THE 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season is officially done and dusted meaning it is now time for our postseason reviews. Another side which just did not quite hit the mark this season, the Mavericks were hit by constant injuries which led to a disrupted season for the side, despite the wealth of talent at their disposal.
Season form: 11-8-1 (5th)
While there is no doubt the Mavericks had some truly exciting players at their disposal, it was the culmination of unfortunately timed injuries, early connection issues and inconsistency that really cost the Mavericks this season. Razia Quashie, Jodie Gibson and eventual retiree Jo Trip were immense the whole way through, with the latter two proving more than capable of providing the highlights reel when Quashie was out injured, as Gabby Marshall continued on her impressive trajectory with another impressive season under her belt. Sasha Corbin was the steady head through the midcourt with Georgia Lees and returnee Beth Ecuyer-Dale’s circle craft continuously proving useful, while a new-look circle took some time to really fire, but once it did there was no questioning what its trio could do. Fresh from a stint in the Suncorp Super Netball Ine-Mari Venter was cool, calm and collected playing both in goal attack and goal shooter, while the steady, speedy and creative Kadeen Corbin injected excitement where required. Britney Clarke popped up here and there with her strong hold and ability to reel in the high ball, as the side forged a combination which was reliable and accurate to boot. However, their early season inconsistency and struggle to back up their most impressive performances really hurt them, finishing in fifth for the third consecutive season.
Best win: Def. Team Bath 46-35, Round 19
The Mavericks were the only side to defeat Team Bath twice during the home-and-away season, proving that their defensive unit had the smarts and offensive drive was too much for the then-ladder leaders. With two wins against the blue and gold side under the belts, it was arguably their Round 19 victory that proved the Mavericks had the goods and that the first win was not a fluke, as the Mavs ran away with an 11-goal win. Quashie starred in the last line of defence, standing strong to gather eight deflections, three rebounds and two intercepts, culminating in four turnovers while Gibson, Marshall and Ecuyer-Dale added two apiece as their smothering defensive effort rivalled Bath’s own. The combination between the Corbin sisters was immense as Kadeen Corbin shot 15 goals straight credit to Sasha Corbin’s ability to read the play and thread the needle, while Venter had a day out under the post finishing with 31 goals. While unfortunately both the side’s wins over Bath came with the cost of ugly losses the next day, both wins proved crucial in the side’s pursuit for a finals berth.
Standout player: Razia Quashie
Most Improved: Jodie Gibson
It is safe to say that Quashie was the one to watch on court this season, and while she has been a superpower down back previously, it was her ability to pile on the pressure in every single match to continuously be a thorn in the side of her opposition. Whether she took the court alongside Trip or Gibson, Quashie had the innate timing, vision and intent to force errors and turnovers down back, while her aerial ability and strength proved critical at times. While the goal keeper was unfortunately injured at key times during the season, 2021 was arguably her best season to-date, compiling an average of 3.8 turnovers, 3.3 deflections and 2.6 intercepts per match. Whilst it may be a slight cop-out to call Gibson the most improved player given she has been part of the Roses squad prior to injury, there is no doubt the defender returned to her best form this season with a strong defensive unit surrounding her and absolutely starred in any position she played. With a wealth of versatility, Gibson was able to quickly and consistently step up to plug the hole in the defensive unit and allowed those around her to stand tall in the process. The speedy and adaptable player plied her trade in all three defensive positions throughout the season and did not skip a beat, using her long arms and clean hands to clean up the loose ball and snag intercepts to propel her side into transition. Gibson’s speed ensured she was never out of the contest, averaging close to three deflections and just nine penalties per match.
Picture credit: Ben Lumley Photography