IT was a tough physical battle from the get-go between GIANTS Netball and Collingwood Magpies in the opening match of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) Round 2 with the former notching up their second win (64-54). Both teams boasted new-look squads as young talent came out with a point to prove given the number of missing key cogs across the court.
The hard-fought matchup saw neither side give an inch as the GIANTS flew out of the blocks, forcing a heap of early errors from the ailing Magpies. Missing both Geva Mentor and Molly Jovic, the Magpies looked impotent and lacked pressure across the court, and while the GIANTS were arguably more hard done by with the likes of Kiera Austin, Amy Parmenter and Kristiana Manu’a missing from the fray, the squad appeared to cope much better as Amy Sligar grabbed her debut opportunity with both hands and Sophie Dwyer continued to perform under pressure.
But despite the GIANTS dominating the contest the match ups across the court continued to see players fly with the physicality really stepping up. Jamie-Lee Price was given a real run for her money by Ash Brazill, while Sligar did a really good job shutting down Kelsey Browne, forcing a clogged attack-line for the Magpies as the lack of leadership from Mentor in the backline hurt the side. Jo Harten‘s ability to impact the contest was never in question out the front for the GIANTS, and it did not take long for the goal shooter to stand up and really hurt the Magpies with her ability to find the ball.
Both sides boasted plenty of flare across the court but it was arguably the GIANTS that controlled it the most and took advantage of the opportunities. The Magpies just could not seem to connect and appeared to give the GIANTS too much space on the drive in a tense matchup. Despite their new faces, the GIANTS’ connection across the court was very impressive finding the loose ball with ease and most importantly making the most of it down the court. A 20-goal lead was extended midway through the third quarter as the Giants started and whilst Shimona Nelson improved off her sloppy first term output it just was not enough for the Magpies to whittle down the GIANTS’ lead.
With the wheels starting to fall off for the Magpies, and Brazill having an uncharacteristic sloppy performance, the Pies rung in the changes with Browne pushing into centre and 26-year-old Maggie Lind making her SSN debut in wing attack. Lind came on with a real pep in her step, slicing through the defence and delivering pinpoint passes into the circle as Collingwood cut the margin to 13 goals. It was a much improved quarter from the Magpies as they nailed 17 goals to 14 and started to find their groove in attack with the new connections across the court proving to be the missing.
There was plenty to play for in the final term as both the Magpies and GIANTS worked in overdrive to solidify their partnerships and mount scoreboard pressure. The defensive efforts from Jacqui Newton, Jodi-Ann Ward and former Adelaide Thunderbirds and Scotland Thistles representative Fiona Themann did not go unnoticed as they contested every high ball and forced Harten to go from long range but that did not seem to faze the English international who maintained her accuracy. Maddie Hay was influential in attack for the GIANTS using her impressive timing and spatial awareness to deliver quickfire passes into the circle.
Although it was a better term of play for the black and white, the GIANTS did not seem to skip a beat with April Brandley and Sam Poolman impacting the play with their hands over pressure and ball winning ability. Matilda McDonnell provided a real spark in the wing defence position, using her extra height to get in the head of Lind and cause all sorts of havoc as the GIANTS secured their second win of the season.
Looking at the key contributors and it is hard to go past the services of Harten with the goal shooter and captain recording 37 goals from 45 attempts at 82 per cent while her willingness to attempt the super shot was paramount as she managed four from 10. Dwyer was influential with her 23 goals and seven goal assists as Hay also chimed in with 16 goal assists and two gains. For the Pies Nelson showcased her accuracy with 40 goals from 43 attempts as Gabby Sinclair also plied her trade with 11 goals at 69 per cent. Browne proved to have a hot hand thanks to her 21 goal assists while in her debut game, Lind collected 10 goal assists. Brazill was a key ball winner for Collingwood amassing two intercepts with Ward also getting plenty of hands to ball as shown through her three intercepts and seven deflections. Price had a standout game through the centre for the GIANTS racking up 19 goal assists, four intercepts and two deflections as Poolman also had a game to remember credit to her four intercepts, six deflections and three rebounds.
GIANTS NETBALL 19 | 19 | 14 | 14 (66)
COLLINGWOOD 8 | 13 | 17 | 16 (54)
GS: Jo Harten
GA: Sophie Dwyer
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Sligar
GD: April Brandey
GK: Sam Poolman
GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabrielle Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Ash Brazill
WD: Mel Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Jacqui Newton