Tag: geva mentor

Magpies’ excellent form continues as they close in on top sides

THE Collingwood Magpies have swooped on the Suncorp Super Netball competition, clinching two huge wins in as many days to give themselves a fighting chance of making the finals, downing the Queensland Firebirds in a competition-first Pride Match at Nissan Arena on Thursday night. The Firebirds suffered some key losses over the past week and it showed on the court, as the renewed Magpies came out blazing, holding on in a tight final quarter to claim the 66-59 victory.

It was a tight start between the two sides, as both teams came out firing and not giving an inch throughout the contest. Whilst it was the Romelda Aiken show out the front for the Firebirds, with the Jamaican finding plenty of space early on despite the tight marking from Geva Mentor, a shared effort from Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair seemed to do the trick as the Magpies’ goalers worked seamlessly to create chances out the front, with Sinclair’s long range shooting ability on full show with a couple of early super shots on the board allowing the Magpies to get the upper hand. Kim Ravaillion worked in overdrive to find entry into the goal circle as Gretel Bueta was kept quiet by an in-form Jodi-Ann Ward, with the goal defence relentless from the opening whistle and showing no signs of stopping. While Ravaillion fired out the front, her direct opposition in livewire Molly Jovic was no slouch and wreaked havoc of her own out the front, teaming well with Kelsey Browne to find Nelson and Sinclair with ease. A Sinclair super shot put a nail in the coffin of the first quarter, as the Magpies came away with a 19-13 lead at the first break.

The Magpies had a couple early chances to pile on the pressure in the second, missing a couple opportunities with three shots within the opening minute and sinking just one as the Firebirds made them pay with three straight off the hand of Aiken. An unprecedented change was made as Sinclair was forced off the court momentarily with a dislocated finger – but fortunately was back later in the quarter – but the Magpies took hold of every opportunity that came their way as Kalifa McCollin was injected into the fray. Nelson continued to rule the roost though, working around Rudi Ellis seamlessly to find and slot into the back space, as the Firebirds made the switch in the front-end with Tippah Dwan entering the contest to create a moving circle. But every time the Firebirds looked like they were getting going, it was the Magpies that found a way, as Ward continued to be a threat in the back-line, while Ruby Bakewell-Doran tried her hand on Browne and picked up an intercept for her troubles as aa tight second quarter saw the Magpies add a goal to their lead with a 34-27 scoreline at the main break.

A goal for goal start to the second half did not last long, as Nelson continued to assert herself on the contest and wreak havoc under the post with her great reach and accuracy. Ellis worked hard to limit Nelson’s impact while Sinclair did not put up a wealth of shots but ensured she kept Kim Jenner busy and away from the action, as the goal attack fired pass after pass into the circle. A couple of Magpies runs kept the Firebirds at an arm’s length, and the Firebirds were laboured in attack as Lara Dunkley and Ravaillion continued to work in overdrive but to no avail as Ash Brazill, Mentor and Ward asserted their dominance in the backline. While the Magpies pulled away in patches, putting up two goals for each Firebirds shot, two late super shots from Dwan pulled back the margin to eight goals, and another could have chipped back the margin even further as a miss allowed the Magpies to finish off on a high with a 10-goal lead heading into the final change.

Inaccuracy was an issue for the Firebirds as the final quarter began, with Aiken returning to the fray and putting up three goals from five attempts in the opening minutes to pin back the margin slightly, as the Magpies made them pay for it with five straight to show how it was done, with Nelson’s three book-ended by Sinclair’s goals. Another miss from Aiken proved how much of an impact Mentor and Ward were having down back, as Bueta cleaned up the scraps to continue her solid outing. But while the Magpies had all the momentum early, the Firebirds clicked into gear as the quarter went on, lacking the hunt of Gabi Simpson but with Jenner and Ellis imposing themselves well. But it was too little, too late, as the Firebirds looked to the super shot to get them over the line, with a couple of chances going missing as Aiken looked to post from all around the circle, but missed six of her last 10 attempts of the match as the Magpies outlasted the Firebirds comeback to claim a seven-goal victory, 66-59.

For the in-form Magpies, Nelson impressed once more firing with 49 goals from 51attempts, as Sinclair’s hot start was hampered by her finger injury but still finished with 14 goals from 19 attempts and 18 goal assists. Browne (22 assists) and Jovic (16 assists and one intercept) were also hard to stop, while Ward was fired up finishing with five gains (two intercepts), as Mentor picked up two gains and four pickups. For the Firebirds, it was an inaccurate showing from Aiken who seemed shaky with 29 goals from 42 attempts, including two super shots, as Bueta (18 from 21) and Dwan (seven from 10) held up well. Ravaillion finished with 17 assists to lead all comers with Dunkley next in line with 12 and two gains, while Ellis held up well to record five gains (one intercept). Jenner, Dwan and Bakewell-Doran all collection one intercept apiece.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS | 13 | 14 | 14 | 18 (59)
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES | 19 | 15 | 17 | 15 (66)

STARTING SEVENS

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Gretel Bueta
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Rudi Ellis

Magpies

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

 

Picture credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 12 and ANZ Premiership Round 15

ROUND 15 marked the final home and away round in the ANZ Premiership with a number of players upping the ante while Round 12 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) rolled around after a COVID-19 enforced break with a couple of players breaking individual records.

Goals:

The goal shooters once again dominated in Round 15 of the ANZ Premiership, with Grace Nweke pouring on the pressure inside the ring nailing 49 goals from 51 attempts. She was not the only one firing on all cylinders as Ellie Bird managed 42 goals from 44 attempts at 96 per cent accuracy, while George Fisher was up and running with her 42 goals from 45 attempts at 93 per cent. Aliyah Dunn was a commanding presence for the Pulse with her 36 goals at 92 per cent but the most accurate shooter of the lot was Te Amo Amaru-Tibble with the goal attack converting at 100 per cent and finishing with 21 goals to her name. Caitlin Bassett sat in the 90s with her 32 goals from 35 attempts as both Jamie Hume and Monica Falkner were strong for the Stars recording 26 and 20 goals apiece but at a lower percentage. Maia Wilson’s shooting woes continued sitting at a lowly 59 per cent with 17 from 29.

It was a good week to be a Jamaican goal shooter in the SSN, with Shimona Nelson starring under the post for the Magpies slotting a whopping 69 goals from 71 attempts at 97 per cent. Jhaniele Fowler was also damaging with her 64 from 66 at 97 per cent as Romelda Aiken finished with 41 from 49. In terms of accuracy though Lenize Potgieter continued her merry way with her first miss not coming until the dying seconds of the game to finish with 40 from 41, while partner in crime Georgie Horjus was accurate to post sitting at 95 per cent. Cara Koenen was confident to post with her 27 goals from 29 attempts, while Peace Proscovia had an impact in her 15 minutes of court time slotting seven from seven while Steph Wood nailed 22 from 28 including four super shots. Jo Harten led the way with her 30 goals albeit at 79 per cent as Mwai Kumwenda was down on her accuracy and volume recording 34 goals from 43 attempts at 79 per cent. Gretel Bueta was impressive for the Firebirds with her 25 from 29 as Sophie Garbin dominated for the Swifts recording 34 goals from 36 attempts.

Midcourt:

Gina Crampton was a real workhorse through the midcourt for the Stars racking up 24 goal assists along with 27 centre pass receives. Teammate Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was in commanding form through the centre recording 20 goal assists the highest of any centre this round with the next closest Tayla Earle with 15 goal assists and two gains. Shannon Saunders was her ever-reliable self in attack for the Steel with her 25 goal assists, while Whitney Souness showcased her speed and dynamism for the Pulse finishing with 22 goal assists and 31 centre pass receives. Kate Heffernan was down on her feeding load with just six goal assists but made up for it in defence with three intercepts. Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi shared the load in attack for the Tactix with 15 goal assists each while Charlotte Elley was imperative in wing defence collecting a gain and two deflections. Sam Winders did the heavy lifting for the Magic with her 10 goal assists and three gains as Tori Kolose found her groove with 11 goal assists.

Maisie Nankivell had a game to remember amassing a whopping 32 goal assists with the next best Verity Charles with 26 and 23 centre pass receives. Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was in fine form racking up 24 goal assists and an intercept as teammate Lara Dunkley also found her groove with 16 goal assists. Maddy Proud was a lynchpin through the midcourt for the Swifts collecting 23 goal assists and one deflection as Kelsey Browne dazzled for the Pies amassing 21 goal assists, 31 centre pass receives and an  intercept. Ash Brazill was also up and about for Collingwood registering two intercepts and three deflections in the win as Lauren Moore got busy with her three intercepts. Maddie Hay and Jamie-Lee Price shared the workload for the GIANTS with 12 and 10 goal assists respectively while in a half of netball Amy Parmenter racked up two intercepts and four deflections. for the Lightning it was Laura Scherian that led the charge with her 20 goal assists.

Defence:

Northern Stars goal defence Anna Harrison seemed to have the ball on a string as she racked up a whopping eight intercepts along with five gains. It did not stop there as she also accumulated six deflections. Elle Temu was a force to be reckoned with for the Stars amassing five intercepts and three gains. Jane Watson plied her trade for the Tactix recording two gains while Karin Burger continued her merry way picking up another two intercepts and three deflections. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was in fine form for the Steel producing four deflections and four gains as Kelly Jury also asserted herself on the contest for the Pulse with three intercepts.

Shamera Sterling’s defensive beast mode was activated as the Thunderbirds goal keeper managed three intercepts, two deflections and a couple of rebounds. Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni combined for nine gains including four intercepts from Pretorius. Sam Poolman was solid for the GIANTS with her six gains while in her 15 minutes of court time, Matilda McDonell proved to be a nuisance picking up two intercepts and two deflections. April Brandley had a hand in just about everything with her eight deflections as both Emily Mannix and Jo Weston registered a combined 12 gains. It was a quieter performance by Courtney Bruce who finished with seven deflections while Kim Jenner notched up three intercepts. It was the Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward show as the duo registered 11 gains and 13 deflections.

Photo credit: SSN

2021 SSN: Round 13 preview

WITH the condensed Suncorp Super Netball fixture in full swing, Round 13 rolls around just as quickly as Round 12 finishes with Collingwood and the Firebirds only given a days rest before taking the court once again. In fact the Magpies will play twice this round, while the NSW Swifts will not take the court.

Queensland Firebirds vs. Collingwood Magpies
Thursday, July 29 @6:00pm

With only a day between games expect fatigue to be a potential problem for both the Firebirds and Magpies – the latter in particular given they did not make a single change in their Round 12 clash. In saying that the Firebirds have also been heavily hit by injury with Jemma Mi Mi going down with a suspected Achilles injury. With both teams finals hope all but gone it will be a battle of respect and desire as they look to round out the season on a high.

Shimona Nelson is coming off the best performance of her career after slotting 69 goals from 71 attempts, and will be riding a wave of confidence heading into this clash. Without the services of Tara Hinchliffe with the goal keeper sidelined it will once again be up to Rudi Ellis to nullify the influence of the Jamaican gold shooter and really contest her hands if the Firebirds are any chance of claiming a win. Gabby Sinclair has been in fine form the past couple of weeks and while she is not overly potent on the scoreboard her work out the front is sublime meaning Kim Jenner will have to negate her influence with her strong hands over pressure and niggling style of defence. Another player in hot form for the pies is that of Kelsey Browne with the wing attack incredibly silky around circle edge and set to engage in an enthralling battle with Gabi Simpson. Coming up against her old side Kim Ravaillion will be keen to assert herself through the centre with the gut running with the midcourter able to grind out games and run her opposition into the ground something she will hoping to implement against the likes of Molly Jovic.

Looking into the shooting circle for the Firebirds there is no denying that the combination between Gretel Bueta and Romelda Aiken is hard to stop went up in firing on all cylinders. Bueta is a real playmaker in that attacking third with her speed and athleticism able to carve up the defence however she will have her work cut out for her against an equally as nimble Jodi-Ann Ward who can turn the game on its head in a second. Geva Mentor is always a great match for the likes of Aiken with the experienced goal keeper able to position strongly and take away the space under the ring which is exactly what the Pies will need to do if they are to walk away with the win.

Adelaide Thunderbirds vs. Melbourne Vixens
Monday, August 2 @ 7:30pm

The Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens have been given a little bit more time to rest but that will not deterred the Thunderbirds from putting out another strong performance. The Thunderbirds are coming off the back of a stellar one goal victory over the Lightning and will be eager to use that confidence heading into this clash against the last place Melbourne Vixens who have struggled to hit their strides all throughout this season.

Lenize Potgieter has been in dominant form under the post, only missing the one goal last match and will be hoping to replicate those efforts against the long arm brigade of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston. Not only has Potgieter being in fine form, but so too youngster Georgie Horjus who has hit her straps towards the end of the season with her accuracy to post increasing and her overall playmaking skills out the front paying dividends. All eyes will turn to the battle between Maisie Nankivell and Kate Eddy with Nankivell really finding her groove in that new wing attack roll while Eddy will be hoping to enforce her long arms to block any easy transition into the goal circle. The Thunderbirds have options aplenty through the midcourt with the likes of Latanya Wilson able to slot into that wing defence role alongside Shadine van der Merwe. The intrigue will lie around who gets the nod in centre with Hannah Petty a strong option while Elle McDonald proved that she is more than capable of starring. For the Vixens it would more than likely be the experienced captain Kate Moloney that gets the nod in centre with her leadership and attacking prowess key.

If Shamera Sterling is able to get hands to ball early and get in the head of Mwai Kumwenda then it could spell real danger signs for the Vixens. Sterling is an attacking and defensive option for Adelaide with her long limbs and rejection over the shot becoming a key characteristic in her game plan. Kumwenda will need support from the likes of Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkemeyer if the Vixens are able to collect an upset win. Hannah Mundy will also be the key for the Vixens with the wing attack finding some good space around circle edge however Matilda Garrett is renowned for her hunting ability out in goal defence.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. GIANTS Netball
Tuesday, August 3 @ 3:30pm

The Lightning have suffered back-to-back defeats and will be eager to put that to bed with a convincing performance against the GIANTS who have kicked things up a gear in the past couple of outings. Sunshine Coast are steadily slipping down the ladder in that top four position while the GIANTS on the other hand are climbing up it towards the tail end of the season.

With Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer more than willing to take the super shot it will be up to Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius to put an end to their confidence and really create some doubt in their minds. One player that will be eager to continue her upwards trajectory is Maddie Hay with the wing attack a real quiet achiever in the GIANTS frontend, able to dig in and hit circle edge with great conviction and timing. The GIANTS are also at their best when Jamie-Lee Price is up and raring to go with the centre a real barometer for them given her hunt, tenacity and all-round physicality. The Lightning have a plethora of midcourt options with Kate Shimmin able to slot into wing defence while Maddy McAuliffe, Mahalia Cassidy and Laura Scherian can all rotate through centre, throw in the likes of Binnian Hunt and the options are endless for the Lightning.

In attack, Cara Koenen will be hoping to bounce back after a quiet performance by her lofty standards and really impose herself along the baseline against Sam Poolman. If the GIANTS are not able to nullify the shooter to shooter combination between her and Steph Wood then it could give the home side the upper hand. But April Brandley has proven to be a real ball winner in the past couple of weeks while Matilda McDonell is a livewire down back for the GIANTS with her closing speed and aerial ability impressive.

West Coast Fever vs. Collingwood Magpies
Tuesday, August 3 @ 6:30pm

It is going to be an action packed couple of days for the Magpies as they front up for their third game in six days and the challenge does not get any easier coming up against the Fever. West Coast has proven to be a real powerhouse this season and will be hoping to exploit its couple of extra days rest to claim a win over the Pies.

It will all come down to whether or not the Magpies are able to defeat Jhaniele Fowler with the goal shooter a commanding presence under the post. She can single-handedly lead her side to victory given her accuracy and volume to post while both Sasha Glasgow and Alice Teague-Neeld have proven to be handy options in attack. the real key to success for the Fever is Verity Charles with the dynamic wing attack able to release ball into the shooters either from circle edge or further away. Collingwood will need the highly dynamic Ash Brazill to fire on all cylinders in this clash if they are any chance of causing an upset.

Defensively the Fever are littered with options but are headlined by the services of Courtney Bruce with the goal keeper in career best form and ready to take on Nelson under the post. the Fever will be hoping that Sunday Aryang can double down on Sinclair while Stacey Francis-Bayman will likely get the job on Browne in order to stop the speed of the ball heading into the circle. Do not be surprised if Kalifa McCollin gets a run out on court for the Pies given the heavy workload.

Photo credit: SSN

Collingwood claim drought-breaking win over Swifts

COLLINGWOOD Magpies claimed their first win over NSW Swifts since 2019 in a scintillating performance (75-68). The Pies led from the first quarter and did not look like relenting with their hustle and cleanliness across the court keeping the Swifts on the back foot.

It was turnover central to start the game with both sides throwing away ball as Ash Brazill showcased her athleticism around circle edge and Sarah Klau impressing with her aerial capacity for the Swifts. But it was the Magpies that drew first blood with Shimona Nelson finding good space and hitting the scoreboard. Everything was falling the way of the Pies as they opened up a handy three goal lead with the pocket ball into Kelsey Browne causing all sorts of trouble for the Swifts early. Nelson was not the only one doing damage on the scoreboard with Gabby Sinclair also chiming in to keep the Magpies’ nose in front. Helen Housby was struggling to find her radar missing her first two goals of the game before landing a settler. The Magpies frontend was firing on all cylinders as the Swifts were forced into making a couple of uncharacteristic errors. Klau was up and about early notching up another intercept but Browne was not about to be outdone with the wing attack doubling down in defence to win ball back to maintain that four goal buffer.

Geva Mentor was out hunting for Collingwood, getting up nice and high to win ball back and put Sam Wallace under all sorts of pressure. The Swifts frontend as a whole were struggling to find their rhythm as the deficit ballooned out to six goals. Browne was proving to be a maestro as was Brazill in wing defence as Collingwood connected seamlessly across the court. Their confidence was riding high as the Magpies extended out to a whopping 10 goal lead with Nelson dominating under the post. The Swifts were forced to rely on the super shot with Housby knocking down back to back shots to keep themselves in the contest but Collingwood was in complete control heading into the break up by six goals.

The Swifts made a much needed change after quarter time with Sophie Garbin coming on in goal shooter and making an impact. But Collingwood were not about to give in with Jodi-Ann Ward coming screaming through for an intercept and Maddy Proud getting called for a held ball moments later. But the Pies were unable to capitalise on all their turnovers as the Swifts ate into the margin reducing it to four goals.  The dynamic in the circle changed for the Swifts with Garbin controlling the airwaves with Mentor and Ward taking a while to adapt to the moving circle. The Swifts started to up the ante in defence with Maddy Turner coming through for an intercept and claiming front space against Nelson while Ward was doing the same down the other end of the court.

It was turning into a shootout with both sides converting off their centre pass before Mentor once again showed her class to pickpocket Garbin. Collingwood re-established their six goal lead after the Swifts got to within three as Molly Jovic kicked things up a gear to lead the charge for the black and white. With Browne dominating around circle edge, Lauren Moore was replaced by speedster Tayla Fraser but it did not seem to upset the Pies who were firing on ally cylinders. Collingwood were going along swimmingly in all areas of the court with Nelson presenting strongly as they went into half time up by seven goals.

The Swifts landed the first blow in the second half while Nelson continued her merry way under the post for the Pies. Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley made the change through the midcourt with Hadley switching to centre and Proud into wing attack. Sinclair was having a field day in the attacking third releasing the ball with ease into Nelson. The Magpies seemed to be in cruise control as they pushed out to a 10-goal lead winning ball back off the Swifts’ centre pass. Looking for a spark in defence Moore re-entered the contest but this time in goal defence as the Magpies continued to motor along.

With the super shot in play Housby wasted no time sinking making her presence felt but Nelson was more than up to the task down the other end of the court. The Pies were playing with pace and precision in attack as Browne was just taunting the defence with her bullet like passes as was Sinclair as they went into the final change up by a whopping 11 goals.

It was goal for goal to start the first few minutes before the Swifts kicked things up a gear to cull the margin from 11 goals to nine. Fraser moved into centre while Hadley moved to the bench. Garbin was on fire for the Swifts inside the circle while Nelson was up and about. Fraser turned herself inside out to reel in an intercept but they simply could not capitalise on their chances. Wallace made her way back onto the court and while she missed her first super shot made amends on her second to reduce the margin to nine. But Collingwood were happy to just back themselves in and play that traditional style of netball as they recorded a seven goal win.

Nelson had her eye in breaking her own individual record slotting 69 goals from 71 attempts at 97 per cent. Although Sinclair did not have an influence on the scoreboard with her five goals she racked up the goal assists with 24 as Browne also got busy with her 22 and two intercepts. Jovic starred with her 15 goal assists as Ward and Mentor combined for 10 gains including four intercepts as Mentor also managed eight deflections. Garbin had a hot hand for the Swifts with her 33 goals from 35 attempts as Housby finished with 16 from 21. Proud had the most goal assists for the Swifts with 24 while Moore and Klau combined for eight intercepts in the loss.

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 19 | 18 | 21 | 17 (75)
NSW SWIFTS 13 | 17 | 17 | 21 (68)

Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

Swifts:

GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Paige Hadley
C: Maddy Proud
WD: Lauren Moore
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau

Photo credit: Collingwood Magpies

2021 SSN Round 12 preview

AFTER a week off given continued COVID-19 restrictions, Round 12 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) returns in what is going to be a condensed final couple of weeks of netball action. The finals are just around the corner and with the top four still not set, every win counts.

Collingwood Magpies vs. NSW Swifts
Tuesday, July 27 @ 3:30pm

The contest between the Magpies and Swifts is going to be an enthralling one with the latter hoping to notch up another victory and continue to build some form heading into the back-end of the season. Currently in second spot on the ladder, the Swifts will be hoping to inch their way to the top of the table and create some separation while Collingwood will be hoping to keep their slim finals chances alive.

The battle between goal shooter Sam Wallace and goal keeper Geva Mentor will be one to keep an eye on with the two players real barometers for their respective sides. Wallace has proven to be a key contributor for the Swifts time and time again but needs the likes of Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin to provide that supplementary support. Housby is incredibly crafty with ball in hand but will have her work cut out for her against the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward who has been in scintillating form with her closing speed and tenacity on full display.

The midcourt is the real point of intrigue for both the Swifts and Magpies given just how many options they have. The Swifts are not afraid to throw around the magnets with Tayla Fraser, Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite all able to rotate through that midcourt role and ply their trade with great efficiency and effectiveness. For Collingwood the move of Kelsey Browne into centre has provided that extra level of spark and class to transition the ball down court with great ease, while both Molly Jovic and Ash Brazill are more than capable of filling that centre role or playing in other midcourt positions to combat the Swifts’ moves. It will all come down to whether or not Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner are able to stop that high ball going into Shimona Nelson and really contest the hands of the Jamaican goal shooter. If they are able to do that then it will go a long way in favouring the Swifts and setting them up for the win.

West Coast Fever vs. Queensland Firebirds
Tuesday, July 27 @ 6:30pm

There is no love lost between the West Coast fever and Queensland Firebirds and it is fair to say that this game is set to be a cracker as the Firebirds look to keep their finals hopes alive. Unfortunately, Queensland will be without the services of key defender Tara Hinchliffe who has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will be out for the remainder of the season leaving a huge dent in their defensive structure. This will provide an opportunity for the Fever to really romp home a win.

Without Hinchliffe for the Firebirds it will be up to the likes of Rudi Ellis and Kim Jenner to take on and nullify the influence of Jhaniele Fowler under the post. Fowler is one of, if not the most dynamic and potent shooter in the SSN with her ability to hold space under the ring and score at a great speed. Both Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow have proven to be dynamic options out the front despite not putting up a wealth of shots. The real kicker for West Coast is the workload of Verity Charles with the wing attack able to slice and dice with great ease meaning that Gabi Simpson will have to be on her A-game to stop her. She will also need support from the likes of Kim Ravallion in centre to stop that easy ball into Fowler.

There is no denying that the combination between Gretel Bueta and Romelda Aiken is one to watch out for with the pair able to create so much movement and use their athleticism to their full advantage to keep Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang on the back foot – but all eyes will turn to whether or not Aiken is fully fit, having limped off the court in the previous round with an ankle injury. The Firebirds will also still be without the services of Tippah Dwan with the goal attack having to endure a 14 day quarantine, meaning Queensland’s frontend could be under plenty of duress.

GIANTS Netball vs. Melbourne Vixens
Wednesday, July 28 @ 3:30pm

Sitting in first place on the ladder the GIANTS will be hoping to continue their winning ways and put Melbourne Vixens to bed with a strong win. It has been a disappointing season for the Vixens and they will be eager to gain some respectability with an improved effort here but will have their work cut out for them against a firing GIANTS outfit.

There is no denying that Mwai Kumwenda is the lynchpin in attack for the Vixens with the goal shooter providing both  a calming and demanding presence inside the circle. Her athleticism and smarts is what sets her apart but she will not have things all her own way with the GIANTS goal keeper in Sam Poolman a real warrior. If the Vixens are to put up a worrying total they will need either Kaylia Stanton or Ruby Barkmeyer to up the ante and put up a couple more goals. But that is no easy feat with April Brandley in fine form out in goal defence for the GIANTS, with her closing speed and spatial awareness enabling her to win back a wealth of ball.

The real battle is going to be penetrating through the midcourt with Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Parmenter proving to be a damaging duo. Parmenter will be up against the likes of Hannah Mundy who despite finding her form in the past couple of weeks will have to bring her A-game to combat the constant niggle of the wing defence. Speaking of midcourt battles, Kate Eddy will have to employ her strong hands over pressure to upset Maddie Hay around circle edge who has proven she can deliver into both Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer with her eyes closed. It does not matter where she is in the attacking third, but Hay has an uncanny ability to sight either shooter and release pinpoint passes with the pair nine times out of 10 up to the task. The Vixens will be hoping that Jo Weston and Emily Mannix are able to offset the GIANTS goalers early with their one-on-one defence under the ring while Kadie-Ann Dehaney is another option if they need to win ball back given her long limbs and read of the play.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Wednesday, July 28 @ 6:30pm

The Sunshine Coast Lightning will need to secure a win against Adelaide Thunderbirds if they are to stay within striking distance of the top two on the letter. All eyes will turn to whether or not they are at full capacity given how many players went down in their previous outing while the Thunderbirds will be hoping to bounce back after a very disappointing performance.

Lightning fans and players alike will be hoping that Steph Wood is up and raring to go in this clash with the goal attack an integral part in the Lightning outfit with her class and silky movement, not only inside the ring but outside it, often dictating the way the game goes. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Laura Scherian is ready to take the court with the wing attack hitting the deck and forced to the sideline in her last game. But the Lightning will take full confidence in both Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia inside the ring with Koenen proving she is more than capable of playing extended minutes out in her non-preferred position of goal attack. However, the Lightning will have to be wary of the likes of Shamera Sterling with the goal keeper a real menace in the air for the Thunderbirds while Matilda Garrett is an unassuming goal defence able to niggle away at her opponent and create tips and deflections aplenty.

It is going to be a South African filled circle down with Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni for the Lightning and Lenize Potgieter for the Thunderbirds. The trio all know each other’s games exceptionally well meaning the likes of Maisie Nankivell and Hannah Petty will have to be creative upon delivery into the circle. But the Lightning are littered with classy midcourters as Kate Shimmin can play that negating wing defence role along with the likes of Mahalia Cassidy and Maddy McAuliffe. Youngster Georgie Horjus will be hoping to have more of an impact on the goal scoring front while Sam Gooden has proven to be an impact player when needed especially when the super shot is in play for the Thunderbirds.

Photo credit: Collingwood Magpies

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 11 and ANZ Premiership Round 14

ROUND 14 in the ANZ Premiership and 11 in the Suncorp Super Netball rolled around and it did not disappoint with a number of players racking up the stats. We take a look at some of the top performers across both leagues.

Goals:

Southern Steel goal shooter, George Fisher was accurate to post nailing 33 goals from 34 attempts, at an impressive 97 per cent accuracy. In fact it was the round of goal shooters as Caitlin Bassett impressed under the post with her 40 goals from 42 attempts, and Ellie Bird did enough to get the Tactix over the line with her 38 from 42 attempts at 91 per cent. Grace Nweke continued to top the table with a round high 52 goals from 61 attempts albeit at a slightly lower conversion rate than she would like at 85 per cent. It was a rough day at the office for Maia Wilson with the Stars captain only managing a mere 11 goals from 21 attempts at a lowly 52 per cent. But that did not stop Jamie Hume from stepping up to the plate nailing 30 from 38. Speaking of goal attacks Tiana Metuarau was as dominant ever for the Steel finishing with 13 goals and 14 goal assists. After a shaky start Te Amo Amaru-Tibble worked herself back into the contest with her 18 goals from 26 attempts as Te Paea Selby-Rickit finished with 10 from 17.

Accuracy proved to be no issue for Shimona Nelson with the Magpies goal shooter sitting at 100 per cent with 37 goals straight. Lenize Potgieter also shot at 100 per cent for the Thunderbirds nailing 26 goals while Jhaniele Fowler was hot on her tail with her 98 per cent accuracy but much higher volume thanks to her 57 goals from 58 attempts. Cara Koenen impressed playing out in goal attack managing 31 goals from 36 attempts as Peace Proscovia held her own in goal shooter with her 17 goals. Romelda Aiken shook off the yips early to nail 40 from 48, as Gretel Bueta imposed herself inside the circle with her 18 from 20 at 90 per cent, while also amassing 12 goal assists. The combination between Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer was on song once again as they shot 33 and 21 respectively with the latter converting at 91 per cent. They also combined for five super shots. For the Swifts, Sam Wallace was down on her accuracy sitting at 81 per cent but still managed to hit the scoreboard in a big way with her 39 goals. Mwai Kumwenda was once again the most dominant shooter for the Vixens scoring 33 from 37 at 89 per cent.

Midcourt:

Peta Toeava was up to her usual tricks for the Mystics amassing 24 goal assists and 17 centre pass receives in her sides win. Whitney Souness was also a commanding force for the Pulse with 24 goal assists and 27 centre pass receives of her own. Teammate Claire Kersten was her reliable self through the centre for the Pulse with her 18 goal assists as Maddy Gordon proved to be a ball magnet in wing defence with her three intercepts and two deflections. Sam Winders was a real maestro for the Magic racking up 19 goal assists as Grace Kara chimed in with 13. Erikana Pedersen found her groove for the Tactix coming on at quarter time with her 13 goal assists. For the Stars it was Gina Crampton that led the charge with her 22 goal assists as Shannon Saunders got busy for the Steel with her 17 goal assists.

West Coast Fever midcourter Verity Charles led all comers with her 27 goal assists as teammate Jess Anstiss chimed in with 15 of her own. The feeding was shared around in the Firebirds camp as Kim Ravaillion topped the table with 17 goal assists as Lara Dunkley managed 10. Paige Hadley was a commanding presence through the centre third racking up 17 goal assists while Maddy Proud found her groove in attack and defence with 11 goal assists and one intercept. Maddie Hay and Jamie-Lee Price were unstoppable for the GIANTS with the former amassing 19 goal assists. Teammate, Amy Parmenter fired on all cylinders in wing defence with eight deflections and two intercepts. Kelsey Browne was an energiser bunny for the Pies in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 17 goal assists, two deflections and an intercept as Molly Jovic also plied her trade in the Collingwood frontend with her 15 goal assists. Hannah Mundy continued to consolidate her form leading the way for the Vixens with 16 goal assists.

Defence:

Defensively Karin Burger starred for the Tactix as she racked up five intercepts, three deflections and two rebounds in what was an all-round stellar performance from the goal defence. Jane Watson showcased her read of the play racking up four deflections, while former teammate and current Magic goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau was amongst the thick of things with her six gains. Erena Mikaere utilised her long arms to rack up three deflections. Kelly Jury and Kelera Nawai combined for four gains and six deflections as Sulu Fitzpatrick impressed for the Mystics with her three gains. Goal keepers Taneisha Fifita and Anna Harrison imposed themselves racking up eight and seven gains apiece with the latter reeling in five intercepts credit to her go-go gadget arms.

Jodi-Ann Ward was once again at her best for the Magpies collecting nine gains, eight deflections and a couple of intercepts while Geva Mentor also showcased her class in goal keeper registering seven gains. The combination of Jo Weston and Emily Mannix was on full display as they combined for eight gains. Sarah Klau was a pillar of consistency for the Swifts recording four gains and six deflections as crosstown rival Sam Poolman was just as damaging for the GIANTS with her eight gains and four deflections. Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling impressed with her six deflections, two intercepts as Matilda Garrett got busy with her four deflections. Courtney Bruce got plenty of hands to ball finishing with four intercepts and two deflections as Sunday Aryang took advantage of her long limbs and closing speed to pick up five deflections and four gains. Kim Jenner and Rudi Ellis imposed themselves with a combined 10 deflections.

Photo credit: AAP

Pies make it two from two in Melbourne Derby

THE Magpies claimed the Melbourne Derby bragging rights albeit in Adelaide with a narrow four goal win over the Vixens (52-48). It was blow for blow until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter where the Pies managed to put their footdown and keep their slim finals chance alive.

Early hands to ball from Emily Mannix gifted turnover ball to the Melbourne Vixens as Kaylia Stanton rewarded her side with a goal. Mwai Kumwenda also imposed herself on the contest nice and early as the Vixens skipped out to a handy two-goal lead. Collingwood had their chances but misdirected passes into Shimona Nelson cost them any chance to hit the scoreboard. The tables started to turn as Collingwood’s defence tightened up with Jodi-Ann Ward sneaking through for a deflection. Gabby Sinclair levelled the scores with a long bomb as the momentum started to shift in favour of the Magpies after the Vixens’ blistering start. Ward was quickly becoming a nuisance for the Vixens with the goal defence continuously getting hands to ball to upset the Vixens frontend.

With the super shot period in play both sides opted for the long bombs but neither could capitalise as the ball swung up and down the court. The Vixens tight one on one defence was making life hard for Collingwood while the Pies took advantage of their zone style defence to cause a ruckus. Down by two goals, Sinclair managed a super shot to once again level the scores highlighting the intensity of the game. Stanton was up and about early and proving to be a real option for the Vixens inside the circle while Kelsey Browne was struggling to find the pinpoint accuracy on the pass forcing Nelson to contort her body inside out.

The second quarter started with a bang as Jo Weston and Molly Jovic collided in the midcourt but were both quick to their feet. It was goal for goal to start with before Collingwood won ball back and tied things up with a tick over three minutes played. The quick feed into Nelson started to come to the fore as the Pies snuck out to a lead but Kate Moloney put a stop to that, coming screaming through for an intercept. It was relatively scrappy out on court with neither side able to string consecutive goals together. The Vixens pulled ahead by three goals but within a blink of an eye the Magpies were back within striking distance.

It was turning into a shootout between the goal attacks as Sinclair and Stanton carried the load in attack. Mannix and Weston double teamed Nelson under the post forcing the Pies to work the ball around until an opening arose. Things were starting to fall apart in attack for Collingwood with Ash Brazill releasing passes with way too much heat on them and balls flying over the baseline. Up the other end of the court the Vixens were finding a wealth of room in the circle with Moloney taking charge atop of the goal circle and delivering into Kumwenda and Stanton. Nicole Richardson proved she was not afraid to ring in the changes with Browne pushing into centre and Jovic slotting into wing attack. Hannah Mundy was showcasing her wares as the Vixens extended out to a five goal lead. But Ward was determined to not let it increase with the Collingwood defender wreaking havoc and whipping up an intercept out of thin air.

The Magpies slotted two quick goals to even the ledger but a turnover allowed the Vixens to steal back the lead and keep their noses in front. The shooter to shooter combination between Kumwenda and Stanton was firing as they bypassed the defensive pressure of Geva Mentor. Collingwood managed to kick things up a gear as they created a two goal buffer and with that the Vixens injected Kadie-Ann Dehaney in hope to stop the prolific nature of Nelson under the post. But every time one side stole the lead the other found a way to edge their way back into the contest as the Vixens piled on a couple of consecutive goals and Weston started to find her groove in defence.

Kumwenda’s shooting brilliance came to the fore as the goal shooter nailed a huge super shot to gift the Vixens an even bigger lead. The topsy turvy nature of the quarter continued as Collingwood slotted three goals straight to once again level the scores. Ruby Barkmeyer made her way onto the court to replace Stanton as the Vixens looked to find another edge in attack. Dehaney pulled out the party tricks with a huge rejection on the shot as Kate Eddy impressed with her transitional work for the Vixens.

With the game on the line the Vixens made a couple of changes as Allie Smith came on in wing defence  momentarily and Mannix returned to the court. The Vixens came out with a real point to prove nailing the first couple of goals of the quarter to swing momentum back in their favour. But once again Collingwood stood tall to hit back off the hands of Nelson as the goal for goal rhythm continued. Eddy came to life with an outstretched intercept but Barkmeyer simply could not find the net as the Pies skipped out to a three goal lead. The Pies showed great composure and smarts to ride out the game and steal the win.

Kumwenda led the charge for the Vixens nailing 33 goals from 37 attempts. Stanton chimed in with 12 goals, while Mundy had a hot hand racking up 17 goal assists. Mannix picked up three deflections and one intercept. Ward continued her ball winning ways for the Pies with eight deflections and eight gains as Mentor showcased her athleticism amassing seven deflections. Inside the shooting circle, Nelson stood tall with her 37 goals at 100 per cent as partner in crime Sinclair played a supplementary role nailing 14 goals and registering 14 goal assists. Browne’s contribution to the side did not go unnoticed as she recorded 19 goal assists.

MELBOURNE VIXENS 12 | 12 | 14 | 10 (48)
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 11 | 11 | 17 | 13 (52)

STARTING SEVEN:

Vixens: 

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Kaylia Stanton
WA: Hannah Mundy
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix

Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Molly Joivic
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

Photo credit: Collingwood SSN Twitter

2021 SSN Preview: Round 11

IT has been a whirlwind 24 hours in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) with the COVID-19 restrictions throwing a spanner in the works and forcing wholesale fixture changes. South Australia will now form a hub with five of the eight clubs taking up residence with only the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning unable to enter the state and West Coast Fever fortunate to remain at home for the time being. Two consecutive losses from the Fever has kept the finals door ajar for the Firebirds while the GIANTS have re-kindled their winning ways.

Melbourne Vixens vs. Collingwood Magpies
Saturday, July 17 @1:00pm

The Melbourne Derby will once again be played outside of Victoria with the Melbourne Vixens taking on Collingwood. It has been a disappointing season for the Vixens while the Magpies have shown glimpses of magic but are just lacking that final level of finesse to really compete with the best in the competition.

The Vixens have found it incredibly difficult to penetrate in attack despite having the likes of Mwai Kumwenda at their disposal down in goal shooter. Neither Hannah Mundy or Kaylia Stanton have really been able to impose themselves week in week out which will allow the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward to really inflict some severe pain. Ward has been in scintillating form for the Magpies consistently getting hands to ball and combining nicely with stalwart and veteran Geva Mentor down in defence. Throw in the likes of Ash Brazill in wing defence and the Magpies may have the upper hand given just how quickly Brazill can change the course of a game with her dynamic movement and sheer athleticism.

Magpies fans will be hoping that Kelsey Browne returns to the court after missing last week with a concussion. Brown offers plenty of speed and excitement into this attacking unit headlined by Shimona Nelson in goal shooter and Gabby Sinclair out in goal attack. Molly Jovic is also another one that really relishes the presence of Browne out on court meaning that the Vixens will be hoping that Kate Moloney is able to combat that presence through the midcourt. Defensively the Vixens have been relatively strong with Jo Weston, Emily Mannix, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Kate Eddy all able to ply their trade but will need a full 60 minutes if they are to get over the top of Collingwood.

NSW Swifts vs. GIANTS Netball
Saturday, July 17 @3:00pm

The battle between NSW Swifts and the GIANTS is going to be an exciting one with both sides coming off big wins. The Swifts toppled the Vixens in what was a one-sided affair while the GIANTS monopolised the play against the Pies. This contest however will throw up another lot of challenges as the two sides need a win to really secure their spot in the top four.

Sam Wallace only played a half of netball last week but showcased just how much damage she can do shooting at 100 per cent with 33 goals to her name and will be eager to replicate that performance in this clash. The GIANTS defence will need to really unify if they are to stop the Swifts from scoring with Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin both viable options as well. The GIANTS will need to put on a full court defensive press to stop the ball from transitioning into the hands of either Wallace, Garbin or Housby given how accurate they are to post. April Brandley will be one to watch for the GIANTS with her quick feet and tenacity while Sam Poolman will have to really contest and body up on the likes of Wallace if they are to upset the Swifts frontend. The battle between Amy Parmenter and any number of Swifts midcourters in Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud or Nat Haythornthwaite will also garner plenty of attention given just how dynamic and integral they are to their respective sides.

Up the other end of the court Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer are proving to be a match made in heaven with the pair able to rotate seamlessly through the circle and most importantly attack the goals from just about anywhere in the circle. The two ooze nothing but confidence and smarts meaning both Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau will have to be on their A-game to shut down the space and go out hunting early to send some fear into the GIANTS attackers. Maddie Hay has been somewhat of an unsung hero for the GIANTS with her crafty court play while Jamie-Lee Price is just a pillar of consistency. But one thing is for sure and that is that the Swifts are littered with versatility in the form of Lauren Moore, Hadley and Tayla Fraser who can all push into wing defence.

West Coast Fever vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Saturday, July 17 @8:00pm

The Fever are coming into this clash off the back of two consecutive losses and will be hoping to change their fortunes against the Thunderbirds if they are to remain in the hunt for finals. While the competition has been moved to South Australia, the Thunderbirds will travel to Perth to play as one of the only traveling teams this round.

It is going to be a battle between the two Jamaican with Jhaniele Fowler holding down the fort for the Fever and Shamera Sterling tasked with stopping the goal shooting machine. Fowler has been nothing but consistent throughout her time in the SSN with her high volume and accuracy to post something to behold meaning the Thunderbirds defence in Sterling and Matilda Garrett are going to have their work cut out for them. Luckily enough the Thunderbirds have a couple of options in defence with Latanya Wilson and Shadine van der Merwe also able to ply their trade whether it be out in goal defence or in wing defence in order to stop the Fever. West Coast also have the options of Sasha Glasgow and Alice Teague-Neeld to create a moving circle if need be which we have seen in the past couple of rounds.

The midcourt for the Fever is the real engine room as they have the likes of Verity Charles, Jess Anstiss and Emma Cosh all able to effectively ply their trade while the Thunderbirds are littered with a lot more inexperienced players. Hannah Petty notched up her 50th game last weekend and will be eager to continue that leadership role through the centre while in the attacking end for the Thunderbirds it will be up to Lenize Potgieter to really steer the ship to combat that physical presence from Courtney Bruce, Sunday Aryang and Stacey Francis-Bayman. Potgieter will need Maisie Nankivell to be firing on all cylinders in wing attack to give the T’birds a chance to score with any form of fluidity.

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. Queensland Firebirds
Monday, July 19 @7:00pm

The Lightning are at the top of their game at the moment with their clean and clinical style of netball coming to the fore on the other hand the Firebirds have just lacked that consistency and four quarter ability to really grind out games. It is arguably a do or die clash for the Firebirds if they are hoping to make finals while Sunshine Coast are hoping to build some real momentum to solidify their standings in the top four.

There is no denying that the partnership between Cara Koenen and Steph Wood is one of the most damaging duos out on court and the pair found their groove well and truly last week. Given just how prolific the pair are to post it will be up to Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe to put in the ground work and upset the Lightning frontend with their constant niggle and physicality under the post. In fact if the Firebirds are any chance to win they will need a full court defence to stop the ball from firing into Koenen with Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion likely to apply that strong hands over pressure through the midcourt.

All eyes will turn to the battle between Phumza Maweni and Romelda Aiken with both players barometers for their respective sides. Aiken is the tall timber under the post for the Firebirds and she plays some of her best netball when Gretel Bueta is up and about with the goal attack a real livewire credit to her athleticism and smarts. Maweni on the other hand is a real ball winner and can change the course of a game within an instant credit to her aerial ability and long limbs. Maweni and Karla Pretorius have been impressive throughout this season with the pair renowned for their ball winning ways and will need to stop the shooter to shooter connection if they are to upset Queensland. The Firebirds also have a great level of depth through the wing attack role with Jemma Mi Mi and Lara Dunkley viable options as for the Lightning they have Laura Scherian, Maddy McAuliffe and Mahalia Cassidy who are able to lead the charge.

Photo credit: Jason McCawley

Five things we learnt: Round 10

ROUND 10 of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) action produced intriguing results across the board, as four huge clashes took the court including another upset over the West Coast Fever, and a slow start from the Melbourne Vixens. In this series, Draft Central will look at five key learnings from the round whether it be consistent themes or standout performances.

Milestones aplenty paving the way

The SSN is arguably the best competition in the world with so many formidable figures across the league and continuous milestones being celebrated. With no less than five milestones celebrated this round alone – 50 national league matches for Tara HinchliffeCara KoenenMahalia Cassidy and Hannah Petty and 200 national league matches for Geva Mentor – the competition for spots has never been greater, with plenty of talent in each team’s back pocket. For the four Australians who celebrated milestones this round, it is a testament to their consistency and form against some of the greatest international talent worldwide to earn 50 caps at the national level. Meanwhile, there is no arguing what a player like Mentor has done for the sport, with the English international’s milestone coinciding with her 20-year international debut for the Roses and 20 years of paving the way for young players across the world. With plenty of milestones already passed this season and plenty still likely to come, there is no doubting the impact the aforementioned players have made, with two captains – Mentor and Petty – and a co-captain – Hinchliffe – amongst the group, and leading the way.

Are the Fever in a slump or has their formula been figured out?

With a second straight loss going the Fever’s way on the weekend, it begs the question of whether the side is simply in a slump of form following a high-power start to the season, or whether it is more sinister than that, with the alternative that their winning formula has been figured out. While this loss could simply be one or the other, it could also well be a combination of the two as they remain in fourth on the ladder. Either way, it is safe to say that the side did not look quite as confident as usual against the Sunshine Coast Lightning this week, despite dominating the head-to-head in recent seasons, with a number of players failing to fire under pressure and Stacey Marinkovich forced to show her cards once more with a moving circle to finish. Both the NSW Swifts and Lightning have been in fine form over the past few rounds and show no signs of slowing, but the Fever have been hugely reliable and tricky to overcome this season, meaning that the winning formula could well be there for the taking. Realistically, the Fever have every chance of making it to the grand final if they can continue their early season form when they left no prisoners, but they are certainly the hunted right now.

The difference between the top and bottom sides grows every week

While it is safe to say that there are front-runners in every SSN season, there is no doubt this season that there is a much greater difference between the top and bottom ends. Whether it is looking at the scoreline, quality of games or even statistics, there is a stark comparison with only a couple of upsets breaking up fairly predictable results. At this point in time, it is safe to say that the top sides are Swifts, Lightning and Fever, with GIANTS and Firebirds making up the very small middle ground, and the Vixens, Thunderbirds and Magpies labouring away at the bottom. While all eight teams boast plenty of firepower all across the court, it is becoming easier and easier to anticipate which teams will win each round, and bar a couple of shock upsets it is clear which sides are still in the rebuild phase. Unfortunately, with three teams – Vixens, Magpies and Thunderbirds – still realistically rebuilding and Firebirds in the recovery period of their rebuild a few seasons ago, these four sides are not viable finalists; even if the Firebirds make finals their consistency has left a lot to be desired this season.

Vixens still lack winning mentality

There is no doubt when looking at the Vixens’ list, there is talent in droves across the court despite their struggles on game day. But that in itself is where lies the issue – the talent is there, but the hunt is lacking, with an inexperienced front-end failing to fire when required. The defensive effort has not skipped a beat from 2020 with Jo Weston, Emily Mannix and Kadie-Ann Dehaney combining better than ever, and Kate Moloney leading the charge up the court with the long arm brigade in tow, but there just seems to be no bite in the front-end. While Mwai Kumwenda is an incredibly dangerous goaler, her accuracy and ability to pile on the scoreboard pressure is nothing without ample feeds and a goal attack drawing attention and wreaking havoc out the front. While it is safe to say that Kaylia Stanton and Ruby Barkmeyer are both fighting for that starting position and offer very different roles in goal attack, neither is quite able to do what they need to – or Kumwenda needs them to do – to work the Malawian sharpshooter into the game. With only two wins under their belt this season the Vixens are not playing like winners or looking like winners, and need to redeem that soon if they want to ensure they do not finish the season with the wooden spoon.

Who will finish at the top of the ladder? 

Just four rounds remain for a season 2021, and while it is becoming very clear that at least three of the top four spots are sewn up now, top spot is where the real question lies. While the Swifts currently hold top spot with Lightning, GIANTS and Fever narrowly in tow, home court advantage could become crucial as sides look to generate some momentum heading into finals. Three teams sit on seven wins with just GIANTS trailing on six, and still two wins ahead of the Firebirds in fifth, while the Fever still have a game in the bank, meaning there is still plenty that could change in the coming weeks. Fever still hold the best ladder percentage (113.7 per cent) despite sitting on 16 points alongside the Firebirds, meaning if they can finish off the remainder of the season successfully they should not have any issue making finals even if the Firebirds edge closer to contention, while realistically it will be either Swifts or Lightning that takes top spot with the form of the GIANTS just not quite hitting the mark as we get down to the nitty-gritty point of the season.

 

Picture credit: Collingwood Magpies Netball

GIANTS regain winning form with win over Magpies

GIANTS Netball returned to their winning ways on Sunday afternoon, claiming a nine-goal victory over Collingwood Magpies to keep their season on track. In Geva Mentor‘s 200th national league game, the milestone was soured by the GIANTS’ form as they kept a narrow buffer throughout the content to eventually claim the 58-49 victory.

One Magpies blow was traded for another this week as Gabby Sinclair returned, however the loss of Kelsey Browne hurt the side as they struggled to generate circle movement with the GIANTS defence fired up from the get-go. A hot start from Sophie Dwyer and Jo Harten was all the GIANTS needed to generate a bit of confidence, as the duo combined for nine of the first 14 goals as April Brandley controlled the airways, blocking Sinclair’s advances, and Sam Poolman made life hard for Shimona Nelson at the post. Despite Jodi-Ann Ward having a hot start in goal defence, piling on three intercepts in the first alone, the ease feeding into the circle from Maddie Hay was immense, despite racking up a couple of early turnovers. Super shots were put up early as the two sides looked to generate some momentum, with Sinclair sinking two to take Collingwood’s score to a more convincing nine goals at the first break, with the GIANTS leading by five (14-9) early.

An improved start did the Magpies no harm as they reduced the first quarter margin within the first five minutes of the second, with Nelson asserting herself on the contest and presenting much better in the goal circle. Despite a couple of uncharacteristic misses, the goal shooter’s improved confidence did a wealth of good for the Magpies as they limited access to the GIANTS goalers. The matchup between Jamie-Lee Price and Molly Jovic was intriguing as Maggie Lind worked in overdrive to replace Browne’s dynamic movement in attack, covered well by the ever-reliable Amy Parmenter. A couple of straight goals to the away side kept them ahead by a three-goal buffer that both sides struggled to change. But a valuable super shot opportunity went wanting as Sinclair missed from range and the GIANTS defence gobbled up the loose ball, allowing the GIANTS to add three straight goals to their three-goal buffer. With five of the last eight attempts of the quarter going the way of the Magpies it did a world of good as they headed into the main change with a four-goal deficit.

A huge second half arrived with unexpected misses from both sides starting off the third. Harten continued to fire on all cylinders with the strong drives and willingness to shoot from range, and while Mentor was getting hands to the loose ball and Ward continued to pile the pressure onto Dwyer, who struggled to find her range early, the Magpies failed to take advantage of their defensive pursuits. as the GIANTS retained the upper hand. Four straight goals from Nelson saw the margin reduce to that three-goal margin once more, but each time the Magpies managed to generate a bit of form the GIANTS fired right back. Hay’s influence in the front-end continued to showcase her connection with both Dwyer and Harten, as the midcourt combination of Parmenter and Price wreaked havoc elsewhere creating intercepts. Brandley’s newfound confidence has been working wonders this season and appeared no different as she blocked Sinclair’s impact almost entirely, seeing the GIANTS gain the upper hand once more to lead by seven goals (42-35) at the final break.

It was goal for goal as the final quarter began, with both sides treasuring the ball much more and taking advantage of each opportunity that headed their way. But still, no matter how hard the Magpies rallied, the GIANTS did not take the foot off the pedal as they remained in the lead and retained that same defensive pressure. With neither side able to change the tempo of the game, with the Magpies struggling to reduce the margin and the GIANTS unable to extend it much further, it was a couple of last ditch efforts from Nelson and Sinclair that really sealed the deal, missing successive super shots as the GIANTS mopped up the crumbs and piled on three straight as they completed the march with their largest lead of the day, a nine-goal margin (58-49).

Hay finished with 23 goal assists and two gains to her name in another impressive outing, although could tidy up finishing with five turnovers. Dwyer (31 goals from 38 attempts, three from five super shots) also finished with five turnovers but overall did a solid job up against the imposing Ward, as Harten (24 from 29) showcased her reliability, also managing three rebounds. Every single GIANTS player who took the court managed a gain, with just Dwyer not picking up an intercept to go with it. Poolman and Parmenter managed two intercepts apiece, as Brandley managed five deflections. For the Magpies, Ward impressed with 10 gains (six intercepts) while Mentor had her hands full with Harten, registering seven deflections overall (one gain). Jovic finished off the match in wing attack and register 17 goal assists overall to lead the side, as Sinclair struggled to have her same impact with nine goals from 12 attempts (three from five super shots) and nine assists. Nelson (37 from 44) was reliable as ever but just did not get her hands to enough ball to really fire for the side.

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES | 9 | 14 | 12 | 14 (49)
GIANTS NETBALL | 14 | 13 | 15 | 16 (58)

STARTING SEVENS

Magpies 

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Maggie Lind
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Ash Brazill
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

GIANTS

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Sophie Dwyer
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: April Brandley
GK: Sam Poolman

 

Picture credit: AAP