the Diamonds. Although she is known for the odd clumsy contact, Jenner is a real threat to be reckoned with thanks to her hunt, read of the play, closing speed and never say die attitude to contest everything that comes her way. In her 13 games so far the goal defence has managed to rack up an impressive 22 intercepts, 67 deflections and 12 rebounds while also only registering a mere eight general play turnovers, a mentality the Diamonds will be hoping she brings into their camp.

Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Announcing herself as a serious Diamonds contender last year, Cara Koenen has only further blossomed in season 2020 with her impressive sidestep, dodge and timing along the baseline. Standing at 190cm her mobility is impressive, often able to swing out to that goal attack position when needed without losing her accuracy to post. She is a cool, calm and collected customer able to work her way into the match thanks to her netball nous. Koenen’s ability to shake up her game from a holding shooter to a moving one will be a handy inclusion for the Diamonds frontline given their somewhat predictability. She is strong on the rebound, reads the play well and has innate ability to sense the moment and deliver. With one round left and finals still to come for Koenen, the goal shooter has already sunk 431 goals and sits at an impressive 89 per cent highlighting her accuracy.

2020/21 Diamonds Squad list released

THE 2020/21 Australian Diamonds Squad list has been released this morning, with plenty of returning names in the mix and a couple of newbies to the fray. While players with continued injuries in Kelsey Browne and Ash Brazill are missing from the squad, Liz Ellis Diamond winner Gretel Bueta has still been named despite missing the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season to pregnancy. 

The squad has included a host of new names in Verity Charles, Sophie Garbin, Kim Jenner, Cara Koenen and Maddy Proud, while Jess Anstiss returns to the squad. Charles’ excellent season sees her brought into the squad for the first time, while Jenner, Koenen, Garbin and Anstiss were part of the 2019 development team and have clearly proved they are capable of stepping up to the next level. Despite questions around being left off the court during the 2020 season, Caitlin Bassett remains in the squad, while fans will be disappointed Caitlin Thwaites will not come out of retirement after a stellar season.

Some notable names left off the list are Maddy Turner, Tegan Philip and April Brandley, with the latter still returning from pregnancy earlier in the year and the former two not quite having the same influential seasons as they did in 2019.

Diamonds Head Coach Stacey Marinkovich says she is excited about the squad and the depth of talent across Australia and every position.

“Selection definitely hasn’t been an easy task – we have such a great depth of talent within our system across every position on the court and I congratulate those that have been selected,” Marinkovich said in the Diamonds announcement.

“This squad showcases an incredible breadth of experience and new emerging talent. We have a strong vision towards our marquee events, the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2023 Netball World Cup, and I look forward to further technically and strategically developing this group and building on our connection and cohesion under pressure.”

“Our Australian Development Squad will be named within the next couple of weeks and this list will truly capture the depth of our elite talent. We will continue to monitor and track players leading into an exciting 2021 international netball calendar.”

While the squad will not play competitively in 2020, Netball Australia is working closely with the Queensland government to host a training camp following the completion of the 2020 SSN season. The 2020/21 Australian Development squad will be announced in the coming weeks.

2020/21 Origin Australian Diamonds Squad

Jess Anstiss – West Coast Fever/Western Australia
Kiera Austin – GIANTS Netball/New South Wales
Caitlin Bassett – GIANTS Netball/Western Australia
Gretel Bueta – Queensland Firebirds/Queenslan
Courtney Bruce – West Coast Fever/Western Australia
Verity Charles – West Coast Fever/New South Wales
Sophie Garbin – NSW Swifts/Western Australia
Paige Hadley – NSW Swifts/New South Wales
Kimberley Jenner – Queensland Firebirds/Queensland
Cara Koenen – Sunshine Coast Lightning/Queensland
Sarah Klau – NSW Swifts/South Australia
Jamie-Lee Price – GIANTS Netball/New South Wales
Maddy Proud – NSW Swifts/South Australia
Emily Mannix – Melbourne Vixens/Victoria
Kate Moloney – Melbourne Vixens/Victoria
Gabi Simpson – Queensland Firebirds/New South Wales
Liz Watson – Melbourne Vixens/Victoria
Jo Weston – Melbourne Vixens/Victoria
Steph Wood – Sunshine Coast Lightning/Queensland

SSN Head to Head: Round 14

IN each round of Suncorp Super Netball we will identify key match-ups, provide an analysis of players and compare the two styles. The final round of the home and away season sees the top two sides go head to head with the battle in the centre between Kate Moloney and Laura Langman expected to set the tone for their respective sides.

Laura Langman (C) v. Kate Moloney (C)

Neither Langman or Moloney are known for their desire to take a backwards step, and instead they are often applauded for their hustle and grind to constantly win ball back. They are both barometers for their side, able to stand up when needed and have an influence.

Coming off a surprise loss last round the Vixens, led by captain, Moloney, will be hoping to get back onto the winners list and rekindle that dominant form that saw them notch up the minor premiership two rounds ago. Without partner in crime, Liz Watson, Moloney has had to step up her attacking game in recent weeks, to feed the ball into the likes of Caitlin Thwaites, Tegan Philip and Mwai Kumwenda under the post. Her 1-2 punch around circle edge and speed off the mark makes her an effective option while her gut running is unquestionable, frequently contesting every ball that comes her way. Moloney’s on court leadership is paramount to the Vixens both in attack and defence as she is often that driving force and integral link between the two thirds. She is a real dogged style of player, in the sense that she does not allow her opponent any space and rides every pass. Her defensive attributes are clear, able to create tips and deflections such is her read of the play while her never say die attitude often sparks her teammates around her.

Much like a fine wine, Langman continues to get better with age and is a key cog for the Lightning. When she is firing Sunshine Coast are just about unstoppable with the centre able to break through the defence with great ease and penetrate into the circle in the blink of an eye. Her athleticism and endurance is almost unmatched, able to run rings around her opponents while her experience allows her to bring out all the tricks in the book. However it is the connection with Steph Wood that is the most damaging with the duo able to set the court alight with their dynamic movement, speed and netball nous to weave their way down the court. Langman is a real general in attack able to create something out of nothing and most importantly is not afraid to go back and reset to allow the Lightning frontend in Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian and Wood to re-position. The New Zealand veteran is damaging in attack but so too down back with her hands over pressure, ability to read the play and pick off an intercept, while her skill to transition in a heartbeat can often catch opposition teams off-guard.

It will be a hotly contested tussle in the centre with both players possessing very similar attributes and game play given their defensive tendencies. Any cross court passes will play into the hands of Langman, with the centre renowned for her ability to peel off and go hunting meaning the Vixens will have to be meticulous especially in attack if they are to get the chocolates. However if the two captains nullify each other it will be up to the players around them to step up and lead the pack which could be tricky for the minor premiers if Watson misses out again this round.

2020 Suncorp Super Netball: Five Talking points – Round 13

THE penultimate round of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) sparked plenty of intrigue and debate as the GIANTS failed to keep their slim finals hopes alive while the league celebrated Indigenous round despite it being marred by controversy.

Bassett remained on the bench in GIANTS do-or-die clash
In arguably one of their biggest games of the season, the GIANTS’ narrow loss to West Coast Fever all but ended their hopes of sneaking into the top four. There was no denying that accuracy seemed to be a big issue for the GIANTS as Jo Harten and Kiera Austin shot at a combined 70 per cent, failing to convert their chances as Australian Diamonds captain and shooting sensation Caitlin Bassett sat on the bench. It looked like her time might come as wing attack Maddie Hay went down with an injury midway through the third but instead of swinging the relatively inaccurate Austin into wing attack like previous matches, the GIANTS shuffled the bibs around as Amy Parmenter moved into wing attack momentarily before Claire O’Brien ran out the rest of the game. The attack seemed to suffer in the final quarter as the GIANTS struggled to find their rhythm with Courtney Bruce and Olivia Lewis starring as the GIANTS lacked Bassett’s accuracy and rebounding ability under the post.

Controversy sparked as Jemma Mi Mi failed to take the court
In a round dedicated to celebrating Indigenous culture many were looking forward to Queensland Firebirds midcourter Jemma Mi Mi taking the court. Currently, Mi Mi is the sole Indigenous player in the SSN and in the lead up to the match on Sunday had done a wealth of work promoting her journey and encouraging other young Indigenous girls to follow in her footsteps. However, the speedster failed to take the court against the Vixens with the decision sparking plenty of debate. In the dying minutes of the final quarter wing attack Lara Dunkley seemed to pull up gingerly with some form of cramp, but instead of coming off the court, opted to stay out there and run out the game as Mi Mi waited patiently on the sideline to be subbed on. Many fans questioned the decision behind not injecting Mi Mi into the game given the significance of the round and the fact that the game was a dead rubber as it did not impact finals.

Liz Watson is key to the Vixens success
Highly talented wing attack, Liz Watson was forced to the sideline once again with an ankle complaint which allowed the Firebirds and Gabi Simpson in particular to take full control when it came to tempo and flow. Youngsters Tayla Honey and Elle McDonald have plenty of raw talent but ultimately lack that craft and finesse that Watson has especially around circle edge, with her direct passes into the goalers. Watson is renowned for her exceptionally high work rate at the centre pass and movement within the attacking third, something that was once again missed in the Vixens frontend against the Firebirds on the weekend. The likes of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe capitalised on Melbourne’s lack of movement and assertiveness in Watson’s absence.

NSW Swifts prove they know how to win ugly
It was an inconsistent performance from the reigning premiers who struggled to find any continuity in attack as they chopped and changed. Challenged in the second and third quarter and with the game on the line the Swifts kicked it up a gear, albeit marginal in the final term. The combination of Sophie Garbin and Helen Housby seemed to be what the doctor ordered in the goal circle as the duo found their range only missing two goals for the quarter as the midcourt work stemming from Natalie Haythornthwaite and Paige Hadley increased. Although it was not pretty, it showed that the Swifts have the ability to grind it out against tough opposition with Shamera Sterling and Layla Guscoth putting in the hard yards and making life tricky for the Swifts’ attackers.

Cara Koenen and Steph Wood could be the Diamonds next starting shooting combo
The Lightning frontend ooze plenty of class with Laura Scherian and Laura Langman real playmakers in the attacking third thanks to their speed, drive and spatial awareness. However, inside the circle is where the real damage happens as Cara Koenen and Steph Wood put on a show under the post. The shooter to shooter interplay is near on impossible to negate with their deft touches and perfect timing proving to be a headache even for the best such as Geva Mentor as shown in this round. Although it took a few minutes for Koenen to build into the match, once the goal shooter found her range and confidence she starred sinking an impressive 41 goals from 45 attempts at 91 per cent while Wood was not only the goal assist mastermind but so too effective from range nailing four super shots. Their partnership is one of movement and dynamism, something that could be handy for the Diamonds in the future.

SSN Stats wrap: Round 13

OUR Suncorp Super Netball stats wrap will again this week solely focus on Round 13’s proceedings, with a huge penultimate round of action culminating in a couple of massive results and its fair share of controversy with Caitlin Bassett once more left on the bench and Jemma Mi Mi in a similar position despite being touted as the face of SSN Indigenous Round. Meanwhile, the NSW Swifts confirmed their place in the top four thanks to the GIANTS’ tight loss to West Coast Fever and the Melbourne Vixens suffered their second loss of the season to the Queensland Firebirds to close out the round. 

There were many top performers across the round once more, with defenders seeming to be top of the list again with a number of players stepping up and causing errors aplenty. Phumza Maweni continued to star in her second season, racking up eight gains (five intercepts) to lead the tally for the round while Courtney Bruce collected 12 gains in a tough battle. Maddy Turner had arguably her best outing of the season so far with six gains (three intercepts), matched by her opposition goal keeper in Sterling with the same stats and a three goal margin as the final whistle sounded. A huge combined defensive effort from the Firebirds completely exposed the Vixens who were without playmaker Liz Watson, seeing Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe and Gabi Simpson combine for 15 gains (eight intercepts) between them. 

Looking further up the court, Jamie-Lee Price was excellent with 17 goal assists and four intercepts in a losing effort, while Verity Charles topped the assists chart this round with 24 from 36 feeds and 17 centre pass receives. Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite combined well in the Swifts camp for 23 and 19 goal assists, both also racking up an intercept apiece while Kate Moloney held up the Vixens attack with 18 assists. Firebirds duo Mahalia Cassidy and Lara Dunkley also left no stone unturned, sharing the load out the front with a combined 35 goal assists and two intercepts, while youngster Georgie Horjus plied her trade out the front for the Thunderbirds to finish with 29 centre pass receives and 14 assists. 

Horjus was not the only attacker to hit the centre pass and assists stats, with both Steph Wood and Gabby Sinclair finding their playmaking form, albeit while playing on opposing teams. Wood impressed once more in at goal attack with 10 goals at 71 per cent and 21 assists, while Sinclair finished much the same on the goaling front with 10 at 67 per cent and 17 assists. Sam Gooden got the start for the Thunderbirds with another 10-goal haul – this time at 53 per cent – while Tippah Dwan was solid once more against the Vixens with 16 goals from 23 attempts. Caitlin Thwaites was excellent with 17 goals (seven super shots) while Kiera Austin was shaky on the shot with 28 goals from 43 attempts at 65 per cent and 11 general play turnovers but came away with four intercepts credit to her ability to win ball back. In at goal shooter, Jhaniele Fowler (63 goals from 66 attempts), Romelda Aiken (45 from 51), Cara Koenen (41 from 45) and Shimona Nelson (40 from 44) were not only impressive in their volume but also their accuracy, standing up well under pressure with only the latter coming away with a loss.

Courtside Comments: Round 13 – Tara Hinchliffe

Where could Chelsea Pitman end up in 2021?

ANNOUNCING that Adelaide Thunderbirds did not offer her a contract for the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season, Thunderbirds co-captain and England Roses midcourter Chelsea Pitman will be on the move next season. The wing attack has been in arguably career best form in 2020 and is keen to play on next season, making her a handy acquisition for any team she decides to join. The main question however, is where will she go and which team is in need of a specialist wing attack? Draft Central poses some potential options, keeping in mind that team lists for next season have not yet been announced.

West Coast Fever:
With Ingrid Colyer going down with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury she can be expected to spend a large chunk of next season on the sidelines as she recovers, effectively leaving a hole in the Fever attack. Although Emma Cosh has stepped up to the plate in the past few games, she is still developing her craft and with the services of Pitman up for grabs West Coast would be silly not to pounce. Pitman is clever with ball in hand and has experience feeding into tall holding shooters such as Jhaniele Fowler, playing with the likes of Romelda Aiken back in her heyday at the Firebirds and more recently Shimona Nelson when she was at the Thunderbirds. The Roses wing attack is cautious with ball in hand and while she does not do all the flashy things it is her patient approach down court and skill execution that sets her apart from other midcourters.

Sunshine Coast Lightning:
With the future of Laura Langman still up in the air with the New Zealand international announcing her retirement from Silver Ferns duties, the question of whether she plays on in 2021 is one that must be asked. If she does in fact retire it could see a huge shake up in the Lightning attack end with Laura Scherian likely to swing into that centre position leaving the wing attack position vacant and open for someone like Pitman to swoop in. Pitman has proven her ability to adapt on the fly and feed with great ease into a moving circle such is her high netball IQ and impressive ball placement, which could play into the hands of Sunshine Coast. With speed to burn when it comes to Scherian, Pitman could provide that steady head and composure to hit circle edge and deliver into the likes of Steph Wood, Peace Proscovia and Cara Koenen, making her an exciting possibility for the 2021 season.

GIANTS Netball:
After somewhat of an up and down 2020 season, the GIANTS could be on the hunt for a specialised and experience wing attack, a role which Pitman could fill if the position became available. With Kiera Austin spending majority of her time out in goal attack and Jo Harten pulling on the goal shooter bib, the feeding role has fallen to youngster Maddie Hay and while she has impressed in patches the consistency of Pitman could be the edge the GIANTS need to bat deep in 2021. Pitman already has forged strong connections with Harten thanks to the duo playing in the Roses together while Pitman is also familiar with Caitlin Bassett having won the 2011 Netball World Cup together; albeit a while ago now. Pitman is a smooth mover who is hardly ever overawed and could offer that sense of stability and class to a consistently changing GIANTS line-up.

Although it is a long shot, Pitman could potentially ply her craft across the ditch in the ANZ Premiership while the possibility of Pitman taking her netball to England is also a chance with new franchise Leeds Rhinos searching for some experienced names to round out the squad. Either way, it is fair to say whichever team picks up Pitman, they will be better for it given her composure, netball smarts and all round experience.

SSN Momentum Shifts: Round 13

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

Collingwood Magpies (53) defeated by Sunshine Coast Lightning (63)

The positional switch through the midcourt for the Lightning changed the momentum early as the connection between Laura Langman and Steph Wood impressed. Playing in wing defence to start the match, Langman’s drive and class was missed through the attacking third as Maddy McAuliffe got the nod in centre before moving back into the wing defence slot. But once the change was made the Lightning clicked into gear, finding space in the attacking third as Wood and Langman linked up with ease while Cara Koenen dominated under the post with her sidestep on Geva Mentor. The fast moving Sunshine Coast frontline seemed to be humming as they had the ball on a string and capitalised on their opportunities as the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward struggled to inject herself into the game.

West Coast Fever (71)  defeated GIANTS Netball (66)

The introduction of Kaylia Stanton seemed to be the piece missing in the Fever attack line with Alice Teague-Neeld held goalless and unable to have her usual influence out the front in terms of goal assists. Stanton came to life in the second quarter, subsequently forcing the hand of the GIANTS with April Brandley entering the game as they reshuffled the defensive cards. Stanton’s influence started to come into play with the goal attack spotting Jhaniele Fowler with relative ease and most importantly hitting the scoreboard herself. The cogs started to tick over in the Fever frontline as the move of Verity Charles into wing attack and Jess Anstiss into centre really started to motor and swing momentum into their favour. Fowler’s dominance was paramount, overcoming the physicality of Sam Poolman as the Fever piled on 21 goals in the third term to steal the lead and flex their muscles.

Adelaide Thunderbirds (54) defeated by NSW Swifts (57)

After playing majority of the game in wing attack, Georgie Horjus slotted into her more familiar role of goal attack in the final quarter and made a real difference. Although the Thunderbirds fell agonisingly short, going down by three goals, the youngster shifted the momentum into the favour of Adelaide with her long bomb shooting coming to the fore. The final minute and half of the game however was played on the Swifts terms with the reigning premiers showcasing why they are finals bounds with their composure and ability to treasure possession to keep the Thunderbirds at bay. The defensive pressure from Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner was testament to the Swifts skill while the accurate shooting from Sophie Garbin and Helen Housby put a dampener on the Thunderbirds come back.

Melbourne Vixens (58) defeated by Queensland Firebirds (64)

The defensive pressure stemming from Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe and Gabi Simpson across the four quarters was undeniable. After coming off a relatively quiet performance Simpson was on fire throughout their clash with the minor premiers forcing Tayla Honey to the bench and steadily nullifying the influence of Elle McDonald around circle edge to pick up a wealth of ball. Her effort out the front alongside Mahalia Cassidy enabled the likes of Jenner and Hinchliffe to go to work and collect intercepts and deflections aplenty down back. Their constant physicality and arms over pressure caused the Melbourne Vixens to tinker with their shooting combinations as Tegan Philip, Caitlin Thwaites and Mwai Kumwenda all rotated through the circle but failed to get the wood over their opponents as the Firebirds defenders consistently sensed the switch in momentum and stopped the Vixens in their tracks to get the win.

SSN Stats wrap: Round 12

FOR the first time in season 2020, our Suncorp Super Netball stats wrap will just look at the one round that passed over the weekend, Round 12. Wins to three of the top four sides saw the Melbourne Vixens sew up the minor premiership, although it did not come easy with a huge start from Collingwood Magpies forcing the Vixens onto the back foot. As for the West Coast Fever, they asserted their dominance with another huge victory over the NSW Swifts while the Queensland Firebirds were relentless in their pursuit for a fifth win when they took on the Sunshine Coast Lightning. The final match saw the GIANTS keep their finals hopes alive with a 10-goal win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Starting in defence this week, there is no denying the fine form of Courtney Bruce, Phumza Maweni and Emily Mannix. The three goal keepers were lynchpins in defence for their respective teams, anticipating the ball down the court and picking up a handful of intercepts apiece as they controlled proceedings from the back end. Bruce was arguably the most effective up against Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin, coming away with four intercepts and seven deflections, while Maweni’s stellar combination with Karla Pretorius saw the Lightning defensive unit combine for six intercepts and 15 deflections which resulted in 11 gains. Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward have continued to grow their partnership, combining for 12 gains, while there was no denying Shamera Sterling when she got going, finishing with eight gains from two intercepts and 11 deflections in the Thunderbirds’ loss to the GIANTS.

Heading through the midcourt, it was a great week for centre court defence with a number of midcourters picking up defensive stats to go with their offensive attributes. Kate Moloney (two intercepts, 22 goal assists, 10 pickups) and Amy Parmenter (two intercepts, 13 goal assists, seven pickups) were two of the most prolific ball winners, while Maddie Hay, Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley collected two intercepts apiece, with Proud sitting on 20 goal assists. Both Lightning wing defenders in Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell found themselves on the stats sheet with a combined four gains between them, while Laura Langman took on the offensive load for 27 goal assists to lead all comers this round. Magpies goaler Gabby Sinclair was next in line with six goals and 25 assists but eight general play turnovers, while Verity Charles (24 assists, one intercept) and Mahalia Cassidy (24 assists, four turnovers) also had an impact out the front. 

When it comes to goalers, there is no player more consistently impactful than Jhaniele Fowler, with the tall timber registering another 69 goals to her name at 96 per cent accuracy in Round 12. Romelda Aiken was next on the board with 47 from 52 – a more accurate output than we typically see from her – while the duo’s young Jamaican compatriot Shimona Nelson put out one of her better performances with 43 goals at 96 per cent. Next in line was Cara Koenen who shot true at 100 per cent against the Firebirds, unfazed by the tight defensive unit for 41 goals, while Lenize Potgieter was slightly less accurate than usual with 41 from 47 and Wallace put up 35 goals from her 40 attempts, with a whopping 10 super shots to her name allowing the Swifts to keep close contact with the Fever. When it came to goal attacks, there were none more influential than Steph Wood who almost single handedly fought the Lightning back into the contest after a sloppy start, racking up 19 goals (five super shots), while Kiera Austin and Jo Harten combined well once more for 30 and 28 goals apiece, although their inaccuracy told a much bigger story at a shared 74 per cent. That being said, the duo won ball back with three intercepts between them. The Vixens shooting circle shared the load as per usual with all three goalers sitting between 85 and 95 per cent accuracy, while Garbin also hit the scoreboard well with 18 goals and impressively hit five super shots from her 10 attempts, not known for her long range ability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Collingwood Magpies:

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

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

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

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

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

Collingwood Magpies vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Wednesday, 16 September

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

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

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

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

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