Tag: julia woolley

Opinion: Which teams in the SSN will benefit from the Super Shot?

IN light of the introduction of the Suncorp Super Netball “Super Shot” Draft Central casts an eye over which team will benefit from the new rule and which teams may struggle. The Super Shot allows goalers in the last five minutes of each quarter to earn double the points if they can sink them from beyond the designated 3 metre arc. 

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

The new attacking end will have their work cut out for them this season boasting a very different line-up to last year. Headlined by Lenize Potgieter the Thunderbirds will be relying on the South African shooting sensation to lead the way under the post. The Tbirds could be disadvantaged with the new rule given Potgieter, Samantha Gooden and Charlee Hodges do most of their damage from close to the post. However the possible return of Sasha Glasgow could provide some relief with the goal shooter confident from range. The Thunderbirds would be wishing that the Super Shot rule was introduced last year with the now retired, long bomb specialist Maria Folau at their disposal. 

Collingwood Magpies:

Relying heavily on Shimona Nelson under the post the Magpies may have a difficult 2020 season given the close range in which the goal shooter does her damage. Nelson came along in leaps and bounds in season 2019 and will be looking to elevate her game once again this season and will more than likely be the spearhead for the Magpies attack end. Newbie Julia Woolley has proven at Victoria Netball League (VNL) level that she can shoot from anywhere and could be a key prospect for the Magpies when it comes to the Super Shot. Although more comfortable on the mid-range shot, Woolley can shoot from the perimeter while Gabby Sinclair is also another possibility to wreak havoc in the final five minutes of the quarter. 

GIANTS Netball:

It will be a good combination of long bomb and close range shooting with the two GIANTS goalers possessing very different styles. Although both renowned for their holding style of play, England Roses goaler Jo Harten is accustomed to the long bomb, able to rock back on the shot and score. Able to shoot from both under the post and perimeter it will be up to Harten to deliver from further out in the final five minutes of the quarter to try and give the GIANTS that competitive edge. While Caitlin Bassett is dominant under the post, able to put up a wealth of shots she does not venture far out from her comfort zone meaning the Super Shot scoring will lie heavily on Harten and potentially youngster Kiera Austin. Although Austin does not get a wealth of court time in the goal circle she has proven that she can come on and have an impact with her ability to back herself from mid-range. 

Melbourne Vixens:

Renowned for their long bomb shooting thanks to the likes of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip the Melbourne Vixens are in good stead with the introduction of the Super Shot. Both goalers have continuously proven that they can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle with their composure and skill on constant display. Thwaites while strong under the post is equally as damaging from close to the perimeter and while Philip is more commonly known for her baseline drives and mid-range shots she is not afraid to back herself from range, making the Vixens a real threat in 2020. Although Malawian goal shooter, Mwai Kumwenda is not known for her long range shooting she can rely on the likes of Thwaites and Philip to steer the ship from distance and can focus on delivering from under the post.  

NSW Swifts:

Another team in a strong position with the new rule is the Swifts with England Roses goal attack Helen Housby a commanding presence close to circle edge. Although more comfortable with her mid-range shooting, Housby can sink them from distance and deliver, potentially making her the go to girl in the latter half of the quarters. Sophie Garbin is another option that can shoot from further out and while it is not her go to shot, her ability to stand up and deliver could make her an interesting prospect for the Swifts in the dying minutes of the quarter. Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter Sam Wallace is renowned for her skill and strength directly under the post but may have to look at broadening her range to suit the SSN rule change. 

Queensland Firebirds:

There is no denying that the Firebirds game plan centres around Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta who are both recognised for their close range shooting. Aiken is arguably one of the most formidable goal shooters in the competition with her aerial presence, long splits and high volume of shots. The only downside being the majority of her goals come from directly under the post, placing a wealth of pressure on the Firebirds attack unit to generate more scoring opportunities. Coming from a basketball background Bueta is used to shooting from distance but on the netball court the dynamic goaler opts to edge closer to the post. Although she has proven over time that she can convert from further out many are used to Bueta doing the most damage from a metre or so under the post. The inclusion of Ine-Mari Venter may provide that element of long range shooting that could benefit the Firebirds when it comes to converting on the Super Shot. 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

After a breakout season last year Cara Koenen will be hoping to go even bigger this season to really leave a mark on the competition. While she is most comfortable under the post and does most of her scoring from there, the Sunshine Coast local can shoot from mid-range, making her a viable option when it comes to the two point shot. However, the Lightning are well placed having the likes of Australian Diamonds goaler Steph Wood who is able to carry the load when it comes to shooting from further out. Wood is no slouch in the goal circle, able to shoot from just about anywhere and use her turn of speed to receive the ball and goal. Rounding out the shooting options for the Lightning is Ugandan goaler Peace Proscovia, while typically known for her holding role under the post, she might have to get on the move more in 2020 to create additional scoring chances.

West Coast Fever:

With Jhaniele Fowler the go-to-girl, West Coast might have to shake-up their game plan for the 2020 season in order to benefit from the Super Shot. The towering goal shooter is prominent under the post able to shoot quickly, accurately and at a high volume. But with most of Fever’s goals coming from within a metre or so of the ring, the Fever might have to look to Alice Teague-Neeld and Kaylia Stanton more often to capitalise on the two point shot. Stanton can shoot from further out  while Teague-Neeld hardly puts up a shot instead proving to be a playmaker in the attacking third with her quick hands and vision into the circle. While accuracy can be an issue for both Stanton and Teague-Neeld at times the new rule could cause a few headaches for the Fever in 2020 with the team in green potentially forced to stray from their usual game play of turn and deliver to Fowler under the post.

2020 SSN: Season preview – Collingwood Magpies

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 Collingwood Magpies up next on the list. 

Coach: Rob Wright
Captain: Geva Mentor and Madi Browne
2019 finish: 4th

The Magpies had a strange 2019 season, racking up seven wins and two draws. The side found plenty of purchase through the middle of the season and had a stellar patch to finish, making the finals thanks to a magnificent win against the Vixens in the last round, before then falling to the Vixens in the first round of finals. Overall, the Magpies were a force to be reckoned with thanks to their ability to pull out unsuspecting wins but also lost a couple of matches with a lack of consistency and connection down the court and a couple of major injuries putting their season in doubt. With Madi Browne ruled out prior to the season beginning and Kelsey Browne bookending with the same injury towards the end of the season, the side was interrupted but their good patches were better than most and proved that they could make just about any combination work if they were on. Shimona Nelson impressed upon her move to Melbourne, while Nat Medhurst was a crucial cog in attack, playing almost a dual role in and around the goal circle thanks to her wealth of experience to hold up the circle at times.

2020 predictions/expectations:

Collingwood have an entirely new-look team in 2020, with three crucial players in Medhurst, April Brandley and Kim Ravaillion ruled out with pregnancy and midcourt star Ash Brazill out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury acquired in February. But while the side has lost a wealth of experience, they have brought in some quality talent to replace them with Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward joining the defensive fray to bolster ranks with Geva Mentor and Matilda Garrett, while Gabby Sinclair and Mel Bragg return to the team for a second season, with Bragg elevated to be a permanent player in 2020. Molly Jovic and Julia Woolley also join the fray for the first time, with the duo both snatched up to provide another option in attack and Woolley an interesting selection to join the goal circle given her lack of experience in the elite pathways. The team will need to ensure its connections are on point if they are to challenge some of the top teams in 2020, especially given the new two goal Super Shot with some inexperienced players in the midst.

Key player to watch:

Nelson had a breakout season last year, increasing her volume and accuracy across the season and will have to do the same in 2020 given the loss of Medhurst in attack. While Medhurst did a wealth of work to get the ball to Nelson in 2019, plying her trade and helping the young goaler develop her craft, Nelson will be the go-to girl this season  but could really lack that backup goaler stepping up that she relied on to generate ball, meaning the Magpies could be in a lot of trouble if she cannot get easy access to the ball under the post. With an impressive aerial ability and accuracy, plus her ability to put pressure on the scoreboard and she will be a real player to watch this season. Her development was second to none last season but will need to step up once again this year as the experienced player at the post, and will want to continue her development to ensure she brings her strong hands from the get-go to be a consistent threat at the post.

Team list:

Madi Browne
Kelsey Browne
Geva Mentor
Gabby Sinclair
Matilda Garrett
Mel Bragg
Jodi-Ann Ward
Shimona Nelson
Julia Woolley
Molly Jovic
Kelly Altmann

What if… SSN doesn’t happen in 2020?

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season postponed until June 30 due to the COVID-19 outbreak there are many question marks surrounding the competition and whether it will actually go ahead at all. Last year marked one of the biggest years of netball with a host of new players joining the SSN to bolster line-ups and bring a more international flavour to the respective teams. The New South Wales Swifts broke their premiership drought with a convincing win over two-time premiership winners Sunshine Coast Lightning. While the season was filled with plenty of intrigue the off season also drew plenty of attention with multiple a-list players retiring and new players entering the system making for an action packed 2020.

So what if SSN does not return in 2020? Who might not return? And what happens to the international players that have returned home but are still signed with SSN clubs?

No netball in 2020 could have a huge impact on the sport itself as it was only just becoming recognised as a professional sport in Australia thanks to the leaps and bounds of SSN in regards to salaries. Many teams across the competition have taken huge strides forward in developing facilities that are adequate to create high performance environments for athletes to train in. Players have already been subjected to a 70 per cent cut in their salary due to the outbreak and may suffer further if the season does not go ahead which is becoming a very real possibility given the importance of public and player safety.

In terms of players it also means we won’t see the likes of new recruits Jodi-Ann Ward and Julia Woolley take the court for the first time since entering the league while the return of injured star Madi Browne and youngsters, Tayla Honey and Teigan O’Shannassy will be postponed until next year if the season does not commence. It also begs the question of retirements. When Geva Mentor joined Collingwood at the end of 2017, the England Roses goal keeper signed a two-year deal to see her in the black and white something that could quite easily come to an end if this season does not ahead.  While we are saying in no means that the highly touted defender is ready for retirement given her uncanny ability to force turnovers and create havoc down back, it is a possibility. Other massive question marks loom around the likes of Caitlin Thwaites who recently retired from international duties, and Laura Langman who signed a one-year deal late in the year last year. Could Thwaites retire if the season does not go ahead? Would Langman return to New Zealand? As a netball spectator, I hope not.

In fact, most of the SSN players are only on contracts for 2020. The least impacted teams if the season was called off would be GIANTS Netball with six players, including shooting trio, Caitlin Bassett, Jo Harten and Kiera Austin all signed up for 2021, as is Rising Star, Amy Parmenter. West Coast Fever have four players – Courtney Bruce, Jhaniele Fowler, Jess Anstiss and Alice Teague-Neeld – on board until 2021, while the Vixens’ Emily Mannix and Kate Moloney, and Swifts’ Helen Housby have also signed deals to take them through until the end of next year. Four sides – Adelaide Thunderbirds, Collingwood Magpies, Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning have not re-signed anyone for the 2021 season to-date.

There are a number of international players on the rosters at each and every club in the SSN with some of the players deciding to stay here in Australia while the outbreak is trying to be managed and others opting to return to their homeland. The likes of South African goaling duo Lenize Potgieter and Ine-Mari Venter both returned home to be with their families but are still contracted to their respective clubs in Adelaide Thunderbirds and Queensland Firebirds. Thus, if the season does kick off at the designated start date it begs the question of whether or not these players will be eligible to return to the country, let alone play in the SSN.

In an update released by the Canberra Times, Suncorp Super Netball chief executive Chris Symington said the competition still intended to go ahead, but where or when was still yet to be decided.

“We are still working to get an understanding of what’s possible from a logistical point of view and also what’s achievable for our teams and our broadcaster,” Symington said. “Given the nature of the sport there is the ability to potentially play mid week so you could condense and run a shorter version of the season – so the same amount of matches but over a shorter time frame. “That could halve our time frame to eight weeks because you could also look at packaging our three weeks of finals into one weekend or sudden death playoffs so that’s also on the table.”

Another suggestion mooted was a World Cup style netball competition played over a couple of months, condensed down.

“That’s something we could potentially do and capture as much content as we could in that time-frame without placing too much load on the athletes,” Symington said. “They would probably all go to a single location – where that is is anyone’s guess at this stage. “But you could take all teams to a single location as you would for a World Cup … and you play a tournament style with multiple matches within a short period of time. “That’s a last resort based on timing toward the end of the year.”

What do you think will happen with the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season?
Cancelled - will return in 2021
Season will start in July as planned
Postponed season - World Cup style competition

Collingwood and Lightning set to face off in practice match

COLLINGWOOD Magpies and the Sunshine Coast Lightning are set to face off in Hobart on Friday night, with both sides preparing for yet another big year of Suncorp Super Netball. It will be the Magpies’ first outing in 2020 since winning the Super Club tournament over in New Zealand, while the Sunshine Coast will be hoping to get on the winners list after going down to the Fever last week in a practice match.

The Magpies will be missing the defensive prowess of Ash Brazill with the dual code athlete unable to make the trip due to her AFL Women’s commitments on Friday night, instead allowing the likes of Sharni Lambden to step up to the plate. It will be a great opportunity for the side to try out new combinations with a 10-player squad filled with new players set to make the trip down south. Replacement player for Nat Medhurst, Victorian Netball League (VNL) premiership star Julia Woolley, will be hoping to make an immediate impact on the court with her strong drives and ability to go to post. Woolley will be a real surprise packet for the Lightning given she has not played at Australian Netball League (ANL) or Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) level before. The clash will provide an opportunity through the midcourt for the likes of Kelsie Rainbow and Molly Jovic to formulate strong connections with the likes of Shimona Nelson with the duo looking to use their dash and clean hands to exploit the Lightning’s weaknesses. Having already played with the Magpies, Mel Bragg will be aiming to impose herself with her defensive style while recruit Jodi-Ann Ward will be hoping to use her long arms to force turnovers. Despite playing in the Bushfire Relief game for the All-Stars, co-captain Geva Mentor will pull on the goal keeper bib for the Pies. Renowned for her quick feet and ability to cause confusion in the circle Mentor will need to be on her A-game and lead from the front being the most experienced player in the Collingwood line-up.

With a loss fresh in their mind, the Lightning will be hoping to rectify their issues and claim an early win over the Magpies. They have a plethora of options in the goal circle with Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia proving to be a damaging duo. In the absence of Steph Wood, Koenen has found herself out of position in goal attack but has not looked uncomfortable using her silky movement and strong drives to full effect. Ugandan shooter, Proscovia is strong under the ring with her accuracy to post and strong holds the key aspects of her game play. Jacqui Russell even showed her hand in goals floating through goal attack highlighting her versatility. With the Bushfire Relief game on Sunday, both Laura Langman and Karla Pretorius may have limited minutes on the court but will be hoping to have an impact with their ball-winning ability. Langman will be hoping to exploit Collingwood’s young and inexperienced midcourt with her gut running, speed and impressive ball placement across the court, while Pretorius is no slouch given her dynamic movement and go-go gadget arms. In her second SSN season, Phumza Maweni will be hoping to build on her form and cement her connections with young up and coming players in the side despite it not changing a whole heap over the off season. Speedster, Laura Scherian will be looking to take the reins in wing attack once again with up the other end expect the combination of Ash Unie and Maddy McAuliffe to be trialled.

It will be a tight battle between both sides but given the Lightning have a relatively unchanged side from last year and are filled with experience expect them to get over the top of Collingwood.

2020 Team Girls Cup fixture announced

THE official 2020 Suncorp Team Girls Cup fixture has been announced with each of the eight teams set to play three games – one Friday and two Saturday – with the finals to be played on Sunday. The grand final will be decided based upon which team claims first spot on the ladder in their respective pools while the other teams will battle it out for early bragging rights.

The clash between the Lightning and Thunderbirds will kick off the tournament with the Sunshine Coast hoping to restore that winning feeling with the Suncorp Super Netball grand final loss still fresh in their mind. On the other hand, expect the Thunderbirds to tinker with their new look line-up in hope to find that winning combination. The Vixens will be looking to make amends for last years’ Team Girls grand final loss against cross-town rivals with a strong showing in the upcoming tournament while West Coast will be hoping to rectify their goal attack issues and become more fluid in attack.

After claiming the inaugural Team Girls Cup title last year, the Pies will be aiming to defend their crown and repeat their efforts once again, but will have their work cut out for them up against the Swifts and Giants. Meanwhile the Firebirds have shown in recent weeks they can mix it with the best crossing the ditch and defeating ANZ Championship premiers, Central Pulse. There will be plenty of exciting clashes over the couple of days with none bigger than the potential grudge match between Collingwood and the GIANTS after the Pies pipped them at the post last year to knock them out of finals contention. The battle of the bridge will be the final game before finals with both sides vying for early bragging rights over their state rivals.

With a host of new faces joining the league expect teams to toy with their starting seven and give players a chance to iron out any kinks. Collingwood newcomers Jodi-Ann Ward and Julia Woolley will be welcomed into the baptism of fire while Firebirds defender Rudi Ellis will be hoping to find her feet. In her new colours Lenize Potgieter will be hoping to make an immediate impact for the Thunderbirds and better her sides position compared to last years Team Girls Cup finish.

Pool A:
NSW Swifts
Collingwood Magpies
GIANTS Netball
Queensland Firebirds

Pool B:
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Melbourne Vixens
West Coast Fever
Adelaide Thunderbirds

Fixture: Friday, March 27

4:40pm Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Adelaide Thunderbirds
5:50pm West Coast Fever v. Melbourne Vixens
7:00pm NSW Swifts v. Queensland Firebirds
8:10pm GIANTS Netball v. Collingwood Magpies

Saturday, March 28

10:00am West Coast Fever v Adelaide Thunderbirds
11:10am Melbourne Vixens v. Sunshine Coast Lightning
12:20pm GIANTS Netball v. Queensland Firebirds
1:30pm NSW Swifts v. Collingwood Magpies
4:00pm Sunshine Coast Lightning v. West Coast Fever
5:10pm Melbourne Vixens v. Adelaide Thunderbirds
6:20pm Collingwood Magpies v. Queensland Firebirds
7:20pm NSW Swifts v. GIANTS Netball

Sunday, March 29

10:40am 4th Pool A v. 4th Pool B
11:50am 3rd Pool A v. 3rd Pool B
1:10pm 2nd Pool A v. 2nd Pool B
2:20pm 1st Pool A v. 1st Pool A

VIC M-League 2019: Mixed Premier Division Grand Final wrap – Parkville Panthers go back to back

THE Premier Mixed Division grand final saw plenty of intensity, action and push and shove between both Parkville Panthers and Geelong Cougars, with Parkville running out premiers for the second year running despite a strong effort from the Cougars. Two sides packed with Victorian talent, this match was one to watch regardless of the final score, and with plenty of players on their second grand final for the night the match was tight from the get-go, with fatigue sure to set in sooner rather than later after a rollercoaster Men’s Premier Division grand final directly prior

Parkville Panthers (55) defeated Geelong Cougars (39)

Though the end score suggests an uneven match, it was nothing of the sort with Parkville Panthers well and truly tested early by their counterparts. While the Panthers had the lead for majority of the match the Cougars ensured they kept on their toes, trailing by one goal throughout the first half before the Panthers managed to pull away in the third. Defensively, Geelong’s Luke Rawlings, Jake Noonan and Sarah Szczykulski could not be faulted early, causing mishaps and inaccuracy to post for the Panthers. Neither side looked after the ball early with disrupted ball flow from both teams and every player on court going hard into the contest. A feisty contest from the get-go saw Dylan Nexhip and Brayden Pastore (19 goals) go head to head for the  second time that night, with Nexhip and fellow defender Georgette Paatsch double teaming Pastore and Julia Woolley (15 goals) to deny any easy access to ball in the circle. 

The second quarter continued much the same while the tenacity on court hit another level as the scores remained relatively level. Geelong wing defence, Laura Giles had the upper hand in the second term over speedy Elle McDonald in wing attack, cutting off strong drives, applying great hands-over pressure and sticking like glue around circle edge. While both sides continued to fight for every ball, Panthers brought back some classy play thanks to the constant drives and second efforts from grand final MVP Brodie Roberts (32 goals) in at goal attack, aided by Riley Richardson’s ability to come off the body and take up loose ball. The game was not over, however, with Geelong continuing to play hard and Noonan rotating through where required, switching from goal defence to centre to add an extra burst of speed through the midcourt alongside Vanessa Augustini who played out a consistent four quarters with speed, strength and game smarts to boot. 

The third quarter saw Panthers switch it on, shooting 14 goals to six to pull ahead to a lead they ultimately maintained for the rest of the match. That being said, the amount of pressure piled on from Geelong defensively was palpable with the Panthers’ ball skills spot on until they reached the goal circle, faltering and wasting precious ball before winning it back through the midcourt. Uneeq Palavi and Roberts worked well in tandem despite constant pressure in the circle, before Amy Starzer took the court in goal shooter to provide some versatility in her movement. While Woolley kept up her strong movement and Pastore used his speed to find plenty of ball, the defensive pressure from Paatsch, Nexhip and wing defence, Casey Adamson saw the Cougars pair struggle to continue their early form and Pastore subbed off late in the quarter before returning for the final minute of the match. 

While the Panthers were unable to settle in the third they well and truly ran away with it in the final quarter, shooting 16 goals to nine in a dominant display. Despite efforts from Rawlings, reaction time on point for intercepts all across the court and more missed opportunities from Parkville, the Cougars were unable to fight their way back into contention and ultimately went down by 16 goals in a final quarter that definitely was not indicative of the overall match quality. 

Grand Final MVP: Brodie Roberts (Parkville Panthers)

Season MVP: Brodie Roberts (Parkville Panthers, 23 votes)
Female Season MVP: Elle McDonald (Parkville Panthers, 13 votes)
Runner up: Brayden Pastore (Geelong Cougars, 14 votes)
Third: Alastair Punshon (Valley Wolves, 13 votes)
Fourth: Elle McDonald (Parkville Panthers, 13 votes)
Fifth: Riley Richardson (Parkville Panthers, 12 votes)

VIC M-League 2019: Mixed Premier/Div 1 League preview – Grand Final

BOTH mixed M-League grand finals are set to be big ones with two undefeated sides heading into the final match for the season as favourites in their respective divisions. Geelong Cougars come in as the underdogs but had an unprecedented week off last week so are sure to take it to Parkville Panthers while Ariels Mixed managed a close win last week but do not have a great record against Fitzroy Phoenix this season. With both matches played side by side on courts one and two, the mixed grand finals are sure to impress.

Vic M-League 2019
Mixed Premier Division – Grand Final

Parkville Panthers v. Geelong Cougars

Parkville Panthers have a real opportunity to go back-to-back this week as they enter their second grand final in as many seasons. Panthers finished at the top of the ladder and will have plenty of confidence on their side thanks to two wins over Geelong this season. Geelong come into this match after a week off and with some great coaching minds among the side this could be a massive boost, given the side had a good chance to watch their opposition in action last week and not only pick up on moves but formulate some plays to use against the Panthers. It will be a real battle of shooting lineups with both teams boasting plenty of accuracy and speed down to circle edge, with the likes of Geelong’s Brayden Pastore and Julia Woolley able to create an even share of shots thanks to the feeding skills of Vanessa Augustini, Jake Noonan and Allie Smith, all of whom can rotate through the midcourt where required. While Geelong flourish with consistency to post, Panthers have the ability to switch it up in the circle with Uneeq Palavi, Brodie Roberts, Corey Nexhip and Amy Starzer all able to impact the contest. Key defenders, Sarah Szczykulski and Luke Rawlings have created a formidable defence-line this season but with Rawlings having been out of the side in recent weeks it will be interesting to see whether he makes a return or Jake Dambrauskas takes the court. For Panthers, Dylan Nexhip had his timing down to a ‘T’ last week, playing out the match in goal keeper alongside Georgette Paatsch, with the pair combining well to create an impeccable defensive wall. Through the midcourt it will be an interesting tussle with Panthers’ Riley Richardson, Elle McDonald and Casey Adamson against Geelong’s impressive speed and feeds down the court. While Panthers won both battles this season, the Cougars came agonisingly close in their first match back in Round 2, going down by only four goals and proving that they have the ability to come out on top if they can deny precious ball down the court.

Vic M-League 2019
Mixed Div 1 – Grand Final

Fitzroy Phoenix v. Ariels Mixed

Fitzroy Phoenix are sure to come into this match with plenty of confidence, dominating all season and ultimately beating Ariels by solid margins both times they met this season, beating them by 32 goals in Round 1 and 15 in Round 10. Ariels will look to go one better again this time and at least reduce the margin once more. Phoenix had a great undefeated season in 2018 but fell at the final hurdle so will be keen to erase last season’s memories and put one final win on the board to end the season on the ultimate high.

VIC M-League 2019 –  Mixed Premier/Div 1 League preview: Semi-finals

The M-League mixed semi-finals are set to be a cracker, with eight teams across two divisions going head to head for a spot in the elusive grand final. With four 2018 grand finalists among their ranks and two reigning premiers in Parkville Panthers (Premier Division) and Melbourne Bucks Mixed (Division One), the four mixed matches across the two time slots are set to be massive clashes.

VIC M-League 2019
Mixed Premier Division – Semi-finals

Parkville Panthers (1) v. Valley Wolves (4)

Valley Wolves have their work cut out for them this week, taking on the undefeated Parkville Panthers. The two sides did battle twice this season with the Panthers running out supreme on both occasions, with impressive margins and scorelines to boot. Something that may work in both sides’ favour for different reasons is the Panthers’ Round 14 bye, with both sides able to take something out of that –  the Wolves could use this to their advantage with consistency across matches coming into the final, while the Panthers had the week off to regroup prior to the final. The Panthers goaling combination of Uneeq Palavi and Brodie Roberts has been impressive this season with the feeds of Elle McDonald and Riley Richardson providing ease of access to the goal circle and creating plenty of opportunities for their shooters while Joel Gosbell has also provided a solid option around the goal circle when required. Dylan Nexhip has been key defensively and will be once again this week when he takes on Wolves’ James Story, who has held onto the goal shooter bib for majority of the season thanks to his height and ability to work in tandem with Nat Billings and Monique Nagle in attack. Alastair Punshon is a massive threat in the Wolves side with an ability to rotate through just about any position on the court, able to have an impact anywhere he is required and making it difficult to pinpoint where he will play on any given day. Erin Jay is a stalwart option in defence, with her speed and timing key for the Wolves.

Geelong Cougars (2) v. Pasifika Sharks (3)

Expect a massive contest with two highly talented teams going head to head for the second spot in the grand final. While Geelong reigned supreme in both of their prior matches, the Sharks put up only one solid performance against the Cougars and that was back in Round 1. The Sharks had a difficult patch through the middle of the season with their second game against the Cougars laying smack bang in the middle in Round 10. The Sharks cannot be underestimated however, with key players swapping out of their typical positions last time they met the Cougars, namely Junior Levi who played out majority of the match in defence meaning the Cougars had little chance to practice how they would defend Levi at the post. The Cougars have plenty of talent stationed across the court, with key attacking duo, Brayden Pastore and Julia Woolley creating a force to be reckoned with on a consistent basis. Gerard Murphy, Luke Rawlings and Sarah Szczykulski are other key players down the court, all who play their role week in and week out and create plenty of turnover ball while they are at it. The Sharks have plenty of exciting players themselves however have not played in the past two rounds with a successive bye and forfeit to finish the season, meaning there may be a lack of consistency heading into this match against a side that has the ability to score well and score quickly. 

VIC M-League 2019
Mixed Division One – Semi-finals

Fitzroy Phoenix (1) v. Melbourne Bucks Mixed (4)

Another side that went undefeated throughout the home and away season, was the Fitzroy Phoenix and will look to continue their winning streak when they take on Melbourne Bucks who were lucky to make finals after dropping their last two matches of the season. The two sides went head to head back in Round 9 where the Phoenix came out on top by 25 goals meaning they have a real chance of going two from two unless the Bucks come out with a performance to remember. The Phoenix had another massive confidence-boosting win last week to finish the season on a high so will look to continue their fine form. The two sides played off in the 2018 Grand Final with Melbourne Bucks getting the chocolates making this a real interesting matchup given the Phoenix’ form this season.

Ariels Mixed (2) v. St Kilda Bullets (3)

Ariels Mixed had a slow start to the season but finished relatively well, only losing four games with their most recent loss against table-toppers, Fitzroy Phoenix back in October. St Kilda Bullets will be feeling confident coming into this matchup, after only going down by one goal in their last match against the Ariels back in Round 6. The Bullets only lost one more match than the Ariels and have won their past two matches so know that this match is achievable if they have a solid start. Both sides have a plethora of key players that can take it up to the competition and will be wanting to edge one step closer to the next phase of finals. 

VIC M-League 2019: Mixed Premier Division preview – Round 11

ROUND 11 of the Mixed Premier Division will see some ladder-defining matches with the Parkville Panthers set to take on the Geelong Cougars in a top-of-the-table clash.

VIC M-League 2019
Mixed Premier Division- Round 11

The Pasifika Sharks were dealt a hefty blow last week going down by 29 goals and will want to make amends against an upbeaten Vipers side who will be riding high after a nine-goal victory last week. Only a game separates DDNA and the Melbourne City Blackhawks meaning there is plenty on the line for both sides if they are to keep their finals chances alive. DDNA currently sit a game clear and will want to keep it that way but a loss could see them fall down the ladder with the Blackhawks and Vipers hot on their tail. The third places Valley Wolves are set to take on the eighth placed Eastside Sonics in what could be a challenging match for the lower places team who have only registered two wins for the year while St Therese have the bye this week.

It will be a blockbuster match between first and second place with Geelong’s only loss coming at the hands of the Panthers. The Cougars have proven to be a tough task for any opposition and will want to get revenge against the Panthers who pipped them at the post in their last encounter, and possibly claim first spot. Meanwhile the Panthers will draw inspiration from their last meeting to spur them on heading into the contest. Julia Woolley and Brayden Pastore are important in the goal circle for Geelong with their accuracy to post, clever movement and work together while wing attack Vanessa Augustini can deliver the ball into the circle time and time again credit to her netball understanding. Alastair Punshon is in integral down in defence pairing with the likes of Sarah Szczykulski to act as a wall and propel the ball coming down the court making for a tough challenge for the Panthers goalers. Elle McDonald could prove to be the key cog through the midcourt for Parkville with her ability to set up plays and use her speed to offload passes. Other key players such as Uneeq Palavi and Casey Adamson will want to have a big game to keep their unbeaten streak alive.

Vic M-League 2019: Mixed Premier Division weekly wrap – Round 9

ROUND 9 saw the final round before the Mixed Premier Division reverts back to the beginning of the fixture, with NNE Vipers having the final bye for the first half of the season. Unsurprisingly Parkville Panthers still sit atop the ladder undefeated, while St Therese had another tough week at the bottom of the ladder.

With plenty happening on every court this week, there were two big margin results with Panthers delivering Melbourne City Blackhawks a 42 goal deficit (30-72) while Valley Wolves came to play with new uniforms and intensity to boot, defeating St Thereses by 22 goals (42-66). Continuing the trend of twos, DDNA went down by only two goals in a feisty contest against Pasifika Sharks (62-64), with the ball ping-ponging back and forth down the court as both teams fought for momentum.

The final match of the round saw Geelong Cougars take on Eastside Sonics in a much closer match than the first quarter would suggest, with the Sonics going down 52-44. Geelong raced away to an impressive 11 goal lead at quarter time, dominating the first quarter with the likes of Sarah Szczykulski exceptional in at goal keeper keeping the ball well away from Sonics’ Jack Carpenter and forcing valuable ball over the goal line. While Carpenter stole back plenty of ball in the second half, Szczykulski’s effort was key for the Cougars extending their early lead. Szczykulski worked well with Luke Marko Rawlings early, confusing the space well and creating turnover opportunities for the Cougars. After a sloppy first quarter the Sonics were unwilling to go down without a fight, winning the second quarter to narrow the margin. It was to no avail, however, still going down by eight goals with the teams shooting an even 23 goals apiece in the second half. Samara Harris was a workhorse through the midcourt for Sonics, keeping up with Victorian Netball League’s (VNL) Allie Smith in centre and creating plenty of opportunity for her side to get back into the contest, while Jesse Failla was a force to be reckoned with in wing attack, using his speed off the mark to create movement through attack. In goals for Geelong were formidable duo, Brayden Pastore and Julia Woolley, with the pair sharing the load relatively evenly at the post and finding plenty of space to ply their trade in the circle. While the Sonics’ early inaccuracy and unexecuted passes shot them in the foot, the side showed plenty of fight and will be a team to watch in the second half of the season.