Tag: elle bennetts

Top 15 SSN training partners: #3 Tayla Fraser

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 (SSN) plate in 2020. Sitting at number three is NSW Swifts midcourter Tayla Fraser, another talented player the Swifts blooded up in 2019. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

A real energiser bunny and tough competitor at any level, Fraser’s level-headedness earned her a couple of Super Netball caps last year with the NSW Swifts thanks to injuries aplenty. While she was fortunate to tag along with the side in its premiership season, Fraser well and truly proved her elevated position in the squad, taking on whatever came at her with her clean hands and precision with ball in hand. A real speedster with plenty of potential, Fraser’s footwork allowed her to find circle edge with ease, able to play through both wing attack and centre to apply pressure in attack. Her strong drives and speed off the mark enabled her to burst away from her opposition, driving the play down the court and feeding into the circle well. Meanwhile, her ability to assist her goalers with her positioning and ability to hold ground on circle edge allow her to feed with ease.

With fellow training partners Elle Bennetts and Sophie Craig also getting elevated during the 2019 season, Fraser flourished with the Swifts to become a formidable option through the midcourt and will hope to get the call up again this year given she already has the partnerships on court ticked off. With speed and an ability to generate clever play with ball in hand, 20-year-old Fraser still has plenty of development to come making her an exciting future prospect in the Super Netball. With plenty of accolades to her name already – including being part of the Australian Under-17 and Under-19 squads – it is only a matter of time before the speedster takes the court regularly thanks to her ability to adapt when required, always giving her all.


#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 Taylah Fraser (NSW Swifts)

Top 15 SSN training partners: #5 Elle Bennetts

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. Heading up the Top 5 is dual NSW athlete Elle Bennetts, who plays for NSW Swifts in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and switches both code and team to GWS GIANTS in the AFL Women’s during the netball off-season.

A talented midcourt speedster, Bennetts was a shoe-in for this list thanks to her ability to come on and impact the game no matter her opposition. One of the older training partners on the list, 30-year-old Bennetts made her Super Netball debut in 2019 and collected another few domestic caps along the way thanks to injuries in the Swifts camp. With cleanliness and good anticipation of both the ball and player, Bennetts is a player who can create as much play as she blocks, able to be a versatile midcourter rotating through wing attack and centre. Bennetts came up through the Victorian pathway, spending six years with the Victorian Fury before heading north to play AFL Women’s, joining the NSW Waratahs’ camp along the way, continuing her time in the Australian Netball League, albeit in a different state.

With an ability to hit circle edge, Bennetts is a threatening attacker with clean hands and balance, while her wingspan allows her to reach for crucial ball and bolster the Swifts midcourt. With plenty of endurance and quick feet to evade opposition, Bennetts is a clean player with plenty of experience and will look to step up from her 2019 form, able to propel the ball down the court and find options in and around the circle to influence the game. Working with the likes of captain Maddy Proud, Diamond Paige Hadley and England Rose, Nat Haythornthwaite, Bennetts has plenty of talented names to learn from as well as recently elevated Sophie Craig, who provides a handy option to work with given she was in the same position last year.


#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)

What if … Katrina Rore did not join the Swifts?

THE 2019 season of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) was a drought breaking and historic year for the New South Wales Swifts winning their inaugural SSN premiership but it was not without their fair share of challenges.

The Swifts were dealt plenty of injury blows throughout the season with England Roses wing attack and part time shooter Natalie Haythornthwaite sidelined for a large portion of the season, fellow Roses representative Helen Housby forced to the bench with a leg injury and Kate Eddy dealt a season ending ankle injury. But the biggest blow of them all was that to inspirational leader and captain Maddy Proud with the dynamo centre rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) midway through the season.

Bruised and battered the Swifts reverted to their up and coming stocks with the likes of Tayla Fraser and Elle Bennetts taking to the court to bolster their line-up. Former Silver Ferns, defender Kayla Cullen also made a brief appearance in the blue, red and white but was just a temporary replacement. While they offered fresh legs and a new perspective on the game the biggest coup of them all was the acquisition of Katrina Rore. Fresh off a premiership with the Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership, Rore added that extra touch of class around the court while also boasting versatility to move between circle defence and wing defence.

What if Rore did not join the NSW Swifts? Would they have won the premiership?

Although the Swifts were littered with stars, Rore’s influence down in defence was unquestionable with the steady head and experience defender a commanding presence. Her ability to read the play, stand up in the big moments and do the unthinkable is what made her such an influential presence throughout her time in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN). Rore’s long arms, deceptive speed and high netball IQ played a pivotal role in shutting down opposition attacks.

While she spent the majority of her time out in wing defence, a position she has quickly made her own, her seamless transition into circle defence was something the Swifts made the most out of. Her presence in the goal circle with her lean over the shot, body-on-body physicality and quick feet to manoeuvre around the body created doubt in feeders minds. She was quickly able to adapt to the game play of fellow defenders Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau while the likes of Sophie Craig also had important cameos. Rore has an uncanny tact to go out and hunt the ball, using her impressive timing, long limbs and cleanliness to stop the ball from entering the attacking third with ease while also using her attacking mindset to propel the ball back down the court.

Rore had a game changing impact on the Swifts defensive line-up offering that calming sense down back when things got frantic and pulling out the unthinkable to keep her side afloat. Her experience and netball nous helped to guide the Swifts to victory even when she had a quiet day out on the court. While New South Wales had a solid team with a host of stars in their own right it is fair to say that she was the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle that got them over the line.

Would NSW Swifts have still won the 2019 SSN title without Katrina Rore?
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Netball Australia Award Predictions

WITH the Australian netball awards season quickly approaching we cast an eye over a host of potential players that could win the prestigious awards ranging from international level to the Australian Netball League (ANL). This article is purely based on opinion and how we perceive each player’s season to have panned out.

Liz Ellis Diamond: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

It is hard to think of another player that has had as great an impact as Gretel Tippett has in the past year, with the talented goal attack taking her game to a whole new level in 2019. The typically explosive shooter owned the court both at international and domestic level, a clear testament to her sheer power, netball nous and dominance no matter her opponent. She broke records, becoming the first Australian to shoot 100 consecutive goals and putting an end to any doubters who questioned her accuracy, along with upping the volume of shots she attempted. Tippett was simply unstoppable when given the time and space and showed she can apply defensive pressure thanks to her three-foot marking and read of the play.

Wing attack and 2018 Liz Ellis Diamond winner Liz Watson also put her best foot forward for the coveted award, thanks to another year full of consistency, clever plays and dynamic movement proving to be a key cog through the midcourt. Her endurance was unquestionable running hard and creating attacking forays to surge her side ahead, but her season failed to have the same individual impact as Tippett.

Australian International Player of the Year: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

With Tippett expected to take out the Liz Ellis Diamond award expect the Firebirds shooter to make it two from two and take home the International Player of the Year award, credit to a stellar season in the green and gold. She was often the point of difference in tight matches, using her physicality and commanding height to full advantage to get under the skin of opponents and capitalise on her opportunities. Tippett did not disappoint in the Constellation Cup, only missing three goals from her 85 attempts at an impressive 96 per cent, highlighting her accuracy to post and class while her performance at the World Cup was unrivalled by any other Diamond. She showcased her versatility moving into goal shooter to become a holding goaler and key target under the post.

Despite missing a couple of games with injury, goal keeper Courtney Bruce was a dominant threat in the defensive goal circle thanks to her immense pressure and ball tracking ability making her a potential winner. Caitlin Thwaites is another player up there for many, and although she did not get a wealth of court time the retiring goal shooter served as a smokey with the fan favourite making an impact each time she took the court with her long range shooting and versatile game style.

Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

After another big year of Suncorp Super Netball it is hard to narrow down a winner but it is equally as hard to go past Karla Pretorius with the talented goal defence reminding everyone why she is so dominant and exciting to watch. She was a key reason behind the Lightning’s success spurring them into another grand final tilt, albeit falling short. Pretorius lights the court up with her go-go gadget arms, closing speed and ability to pick pocket players making her Draft Central’s number one choice.

Also up there is fellow international and Lightning returnee, Laura Langman. On return, Langman proved to be a key cog through the midcourt and had some impressive games where she well and truly won games off her own back. In her first season of SSN Jamaican recruit Shamera Sterling could also give Pretorius a run for her money with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper highlighting her class to pick off passes with her lanky arms and impressive leap. Hot on her tail is the likes of Ash Brazill who lifted another gear in 2019 for the Magpies using her electric pace, aerial ability and defensive pressure to remain a threat across the court. Meanwhile NSW Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace also put her hand up as a potential winner thanks to her cool, calm and collected nature under the post paired with her aerial ability, something which helped the NSW Swifts to their inaugural Super Netball premiership.

Joyce Brown Coach of the Year: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts)

It is no mean feat coaching your side to victory after failing to make the top four the year before, and NSW Swifts coach, Briony Akle well and truly showed it can be done. Akle proved that the mix between international star power and belief in youth was key to success with the likes of ANL players Elle Bennetts, Sophie Halpin and Tayla Fraser all playing a crucial role in their premiership. Despite being hit with a host of injuries with Helen Housby sidelined after World Cup, Maddy Proud relegated to the bench after tearing her ACL and Kate Eddy out with a season ending ankle injury the talented coach pulled it all together only in her second year as head coach.

Grand final opposition coach Noeline Taurua also posed a good candidate taking her side to their third consecutive grand final while the ever-reliable Simone McKinnis could have also been selected but in the end it was hard to deny Akle given her successful 2019 campaign.

Suncorp Super Netball Young Star: Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

It was a break out season for the 24-year old shooter who well and truly announced herself on the domestic stage, mixing it with some of the world’s best and most talented defenders. Koenen emerged midway through the season as a key player for the Lightning with her height, strong holds and deceptively silky movement a key feature of her game making her a front runner for this year’s Young Star award.

Koenen was no easy pick with the likes of Queensland defensive duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe also in contention for the Young Star award given their impressive season, but both suffered injuries forcing them to the sidelines for weeks at a time. Another potential was Sophie Garbin who held her own in her non-preferred position of goal attack in the absence of teammate Housby, using her accuracy to post and strong movement to pose a threat. But none seemed to have the same impact as Koenen who at times was a barometer for the Sunshine Coast with her accuracy, volume and general netball nous.

2019 SSN season team review: NSW Swifts

IT was a fairytale season for the NSW Swifts, claiming their first premiership since 2008. Despite being devastated with injuries throughout the season the Swifts maintained their structures and game plan, treasuring the ball and working it down the court with ease.

Position: 2nd
Percentage: 111.92%


Goal keeper Sarah Klau had a breakout season, imposing herself on the contest up the defensive end with her hands over pressure, rotation through the circle and ability to read the play. Her combination with Maddy Turner steadily developed over the season with the duo posing a dominant threat, nullifying access into the goal circle and picking off passes. Prior to her season-ending ankle injury, Kate Eddy worked wonders with the towering wing defence able to ply her trade in a number of positions and force turnovers with her extra height and deceptive speed. But with Eddy gone the introduction of Katrina Rore paid dividends with the New Zealand international adding extra experience, netball nous and X-factor down back. Captain Maddy Proud’s season was cut short, tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in Round 7 and while her absence was sorely missed, English international Nat Haythornthwaite along with Elle Bennetts and Tayla Fraser all did their bit to propel the ball forward. Paige Hadley also lifted her intensity, taking full control of the midcourt in Proud’s absence. Goal attack, Helen Housby was plagued with injury in the latter part of the season but showcased her class and skill to stand up in the big moments and command the ball when needed, while Sam Wallace lifted another gear, working tirelessly under the post. Wallace stood up in the goal circle using her strong holds and accuracy to post to cause havoc for the opposition.

Shining light:

The Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter is no stranger to the big stage, well and truly bringing the heat in season 2019. Cool, calm and composed under the post, Wallace looked unphased by everything that came her way, reeling in lobs and using her silky footwork to manoeuvre around the body of her opponent. She backed herself from range and showed she was not afraid to swing the ball around the circle edge to reposition when needed. Wallace constantly provided an option under the post using her commanding figure to slot goal after goal, making her an integral player for the Swifts.

Predictions 2020:

This year proved that the Swifts have plenty of depth despite being struck by injury time and time again. The likes of Fraser, Sophie Garbin and Turner all showed they have what it takes to make it to the big time and with further court time can clearly develop into stars of the future. The core group of players at the Swifts is already strong meaning the further development of the young up and coming players could cause headaches for the opposition. Garbin has showcased her versatility throughout the season switching between goal attack and goal shooter seamlessly while Fraser provides plenty of energy, speed and excitement to the attack end.

Magpies triumph over NSW Swifts

THE Magpies claimed an emphatic win against ladder leaders NSW Swifts in Tasmania to keep their finals aspirations alive (64-56). Despite the impressive win, the Magpies’ victory was soured by an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to speedster and playmaker Kelsey Browne midway through the second term.

Collingwood came out with a real spring in their step in the first quarter led by goal defence, April Brandley. She showed great intent from the first whistle contesting every single ball that came her way and getting hands to ball with two gains, one intercept and three deflections for the first term. The defensive pressure was up right across the court with Geva Mentor showcasing her class in the circle credit to her three-foot marking and cleanliness to build pressure on Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin. Wallace was relatively unfazed by the physicality displaying her composed nature to slot nine goals straight while Garbin faded in and out of the game. The Magpies were relentless across the court pushing the Swifts wide and forcing uncharacteristic turnovers notching up seven compared to their five. NSW struggled to build momentum with their connections failing to fire allowing the Magpies to claim the first bonus point of the game with a 17-13 first term.

With the ball struggling to penetrate the Collingwood defensive end the Swifts made a host of changes across the court. Natalie Haythornthwaite moved from wing attack into goal attack and had an immediate impact, proving she was not afraid to turn and shoot. She was a real play maker in the attacking third and goal circle for the Swifts sighting Wallace on the lead while notching up seven goals. Paige Hadley switched from centre into wing attack while youngster Tayla Fraser stepped up into the centre. The Swifts took a while to adjust to the changes in the attacking third while Briony Akle tinkered with the defensive structure moving Silver Fern Katrina Rore into goal defence and bringing Sophie Halpin onto wing defence. The Magpies seemed relatively settled given the changes sticking to their structures and working through the Swifts bursts of energy. Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst put on a clinic in the goal circle with both shooters sitting at 100 per cent for the term. With the Magpies front end humming injury struck with Browne landing awkwardly sending shockwaves throughout the stadium. The dynamic wing attack left the court in the arms of trainers bringing Kimiora Poi into the game for the Pies.

The Magpies built on their four-goal lead after half-time with Ash Brazill lifting her load in attack. The dynamic and athletic centre dominated through the midcourt with her timely drives, clever feeds into the circle and vision to pierce through the defence with nine goal assists for the term. Nelson continued her dominance under the post with 16 goals from 17 attempts while Medhurst did a wealth of work out the front flinging the ball around the attacking third and using the angles to open Nelson up under the post. Sarah Klau struggled to have her usual impact in the defensive end for the Swifts with the ball sailing over the head of her time and time again credit to the placement from Brazill and Medhurst. Poi did not seem out of place connecting with the Collingwood attack end while Kim Ravaillion did the little things well, re-offering across the court. Unhappy with their output, the Swifts made more changes with Elle Bennetts donning the wing attack bib in the dying minutes of the third quarter while Maddy Turner returned to the court in goal defence but it was to no avail with Collingwood sticking strong and claiming their second bonus point of the game.

Still struggling to find their rhythm across the court the Swifts reverted to their starting seven before switching Rore into goal keeper and forcing Klau to the bench. Both Nelson and Medhurst were simply unstoppable in the goal circle with neither missing a shot in the final term. Nelson finished with 52 goals from 54 attempts at 96 per cent credit to her strength on the take and composure under the post. Both Mentor and Brandley went from strength to strength throughout the game with the English international amassing two gains, five deflections and one pickup while Brandley notched up two deflections and two pickups. Haythornthwaite lifted her load in attack feeding into Garbin and Wallace (39/41) with ease but the Magpies did not let up. The Magpies showed great intensity throughout the match pushing hard but on the other hand the Swifts failed to play their usual brand of netball frazzled with ball in hand and undisciplined.


Collingwood Magpies:

GS | Shimona Nelson
GA | Nat Medhurst
WA | Kelsey Browne
C | Ash Brazill
WD | Kim Ravaillion
GD | April Brandley
GK | Geva Mentor

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Sophie Garbin
WA | Natalie Haythornthwaite
C | Paige Hadley
WD | Katrina Rore
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

SSN Preview: Round 11

ROUND 11 of Suncorp Super Netball will see a battle of one and two take place, with the Sunshine Coast Lightning taking on the NSW Swifts in hope to claim top spot. Meanwhile the improving West Coast Fever take on the Melbourne Vixens who are in hot form while Collingwood will be hoping to make their way back into the top four.


The Melbourne Vixens are going from strength to strength and will be wanting to put the West Coast Fever away, given last time they met neither side could be separated ending in a 63-all draw. Both sides match up relatively evenly across the court given the star power up both ends but the battle could be won in the midcourt with the Vixens oozing a more dominant and experienced line-up compared to the Fever. Renae Ingles has been in career best form with her defensive pressure and drive through the midcourt an integral part of the Vixens’ play. Liz Watson and Kate Moloney control the attacking third with their clever ball placement and speed, making for an interesting match-up against Jess Anstiss, Verity Charles and Ingrid Colyer. Meanwhile, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip are near-on unstoppable under the post when on song. While Fever have no shortage of match winners themselves with Jhaniele Fowler a commanding figure under the post, Alice Teague-Neeld and Kaylia Stanton must stand up if West Coast are of any chance to claim a big scalp against one of the most in form sides in the competition. The Vixens have plenty of options in defence with Emily Mannix, Jo Weston and Kadie-Ann Dehaney all able to win ball back and apply good physical pressure to attack opposition hands and cause turnovers.


In a top of the ladder clash the Swifts will be seeking vengeance in the reverse fixture after going down to the Lightning by two goals early in the season. Having only lost to the Lightning this season the Swifts will want to notch up a win against Sunshine Coast before finals to give them that edge and belief. The Swifts announced a big name recruit this week with Katrina Rore set to come into the side as a permanent replacement player for Kate Eddy. The New Zealand Silver Fern will add great defensive pressure to an already star-studded line up with the likes of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner impressive in their own right. Both sides play a very different style of netball with the Swifts renowned for their ability to treasure possession while the Lightning are more flashy with ball in hand, making for an exciting contest. Sunshine Coast defenders, Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni have been in red hot form picking up plenty of ball, causing all sorts of confusion in the goal circle and using their speed to pickpocket opponents. The combination between the pair is developing with each game while Laura Langman and Laura Scherian have really steered the ship in attack, delivering good ball into the likes of Steph Wood, Peace Proscovia and Cara Koenen. Youngster Tayla Fraser stood up for the Swifts last round and will be wanting to bring that strong form into this match-up while the Swifts have a plethora of options with the likes of Natalie Haythornthwaite and Elle Bennetts also able to come on and play their role.


The Firebirds got within striking distance last round only going down by two goals to the Lightning and will be hoping to continue that final quarter performance this round against the GIANTS. However, the GIANTS have built nicely into the season with all the little things falling into place with Caitlin Bassett and Jo Harten well and truly living up to the hype with their accuracy and volume to post. The last time these two sides met the GIANTS claimed an eight goal victory credit to their attacking prowess and netball smarts. The inexperienced Firebirds defensive duo of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe will once again be tested up against Harten and Bassett while Laura Clemesha could provide a good sense of leadership if brought on. For the GIANTS, the combination between Sam Poolman and Kristiana Manu’a has increased rapidly over the break with the two applying strong defensive pressure but will be tested athletically up against the likes of Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett. Both Tippett and Aiken are an imposing threat when on song given their clever shooter to shooter interplay, strong attack and aerial skill while Lenize Potgieter is also an option in the goal circle. Being the first and only game in Canberra for the season, the GIANTS will want to secure their fifth win of the season at their home away from home and stake a claim on the top four.


After dropping out of the top four the Collingwood Magpies will be wanting to work their way back into finals contention while the Adelaide Thunderbirds have shown that they can stand up under the pressure staying in touch and pushing teams to their limits. The Magpies have won the past five encounters and will want to keep their hot streak running. The Thunderbirds will be hoping to regain gold medallist Maria Folau after she was a late omission last week. The goaler has plenty of class both under the post and out on the outskirts of the circle while partner in crime Sasha Glasgow has showcased her dominance in the attacking third with her strong leads and accuracy to post, finding plenty of the ball no matter her opposition. Defensively the Thunderbirds could struggle in the absence of co-captain and goal defence Layla Guscoth, with Kate Shimmin and Shadine Van De Merwe both feasible options to rotate through while Shamera Sterling must stand strong in goal keeper if they are to stop Collingwood. For the Magpies, Gabby Sinclair could be a key member in attack with her accuracy to post and dynamic movement to aid Shimona Nelson at the post, a player who has come along in leaps and bounds throughout the season. The Magpies will hope Kelsey Browne bounces back to her regular form this week after a slow start last week.

ANL: Semi-finals preview

WITH the semi-finals approaching we cast an eye over the match-ups with the top four all set to do battle. Victorian Fury and Canberra GIANTS face off first at the State Netball and Hockey Centre with the NSW Waratahs and Tasmanian Magpies following. All four sides have shown they have plenty of class and game changers if given the chance with the winner from both games going on to play in the grand final on Sunday.

Victorian Fury v. Canberra GIANTS

Last time they met the Fury had the last laugh with two convincing wins over the GIANTS in Round 1. But both sides have come a long way since then with their connections down the court developing.

Emma Ryde is the most prolific shooter in the competition posing a dominant threat for the GIANTS if they are unable to quell her influence under the post. Ryde averages 37 goals a match but can do much more damage while her imposing figure in the goal circle makes her an easy target to cite for Fury feeders. Her partnership with the likes of Sacha McDonald, Ruby Barkmeyer and Mikaela Vaughan will prove to be crucial up against the GIANTS if they want to surge ahead into the grand final. Defensively the Fury have some skilled players that can win ball back with Rudi Ellis and Jacqueline Newton able to apply good defensive pressure over the shot. Through the midcourt the likes of Kate Kelly-Oman and Elle McDonald work tirelessly to feed the ball into the circle and re-position in the attacking third to provide outlet passes.

The GIANTS should not be underestimated possessing some serious scoring power with the likes of Georgia Marshall, Amber Brophy and Angelina Frketic all able to turn a game on its head with their accuracy to post. The connection between Marshall and Frketic is second to none with the two finding good space and using their dynamic movement to open up space in the goal circle. Marshall is the leading goal scorer for the GIANTS with 421 goals for the season showcasing her ability to turn and shoot. Taylah Davies, Latika Tombs and Madeline Hay are all important players through the midcourt for the GIANTS credit to their ball speed and will have to be on their game to make the most of their opportunities across the court. Defensively the duo of Teigan O’Shannassay and Matilda McDonnell will have their work cut out for them against the likes of Ryde who uses her height and body positioning to her advantage. But the two work well together, rotating cleverly through the circle and applying strong pressure to confuse the space.

NSW Waratahs v. Tasmanian Magpies

Reigning premiers, the Tasmanian Magpies will be hoping to go move through the semi-final stage and go back to back after claiming the premiership last season while the NSW Waratahs will be wanting to end those aspirations. In their previous encounter the Magpies went down narrowly to the Waratahs making for a close contest come the semi-final.

The Waratahs have some influential players right across the court with the likes of Sophie Halpin and Abbey McCulloch dominating in that wing defence position and providing good drive through the midcourt to help to propel the ball into attack. Both players are renowned for their tenacity and hands over pressure to win ball back for their side. Up the other end of the court there are plenty of options under the post with Matisse Letherbarrow, Sophie Dwyer, Alison Miller and Kelly Singleton all posing a threat under the post. Dwyer sits tenth on the ladder for goals scored with 226 with Letherbarrow and Miller hot on her tail with 179 and 171 respectively. All four shooters have shown that they can shoulder the load and post hefty totals to get the Waratahs over the line while the work of Elle Bennetts through the midcourt provides plenty of opportunities for the goalers.

The Magpies have been here before and know exactly what it takes to make it all the way. They have no shortage of star players across the court with the likes of Matilda Garrett available for selection. Fellow defenders Sharni Lambden, Zanna Jodlowska and Brooke Allen are key players for the Magpies given their ability to win ball back and nullify their opponents influence under the post. Through the midcourt the Magpies ooze some dynamic movers with the likes of Kelsie Rainbow and Vanessa Augustini. Both players hit the circle edge with pace and precision to continuously deliver the ball into the shooters under the post. Meanwhile, the partnership between Samantha Gooden and Jane Cook is formidable given their ability to score quickly and accurately. Cook sits second on the ladder for the number of goals scored just behind Ryde with 470 goals averaging 31 goals a game at 88 per cent making her a real threat of they can get the ball to her.

Thunderbirds and Swifts draw even

ROUND 9 saw yet another draw with the Adelaide Thunderbirds and NSW Swifts unable to be split with 51 goals apiece. After a week full of controversy, Maria Folau had the opportunity to steal the win with a shot after the siren but the ball fell agonisingly short hitting the rim and bouncing out.

It was a hot start from the Thunderbirds with Sasha Glasgow and Folau on song early. Glasgow’s confidence was up and about slotting long bombs from just inside the circle mirroring that of her shooting counterpart. The attack end was firing on all cylinders with the young goaler showcasing her hot hand nailing six goals straight while experienced wing attack Chelsea Pitman commanded the ball and dictated the space in the attacking third. She worked overtime to hit the circle edge with precision and deliver ball into the shooters accumulating seven goal assists from 11 feeds. Up the other end for the Thunderbirds, Shamera Sterling was having a day out. Her go-go gadget arms and ability to cleanly contest from behind was second to none picking up four gains and three intercepts while her general netball smarts to get into the right positions at the right time put her in good stead to win the ball back for Adelaide. The Swifts had a shaky start making uncharacteristic errors with 10 turnovers in the opening term. Sam Wallace got the nod once again at goal shooter but she did not last the whole 15 minutes coming off at the 13-minute mark with a suspected knee injury but made her presence felt with five goals from seven attempts before Sophie Garbin pulled on the goal shooter bib. Defensively both Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner did a wealth of work, getting hands to ball and confusing the space with four gains and three deflections collectively but the Thunderbirds showed great patience with to work the ball around the circle edge.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds headed into the break up by five but the second quarter brought a whole new level of intensity with the Swifts working hard in transition to win the ball and capitalise on turnover opportunities. Wing attack Elle Bennetts lifted her intensity in attack driving hard and taking the ball with strength. Though at times she faded into the pockets her quick release and good vision allowed her to feed easily into Garbin who found good space under the post sinking 11 goals straight. Without Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley shouldered a lot of the load in attack running hard through the midcourt to provide an option and deliver into the circle with the centre amassing four feeds. She also showcased her defensive abilities and clever footwork to pick up two gains and two intercepts. Even though the attack end kicked into gear, Sterling still posed a dominant threat collecting another three intercepts and four gains showcasing her impressive read of the play and attacking intent. Through the midcourt Tania Obst made a change bringing Kelly Altmann on to replace Hannah Petty who did a wealth of work early on but was getting lost on transition.

The half time break served the Swifts well winning their first bonus point for the game. Looking for a spark in attack and more drive Hadley moved into wing attack while Sophie Halpin made her way onto the court in centre. She injected speed and dynamism both in attack and defence working hard across the court to re-offer and apply hands over pressure. The move also brought goal attack Helen Housby into the game after a relatively quiet first half. The English international nailed seven goals from eight attempts while her body positioning under the ring was impressive getting a clever rebound to edge them closer. But the Thunderbirds did not back down with Glasgow and Folau swapping positions but still showing their dominance to post.

With the game on the line the NSW Swifts proved that they have what it takes, wrestling back the lead and pushing out to four goals. The connections down court all seemed to click in to gear with Kate Eddy applying strong defensive pressure picking up an intercept to help surge the Swifts forward. Although both Shadine Van de Merwe and Layla Guscoth struggled to make an impact on the game they did their job to tag their opposition out of the game and block their space in the attacking third. Youngster Charlee Hodges was injected into the game in the opening few minutes of the quarter sweeping across the circle and drawing the attention of the defender. She found the net with ease slotting two goals but was costly with ball in hand with two turnovers and quickly made her way back to the bench. The Thunderbirds rallied in the final minutes of the quarter to draw it back and with a shot after the whistle Folau was unable to capitalise marking the fifth draw of the season.


Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS | Sasha Glasgow
GA | Maria Folau
WA | Chelsea Pitman
C | Hannah Petty
WD | Shadine Van de Merwe
GD | Layla Guscoth
GK | Shamera Sterling

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Helen Housby
WA | Elle Bennetts
C | Paige Hadley
WD | Kate Eddy
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

SSN: Round 9 preview – Final round before World Cup break

ROUND 9 of Suncorp Super Netball sees the end of the first half of the season as the league pauses for July’s Netball World Cup. The Fever are surely looking for redemption after the Lightning dealt them a 25 goal thumping in the 2018 Grand Final rematch back in Round 2, while this is the last chance for bottom of the table Firebirds to get a win on the board before the break.

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. West Coast Fever

It is the battle of the coasts once more, and the Fever are sure to come out firing this time around after conceding 80 goals to the Lightning last time they met. Though both sides come into this contest with wins under their belt last week, Lightning will be brimming with confidence after beating the Magpies by a 23 goal margin. Fever come in once again with a question mark over their heads after an apparent knee twinge to Jhaniele Fowler in Round 8. While Fowler played out the match, her movement seemed depleted as she favoured her unstrapped knee. That being said, the Lightning have Courtney Bruce to worry about this time around, with her experience and physical nature likely to put doubt in the minds of Lightning shooters, Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia. The new-look Fever defensive unit could be a big plus, with Shannon Eagland in goal defence and Stacey Francis holding strong in wing defence, but the lack of injection of Jess Anstiss defensively may hurt the side given Laura Langman and Laura Scherian are continuing to dominate across the court week in week out. But, if Anstiss were to line up on Langman, we could have a real battle on our hands given the pair have a similar defensive style across the court.

GIANTS Netball v. Melbourne Vixens

The Vixens have had a rocky few weeks but stepped up in the second half last round against the Firebirds to prove they deserve their spot in the top four. Meanwhile the GIANTS have been chasing for the better half of the season before finally jumping the Magpies last round on percentage. Last time they saw the Vixens came out on top by 16 goals in Kim Green’s 200th national league game, but while the Vixens have been strong in recent weeks, the GIANTS have found some really good form and combinations. Jo Weston’s Round 2 performance on Jo Harten was one of her best all season and the goal defence will be hoping to apply a similar amount of pressure to cancel Harten out of the game once again, especially given the improved pairing of Harten and Caitlin Bassett. Liz Watson will be put under the ringer against the likes of Amy Parmenter, who is in fine form and continues to shine despite coming up against some big names on court. The midcourt battle between Kate Moloney and Jamie-Lee Price will be one to watch, with both wing defenders-turn-centre able to create turnover ball out of nothing and still be a strong presence in other aspects of their game. With stalwart players bookending the court, look for another tight contest this week as the GIANTS fight to keep their season alive ahead of the break.

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. NSW Swifts

Last time these teams met, the Swifts well and truly dominated against the Thunderbirds with an 18 goal win proving they were the real deal in 2019. Since then the Swifts have continued their form, fighting hard for a win last week against an intense GIANTS outfit and without captain, Maddy Proud. They have all but proven their ability to put on strong team performances regardless of their combinations on court. The Thunderbirds have been an unknown quantity this season, scraping two wins from eight rounds but putting some impressive performances up over the past few weeks, challenging the Lightning in Round 7 and only going down by one against the Fever last week. While the Thunderbirds have shown some great improvement, the Swifts’ consistency and connection is likely to get them over the line once again this week, while Elle Bennetts will hope to get the start in wing attack with Paige Hadley in centre after playing out three quarters over the weekend. For the Thunderbirds, Maria Folau has hit her straps in recent weeks, dominating around the goal circle with her distinctive long bomb shot, meaning the likes of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner cannot rely on keeping Folau at the circle edge. Meanwhile, the defensive unit of Shamera Sterling and Layla Guscoth continues to impress, while the injection of Shadine Van Der Merwe has done wonders through the midcourt.

Collingwood Magpies v. Queensland Firebirds

If there is any round where the Firebirds need to get their first win for 2019 on the board, it is this week before the World Cup break. The Magpies come into this round off the back of a massive loss to the Lightning. With this match marking the final round to prove themselves against the winless Firebirds the Magpies will be hoping that the home crowd will spur them onto another victory. Last time these two sides met we saw the first draw of 2019 in the ultimate tale of two halves, with neither team able to be split at the final siren. Interestingly, this was when the Firebirds were still at what was considered ‘full strength’, with both Romelda Aiken and Mahalia Cassidy in the side. While the new combination in goals of Gretel Tippett and Lenize Potgieter has been fantastic since Potgieter’s inception in Round 6, the lack of connection and consistency through attack has proven to be a problem, especially against rock hard defence. For the Magpies, their defensive unit is one of the most settled with Geva Mentor holding ground in goal keeper, giving April Brandley and Ash Brazill plenty of room to cause chaos. Though the pairing of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe has done wonders in defence for the Firebirds, the volume of penalties the young players collect will need to go down this week to prevent Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst from putting goals on the board.