Tag: chelsea pitman

2020 SSN: Season preview- Adelaide Thunderbirds

AFTER an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season is set to commence on August 1. Draft Central takes a look at each team, starting off with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. 

Coach: Tania Obst
Captain: Layla Guscoth and Chelsea Pitman
2019 finish: 7th 

Breaking their 27 game losing streak in Round 1 against the Fever last year, the Thunderbirds seemed to uncover a new lease on life attacking the ball with intensity. Unfortunately they could not maintain that style of play throughout the season only notching up two more wins. Riddled with injuries, England Roses midcourter Beth Cobden was ruled out early with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and co-captain Layla Guscoth missed the second half of the season after rupturing her Achilles. Sasha Glasgow also went down late in the season with an ACL topping off what had been a trying season for the Thunderbirds. They will be keen to put that to bed in 2020 and put their foot down. Adelaide well and truly proved they have the defensive firepower to change the course of the game, something they will be hoping to build on this season to register more wins. 

2020 predictions/expectations:

With the key loss and retirement of long bomb specialist Maria Folau and uncertainty surrounding Glasgow’s return the Thunderbirds shooting end oozes plenty of youth and inexperience when it comes to connections. Welcoming quickfire goal shooter and Spar Proteas star Lenize Potgieter the Thunderbirds attack will rely heavily on her to deliver while the likes of Samantha Gooden and Charlee Hodges will also have a challenge on their hands stepping into a new-look side. The midcourt remains relatively unchanged with Chelsea Pitman the key through the attacking third with her clever ball placement, speed on the pass, strong circle edge positioning and vision into the circle. Her output will be key to ensuring the goalers get good access. Defensively Adelaide are littered with ball winners, none bigger than Shamera Sterling. The Jamaican goal keeper took the competition by storm last year, using her long arms, speed off the mark and pressure over the shot to win ball back and cause havoc. The versatility of Kate Shimmin also worked wonders for the Thunderbirds while Shadine van der Merwe also slotted into the team seamlessly with her hands over pressure and strength to swing into circle defence or wing defence. The return of Guscoth will also be huge for the Thunderbirds with the England Roses representative able to have an impact with her calming nature, skill to win ball back and tagging style of play. 

Key player to watch:

New to the Thunderbirds this season, Potgieter is a real playmaker and staple hold under the post for any team. She is quick on her feet, able to change up the angles in an instant and more importantly score quickly and accurately. Having played with the Steel in the ANZ Premiership last season and spending time with the Queensland Firebirds midseason the Proteas goal shooter is well aware of what it takes to perform at SSN level. She is unfazed by the physical nature of the game, instead relying on her strong holds, baseline drives and range to do all the talking. She is an exciting prospect for the Thunderbirds this season given it will be her first full SSN season and has proven time and time again on the international stage that she is a true competitor, able to read the play and command the ball. 

Team list:

Sasha Glasgow
Samantha Gooden
Layla Guscoth
Charlee Hodges
Maisie Nankivell
Hannah Petty
Chelsea Pitman
Lenize Potgieter
Kate Shimmin
Shamera Sterling
Shadine van der Merwe

Fantasy Team: AUS/NZ v. Rest of the world

THERE is no shortage of talent across the netball world with stars hailing from a range of different countries. Draft Central has created two teams, one comprised of players from Australia and New Zealand the other made up of netballers from around the globe.

Australia/New Zealand:

GK: Jane Watson
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Laura Langman
WA: Liz Watson
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Gretel Bueta, Gina Crampton, Jo Weston

Starting in the defensive third it is hard to go past the tried and tested duo of Jane Watson and Katrina Rore. Watson has come along in leaps and bounds with her pressure over the shot, speed off the mark and impressive leap causing all sorts of havoc down back. Throw in the experience and class of Rore and the defensive unit is one to be envious of. Rore is electric, nimble on her feet and has proven to be a real barometer for any team, able to create tips and deflections time and time again.

The midcourt is littered with highly athletic netballers able to run all day and constantly do the unthinkable. Starting in wing defence is Ash Brazill, with the Diamonds midcourter renowned for her aerial ability and flashy style of play. Brazill can create plenty of turnover ball and has a high endurance to run toe to toe with her opponent all game. It is no surprise that the centre bib goes to Silver Ferns and netball legend Laura Langman. With experience to boot, speed off the mark, explosiveness and undeniable netball smarts Langman is one of the most exciting midcourters to take the court. She can single handedly turn the game on its head with a perfectly timed intercept or a pin-point pass into the circle. Diamond, Liz Watson takes out the wing attack position with the speedy centre court player strong around circle edge. Her vision is second to none and is constantly two moves ahead of her opponent such is netball understanding. Watson oozes class, dynamism and precision able to deliver the ball into the goalers with great ease.

The goal circle is headlined by two impressive shooters with Ferns goal attack, Ameliaranne Ekenasio getting the nod. Ekenasio is a smooth mover that glides across the court and is a real playmaker in the attacking third. She backs herself from range, able to shoot from anywhere in the circle and uses her quick footwork to reposition in the goal circle. In at goal shooter is Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler renowned for her strong holds and high volume. Her positioning under the post is impressive able to ward off defenders with her angles and footwork, while also making the most of her long limbs to reel in passes going over the baseline.

The experience and class does not stop there with Gretel Bueta unlucky not to get the start but earning a spot on the bench, while versatile attacker Gina Crampton also earned herself a spot. The final place goes to Diamonds’ Jo Weston given her defensive pressure.

Rest of the world:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Vangelee Williams
C: Serena Guthrie
WA: Bongi Msomi
GA: Helen Housby
GS: Sam Wallace

BENCH:  Lenize Potgieter, Chelsea Pitman, Shamera Sterling,

Kicking things off down in goal keeper is England Roses and netball veteran, Geva Mentor. The highly talented defender is nothing but class with her silky footwork, lean over the shot and skill to pick off passes entering the defensive third. She is deceptively quick and applies a wealth of pressure. Pairing with Mentor is Spar Proteas goal defence Karla Pretorius. The South African defender is in a league of her own with her speed off the mark and uncanny ability to reel in intercepts. She is simply unstoppable when on song, causing all sorts of havoc down back with her menacing style of play, quick footwork and long arms to force turnovers and propel the ball back down the court.

Through the midcourt Jamaican defender Vangelee Williams gets the nod at wing defence. She is a highly versatile player that can drop back into circle defence when needed but has an impressive skillset around the circle edge credit to her balance and netball smarts. Meanwhile, t is hard to go past England Roses midcourter, Serena Guthrie in centre. Guthrie is a running machine that just keeps on going, throwing herself at everything that comes her way. She has speed to boot and while she is more defensively minded can apply plenty of attacking pressure with her well-weighted passes into the goal circle. The 30-year-old is a key cog for any side able to provide that steadying presence and spark up when needed. In at wing attack is South African speedster Bongi Msomi, with the nippy midcourter able to dart around the court and create space in the attacking third. Msomi has lightning quick hands, able to fire off passes into the circle and is strong around the circle edge despite her slight frame.

The goal attack position goes to the cool, calm and collected Helen Housby. The Roses shooter is hardly ever frazzled and can shoot from anywhere in the circle, given her impressive range and accuracy to post. She is quick on her feet and is not afraid to take the hard drive into the circle to receive the ball. Her pairing with Trinidad and Tobago goaler, Sam Wallace is highly impressive with the two able to seamlessly move in the circle and create plays. Wallace is arguably one of the most laidback and underrated shooters and uses that to her full advantage, getting up to the high balls with ease while also putting up a wealth of shots.

Rounding out the team is South African and unconventional shooter, Lenize Potgieter along with Roses midcourter Chelsea Pitman and Jamaican excitement machine Shamera Sterling.

Who would win?

Both teams are packed with plenty of x-factor, however given that Australia and New Zealand sit one and two on the rankings it is fair to assume they might have the upper hand. The experience of Langman, Rore and Bassett in each third will help give the Diamonds/Ferns team that competitive edge over the rest of the world while their strength through the midcourt is also another key indicator.

Memorable Matches: Roses make history with 2018 Commonwealth Games gold

WITH netball taking a back seat to the coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is England’s inaugural Commonwealth Games gold, defeating Australia by one goal on home soil in 2018.

A memorable match for many Aussies – and not in a good way, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal match was one for the ages as England quite literally pipped Australia at the post to reign supreme. While Australia led the competition in majority of the stats, this was England’s opportunity to topple to Diamonds for the first time and they were not about to let their greatest gold medal chance slip away. England may have been the underdogs, playing in their first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal match, but it was that goal which saw the Roses turn it out on Australian soil.

With ultimately one of the greatest lineups England has ever hand – perhaps only rivalled by their current list – they were just too strong for the overconfident Diamonds who faltered at the final hurdle and could not compete with the tenacious Roses when it came down to the nitty-gritty. For the Diamonds, the match came down to extensive rotations which the side had dealt with throughout the entire tournament. The Roses however came in with a different mindset, only rotating as they saw fit and able to form a consistent barrier against the formidable Aussies. 

It was an even start by both teams, with neither team really able to find much momentum such was the impact all 14 players were having on court. The two sides were evenly matched with both goal keepers in Laura Geitz and Geva Mentor forming tough barriers in their respective circles. Mentor racked up a whopping 12 gains throughout the match, putting on a clinic with her cleanliness and the ease with which she found the ball, using goal shooter Caitlin Bassett’s consistency against her. Geitz and April Brandley were solid as ever, fairly clean in their defence and finding plenty of loose ball. 

While Australia started out clean, not finding much whistle, the two sides evened up as the match went on, seeing the Roses clean up their act and forcing errors from the Diamonds who seemed out of sorts with the closeness of the game – which saw both teams even at 25 goals apiece at half-time. Liz Watson entered the game to take on the likes of Serena Guthrie, providing some real gut-running against the star centre. While it took some pressure off the attack with Watson’s quick hands doing wonders, Guthrie’s overall athleticism is tough to overcome while her immense endurance saw the midcourter continue to ply her trade and propel the ball back up the court.

The Diamonds got back into the groove in the third but while they had the goals on the board, the side seemed out of sorts thanks to the constant pressure applied down the court from the Roses. That being said, Australia’s full court defensive pressure impressed with just the four goalers not picking up gains – but it was the constant changing of goalers that seemed to work in England’s favour.

For the Roses, there were little changes throughout, with only some small impact options taking the court to ply their trade. Goalers, Jo Harten and Helen Housby were consistent from the start and had a couple of patches where their defenders were on top, namely the beginning of the first and third quarters thanks to Australia’s rotation for fresh feet in Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston, but ultimately continued to ply their trade and coming into the final quarter were well aware of what had to be done to win the game despite a slower third term.

Full credit has to be given to England’s final quarter effort, shooting 16 goals to overcome Australia’s three quarter time lead and forcing error upon error from the Diamonds. England was just much cleaner with ball in hand, treasuring possession where Australia seemed to throw away far more ball than their typical game. Australia all but fell apart in the final term, collecting a whopping 25 penalties – 22 contacts – compared to England’s 10 overall. When you compare that number to Australia’s seven penalties overall in the first quarter, it’s hard to not think of what could have been if the consistency had remained from the beginning to end.

It was a goal on the buzzer from Housby which cemented the win for England, making history as the Roses collected their first Commonwealth gold, well and truly earning the win against the reigning champions, 52-51. At the post, Harten topscored with 34 goals at 87 per cent accuracy, while Bassett was not quite as influential with 22 goals from 24 attempts – though she did miss out on the third quarter. Housby came in next with 18 goals while Steph Wood and Susan Pettitt shot 12 and 11 goals respectively to provide another option in the circle. 

The consistency of Gabi Simpson was impressive, with the athletic midcourt defender the only Aussie to play out the full 60 minutes. Simpson used every inch of her pressure to impact on the Roses’ ability to find the goal circle, impeding former Australian representative Chelsea Pitman from finding avenues to the ring and providing impressive speed and pressure up the court. Pitman racked up 18 goal assists from 28 feeds, while Watson was not far behind with 17 assists from 27, only having played the three quarters. Geitz racked up five gains in her half on court and was well and truly missed in the final quarter, while Simpson’s consistency and pressure saw her collect four gains and Guthrie three with her threatening speed.

AUSTRALIA 14 | 11 | 13 | 13 (51)
ENGLAND 13 | 12 | 11 | 16 (52)

Australia

GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Susan Pettitt
WA: Madi Robinson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: April Brandley
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Caitlin Thwaites, Courtney Bruce, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Steph Wood
COACH: Lisa Alexander

England

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Beth Cobden
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Ama Agbeze, Nat Haythorthwaite, Jodie Gibson, Jade Clarke, Kadeen Corbin
COACH: Tracey Neville

SHOOTING STATS

Australia

Caitlin Bassett 22/24
Steph Wood 12/14
Susan Pettitt 11/12
Caitlin Thwaites 6/6

England

Jo Harten 34/39
Helen Housby 18/21

Top 20 players over 30: #15 Chelsea Pitman

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming up next at number 15 is Australian Diamond-turned-England Rose, Chelsea Pitman.

A leader at the Adelaide Thunderbirds and a quality midcourter for the Roses, Pitman is a crafty and creative offensive option for England. A clean and deadly wing attack when she is on song, Pitman forms a crucial cog in attack with an ability to jump into the circle if required, but has really honed her craft on circle edge. While the Roses typically have versatile players who can rotate through every position, Pitman is one of the few who plays wing attack and sticks to it, having the ability to adapt to her opposition and create a formidable attacker with her speed off the mark, game smarts and clean movement. While Pitman started her international journey with Australia, the New South Wales born wing attack has dual citizenship and by this point has played a significant part of her international career with the Roses, including the Commonwealth Games gold medal against her home nation.

With quick footwork and circle work to boot, Pitman has an innate ability to read the play and always be a few steps ahead, creating a tough option on circle edge thanks to her tenacity to find the ball and ability to all but serve it on a silver platter to her goalers. Pitman can have a major impact in a short time thanks to her precision and pin-point accuracy, able to manoeuvre around her defender with ease and use her quick hands to fire passes into the circle left, right and centre.

While Pitman is a predominantly offensive player, she can apply pressure with her excellent hands-over and three foot marking through the midcourt, shadowing her player to force them into crowded space and adapt well to the defensive mindset. Her ability to adapt does not only go for her transition to defence, but also her ability to work with her fellow attackers and defenders to form a crucial blockage through the centre third, filling in the holes that her more defensive-minded midcourters such as Serena Guthrie and Jade Clarke would not have so readily at their disposal.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

Top 15 SSN training partners: #2 Beth Cobden

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. Coming in at number two is injured Adelaide Thunderbirds and England Roses midcourter, Beth Cobden. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

While a somewhat contentious and questionable player to not make the top of the list given she has international caps with the Roses, Cobden is only a training partner while she is currently down and out of the squad with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, the likelihood of her making the cut earlier in the Super Netball season is questionable because she is still going through rehabilitation. However, the aim with Cobden being a training partner is to enable her to work back up to match fitness through the Australian Netball League (ANL), which could see her return to the fray at some point during the season. 

A highly talented defensive midcourter, Cobden’s speed and agility allows her to impact both on and off the ball, using her lithe frame and tactical mindset to create plays down the court. With plenty of experience behind her, the 27-year-old midcourter can dominate by shutting down her attacker, not always playing the obvious game by intercepting and deflecting but instead using her body work to block easy drives.

With plenty of versatility to rotate through the midcourt, Cobden is just about a shoe-in to make it onto the Super Netball stage once more in 2020 if a position opens up, able to have an impact in any midcourt position thanks to her clever read of the play and ability to transition between attacking and defensive mindsets.

Thanks to solid Roses partnerships across the court – namely Chelsea Pitman through the midcourt and Layla Guscoth and Kate Shimmin in defence – not to mention Cobden played and trained with the Thunderbirds before she went down to injury last year, Cobden will well and truly slot right into the side if she is required.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

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

Netball fantasy teams: West Coast Fever All-Stars v. Adelaide Thunderbirds All-Stars

THE West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds have a highly decorated history with both clubs boasting a long line of a-class players since their inception. Draft Central has comprised two All-Star teams filled with past and present players.

West Coast Fever:

GK: Courtney Bruce
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Shae Brown
WA: Madi Browne
GA: Nat Medhurst
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Jhaniele Fowler, Stacey Marinkovich, Ama Agbeze

Although they have not tasted a lot of success throughout their time in both the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball, the West Coast Fever has been home to a wealth of highly talented netballers both from an Australian and international perspective. When it comes to the goal circle the Fever have been littered with stars none bigger than Australian Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett. The towering goal shooter really made a name for herself under the post for the Fever with her strong holds, lanky arms and volume. Her connection with teammate and fellow former Diamond Nat Medhurst was near on unstoppable. Medhurst was the real playmaker inside the attacking third with her impressive balance, vision and ability to think two steps ahead of her opponents. While she did not put up a high amount of goals it was her off the ball work that made her such a damaging player.

Moving into wing attack is Madi Browne. The speedy centre court player oozes strength and excellent ball handling skills to deliver the ball with precision to the goalers. Shae Brown was a key contributor for the Fever, spending almost ten years at the club using her energiser bunny speed to dart around the court and cause havoc. The centre proved that she could run all day and was not afraid to put in the hard yards taking the strong drive to the top of the goal circle. It is no surprise that wing defence come centre Ash Brazill gets the start in the All-Star Fever team given her sheer athleticism, speed off the mark and ability to make something out of nothing. Brazill quickly developed into one of the most influential players with her defensive pressure constantly on show and desperation to attack the ball.

Down in defence is England Roses goal defence Eboni Usoro-Brown who is renowned for her body on body pressure, physicality under the post and ability to pick off intercepts. She is light on her feet and uses her long arms to cause confusion for the feeders looking into the circle. Current captain and Diamonds keeper, Courtney Bruce takes out the goal keeper position thanks to her tenacity and impressive leap. She does not take a backwards step on the court, consistently looking to take on the physical tussle and use her quick footwork to get around the body of her opponents and force tips and turnovers.

Rounding out the team is Jamaican shooting powerhouse Jhaniele Fowler along with former England Roses captain Ama Agbeze, while coach and former midcourter Stacey Marinkovich also earned herself a spot on the All-Star team.

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GK: Sharni Layton
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natalie Bode (nee von Bertouch)
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Erin Bell
GS: Maria Folau

BENCH: Carla Borrego, Maddy Proud, Rebecca Bulley

Over the years the Adelaide Thunderbirds have added to their trophy cabinet and experienced their fair share of success. With that success has come some highly talented players filtering through the club such as former Australian goal keeper Sharni Layton. She was one of the most dynamic and physical defenders in the game, renowned for her constant niggle and innate ability to go screaming out for an intercept. Her constant movement, hands over pressure and sheer pressure was a focal point of her game much like her defensive counterpart Mo’onia Gerrard. The goal defence was strong both in the air and at ground level, hustling for every ball that came her way and not giving her opponent an inch. Gerrard used her speed off the mark to force turnovers and apply pressure.

In at wing defence is none other than Renae Ingles. Arguably one of the most profound and impactful wing defences in the competition Ingles was the heart and soul of the Thunderbirds for many years, thanks to her on-court leadership and netball nous. Her go-get it attitude, long reaching arms and innate ability to sense the moment and make something special happen was second to none. Another former captain in Natalie Bode takes out the centre position with the dynamic midcourter able to run all day and ply her trade across the court. Her precision ball placement, strength around the goal circle and impressive vision made her hard to stop when on song. While in wing attack is England Roses and current Thunderbirds co-captain Chelsea Pitman. She is a smooth mover, that boasts plenty of class with ball in hand and a high level of execution.

The goal circle is full of long bomb specialists with yet another former T’birds captain and Australian Diamonds shooter, Erin Bell taking out the goal attack position. Her high release sky-scraper shots, silky movement across the court and cool, calm temperament was a key reason to their success. She was not afraid to back herself from range and showcased her spatial awareness every time she was on court. While she only spent one season with the Thunderbirds, Maria Folau had an undeniable impact in the goal circle with the long bomb specialist well and truly living up to her name. Her effortless shooting action and accuracy to post proved to be the key for the Thunderbirds throughout the 2019 season.

On the bench and unlucky not to get a start is defender Rebecca Bulley, renowned for her tagging style of play, while former basketballer Carla Borrego and fan favourite Maddy Proud both also got the call up.

Who would win?

Although the Adelaide Thunderbirds have won more premierships than the West Coast Fever throughout history, it is hard to go past the quality talent on the list. The Fever probably have the upper hand when it comes to goalers with the likes of Fowler, Medhurst and Bassett all at their disposal. Defensively both teams are stacked but the scales tilt towards the Fever given their extra depth.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the West and South?
West Coast Fever
Adelaide Thunderbirds
Created with Poll Maker

Memorable Matches: 2019 Quad Series – South Africa defeats England ahead of Netball World Cup

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is the 2019 Quad Series match between South Africa and England, where the Proteas shocked the reigning Commonwealth champions, England Roses on their opponents’ home turf ahead of the Netball World Cup.

The three-goal victory stunned the Roses who went toe-to-toe early on but were ultimately outclassed by the Spar Proteas over the course of the match, which saw Player of the Match Karla Pretorius team up with Phumza Maweni to make life difficult in the goal circle. Pretorius’ four intercepts were crucial with the stalwart defender pushing the likes of Jo Harten and Helen Housby to the limit, while Shadine van der Merwe was crucial on circle edge racking up the five deflections. England’s goalers were uncharacteristically inaccurate, shooting at a combined 81 per cent for the match while Harten was well and truly kept away from her regular goal tally, unable to put up her usual volume thanks to the Proteas’ constant defensive pressure.

But while South Africa came away with the win, England maintained their class and cleanliness throughout, collecting 11 less penalties while they were at it and winning the second half – albeit by a single goal. It was the second quarter where the Roses lost control, only shooting 10 goals and allowing the Proteas to take the lead, with the defensive pressure of Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown not entirely having the desired effect, leading to a change with returnee Layla Guscoth taking the court and playing out the match for three gains to Mentor’s four. But it wasn’t enough, with a solid partnership forming between Bongi Msomi and Erin Burger, seeing Burger use her gut running to constantly be a threat in centre while Msomi’s speed and feeding ability saw her collect 21 goal assists from 36 feeds, while her opposition in Jade Clarke collected two intercepts.

For the Proteas, Lenize Potgieter was the difference with her atypical – yet accurate – shooting technique accurate as ever, shooting 34 goals at 92 per cent. While England maintained some control in the second half, it seemed the second quarter had shaken the usually confident Roses, with the side ultimately unable to gain dominance and take a lead against the Proteas. Serena Guthrie was a good match for Burger through the midcourt but was moved back to control Msomi, while Chelsea Pitman racked up 18 goal assists from 29 feeds despite van de Merwe’s best efforts. But it was to no avail as the Proteas put themselves in good stead for the Netball World Cup with the 48-45 victory.

ENGLAND 13 | 10 | 11 | 11 (45)
SOUTH AFRICA 13 | 14 | 10 | 11 (48)

STARTING SEVENS

England

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Jade Clarke
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Layla Guscoth, Rachel Dunn, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Razia Quashie, Fran Williams
COACH: Tracey Neville

South Africa

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Maryka Holtzhausen
WA: Bongi Msomi
C: Erin Burger
WD: Shadine Van der Merwe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

BENCH: Khanyisa Chawane, Rome Dreyer, Renske Stoltz, Ine-Mari Venter, Zanele Vimbela
COACH: Norma Plummer

SHOOTING STATS

England:
Helen Housby 27/32
Jo Harten 18/22

South Africa:
Lenize Potgieter 34/37
Maryka Holtzhausen 14/16

Netball fantasy teams: All-Star Queensland teams

OVER the years there have been a multitude of stars pulling on the Firebirds dress and while the Lightning are still relatively new to the netball world compared to their state rivals, Sunshine Coast have had some A-list players come through the doors. Draft Central has comprised two teams filled with past and present players to create the ultimate Queensland rivalry line-up.

Queensland Firebirds:

GK: Laura Geitz
GD: Clare McMeniman
WD: Gabi Simpson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WA: Lauren Nourse
GA: Gretel Bueta
GS: Romelda Aiken

BENCH: Nat Medhurst, Chelsea Pitman, Rebecca Bulley

The Firebirds are one of the most successful clubs in netball history winning three ANZ Premiership grand finals but have struggled to have the same influence since the inception of Suncorp Super Netball. But that has not stopped a high calibre of players from gracing the court. It is no surprise former Firebirds and Diamonds captain, Laura Geitz gets the nod at goal keeper with the highly talented defender in a league of her own. Geitz was a key contributor the Firebirds’ continued success throughout the ANZ Championship with her impressive on court leadership, tenacity and cleanliness to attack the ball. Partner in crime Clare McMeniman takes out the goal defence position thanks to her impressive timing on court, ability to read the play and tagging style of defence. The two were renowned for their immense pressure over the shot, ability to switch things up in the defensive circle and undeniable attack. Current captain, Gabi Simpson is set to pull on the wing defence position with her sheer athleticism constantly on display. Her aerial skills and speed off the mark make her a tough opponent, while her strength around the circle edge adds another element to her game play. Although she made the move to the Magpies in 2017, Kim Ravaillion was a staple in the Firebirds line-up with the gut running centre well and truly leaving her mark on the competition, helping to push her side to grand final victory in 2016. Her good vision and delivery into the circle made her just about unstoppable from anywhere on the court consistently creating something out of nothing. Ravaillion’s high level of endurance, netball smarts and defensive pressure are heer most prominent attributes. In wing attack is none other than Lauren Nourse. The former Diamonds representative possessed some real class around the circle edge with her slick hands, quick footwork and solid positioning in the attacking third.  Moving into the goal circle is arguably one of the most dynamic duos netball has seen. Dynamo Gretel Bueta takes out the goal attack position with the 191cm shooter owning the goal circle with her energy and exciting game style. Bueta is no average goaler, willing to take on the contest and use her athleticism to outmuscle opponents time again. Her combination with Romelda Aiken is second to none with the two connecting seamlessly. Aiken has been a long-standing servant of the club with her commanding height, high volume of shots and relative accuracy doing wonders for the Firebirds. Throw in her ability to get up to the high balls and consistently deliver even under pressure and Aiken was a sure start. Unlucky not to get the starting nod is current Magpies goaler Nat Medhurst with the smooth mover an integral member in the squad’s earlier success while Roses wing attack Chelsea Pitman also finds herself on the bench. Rounding out the team is Rebecca Bulley and while she only spent a short amount of time with the club had an influence on court.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
C: Laura Langman
WA: Kelsey Browne
GA: Steph Wood
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian, Phumza Maweni

Despite only being around for three years the Sunshine Coast have played host to a number of international stars that have helped shape their impressive legacy. Much like their state rivals, the Lightning won back-to-back grand finals in 2017 and 2018 announcing themselves as true competitors. Although she has now departed the club, Roses star Geva Mentor was an easy choice to get the start at goal keeper. Standing at 191cm the defender oozes class and composure under pressure and is clean across the court able to manoeuvre around her opponent and force turnovers with her lanky arms. She is strong under the post and has an uncanny ability to read the play and disrupt the attacking flow. Arguably the world’s best goal defence, Karla Pretorius takes the bib thanks to her dynamic movement, go-go gadget arms, read of the play and ability to make something out of nothing. She is one of the most exciting defenders to watch with her unpredictable nature and attacking mindset constantly on display. Maddy McAuliffe pulls on the wing defence position with her defensive pressure and three-foot marking while New Zealand superstar Laura Langman takes the cake at centre. Langman is renowned for her impressive endurance, play making ability, change of direction and sheer athleticism. Her ability to sense the moment and stand up to the pressure is unfathomable consistently able to deliver the ball on a platter to the attackers while her defensive pressure to block the attacking forays makes her the complete package. Moving into wing attack is speedster Kelsey Browne and while she made the move to Collingwood her impact and influence throughout 2017 and 2018 was unquestionable. Her skill to persistently hit the circle edge, dart around the court and use her quick footwork to reposition made her hard to stop. Browne was a real pocket rocket for the Lightning connecting well with Steph Wood. The goal attack is a smooth mover, able to glide across the court and set up plays thanks to her spatial awareness and general netball nous and while she may not put up a wealth of shots, she has an uncanny ability to sense the moment and deliver. The goal shooter position goes to Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler a commanding presence under the post. Her long limbs, strong holds and consistency to put up a high volume of shots makes her a challenging prospect for opponents. On the bench is young up and coming star Cara Koenen who burst onto the scene last year with her strong movement, clean hands and accuracy to post while Laura Scherian takes out the midcourt position. Spar Proteas representative Phumza Maweni finalises the squad with her defensive pressure.

Who would win?

With star players in each position it is hard to separate both sides given the amount of game changers across the court, so it comes down to consistency, something the Firebirds line-up possesses. While the Lightning squad has more international flavour with representatives from New Zealand, England and South Africa the Firebirds boast a well-connected and experienced squad.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the Sunshine State?
Queensland Firebirds
Sunshine Coast Lightning
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SSN potential 2020 line-ups: Adelaide Thunderbirds

WITH so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a host of international players returning home as a result of the outbreak it sparks questions about how this season will look and which players will actually take the court. We take a look at how each side in the SSN might line up in 2020 if the season does commence with the Thunderbirds the first cab off the rank.

The key signing of Lenize Potgieter will have a huge impact on the Thunderbirds line-up in 2020 with the goal shooter renowned for her accuracy, high volume, smooth movement in the circle and unique shooting action. Potgieter was arguably one of the biggest acquisitions at the end of last year with long bomb specialist Maria Folau departing the club and young gun Sasha Glasgow succumbing to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. But with the season pushed until late June the return of Glasgow could be on the tables. The talented goaler proved that she could score from anywhere and was not fazed by the physical nature of the game, using her fancy footwork and strong holds despite her short stature to full effect. Newbie Samantha Gooden could also be a likely starter if the season goes ahead with the former Collingwood training partner able to have an impact with her movement across the court and high netball understanding. Gooden could add that sense of experience in the circle along with her ability to find space and exploit it to create attacking forays.

The likes of veteran of Chelsea Pitman will lead the midcourt and more than likely the attacking third given her innate ability to create space and thread the needle with her well-timed and highly executed passes. She is a crafty player that works hard to feed into the circle and provide easy avenues to goal, pair that with her strength around the circle and Pitman is arguably one of the most important links in the Thunderbirds line-up. Still developing her craft in centre is Hannah Petty. The 22-year-old works hard in transition plying her trade in both defence and offence to be a constant option. Petty is more attacking minded able to create space with ease and hit the circle edge with precision.  Rounding out the midcourt is South African Shadine van der Merwe, with the wing defence able to also slide into goal defence if needed. Van der Merwe is a bit of an unknown quantity but has shown time and time again that if the ball is there for the taking she will throw her body on the line. She is quick on her feet able to cover the court with ease and apply strong hands over pressure to help out her fellow defenders.

Defensively the Thunderbirds are set, with excitement machine Shamera Sterling expected to pull on the goal keeper bib once again. She took the competition by storm last year with her impressive aerial ability, constant pressure and defensive skill to gobble up any ball that came her way. Her tenacity and hunt for the ball is unquestionable and while she can be costly at times when it comes to penalties her ability to make up for her mistakes is what makes her such an integral member in the Thunderbirds line-up. Moving out to goal defence is partner-in-crime, Layla Guscoth. Her season ended abruptly after suffering an Achilles injury during the World Cup last year unable to see out the year with the Thunderbirds and leaving somewhat of a hole down back. Guscoth oozes class and patience, while she is not the flashiest player her ability to nullify the influence of her opponent with her tagging style of defence gives her that X-factor.

GK: Shamera Sterling
GD: Layla Guscoth
WD: Shadine van de Merwe
C: Hannah Petty
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Sasha Glasgow
GS: Lenize Potgieter

What if… Laura Geitz played in the last quarter of the Commonwealth Games?

THE 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal loss is still etched in the memory of many Diamonds fans and players going down to the England Roses by a mere goal, 51-52. Roses sharp shooter, Helen Housby landed the final blow thanks to a shot after the whistle to gift her side their first gold medal in history. The Diamonds had a strong four-goal lead in the final term, before the tables started to turn and the Roses gathered momentum. Countering everything that Australia threw at them, tinkering their line-up and most importantly prevailing in the close contest to run out on top. The change up in the goal circle to switch Housby into goal shooter and push Jo Harten into goal attack paid dividends while bringing Nat Haythornthwaite on into wing attack to replace Chelsea Pitman gave them that extra spark in the attacking third. An element that the Diamonds simply could not contain.

So what if Laura Geitz was brought on in the final quarter? Could the Diamonds have won another Commonwealth Games gold medal?

As one of Australia’s most dominant and profound goal keepers in history, many were surprised to see Geitz not return to the court when the game was on the line. She has proven time and time again her ability to do the unthinkable and force a turnover out of nothing credit to her high netball nous, quick feet and sheer class. The talented goal keeper is renowned for her ability to stay away from the whistle and apply immense pressure with her three-foot marking and commanding figure something that the Diamonds could have used in the dying seconds of the game. Geitz is a real general down back with her leadership and ability to read the play constantly on display.

Prior to finding herself on the bench, Geitz impressed shutting down the Roses avenue to goal, blocking Harten with her strong movement and netball smarts to get ball-side and swat away any errant passes. Her long arms and skill to constantly get hands to ball and create deflections was a key aspect to the Diamonds winning ways. While her connection with the likes of Firebirds teammate Gabi Simpson and April Brandley enabled the Diamonds to win a wealth of ball back thanks to their swarming style of defence. Although both Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston put up a strong wall in defence, they were lacking that extra bit of experience and knowledge down back giving away a costly penalty after the final whistle.

Taking into account the skill, class and experience of Geitz it is not unfair to speculate that Australia could have taken the gold medal. The 2014 ANZ Championship showed just what Geitz can do when the pressure is on taking a match winning intercept with seconds left and propelling the ball back down the court to win their second grand final in two years. The Firebirds were two goals down with a minute left but it was the miracle work of their captain that got them over the line, something that could have been replicated if Geitz was gifted the opportunity to get back on court in the Commonwealth Games gold medal match.

In your opinion, would Australia have won the Gold Medal if Laura Geitz had finished on court?
Yes absolutely
No, it would not have changed the result
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