Tag: gabi simpson

Vixens flex their muscles against the Firebirds in Round 2 blitz

IN a game the Queensland Firebirds would probably rather forget, Melbourne Vixens showed their dominance across all areas of the court, and bench, coming away with a massive 78-50 win. Despite their fantastic opening quarter against the Lightning last weekend, the Firebirds were not able to string together a consistent performance against the classy Victorian side. The Vixens put on a clinic – and if they produce a game of this quality every match will be a premiership contender this season.

The first few minutes of the opening quarter were fairly even, as both teams sized up their opposition and started to find their way into the game. Jemma Mi Mi took the court for the first time in 2020 after missing last round with a calf complaint and was joined by debutant and goal keeper Rudi Ellis. The matchup between Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson and powerhouse wing attack Liz Watson provided plenty of excitement with the two engaging in a fantastic tussle from the outset. It felt like the Firebirds attack end were trying to find their feet, and the combination between youngster Tippah Dwan and Romelda Aiken is showing signs of promise. In the Vixens attack end, the combinations and experience made for a formidable front line who got into a rhythm as the quarter progressed and started to make their intentions known for the match. Caitlin Thwaites showcased her versatility playing out in goal attack and not skipping a beat with her clever feeds into the circle and drive to post. 

Vixens showed great patience in all areas of the court, and the experience of their Diamond-stacked side really came into play. Despite this, the Firebirds mounted defensive pressure through the midcourt, led by Simpson who, as always, was getting herself in everything. The inexperience of the Firebirds lineup became clear as a few silly errors through the midcourt crept into their game, and were punished by the bullet feeding and vision of Watson at the other end. Ellis was making her mark in her first SSN game, showing off her impressive leap and rangy limbs by picking up two rebounds on the trot. Vixens managed to take control towards the end of the first term as they cleared space easily and balanced the court, maintaining composure and staying in control on transition play, ending the quarter with 16 goals to the Firebirds’ 13. 

The Vixens gathered momentum after the break and as their confidence grew, so did the scoreline. Tegan Philip came on for Thwaites and was zipping around the goal circle leaving Kim Jenner for dust. It was clear that all seven Vixens on the court were doing their job, with Watson, in particular, putting on an outstanding show. Firebirds were letting the Vixens derail them slightly, and their passing accuracy was starting to falter under the defensive pressure of the Vixens. The youth and inexperience of the Firebirds was being exposed by the fluency and timing of Mwai Kumwenda and Phillip, and Firebirds were forced into taking a time out to try and stem the flow of the Melbourne side.

The defensive trio of Emily Mannix, Jo Weston and Kate Eddy starred, running rings around the Firebirds attack end as the Vixens extended their lead to 10 goals. Unfortunately, for the Firebirds, as the Vixens went from strength to strength, the Queensland team looked disordered and on top of each other. Their only saving grace was the tried and tested route over the top to Aiken, which allowed them some access to post through the wall of green dresses. In the final five minutes of the quarter, things got even worse for the Firebirds, who could not find their accuracy from the two-goal range. The Vixens shooters were slotting them from everywhere making the most of the super shot as the game really started to slip out of the Firebirds control. Even with Watson taking a rest on the bench, the Vixens were still way too good, winning the quarter by 21-8 and taking a huge 16-goal lead into the half-time break.

This really set the tone for the remainder of the match, as the Vixens really put the foot down. Mi Mi came into the centre position with Mahalia Cassidy out at wing attack, and the Firebirds shuffled the pack almost constantly in the third quarter to try and find the right combination. Their small errors were costing them, and in contrast, the Vixens were doing the little things well and enjoying the chance to play with freedom. They were both rapid and careful with possession, maintaining their structures in both attack and defence. In an unusual move, Simpson came into goal defence in hope to nullify the Philip with her tagging style and aerial presence. The change however left the Firebirds without their experienced leader in the midcourt with the youngsters unable to penetrate through the Vixens defensive pressure as the Melbourne based team pushed out to a 25-goal lead. 

With the score blown out to 57-32, the Vixens continued to utilise their bench players, including Jacqui Newton in at goal defence. The Vixens had only had nine turnovers in three quarters of netball, proving just how clinical and well-drilled they were throughout the game. Tayla Honey was particularly impressive, demonstrating smart footwork and accurate feeding ability. For the Firebirds, no third was really clicking for them in terms of connections, even with the typical combination of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe down back and Simpson back in wing defence. Both teams made good use of the rolling subs rule throughout the fourth quarter, testing out combinations and connections. Towards the end of the game, Ine-Mari Venter slotted an impressive three super shots in a row, which although too late for this game, gives her valuable experience for future rounds. Thwaites sunk a final devastating super shot after the buzzer, meaning the Vixens pushed the score out to 78-50. 

The Vixens will be glad their starting seven earned themselves a rest on the bench, especially when they come up against Lightning in a few days time. They proved their premiership potential and kept the Firebirds to their equal lowest score of all time. With shooters making 90 per cent in normal play, and slotting 13 from 19 super shots, the Vixens were unstoppable. They also managed to rack up seven intercepts to the Firebirds one. The Firebirds lacked experience compared to the Vixens but will be hoping to bounce back with a win against the Magpies in Round 3.

>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>>> VIXENS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Queensland Firebirds 13 | 8 | 11 | 18 (50)
Melbourne Vixens 16 | 22 | 19 | 21 (78)

STARTING SEVEN:

Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Jemma Mi Mi
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Rudi Ellis

Melbourne Vixens:

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Caitlin Thwaites
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix

2020 Suncorp Super Netball preview: Round 2

A HUGE second round of Suncorp Super Netball is set to take place over the weekend, with plenty of quality match-ups across all four games. With Round 3 following just two days later, expect a heap of rotations on court for all eight teams in a bid to rest players and ensure plenty of young guns take the court once more.

GIANTS Netball v. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Saturday, 8 August

The opening game of Round 2 is an enticing matchup between two sides that were beaten last week but ultimately were both in their contests for majority of their respective matches. Interestingly, while the Thunderbirds ended up losing by a hefty margin they still beat the GIANTS’ final score by a goal meaning this match could be a real close one given the shooting prowess of both sides. 

For the GIANTS, consistency is key with the side standing up under pressure for patches last round and relying too much on the super shot to stay ahead of the Swifts. That being said, they have one of the most prolific long range goalers in the world in Jo Harten, so that will likely be their sticking place once more and inevitably a huge target for the Thunderbirds defence. However, the T’birds do not currently have a set goal defence who would really be able to match up against Harten for a significant period of time given the goaler’s endurance and height, meaning goal keeper Shamera Sterling will be under a heap of pressure trying to close off avenues to post for Caitlin Bassett and using her rangy arms to deflect circle ball where possible. At the other end, Lenize Potgieter is the staple out the front and consistent as can be, with an ability to evade defence and tally goals with ease and accuracy. With Kristiana Manu’a potentially out of the side this round after a calf niggle on Sunday, expect Sam Poolman to sit back on Potgieter and the potential of both Tilly McDonell and April Brandley to make an appearance out the front. 

The midcourt battle is set to be a tough one, with both teams boasting a mix of experience and youth. An interesting battle is set to see Chelsea Pitman and Amy Parmenter go head to head, while Hannah Petty should get the start against Jamie-Lee Price but Maisie Nankivell had a solid outing last round so could add an extra defensive element to the play. With firepower in different areas of the court and plenty of players who stand up best under pressure, expect a tough and fairly even contest this time around between two teams hungry for a win.

 

Queensland Firebirds v. Melbourne Vixens
Saturday, 8 August

A huge match-up between the Firebirds and Vixens is next up on the weekend, with neither side putting out their best performance last round though the Vixens got a win on the board where the Firebirds could not compete for the full four quarters. That being said, the Firebirds’ opening half last round was stellar, proving they can certainly match it with the best, and the Vixens cannot afford to not let the Firebirds start the same way this round. 

Vixens co-captains Liz Watson and Kate Moloney are the key cogs through the middle of the court and with two physical matchups in Gabi Simpson and Mahalia Cassidy to look forward to, expect both sides to start with a bang and get the early upper hand. Simpson had a huge match last round but faded out in the second half, and is well-matched with Watson which could see the pair go toe-to-toe and limit the easy access into the goal circle. Moloney’s ability to transition between attack and defence is seamless while Cassidy’s hunt and hunger for the ball was made evident last round on her return from injury. Defensively, the combination between Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe grows with every match and as two of the most outstanding young defenders in the country expect the duo to apply a heap of pressure on the Vixens’ goaling trio in Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, with the goalers rendered inaccurate – by their standards – last round. 

Turning to the Firebirds goal circle, Romelda Aiken is a huge target at the post and based off last round’s starting seven the Vixens could force a Jamaican stand-off in the circle with Kadie-Ann Dehaney lining up against her compatriot. Lara Dunkley and Kate Eddy will be a huge match-up, with the duo both able to apply a heap of pressure, while Jo Weston will likely get the start on youngster Tippah Dwan who will look to replicate her debut performance, though the versatility in the new-look Vixens defence could see some major changes between wing and goal defence, with Weston and Eddy both able to ply their trade with ease in either position. The Vixens’ endurance game could be both the winning or losing point in this one, and if the Firebirds get far enough ahead early they could have a real chance of getting on top to limit the Vixens’ ability to work their way back.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Collingwood Magpies
Sunday, 9 August

Another interesting match-up, with a very new-look Collingwood outfit taking on the highly experience and consistent Sunshine Coast Lightning. While the Magpies did not get the win last week, they came out with a fire in the belly and were with the Vixens for majority of the match, and now know what to look for in the Lightning firepower. The Lightning had a shoddy start last round but ended up coming away with the biggest win of the round, meaning the Magpies will need to put out a full four quarter effort to ensure the Lightning do not get away from them this round.

Looking to match-ups, Steph Wood and Jodi-Ann Ward will likely be the one to watch, with both players putting on a show last round with their respective work rate and ability to lift where required. Wood’s long bomb accuracy will be the kicker, and if Ward can limit her opportunities to go to post the Magpies have a real chance here with the experience of Geva Mentor holding up in goal keeper ready for the rebound. At the other end of the court, expect a new-look circle from the Magpies with Shimona Nelson expected back at the post this week with her ability to leap for the loose ball and put up shots with ease. A flurry of Magpies goalers had an impact lat round with Emma Ryde, Gabby Sinclair and Nyah Allen all plying their trade to post though their youth gave the Vixens an opening out the front, so the Magpies attack will need to ensure they do not rely on just Nelson at the post this round.

Defensively, the Lightning have one of the most influential defensive units in Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius, with the duo critical if they are to go two wins on the trot. Through the midcourt, the battle between Madi Browne and Laura Langman will be huge with both players workhorses through the centre while Kelsey Browne will hope to continue working back to full court time with her feeding ability second to none and Laura Scherian a hugely consistent name out the front for the Lightning. 

 

NSW Swifts v.  West Coast Fever
Sunday, 9 August

The final match of the round will see the reigning premiers take on a fast finishing Fever outfit, with the Fever of 2020 thus far looking a lot like their 2018 side. The Swifts reintroduced Maddy Proud last round but missed Maddy Turner down back, and still managed to get a win on the board proving they are well and truly able to put up a fight against this Fever unit despite missing a critical defensive link. The only match between two winning teams from last round, a win here is crucial.

Lauren Moore burst out of the gates last round with her explosiveness and ability to impact the contest, meaning the goal defence could be crucial locking down Alice Teague-Neeld, whose all-round performance out the front last round put her in the spotlight. Sarah Klau will get the tough job on Jhaniele Fowler, while up the other end Courtney Bruce and Sam Wallace will go head to head in an intriguing battle given the duo are both very adaptable players. Helen Housby had a quiet match last round and fellow England Rose Stacey Francis will hope to take advantage of that with her niggling defence style. The injection of Sunday Aryang into the circle worked wonders last round so could take the court once more, while Jess Anstiss also had a strong outing last round so will be on the case against the rotating duo of Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite in wing attack. 

While the Fever play a very physical game, the Swifts for the most part play a clean and ball-treasuring game, using their consistent hands over pressure to limit vision and space down the court, and evading defence with a constantly moving circle. The Fever rely a lot on Fowler, so will need to ensure Teague-Neeld steps up once more if they are to get a win and draw attention away from the tall timber.

Kim Jenner keen to put Firebirds back on top in 2020

UNSURE if the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season was going to go ahead, Round 1 kicked off with a bang with Queensland Firebirds defender Kim Jenner proving the extended off-season had worked wonders. She asserted herself from the get go racking up intercepts and deflections aplenty against grand finalists Sunshine Coast Lightning.

“Yeah it was very exciting to get out there and play some netball again. It was great waking up on game day and having game day nerves and the excitement that came with it as well. It was awesome to be able to play in front of our purple family as well, it’s been a long time but we always love doing that,” Jenner said.

While it may be a new season the same pre-game routines come into play for Jenner with the somewhat superstitious defender not willing to stray away from her usual match day preparations.

“I probably have a bit of like a routine. I go to bed early the night before. I have pasta the night before and I always straighten my hair. So that’s probably one of my main superstitions, I have quite curly hair. So I always make sure I’ve got straight hair I just feel a lot more fierce and ready to go,” she said.

Entering her fourth season Jenner is no longer the new kid on the block but instead a seasoned campaigner despite only being 22. Oozing tenacity and excitement the young defender has a bright future ahead of her and has become a staple hold in the purple uniform over the past season.

“I’ve got a little bit more experience under my belt. So being able to go out there and know what it’s like and know what level you need to play at to be successful,” Jenner said. “So I guess, just continuing to build that confidence and continuing to build on the exposure and experience out there.”

Still developing her craft, Jenner’s main focus for the 2020 season is centred on creating a strong defensive unit that can win ball back and provide her attackers with a chance to score in hope to win more games than 2019.

“I guess just building that connection with the other defenders and being more consistent in playing to the end and playing to the last whistle and making sure that we’re still winning ball. We’re still doing our job all the way up to that last whistle,” she said.

Playing with the experienced Gabi Simpson in at wing defence and beside fellow youngster Tara Hinchliffe, the Firebirds are building a strong core of defenders that possess a wealth of ball winning skills with the captain well and truly leading the way.

“Gabi is such an incredible leader out there. So I’m very lucky and privileged to be able to play alongside her she’s amazing at being able to lift everyone around her and really push forward. She’s a very smart player and I’m very lucky to be learning from her,” she said.

Inside the defensive goal circle Jenner’s partnership with Hinchliffe is a clear focal point with the two making their way up through the ranks together and proving to the competition that they are no easy beats with their physicality and hunt for the loose ball.

“Yeah, it’s really exciting that me and Tara have been playing together for so long and we’re building on that connection. I guess, just each game our experience increases our time together increases as well. So we’re great at working through it together,” Jenner said.

“I guess we love it, as defenders our job is to make it hectic and to win the ball down back,” she said. “So whenever we’re, I guess, we’re feeling a bit low inside, connecting as a unit and having some time really pumped us up and when someone wins ball that really, really motivates the whole team a lot.”

It has been an unprecedented start to the season for all involved with the competition relocating to Queensland due to border restrictions. Meanwhile, the 2020 season is also playing host to a number of rule changes, none bigger than the introduction of the super shot and forcing teams to not only alter their attacking approach but so too their defensive methods.

“I guess it does throw a new spanner in the works and I guess we approach the game the same for the first 10 minutes of each quarter. But it does make you have to reconsider how you go about defending in those last five minutes, depending on what shooters are on, where they want to shoot from. So I guess you’re used to pushing your shooters as far away from the post as possible and now they want to be out there. So yeah, I guess it just switches your thinking.

Starring in the first three quarters and fading out in the fourth term against the Lightning, the Firebirds are faced with the Melbourne Vixens in Round 2 who are no easy feat given their strong connections and stellar shooting line-up. Boasting the likes of Caitlin Thwaites, Tegan Philip and Mwai Kumwenda under the post Jenner looks forward to the challenge of testing her skill against some of the world’s best goalers.

“Yeah, they are a very experienced shooting end. They shoot very well, in their Round 1 game as well. So it’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and play on some of the best, I guess, making sure we’re doing our role on our players as well, whatever that might be,” she said.

2020 SSN – Head to head: Round 2/3

IN each round of Suncorp Super Netball we will identify key match-ups, provide an analysis of players and compare the two styles. This week sees a couple of international names take the court against each other in the goal circle in tantalising battles for Rounds 2 and 3. 

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING V. COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES

Steph Wood (GA) v. Jodi-Ann Ward (GD)

Two highly talented players will take the court in the circle together for the first time in Suncorp Super Netball, with Jamaican import Jodi-Ann Ward taking on Diamonds goaler Steph Wood in what Draft Central sees as one of the matchups of the round. The two players have plenty of intensity and skill, making for a formidable head to head given the player who gets the upper hand will probably be the key to either side winning. 

Wood is a highly accurate goaler with plenty of smooth moving and the ability to not only step up to the plate but also absorb the pressure out the front, constantly opening up space and using her vision to spot Peace Proscovia and Cara Koenen at the post. Wood tore up the rulebook with her clean hands and accuracy to post last round, sinking long bombs from left, right and centre in her attempts to even up the scoreline. Wood did more than just even the scores though, with her effort seeing the Lightning well and truly blow the Firebirds out of the water credit to her super shot accuracy. Able to find space with ease and point and shoot, Wood rotated between goal attack and wing attack where required with her skillset allowing her to transition between the two positions with ease.

Ward is a tough defender with plenty of potential and star power in her first season at SSN level. While she was not the cleanest on court last round she well and truly matched up with her opposition and was able to create some impressive turnover ball credit to her hands over pressure and second attempt at the deflection. Her speed in and around the circle allowed her to cut off her attacker but also saw her generate a heap of attention from the umpires, with her physicality drawing plenty of whistle though certainly helping to dissuade her opposition from going to post. With her first taste of SSN out of the way Ward could be a huge factor in this game, with her ability to get hands to ball allowing her to be a critical cog driving the ball up the court. Her combination with Geva Mentor can only improve from now, with the duo hoping to interrupt any smooth movement generated by the Lightning.

While Wood does not necessarily like a physical opposition she is more than capable of playing through it, with the real question of whether she can back up her Round 1 effort or if Ward can get in her head and use her rangy arms to block vision and deny easy access to goal. With both players able to ply their trade outside the circle just as well as inside, there is potential we will see the duo go head to head across multiple positions making for an exciting match on Saturday.

Other notable matchups across Round 2 will see Caitlin Bassett take on Shamera Sterling while also in the goal circle the likes of Round 1 MVPs Lauren Moore and Alice Teague-Neeld go head to head on Sunday. Also this weekend is the intriguing battle between Liz Watson and Gabi Simpson with both players in ripping form. Coming up in Round 3 – less than two days later – is an enticing matchup between Stacey Francis and Jo Harten before Romelda Aiken takes on Mentor, with both matches played on Tuesday evening. Wednesday will see a huge circle battle of Lenize Potgieter and Sarah Klau while the last match of the round pits centres Kate Moloney and Laura Langman against each other.

Final quarter blitz gifts Sunshine Coast Lightning first win of the season

GRAND finalists Sunshine Coast Lightning proved they are a threat to be reckoned with surviving an early scare from the Queensland Firebirds to win comfortably (66-48). It was a slow start for the Lightning who struggled both in attack and defence to get going while the Firebirds burst out of the blocks to stamp their ascendancy on the match. But the Lightning were not about to go down without a fight pulling together a phenomenal final term.

The Firebirds put their disappointing 2019 season to bed early, coming out with a real ferocity and intensity that was simply unmatched by the Lightning in the first 15 minutes. Captain Gabi Simpson set the tone in the opening stanza with her pressure over the ball forcing a held ball and a subsequent goal. Converting off the Lightning’s centre pass the Firebirds made it two in a row with Romelda Aiken and newcomer Tippah Dwan finding their feet instantly and hitting the scoreboard. The defensive pressure for the Firebirds was immense as the Lightning struggled to penetrate through the midcourt before Cara Koenen eventually sunk the opener for the Lightning. As the ball pinged around goal defence Karla Pretorius injected herself into the contest with a clever intercept to draw level with the Firebirds at two goals apiece.

Determined to keep their momentum rolling the Firebirds upped the ante through the midcourt with Lara Dunkley threading the needle into Aiken and Dwan. In her first outing for the club the wing attacked seemed to have the ball on a string, able to hit the circle edge with great precision. With the attack unit humming the Firebirds pushed out to a six goal lead before Ine-Mari Venter made her way onto the court for the final five minutes of the quarter. With the super shot now in play it was Dwan that made history sinking the first of the competition. Her hot hand led the way for the Firebirds in attack while Simpson continued her merry way picking of passes at every opportunity. The Firebirds were simply carving up the court using their pace and unpredictable nature to keep the Lightning guessing and go on a tear to open up an eight goal lead at quarter time.

Struggling to find any form of rhythm up their attacking end, the Lightning threw the bibs around with Peace Proscovia coming on in goal shooter pushing Koenen into goal attack and Steph Wood into wing attack. But that did not seem to bother the Firebirds with the girls in purple seeming to have the ball on a string. The defensive pressure coming from Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe was exceptional with the two forcing the Lightning goalers off balance and forcing turnovers aplenty with their read of the play and deceptively long arms. Hinchliffe was incredibly strong under the post, positioning well to collect rebounds while Jenner run amuck out the front.

Firebirds wing attack, Macy Gardner showcased her skill with ball in hand, driving into the pocket time and time again, while Dwan was having a field day out in goal attack for the Firebirds with her impressive timing and circle rotation with Aiken. Building in each facet of the game the Firebirds established a nine goal lead and did not look like slowing down until the Lightning rallied scoring three goals in a row. But the Firebirds answered the call once more as Aiken pulled out the party tricks with a unique layup style shot. Mia Stower made her way onto the court but it was her rival goal attack that got all the accolades with Wood proving to be the super shot star nailing five in a row, ultimately cutting the 10 goal deficit to a mere two at the break.

Drawing on their momentum from the second quarter, the Lightning got an early win before the Firebirds quickly answered streaming down court. They showed a good balance of speed and patience in attack with Mahalia Cassidy controlling the tempo and waiting for the options to appear rather than force them. Jenner kicked it up a gear after Wood showcased her class and range in the final minutes of the term with the defender getting hands to everything that came her way. The Firebirds suffocated the Lightning in attack and forced a wealth of missed opportunities with Sunshine Coast remaining goalless for the first five minutes of the term. Simpson continued to deliver for her side not only in defence but so too in attack with her drive through the midcourt and constantly hitting the transverse line with speed and intent.

The Firebirds made the Lightning work for every single pass as they dominated through the midcourt with their youth and speed. As the quarter went on the Lightning started to generate some better ball movement and force turnovers and hesitation in the Firebirds minds. Wood continued to do a wealth of damage from two point range, really rallying in the final five minutes to cull the margin and draw level for the first time since the opening quarter.

With the game on the line, it was the experience and class of the Lightning that shone true with Laura Langman and Laura Scherian taking the game by the scruff of the neck and taking full control in attack. Despite going goal for goal in the first couple of minutes Sunshine Coast put the foot down nullifying the Firebirds defence and forcing Jenner and Hinchliffe to swap bibs. But the Lightning kept coming exploiting the Firebirds youth with their precise ball movement, netball smarts and cleanliness with ball in hand. The momentum completely shifted despite the best efforts of the Firebirds as the Lightning capitalised on each and every turnover to run out 18-goal victors.

Aiken was the hot hand for the Firebirds sinking 26 goals from 33 attempts while Dwan showcased her skillset and excitement with 11 goals from 17 attempts, along with three goals from super shot range. Venter also proved to be a solid option to post with two goals from two point range. However it was Wood that stunned many with her accuracy to post sinking a whopping 10 goals from 11 attempts in the super shot zone, while Koenen did the heavy lifting with 34 goals from 40 attempts. Defensively Jenner had a stats-stuffing performance with five gains, two intercepts and three deflections, while Maweni and Pretorius combined for 10 gains, six intercepts and nine deflections.

>>> LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE

>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 18 | 12 | 12 | 6 (48)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 10 | 18 | 14 | 24 (66)

STARTING SEVEN

Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #2

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season beginning in just a couple of days, the Draft Central team has decided to count down five things we are looking forward to this season. One of the most interesting adaptations this season is the addition of rolling subs, with a few teams that could benefit more than others in different parts of the court.

Starting with last season’s premiers, the NSW Swifts have plenty of talent on their bench that proved they could impact where required last season. Over the past few seasons the development of Sophie Garbin has been impressive with the youngster finding patches of court time last season and a huge benefit of her improvement could see her jump on as an impact player where required to assist Helen Housby and Sam Wallace. Through the midcourt, the Swifts have some high quality names in the mix with Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite all dominant attackers and Proud returning from injury, as well as some stellar youngsters on the bench who can ply their trade when required. In defence the side is a little less versatile than past seasons so is unlikely to see as much change as past seasons, though expect to see the likes of Lauren Moore ply her trade to rest Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner.

Sunshine Coast Lightning are almost in a completely different position to the Swifts in that they rarely made use of their bench in past seasons, bar to rotate Steph Wood, Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia last season. Given Wood is the most confident on the long bomb, expect the pocket rocket to be the main offender in the last five minutes of the quarter while Koenen can push out to goal attack when required to assist Proscovia at the post, though we are still yet to see who will take the starting spot alongside Wood. What we could see from the Lightning is a different kind of rolling rotation through the midcourt, with potential of Laura Langman and Laura Scherian shuffling for a different approach to the centre position or to rest given the condensed fixture will see double the games in a short amount of time.

Heading to the Melbourne Vixens and it is much the same story to the Lightning, with rotations expected in the goal circle but significant and trusted connections formed down the rest of the court. With a number of goalers who are able to sink the long bomb, expect the Vixens to adapt their rolling subs based on the game at hand, with the trio of Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip all able to ply their trade from anywhere in the circle. While the Vixens have been known to not make a huge amount of changes in past seasons, the addition of Kate Eddy this season could open up different defensive combinations, though the tried and tested duo of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston has rarely faltered with little rotations expected unless injury strikes.

Heading to a new look Collingwood Magpies side and it is safe to say that the Magpies will see plenty of rotations, especially with the return of Madi and Kelsey Browne from injury. With the dynamic sisters able to impact in any position through the midcourt and potentially set to be rested in patches to work up to full match fitness with no recent practice matches behind them, expect a couple of the Magpies’ young guns in Mel Bragg and Molly Jovic to take full control of their opportunities to get valuable court time. The goaling unit will be crucial for the Pies, with Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair all but expected to play full games at this point with Julia Woolley returning to her Victorian Netball League side. This puts training partners Emma Ryde and Nyah Allen in good stead to make their Magpies debut but also puts a question mark over their heads with Allen having no prior SSN experience and Ryde a goal shooter like Nelson. Defensively, expect Jodi-Ann Ward and Matilda Garrett to be the major switch-ups in goal defence, with Ward also able to ply her trade in wing defence and Geva Mentor holding strong in goal keeper. 

Sitting just out of the top four last season, this GIANTS unit is looking very similar and is sure to benefit off the rolling subs with Kiera Austin a fantastic long shot to rotate into goal attack with fellow long bomb specialist Jo Harten at the post during the five minute two goal super shot period. Austin will likely fill the wing attack hole left by Kim Green at the end of last season for much of the rest of the quarters, with Caitlin Bassett important at the post and plenty of time for the goaling unit to meld better than they did in season 2019. After some fiddling last season Jamie-Lee Price secured the centre position with Amy Parmenter holding ground at wing defence little midcourt changes are expected except in the instance of the final five minutes, with Maddie Hay a potential to come off the bench where required. Defensively, Kristiana Manu’a and Sam Poolman are expected to hold down defence with assistance from Matilda McDonell.

After a disappointing season last year, West Coast Fever has nowhere to go but up and will likely see the most rolling sub movement through their goal circle in much the same way as they did in 2019. With Jhaniele Fowler as consistent and reliable as they come at the post, much of the movement will likely come from Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld, though Stanton’s goal shooter experience could prove crucial given she and Teague-Neeld are certainly more confident and used to the long bomb than Fowler. While it would be a huge change not having Fowler at the post, perhaps the switch-up is what the Fever need up forward when the two goal super shot comes into play. When it comes to  the midcourt and defence the Fever were forced to blood up a couple less experienced names last season that saw some impressive development, giving plenty of confidence to rotate where required. While Courtney Bruce is unlikely to rotate from goal keeper, Stacey Francis had a couple of runs out in wing defence last season while Jess Anstiss is a versatile midcourter meaning there could be plenty of movement in this Fever side.

A much-improved 2019 season saw the Thunderbirds suffer injuries aplenty and a bottom two finish while the off-season saw a flurry of changes. The retirement of long bomb specialist Maria Folau will hurt the Thunderbirds with the super shot coming into effect so shortly after her time with the side, and while the T’birds still have some stellar goalers, the likes of Lenize Potgieter and Sasha Glasgow are not the most adaptable, playing out most of their time in goal shooter. Still potentially in recovery from her 2019 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, Glasgow will likely be rested early in the part of the season leaving much of that attacking rotation to Charlee Hodges and Sam Gooden out the front with Hodges expected to get the start. With a highly versatile back-end, expect Kate Shimmin, Layla Guscoth and Shamera Sterling to really utilise the rolling sub with each defender able to add something different to the circle, while Shadine Van Der Merwe can also be a handy option down back.

Like the Magpies, expect the Firebirds to really take advantage of the rolling subs in 2020 with a couple of young, inexperienced names and plenty of upcoming talent in the mix. With a couple of young defenders holding down the circle expect to see some rotation between Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe and Rudi Ellis, while the experience and consistency of Gabi Simpson will hold up well in wing defence and highly unlikely to change from her regular post. The attacking midcourt will be down to Jemma Mi Mi and the hopeful return of Mahalia Cassidy, although young guns Macy Gardner and Lara Dunkley are both capable of rotating in where required especially if Cassidy is still a while off returning from ACL recovery. The real question for the Firebirds is what will happen in attack, with Romelda Aiken the obvious go-to girl at the post but no official replacement for Gretel Bueta as of yet. The rolling subs rule will allow the Firebirds to really feel out connections, with South African import Ine-Mari Venter the only viable option for the time being as the sole additional goaler on the list, though training partner Tippah Dwan is a solid option on the bench after being a quality option in preseason last year prior to injury.

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #5

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #4

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #3

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #1

Centre Pass Podcast: Season preview

 

2020 SSN: Season preview – Queensland Firebirds

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

Coach: Roselee Jencke
Captain: Gabi Simpson
2019 finish: 8th

It was a disappointing season for the Firebirds last season only mustering up one win for the season. Despite being competitive throughout the season they simply fell off the boil and could not maintain a consistent four quarter performance which ultimately let them down time and time again. They were also struck by injury throughout their campaign with star Jamaican goal shooter, Romelda Aiken sidelined for a lengthy stint paving the way for Spar Proteas goaler Lenize Potgieter to join the ranks while centre Mahalia Cassidy had her season cut short thanks to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The Firebirds also farewelled a couple of veterans in the purple dress with wing attack Caitlyn Nevins and goal keeper Laura Clemesha both retiring at season end to cap off what was a less than memorable season for the Firebirds.

2020 expectations/predictions:

With Gretel Bueta announcing her pregnancy there is some uncertainty surrounding the attacking end, and it will be extremely difficult for the Firebirds to find someone of the same calibre considering wealth of work she does across the court. Bueta oozes plenty of class, strength and dynamism that is unmatched meaning the attack end will have a gaping hole in 2020 and it will be up to Aiken and Ine-Mari Venter to really steer the ship. Although more comfortable in goal shooter, Venter will have her work cut out for her in goal attack with the South African having to bring the ball down court.  Through the midcourt the highly anticipated return of Cassidy will generate plenty of interest while youngster Macy Gardner will be hoping to make a splash in her first full season at the club. Former Vixens midcourter, Lara Dunkley will also be eager to showcase her dominance through the centre court with her speed, change of direction and pin point precision while livewire Jemma Mi Mi will be hoping to build on her consistency from last season and really drive that attacking third with her impressive speed off the mark and fancy footwork. The leadership of Gabi Simpson is a focal point for the Firebirds with the wing defence able to spark her side into action thanks to her aerial presence, intercepting ability and tenacity. Defensively the Firebirds boast one of the most unpredictable and exciting combinations in Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe. Both still only 22-years-old, the defenders are renowned for their physicality, hunt for the ball and strong connection, something they will be hoping to kick up a gear in 2020 and have a lasting impact.

Key player:

Struggling with injury last season expect Aiken to answer with a bang this season and recapture her dominant form especially considering she will be the main avenue to goal. The 196cm goaler can change the course of a game in an instant given her skill to score with ease. She is a commanding presence under the post while her aerial ability is second to none able to constantly reel in skyscrapers. She stunned many last season, on the odd occasion switching ends and plying her trade as a goal keeper, using her long limbs to defend the shot and get in the head of opposition goalers. Her versatility could once again be called upon for the Firebirds in 2020, but expect Aiken to spend majority of her time parked under the goal post where she does her most damage with her high volume of shots and relative accuracy. Her strength on the rebound is another crucial element in her game play, filling her teammates with confidence that if their shot comes up short she can reclaim possession.

Team list:

Romelda AIken
Gretel Bueta
Mahalia Cassidy
Lara Dunkley
Rudi Ellis
Macy Gardner
Tara Hinchliffe
Kim Jenner
Jemma Mi Mi
Gabi Simpson
Ine-Mari Venter

What if … the Constellation Cup is cancelled?

THE Constellation Cup has become a permanent fixture in the international netball calendar with Australia and New Zealand putting themselves to the test and often trying out new combinations to discover some type of competitive edge. With dates for Constellation Cup confirmed for mid October international netball is in sight, giving fans plenty to be excited about. It will be the first time that Australia and New Zealand have gone head to head since last year where the Diamonds restored their winning ways claiming their seventh Constellation Cup. In that time both countries have seen some key players retire with the likes of Maria Folau for the Ferns and Caitlin Thwaites for Australia both hanging up the dress, leaving some big holes in the respective squads. While the thought of international netball looms it is all dependent on the spread and safety precautions which must be taken given the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

So what if the Constellation Cup was cancelled? 

With Australia in the middle of somewhat of a rebuild after two heartbreaking one goal losses in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 Netball World Cup, a lack of international netball could have a severe impact on the development of their next generation players. With Thwaites, retiring the opportunity for a new goaler is in the mix with a host of young talent such as Cara Koenen and Sophie Garbin both putting their hand up as viable options last year with their accuracy to post and clever movement. The midcourt could also have a different look for the Diamonds with Ash Brazill unlikely to pull on the green and gold due to a devastating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at the start of the year leaving a chance for the likes of Kate Moloney or Gabi Simpson. Similarly the same goes for New Zealand with the Ferns on the search for Folau’s replacement whether it be shooting prodigy Grace Nweke, Maia Wilson or Aliyah Dunn. The Ferns could also be without Bailey Mes who was ruled out of the ANZ Premiership season with a patella injury, creating another possibility for a young player to take the court. With key players missing from both sides respectively the Constellation Cup would be an ideal platform for both teams to test out new combinations and allow up and comers to join the ranks. However if both nations are unable to get on court in an international setting the next time they step out on court could be in the Nations Cup when they will be faced with the likes of England, Jamaica or South Africa. 

The ramifications do not stop there though, with Australia still on the hunt for a coach with Lisa Alexander no longer in charge of the Diamonds. With no coach at the helm the Diamonds future is still relatively up in the air, something they will be hoping to get on top of in the coming months and test out at the Constellation Cup. The tournament will provide the Diamonds with a chance to test out new combinations, coaching styles and ultimately act as a trial run for the upcoming Nations Cup. 

If cancelled due to travel restrictions it also throws up the possibility of not seeing some household netball names take the court again. Both teams have a couple of players heading towards the latter stage of their career in particular New Zealand with the likes of Laura Langman and Katrina Rore. While in no means are we hoping for them to retire from international netball given their undeniable explosiveness, skill and sheer presence, retirement is inevitable in every netballers career. Langman is 34 while Rore hit the 33 mark this year and if international netball comes to a halt in 2020 there is a slight chance netball fans may have already seen the back of them. 

Travel is a key part of the Constellation Cup with games played both in Australia and New Zealand, however if restrictions remain in place the competition will not be able to go ahead and subsequently have a huge impact on the world of international netball.

Memorable Matches: Roses make history with 2018 Commonwealth Games gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australia

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

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

England

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

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

SHOOTING STATS

Australia

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

England

Jo Harten 34/39
Helen Housby 18/21

Netball fantasy teams: All-Star Queensland teams

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

Queensland Firebirds:

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

BENCH: Nat Medhurst, Chelsea Pitman, Rebecca Bulley

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

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

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

BENCH: Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian, Phumza Maweni

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

Who would win?

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

Who wins this All-Star battle of the Sunshine State?
Queensland Firebirds
Sunshine Coast Lightning
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