Tag: kiera austin

2020 SSN: Season Preview – GIANTS Netball

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

Coach: Julie Fitzgerald
Captain: Jo Harten
2019 finish: 5th

Falling just short of a finals berth the GIANTS will be disappointed with how 2019 ended and eager to make amends in 2020. Pipped at the post by Collingwood in terms of ladder positioning the GIANTS showed plenty of passion and determination throughout the season but simply did not do enough to warrant a spot in the top four and make a charge at a grand final opportunity. Without Serena Guthrie who returned home to England, the GIANTS at times seemed to lack that extra layer of grunt through the midcourt. However her absence allowed some young up and coming players to take the lead and hone their craft through the middle third. At the end of the season the GIANTS farewelled veteran and Diamonds sensation Kim Green with the talented midcourter hanging up the dress after an illustrious career. With some new faces in the mix and big shoes to fill expect the GIANTS to come out with a point to prove in 2020 and take advantage of the Super Shot. 

2020 predictions/expectations:

With Green retiring it leaves a chance for Kiera Austin to come in and really stamp her authority. Although more commonly known for her role as a goal attack, the talented youngster can double as a wing attack with her precision feeding the ball a key element of her game play. Throw in her vision and sheer netball smarts and Austin is an ideal candidate to replace Green. Although only 24-years-old, Jamie-Lee Price is the most experienced midcourter for the GIANTS and will have to lead the troops with the wing defence come centre responsible for the transition through court and tempo of the game. Despite boasting a young midcourt the GIANTS have a wealth of experience when it comes to the shooting circle headlined by two of netballs biggest names in Caitlin Bassett and Jo Harten. Bassett is deadly from under the post and while she had a shaky start to the 2019 season due to an injury will be hoping to impose herself in her second year with the club. On the other hand, Harten does some of her best work from around the perimeter of the circle with the goaler able to rock back on the shot and convert. The GIANTS captain can play both goal shooter and goal attack making her a highly versatile option for the GIANTS in the circle. Defensively the combination of Kristina Manu’a and Sam Poolman will have to kick it up another gear in season 2020 if they are to win more ball back and shut down opposition teams. There is plenty of excitement building around Matilda McDonell and Teigan O’Shannassy with the latter returning from injury and hoping to make an impact with her defensive prowess. 

Key player to watch:

There is no denying that Amy Parmenter took the competition by storm last year, bursting onto the scene and not looking back. Her explosiveness across the court and seamless transition between wing defence and centre makes her an integral member in the GIANTS outfit. Only entering her second year with the club the highly touted midcourter still has plenty to learn and a wealth of development left in but has already shown that she can change the course of a game in an instant. Her ability to read the play and spring into action while her speed off the mark also causes havoc for opposition attackers. She is not afraid to throw herself at the contest, using her tenacious mindset to hunt the ball. Parmenter is renowned for her hard work around the circle edge, applying strong hands over pressure and three-foot marking in the defensive third to block her opponents vision. With her defensive attributes quite profound her skill in attack is just as impressive, using her speed to create space and deliver into the goal circle when need be. Her vision is also highly impressive and will want to make sure she can continue to build on that throughout the 2020 season. 

Team list:

Kiera Austin
Caitlin Bassett
Jo Harten
Madeline Hay
Kristiana Manu’a
Matilda McDonnell
Teigan O’Shannassy
Amy Parmenter
Sam Poolman
Jamie-Lee Price

Compare the Pair: Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Kiera Austin

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different competitions, with the next showcasing two goal attacks in Silver Ferns’ Te Paea Selby-Rickit and talented young Australian Kiera Austin.

Two highly skilled goalers in vastly different points of their careers, there is no doubt that the likes of Selby-Rickit and Austin play different roles for their respective teams, but it’s their ability to turn and shoot and apply pressure to take attention away from their goal shooter that they have in common. With clean hands, unsuspecting speed and a high work ethic, the duo can create plays and also be that go-to option at the post when required.

Selby-Rickit has a big presence on court and is one of those goal attacks that needs to be paid constant attention given her netball nous and ability to enter the contest with ease. Selby-Rickit has the build to really interrupt defensive motion and cause havoc with her accuracy and volume to post, especially from distance, allowing her to provide a constant threatening presence in goal attack. Selby-Rickit’s ability to provide an option in both goal attack and goal shooter makes her a quality option in any team, using her quick feet and quickfire passes to rotate the circle with ease, but can also provide a holding option at the post thanks to her 188cm frame and sticky fingers to be an aerial threat. With 46 caps to her name, Selby-Rickit has plenty of international experience and will hope to boost her resume once international competition returns.

Still in the early days of her career at only 22, Austin may not have yet officially debuted for Australia but has clearly proved she is one to watch, having taken the court in the 2018 Fast5 and as part of the side in the 2020 Bushfire Relief match. Her ability to evade her opposition is crucial while she has also proved to be a handy versatile option to rotate through virtually any of the main attacking positions, honing her wing attack craft last season. While she is likely to stay in that role in 2020, her clever ball placement and know-how will allow her to gain some precious court time and potentially rotate into the goal circle with the addition of the rolling subs rule in the Super Netball this season. Austin’s speed and ability to turn and shoot allow her to form a handy entrant to any team, using her vision to provide an option on circle edge or zip into position to apply scoreboard pressure. 

Te Paea Selby-Rickit

46 caps, 2016-present

Kiera Austin

Netball fantasy teams: VNSL Roses v. VNSL International All Stars

FOLLOWING the huge success of the thrilling Diamonds vs All Stars Bushfire Relief game in March, it got us thinking about another hypothetical exhibition match, with international Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) players facing up to the top England Roses squad members who are currently plying their trade in the UK.

VNSL Roses:

GK: Razia Quashie (Saracens Mavericks)
GD: Fran Williams (Wasps Netball)
WD: Laura Malcolm (Manchester Thunder)
C: Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball)
WA: Gabby Marshall (Saracens Mavericks)
GA: Ellie Cardwell (Manchester Thunder)
GS: George Fisher (Saracens Mavericks)

BENCH: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (Team Bath), Nat Panagarry (Loughborough Lightning), Jodie Gibson (Saracens Mavericks)

This Roses fantasy squad has a huge amount of experience and depth across all areas of the court. In the 2020 Netball Nations Cup, we saw the emergence of a new England shooting partnership between Ellie Cardwell and George Fisher – nicknamed “Fishwell”. Whilst Cardwell is usually seen wearing the goal shooter bib, in goal attack she opened up the shooting circle nicely for Fisher and can sink a sweet long bomb herself. This partnership would certainly give any defensive lineup a lot of headaches, especially given Fisher’s clever footwork and shooting accuracy. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis also plays more of the traditional goal attack role with her speed and strong drives and could provide another look for the shooting end. Whilst Drakeford-Lewis is at the beginning of her international career, she would be well supported in this lineup. She is likely to become a key option for England in the future – especially given she can also move into wing attack if needed, much like a versatile Nat Haythornthwaite or Kiera Austin.

In the midcourt, a balance of experience and youth creates this formidable unit. Youngster Gabby Marshall has great vision at wing attack and can keep any wing defence busy so they don’t go looking for trouble. Marshall is backed up by the veteran Jade Clarke who can keep a cool head in the middle and dictate play with ease. Tenacious tagger Laura Malcolm completes this midcourt lineup. Though she spent some time away from the England setup, her recent performances in the red dress have been outstanding. Nat Panagarry proved herself capable at the Netball World Cup 2019, showing that she is a confident team-player and can have an impact when needed. She has a good read of the game and her infectious energy can really lift a team.

The defensive end is where this team gets exciting. Whilst you have the reliable and gutsy Fran Williams out the front causing havoc, you also have one of the most threatening defenders coming up the England ranks in Razia Quashie at the back. Whilst Quashie is not the tallest defender in the game, she clearly has the athletic ability and pure strength to be a game-changer. With this defensive end, the difficulty may be the partnerships. As we saw in the Bushfire Relief game, putting two defending superstars out on court together doesn’t always mean they gel easily. I would love to see this combination out on court for England more as Quashie and Williams have such complementary styles of play. Given time together they could become a lethal partnership. Jodie Gibson is another versatile and experienced defender, providing a sparky and reliable option at the back should the defensive end need to change tactics.

VNSL International All Stars:

GK: Zanele Vimbela (Sirens, SA)
GD: Latanya Wilson (Dragons, JAM)
WD: Nia Jones (Stars, WAL)
C: Caroline O’Hanlon (Thunder, NI)
WA: Liana Leota (Stars, NZ)
GA: Alexia Baker (Wasps, AUS)
GS: Sigi Burger (Pulse, SA)

BENCH: Kim Commane (Bath, AUS), Adean Thomas (Pulse, JAM), Jo Trip (Mavericks, NZ)

This International All Stars side is undoubtedly stacked with talent. At the shooting end, it’s hard to ignore the threat of Sigi Burger under the post, given her 98% shooting average after three rounds of the 2020 VNSL Season. New to the VNSL, Alexia Baker is no stranger to high-quality netball, having been a Queensland Firebirds training partner. She knows how to feed a holding shooter like Burger and can also provide a solid option to goal. Kim Commane had an outstanding start to the 2020 season, ending up in the top five goal scorers, and she provides another different style of play to keep the defenders guessing. While this shooting end has very few international caps between them, these players have demonstrated their skills domestically and wouldn’t shy away from an opportunity on a bigger stage.

Liana Leota is a typical wing attack, extremely crafty and with a wealth of tools in her arsenal to feed the goal circle effectively. In the centre position, Caroline O’Hanlon is so impressive, not only due to her insane fitness but also her defensive pressure and a cool head. Leota and O’Hanlon combined effectively to secure Manchester Thunder’s Grand Final win last season, and could easily replicate this successful chemistry. Supported by Nia Jones in wing defence, the position where she is arguably her strongest, this midcourt unit would have no issues with transition play and swift goal conversion. Adean Thomas has also demonstrated her flair and skill, both at the VNSL and for Jamaica. Thomas is unpredictable, exciting and would be a great impact player in this lineup.

In the defensive circle, Latanya Wilson has been compared to a young Shamera Sterling and this glowing comparison is not undue. Wilson has fantastic aerial ability and was sitting on 14 intercepts when the VNSL was cancelled. This was just one behind the leader in Quashie, and Wilson racked up this impressive tally despite the fact she was suspended for one game due to dangerous play. Whilst discipline is an area to improve on, her surprising gameplay and rangy limbs would be a valuable asset in goal defence for the All Stars. Teaming up with Wilson is South African, Zanele Vimbela. Vimbela has proven her worth internationally and is surely next in line to the goal keeper bib for South Africa after Phumza Maweni. She is a fearless defender who attacks the ball and provides consistent pressure to unnerve the opposition feeders. Able to cover both positions effectively is Mavericks stalwart Jo Trip. Her height and experience mean she can make a difference in close games and would be a valuable addition to the All Stars.

Who would win?

The International All Stars have a tremendous amount of talent and a really diverse range of playing styles. However, the Roses consistency and familiarity with each other would most likely mean they would take the win. The battle would be lost and won in the midcourt, as the two sides are fairly evenly matched at both ends – with the Roses’ shooting circle slightly superior to the All Stars’. This would be a great spectacle of VNSL talent, but it’s likely the Roses would be able to edge out the All Stars.

Top 15 SSN training partners: #12 Matisse Letherbarrow

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is taking a look at the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) plate in 2020. Coming in at 12 is former NSW Swifts and current GIANTS Netball training partner Matisse Letherbarrow. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration 2019 form, individual potential and future development.

Letherbarrow burst onto the scene at a young age with the talented goaler touted for her impressive skill under the post. Although she is still only 18 Letherbarrow has already had a highly decorated career ranging from representing and captaining her state at the National Championships to playing in the under 17 Australian squad. Her talent is undeniable able to mix it with the best in the competition and given she is still so young her trajectory is high. Though she is yet to debut for a SSN club her ability to have a profound impact at domestic level such as Australian Netball League (ANL) for the NSW Waratahs is a testament to her sheer netball understanding. She has been playing in the ANL since she was 16 highlighting her skill to play against the bigger and more experienced bodies in the competition and more importantly her ability to not get overwhelmed. Letherbarrow was a strong force in the goal circle for the Waratahs in last year’s grand final backing herself from range and using every inch of the circle to reposition and gain some sort of ascendancy over her opponent. At 188cm, Letherbarrow is not the tallest shooter but knows how to use her body and push back against the defenders to be a commanding figure in the goal circle. Her clever movement, strong footwork and vision allows her to create space and drop back into it when needed. Although her reliance on the back space can make her a bit predictable, further development will help to add a couple more strings to her bow. Throw in her agility and Letherbarrow oozes potential and excitement for Australian netball. Her strong hands and strength on the take also makes her a dominant shooter while her twinkle toes on the baseline is a testament to her impressive balance.

Training alongside the likes of England Roses star Jo Harten, Australian Diamonds captain and goal shooter Caitlin Bassett and fellow youngster Kiera Austin, Letherbarrow is surrounded by some classy players that could easily teach her the ropes at SSN level. Expect Letherbarrow to have a big year and develop at a rate of knots given the calibre of players around her.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)

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

Draft Central’s Top 25 International Young Guns countdown: #11/#10

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 25 players under 25-years-old across the netball world. Coming in at 11 is Kiera Austin while up and coming New Zealander Grace Nweke snuck into the top 10 after a dominant last season in the ANZ Premiership. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

Just sitting outside the top 10 is Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) developing shooter, Kiera Austin. The 22-year-old shooter has a bright future ahead given her versatility and sheer netball nous. While she has struggled to get court time thanks to playing alongside the likes of Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett at the GIANTS has shown that she can come on and have an impact whether it be in the goal circle or out the front in wing attack. Her clever ball placement, deceptive speed and traditional style of netball are a couple of key attributes in her game. She is a real confidence player and builds as the game goes on, able to draw on the vibe of the crowd and players around her. Austin has shown time and time again for the GIANTS that she can have a damaging impact around the circle edge with her well weighted passes and spatial awareness while also backing herself when under the post. Her quick footwork and desire to go to post makes her an exciting prospect and will want to put her best foot forward in the coming season to earn herself a spot in the Diamonds.

Northern Mystics goal shooter, Grace Nweke snagged 10th place on the countdown given her breakout season in 2019. Nweke took the competition by storm and at the mere age of 18 is one of the most exciting talents to watch. She is simply unstoppable under the post with her ball control and unbelievable aerial ability. Not often overawed by the a-list defenders in the ANZ Premiership such as Kelly Jury, Katrina Rore, Karin Burger or Jane Watson, Nweke has shown that she can hold her own and most importantly backs herself. Her high volume and accuracy puts her in a league of her own able to single handily keep her side in the game or turn the tables with her skill to score quickly and big split. Playing alongside Silver Ferns goaler, Bailey Mes, Nweke has been able to further her develop her repertoire. Already apart of the Ferns development squad the youngster will be hoping to make a real name for herself this season in what is meant to be her first full season at the highest national level and hopefully secure a spot in the team. She is composed under pressure, able to think her way through zone defence and is strong on the hold to reel in any passes that come her way.

_

Top 25 so far:

25. Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
24. Summer Artman (England)
23. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (England)
22. Matilda Garrett (Australia)
21. Razia Quashie (England)
20. Sophie Garbin (Australia)
19. Imogen Allison (England)
18. Kelly Jury (New Zealand)
17. Tara Hinchliffe (Australia)
16. Aliyah Dunn (New Zealand)
15. Whitney Souness (New Zealand)
14. Amy Parmenter (Australia)
13. Cara Koenen (Australia)
12. Kate Eddy (Australia)
11. Kiera Austin (Australia)
10. Grace Nweke (New Zealand)

SSN All-Stars prove no match for Diamonds in Bushfire Relief game

THE Diamonds claimed victory over the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars (66-53) in the Netball Bushfire Relief game. Australia’s strong connections down court proved to be the difference between the two teams with their ability to weave their way down the court and use their change of speed to exploit the All-Stars side. Despite having a stacked line-up it took a while for the All-Stars to gel, but a potential third quarter comeback had the Diamonds worried before they resorted to their usual ways and ran out comfortable winners. The new rules did not seem to bother either side instead they embraced the rolling subs and two-point shot with both sides making the most of the changes.

It was a big game for the Diamonds with coach Lisa Alexander heading up her last game and Caitlin Thwaites pulling on the green and gold dress for the last time. With Ash Brazill ruled out of the clash due to a potential anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury sustained in her AFL Women’s game against Melbourne, Gabi Simpson made the switch from All-Stars to Diamonds, while Amy Parmenter was elevated into the All-Stars squad. The disruption did not seem to unsettle the Diamonds, with Simpson slotting back in seamlessly credit to her skill, defensive pressure and pre-existing connections with a host of players while Parmenter added plenty of excitement.

With the centre pass starting with the All-Stars it did not take the Diamonds long to create a turnover with Courtney Bruce taking an impressive intercept, proving why they are world number one with Gretel Tippett rewarding Bruce’s efforts with a goal. The Diamonds continued their merry way building on their connections and using their experience together to slice through the All-Stars defensive unit. The combination between Geva Mentor and Karla Pretorius was strong with the two drawing upon their time at the Lightning to rotate through the circle and use their feet to cause confusion in the circle but it was not enough to put off Tippett, Thwaites and Caitlin Bassett. Thwaites scored the first super shot of the game proving that she was going to go out in style thanks to her long range shooting and smooth movement. Australia opened up a four-goal lead with five minutes left in the opening term before really ramping it up to take a commanding eight-goal lead into the first break.

With the lead in favour of the Diamonds, the All-Stars had plenty to prove with England Roses teammates Chelsea Pitman and Helen Housby combining nicely in the attacking third with their clever movement and precise ball placement. Housby and Jamaican, Jhaniele Fowler found plenty of space in the goal circle against the likes of Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau with Fowler making full use of her height and reach. The continuous subs provided plenty of opportunities for players to come on and have an immediate impact, with Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling using her lean over the shot and lanky arms to gobble up any missed shots or errant passes. Nine goals down, the All-Stars went for an all-Swifts approach with Nat Haythornthwaite, Housby and Sam Wallace all combining but it was not enough to draw back the margin with the Diamonds powering through and using their ball speed to work through the All-Stars defence. Through the midcourt, Liz Watson was electric using her quick feet and good vision to sight Tippett and Thwaites in the circle time and time again. The Diamonds were well and truly humming as the quarter went on unfazed by what the All-Stars line-up threw at them extending the lead to a whopping 18 goals at half time.

It was do-or-die for the SSN side and with the writing on the wall they upped their ante mounting somewhat of a comeback to reduce the deficit to 15 goals at half-time. Newcomer Kiera Austin got her fair share of court time and while she was not overly accurate on the shot her silky movement across the court caught the eye of many interested onlookers. The speed of Laura Scherian through the midcourt opened up the attacking end for the Diamonds with Laura Langman doing her best to combat her Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate with her defensive prowess and sheer stamina. It is hard to argue that Australia seemed to have the majority of the play dominating through the midcourt with Paige Hadley also doing a wealth of work to feed the ball into the goalers with her quick hands and work around the circle edge. The All-Stars dwindled the lead down to 11 goals before the Diamonds once again found their feet in attack thanks to long bomb two-point shot from Tippett and strong defensive work from the likes of Simpson and Turner with the two creating a wall in defence.

The final quarter continued the same fashion as the previous ones with the Diamonds dominating. The All-Stars simply had no answers for Australia unable to stop the rate they were scoring at and moving the ball at. Jo Harten had a hit and miss performance under the post struggling to find her usual range while up the other end Kristiana Manu’a and Emily Mannix both combined well using their intercepting ability to cause havoc. Thwaites was near on unstoppable in the goal circle with her strong hands and well timed movement on full display pairing with Tegan Philip to create a moving circle. Simpson showcased her elite skill with two intercepts in under a minute using her leap and strong hands to reel the ball in. It was a complete performance from the Diamonds with the All-Stars succumbing to their opponents strong connections across the court.

Tippett did the most damage on the scoreboard for the Diamonds converting 20 goals from 27 attempts at 74 per cent accuracy, with five of those goals coming from two-point range while Bassett 11 from 15 and Thwaites 10 from 13 were not far behind. Simpson had a game to remember with four intercepts and four deflections, while Klau impressed with five gains, five deflections and two intercepts. For the All-Stars Sterling led the way down back with a whopping eight gains, four intercepts and five deflections in what was a stellar performance by the developing Jamaican defender. In the goal circle Fowler was accurate to post with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

Netball Bushfire Relief game preview: Diamonds and All-Stars to battle it out in huge showdown

WITH pride on the line for both sides, the contest on Sunday between the Australian Diamonds and Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) All-Stars will draw plenty of attention. It will be the first game the Diamonds have played this year and will be hoping to kick their international campaign off in style while on the other hand the All-Stars will be aiming to showcase their array of talents and bring everything together.

The All-Stars are littered with class acts across the court with Silver Ferns veteran Laura Langman named captain for the exhibition match. Langman is an excitement machine across the court with her dynamic change of pace, quick hands and ability to consistently do the unthinkable. Fellow midcourters in the likes of England Roses duo Chelsea Pitman and Nat Haythornthwaite will complement the speedy style of Langman, with both players renowned for the deliberate approach to circle edge. Wing defence Gabi Simpson will most likely head up the defensive side of the midcourt with her athletic ability and leap a couple of things in her extensive repertoire. Meanwhile Kate Moloney may also find herself rotating through the position given her more defensive style of play in the midcourt. The match-up through the midcourt will set tongues wagging with the likes of wing defence-cum-centre Ash Brazill potentially taking on Langman in what could be an action-packed battle. Brazill oozes athleticism and endurance while Diamonds teammate and wing attack Liz Watson has proven that timing and ball placement is no issue often delivering pin-point passes into the circle. Throw in the likes of Laura Scherian who has come into her own in recent times along with Paige Hadley and both sides have a relatively stacked line-up. Expect the wing defence role to fall to Jamie-Lee Price with her speed and hustle around the circle edge her bread and butter. Price will be looking to outmuscle the likes of Pitman and Haythornthwaite around the circle edge to limit scoring opportunities.

In the defensive circle itself, the All-Stars have a plethora of options none more daunting than the likes of Geva Mentor. The Roses goal keeper is in a league of her own credit to her experience and high netball nous while the likes of young up and coming Jamaican superstar Shamera Sterling will be hoping to set the court alight with her intercepting ability. Mentor will get the opportunity to reunite with former Lightning teammate, Karla Pretorius with the two posing a dominant threat to the Diamonds with their ability to deny ball into the circle with their extreme defensive pressure and skill to clog space. But Australian captain Caitlin Bassett is no stranger to the physicality and mind games that both Pretorius and Mentor play, having spent time with them at the Lightning and combating them at an international level for years. Bassett is strong in the air and under the post able to move her feet and hold space while in her final game before retirement Caitlin Thwaites will be hoping to leave a lasting legacy with her accuracy to post and ability to shoot from anywhere in the circle.  After a standout season for the GIANTS, Kristiana Manu’a will be hoping to make a splash and assert herself on the game while Emily Mannix knows what it takes to knock over the Diamonds having been inside of the Australian camp. Kiera Austin will get the chance to come up against club teammate Manu’a with the young Diamond hoping to highlight her smooth movement in the circle and accuracy to post. It is hard to go past the likes of Gretel Tippett with the star goaler winning the Liz Ellis Medal credit to her impressive 2019. Tippett will be hard to stop with her physical and athletic style along with her increased volume and accuracy to post while fellow goaler Tegan Philip will be wanting to cement her spot in the Diamonds side.

When it comes to the goal circle the talent does not stop headlined by towering Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler who has proven that volume is no issue while the Swifts’ Sam Wallace is no slouch in goal shooter able to use her aerial skills to reign in loose passes and shoot truly. Wallace will more than likely pair up with NSW teammate Helen Housby in the circle while Roses goaler Jo Harten’s combination with Housby could also be on display throughout the match giving the All-Stars coaches in Julie Fitzgerald and Briony Akle plenty to think about. Although the All-Stars have a stacked line-up the Diamonds will be hoping that their defensive connections between the likes of goal keeper Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston will disrupt their attacking flow and force turnovers. Both players are renowned for their hunt for the ball and intercepting ability. The potential match-up between Fever teammates Bruce and Fowler will be exciting with the two known for their aerial style of play and competitive nature. Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau will both also be hoping to impact the contest for the Diamonds with the defenders knowing Housby and Wallace’s game plan inside and out playing with them at the Swifts.

Expect a fireworks display from both sides with neither wanting to loose and key match-ups across the court especially considering the number of club teammate cross-overs across the court.

All-Stars
Jhaniele Fowler
Jo Harten
Nat Haythornthwaite
Helen Housby
Laura Langman
Emily Mannix
Kristiana Manu’a
Geva Mentor
Kate Moloney
Chelsea Pitman
Karla Pretorius
Gabi Simpson
Shamera Sterling
Sam Wallace

Australian Diamonds
Caitlin Bassett
Liz Watson
Kiera Austin
Ash Brazill
Courtney Bruce
Paige Hadley
Sarah Klau
Tegan Philip
Jamie-Lee Price
Laura Scherian
Caitlin Thwaites
Gretel Tippett
Maddy Turner
Jo Weston

GIANTS stamp authority on ANZ Premiership teams with a clean sweep

THE GIANTS asserted themselves on the Trans-Tasman Challenge, winning all three of their games against their three New Zealand opponents. Despite being pushed to their limits by the Northern Stars, Northern Mystics and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, the GIANTS dug deep using their versatility and experience to close out games and return home with an unbeaten record. The tournament allowed all four sides to tinker with their line-up and test new combinations across the court ahead of their respective seasons.

GIANTS Netball (67) defeated Northern Stars (52)

It was a solid performance from the GIANTS who took it to the Northern Stars denying any easy ball movement and combating their zone defence with their clever ball placement and strong drives. The away side started strong but the Stars showed they were ready for the fight working their way back into the contest to tie things up late in the first. But the GIANTS pulled away in the following quarters linking up effortlessly across the court to manoeuvre the ball down the court and transition with ease. The GIANTS displayed their depth in the goal circle with England Roses star Jo Harten resorting to her usual position in goal shooter. Harten paired well with youngster Kiera Austin with the two moving well in the circle and opening up space with their movement. Defensively the Stars could not contain the duo with Trinidad and Tobago goal keeper Daystar Swift and Kate Burley struggling to stop the connection between the GIANTS goalers. Young academy athlete Olivia Rowntree also stepped out onto court for the first time with the defender making the most of her opportunities down back with the likes of experience head Sam Poolman guiding her. However, the GIANTS were not the only side to try out new combinations with Stars shooter Maia Wilson testing her hand in goal attack leaving new comer Juliana Naoupu under the post. The connection between Grace Kara and Lisa Maher through the midcourt improved for the Stars with the two finding good space and using their dynamic footwork to hit circle edge. There was plenty of positives to come out of the match for both sides given the depth of talent and ability to chop and change players.

GIANTS Netball (66) defeated Northern Mystics (56)

The Northern Mystics got off to a flyer jumping out of the blocks thanks to their strong defensive work to pick off passes and force turnovers. The lead ebbed and flowed throughout the game with the GIANTS holding a mere three goal lead at three quarter time after the Mystics had led for the majority of the game thanks to their accuracy to post and understanding. But it was all the GIANTS way in the fourth, piercing the defence with their bullet like passes and backing themselves in the contest to hunt the ball and take an intercept. The pre-season tournament proved to be a good opportunity for sides to test out new combinations and positions with Amy Parmenter finding her feet in wing attack. The wing defence come centre showcased her brilliance in the attacking third using her change of pace and good vision to have an impact while Toni Anderson impressed in her outing against the Mystics using her strength and netball nous to have an impact. Youngster Maddie Hay also showed her skillset and composure stepping onto the court in the third term and absorbing the pressure. The GIANTS dominated the Mystics with their class and silky ball movement on full display and while the combination between Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick worked well it was not enough to stop the GIANTS shooting juggernauts. GIANTS defender Kristiana Manu’a showed plenty of commitment down back and using her leap to swat the ball away from Grace Nweke in the goal circle.

GIANTS Netball (70) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (57)

It was a tale of two halves for the GIANTS with the Magic dominating the opening half of netball before the GIANTS turned the tables. Waikato Bay opened-up a strong seven goal lead at half time and looked to have it all going their way thanks to their pressure and a multitude of unforced errors on behalf of the travelling side. But a 20-goal quarter all but changed the Magic’s outlook on the game with the GIANTS pressing hard and using their slick ball movement and accuracy to post to cause havoc. As the game went on the Magic started to tire with the GIANTS going on a 23-goal scoring spree thanks to Caitlin Bassett and Harten in the goal circle. Jamie-Lee Price was solid through the midcourt using her strength around the circle edge to claim prime positioning and deliver well-weighted passes into the shooters. Former GIANTS training partner Georgia Marshall found her feet in the goal circle pairing with Abigail Latu-Meafou while through the midcourt speedster Whitney Souness and Ariana Cable-Dixon got to work using their quick hands and footwork to hit the circle edge and deliver well-weighted passes into the shooters. Despite their best efforts the Magic simply did not have enough in the tank to outrun the GIANTS who relied on their experience to pull through in the final term.

Bushfire Relief – Surprise packets

WITH the Australian Diamonds and Suncorp Super Netball All-Stars list finalised for their Australian Bushfire Relief game we take a look at two surprise packets or up and coming players for each side.

Australian Diamonds:

Kiera Austin:

The talented goaler has plenty to offer and while she does not have experience on her side she has excitement and youth as a touted future Diamonds star. Having played with the GIANTS expect the goaler to have a strong connection with Australian captain, Caitlin Bassett making for a dynamic duo in the goal circle. Austin is a very versatile player able to move between the shooting circle and wing attack with ease, making her a crucial player for the Diamonds. She is a confidence player who will grow as the match goes on and has proven that she is not afraid to back herself from range in the circle.

Maddy Turner:

Only still developing her defensive craft, the New South Wales Swift defender will be hoping to have an immediate impact when on court. Her connection with fellow defender Sarah Klau will go a long way with the two able to rotate in the circle with ease and apply a wealth of pressure. She is a real excitement machine with her aerial ability and skill to cover the court with ease. Turner is a more tagging style of defender but has proven that she can change up her game plan and hunt the ball rather than nullify her opponent. Her lean over the shot and read of the play makes her a constant threat across the court; pair that with her determination and Turner could be the difference on court.

SSN All-Stars:

Kristiana Manu’a:

Arguably one of the surprise packets of the All-Stars team with the 24-year-old defender really coming into her own in 2019. She offers plenty of athleticism and physicality in the goal circle thanks to her tenacious attitude. Manu’a is not the tallest player but works hard across the court to cover her opponent and shadow their every move. She is a real competitor and always gives 100 per cent making her an exciting prospect for the All-Stars. The typical goal defence can be used as an impact player, able to inject some speed and defensive pressure into the backend while her offensive efforts are just as impressive working hard to bring the ball down the court.

Gabi Simpson:

This will be a chance for the hardworking and highly skilful wing defence to once again prove herself against the best of the best in hope to reclaim a spot in the Diamonds. The Firebirds midcourter oozes sheer athleticism with her impressive leap and speed off the mark making her a handy inclusion in the All-Star team. Simpson has struggled for consistency over the last season and will be hoping to announce herself in this contest with her smothering defensive pressure and quick feet. She clogs up space in the attacking third and is not afraid to hunt the ball time and time again while her connection with the likes of Emily Mannix and Kate Moloney from their time in the Diamonds could pay dividends in trying to topple the current list.