WITH the race to finals heating up in the ANZ Premiership and Round 2 of the Suncorp Super Netball done and dusted there were a couple of stellar individual performances that stood out. The Swifts managed a narrow win against the ever improving Fever while across the ditch the Tactix made history securing their first spot in a grand final.
Sophie Garbin’s third quarter blitz
Down by eight goals at half-time, the Swifts found themselves in an unfamiliar position but the switch up of Sophie Garbin into goal shooter seemed to be the answer they were looking for as she single-handedly altered the game. her individual effort of 21 goals left fans and teammates alike in awe as Garbin slotted 13 consecutive goals to draw level and then push her side into the lead for the first time in the match. Garbin showcased her impressive strength under the post and ability to control the tempo of the game to set the tone for her midcourters in Maddy Proud and Pagie Hadley while her connection with Helen Housby was also on song. Her blistering third quarter performance will be sure to put the rest of the competition on high alert.
Tactix set to secure first ever grand final berth
An impressive round of action from the Mainland Tactix gifted them second spot on the ladder registering two wins from two games to book a date with Central Pulse in the grand final. It will be the first time the Tactix have played in a grand final despite it still being two weeks around. They will take plenty of confidence coming out of their Round 9 performance downing reigning premiers Central Pulse and Northern Mystics who were hot on their tail in third. Ellie Bird has come into her own in the past couple of rounds with the goaler finding a wealth of space under the post and sitting at a high accuracy while her ever growing connection with Te Paea Selby-Rickit is one to watch. The speed through the midcourt or Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen is damaging while in defence the consistent effort from Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau is undeniable. The defensive duo repeatedly won ball back across Round 9 and were a key reason for their success, shutting down the oppositions flow in attack as the shooters capitalised on their chances to send a warning shot to fellow grand finalists, Pulse.
Fever should not be underestimated
Coming up against the reigning premiers West Coast Fever burst out of the blocks against the Swifts and were keen to prove they mean business. Without captain Courtney Bruce down the back it was the youngsters in Olivia Lewis, Sunday Aryang and Jess Anstiss that stood up. Tasked with the challenge of quelling Sam Wallace at the post, Lewis stepped up to the plate ultimately forcing the goaler off the court thanks to her smothering style of play and ability to dictate the space. In attack, Jhaniele Fowler was dominant as ever owning the space both underneath the post and perimeter edge to sink four from six super shots. Fowler finished with an incredibly accurate 53 goals from 57 attempts while the improved efforts of Alice Teague-Neeld did not go unnoticed as the goal attack found the net more frequently and delivered the ball with great confidence into Fowler. Although they fell agonisingly short the Fever showcased their skill to score quickly and easily and win ball back in defence despite being undermanned.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maddy Gordon are key for the Pulse
The Central Pulse suffered their second loss in as many weeks, this time at the hands of the Mainland Tactix. In saying that the top of the table Pulse were without a couple of key playmakers in the attacking third with Maddy Gordon and Ameliaranne Ekenasio both not taking the court. Claire Kersten also played out of position in wing attack gifting Renee Savai’inaea some valuable court time while Tiana Metuarau played out the full game in goal attack. They seemed stagnant in attack without Ekenasio and Gordon with the court, given how much the duo do off the ball and ability to create space to ensure the front end works like a well-oiled machine. The Pulse missed Ekenasio both in the goal circle and out the front credit to the mountain load of work she does to bring the ball down and accuracy to post while the speed and dynamic movement of Gordon was also sorely missed.
Steph Wood the barometer in attack for the Lightning
Flat on their feet in the opening half the introduction of Steph Wood paid dividends for the Lightning who immediately kicked into gear when the goal attack took the court in the final 90 seconds of the second quarter. Originally expected to start the game, a slight niggle saw Wood take a seat on the bench and Lightning throw the bibs around with Cara Koenen getting the nod at goal attack and Peace Proscovia in at goal shooter. Out of sorts in attack, Wood came on and had a profound impact despite not being accurate to post. Her sheer presence shifted the entire momentum of the game with Laura Langman and Laura Scherian raising the bar in attack and feeding off Wood’s intensity. Her spatial awareness, exceptional delivery into the circle and fancy footwork injected an element of life into the Lightning who rallied in the third to claim their second win of the season.