Tag: kate shimmin

2021 SSN Preview: Round 7

ANOTHER huge round of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is set to go ahead this weekend, with Round 7 seeing the Melbourne derby – played interstate due to Victorian restrictions – as three matches play out on Saturday afternoon and just one game is set for Sunday across the rearranged fixture.

GIANTS Netball vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Saturday, June 12 @3:00pm

Expect a huge clash between the GIANTS and Lightning to open the round, with both sides coming into this one off the back of losses over the weekend and one-goal margins the round before. Expected to be one of the matches of the round, both sides have plenty to prove after a less than convincing performance apiece in Round 6 and home court advantage could well and truly prove critical as the GIANTS look to regain their early season form.

There are a number of viable game changers in this clash but none more damaging than Karla Pretorius. Pretorius may not quite be performing to her lofty standards this season, but when she is on, she is on, and taking on young gun Sophie Dwyer could be exactly what the South African goal defence needs to really lift and prove a point to the competition. While Dwyer has had an excellent start to her SSN career, there is no doubt that the likes of Pretorius could prove a real buffer for the young goal attack while the long arms of Phumza Maweni will go a long way to limiting the impact of Jo Harten especially on the long shot. Do not be surprised if Kate Shimmin enters the fray in wing defence as she has done for the past few rounds, with her long arms a handy buffer to block the likes of Maddie Hay, who can propel ball into the circle with ease. 

Expect a tough battle between Amy Parmenter and Laura Scherian with the wing defence and wing attack sure to set the court alight, while Jamie-Lee Price and Mahalia Cassidy are very well matched in the centre making for a huge contest. There is no doubt Steph Wood and Cara Koenen will want to lift their output in the Lightning goal circle this week, and showcase their accuracy and range, although the GIANTS defensive effort has been very impressive this season so far with Sam Poolman and April Brandley providing a huge buffer in defence.

Collingwood Magpies vs. Melbourne Vixens
Saturday, June 12 @5:30pm

Originally set to play on the Queens Birthday Monday public holiday, the Magpies and Vixens will suit up on Saturday afternoon instead in the second match of the round. Expect a huge clash here between the two Victorian sides with more than bragging rights on the line, as both sides trail the rest of the pack and could get closer within touching distance with a win here.

There are a number of critical matchups in this game with none more so than that of Ash Brazill and Hannah Mundy. While Brazill is a livewire and one of the key Magpies who has stepped up in every game this season, Mundy is currently playing her first season and will have a real test in this match up against Brazill, despite putting out one of her more complete performances last round. This matchup could realistically set the tone for the entire match. Meanwhile, the Magpies defensive combination of Jodi-Ann Ward and Geva Mentor is always tough to work around and the duo will work hard to make it difficult for the Vixens goalers in Rahni Samason and Mwai Kumwenda to find purchase.

While the Vixens have been making good use of the ball that enters the goal circle, the real struggle has been finding easy purchase at circle edge, and Kate Moloney will really need to utilise her experience when she takes on Molly Jovic to find that edge with ease. While Kate Eddy is the Vixens go-to starting wing defence, Allie Smith could be a better physical match up on Kelsey Browne, with the two players matched for speed and able to supply that burst of energy where required. The most important cog for the Magpies out the front will be the likes of Shimona Nelson who has really lifted her offensive output this season, although the Vixens could switch things up to test the goal shooter in this one, with Emily Mannix a potential to rejoin the squad following injury.

Adelaide Thunderbirds vs. NSW Swifts
Saturday, June 12 @7:30pm

If the Swifts put out a performance to rival that of their Round 6 outing last weekend, the Thunderbirds have little chance of getting up here with the slick Swifts coming for the crown. But the Thunderbirds are also coming in off the back of a win last round, coming from behind to overtake the Vixens, and proving that they are certainly capable of more than what they have produced this season so far.

There are a number of players from both sides who have really stepped up over the past few rounds, but none more so than Sarah Klau. The Swifts’ goal keeper will provide a huge buffer coming up against Lenize Potgieter for the Thunderbirds, with her great read of the play and long arms over the ball. Meanwhile, Maddy Turner is a really good match for Thunderbirds youngster Georgie Horjus, and could prove crucial in this encounter given her ability to combine seamlessly with Klau downback. Expect a huge battle through the midcourt with Hannah Petty and Maddy Proud likely to start in centre, with both players providing plenty of hunt and willingness to do anything to get possession of the ball. A potential battle between Maisie Nankivell and Paige Hadley could also set the court alight.

Sam Wallace has been huge for the Swifts this season and has shown no signs of slowing down thus far. That could all change in this matchup when the goal shooter comes up against ball-hungry Shamera Sterling, with the goal keeper able to read the play with ease. The likes of Helen Housby could be crucial, especially if the England goaler can assert herself against the exciting form of Matilda Garrett, while Nat Haythornthwaite will want to ensure her fast feet do not get the better of her potentially coming up against the likes of Latanya Wilson or Shadine Van Der Merwe, who both offer different options in wing defence.

Queensland Firebirds vs. West Coast Fever
Sunday, June 13 @1:00pm

Both the Firebirds and Fever come into this matchup off the back of impressive wins, making the final match of the round potentially the one to watch. With the home court advantage and a renewed sense of confidence, the Firebirds will be out hunting for a back-to-back win, although the Fever are more than capable of making this one a bloodbath, especially with the form they are in, remaining the only undefeated side despite sitting fourth on the ladder.

One of the best overall circle matchups of the round is set to go head to head in this contest with the attacking combination of Gretel Bueta and Romelda Aiken coming up against the likes of Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang. The Bruce and Aryang defensive combination has starred across their opening rounds of action and while the Fever front-end gets a lot of the credit, there is no doubting the ball-winning ability of their backline. If Bueta and Aiken can showcase the same form they had last round they could be a real lock against the Fever defence, especially if centre Kim Ravaillion is firing, and the likes of Jemma Mi Mi and Lara Dunkley are creative on the feed.

At the other end there is no doubting the impact and consistency of Jhaniele Fowler at the post, with the Jamaican as reliable as they come. What makes the Fever so tough to match this season though is the workrate of Sasha Glasgow, who has slotted in seamlessly out the front and is a consistent firepower for the side – most importantly forcing her opposition to take notice of her. Expect Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner to work hard to deny any easy passes into the circle, although they will require a huge match from Gabi Simpson up against the likes of Verity Charles or Emma Cosh to really drive home that defensive effort and limit both the long and short ball into Fowler.

Picture credit: Darren England/AAP

SSN surprise packets: The season so far

THE 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season was always set to produce some huge performances and different stories to last year, and with six rounds down it is clear that there are some great developing talents and returning players who have really stepped up this season.

Across the board, it is safe to say there has been much more trust in young Australians out on court since last season with a number of developing talents earning more court time this season and proving they are more than capable of holding up out on court. Most notably this season, Sophie Dwyer has stepped up to the occasion following Kiera Austin‘s season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and rarely falters looking to the post. The 19-year-old does not look out of place on court for the GIANTS, and appeared to settle into the action from the get-go with ease. Another first year goaler in Rahni Samason also has not looked out of place despite playing out of position in goal attack, although with just two matches to her name compared to Dwyer’s six, she still needs a few more weeks to really showcase what she is capable of. Injury replacement Hannah Mundy started slow but is starting to really hone her craft in wing attack for the Vixens, coming from a centre/wing defence background and proving shaky early but slowly becoming more sure of herself out the front – generating some likeness to mother and Australian Diamonds great, Shelley O’Donnell as she looks to put her best foot forward in the absence of Liz Watson.

Looking toward players who have provided more of an impact role in the past, and the likes of Tayla FraserTilly Garrett and Sunday Aryang come to mind, with all three players seeing much more court time in 2021. Fraser’s form has never been in doubt, but more so the lack of starting position afforded by the NSW Swifts, with the agile and exciting wing attack a real livewire. Having proved herself in patches across the past few seasons, Fraser has stepped up again this season to provide a consistent impact role, continually acting as that “secret weapon” that the 2019 premiers have in their arsenal. For Garrett, it has been years stood behind Geva MentorApril Brandley and last year, Jodi-Ann Ward, that finally sees the talented defender really get a chance to prove herself in 2021. The goal defender has become one of the Thunderbirds’ most consistent players this season credit to her endurance and ability to read the play, proving she is more than capable of holding down that starting spot. For Aryang, it has been a matter of lifting her work rate to play out a full four quarters after stepping up from a training partner role last season, and the exciting youngster has proven time and time again that she can do just that. The explosive defender rarely skips a beat on court and is never far away from the contest, with her speed, aerial ability and acceleration paramount through the Fever defensive end.

Two more Victorians in Jacqui Newton and Sam Gooden are finding success elsewhere, with Newton jumping ship to the Magpies this season and showcasing her clean hands and ball hunting ability on multiple occasions this season. While Gooden is still providing an impact role for the Thunderbirds, she has proved to be much more consistent than her shaky amounts of court time have allowed her in past seasons, with her work rate and willingness to shoot from range crucial for the Adelaide-based side. While not a huge surprise given she held down a starting spot before an untimely injury, Sasha Glasgow‘s return to peak form has been exciting to say the least, with the goaler making the switch to the West Coast Fever over the off-season, and has since well and truly earned the starting goal attack position despite beginning her career in goal shooter. The accurate goaler just does not stop, with an excellent attitude, seeming to be really enjoying her netball so far this year, and most importantly, her willingness to go to post from anywhere in the circle is testament to her confidence regardless of whether the super shot period is in play. Kate Shimmin is another who made the change over the off-season and has not skipped a beat since heading up to the Sunshine Coast, with many expecting the goal keeper to sit on the bench. Instead, the lanky defender has adjusted her play style to be more versatile and play across a variety of defensive positions, proving to be a real shaker in the defensive end.

Looking to returnees, and realistically there is not much surprise in who has stepped up, but instead in just how easily they have made it back to peak performance. Brandley is perhaps the least commended of the few, having returned following pregnancy midway through the 2020 season, but has stepped up to another level in 2021 with her renewed hunt on the ball and ability to front up to the contest. The former Diamond has continuously provided a hefty barricade for the GIANTS out in goal defence this season, and has consistently earned court time across the first six rounds, finding plenty of turnover ball. Another former Diamond in Kim Ravaillion appears to have returned to her peak form, with the centre shaky prior to taking a season off with pregnancy last year, but has come back with the Queensland Firebirds better than ever in 2021 with her fitness and endurance making her hard to stop once she gets going. Another returning Firebird in Gretel Bueta has not skipped a beat since giving birth in early January, with consistent court time across all six of the side’s outings showcasing just how well Bueta has re-adjusted to the netball court. Highly athletic and willing to contest every ball, Bueta’s high-pressure game style has fit back well with the Firebirds and Ravaillion this season.

Picture credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Firebirds shake off Lightning in Queensland derby

THE third matchup of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) Round 6 was a huge battle between Sunshine Coast Lightning and Queensland Firebirds, with the Firebirds getting the chocolates in this one credit to a huge opening half of action, eventually claiming the 61-52 victory. Whilst the Lightning had their moments, the Firebirds came out hunting from the get-go and never looked like relinquishing their significant lead.

With both sides coming into this clash off the back of one-goal margins last round – the Lightning earning the win and the Firebirds falling – this match started off fairly even with the two sides rarely separated throughout the early stage of the first. While both sides grabbed glimpses of momentum, with Cara Koenen and Romelda Aiken firing at either end, it took a purple patch from the away side to seal the first term, seeing Aiken string five straight goals on as Gretel Bueta bookended with super shots to extend a two-goal lead to nine within three minutes on the clock. The Lightning appeared to be missing their signature composure in attack, with three failing super shot attempts in the final minutes of the first showcasing just how rattled Koenen and Steph Wood were, with the defensive effort from a flying Gabi SimpsonKim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe not backing down. Simpson’s ability to impose herself on both the game and her opposition was evident from the get-go, limiting Laura Scherian‘s chances to hit circle edge and allowing Hinchliffe to nab three first quarter intercepts as the Firebirds took an 18-10 lead into the first break.

A huge second quarter saw the two sides go goal for goal throughout the first passage, before three straight from Koenen and Wood was reversed by three to the Firebirds, with both sides doing well to have small wins off the opposition centre. But where the Lightning appeared to be working fine on paper, on court the defensive wins were not coming, with Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni both struggling to inject themselves into the contests. Meanwhile, Kim Ravaillion was well and truly winning the midcourt battle against former Firebird Mahalia Cassidy, forcing the change as the Lightning made hefty rotations in their front-end. It was a better quarter in attack from Wood and Koenen, with better accuracy setting up a second half surge from the duo, although the combination of Aiken and Bueta showed no signs of stopping as the two goalers appeared to be back to their best. A 19-13 second quarter saw the Firebirds head into the main change with a 14-goal lead, with a couple of late Aiken super shots proving just how confident the Firebirds were throughout the contest.

The third term saw a change from the Lightning, with the side combining much better defensively and showing real intent for the ball out the front. The injection of Kate Shimmin in wing defence proved genius for the side as her long arms and tight marking made it harder for Jemma Mi Mi to dictate the space, and in turn allowed Maweni to pick up a couple handy intercepts. While Pretorius did not have a huge statistical impact, she put in the hard yards to get inside Bueta’s head and provide a real link in transition to attack, immersing herself better as she looked to force errors from the side. Meanwhile, a higher workrate from Wood in attack allowed Koenen to step up in the front-end, seeing the side rally with their renewed confidence, as Scherian got the jump over Simpson throughout the quarter, adjusting better. An 18-10 quarter – with no super shot attempts from either side – saw the Lightning set up an intriguing final term with just a six-goal margin (41-47) at the final change.

But the Firebirds had already been pipped at the post a couple of times this season, and would not let their fellow Queensland-based side get the jump on them, rallying until the bitter end and treasuring possession, making it hard for the Lightning to steal the momentum once more. Accuracy proved crucial in the Firebirds’ pursuit for a second win of the season, with Aiken and Bueta wasting no chances to post as Hinchliffe’s effort on Koenen were influential once more, switching up her intensity after the third to make it hard for the goal shooter to find the goals. While defensively the Lightning were better in the final term limiting access to post, the side just could not generate the scoring power to really challenge the Firebirds, as the away side won the Queensland derby by nine goals, 61-52.

Player of the match Ravaillion was a livewire throughout, collecting an intercept to go with her match-leading 20 goal assists, while Bueta was not far behind with 15 assists and 19 goals (17 goals from 18 attempts and two super shots from four) as Aiken piled on 37 goals (34 and three super shots). Hinchliffe’s first quarter effort set up the remainder of the match, finishing with four intercepts and two rebounds, as Jenner and Simpson picked up two intercepts apiece, with the latter’s impact far more influential than her stats suggest. For the Lightning, Koenen was rendered less accurate and clean than usual finishing with 36 goals from 42 attempts and six turnovers, as Wood (15 from 21, one of five super shots) showed glimpses of form. Wood’s 13 assists were mirrored by Scherian, although Scherian and Cassidy combined for 11 turnovers between them. Maweni had her moments to finish with three intercepts, while Pretorius struggled to impact consistently, registering just one gain throughout the match.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 10 | 13 | 18 | 11 (52)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 18 | 19 | 10 | 14 (61)

STARTING SEVEN:

Lightning

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

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Gretel Bueta
WA: Jemma Mi Mi
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

Picture credit: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

2021 Stats Wrap: SSN Round 5 and ANZ Premiership Round 7

ROUND 5 of the Suncorp Super Netball 2021 season saw the Melbourne Vixens get their first win, alongside victories from Sunshine Coast Lightning, NSW Swifts and West Coast Fever. Over the ditch, Southern Steel, Central Pulse and the Northern Stars were the winners in Round 7 of the ANZ Premiership. We take a look at some of the standout performances and highest stats from the week.

Goals:

Fever’s Jhaniele Fowler again leads the stats this week in the goal end, only missing one of her 56 shots to maintain a 98.2 percent shooting average. Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace was not far behind her, sinking 46 goals from 48 shots to keep her average at 95.8 percent for the round. Despite going down to the Vixens by two goals after the siren, Romelda Aiken shot 41 of the Firebirds’ 64 total goals, while also gaining six rebounds, the most of any shooter in Round 5. Magpie Shimona Nelson also sunk 41 goals, while Thunderbirds shooter Lenize Potgieter only missed one of her 34 attempts, maintaining a shooting average of 97.1 percent for Round 5. Rahni Samason impressed in her maiden SSN appearance, putting up eight super shots including the winning score.

Mystics goal shooter Grace Nweke continues to dominate in the ring, sinking 52 goals from 61 attempts in Round 7, as well a gaining nine rebounds. Tactix’s Ellie Bird was the most accurate this week, maintaining a 91.8 percent shooting average with only four missed shots from her 49 attempts. George Fisher and Caitlin Bassett were also among the top performers this week, both shooting 47 goals each, while Bassett also collected five rebounds for WBOP Magic.

Midcourt:

Despite going down to the Swifts, Magpies midcourter Ash Brazill was a standout, with four gains, four intercepts and five deflections. Her opponent, Paige Hadley, also worked hard for the Swifts, with 25 goal assists, one gain and one intercept. Thunderbirds’ wing attack Maisie Nankivell was again dominant on the court in Round 5, with two gains, two intercepts, and 25 goal assist from 42 feeds into the ring. Verity Charles was her reliable self for Fever, with 22 goal assists, 39 feeds and a deflection, while Lightning’s Kate Shimmin, despite only being on court for half the game, collected two gains, two intercepts and one deflection in wing defence.

Wing attack Gina Crampton was a standout for the Stars, contributing to their win with 26 goal assists from 39 feeds. On the opposing team, Steel’s Shannon Saunders collected 24 goal assists for the round. Samon Nathan was dominant in the Tactix attack, racking up 24 goal assists, as well as two gains, two deflections and an intercept. The Mystics’ Elisapeta Toeava also managed 24 goal assists, while Steel wing defence Kate Heffernan got two gains, three deflections and an intercept.

Defence:

Round 5 showcased some of the best defence the SSN has seen this season. Sarah Klau was an absolute standout for the Swifts, with nine gains, six intercepts, and seven deflections. At the opposite end of the court, Magpie Geva Mentor kept sending them back to Klau, with seven gains, four intercepts and five deflections. Kadie-Ann Dehaney played a crucial role in the Vixens’ first win of the season, with seven gains, three intercepts and four deflections, while Tara Hinchliffe did her best to keep the Vixens attack at bay, with six gains, four intercepts and four deflections. Thunderbirds’ Shamera Sterling showed off her impressive defensive skills, collecting seven gains, four intercepts and a massive 11 deflections, while Lightning’s Phumza Maweni managed six gains, six intercepts and three deflections.

Pulse’s defensive duo of Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury were unstoppable in Round 7, with Nawai collecting seven gains, three intercepts and six deflections, while Jury managed five gains, three intercepts and five deflections. Sulu Fitzpatrick worked hard for the Mystics, racking up seven gains, two intercepts and eight deflections. Tactix’s Karin Burger also got seven gains, as well as three intercepts and five deflections, with the Star’s goal defence Elle Temu collected five gains, four intercepts and six deflections in their in over the Tactix.

Picture credit: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

Lightning steal win over fired-up Thunderbirds

ROUND 5 of Suncorp Super Netball action began with a bang on Saturday, and Sunday’s opening contest would be no less intense as the Adelaide Thunderbirds pushed the Sunshine Coast Lightning all the way in another close encounter. While the Thunderbirds took charge on home turf after a trailing the first quarter in a seesawing contest, a last ditch effort from the Lightning saw Steph Wood stand up and deliver the Lightning a one goal 59-58 win to ensure they retain second place on the ladder.

A goal for goal start to the match set the tone, as neither side was willing to relinquish possession and if they did, were quick to chase it up and make it count. All four goalers were quick to get on the board with tight defence forcing plenty of passes around, as Thunderbirds’ combination of Lenize Potgieter and Georgie Horjus ironed out issues from the get-go and Lightning’s dynamic duo in Cara Koenen and Wood showed no signs of missing early on. But it would not take long for the international goal keepers to get their hand in, with the likes of Shamera Sterling and Phumza Maweni working overtime and proving critical as the two sides traded the lead. A super shot miss from the Thunderbirds put an end to the goal for goal start as the Lightning snatched a marginal lead, with a Wood super shot sealing a three-goal lead at the first change.

Neither side was really starring up the court as the second began, with the Lightning keeping their usual class and tempo across the court, while the Thunderbirds worked in overdrive to produce turnover ball but fell short on conversions with messiness through the midcourt. Five straight from the Thunderbirds – four of which went the way of Horjus – saw the home side take the lead for the first time before three from the Lightning evened up the ledger once more at 21 apiece midway through the term. It was Maisie Nankivell that took charge in the second out the front, playing her non-traditional wing attack position but bringing her physicality and hunt with it to nab a couple of vital intercepts. Where Shadine Van Der Merwe had been quiet early, she worked well to shut down the drives and circle work of Laura Scherian as the Lightning took the finger off the pulse slightly, seeing the Thunderbirds trail 29-30 at half time.

The second half saw a change in the Lightning front-end as Peace Proscovia took the place of Koenen, with the goaler struggling to make use of her timely goalline drives credit to the work rate of Sterling and Matilda Garrett, who continued her excellent form making life hard for Wood to remain accurate. But Proscovia’s injection did not quite have the desired effect while Wood struggled to find the post, although things were far from perfect for the Thunderbirds who were still having issues in transition from defence as the ball flew back and forth. While Horjus’ evasiveness continued to shine, a couple of intercepts from Karla Pretorius and Maweni kept the Lightning in it with a one-goal deficit heading into the final break.

The final quarter saw both sides come out with a fire in the belly as a huge 15 minutes loomed. Goal for goal to begin the quarter, it took three straight from Koenen to reduce the deficit to just one as the Thunderbirds remained ahead but struggling with composure being the hunted side. Sterling’s ability to find the high ball continued to pay dividends at the dying stages of the term, and it did not take long before the Thunderbirds had a six-goal lead with seven minutes left on the clock – but that was when the super shot period took centre stage, as did Wood. Wood put up a super shot to take the Lightning to within two with four and a half minutes on the clock, and while Horjus put another super shot on the board, as Wood and Potgieter went goal-for-goal once more, Wood’s nerves of steel took over to sink one from range to take the one goal lead with the next centre pass, holding on in a huge win.

Defensively, both teams starred with plenty to be impressed by throughout the contest. Maweni finished with six intercepts – four in the first term alone – while Pretorius collected three and Kate Shimmin worked hard for two in her 30 minutes out of position in wing defence. Out the front, Wood finished with 16 goals and five of seven super shots and an intercept to go with her 15 goal assists, as Koenen (26 goals from 28 attempts) and Proscovia (seven from eight) were highly effective to post. Sterling and Garrett starred for the Thunderbirds, with the former able to showcase her seven gains (three intercepts, two rebounds and one deflection resulting in a gain from 11) credit to the work rate of the latter (two intercepts). Nankivell’s two intercepts and 26 assists proved handy although her six general play turnovers proved costly, while Hannah Petty worked hard to grind down the impact of Mahalia Cassidy and force the change in centre to Maddy McAuliffe. Potgieter (34 from 35) was more hesitant to put up goals than usual while Horjus showcased her willingness to turn and shoot, finishing with 22 from 25.

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 

STARTING SEVENS:

Thunderbirds

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Georgie Horjus
WA: Maisie Nankivell
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Shadine Van Der Merwe
GD: Matilda Garrett
GK: Shamera Sterling

Lightning

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

Picture credit: AAP

Fever claim third straight win to shake off ladder deficit

IT was a huge encounter between the Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever on Saturday night, with the two undefeated sides coming in hot and not relenting throughout a tough match which saw plenty of bodies hit the floor. Whilst both teams had their moments, it was the Fever that fought through a sloppy start to dominate the remainder of the contest, winning 69-54 and sweeping away their 12-point ladder deficit in the process with a third straight win on the board.

it was all Lightning in the first, speeding out of the blocks as Cara Koenen took on Courtney Bruce and did not appear to skip a beat. The Lightning’s excellent drive down court and vision on the feed paid off in spades as Laura Scherian was quick to capture her match-winning ways, with penalties already appearing rack up against the Fever. Koenen’s footwork and Steph Wood‘s assistance saw the Lightning slowly but surely gain an advantage throughout the quarter credit to the work rate of Phumza Maweni blocking vision and forcing hesitation on the feed into Jhaniele Fowler, with a 15-9 lead the way of the home side forcing Alice Teague-Neeld into a missed super shot attempt. A suer shot to Wood and three straight from Koenen finished off an excellent 21-12 opening quarter.

But it all changed as the Fever came out hunting in the second, going on two strings of five goals early to whittle the Lightning’s lead down to nil by the nine-minute mark of the term, giving the side a fresh look at the remainder of the term and putting the Lightning on the back foot. Where Fowler lacked ball into the circle in the first, they had no issue finding the Jamaican tall timber as Verity Charles stepped up and started working her magic on circle edge. Where Mahalia Cassidy dominated on Charles early and Maddy McAuliffe had her way over Emma Cosh, the two Fever attackers starred in the side’s pursuit for a lead, limiting the Lighting to 10 goals and heading into the main break with a single goal lead, 31-30.

It took another huge third term for the Fever to clean up the Lightning defence, as the Lightning had no answers for Fowler at the post. Sasha Glasgow‘s extra impact and reliability allowed Fever to open up the scores further, whilst at the other end there was nothing in the way of Bruce as the goal keeper wreaked havoc out the front of a new-look goal circle of Wood and Peace Proscovia. Where Lightning hoped for Proscovia’s entry to provide a taller and stronger option at the post, the holding goaler was unable to have the desired effect as Stacey Francis and Bruce wreaked havoc before the Lightning could even enter the circle. It was turnovers galore for the home side as things fell apart, registering seven for the quarter, as impatience and a couple of held ball calls allowed the Fever to extend to an eight-goal lead at the final change, 50-42.

A huge final quarter was do or die for the home side, although it appeared to be the Fever once again in control as the Lightning continued to ring in the changes. Whilst Scherian had been dangerous early Jess Anstiss worked her magic and forced the change as Binnian Hunt took the court for the first time this season with Scherian bumped to centre, while Kate Shimmin‘s minor impact in the third saw her take the goal defence bib to start the term as Karla Pretorius was moved out to wing defence to limit Cosh’s impact. Continued hesitance on the feed into the circle was down to the excellent defensive workrate from Bruce and Francis, who confused space well and forced errors, whilst it was Fever that was lightning-quick down the court transitioning with speed out of defence. Desperate defensive efforts from the Lightning were not enough as the side struggled to negate Fowler, while scoring woes at the other end saw the Fever hold the Lightning at an arm’s length to finish. Bodies continued to hit the floor with neither side willing to relent, as the Fever ran out victors 69-54.

Player of the match deservedly went to Bruce, who piled on five intercepts after a quiet first quarter to turn the tables and Charles (23 goal assists) and Cosh (20) had little issue finding Fowler at the post, seeing Fowler (59 goals from 61 attempts) star at the other end. For the Lightning, Koenen’s 28 goals were critical as Wood’s inaccuracy hurt, shooting 16 goals at 73 per cent (one super shot from five). Scherian’s 21 assists were influential asProscovia piled on nine from nine during her time on court, while Hunt was the only player to register an intercept for the match with just 15 minutes to her name, registering two as Pretorius, Maweni and Shimmin struggled to get hands to clean ball, with just one gain between them.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 21 | 10 | 12 | 11 (54)
WEST COAST FEVER 12 | 19 | 21 | 17 (69)

STARTING SEVEN

Lightning:

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

Fever:

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Alice Teague-Neeld
WA: Emma Cosh
C: Verity Charles
WD: Jess Anstiss
GD: Sunday Aryang
GK: Courtney Bruce

Picture credit: West Coast Fever

Lightning escape Vixens comeback with huge first half

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning have escaped a close shave after claiming a five-goal victory over the Melbourne Vixens, 56-51. A huge first half from the Lightning set up an 11-goal margin at the main break, before the reigning premiers fought back to produce a remarkable comeback but unfortunately just fall short of the result they wanted.

The Lightning came out with a point to prove from the get-go, with a phenomenal start seeing the side pile on three straight goals off a broken Vixens centre to create a lead which they maintained for the remainder of the match. The combination of Steph Wood and Cara Koenen was rightfully credited by the Vixens defenders in Jo Weston and Kadie-Ann Dehaney – who got the start over Emily Mannix with the other defender on limited minutes due to being unwell during the week – as the Lightning attackers got right to work and did not relent out the front. At the other end, the Vixens attack was rendered messy and crowded by the impressive effort of Maddy McAuliffeKarla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni who forced errant passes with their double-up on Mwai Kumwenda, forcing Kaylia Stanton to shoulder some of the goaling load as the Vixens struggled to make use of the turnover ball the defensive end was creating. A Wood super shot allowed the Lightning to stop a three goal run from Kumwenda and regain momentum, running out the remainder of the quarter with a four-goal lead.

A huge second quarter showcased the explosiveness of the Lightning when they get going, racing out to a nine-goal lead almost immediately as Koenen blew Mannix out of the water with her quick footwork and goalline drive, forcing the hand of Simone McKinnis who added Ruby Barkmeyer and Dehaney back to the fray, but it was too little, too late as the Lightning went on another five-goal run to extend their run and prove just what they are capable of. It was a five gain to two quarter as Pretorius starred against the inexperienced Barkmeyer, while both McAuliffe and Mahalia Cassidy got in on the fun with an intercept apiece and speedster Laura Scherian outclassed Kate Eddy with her drives to circle edge. A significant 11-goal margin saw the Lightning head into the second half with their heads held high.

It was a renewed Vixens side that stepped onto the court in the third term though, as the change was made for dogged defender Allie Smith to tag out Scherian and Hannah Mundy stepped up in the front-end, tidying up her hands to propel ball into Kumwenda. The Vixens were still under a mountain of pressure which saw the Lightning put on two goals for every one the Vixens scored, seeing a change as Stanton replaced Kumwenda and forced a different approach from the Lightning defence. Whilst the Vixens then lacked the accuracy of the Malawian sharpshooter, they gained a shared workrate in the front-end as Kate Shimmin was handed the goal keeper bib to take on some of the defensive load and create more hands over pressure in the circle. A third quarter win to the Vixens at the front-end went a long way to allowing the back-end to step up too, as Weston worked her way into the game, and the Lightning were uncharacteristically penalty-ridden.

Whilst Smith’s workrate on Scherian was not super noticeable in the third quarter, it was evident in the final term with the wing attack failing to find the ball near circle edge and forcing Wood to step up in attack. Defensively, not much changed for the Vixens as Mannix and Weston continued to pressurise the circle, however it was the midcourt effort that changed up as Kate Moloney, Smith and Mundy worked to win back ball and reduced their error-rate, allowing the combination of Kumwenda and Barkmeyer to utilise the turnover ball and pile on the offensive pressure they had lacked earlier. Intriguingly Peace Proscovia was handed the goal shooter bib despite Koenen ruling the roost, however a nine-goal to five start to the term saw the young Aussie take the court once more as the Vixens crept up on the scoreboard. It was too late though, even with the super shot in play, as the Vixens were unable to whittle down the eventual six-goal margin.

It was McAuliffe who was handed the player of the match award, impressing with her ability to transition through midcourt and track both Mundy and Moloney. She picked up two intercepts and four pickups for only two penalties and one turnover, and was joined by Pretorius and Maweni on two intercepts apiece to go with their respective five and four gains. Koenen was influential as ever with 43 goals at 91 per cent while Wood put up nine goals (one super shot) from 13 attempts in a quiet day at the office, credit to Weston’s work rate. Weston finished with four gains to lead the Vixens pack, as Dehaney (two intercepts) and Mannix (five deflections) worked hard down back, and Moloney picked up an errant intercept through the midcourt to go with her 14 goal assists. Despite being rendered slightly less accurate than intended, the Vixens three-pronged attack in Kumwenda (25 goals from 26 attempts, including two super shots), Barkmeyer (12 from 18, one super shot) and Stanton (10 from 16, one super shot) had an excellent second half and will want to build on that, especially if the side can limit the general play turnovers.

MELBOURNE VIXENS 11 | 9 | 16 | 15 (51)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 15 | 16 | 15 | 10 (56)

STARTING SEVENS

Vixens:

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Kaylia Stanton
WA: Hannah Mundy 
C:
Kate Moloney
WD:
Kate Eddy
GD:
Jo Weston
GK: 
Kadie-Ann Dehaney

Lightning:

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

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

2021 SSN Round 2 – Head to head

THE Melbourne Vixens are set to host the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 3 of the Suncorp Super Netball this weekend at John Caine Arena. While there are some fierce competitors all the way along the court, the key matchup to go under the microscope is Kate Moloney and Karla Pretorius.

Melbourne Vixens vs. Sunshine Coast Lightning

Kate Moloney (WA) vs. Karla Pretorius (WD)

In something that the Suncorp Super Netball has never seen before, there is a chance that Moloney and Pretorius will be competing head to head in Round 2 of the SSN this weekend, as the Melbourne Vixens take on the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

With Liz Watson out for the season with a foot injury, 19 year-old Hannah Mundy was called up to fill her shoes for the Vixens. Mundy debuted for the Vixens in Round 1 of the SSN in wing attack, but it was clear that the reigning premiers were missing Watson’s hard drive off the transverse line, with the eventual decision last round to put Mundy into her preferred position of centre, resulting in moving captain Moloney out to the wing. This provided the Vixens with that strong lead they needed to make the journey to the post a little more smooth. Moloney plays hard and fast, finding a way to drive into the space, keeping up her endurance throughout the full 60 minutes on the court. She also has an amazing skill in directing and creating passages of play, and often leads the team for goal assists with her ability to find the edge of the ring and feed to the shooters. Having started her career as a wing defence, she understands a defenders mindset, making her a real threat to her opponents. Moloney also provides a cool, calm and collected option in the attack, making strong drives and proving reliable with ball in hand.

While normally settling in under the ring, Lightning decided to change up their defence in Round 1, with the addition of goal keeper Kate Shimmin allowing them to move seasoned defender Pretorius out to the transverse line to have a run in wing defence. Standing at 181cm, she is on the smaller side for a defender, but she does not let that stop her. She has an unmatched ability to to get her hand to those high balls, and is mostly clean in her execution, often leaving her opponents stunned. The connection she has with teammate Phumza Maweni adds to her game, often letting Maweni to set up under the ring and allowing Pretorius to go out hunting. As one of the older players on the court, she has a wealth of experience and knowledge behind her game, and help her teammates often by directing and setting up play passages of play all the way down the court.

The chance of Moloney and Pretorius competing head to head in Round 2 of the SSN is not all that great, but not impossible. If it comes to fruition, this is a matchup that fans have never really seen before. Both players boast amazing endurance to play to their full 60 minutes, as well as their skills in directing play down the court. Pretorius has a height advantage that, combined with her ability to get her hand to those high balls, Moloney may have trouble competing with. However, Moloney’s attacking skills and ability to drive hard and fast for the ball could make up for it, and she may just outpace Pretorius.

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Lightning strikes more than twice in dominant four-quarter win over Magpies

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning have spoiled the party in Nicole Richardson‘s debut as Collingwood Magpies coach, winning 67-56 in a comfortable four-quarter performance. Led by a shooting combination of Steph Wood and Cara Koenen, the Lightning punished the Magpies on turnovers, running away victors thanks to a 34-26 second half.

It was a remarkable first term as both sides had their fair share of impressive and forgettable moments, that saw multiple goal runs in the first 15 minutes. The Magpies had the first centre pass but an immediate turnover and transition play from the Lightning saw Wood nail her first, then set up Koenen to make it 2-0. When Shimona Nelson could not quite grab it close to the post and it went out for a second turnover, the Lightning had a chance to go 3-0 up but missed. It proved a blessing for the Magpies who started strong from a scoring front as Nelson piled on three consecutive goals to help the Magpies to the lead.

Such was the up-and-down term for Nelson, a third turnover for the Jamaican resulted in the Lightning adding three of their own and regaining the lead. Gabrielle Sinclair got on the board five minutes in, and the Magpies once again took control with some slick movement going forward through the midcourt for a 6-5 lead. The Magpies shooters – considered as a potential weakness for the side heading into the season – were on target. It was their turnovers that were hurting them, as Sinclair turned it over and the Lightning made them pay.

The visitors were not without mistakes themselves as Karla Pretorius even recorded a turnover, but the Magpies – who perhaps were distracted by the announcement of the Super Shot period – miscued a pass through midcourt. The first Super Shot came through Sinclair who made no mistake from range to level the scores at 12-apiece, with Nelson putting her team up following a trademark Ash Brazill intercept. Koenen scored the Lightning’s first two-pointer in a bit of a surprise considering Wood’s practice from range during the match, but Wood’s hesitation in the final seconds rather than shoot resulted in no score and the Lightning heading into the break with a one-goal lead.

Nelson had shot a confident 11 of 12 goals in the opening term, but had three turnovers with Sinclair (four of six) aiding her well. Koenen could hardly miss with 13 from 13 while Wood had the three of four. Laura Scherian was busy at wing attack with seven goal assists from nine feeds, as Kelsey Browne had five of seven for the Magpies.

The early going in the second term saw everything go the way of the Lightning, piling on four straight goals, and eight of the first 10 to race out to a 25-18 lead. Brazill was rotated off the court for Mel Bragg in wing defence, before returning straight on for Molly Jovic in centre. As the Magpies cut the deficit to four points, the Lightning called a time out of their own, with Peace Proscovia coming on for Koenen in goal shooter.

Both Wood and Nelson missed chances before the Super Shot came in, and then Sinclair once again was the first one to nail a long-range shot, cutting the deficit to just three with her successful make. Yet another Magpie turnover saw the Lightning punish the Magpies and race out to a 33-27 lead. Kalifa McColin came in for her debut in the Super Netball and did not only make an impact with an early goal, but then nailed a Super Shot confidently, to single-handedly drag the Magpies back to within a manageable three goals at the main break, while Proscovia nailed her first six goal attempts. At the main break it was 33-30 in favour of the visitors.

Once again it was the Lightning who raced out of the blocks scoring 10 of the first 13 points for a seven-goal lead, and as much as an eight-goal advantage at one stage. The Magpies were back with the starting seven, though changes took place in the first half of the term as Jacqui Newton replaced Geva Mentor at goal keeper, and later Brazill came on as centre again with Bragg back to wing defence. The Lightning were still holding sway though as first Wood – five goals of five attempts early – and then Koenen – reaching double-figure goals with still a few minutes left in the term.

For the Lightning, Kate Shimmin came on in goal defence allowing Pretorius to head out to wing defence, and Maddy McAuliffe having a rest. A third Super Shot from Sinclair drew the Magpies within seven, and then a Jovic intercept – as she returned to the court at wing attack – had the crowd at peak volume. The Magpies were unable to capitalise though, as Sinclair’s Super Shot attempt went off the net and out. The Lightning were not missing though, shooting 19 of 21 for the term, and had opened up a pretty handy eight-goal lead at the final break, 54-46.

Mentor returned to the court in goal keeper as Newton went out to goal defence. A rare turnover from Scherian opened the door for the Magpies early in the term, but yet again despite capitalising through Nelson, were unable to double-up and chew into the deficit immediately after another turnover. The Lightning were making multiple turnovers now however, and soon the lead was back within six points. As was the case all night, the Lightning kept pressing and after a couple more Magpies mistakes, the Lightning opened up a huge double-digit lead five minutes into the term, then the visitors called a time out.

The game was winding down with the Lightning well and truly in control and the Magpies needing a miracle. With five and a half minutes on the clock, the Lightning had scored 10-7 and were out to a 64-53 lead. The Lightning called a late time out for Mahalia Cassidy to have a rest and McAuliffe come on in centre, whilst McCollin returned to the court for Nelson to try and roll the dice with the Super Shot, though Sinclair missed the first chance, but scored the second to cut it to single digits with 2:15 on the clock, but it was just a bridge too far, with the Lightning getting up 67-56 in the match.

Koenen finished with 38 goals from 44, while Wood nailed 20 of 24, had 20 goal assists from 29 feeds and a rebound to be a standout player for the winners. Scherian had a game-high 22 goal assists from 30 feeds, while Cassidy made a successful debut for the Lightning, providing 17 goal assists from 28 feeds. In defence, Maweni had four deflections, two rebounds and two intercepts. For the Magpies, Nelson shouldered the bulk of the load for 39 goals from 43 attempts, three rebounds but five turnovers, while Sinclair (10 of 18) was also lively. Browne played just over a half for 17 goal assists from 28 feeds, while Brazil returned from a long-term knee injury to have eight goal assists from 17 feeds, one intercept and one deflection.

The Magpies will head north to take on the GIANTS Netball next week, whilst the Lightning remain in Victoria for Round 2, taking on Melbourne Vixens.

MAGPIES 16 | 14 | 16 | 10 (56)
LIGHTNING 17 | 16 | 21 | 13 (67)

STARTING SEVEN:

MAGPIES:

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

LIGHTNING:

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

Thunderbirds looking for consistency in 2021

NEW year, new season and with that brings new opportunities, as the Adelaide Thunderbirds look to improve on their 2020 season by finding that level of consistency to grind out games according to captain Hannah Petty.

“Our main area of growth is our consistency and we see our team as a top four side and really pushing it around finals time so that’s our aim,” Petty said. “But to have a consistent season, is obviously, number one, you can’t be up and down throughout the season and expect to be there at the end so going into each performance with growth and then coming out of it with a new learning which then we implement into the next game is our main goal each week.”

A couple of formidable faces have departed the club over the off-season with Chelsea Pitman not offered a contract and veteran defender Kate Shimmin joining the Lightning. Their absence however, has provided a chance for some fresh faces to ply their trade in the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball competition in the way of Latanya Wilson, Matilda Garrett and Elle McDonald.

“You can’t buy experience so it is hard to replace,” Petty said. “But the girls that have come over and joined the team, they’re so exciting they have experienced SSN netball before, most of them I mean, Latanya hasn’t but she brings some experience of her own, which is always great. “We can all bring something to the table so everyone’s really stepping up and trying to replace that experience lost. But as a team, we’re building forward to what this year holds and yes the past has happened but we’re just excited about what we can do this year.

“It is always exciting to bring new people into the club. “The girls that have made the trip over and come and joined the pink family they’ve fit in straight away. “We’ve got a really strong connection, off the court, which has definitely helped us on the court. I mean we’re all hanging out away from netball, so that’s always a good sign leading into the season.”

With strong relationships forming off the court, Petty highlighted the way in which the T’birds are tracking on the court as well with their preseason games crucial in enabling them to iron out some kinks and hammer home their intended game style for the upcoming season.

“Ahead of Round 1 we’ve had numerous practice matches which is lucky enough to have been against SSN teams,” she said. “We’ve done a fair bit of travelling which has put us in good stead for the season coming up against the standards that we’re going to play against. “So really being able to test yourself out. “Go out there and practice matches and implement what we’ve been trying to put out on the court.”

It was an up and down season for the Thunderbirds, as they showed glimpses of brilliance but could not maintain that high level output in such a tight turnaround given the condensed season. Moving forward this year, Adelaide want to address those areas of concern and really worry competing teams with grit and determination.

“It’s definitely that consistency but also that never give up attitude, no matter what happens on the court, we’re always in for the fight and it’s that never back down mentality that we want to do it as a team first,” Petty said. “If people know that where they come up against us, it’s going to be a hard battle right to the end, then we can’t ask for anything else.”

Pre-season has been a great opportunity for the side to really hone in those connections and solidify their game plan across the court with Petty highlighting the importance of adapting to the way the newcomers play.

“We’re a newish team coming together so getting to know each other under the standard of pressure that you’re actually going to face on the court and how Latanya Wilson might like to take a ball compared to how Matilda Garrett might like to take the ball,” she said. If you can have them before the season, then you’re in good stead, come Round 1.”

One player in particular that has caught the eye of Petty so far this season is returnee, Maisie Nankivell with the endurance driven midcourter a real lynchpin in the side, able to play all three positions with great ease.

“There’s been a few girls, I mean Maisie Nankivell’s stepped it up again but also the new girls coming in, and the girls that have had go through quarantine like they sat in the hotel room for two weeks and the two South Africans they got better fitness testing results than what they had previously so it just goes to show that everyone’s putting in the work but particularly those two have done it the hard way, and they’re reaping the rewards now,” Petty said.

The plaudits did not stop there with Petty heaping praise onto Jamaican young gun, Wilson who has plied her trade both at an international level with the Sunshine Girls and so too in the Vitality Netball Superleague, taking into consideration the Jamaican had to go through quarantine in a foreign country.

“She actually came in earlier than all of our other international girls so having that extra few weeks with her is definitely beneficial but she’s been so connected with us all.” Petty said. “She’s learning everything new here in Australia but the way that she’s taken it in her stride is amazing. “I mean, I think she’s only 19 or something ridiculous to come over here and leave her family. “She’s joined a family over here which she absolutely loves and we love her as well she brings that extra it’s something else that we might have been looking for.”

Taking the mantle as captain once again this season, Petty is focused on leading from the front and really setting the tone for her side as a whole.

“It’s an absolute honour and I’m so humbled to be named captain of this great club, but for the girls to choose me as someone that they back in that position it meant the world but honestly everyone plays their role on the netball court, we’re all leaders and I just get to coin toss at the start of the game and then everyone else does their role,” Petty said.

The Thunderbirds open their account against GIANTS Netball on Sunday afternoon at 3:00pm and will be hoping the home crowd can inspire them to a Round 1 win.