Tag: kim ravaillion

Swifts flying high after a convincing win

THE NSW Swifts have redeemed themselves this week with a convincing 12 goal win over the Queensland Firebirds in Round 8 of the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season. While the Firebirds could not seem to get their heads in the game properly, the Swifts played clean and clinical netball to secure the win.

Despite the Firebirds getting the first centre pass, a miss from Romelda Aiken caused a quick turnover and Sam Wallace scored the first goal for the Swifts. A quick run of three goals did see the Firebirds ahead four minutes in, but it was short lived, with the team having to play in chase mode for the rest of the match. Aiken continued to struggle to settle herself into the game, with a held ball at the post and another miss right under the ring in the first half of the quarter.

The Firebirds did show some promise early on, setting up a wall defence on the centre pass in an attempt to slow the Swifts up. However, Helen Housby’s hard drives combined with Wallace’s clever holds were no match for it. As the power play siren went signalling the final five minutes of the first quarter, the Swifts looked very much in control, playing their game at their own pace. Calling a timeout with two minutes of the first quarter to go, the Firebirds did briefly disrupt the Swifts momentum as a held ball was called against the Swifts once they got back on the court. But two super shot misses in a row from Tippah Dwan gave the Swifts all the opportunity they needed, finishing the quarter 15 -11 Swifts way.

The Firebirds had a bit of a lift in the second quarter, going goal for goal to keep the deficit at the four goals. Their defensive duo in Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner were getting a few hands on the ball, but the team struggled to convert and gain back a few goals against the Swifts. While the Swifts kept their lineup the same, Jemma Mi Mi came on in wing attack and Dwan came back into goal attack half way through the second quarter to change things up and try and keep Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner on their toes.

As half time approached, Aiken still could not settle herself, taking four attempts to score a goal from under the post. Closing the gap to within three goals, the Swifts called a time out with just three minutes to go. A bad pass from Wallace caused a turnover and a subsequent goal from Aiken to close the gap to within one goal, but Wallace redeemed herself with two super shots, blowing the gap back out to five goals at half time (30 – 25).

The Swifts came out absolutely firing in the third quarter, getting up by eight goals in the first five minutes. The start saw Dwan remain in goal attack, as she demonstrated she was helpful in making space in the ring for Aiken, but could not keep up the pace as Bueta made her way back on court half way through. Tayla Fraser came into wing defence, with her energy and physicality adding another element to the Swifts already good game. In another attempt to slow up their momentum as their deficit reached nine goals, the Firebirds called a timeout.

With Wallace and Housby on a roll, Rudi Ellis was brought on in goal keeper in an attempt to shake things up, bringing just a bit more height and a fantastic vertical jump into the ring. However, it could not stop the connection between the shooters and captain Maddy Proud. Dwan was moved back into goal shooter as their scoreline continued to blowout, but the Firebirds attack line appeared tired and were fumbling things they normally would not. Doubling their goals for the quarter, the Swifts went into the final term 14 goals ahead.

The Firebirds were energetic heading into the final quarter, but it was too little too late. Paige Hadley was dominant in wing attack, with her great vision into the ring able to find Wallace home alone on occasion. Despite the stats not showing it, Turner was doing a great job in keeping Bueta out of the ring. Putting Jenner back in goal defence, Dunkley in wing attack and Hinchliffe into goal keeper, the Firebirds kept their heads up and got themselves back to within 10 goals as the Swifts called a timeout. Bueta scored a super shot with two and a half minutes to go, but a clever pick up from Proud and a spectacular layup from Wallace demonstrated how in control the Swifts were and had been all game. With a super shot from Aiken on the buzzer, the final score was 64 – 52.

Aiken finished the game with 39 goals from 49 attempts, while Bueta’s average was only 63 percent with her 10 goals from 16 shots. Proud was named player of the match, sitting on 126 Nissan Net Points (NNP) with two gains and two intercepts. Kim Ravaillion topped the charts for the Firebirds with 80 NNP. Defensively, Klau was instrumental in the Swifts win with her work on Aiken, collecting two gains, four deflections and an intercept. Hadley had the highest goal assists on 21, while Proud was not far behind her with 19. It is interesting to note that the penalty count was 36 for the Swifts, while the Firebirds had a massive 66 penalties against them.

NSW SWIFTS 15 | 15 | 18 | 16 (64)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 11 | 14 | 9 | 18 (52)

STARTING SEVEN:

Swifts:

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

Firebirds:

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

Photo credit: NSW Swifts Twitter

2021 SSN: Head to head – Round 8

NSW Swifts will play host to Queensland Firebirds on Saturday when the two sides kick off proceedings for Suncorp Super Netball Round 8. The midcourt battle will once again be centre stage with a couple of Diamonds representative –  both former and present – going head-to-head, featuring Maddy Proud and Kim Ravaillion.

NSW Swifts vs. Queensland Firebirds
Maddy Proud (C) vs. Kim Ravaillion (C)

It is going to be a cracking battle in the midcourt with two hard noses in Ravaillion and Proud lining up against one-another. The two centres have completely different playing styles but one thing they share is their high level of endurance and two-way running capacity.

Looking at Ravaillion and it is hard to believe that she is returning after giving birth to her daughter early last year. Since re-joining the Firebirds she has been a pillar of consistency with her connection between Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta unstoppable. Ravaillion oozes nothing but confidence and class delivering pinpoint precision passes into the circle time and time again. she is a smooth mover that reads the play exceptionally well and while she is not the fastest player out on court does use her bursts of speed to break away from the play and go screaming down the court. More of a defensive-minded centre, Ravaillion is renowned for her ability to build pressure and grind down her opponent by clogging up the space. She plays a real dogged style of defence covering her opponent’s every move and combining nicely with Firebirds captain Gabi Simspon to rotate the strike around circle edge. She is never out of the contest using her three-foot marking to create tips and deflections while her fancy footwork and leap also enable her to win ball back for Queensland.

Proud is a lynchpin in attack for the Swifts with her drive to the top of the circle critical. She is a real energiser bunny, able to spark the Swifts frontend with her 1-2 play around circle edge and vision into the shooters. Her connection with Sam Wallace is unstoppable when on song, happy to release the ball from distance while her partnership with Helen Housby is also exciting to watch as the two are able to utilise their speed to carve up the attacking third. Proud is often the main ball carrier for the Swifts receiving every second pass to weave her magic down the court and use her timing to open up space. She is a much more attacking-minded centre, however can get down to business in defence with her closing speed and hunger to win ball back for her side, wiling to hit the floor to get the ball. Her transitional play is another key cog in her game play able to bring the ball down the court in a heartbeat. Proud will need a wealth of support from her fellow midcourters in Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite for her to have a real impact and balance the circle with her triangle play.

If Ravaillion is able to take away Proud’s space nice and early it will force the Swifts midcourter to throw the ball around and put her under pressure. She can occasionally be known for her fast-paced nature which leads to her throwing away ball and with Ravaillion riding her every step of the way, the Firebirds could get the upper hand. They will be matched for endurance and strength meaning it will come down to which player is able to think their way through the constant niggle and pressure for their respective side, with Proud’s willingness to contest sure to give her the upper hand.

Photo credit: SSN

2021 SSN Preview: Round 8

ROUND 8 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season will be a split round played over two weekends. With everyone having played each other, the teams will return to play their Round 1 opponents. The Sunshine Coast Lightning cemented their top spot position over the weekend, with the West Coast Fever hot on their heels. We preview the entire round of action to come.

NSW Swifts vs. Queensland Firebirds
Saturday, June 19 @3:00pm

With both the Swifts and Firebirds coming off losses, each will be looking to get back on top of their game this week. Going down unexpectedly to the Thunderbirds, the Swifts in particular will want to build themselves back up with a win. When they met in Round 1, the Firebirds only went down by three goals. This time they will not want to let the opportunity slip through their fingers.

After a slower start to the season, Swifts defenders Maddy Turner and Sarah Klau have found a good rhythm over the past few rounds. Up against Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta, the defenders will need to keep alert and watch for Bueta’s iconic layup shots and passes. They will also need to be mindful of Tippah Dwan, who is shorter but quite quick, and has a knack for super shots. Firebird’s Kim Ravaillion also appears to be at the top of her game, and will take on Swift’s captain Maddy Proud in the centre, which will be a good matchup to watch.

Likely to go up against either Paige Hadley or Lauren Moore, Firebirds wing attack Jemma Mi Mi will have a good contest this round. Mi Mi’s connections into the ring has been improving each week, and with Lara Dunkley on the bench ready to come on at a moments notice, the Firebirds attack line is looking particularly strong.

GIANTS vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Sunday, June 20 @1:00pm

Coming off their third loss in a row, the GIANTS will be wanting to see if they can get some of that momentum back that they started the season with. However, the Thunderbirds come in to the Round 8 match with two wins under their belt, unexpectedly beating the Swifts last weekend. The Thunderbirds are finally starting to find their groove as the GIANTS start to lose it, this could be a close game with some interesting pairings.

Topping the Nissan Net Points last week, GIANTS wing defence Amy Parmenter is a massive threat to the Thunderbirds. Her ability to switch seamlessly from defence to attack, and to read the play in order to rack up the gains and intercepts will keep the Thunderbirds attack on their toes, particularly Maisie Nankivell, who Parmenter will come head-to-head with in the upcoming game. It will be a tough battle between Jamie-Lee Price and Hannah Petty in the centre, while Sam Poolman and Lenize Potgieter are very well matched in the ring.

While Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer started off the season really strong, the past few weeks they have struggled to find consistency, looking flustered on the court as they have difficulty getting their eye in. Going up against Shamera Sterling and Matilda Garrett, who have been building as a defensive duo all season, Dwyer and Harten will need to be at the top of their game to get on top of their opponents.

Sunshine Coast Lighting vs. Collingwood Magpies
Saturday, June 26 @3:00pm

Their win last week secured Lightning the top spot on the SSN ladder, meaning they are in a very comfortable position going up against the Magpies this week. The Magpies however are on a bit of a role with two wins in the past three weeks, and will be looking to see if they can keep up the momentum against the top side.

Binnian Hunt was a game-changer for the Lightning in their match against the GIANTS last week, coming on into wing attack to give them just that little extra height on the edge of the ring and excellent vision to the shooters. Up against Ash Brazill this week, who has been on fire in wing defence for the Magpies over the last few games, Hunt will have to push hard to keep up that pace against Brazill.

Lightning tried out a new combination in the last quarter of their game against the GIANTS, moving Steph Wood into wing attack, Cara Koenen out into goal attack and bringing on Peace Proscovia into shooter. This allowed Wood to continue what she does best in setting up play and creating space, while Proscovia added a bit more height to the circle, a strong hold, and 100 percent shooting accuracy. This could be helpful against Pies defender Jodi-Ann Ward and Geva Mentor, who have really found their groove together over the last couple of games despite a slow start to the season. Down the other end of the court, Kelsey Browne and Molly Jovic continue to impress with their passes into Shimona Nelson under the ring, but will need to be able to navigate their way through Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni.

West Coast Fever vs. Melbourne Vixens
Sunday, June 27 @1:00pm

With the Vixens still struggling to find their momentum on court, this could turn out to be a very one sided match in Fever’s favour, similar to what spectators saw in their Round 1 clash. West Coast are yet to drop a game this season and do not look like losing with their connections across court incredibly slick.

When the 2020 grand finalists met each other back in the season opener, Kadie-Ann Dehaney was able to give the Vixens some what of a lift with her defensive play, with her injection into the game midway through causing the powerhouse that is Jhaniele Fowler to falter just slightly and forcing her to change her game. Dehaney will need to be able to do this again in order to shut down Fever’s unstoppable attack, especially looking at the connection between Fowler and Verity Charles. Dehaney will be aided out the front by the ever reliable Jo Weston, who will be taking on either Alice Teague-Neeld or Sasha Glasgow. While Teague-Neeld is more of a playmaker, Glasgow is not as quick off the transverse line, but is dangerous whenever she gets the ball inside the ring, and is a particular threat during the power play.

Vixens young wing attack, Hannah Mundy, will have to step against Fever’s Stacey Francis-Bayman in wing defence. While Mundy is still finding her groove playing in the national league, Francis-Bayman is a seasoned defender, quick on her feet with an incredible ability to get the ball. It will be a good matchup to watch Kate Moloney and Jess Anstiss in the centre of the court, while the head-to-head between Mwai Kumwenda and Courtney Bruce will be a huge contest and a spectacle for the crowd.

Photo credit: Suncorp Super Netball

Fever continue winning run with classy victory over Firebirds

WEST Coast Fever overcame the last remaining side in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) on Sunday afternoon, completing a clean sweep of each team with a 10-goal victory over Queensland Firebirds, 79-69. While the Firebirds certainly took it to the Fever at times throughout the intense clash – which also marked defender Kim Jenner‘s 50th game milestone – the away side was relentless and showcased their hunt for the ball in an excellent four-quarter effort.

It was a hard start from both side, with neither letting the opposition get first hands to the ball. Kim Ravaillion got the Firebirds started with blistering pace and plenty of confidence to Romelda Aiken, while at the other end Sasha Glasgow showed no signs of pressure as she comfortably held her own against the ever tenacious Jenner. But with Glasgow holding ground well it made the going tougher for Tara Hinchliffe on Jhaniele Fowler, as the Jamaican made the most of the one-on-one defence to receive ball after loping ball from Verity Charles. Neither side was afraid of contesting the loose ball, with errant passes quickly hunted down and gobbled up, while confidence from super shot range steadily applied pressure on the scoreboard. The Firebirds trailed by two at the first break, 17-19, with a buzzer beater from Fowler getting the job done to push the side ahead.

As the second term arrived, so did the Firebirds as Aiken and Gretel Bueta put on a show, piling on seven straight goals to steal the lead and extend a five-goal margin. But Courtney Bruce got herself involved too, building off the Firebirds’ confidence and determined to knock them down a peg, mopping up the scraps on a number of occasions and using her excellent vision to arrive first to the Aiken ball time and time again. Flair from the Firebirds was expected and set the court alight as Aiken and Bueta did everything in their power to confuse the space for Bruce and young gun Sunday Aryang, losing their great lead and staying ahead throughout the term by a few goals here and there as their own defensive effort paid off. The change was made out the front from the away side as clever ball-mover Alice Teague-Neeld was injected into the contest, sharing the feeding load with Verity Charles who, despite an excellent first quarter, was held well by Gabi Simpson in the second, and paid off almost immediately as the Fever stole away momentum once more. The workrate of Jess Anstiss was immense going toe-to-toe with Ravaillion as the two defensive-minded centres effectively cancelled each other out, with steadiness from the Fever to post paying off in comparison to the Firebirds’ flurry of super shot attempts to stay in touch. It was the Fever that extended their two-goal lead to four at the main change, with a couple of momentum swings speaking heavily of the contest ahead as the second half rolled around.

A huge second half opened up with goal for goal action before the Fever were able to add three more to their tally and force the Firebirds to really challenge for that loose ball. Clean hands and contests continued though with both teams find their way to turnover ball, while Charles and Teague-Neeld’s ability to sight Fowler proved tough to combat for Jenner and Hinchliffe who did everything in their power to force errors from the goal shooter, to no avail. Despite signs pointing the other way, the long ball to Fowler continued to do the trick with the defensive effort of Simpson making life hard for Charles to find the circle – but allowing the wing attack to wreak havoc from miles up the court in the process with her ability to thread the needle. Tippah Dwan took the court in goal attack to add a different element to the Firebirds front-end but the workrate from Aryang made it hard for the goaler to really work her way into the contest, missing a couple of late super shots as the Firebirds trailed by five heading in to a huge final quarter.

The high-scoring third term was backed up by the final quarter, as the Fever really kicked up a gear. Each Firebirds attempt was bookended by multiple Fever bursts as the away side’s defensive effort continued to fire, while the home side floundered with their loud home crowd silenced. Hinchliffe was swapped out for the added height of Rudi Ellis but it was too little, too late as the Fever ground out a comfortable 10-goal victory, with their consistency throughout the contest paying off in spades.

For the winning side, Fowler was immense as ever with 62 goals from 64 attempts at 97 per cent accuracy, while Glasgow shot five straight (three super shots) and Teague-Neeld added another six (three super shots) to their tally. Teague-Neeld also piled on 21 goal assists, to go with Charles’ 25 and Anstiss’ 18 and two intercepts. Bruce amassed a whopping 12 gains (five intercepts, three deflections, four rebounds) while Stacey Francis-Bayman, Aryang and Fowler all picked up an intercept apiece. For the Firebirds, Aiken piled on 40 straight as well as one super shot from three attempts, while Bueta was lower in accuracy than usual due to attempts on the super shot, coming in at an overall 65 per cent with 17 from 26 (three super shots from nine). Dwan similarly struggled from range, hitting the mark three times from six attempts. Ravaillion led the feeding charge with 19 assists with Jemma Mi Mi (12) and Bueta (10) next in line, while the defensive unit was well and truly kept quiet not managing a single gain throughout the 60 minutes.

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 17 | 16 | 20 | 16 (69)
WEST COAST FEVER 19 | 18 | 21 | 21 (79)

STARTING SEVEN:

Firebirds

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

Fever

GS: Jhaniele Fowler 
GA:
Sasha Glasgow
WA:
Verity Charles
C:
Jess Anstiss
WD:
Stacey Francis-Bayman
GD:
Sunday Aryang
GK:
Courtney Bruce

Picture credit: West Coast Fever

2021 SSN Head to head: Round 7

THE highly anticipated match-up between Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever headlines Round 7 of the Suncorp Super Netball. With plenty of key contests across the court, Draft Central hones in one on battle between a couple of experienced figures in Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson and Fever pocket rocket Verity Charles.

Queensland Firebirds vs. West Coast Fever
Gabi Simpson (WD) vs. Verity Charles (WA)

Two highly influential players for their respective teams, the battle between Simpson and Charles will be an exciting one, and one likely to have an influence on the end result. Charles is renowned for her flashy style of play able to excite the crowd while Simpson is equally as exciting with her closing speed and desperation.

Simpson is a real workhorse down back for the Firebirds, a general some would say. Her constant voice and leadership enable the likes of Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner to play their natural game and go out hunting. Simpson is a real terrier that fights for every loose ball and pounces on the scraps to win ball back for her side time and time again, and her closing speed, hands over pressure and sheer athleticism are all integral to the Firebirds unit. Simpson has an ability to play a shutdown role, to grind her opponent out of the game with her shadowing movements and ability to clog space, or can switch into an attacking defender to go out hunting for the cross-court ball. She is never out of the contest, niggling at her opponents particularly around circle edge to create tips and deflections and working well in tandem with Kim Ravaillion to pile on the pressure. The transitional work from the Firebirds captain is the other focal point in her gameplay, able to bring the ball down the court in the blink of an eye.

Looking at Charles, and the dynamic midcourter has speed to burn. She is able to dart up and down the court with great ease and often zips around the attacking third to hit the circle edge almost instantaneously. Her signature jump-throw allows her to get that extra little bit of elevation and pizzazz on her pass and control proceedings in attack. Charles is one of those players who continues to find her way to the ball and is often involved in every second pass such is her dominance in attack. She really carries the workload for the Fever with her connection between Sasha Glasgow continuously developing while her partnership with Jess Anstiss lets her switch into an even better attacking mode. With Anstiss renowned for her defensive mindset, Charles is able to weave her magic to deliver pinpoint passes into the circle and really ply her trade on the second-phase attack with her strong drives into the pocket or top of the circle. The most damaging partnership of them all however is her connection with Jhaniele Fowler with the wing attack able to release the ball with full confidence and class time and time again. They have an unstoppable connection once it gets going, making it hard for opposition teams.

Both Simpson and Charles are crucial links for their respective sides and match up incredibly well. Charles has plenty of speed but so too does Simpson with the wing defence able to shut down the space in the dying seconds. If Simpson is able to employ some really strong hands over pressure and use her dogged style of defence to keep Charles away from circle edge it will go a long way in gifting the Firebirds a win given Charles is so crucial in setting up Fowler under the post.

Photo credit: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

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

2021 SSN: Round 6 – Five things we learnt

SUNCORP Super Netball (SSN) entered the second week of Indigenous Round and the four matches brought plenty of exciting results as Adelaide Thunderbirds notched up their first win and West Coast Fever made it six from six. In this new series, Draft Central will look at five key learnings from the round whether it be consistent themes or standout performances.

Tara Hinchliffe is here to play

Queensland Firebirds goal keeper, Tara Hinchliffe came out with a real pep in her step asserting herself on the contest time and time again. She set the tone nice and early for the Firebirds and was a key reason why her side won using her closing speed and tenacity to win ball back time and time again. Hinchliffe has elevated her game to a whole other level in season 2021 and this game was a testament to this growth able to cleanly compete for the ball and showcasing her smarts to either go out hunting or double-down on Cara Koenen to get in her head nice and early. Her arms over pressure, constant movement and slick connection with Kim Jenner was undeniable as the unit worked together as one to shut down any easy attacking forays for the Lightning and subsequently lead the way for the Firebirds.

West Coast Fever are clinical across the court

The Fever continue to get better and better with time and this game was no different. It was a clinical performance against the Magpies with West Coast able to empty their bench and let everyone have a fun and not skip a beat. The two bookends in Jhaniele Fowler and Courtney Bruce were at their damaging best causing all sorts of trouble for the Magpies but it was the ability for the rest of the team to step up to the plate and carry the load that was the most impressive part. The level of depth the Fever have is second to none with Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow able to shoulder the load in the final term while Olivia Lewis also proved her wares. There is not a section of the court in which the Fever are lacking with the side able to work together as a cohesive unit and wear down opposition teams to produce dominant wins.

Swifts are better with Proud

There is no denying that the inclusion of Maddy Proud lifted the side not only on the court but so too in morale. The captain is a real energiser bunny that is able to have an impact both in attack and defence and that level of enthusiasm was on full show throughout the game against the GIANTS. Proud connected seamlessly with Paige Hadley in wing defence and linked up nicely with both Nat Haythornthwaite and Tayla Fraser in wing attack. It was the centre’s ability to compete for a full four quarters that really stood head and shoulders above the rest with the star midcourter able to absorb the physicality and continue her merry way. Proud was a commanding force around circle edge as her confidence to deliver the ball into the circle and speed through transition spurred the Swifts on time and time again. although the Swifts have a plethora of midcourt options it is fair to say that they look the most comfortable and damaging when she is at the helm.

Thunderbirds find winning form

It was a long time coming but the Adelaide Thunderbirds finally got their first win on the board in season 2021. The Thunderbirds were tested from the opening minute against the Melbourne Vixens and it was not until the final term that Adelaide were able to find their groove and really exploit the attacking end of the Vixens. The defensive combination of Shamera Sterling and Matilda Garrett was on fire with the duo finding a wealth of ball and using their hands over pressure to get in the heads of the Vixens. The injection of Latanya Wilson also paid dividends with the Jamaican wing defence using her closing speed, tenacity and read of the play to disrupt the Vixens’ flow and combine nicely with Sterling and Garrett down back. The Thunderbirds were really able to build off the momentum from the defensive end and translate their wins into goals to give them the winning score.

Defensive minded centres dominated

One thing that well and truly stood out this round was the craft and dominance of the defensive minded centre for example Jamie-Lee Price for the GIANTS, Kim Ravaillion for the Firebirds and Ash Brazill for the Magpies. All three players are renowned for their high level of endurance and defensive tendencies which were on full display across Round 6 as the trio impacted the play for their respective sides. Price was a real workhorse for the GIANTS with her constant pressure while Ravaillion showcased her class to pick up an intercept and nullify her opponent eventually forcing Mahalia Cassidy to the bench such was her dominance. Brazill was her usual commanding self, imposing herself around circle edge and also walking away with three intercepts.

Photo credit: AAP Image/James Gourley

2021 Stats Wrap: SSN Round 6 and ANZ Premiership Round 8

IT was a big week in both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership with a couple of unexpected results and nail-biters dictating the round. Round 6 of the SSN saw Queensland Firebirds get back on the winners list while Mainland Tactix upped the ante over in New Zealand to topple an undermanned Central Pulse outfit. Let’s check out some of the top performers in each respective league.

GOALS:

Grace Nweke continues to be a thorn in opposition sides with the goal shooter topscoring in the ANZ Premiership thanks to her jaw dropping 60-goal performance from 64 attempts in Round 8. She was a lynchpin in attack for the Mystics, dragging her side over the line with her cool, calm collected manner to post. Next best was George Fisher with the Steel goaler nailing not only 50 goals but so too the winning shot, scoring at 93 per cent accuracy. Aliyah Dunn was a commanding force for the Pulse sinking 47 goals from 54 attempts, while Ellie Bird also made her presence felt on the scoreboard thanks to her 46 goals but at a lower 81 per cent. It was a strong and accurate showing from Caitlin Bassett with the Magic goal shooter only missing two goals while out on court to sit at 95 per cent. Tiana Metuarau, Chiara Semple and Amorangi Malesala upped the ante out in goal attack with each goaler only missing one goal. Semple was the highest scorer with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

It is no surprised that Jhaniele Fowler was one of the top goalers for Round 6 of the SSN with the West Coast Fever representative nailing 59 goals from 60 attempts at an impressive 98 per cent. Hot on her heels was Sam Wallace with the NSW Swifts goal shooter starring under the post going at 100 per cent credit to her 58 goals straight as Shimona Nelson showcased her scoring prowess with 39 goals at 95 per cent. Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer shared the load for the GIANTS with 23 and 22 goals respectively and a combined six super shots with four coming off the hand of Dwyer. Speaking of shared shooting loads look no further than Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta with the two recapturing their signature form with the Jamaican leading the way with three super shots at 100 per cent and 34 regular goals. Cara Koenen was the go-to-girl for the Lightning posting 36 goals from 42 attempts while Lenize Potgieter did the heavy lifting for the Thunderbirds with her 29 goals at 91 per cent.

MIDCOURT:

Gina Crampton was electric through the midcourt racking up 32 goal assists and an intercept while Peta Toeava was not far off the pace with 29 goal assists and an intercept of her own. Grace Kara impressed with her pinpoint feeds into the circle to finish with 25 goal assists to her name with a late move into the goal circle assisting with this number. Teammate Sam Winders was also a commanding force with her 15 goal assists, one intercept and five pickups as Shannon Saunders picked up 14 goal assists for the Steel. Samon Nathan was the driving force for the Tactix in attack amassing 21 goal assists as Charlotte Elley impressed in wing defence with her three gains and two intercepts. Maddy Gordon and Claire Kersten shared the load in attack for the Pulse with 13 and 12 goal assists respectively.

Collingwood speedster Kelsey Browne had the ball on a string racking up 26 goal assists while former teammate and current Queensland Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was equally as impressive with ball in hand registering 20 goal assists and an intercept. Verity Charles and Jess Anstiss were crucial for the Fever managing 20 and 19 goal assists apiece with the latter also reeling in an intercept. Stacey Francis-Bayman made her presence felt in wing defence thanks to her three deflections and two intercepts with Ash Brazill also impressing with her three intercepts. Jamie-Lee Price was exciting through the midcourt racking up 18 goal assists and four intercepts as teammate Maddie Hay also found her groove with 15 goal assists of her own. Maddy Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite were influential for the Swifts with 18 and 14 goal assists while Maisie Nankivell showed some real attacking nous for Adelaide with her 15 goal assists.

DEFENCE:

It is hard to go past the performance of Oceane Maihi, who despite taking a while to warm into the game found her hops to really disrupt the play picking up six gains, four intercepts and only received six penalties showcasing her cleanliness. Another goal keeper that had a standout performance was Jane Watson with the Tactix captain registering five deflections, two intercepts and two rebounds. Partner in crime, Karin Burger was also amongst the thick of things with three gains and an intercept. Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury combined for eight gains as Taneisha Fifita was also a commanding force down back for the Steel thanks to her three intercepts and six deflections. Erena Mikaere was the other top performer in defence collecting six deflections in her 60 minutes out on court.

Shamera Sterling was a nuisance down back for the Thunderbirds picking up six gains and four intercepts for her efforts. Partner in crime Matilda Garrett also had a day out with her four deflections and three gains as Queensland Firebirds goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe impressed with her ball winning capabilities to finish with six gains and four intercepts. Lightning goal keeper Phumza Maweni was in the thick of things with her four gains and three intercepts as the combination between Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner was at its damaging best with a combined nine gains. Courtney Bruce had a field day for the Fever with a staggering 11 gains five of which were intercepts along with 10 deflections as Melbourne Vixens goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney relished her time out on court registering seven gains and three  intercepts.

Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris

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