Tag: cara koenen

2021 SSN: Round 13 preview

WITH the condensed Suncorp Super Netball fixture in full swing, Round 13 rolls around just as quickly as Round 12 finishes with Collingwood and the Firebirds only given a days rest before taking the court once again. In fact the Magpies will play twice this round, while the NSW Swifts will not take the court.

Queensland Firebirds vs. Collingwood Magpies
Thursday, July 29 @6:00pm

With only a day between games expect fatigue to be a potential problem for both the Firebirds and Magpies – the latter in particular given they did not make a single change in their Round 12 clash. In saying that the Firebirds have also been heavily hit by injury with Jemma Mi Mi going down with a suspected Achilles injury. With both teams finals hope all but gone it will be a battle of respect and desire as they look to round out the season on a high.

Shimona Nelson is coming off the best performance of her career after slotting 69 goals from 71 attempts, and will be riding a wave of confidence heading into this clash. Without the services of Tara Hinchliffe with the goal keeper sidelined it will once again be up to Rudi Ellis to nullify the influence of the Jamaican gold shooter and really contest her hands if the Firebirds are any chance of claiming a win. Gabby Sinclair has been in fine form the past couple of weeks and while she is not overly potent on the scoreboard her work out the front is sublime meaning Kim Jenner will have to negate her influence with her strong hands over pressure and niggling style of defence. Another player in hot form for the pies is that of Kelsey Browne with the wing attack incredibly silky around circle edge and set to engage in an enthralling battle with Gabi Simpson. Coming up against her old side Kim Ravaillion will be keen to assert herself through the centre with the gut running with the midcourter able to grind out games and run her opposition into the ground something she will hoping to implement against the likes of Molly Jovic.

Looking into the shooting circle for the Firebirds there is no denying that the combination between Gretel Bueta and Romelda Aiken is hard to stop went up in firing on all cylinders. Bueta is a real playmaker in that attacking third with her speed and athleticism able to carve up the defence however she will have her work cut out for her against an equally as nimble Jodi-Ann Ward who can turn the game on its head in a second. Geva Mentor is always a great match for the likes of Aiken with the experienced goal keeper able to position strongly and take away the space under the ring which is exactly what the Pies will need to do if they are to walk away with the win.

Adelaide Thunderbirds vs. Melbourne Vixens
Monday, August 2 @ 7:30pm

The Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens have been given a little bit more time to rest but that will not deterred the Thunderbirds from putting out another strong performance. The Thunderbirds are coming off the back of a stellar one goal victory over the Lightning and will be eager to use that confidence heading into this clash against the last place Melbourne Vixens who have struggled to hit their strides all throughout this season.

Lenize Potgieter has been in dominant form under the post, only missing the one goal last match and will be hoping to replicate those efforts against the long arm brigade of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston. Not only has Potgieter being in fine form, but so too youngster Georgie Horjus who has hit her straps towards the end of the season with her accuracy to post increasing and her overall playmaking skills out the front paying dividends. All eyes will turn to the battle between Maisie Nankivell and Kate Eddy with Nankivell really finding her groove in that new wing attack roll while Eddy will be hoping to enforce her long arms to block any easy transition into the goal circle. The Thunderbirds have options aplenty through the midcourt with the likes of Latanya Wilson able to slot into that wing defence role alongside Shadine van der Merwe. The intrigue will lie around who gets the nod in centre with Hannah Petty a strong option while Elle McDonald proved that she is more than capable of starring. For the Vixens it would more than likely be the experienced captain Kate Moloney that gets the nod in centre with her leadership and attacking prowess key.

If Shamera Sterling is able to get hands to ball early and get in the head of Mwai Kumwenda then it could spell real danger signs for the Vixens. Sterling is an attacking and defensive option for Adelaide with her long limbs and rejection over the shot becoming a key characteristic in her game plan. Kumwenda will need support from the likes of Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkemeyer if the Vixens are able to collect an upset win. Hannah Mundy will also be the key for the Vixens with the wing attack finding some good space around circle edge however Matilda Garrett is renowned for her hunting ability out in goal defence.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. GIANTS Netball
Tuesday, August 3 @ 3:30pm

The Lightning have suffered back-to-back defeats and will be eager to put that to bed with a convincing performance against the GIANTS who have kicked things up a gear in the past couple of outings. Sunshine Coast are steadily slipping down the ladder in that top four position while the GIANTS on the other hand are climbing up it towards the tail end of the season.

With Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer more than willing to take the super shot it will be up to Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius to put an end to their confidence and really create some doubt in their minds. One player that will be eager to continue her upwards trajectory is Maddie Hay with the wing attack a real quiet achiever in the GIANTS frontend, able to dig in and hit circle edge with great conviction and timing. The GIANTS are also at their best when Jamie-Lee Price is up and raring to go with the centre a real barometer for them given her hunt, tenacity and all-round physicality. The Lightning have a plethora of midcourt options with Kate Shimmin able to slot into wing defence while Maddy McAuliffe, Mahalia Cassidy and Laura Scherian can all rotate through centre, throw in the likes of Binnian Hunt and the options are endless for the Lightning.

In attack, Cara Koenen will be hoping to bounce back after a quiet performance by her lofty standards and really impose herself along the baseline against Sam Poolman. If the GIANTS are not able to nullify the shooter to shooter combination between her and Steph Wood then it could give the home side the upper hand. But April Brandley has proven to be a real ball winner in the past couple of weeks while Matilda McDonell is a livewire down back for the GIANTS with her closing speed and aerial ability impressive.

West Coast Fever vs. Collingwood Magpies
Tuesday, August 3 @ 6:30pm

It is going to be an action packed couple of days for the Magpies as they front up for their third game in six days and the challenge does not get any easier coming up against the Fever. West Coast has proven to be a real powerhouse this season and will be hoping to exploit its couple of extra days rest to claim a win over the Pies.

It will all come down to whether or not the Magpies are able to defeat Jhaniele Fowler with the goal shooter a commanding presence under the post. She can single-handedly lead her side to victory given her accuracy and volume to post while both Sasha Glasgow and Alice Teague-Neeld have proven to be handy options in attack. the real key to success for the Fever is Verity Charles with the dynamic wing attack able to release ball into the shooters either from circle edge or further away. Collingwood will need the highly dynamic Ash Brazill to fire on all cylinders in this clash if they are any chance of causing an upset.

Defensively the Fever are littered with options but are headlined by the services of Courtney Bruce with the goal keeper in career best form and ready to take on Nelson under the post. the Fever will be hoping that Sunday Aryang can double down on Sinclair while Stacey Francis-Bayman will likely get the job on Browne in order to stop the speed of the ball heading into the circle. Do not be surprised if Kalifa McCollin gets a run out on court for the Pies given the heavy workload.

Photo credit: SSN

Thunderbirds set tongues wagging with upset win over Lightning

ADELAIDE Thunderbirds caused an almighty Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) upset against Sunshine Coast Lightning by one goal (61-60). It was a heart in your mouth finish, with the winner not decided until the final five seconds of the game with Lenize Potgieter prevailing as the match winner.

It was goal for goal to start the term, and while both teams did not necessarily treasure possession to start the game they managed to convert off their centre pass. Mahalia Cassidy had some real energy out on court winning ball back but simply could not capitalise with Potgieter imposing herself under the ring. An errant pass from Laura Scherian handed possession back to the Thunderbirds but they lacked fluidity down the court throwing away ball as soon as they got it. Shamera Sterling showcased her aerial presence and tenacity with an early intercept as the Thunderbirds skipped out to a three goal lead. Getting the nod in at wing defence with Shadine van der Merwe rested with a lower leg injury, Latanya Wilson rewarded her coach for the start with a huge intercept highlighting her speed and dynamic movement. the Thunderbirds were in complete and utter control pushing out to four-goal lead and most importantly made the Lightning pay shooting at 100 per cent.

With the timeout called the Lightning came out with a point to prove nailing the first goal as Cara Koenen upped the ante after being well and truly outdone by Sterling. Maisie Nankivell seemed to have the ball on a string with her bullet like passes into Potgieter and Georgie Horjus. The Thunderbirds’ tails were up as the attack end fired on all cylinders with the super shot working wonders and extending their lead to six goals. But Steph Wood said replied with a huge super shot of her own to reduce the deficit to four goals.

Potgieter was carving up the Lightning defence with Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius out of answers for her silky footwork and strong holds. But Maddy McAuliffe displayed her class and niggle around circle edge to pick up ball and then send it firing down the other end of the court. Sunshine Coast kicked up a gear eating into the margin but Sterling was not about to be outdone with the goal keeper out roaming and picking up a huge intercept. It was turning into a goal keeper’s game as Maweni racked up a rejection on the shot to hand possession back to the Lightning. The defensive nature of the game stepped up with Pretorius utilising her go-go gadget arms to wrangle an intercept with Koenen rewarding her for her efforts. Scores were level with just over five minutes played as Sunshine Coast started to use their speed to dart across the court and steal the lead.

The tussle from both sides was impressive but the Lightning managed to keep their noses in front. A timeout shifted momentum back in favour of the Thunderbirds as they slotted back to back goals to get back within striking distance. Horjus was proving to be a real livewire as Adelaide stole back the lead credit to their new found level of confidence. Wood nailed a much needed settler while the battle between Cassidy and Elle McDonald continued to heat up as the pair engaged in plenty of argy-bargy around circle edge. Once again it was Wood that sealed the deal with only seconds left on the clock with a super shot to hold a three-goal lead at half-time.

It took less than 20 seconds for Potgieter to add to the scoreboard as the Thunderbirds clawed their way back into the contest. It was turnover central to start the game as both attacking ends coughed up ball as they looked to re-settle back into the pace of the game. Sterling picked up where she left off with another huge rejection on the shot to spur the side into action. Within the blink of an eye the Thunderbirds had pegged the margin back and this goal for goal rhythm ensued. Horjus scrapped hard at the transverse line to win ball back as the tables started to turn and Adelaide re-established a two-goal lead.

The Lightning tinkered with the midcourt as Scherian swung into centre and Binnian Hunt pulled on the wing attack bib in hope to use her extra height to their advantage. There was an aura of confidence for the Thunderbirds as Hannah Petty picked off intercepts while Wilson used her aerial smarts to chase down the loose ball after replacing Matilda Garrett in goal defence. Adelaide flipped the script from half time to go into the final change up by three thanks to a six goal turnaround.

Looking down the barrel of a loss the Lightning looked to the bench as Peace Proscovia entered the game in goal shooter while Kate Shimmin got the nod in at wing defence prompting a midcourt re-shuffle. The Lightning rallied with a couple of big defensive wins as they levelled the scores once again before they hit the lead by a goal. It was a pulsating quarter as the lead ebbed and flowed with neither side able to assert their dominance. as the clock ticked down, Adelaide dug deep pulling a rabbit out of the hat to steal a one goal win off the hands of Potgieter.

Koenen finished with  27 goals from 29 attempts, while Wood also chimed in with 22 goals and 15 goal assists. Scherian was once again a livewire in the frontend racking up 20 goal assists. For the Thunderbirds, Potgieter was the go-to girl with her 40 goals from 41 attempts while Horjus slotted 20 goals. Nankivell impressed around circle edge for the Tbirds with a whopping 35 goal assists while defensively Pretorius starred with her four intercepts and six deflections as Sterling dazzled credit to her three intercepts and three gains.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 14 | 17 | 12 | 17 (60)
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 18 | 10 | 18 | 15 (61)

STARTING SEVEN

Lightning:

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

Thunderbirds:

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

Photo credit: AAP

2021 SSN Round 12 preview

AFTER a week off given continued COVID-19 restrictions, Round 12 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) returns in what is going to be a condensed final couple of weeks of netball action. The finals are just around the corner and with the top four still not set, every win counts.

Collingwood Magpies vs. NSW Swifts
Tuesday, July 27 @ 3:30pm

The contest between the Magpies and Swifts is going to be an enthralling one with the latter hoping to notch up another victory and continue to build some form heading into the back-end of the season. Currently in second spot on the ladder, the Swifts will be hoping to inch their way to the top of the table and create some separation while Collingwood will be hoping to keep their slim finals chances alive.

The battle between goal shooter Sam Wallace and goal keeper Geva Mentor will be one to keep an eye on with the two players real barometers for their respective sides. Wallace has proven to be a key contributor for the Swifts time and time again but needs the likes of Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin to provide that supplementary support. Housby is incredibly crafty with ball in hand but will have her work cut out for her against the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward who has been in scintillating form with her closing speed and tenacity on full display.

The midcourt is the real point of intrigue for both the Swifts and Magpies given just how many options they have. The Swifts are not afraid to throw around the magnets with Tayla Fraser, Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite all able to rotate through that midcourt role and ply their trade with great efficiency and effectiveness. For Collingwood the move of Kelsey Browne into centre has provided that extra level of spark and class to transition the ball down court with great ease, while both Molly Jovic and Ash Brazill are more than capable of filling that centre role or playing in other midcourt positions to combat the Swifts’ moves. It will all come down to whether or not Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner are able to stop that high ball going into Shimona Nelson and really contest the hands of the Jamaican goal shooter. If they are able to do that then it will go a long way in favouring the Swifts and setting them up for the win.

West Coast Fever vs. Queensland Firebirds
Tuesday, July 27 @ 6:30pm

There is no love lost between the West Coast fever and Queensland Firebirds and it is fair to say that this game is set to be a cracker as the Firebirds look to keep their finals hopes alive. Unfortunately, Queensland will be without the services of key defender Tara Hinchliffe who has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will be out for the remainder of the season leaving a huge dent in their defensive structure. This will provide an opportunity for the Fever to really romp home a win.

Without Hinchliffe for the Firebirds it will be up to the likes of Rudi Ellis and Kim Jenner to take on and nullify the influence of Jhaniele Fowler under the post. Fowler is one of, if not the most dynamic and potent shooter in the SSN with her ability to hold space under the ring and score at a great speed. Both Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow have proven to be dynamic options out the front despite not putting up a wealth of shots. The real kicker for West Coast is the workload of Verity Charles with the wing attack able to slice and dice with great ease meaning that Gabi Simpson will have to be on her A-game to stop her. She will also need support from the likes of Kim Ravallion in centre to stop that easy ball into Fowler.

There is no denying that the combination between Gretel Bueta and Romelda Aiken is one to watch out for with the pair able to create so much movement and use their athleticism to their full advantage to keep Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang on the back foot – but all eyes will turn to whether or not Aiken is fully fit, having limped off the court in the previous round with an ankle injury. The Firebirds will also still be without the services of Tippah Dwan with the goal attack having to endure a 14 day quarantine, meaning Queensland’s frontend could be under plenty of duress.

GIANTS Netball vs. Melbourne Vixens
Wednesday, July 28 @ 3:30pm

Sitting in first place on the ladder the GIANTS will be hoping to continue their winning ways and put Melbourne Vixens to bed with a strong win. It has been a disappointing season for the Vixens and they will be eager to gain some respectability with an improved effort here but will have their work cut out for them against a firing GIANTS outfit.

There is no denying that Mwai Kumwenda is the lynchpin in attack for the Vixens with the goal shooter providing both  a calming and demanding presence inside the circle. Her athleticism and smarts is what sets her apart but she will not have things all her own way with the GIANTS goal keeper in Sam Poolman a real warrior. If the Vixens are to put up a worrying total they will need either Kaylia Stanton or Ruby Barkmeyer to up the ante and put up a couple more goals. But that is no easy feat with April Brandley in fine form out in goal defence for the GIANTS, with her closing speed and spatial awareness enabling her to win back a wealth of ball.

The real battle is going to be penetrating through the midcourt with Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Parmenter proving to be a damaging duo. Parmenter will be up against the likes of Hannah Mundy who despite finding her form in the past couple of weeks will have to bring her A-game to combat the constant niggle of the wing defence. Speaking of midcourt battles, Kate Eddy will have to employ her strong hands over pressure to upset Maddie Hay around circle edge who has proven she can deliver into both Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer with her eyes closed. It does not matter where she is in the attacking third, but Hay has an uncanny ability to sight either shooter and release pinpoint passes with the pair nine times out of 10 up to the task. The Vixens will be hoping that Jo Weston and Emily Mannix are able to offset the GIANTS goalers early with their one-on-one defence under the ring while Kadie-Ann Dehaney is another option if they need to win ball back given her long limbs and read of the play.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Wednesday, July 28 @ 6:30pm

The Sunshine Coast Lightning will need to secure a win against Adelaide Thunderbirds if they are to stay within striking distance of the top two on the letter. All eyes will turn to whether or not they are at full capacity given how many players went down in their previous outing while the Thunderbirds will be hoping to bounce back after a very disappointing performance.

Lightning fans and players alike will be hoping that Steph Wood is up and raring to go in this clash with the goal attack an integral part in the Lightning outfit with her class and silky movement, not only inside the ring but outside it, often dictating the way the game goes. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Laura Scherian is ready to take the court with the wing attack hitting the deck and forced to the sideline in her last game. But the Lightning will take full confidence in both Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia inside the ring with Koenen proving she is more than capable of playing extended minutes out in her non-preferred position of goal attack. However, the Lightning will have to be wary of the likes of Shamera Sterling with the goal keeper a real menace in the air for the Thunderbirds while Matilda Garrett is an unassuming goal defence able to niggle away at her opponent and create tips and deflections aplenty.

It is going to be a South African filled circle down with Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni for the Lightning and Lenize Potgieter for the Thunderbirds. The trio all know each other’s games exceptionally well meaning the likes of Maisie Nankivell and Hannah Petty will have to be creative upon delivery into the circle. But the Lightning are littered with classy midcourters as Kate Shimmin can play that negating wing defence role along with the likes of Mahalia Cassidy and Maddy McAuliffe. Youngster Georgie Horjus will be hoping to have more of an impact on the goal scoring front while Sam Gooden has proven to be an impact player when needed especially when the super shot is in play for the Thunderbirds.

Photo credit: Collingwood Magpies

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 11 and ANZ Premiership Round 14

ROUND 14 in the ANZ Premiership and 11 in the Suncorp Super Netball rolled around and it did not disappoint with a number of players racking up the stats. We take a look at some of the top performers across both leagues.

Goals:

Southern Steel goal shooter, George Fisher was accurate to post nailing 33 goals from 34 attempts, at an impressive 97 per cent accuracy. In fact it was the round of goal shooters as Caitlin Bassett impressed under the post with her 40 goals from 42 attempts, and Ellie Bird did enough to get the Tactix over the line with her 38 from 42 attempts at 91 per cent. Grace Nweke continued to top the table with a round high 52 goals from 61 attempts albeit at a slightly lower conversion rate than she would like at 85 per cent. It was a rough day at the office for Maia Wilson with the Stars captain only managing a mere 11 goals from 21 attempts at a lowly 52 per cent. But that did not stop Jamie Hume from stepping up to the plate nailing 30 from 38. Speaking of goal attacks Tiana Metuarau was as dominant ever for the Steel finishing with 13 goals and 14 goal assists. After a shaky start Te Amo Amaru-Tibble worked herself back into the contest with her 18 goals from 26 attempts as Te Paea Selby-Rickit finished with 10 from 17.

Accuracy proved to be no issue for Shimona Nelson with the Magpies goal shooter sitting at 100 per cent with 37 goals straight. Lenize Potgieter also shot at 100 per cent for the Thunderbirds nailing 26 goals while Jhaniele Fowler was hot on her tail with her 98 per cent accuracy but much higher volume thanks to her 57 goals from 58 attempts. Cara Koenen impressed playing out in goal attack managing 31 goals from 36 attempts as Peace Proscovia held her own in goal shooter with her 17 goals. Romelda Aiken shook off the yips early to nail 40 from 48, as Gretel Bueta imposed herself inside the circle with her 18 from 20 at 90 per cent, while also amassing 12 goal assists. The combination between Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer was on song once again as they shot 33 and 21 respectively with the latter converting at 91 per cent. They also combined for five super shots. For the Swifts, Sam Wallace was down on her accuracy sitting at 81 per cent but still managed to hit the scoreboard in a big way with her 39 goals. Mwai Kumwenda was once again the most dominant shooter for the Vixens scoring 33 from 37 at 89 per cent.

Midcourt:

Peta Toeava was up to her usual tricks for the Mystics amassing 24 goal assists and 17 centre pass receives in her sides win. Whitney Souness was also a commanding force for the Pulse with 24 goal assists and 27 centre pass receives of her own. Teammate Claire Kersten was her reliable self through the centre for the Pulse with her 18 goal assists as Maddy Gordon proved to be a ball magnet in wing defence with her three intercepts and two deflections. Sam Winders was a real maestro for the Magic racking up 19 goal assists as Grace Kara chimed in with 13. Erikana Pedersen found her groove for the Tactix coming on at quarter time with her 13 goal assists. For the Stars it was Gina Crampton that led the charge with her 22 goal assists as Shannon Saunders got busy for the Steel with her 17 goal assists.

West Coast Fever midcourter Verity Charles led all comers with her 27 goal assists as teammate Jess Anstiss chimed in with 15 of her own. The feeding was shared around in the Firebirds camp as Kim Ravaillion topped the table with 17 goal assists as Lara Dunkley managed 10. Paige Hadley was a commanding presence through the centre third racking up 17 goal assists while Maddy Proud found her groove in attack and defence with 11 goal assists and one intercept. Maddie Hay and Jamie-Lee Price were unstoppable for the GIANTS with the former amassing 19 goal assists. Teammate, Amy Parmenter fired on all cylinders in wing defence with eight deflections and two intercepts. Kelsey Browne was an energiser bunny for the Pies in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 17 goal assists, two deflections and an intercept as Molly Jovic also plied her trade in the Collingwood frontend with her 15 goal assists. Hannah Mundy continued to consolidate her form leading the way for the Vixens with 16 goal assists.

Defence:

Defensively Karin Burger starred for the Tactix as she racked up five intercepts, three deflections and two rebounds in what was an all-round stellar performance from the goal defence. Jane Watson showcased her read of the play racking up four deflections, while former teammate and current Magic goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau was amongst the thick of things with her six gains. Erena Mikaere utilised her long arms to rack up three deflections. Kelly Jury and Kelera Nawai combined for four gains and six deflections as Sulu Fitzpatrick impressed for the Mystics with her three gains. Goal keepers Taneisha Fifita and Anna Harrison imposed themselves racking up eight and seven gains apiece with the latter reeling in five intercepts credit to her go-go gadget arms.

Jodi-Ann Ward was once again at her best for the Magpies collecting nine gains, eight deflections and a couple of intercepts while Geva Mentor also showcased her class in goal keeper registering seven gains. The combination of Jo Weston and Emily Mannix was on full display as they combined for eight gains. Sarah Klau was a pillar of consistency for the Swifts recording four gains and six deflections as crosstown rival Sam Poolman was just as damaging for the GIANTS with her eight gains and four deflections. Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling impressed with her six deflections, two intercepts as Matilda Garrett got busy with her four deflections. Courtney Bruce got plenty of hands to ball finishing with four intercepts and two deflections as Sunday Aryang took advantage of her long limbs and closing speed to pick up five deflections and four gains. Kim Jenner and Rudi Ellis imposed themselves with a combined 10 deflections.

Photo credit: AAP

Firebirds take off despite missing pieces

QUEENSLAND Firebirds have kept their season and finals hopes live with a huge 10-goal win over Sunshine Coast Lightning to finish off Suncorp Super Netball Round 11, claiming a 59-49 victory and not relenting throughout a highly physical matchup. While the Firebirds were notably without key defender Tara Hinchliff and impact goaler Tippah Dwan, the side rallied in their absence to shake up the competition.

it was Gretel Bueta who drew first blood before Cara Koenen piled three straight goals on, with both sides providing plenty of dash and dare in both the front and back-ends early as pressurised defence from the midcourts made it a tough battle through the centre. Romelda Aiken had the early yips credit to the long arms of Phumza Maweni, missing a couple of chances but gobbling up her own rebounds while Steph Wood was forced off the court within the opening minutes after a fall stuck her on the sidelines and Peace Proscovia holding ground in goal shooter. Elsewhere, Laura Scherian was firing early, piling on the offensive pressure with her smooth feeds into the goal circle, while Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was front and centre with her defensive nous through the centre third paying off as she snatched an intercept. A couple of late – but justifiable – challenges from Rudi Ellis ensured the Firebirds goal keeper would be eyed off throughout the contest as she relished the extra court-time in Hinchliffe’s absence. But that did not seem to be an issue for the Lightning who held onto a lead for majority of the opening term, with Koenen sinking a super shot to finish the first on a high and claim an early two-goal lead (16-14).

Gabi Simpson fired up as the second quarter got going, making her intents clear as she snatched a critical intercept early to spur her side into action. But every time the Firebirds looked like they had a chance to pull away, the Lightning ensured it did not happen as they put their full-court athleticism to good use with Maddy McAuliffe and Mahalia Cassidy working hard to negate the workrate of Ravaillion and Lara Dunkley. While the Firebirds got showy, especially in the front-end, the Lightning ticked away at the scoreboard. Wood returned to the court out in wing attack, firing pinpoint passes into the circle, but defensively the firepower did not appear to be there as Aiken and Bueta gained confidence and appeared to lap the defensive pursuits of Maweni and Karla Pretorius. Accuracy was no issue for either team as Koenen worked in overdrive to defy Kim Jenner, with a couple late goals from Aiken sealing the deal as the two sides sat on 28 goals apiece at half-time.

A hug second half was set with both sides contesting hard and unwilling to give up the fight, but while it was Koenen who once again started off proceedings to post as the two teams went goal for goal, it was the Firebirds that managed a seven-goal run, credit to defensive pressure forcing a Proscovia miss. But a six-goal buffer did not seem to worry the Lightning too much as the physicality continued, with the combination of Maweni and Pretorius pulling off another excellent defensive get to ensure the Lightning piled some scoreboard pressure back on again. The Firebirds continued to do anything physically possible to win ball back as the Lightning threw up the bibs, with Kate Shimmin taking the court in wing defence for some fresh hands over pressure and Scherian moved to the bench for the remainder of the match. A couple of Bueta super shot attempts went astray, and a Proscovia super shot miss on the three-quarter time siren ensured the Firebirds headed into the last with a two goal buffer, leading 43-41.

A huge final term opened up as neither side relented, with the Firebirds piling on seven of the first 10 goals of the quarter to take a seven-goal lead. Defensively, the Firebirds fired up with Jenner in particular working her way into the game with a couple of gains, as Ravaillion continued to work in overdrive. An Aiken ankle roll could have turned the tides but the goal shooter remained on court, easing her way back into the contest as the Firebirds pulled out to  nine-goal lead. Misses started to pile up for the usually accurate Lightning goalers and it was a game of risk versus reward for Lightning as they turned to the super shot, but consecutive misses handed the Firebirds a 12-goal buffer with less than two minutes on the clock. Two more goals went the way of the Lightning as Pretorius stepped up defensively to finish things off, going down by 10 goals with their shaky 16-8 last quarter pulling the pin on what had been a tight game.

Despite registering eight misses, it was Aiken who led the charge with 40 goals at 83 per cent, as Bueta ticked along nicely with 18 goals from 20 attempts and 12 goal assists. Ravaillion (17 assists, two intercepts) was a livewire, while Simpson registered one goal assist from wing defence to go with her intercept and four pickups. Jenner and Ellis impressed combining for 10 deflections. For the Lightning, Koenen (31 from 36) and Proscovia (17 from 22) worked in overdrive while Scherian led the assists chart for the side with 10 despite only playing 28 minutes, with McAuliffe and Cassidy working hard to make up the lost offensive workrate with Wood also only playing 11 minutes total. McAuliffe (two intercepts) impressed defensively, as Pretorius (two intercepts, both in the final term) and Maweni (two gains) were tested all night.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS | 14 | 14 | 15 | 16 (59)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING | 16 | 12 | 13 | 8 (49)

STARTING SEVENS

Firebirds

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

Lightning

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

 

Picture credit: Jono Searle/Getty Images

2021 SSN: Round 11 – Head to Head

ROUND 11 of the Suncorp Super Netball rolls around with state rivalries at stake as the battle between the Sunshine Coast Lightning and Queensland Firebirds set to draw plenty of attention. The Lightning currently hold onto second spot on the ladder while the Firebirds are loitering in fifth, and all eyes will turn to the battle in the circle between Cara Koenen and Tara Hinchliffe.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. Queensland Firebirds
Cara Koenen (GS) vs. Tara Hinchliffe (GK)

The tussle under the post between Koenen and Hinchliffe is set to draw plenty of attention. Not overly comfortable with a wealth of physical pressure it will be intriguing to see how the Lightning goal shooter copes with the constant niggle from Hinchliffe.

There is no denying that Koenen is hitting her straps at the right part of the season, with the goal shooter putting out one of her best performances to-date last round. Her overall movement, smarts and composure allowed her to reign supreme and will need to bring that temperament into this clash. Koenen has impressed with her ability to hold the front space and then keep the defenders at bay with her strength and footwork. There is no denying that her bread and butter is along the goal-line given just how quickly and sneakily she is able to navigate her way around and command the ball. Koenen can play both a holding goal shooter role or can get on the move depending on what the side needs which gives the Lightning great flexibility in the front half. Most importantly the goal shooter is accurate to post and is always able to work her way into the contest credit to her high netball IQ. Koenen can also move out into goal attack to provide a different target and is not often overwhelmed by the occasion, instead she knuckles down and reaches into her bag of tricks to create space in attack. Her partnership with Steph Wood is another prominent aspect with the pair able to carve up the opposition defence with their speed on the pass and innate timing.

Although she does not receive a wealth of accolades for the work she does, Hinchliffe is a consistent figure for the Firebirds down in the defensive circle. She is able to burrow in and really antagonise her opposition shooter with her niggling style of play and persistent hustle. Hinchliffe loves to go up for the rebound and often uses her three-foot marking to create doubt over the shot thanks to her long reach. She is not afraid to attack the pocket ball and uses her long arms to wreak havoc time and time again such is her go-get it mentality. Her partnership with Kim Jenner has blossomed this season with the duo able to rotate the defensive structure in the circle and win ball back. Hinchliffe has really good footwork that allows her to manoeuvre around the body of her opposition and contest cleanly. The goal keeper has developed at a rate of knots this season and is more than capable of holding her own in one-on-one battles. She is deceptively quick and is not afraid to hedge her bets when deciding to go out hunting for an intercept. Although at times she can get caught up on the body, Hinchliffe has the smarts to adjust her game play to ensure she can have a profound impact for the full 60 minutes with her read of the play and anticipation allowing her to create deflections aplenty. Her connection with both Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion also allows her to help out in transition and play an integral role down in defence as the Firebirds can create a defensive wall.

Koenen is a real lynchpin for the Lightning and they need her up and about if they are any chance of beating the Firebirds. She is a smooth mover that can cleverly and cleanly move her way around the circle but does some of best work from directly under the post. Therefore for the Firebirds to cause an upset and create some real carnage, Hinchliffe will have to work in overdrive to push Koenen up nice and high in the circle and not allow her the backspace to drop into which she is so strong at. Hinchliffe will need a couple of early wins to get in the head of Koenen and mount that pressure to force held balls and uncharacteristic turnovers.

Photo credit: Jonathan DiMaggio

2021 SSN Preview: Round 11

IT has been a whirlwind 24 hours in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) with the COVID-19 restrictions throwing a spanner in the works and forcing wholesale fixture changes. South Australia will now form a hub with five of the eight clubs taking up residence with only the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning unable to enter the state and West Coast Fever fortunate to remain at home for the time being. Two consecutive losses from the Fever has kept the finals door ajar for the Firebirds while the GIANTS have re-kindled their winning ways.

Melbourne Vixens vs. Collingwood Magpies
Saturday, July 17 @1:00pm

The Melbourne Derby will once again be played outside of Victoria with the Melbourne Vixens taking on Collingwood. It has been a disappointing season for the Vixens while the Magpies have shown glimpses of magic but are just lacking that final level of finesse to really compete with the best in the competition.

The Vixens have found it incredibly difficult to penetrate in attack despite having the likes of Mwai Kumwenda at their disposal down in goal shooter. Neither Hannah Mundy or Kaylia Stanton have really been able to impose themselves week in week out which will allow the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward to really inflict some severe pain. Ward has been in scintillating form for the Magpies consistently getting hands to ball and combining nicely with stalwart and veteran Geva Mentor down in defence. Throw in the likes of Ash Brazill in wing defence and the Magpies may have the upper hand given just how quickly Brazill can change the course of a game with her dynamic movement and sheer athleticism.

Magpies fans will be hoping that Kelsey Browne returns to the court after missing last week with a concussion. Brown offers plenty of speed and excitement into this attacking unit headlined by Shimona Nelson in goal shooter and Gabby Sinclair out in goal attack. Molly Jovic is also another one that really relishes the presence of Browne out on court meaning that the Vixens will be hoping that Kate Moloney is able to combat that presence through the midcourt. Defensively the Vixens have been relatively strong with Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Kate Eddy all able to ply their trade but will need a full 60 minutes if they are to get over the top of Collingwood.

NSW Swifts vs. GIANTS Netball
Saturday, July 17 @3:00pm

The battle between NSW Swifts and the GIANTS is going to be an exciting one with both sides coming off big wins. The Swifts toppled the Vixens in what was a one-sided affair while the GIANTS monopolised the play against the Pies. This contest however will throw up another lot of challenges as the two sides need a win to really secure their spot in the top four.

Sam Wallace only played a half of netball last week but showcased just how much damage she can do shooting at 100 per cent with 33 goals to her name and will be eager to replicate that performance in this clash. The GIANTS defence will need to really unify if they are to stop the Swifts from scoring with Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin both viable options as well. The GIANTS will need to put on a full court defensive press to stop the ball from transitioning into the hands of either Wallace, Garbin or Housby given how accurate they are to post. April Brandley will be one to watch for the GIANTS with her quick feet and tenacity while Sam Poolman will have to really contest and body up on the likes of Wallace if they are to upset the Swifts frontend. The battle between Amy Parmenter and any number of Swifts midcourters in Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud or Nat Haythornthwaite will also garner plenty of attention given just how dynamic and integral they are to their respective sides.

Up the other end of the court Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer are proving to be a match made in heaven with the pair able to rotate seamlessly through the circle and most importantly attack the goals from just about anywhere in the circle. The two ooze nothing but confidence and smarts meaning both Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau will have to be on their A-game to shut down the space and go out hunting early to send some fear into the GIANTS attackers. Maddie Hay has been somewhat of an unsung hero for the GIANTS with her crafty court play while Jamie-Lee Price is just a pillar of consistency. But one thing is for sure and that is that the Swifts are littered with versatility in the form of Lauren Moore, Hadley and Tayla Fraser who can all push into wing defence.

West Coast Fever vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Saturday, July 17 @8:00pm

The Fever are coming into this clash off the back of two consecutive losses and will be hoping to change their fortunes against the Thunderbirds if they are to remain in the hunt for finals. While the competition has been moved to South Australia, the Thunderbirds will travel to Perth to play as one of the only traveling teams this round.

It is going to be a battle between the two Jamaican with Jhaniele Fowler holding down the fort for the Fever and Shamera Sterling tasked with stopping the goal shooting machine. Fowler has been nothing but consistent throughout her time in the SSN with her high volume and accuracy to post something to behold meaning the Thunderbirds defence in Sterling and Matilda Garrett are going to have their work cut out for them. Luckily enough the Thunderbirds have a couple of options in defence with Latanya Wilson and Shadine van der Merwe also able to ply their trade whether it be out in goal defence or in wing defence in order to stop the Fever. West Coast also have the options of Sasha Glasgow and Alice Teague-Neeld to create a moving circle if need be which we have seen in the past couple of rounds.

The midcourt for the Fever is the real engine room as they have the likes of Verity Charles, Jess Anstiss and Emma Cosh all able to effectively ply their trade while the Thunderbirds are littered with a lot more inexperienced players. Hannah Petty notched up her 50th game last weekend and will be eager to continue that leadership role through the centre while in the attacking end for the Thunderbirds it will be up to Lenize Potgieter to really steer the ship to combat that physical presence from Courtney Bruce, Sunday Aryang and Stacey Francis-Bayman. Potgieter will need Maisie Nankivell to be firing on all cylinders in wing attack to give the T’birds a chance to score with any form of fluidity.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. Queensland Firebirds
Monday, July 19 @7:00pm

The Lightning are at the top of their game at the moment with their clean and clinical style of netball coming to the fore on the other hand the Firebirds have just lacked that consistency and four quarter ability to really grind out games. It is arguably a do or die clash for the Firebirds if they are hoping to make finals while Sunshine Coast are hoping to build some real momentum to solidify their standings in the top four.

There is no denying that the partnership between Cara Koenen and Steph Wood is one of the most damaging duos out on court and the pair found their groove well and truly last week. Given just how prolific the pair are to post it will be up to Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe to put in the ground work and upset the Lightning frontend with their constant niggle and physicality under the post. In fact if the Firebirds are any chance to win they will need a full court defence to stop the ball from firing into Koenen with Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion likely to apply that strong hands over pressure through the midcourt.

All eyes will turn to the battle between Phumza Maweni and Romelda Aiken with both players barometers for their respective sides. Aiken is the tall timber under the post for the Firebirds and she plays some of her best netball when Gretel Bueta is up and about with the goal attack a real livewire credit to her athleticism and smarts. Maweni on the other hand is a real ball winner and can change the course of a game within an instant credit to her aerial ability and long limbs. Maweni and Karla Pretorius have been impressive throughout this season with the pair renowned for their ball winning ways and will need to stop the shooter to shooter connection if they are to upset Queensland. The Firebirds also have a great level of depth through the wing attack role with Jemma Mi Mi and Lara Dunkley viable options as for the Lightning they have Laura Scherian, Maddy McAuliffe and Mahalia Cassidy who are able to lead the charge.

Photo credit: Jason McCawley

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 10 and ANZ Premiership Round 13

IT was another action packed round of Suncorp Super Netball and ANZ Premiership with both competitions playing host to a number of surprise upsets with lower placed teams toppling their higher ranked opponents. We delve into the individual statistical performance of a couple of key cogs across the two leagues.

GOALS

It was dominant shooting display from Ellie Bird with the Mainland Tactix goal shooter slotting an impressive 44 goals from 45 attempts, with her only miss coming in the early stages of the first term. Grace Nweke was another tall timber that fired on all cylinders in Round 13 putting up a round high 50 goals from 57 attempts at 88 per cent accuracy. In terms of accuracy and volume, Aliyah Dunn skyrocketed up the rankings with her 41 goals from 44 attempts in the Pulse’s first win in five games, while George Fisher was back to her best slotting 39 goals from 41 attempts. Partner in crime Tiana Metuarau was also strong to post credit to her 22 goals at 85 per cent, as Magic shooter Khiarna Williams slotted 20 goals from 23 attempts at 87 per cent. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble was in fine form for the Pulse nailing 14 goals while Jamie Hume was consistent for the Stars with her 15 goals from 20 attempts. Although it was not the most accurate shooting performance from Te Paea Selby-Rickit only converting at 57 per cent it was her goal assists that shone recording 30 for the game.

There were a couple of shooters in the SSN that managed to get through the round with an unblemished record as Sam Wallace slotted 33 from 33 and West Coast Fever star Jhaniele Fowler managed 45 straight. Lenize Potgieter was almost a member of the 100 per cent group finishing with 37 goals from 38 attempts at 97 per cent while Gretel Bueta only missed the solitary shot with her 13 from 14 goal performance. Cara Koenen was also in scintillating form for the Lightning slotting 43 from 48 at 90 per cent as Steph Wood also stepped up to the plate nailing 19 goals from 21 attempts while also registering 18 goal assists. Mwai Kumwenda was once again the go to girl for the Melbourne Vixens recording 31 goal with a whopping eight super shots to her name. Firebirds pair Romelda Aiken was high on volume but down on accuracy managing 42 goals at 79 per cent as Shimona Nelson put up 37 goals from 44 attempts. The combination of Sophie Dwyer and Jo Harten was on full display as the pair managed 31 and 24 goals piece.

MIDCOURT

Through the midcourt it was Whitney Souness that led the charge with her 23 goal assists and work at the centre pass to rack up 26 centre pass receives. Peta Toeava was somewhat down on her lofty standards but still managed to record 22 goal assists while also picking up an intercept while Steel stalwart Shannon Saunders also impressed with her 22 goal assists and two intercepts. Renee Savai’inaea was in fine form collecting three gains, two of which were intercepts along with two deflections. Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan shared the load in attack for the Stars with 16 and 15 goal assists respectively. Sam Winders was crafty with ball in hand for the Magic racking up 16 goal assists and collecting an intercept while Tayla Earle was influential credit to her 17 goal assists and intercept.

Maddie Hay was a real livewire out in wing attack for the GIANTS with her 23 goal assists, two intercepts and two deflections. Fellow GIANTS representative Amy Parmenter had a real pep in her step racking up four deflections and two intercepts. Kim Ravaillion continued her hot form with 19 goal assists, three intercepts and two deflections to keep the Firebirds motoring along while in her 50th game Hannah Petty upped the ante with her 20 goal assists and three deflections. Verity Charles controlled proceedings for the Fever with her 24 goal assists and intercept while in the Lightning camp it was speedster Laura Scherian that seemed to have the ball on a string racking up 11 goal assists and two deflections. teammate Mahalia Cassidy also hit her straps in the win amassing 10 goal assists, two intercepts and deflection. Maddy Proud’s season only continues to get better as the NSW Swifts centre recorded 19 goal assists and an intercept as Tayla Fraser plied her trade in wing defence collecting two deflections. Hannah Mundy led the charge for the Vixens topping the table with her 10 goal assists.

DEFENCE

It is hard to go past the performances of Jane Watson and Karin Burger with the two defenders working in overdrive and gathering the stats to prove it. Watson amassed 10 gains in her outing on the weekend including two intercepts along with three deflections. burger took things up another notch with her 12 gains including five intercepts, five rebounds and four deflections. Anna Harrison was a ball magnet in defence collecting eight gains, four intercepts and six deflections as teammate Elle Temu chimed in with five gains and four intercepts. Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick was a force to be reckoned with down back with her four gains and two intercepts as Kate Burley recorded one intercept and four deflections. Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury combined for six gains and six deflections in the Pulse’s win.

Defensively it is hard to go past the services of Sarah Klau who had a hand in just about everything with her 11 gains and 11 deflections. Fellow goal keeper Courtney Bruce collecting three intercepts and six deflections as Lightning defender Phumza Maweni was on fire with her two intercepts and two deflections. Partner in crime Karla Pretorius was also influential with her four deflections and two gains. Firebirds power duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe were back to their usual tricks with a combined six gains and nine deflections highlighting their defensive nous. Shamera Sterling was down on her lofty standards but still managed three intercepts and six deflections as fellow Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward had a standout performance for the Magpies with her 10 gains including a staggering six intercepts and four deflections.

Photo credit: Paul Kane/Getty images

Five things we learnt: Round 10

ROUND 10 of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) action produced intriguing results across the board, as four huge clashes took the court including another upset over the West Coast Fever, and a slow start from the Melbourne Vixens. In this series, Draft Central will look at five key learnings from the round whether it be consistent themes or standout performances.

Milestones aplenty paving the way

The SSN is arguably the best competition in the world with so many formidable figures across the league and continuous milestones being celebrated. With no less than five milestones celebrated this round alone – 50 national league matches for Tara HinchliffeCara KoenenMahalia Cassidy and Hannah Petty and 200 national league matches for Geva Mentor – the competition for spots has never been greater, with plenty of talent in each team’s back pocket. For the four Australians who celebrated milestones this round, it is a testament to their consistency and form against some of the greatest international talent worldwide to earn 50 caps at the national level. Meanwhile, there is no arguing what a player like Mentor has done for the sport, with the English international’s milestone coinciding with her 20-year international debut for the Roses and 20 years of paving the way for young players across the world. With plenty of milestones already passed this season and plenty still likely to come, there is no doubting the impact the aforementioned players have made, with two captains – Mentor and Petty – and a co-captain – Hinchliffe – amongst the group, and leading the way.

Are the Fever in a slump or has their formula been figured out?

With a second straight loss going the Fever’s way on the weekend, it begs the question of whether the side is simply in a slump of form following a high-power start to the season, or whether it is more sinister than that, with the alternative that their winning formula has been figured out. While this loss could simply be one or the other, it could also well be a combination of the two as they remain in fourth on the ladder. Either way, it is safe to say that the side did not look quite as confident as usual against the Sunshine Coast Lightning this week, despite dominating the head-to-head in recent seasons, with a number of players failing to fire under pressure and Stacey Marinkovich forced to show her cards once more with a moving circle to finish. Both the NSW Swifts and Lightning have been in fine form over the past few rounds and show no signs of slowing, but the Fever have been hugely reliable and tricky to overcome this season, meaning that the winning formula could well be there for the taking. Realistically, the Fever have every chance of making it to the grand final if they can continue their early season form when they left no prisoners, but they are certainly the hunted right now.

The difference between the top and bottom sides grows every week

While it is safe to say that there are front-runners in every SSN season, there is no doubt this season that there is a much greater difference between the top and bottom ends. Whether it is looking at the scoreline, quality of games or even statistics, there is a stark comparison with only a couple of upsets breaking up fairly predictable results. At this point in time, it is safe to say that the top sides are Swifts, Lightning and Fever, with GIANTS and Firebirds making up the very small middle ground, and the Vixens, Thunderbirds and Magpies labouring away at the bottom. While all eight teams boast plenty of firepower all across the court, it is becoming easier and easier to anticipate which teams will win each round, and bar a couple of shock upsets it is clear which sides are still in the rebuild phase. Unfortunately, with three teams – Vixens, Magpies and Thunderbirds – still realistically rebuilding and Firebirds in the recovery period of their rebuild a few seasons ago, these four sides are not viable finalists; even if the Firebirds make finals their consistency has left a lot to be desired this season.

Vixens still lack winning mentality

There is no doubt when looking at the Vixens’ list, there is talent in droves across the court despite their struggles on game day. But that in itself is where lies the issue – the talent is there, but the hunt is lacking, with an inexperienced front-end failing to fire when required. The defensive effort has not skipped a beat from 2020 with Jo Weston, Emily Mannix and Kadie-Ann Dehaney combining better than ever, and Kate Moloney leading the charge up the court with the long arm brigade in tow, but there just seems to be no bite in the front-end. While Mwai Kumwenda is an incredibly dangerous goaler, her accuracy and ability to pile on the scoreboard pressure is nothing without ample feeds and a goal attack drawing attention and wreaking havoc out the front. While it is safe to say that Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkmeyer are both fighting for that starting position and offer very different roles in goal attack, neither is quite able to do what they need to – or Kumwenda needs them to do – to work the Malawian sharpshooter into the game. With only two wins under their belt this season the Vixens are not playing like winners or looking like winners, and need to redeem that soon if they want to ensure they do not finish the season with the wooden spoon.

Who will finish at the top of the ladder? 

Just four rounds remain for a season 2021, and while it is becoming very clear that at least three of the top four spots are sewn up now, top spot is where the real question lies. While the Swifts currently hold top spot with Lightning, GIANTS and Fever narrowly in tow, home court advantage could become crucial as sides look to generate some momentum heading into finals. Three teams sit on seven wins with just GIANTS trailing on six, and still two wins ahead of the Firebirds in fifth, while the Fever still have a game in the bank, meaning there is still plenty that could change in the coming weeks. Fever still hold the best ladder percentage (113.7 per cent) despite sitting on 16 points alongside the Firebirds, meaning if they can finish off the remainder of the season successfully they should not have any issue making finals even if the Firebirds edge closer to contention, while realistically it will be either Swifts or Lightning that takes top spot with the form of the GIANTS just not quite hitting the mark as we get down to the nitty-gritty point of the season.

 

Picture credit: Collingwood Magpies Netball

Lightning strikes against Fever

WEST Coast Fever were handed their second consecutive loss last night in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) going down to Sunshine Coast Lightning by four goals (65-61). It was a complete turnaround from the Lightning who suffered a surprise loss last round to the Vixens but came out with a renewed sense of passion and determination against the Fever.

Verity Charles got things underway with a quick centre pass before Jhaniele Fowler delivered the goods under the post. Cara Koenen dipped into her bag of tricks to use her fancy footwork to evade the body of Courtney Bruce to level the scores. It was turning into a goal for goal slog early before a miss-directed pass from Alice Teague-Neeld gifted possession back to the Lightning  as Karla Pretorius pounced and sent the ball down the other end. The visitors skipped out to a handy two =-goal lead with Koenen and Steph Wood combining nicely to find space. Teague-Neeld came up with a huge deflection before Maddy McAuliffe replicated the same thing for the Lighting. It was turnover central for both sides as the ball continued to change hands.

A timeout was called with just over six minutes left to play with the Lightning employing some really patient play in attack. Laura Scherian was proving to be a maestro in wing attack, working the circle with great ease and receiving just about every second pass. Sunshine Coast pushed out to a five-goal margin but with the super shot period in play, Teague-Neeld pegged the margin back for her side. Bruce came to life with a nicely timed intercept as the Fever levelled the scores with less than two minutes on the clock. A quickfire goal from Koenen right on the buzzer gave them the upper hand heading into quarter time.

The intensity was up nice and early for both sides as the two sides went back and forth trading blows. The Lightning continued to find ways to goal with Koenen utilising her footwork and baseline drive to keep Bruce at bay while Stacey Francis-Bayman was struggling to combat the playmaking skills of Wood. Charles started to increase her workload to find Fowler under the post as the Fever plugged away at the scoreboard to stay within striking distance. A breaking call against Wood gifted possession to the Fever and within a matter of moments the Fever were level once again at 25 goals apiece.

The speed from the Lighting started to cause issues in attack but any time they got any form of control the Fever hit back. Francis-Bayman sent the crowd into raptures with a huge intercept while Teague-Neeld slotted a huge super shot to cap off a stellar 30 seconds of play. Sunday Aryang rolled on in goal defence as the Fever put the foot down to create a three-goal lead. But just as you would expect the Lightning came up big in defence with Phumza Maweni and Pretorius combining to get hands to ball and send it into attack.

With scores tied up at half-time the Fever made a couple of changes with Jess Anstiss pushing into centre and forcing Charles into wing attack to replace Emma Cosh. Fever were not the only ones who re-jigged their midcourt with McAuliffe slotting into wing defence and Mahalia Cassidy swinging into centre. Neither side broke stride when in attack, hitting the scoreboard with great ease as Koenen impressed inside the circle as Teague-Neeld paved the way for the Fever given Fowler was double-teamed. Scherian and Koenen were playing with an overwhelming sense of confidence while up the other end Maweni impressed with her aerial commitment. Aryang showed wisdom beyond her years for the Fever following up her deflection to keep West Coast’s noses just in front.

Looking for a way to combat Koenen on the baseline, the Fever pushed Aryang back into goal keeper but it did not faze the shooter. There were super shots aplenty with Wood showcasing her range and accuracy to create a five-goal buffer. Sasha Glasgow entered the fray for the Fever but took a while to work her way into the game as Pretorius made her pay.

Up by six at three quarter time the Lightning continued to play their patient approach in attack to craft the ball into the goal circle as Wood extended the lead to seven. A couple of big defensive wins looked to inspire the Fever but uncharacteristic errors forced them to cough the ball up. The Lightning frontend was humming along nicely establishing a nine-goal lead while defensively the visitors were forcing West Coast to work in overdrive. After a quiet three quarters Bruce came to life as the Fever swindled the margin to six goals but the Lightning kept their cool. Sunshine Coast just played the clock down unfazed by the defensive pressure applied despite some big super shots to ride it home and win.

Koenen was in strong form for the Lightning sinking 44 goals from 48 attempts at 92 per cent accuracy as partner in crime, Wood also showed her class to finish with 16 goals and 17 goal assists. Scherian had speed to burn with her 13 goal assists while defensively Maweni and Pretorius were up to their ball winning ways with a combined six gains and four deflections. Fowler was sensational as usual sitting at 100 per cent thanks to her 44 goals straight while Teague-Neeld managed 10 from 13 plus 16 goal assists. Charles was the one with the hot hand for the Fever amassing 25 goal assists while down back it was the efforts of Bruce that stood out as the captain racked up three intercepts and six deflections.

 

WEST COAST FEVER 16 | 17 | 14 | 14 (61)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 17 | 16 | 20 | 12 (65)

STARTING SEVEN: 

Fever:

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

Lightning:

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

Photo credit: Paul Kane