Tag: gabi simpson

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
Created with Quiz Maker

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
Created with Quiz Maker

Memorable matches: Firebirds end Fever’s unbeaten run – SSN 2018

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is the Queensland Firebirds’ massive 10-goal win over West Coast Fever in Suncorp Super Netball Round 5 2018, ending the Fever’s dominant start to the season.

While perhaps not the highest profile match in recent netball history, the Firebirds outfit of 2018 was a classy unit with an ability to beat any team if the day was right. Fever had proved dominant for the opening four rounds of the season and with the skill and precision passes to target goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler always in position at the post, they had thus far seemed impossible to stop. However a classy outing from the Firebirds ensured the time was right, with a stellar defensive effort from Laura Geitz and Tara Hinchliffe propelling the play back up through the centre of the court.

It was a physical match from the get-go with neither side willing to back down and the Firebirds having the upper hand early. With so many players willing to dive into the contest there were a few injury scares throughout – including a moment where Gretel Tippett seemed in pain with a knee issue but carried on – while the closeness of the scoreboard had the Firebirds home crowd up on their feet. While only up by four goals at the final change, the Firebirds stepped up a gear in the final quarter with Gabi Simpson and Mahalia Cassidy crucial in delivering turnover ball, with their tenacity and  hunt for the netball propelling the side to the stellar 10-goal victory. The two sides combined for a whopping 150 penalties between them and were relatively equal in turnovers, proving the closeness and intensity of the match and making it real testament to the Firebirds for staying ahead of the Fever.

It was the Firebirds’ transition down court that was the kicker for the Fever, with Caitlyn Nevins and Cassidy creating havoc with their crafty passes early while Tippett’s movement and footwork came out to play, with confidence coming in spades. Romelda Aiken was clean and accurate, shooting majority of the goals but creating space for Tippett to work her magic with her split and excitement with ball in hand. The defensive pressure from the Firebirds up the court was impressive with Geitz (three intercepts) and Hinchliffe (six gains) dominating in the back end.

Courtney Bruce had a quiet match with just the two gains and 25 penalties, atypical for the usually dominant defender, allowing Tippett and Aiken to control all the movement in the goal circle and unable to create space of her own to deflect with ease. Bruce still managed five deflections but was not able to take possession credit to the tenacity of the Firebirds’ midcourt pressure, playing out in goal defence for majority of the match while Stacey Francis moved out to wing defence. Young gun midcourter Jess Anstiss had a stellar match limiting the impact of Nevins early and moving into wing attack proving her versatility, collecting a team high three intercepts and just the three penalties. Nat Medhurst proved valuable alongside Fowler with her ability to read and create the play, while her timing allowed her to find space in the circle to open up Fowler at the post or turn and shoot for the long bomb. While she only put up the 11 goals for the match, her 22 goal assists kept the Firebirds on their toes thanks to her ability to switch up her movement and passing. While Fowler provided the target at the post, it was this match where teams were able to find an opening into how to defend the stocky goal shooter. Despite that, her clean footwork and aerial ability allowed her to find plenty of the netball while her accuracy saw the Fever stay in the match even when the Firebirds seemed to take off.

Firebirds collected enough wins to make finals, but a one-goal loss to Sunshine Coast Lightning saw them knocked out at the final hurdle, while Fever went on to lose three more matches during the 2018 season, dropping a second game to the Firebirds in Round 12 and in turn then falling to the Lightning on home turf in the 2018 Grand Final. 

_

FIREBIRDS 17 | 18 | 16 | 20 (71)
FEVER 16 | 14 | 17 | 14 (61) 

STARTING SEVEN

Queensland Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Gretel Tippett
WA: Caitlyn Nevins
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Tara Hinchliffe
GK: Laura Geitz

BENCH: Laura Clemesha, Kim Jenner, Jemma Mi Mi
COACH: Rosalee Jencke

West Coast Fever

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Nat Medhurst
WA: Ingrid Colyer
C: Verity Charles
WD: Jess Anstiss
GD: Stacey Francis
GK: Courtney Bruce

BENCH: Shannon Eagland, Kaylia Stanton, Annika Lee-Jones
COACH: Stacey Marinkovich

SHOOTING STATS

Queensland Firebirds:

Romelda Aiken 45/51
Gretel Tippett 26/28

West Coast Fever:

Jhaniele Fowler 48/49
Nat Medhurst 11/14
Kaylia Stanton 2/2

 

SSN All-Stars prove no match for Diamonds in Bushfire Relief game

THE Diamonds claimed victory over the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars (66-53) in the Netball Bushfire Relief game. Australia’s strong connections down court proved to be the difference between the two teams with their ability to weave their way down the court and use their change of speed to exploit the All-Stars side. Despite having a stacked line-up it took a while for the All-Stars to gel, but a potential third quarter comeback had the Diamonds worried before they resorted to their usual ways and ran out comfortable winners. The new rules did not seem to bother either side instead they embraced the rolling subs and two-point shot with both sides making the most of the changes.

It was a big game for the Diamonds with coach Lisa Alexander heading up her last game and Caitlin Thwaites pulling on the green and gold dress for the last time. With Ash Brazill ruled out of the clash due to a potential anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sustained in her AFL Women’s game against Melbourne, Gabi Simpson made the switch from All-Stars to Diamonds, while Amy Parmenter was elevated into the All-Stars squad. The disruption did not seem to unsettle the Diamonds, with Simpson slotting back in seamlessly credit to her skill, defensive pressure and pre-existing connections with a host of players while Parmenter added plenty of excitement.

With the centre pass starting with the All-Stars it did not take the Diamonds long to create a turnover with Courtney Bruce taking an impressive intercept, proving why they are world number one with Gretel Tippett rewarding Bruce’s efforts with a goal. The Diamonds continued their merry way building on their connections and using their experience together to slice through the All-Stars defensive unit. The combination between Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius was strong with the two drawing upon their time at the Lightning to rotate through the circle and use their feet to cause confusion in the circle but it was not enough to put off Tippett, Thwaites and Caitlin Bassett. Thwaites scored the first super shot of the game proving that she was going to go out in style thanks to her long range shooting and smooth movement. Australia opened up a four-goal lead with five minutes left in the opening term before really ramping it up to take a commanding eight-goal lead into the first break.

With the lead in favour of the Diamonds, the All-Stars had plenty to prove with England Roses teammates Chelsea Pitman and Helen Housby combining nicely in the attacking third with their clever movement and precise ball placement. Housby and Jamaican, Jhaniele Fowler found plenty of space in the goal circle against the likes of Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau with Fowler making full use of her height and reach. The continuous subs provided plenty of opportunities for players to come on and have an immediate impact, with Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling using her lean over the shot and lanky arms to gobble up any missed shots or errant passes. Nine goals down, the All-Stars went for an all-Swifts approach with Nat Haythornthwaite, Housby and Sam Wallace all combining but it was not enough to draw back the margin with the Diamonds powering through and using their ball speed to work through the All-Stars defence. Through the midcourt, Liz Watson was electric using her quick feet and good vision to sight Tippett and Thwaites in the circle time and time again. The Diamonds were well and truly humming as the quarter went on unfazed by what the All-Stars line-up threw at them extending the lead to a whopping 18 goals at half time.

It was do-or-die for the SSN side and with the writing on the wall they upped their ante mounting somewhat of a comeback to reduce the deficit to 15 goals at half-time. Newcomer Kiera Austin got her fair share of court time and while she was not overly accurate on the shot her silky movement across the court caught the eye of many interested onlookers. The speed of Laura Scherian through the midcourt opened up the attacking end for the Diamonds with Laura Langman doing her best to combat her Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate with her defensive prowess and sheer stamina. It is hard to argue that Australia seemed to have the majority of the play dominating through the midcourt with Paige Hadley also doing a wealth of work to feed the ball into the goalers with her quick hands and work around the circle edge. The All-Stars dwindled the lead down to 11 goals before the Diamonds once again found their feet in attack thanks to long bomb two-point shot from Tippett and strong defensive work from the likes of Simpson and Turner with the two creating a wall in defence.

The final quarter continued the same fashion as the previous ones with the Diamonds dominating. The All-Stars simply had no answers for Australia unable to stop the rate they were scoring at and moving the ball at. Jo Harten had a hit and miss performance under the post struggling to find her usual range while up the other end Kristiana Manu’a and Emily Mannix both combined well using their intercepting ability to cause havoc. Thwaites was near on unstoppable in the goal circle with her strong hands and well timed movement on full display pairing with Tegan Philip to create a moving circle. Simpson showcased her elite skill with two intercepts in under a minute using her leap and strong hands to reel the ball in. It was a complete performance from the Diamonds with the All-Stars succumbing to their opponents strong connections across the court.

Tippett did the most damage on the scoreboard for the Diamonds converting 20 goals from 27 attempts at 74 per cent accuracy, with five of those goals coming from two-point range while Bassett 11 from 15 and Thwaites 10 from 13 were not far behind. Simpson had a game to remember with four intercepts and four deflections, while Klau impressed with five gains, five deflections and two intercepts. For the All-Stars Sterling led the way down back with a whopping eight gains, four intercepts and five deflections in what was a stellar performance by the developing Jamaican defender. In the goal circle Fowler was accurate to post with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

Netball Bushfire Relief game preview: Diamonds and All-Stars to battle it out in huge showdown

WITH pride on the line for both sides, the contest on Sunday between the Australian Diamonds and Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars will draw plenty of attention. It will be the first game the Diamonds have played this year and will be hoping to kick their international campaign off in style while on the other hand the All-Stars will be aiming to showcase their array of talents and bring everything together.

The All-Stars are littered with class acts across the court with Silver Ferns veteran Laura Langman named captain for the exhibition match. Langman is an excitement machine across the court with her dynamic change of pace, quick hands and ability to consistently do the unthinkable. Fellow midcourters in the likes of England Roses duo Chelsea Pitman and Nat Haythornthwaite will complement the speedy style of Langman, with both players renowned for the deliberate approach to circle edge. Wing defence Gabi Simpson will most likely head up the defensive side of the midcourt with her athletic ability and leap a couple of things in her extensive repertoire. Meanwhile Kate Moloney may also find herself rotating through the position given her more defensive style of play in the midcourt. The match-up through the midcourt will set tongues wagging with the likes of wing defence-cum-centre Ash Brazill potentially taking on Langman in what could be an action-packed battle. Brazill oozes athleticism and endurance while Diamonds teammate and wing attack Liz Watson has proven that timing and ball placement is no issue often delivering pin-point passes into the circle. Throw in the likes of Laura Scherian who has come into her own in recent times along with Paige Hadley and both sides have a relatively stacked line-up. Expect the wing defence role to fall to Jamie-Lee Price with her speed and hustle around the circle edge her bread and butter. Price will be looking to outmuscle the likes of Pitman and Haythornthwaite around the circle edge to limit scoring opportunities.

In the defensive circle itself, the All-Stars have a plethora of options none more daunting than the likes of Geva Mentor. The Roses goal keeper is in a league of her own credit to her experience and high netball nous while the likes of young up and coming Jamaican superstar Shamera Sterling will be hoping to set the court alight with her intercepting ability. Mentor will get the opportunity to reunite with former Lightning teammate, Karla Pretorius with the two posing a dominant threat to the Diamonds with their ability to deny ball into the circle with their extreme defensive pressure and skill to clog space. But Australian captain Caitlin Bassett is no stranger to the physicality and mind games that both Pretorius and Mentor play, having spent time with them at the Lightning and combating them at an international level for years. Bassett is strong in the air and under the post able to move her feet and hold space while in her final game before retirement Caitlin Thwaites will be hoping to leave a lasting legacy with her accuracy to post and ability to shoot from anywhere in the circle.  After a standout season for the GIANTS, Kristiana Manu’a will be hoping to make a splash and assert herself on the game while Emily Mannix knows what it takes to knock over the Diamonds having been inside of the Australian camp. Kiera Austin will get the chance to come up against club teammate Manu’a with the young Diamond hoping to highlight her smooth movement in the circle and accuracy to post. It is hard to go past the likes of Gretel Tippett with the star goaler winning the Liz Ellis Medal credit to her impressive 2019. Tippett will be hard to stop with her physical and athletic style along with her increased volume and accuracy to post while fellow goaler Tegan Philip will be wanting to cement her spot in the Diamonds side.

When it comes to the goal circle the talent does not stop headlined by towering Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler who has proven that volume is no issue while the Swifts’ Sam Wallace is no slouch in goal shooter able to use her aerial skills to reign in loose passes and shoot truly. Wallace will more than likely pair up with NSW teammate Helen Housby in the circle while Roses goaler Jo Harten’s combination with Housby could also be on display throughout the match giving the All-Stars coaches in Julie Fitzgerald and Briony Akle plenty to think about. Although the All-Stars have a stacked line-up the Diamonds will be hoping that their defensive connections between the likes of goal keeper Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston will disrupt their attacking flow and force turnovers. Both players are renowned for their hunt for the ball and intercepting ability. The potential match-up between Fever teammates Bruce and Fowler will be exciting with the two known for their aerial style of play and competitive nature. Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau will both also be hoping to impact the contest for the Diamonds with the defenders knowing Housby and Wallace’s game plan inside and out playing with them at the Swifts.

Expect a fireworks display from both sides with neither wanting to loose and key match-ups across the court especially considering the number of club teammate cross-overs across the court.

All-Stars
Jhaniele Fowler
Jo Harten
Nat Haythornthwaite
Helen Housby
Laura Langman
Emily Mannix
Kristiana Manu’a
Geva Mentor
Kate Moloney
Chelsea Pitman
Karla Pretorius
Gabi Simpson
Shamera Sterling
Sam Wallace

Australian Diamonds
Caitlin Bassett
Liz Watson
Kiera Austin
Ash Brazill
Courtney Bruce
Paige Hadley
Sarah Klau
Tegan Philip
Jamie-Lee Price
Laura Scherian
Caitlin Thwaites
Gretel Tippett
Maddy Turner
Jo Weston

Queensland Firebirds prevail in tough contest against Central Pulse

THE Queensland Firebirds got their pre-season off to a hot start crossing the ditch and claiming a seven goal victory (61-54) against reigning ANZ Championship premiers Central Pulse over the weekend. Both sides toyed with their line-ups throughout the contest in hope to find the winning combination with the lead also chopping and changing throughout the four quarters before the Firebirds put the foot down.

It was a sloppy opening couple of minutes for both sides with neither team able to settle and find their momentum in attack or defence. Balls went flying over the baseline before the Firebirds found their groove and opened up a five-goal lead midway through the term. Tippah Dwan got the start in goal attack with the young shooter taking full advantage of the opportunity thrown her way using her speed and dynamic movement to create space. Although she is not overly tall she used her strong hands and netball smarts to have an impact coming out of the circle and allowing goal attack Gretel Tippett to go to work under the post. Tippett led from the front using her extreme athleticism to poke holes in the Pulse defence often steaming past Karin Burger. Gabi Simpson had her work cut out for her in wing defence with Pulse wing attack Maddy Gordon darting around the court and hitting the circle edge with pace. Despite Queensland having an early lead the Pulse fought their way back into contention to draw even at quarter time.

The Central Pulse came out raring to go forcing turnovers and linking up across the court with ease. The Firebirds switched up their defensive combination in the second term with Tara Hinchliffe pulling on the goal defence bib pushing Kim Jenner to the bench. The connection between Hinchliffe and Rudi Ellis took some time to develop but as the quarter went on they applied a wealth of pressure on the likes of Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio who was cool, calm and composed to post. Tiana Metuarau found her rhythm in the attacking third using her change of direction and speed to create confusion while also backing herself from range. Lara Dunkley also made her first Firebirds appearance with the speedy centre showcasing her strength around the circle edge to deliver well weighted passes into the circle. Dunkley paired well with Macy Gardner with the two finding good space and rotating through the attacking third to set up clever plays and draw the defenders.

Only one goal separated both sides at half time with the Firebirds evening things up early credit to some strong defensive play and hands over marking especially through the midcourt. In hope to find more fluidity across the court the Firebirds rung in the changes with Ine-Mari Venter pulling on the goal shooter bib while Dunkley switched into wing attack and Hinchliffe moved into goal keeper. Venter used her smooth movement and long range shooting to do damage for the Firebirds while the tried and tested combination between Hinchliffe and Jenner worked wonders with the two confusing the space and reading the play to pick off passes and cause hesitation in the feeders minds. Throw in Simpson and the Firebirds defensive trio looked like a well-oiled machine hunting the cross court ball and using their defensive pressure to limit the avenues to goal for the Pulse. Livewire Jemma Mi Mi also re-entered the game and did not skip a beat running at a million miles an hour and consistently re-offering across the court thanks to her clever positioning. After spending the opening half out in wing defence Katrina Rore moved into goal keeper with the highly touted defender using her hands over pressure, quick footwork and general netball nous to clog up space in the goal circle and reduce Tippett’s influence. Towering goal shooter Aliyah Dunn also built nicely into the quarter using her strong holds and good ball control to reel in long passes and shoot truly but copped a heavy knock and was forced from the court.

With a four goal lead their way the Firebirds motored ahead running rampant in the final term to keep the premiers at bay. Queensland ironed out their issues, finding strong connections across the court and most importantly backing one another. Despite, the Pulse getting the margin back to one goal in the early stages of the last quarter the Firebirds withstood the pressure and instead capitalised on their opportunities with their quick transition play and accuracy to post. Elle Temu was strong down in goal defence for the Pulse but struggled to find her feet at times up against Tippett and Venter. Gordon showed her class and potential using her quick hands and fancy footwork to remain a threat in the attacking third but the Firebirds did not waiver getting the job done comfortably.

Bushfire Relief – Surprise packets

WITH the Australian Diamonds and Suncorp Super Netball All-Stars list finalised for their Australian Bushfire Relief game we take a look at two surprise packets or up and coming players for each side.

Australian Diamonds:

Kiera Austin:

The talented goaler has plenty to offer and while she does not have experience on her side she has excitement and youth as a touted future Diamonds star. Having played with the GIANTS expect the goaler to have a strong connection with Australian captain, Caitlin Bassett making for a dynamic duo in the goal circle. Austin is a very versatile player able to move between the shooting circle and wing attack with ease, making her a crucial player for the Diamonds. She is a confidence player who will grow as the match goes on and has proven that she is not afraid to back herself from range in the circle.

Maddy Turner:

Only still developing her defensive craft, the New South Wales Swift defender will be hoping to have an immediate impact when on court. Her connection with fellow defender Sarah Klau will go a long way with the two able to rotate in the circle with ease and apply a wealth of pressure. She is a real excitement machine with her aerial ability and skill to cover the court with ease. Turner is a more tagging style of defender but has proven that she can change up her game plan and hunt the ball rather than nullify her opponent. Her lean over the shot and read of the play makes her a constant threat across the court; pair that with her determination and Turner could be the difference on court.

SSN All-Stars:

Kristiana Manu’a:

Arguably one of the surprise packets of the All-Stars team with the 24-year-old defender really coming into her own in 2019. She offers plenty of athleticism and physicality in the goal circle thanks to her tenacious attitude. Manu’a is not the tallest player but works hard across the court to cover her opponent and shadow their every move. She is a real competitor and always gives 100 per cent making her an exciting prospect for the All-Stars. The typical goal defence can be used as an impact player, able to inject some speed and defensive pressure into the backend while her offensive efforts are just as impressive working hard to bring the ball down the court.

Gabi Simpson:

This will be a chance for the hardworking and highly skilful wing defence to once again prove herself against the best of the best in hope to reclaim a spot in the Diamonds. The Firebirds midcourter oozes sheer athleticism with her impressive leap and speed off the mark making her a handy inclusion in the All-Star team. Simpson has struggled for consistency over the last season and will be hoping to announce herself in this contest with her smothering defensive pressure and quick feet. She clogs up space in the attacking third and is not afraid to hunt the ball time and time again while her connection with the likes of Emily Mannix and Kate Moloney from their time in the Diamonds could pay dividends in trying to topple the current list.

Netball Bushfire Relief teams announced in all-star clash

THE teams every netball fan in Australia has been waiting for were announced early today, with the Australian Diamonds taking on a Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars side to raise money for bushfire relief across the nation. The Diamonds side is largely the same as its Constellation Cup outfit, with recently retired Caitlin Thwaites named, and Caitlin Bassett and Liz Watson chosen as captain and vice-captain respectively. The only difference is the inclusion of GIANTS Netball’s Kiera Austin who provides the versatility in the front half of the court. Steph Wood was unavailable for selection.

The SSN All-Stars side, coached by the two New South Wales leaders – where the match will be held (Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney) – is a stacked team with the likes of Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler, and English goalers, Jo Harten and Helen Housby in the circle. In defence, Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius will undoubtedly provide great leadership for Shamera Sterling, while Laura Langman and Kate Moloney will headline a strong midcourt. Draft Central will provide in a detailed analysis on the teams, as well as a preview for the match ahead of the March 1 date.

The match will be played at 1pm on March 1,  with tickets starting at $10 on sale from midday tomorrow, Thursday January 30.

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AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS:

Coach: Lisa Alexander

Caitlin Bassett (c) (GIANTS Netball)
Liz Watson (vc) (Melbourne Vixens)
Kiera Austin (GIANTS Netball)
Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)
Courtney Bruce (West Coast Fever)
Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts)
Sarah Klau (NSW Swifts)
Tegan Philip (Melbourne Vixens)
Jamie-Lee Price (GIANTS Netball)
Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens)
Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)
Maddy Turner (NSW Swifts)
Jo Weston (Melbourne Vixens)

SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL:

Coaches: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts) & Julie Fitzgerald (GIANTS Netball)

Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever)
Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball)
Nat Haythornthwaite (NSW Swifts)
Helen Housby (NSW Swifts)
Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Emily Mannix (Melbourne Vixens)
Kristiana Manu’a (GIANTS Netball)
Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies)
Kate Moloney (Melbourne Vixens)
Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Gabi Simpson (Queensland Firebirds)
Shamera Sterling (West Coast Fever)
Sam Wallace (NSW Swifts)

Diamonds to face SSN All-Stars in bushfire relief fundraiser

THE Australian Diamonds have thrown their support behind the Australian bushfire relief, and are set to play a fundraiser showcase match against an all-star Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) team at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday, March 1. The game will pit some of the best international players in the SSN against the Diamonds in what will be a tantalising battle of skill and smarts in hope to raise funds for bushfire relief.

Expect the usuals to get the start for the Diamonds with the likes of captain Caitlin Bassett to don the goal shooter bib while shooting sensation Gretel Tippett is more than likely to get the start in goal attack. There are plenty of options through the midcourt with Paige Hadley and Liz Watson able to switch into wing attack or centre with Ash Brazill and Jamie-Lee Price have proven to be a force in both wing defence and centre. Defensively the duo of Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston are formidable with the two consistently posing a threat with their hands over pressure, hunt for the ball and tenacity.

Potential all-stars starting seven:

There is a wealth of influential players across the SSN that could have a lasting impact and should be considered for the all-stars team making the decision extremely difficult to make. Unlucky to not make the cut is the likes of Sam Wallace who has been a key contributor in the past couple of years for the Swifts along with the likes of Phumza Maweni down in defence.

GS: Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever)

It is hard to go past Jamaican power house Fowler with the towering goaler able to single handedly dominate the opposition with her commanding height and deceptive aerial ability. Fowler added another string to her bow in 2019 getting on the move more regularly to shake up her game style. Although she is most comfortable directly under the post, Fowler can go to post from mid-range making her a sure start for the up-coming all-stars game.

GA: Helen Housby (NSW Swifts)

The talented goal attack has class to boot seamlessly moving across the court and using her signature drives to open up space. She is cool, calm and collected able to read the play with ease and stand up under pressure as she has proven multiple times. Housby can shoot from anywhere in the circle and is a real playmaker in the attacking half with her vision and pin point passes a key component of her game play.

WA: Natalie Haythornthwaite (NSW Swifts)

Haythornthwaite is one of the most consistent wing attacks in SSN and although she is not the fastest player on the court it is her smarts, ball placement and connections that makes her so deadly. The Roses representative gives 110 per cent each time she steps out on the court, pair that with her strong drives to the top of the circle and quick hands to flick the ball around the circle edge, she makes for a pretty handy inclusion in the potential all-stars team.

C: Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Hands down one of the world’s best centre making her all but a shoe in for the all-stars team. Langman is an energiser bunny able to run all day and night, consistently dictating the play across the court with her smarts and ball placement. She is renowned for making something out of nothing along with her defensive flair. There is nothing she cannot do, able to pick off passes, force turnovers and deliver precision balls into the goal circle.

WD: Gabi Simpson (Queensland Firebirds)

The experienced and skilful wing defence has a plethora of knowledge when it comes to combating her fellow Diamonds competitors having played with majority of them making her an asset to the all-stars squad. She is a defensive mastermind frequently using her impressive speed and high vertical leap to full advantage to pluck balls out of mid-air. Her ability to shadow opponents and block their every move is a key element of her game while her drive through the midcourt also provides that attacking aspect to any side she is in.

GD: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Arguably the best goal defence in the world making her an easy candidate for the all-stars team given her defensive prowess, go-go gadget arms and speed off the mark. She consistently causes headaches for any opposition attack end with her persistent tagging style of defence and nous to cause deflections and turnovers. Pretorius is renowned for her ability to pick-pocket opponents and send the ball flying back down the other end of the court while her lean over the shot is just as intimidating.

GK: Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies)

Collingwood and Roses goal keeper, Mentor makes for a handy inclusion given her experience, commanding stature and defensive skillset. Mentor is strong in the air able to read the play with ease and use her body to position under the post and gobble up any rebounds. She can confuse space in the goal circle with her quick feet paired with her three-foot marking Mentor is a tough opponent to match-up against.

Bench:

Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball), Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

All three players offer skill and match-winning ability making them all viable options for the starting seven. Sterling while still young and developing her craft is explosive able to hunt the ball and grasp an intercept mid-air thanks to her incredible leap. Thunderbirds teammate, Pitman also offers great consistency and durability able to think her way through tricky situations and deliver well weighted passes. Meanwhile GIANTS goaler, Harten is all class with ball in hand, happy to turn and shoot from anywhere within the circle.

Top 5 Australian defenders from 90s to now

THROUGHOUT Diamonds history there has been a host of star players rotate through both the goal defence and wing defence position. Since entering a new decade we decided to rank the top five defenders from 1990 to now. This is an opinion-based article based on the perceptions of the individual writer and how they rank against other defenders. The likes of Rebecca Bulley and Claire McMeniman were also among contention but fell just short of making it into our top five.

#1 Julie Corletto
Corletto possessed all the class and composure in the world with the talented defender able to make something out of nothing more times than not. She was a highly skilled player able to read the play and swoop in to take an impressive intercept credit to her quick feet. The former Australian Diamond and Melbourne Vixens veteran consistently showcased her versatility, able to switch between wing defence and goal defence with ease. Most importantly though was her on-court leadership, able to control the flow in defence and provide assistance down the court to transition play from one end to the other. Despite being plagued with injuries throughout her career, Corletto was a key cog in the Australian defensive unit helping her side to three consecutive World Cup championships and Commonwealth gold.

#2 Renae Ingles
Arguably one of the most influential wing defences in Diamonds history, able to run opponents off their feet and dictate the surrounding space. Ingles is renowned for her ability to shut down wing attacks with her smothering pressure, long reach and silky movement across the court. Her balance around the circle edge and general netball nous is second to none, consistently imposing herself on the contest. Throughout her career, Ingles also showcased her attacking side able to drive the ball down the court and re-offer on the transverse line to help set up any attacking forays. She was deceptively quick, able to get hands to ball time and time again. Ingles has had a decorated career winning four domestic premierships along with a Commonwealth gold medal and World Championship.

#3 Mo’onia Gerrard
The former Adelaide Thunderbirds and NSW Swifts defender left a lasting imprint on the Australian defensive line-up thanks to her physicality and ability to hunt the ball. Gerrard was not afraid to put her body on the line, often throwing herself into the contest in hope of winning the ball. She wore her opponents down consistently, pestering them with her physical presence and taunting style of game play. She played majority of her career in goal defence but highlighted her versatility switching to wing defence and providing a constant threat with her quick feet and timely tips to disrupt any attacking flow. Unlucky with injury, Gerrard missed the 2006 Commonwealth Games but played a significant role in the later World Cup wins while her domestic career was also riddled with highlights.

#4 Gabi Simpson
Simpson can change up her game play with ease but is best known for her tagging style of play, consistently wearing her competitor down and clogging up space. She uses her speed off the mark to full advantage, repetitively getting hands to ball and stopping any free-flowing play in attack. She is dynamic across the court, able to chop off errant passes while her leadership is impressive, renowned for her ability to stand up when needed. The Queensland Firebirds captain is no stranger to the big stage using her quick footwork, impressive leap and balance to get around the body of her opponent and hustle them for the ball. She is a true game changer and has proven so on multiple occasions especially domestically with back-to-back premierships in 2015-16.

#5 Ash Brazill
There is no denying that Brazill is in a league of her own, credit to her sheer athleticism and ability to find loose ball. The talented wing defence has speed to boot, able to dart around the court seamlessly while providing a constant defensive threat. She has an uncanny ability to do the unthinkable and use her read of the play to pick off cross-court passes. Brazill is not afraid of the physicality, using her Aussie rules background to full advantage and taking the game on. Although she has just burst onto the international scene, she has been plying her trade for years at the domestic level allowing her clever body position and skill to shut down players do all the talking. Her transition work down the court is a key element of her game, weaving the ball through the thirds, and while she is not renowned for her ability to shut down players, given her flashy style she is more than capable.