Tag: laura langman

Draft Central 2019 Netball Power Rankings: Top 15

AFTER a busy year of international netball and domestic competitions such as Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership, we cast an eye over who our top 15 netballers in the world are based purely on 2019 form. The list is composed of five defenders, shooters and midcourters. This is purely an opinion based piece, taking into consideration the players we perceive to have the greatest impact on court.

1. Karla Pretorius – GD

The South African goal defence is arguably the best in the world with her impressive speed and netball nous. She can turn a game on its head with a single intercept and consistently wears her opponents out with her defensive pressure and impeccable timing. She had a stellar SSN season with 69 intercepts, highlighting her ability to influence the game time and time again. Pretorius is renowned for her intense pressure across all areas of the court and nice lean over the shot to cause doubt in the opposition’s mind.

2. Laura Langman – C

Langman is like a fine wine, constantly getting better with age and able to win a match off her own individual performance. Her endurance and sheer netball smarts sets her a world apart from her opponents, able to manoeuvre her way around the court seamlessly and have an impact on and off the ball. Both her offensive and defensive work is impeccable, able to pick up timely intercepts (16) and deflections (33) during the SSN season, while also plying her trade in the attacking end with her carefully crafted passes into the goal circle.

3. Gretel Tippett – GA

The Australian Diamonds and Queensland Firebirds goal attack is one of a kind. Her silky movement across the court turns heads while her unpredictability causes headaches for opposition teams. Tippett does not take a backwards step, fighting hard for prime position under the post while using her speed and strength to outmuscle opponents. Her aerial ability is impressive, able to reel in errant passes, and her footwork enables her to edge closer to the post. her accuracy has increased in leaps and bounds with 394 goals from 411 attempts throughout the SSN season, sitting at 96 per cent accuracy.

4. Katrina Rore – WD/GD/GK

The Silver Ferns defender has stood up to the challenge more times than not and has proven that she can have an impact no matter where she is on the court. Her versatility and long reach make her incredibly tough to match up on, able to apply a mountain-load of pressure throughout the course of a game. She oozes class and experience and can sense the moment to take a game changing intercept or deflection, with 33 intercepts and 77 deflections in the ANZ Premiership alone.

5. Liz Watson – WA/C

Watson is one of the world’s best wing attacks with her strength a key element of her game play. Although she is not the speediest player on court, her timing is undeniable along with her play-making ability and vision, amassing a whopping 430 goal assists during the SSN season. Her hustle for prime position on the circle edge is an essential part of her gameplay while her ball placement is clever and precise.

6. Maria Folau – GS/GA

Renowned as the long bomb specialist, Folau can turn a game on its head within a blink of an eyelid thanks to her accuracy, lovely shot and confidence. She is not afraid to back herself from range while her footwork and general netball smarts are second to none, able to flick the ball around and reposition with ease. She is the go to girl when the going gets tough, able to withstand the pressure and think her way through the defence.

7. Jane Watson – GK/GD

The Silver Ferns defender went from strength to strength both on an international and domestic level. Her timing is a key feature of her game, with an ability to judge when to leap for a rebound or race for an intercept. Watson is composed under pressure and can shut down an opponent with her smothering pressure and clever movement around the body to limit goal circle entry. She racked up 40 intercepts and 96 deflections throughout her ANZ Premiership campaign, highlighting her tenacity and skill.

8. Serena Guthrie – C

Guthrie’s athletic prowess is simply undeniable, constantly springing into action and throwing her body on the line to win a ball or take a flying intercept. She is a real energiser bunny, able to control the midcourt with her movement through the middle third in particular. Her ball placement into the circle is pinpoint, able to slice through the defence with her carefully crafted passes.

9. Ash Brazill – WD/C

The wing defence turned centre well and truly announced herself this season, both on the international stage and domestic level at SSN. She stood up when the Magpies needed her, slotting into centre and taking full advantage of her athletic traits such as her leap and high endurance base. Brazill backs herself in the contest, hunting any cross-court ball that comes her way and applies a mountain load of pressure on circle edge to block the feeder’s vision.

10. Geva Mentor – GK

Mentor continues to get better as time goes on, using her footwork to cleanly get around the body of opponents and read the play to pick off passes coming into the defensive third. Her intimidating lean over the shot creates doubt in the goalers’ minds while her ability to read the play and take intercepts is highly impressive, able to repel the ball from streaming down the court. Her on-court leadership is integral to her style of play, relishing the opportunity to lead from the front but struggled to maintain a four quarter presence at times throughout the year.

11. Lenize Potgieter – GS

Despite her unconventional shooting style, the South African goaler is accurate to post and able to score freely if given enough time and space. She is a clever mover, able to exploit free space in the goal circle and use her footwork to edge closer to the post. Potgieter is an impact player able to command the ball and convert even when under pressure, as seen throughout the ANZ Premiership slotting 596 goals at 90 per cent. Although she is not fond of the body work and physicality Potgieter stood up to the challenge for the SPAR Proteas and Southern Steel.

12. Shamera Sterling – GK

The dynamic defender is an excitement machine. Her athletic prowess knows no end, able to get up ridiculously high to intercept passes or deflect the ball. Her lanky arms and deceptive speed took the SSN by storm, racking up a season-high 120 deflections and 68 intercepts. She can really spark a side into action with her read of the play and while she is only slight in stature she can hold her own to gobble up rebounds but will have to adjust her temperament to have a continued impact.

13. Courtney Bruce – GK/GD

Bruce was ravaged with injury throughout 2019, but proved to be an impact player when fit, able to tear a game wide open with her dynamic movement, strength and hunt for the ball. Renowned for her physicality she can be costly at times giving the ball away but the defender is a real barometer for her side given her on-court leadership, impressive lean over the shot and injection of speed.

14. Caitlin Bassett – GS

Captain of the Australian Diamonds, Bassett is one of the most consistent performers under the post at both an international and domestic level however she struggled to hit her straps until late into the season. Returning from a wrist injury, Bassett took some time to warm up and capture her dominant form however her composed nature and clever footwork along the goal line is highly impressive to watch. Her strength under the post steadily developed since returning from injury, making her a key target in the circle for the Diamonds and GIANTS.

15. Jhaniele Fowler – GS

The towering Jamaican goal shooter has proven that she is hard to stop if given time and space. Her height is unrivalled with many defenders unable to match her in the air while her accuracy under the post is highly commendable, hardly missing a shot in 2019 and converting 709 goals from 753 attempts at 94 per cent. Although she does not stray far from underneath the post which can be seen as her weakness at times, Fowler is a commanding presence who is all but a surety with ball in hand.

With only 15 spots available it was a tricky decision to leave out the likes of Jo Harten, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Paige Hadley after all three players had an impressive season for both their country and domestic club.

Jo Harten – GS/GA

The England Roses shooter did not have the same impact as previous seasons but was still reliable to post, backing herself from anywhere in the circle and using her timing to pose a dominant threat under the ring. She showcased her versatility, switching between goal shooter and attack across competitions and can be a real playmaker with her impressive vision and netball sense to place the ball to the advantage of her teammates.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio – GA/GS

The talented goaler left no stone unturned this year, able to have an influence across the court with her gliding movement and accuracy to post. She was unfazed by the pressure, rocking back on the shot and showcasing her composure to create clever plays across the court.

Paige Hadley – C/WA

The talented midcourter narrowly missed out after a strong 2019 SSN campaign, with her game sense and strength on full display. She lifted her intensity running hard both defensively and offensively making her a key cog in attack, relishing the extra space she found playing in centre as opposed to her regular position of wing attack.

Constellation Cup: Every Silver Fern ranked

WITH the Constellation Cup over and Australia claiming victory for the seventh consecutive year we take a look at the performances from each player across the four game series and rank them. Yesterday we looked at every Australian Diamond and today we look at the New Zealand Silver Ferns.

A+

Maria Folau:

It was a milestone international series for Folau who showed the netball nation once again why she is so revered for her long bomb shooting, putting on a masterclass more than once inside the circle. She can turn and shoot from anywhere with her silky movement and baseline drives a mainstay of her game play. The Silver Fern slotted 105 goals from 123 attempts at 85 per cent, highlighting her dominance and ability to turn a game on its head within seconds. She was cool, calm and collected throughout the series and consistently re-offered in the circle.

A

Laura Langman:

Langman was simply Langman. She ran rings around Liz Watson at times with the Diamonds having no answers for the endurance machine and veteran Fern. Her strength, commitment and vision was second to none, able to slice through defence with ease and punish opponents with her turn of speed. Her defensive work is just as impressive as her attacking work with a particularly impressive performance in Game 3, with two timely intercepts at crucial stages. She is the gift that keeps on giving, able to hit circle edge with ease and deliver perfectly weighted passes into the shooters.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio:

Every time the Ferns needed a hero in came Ekenasio, with the talented goaler sensing the moment and doing damage under the post. She rose to the occasion time and time again. pairing seamlessly with Folau and using her impeccable timing to exploit her opponents. Ekenasio converted 85 goals from 94 attempts at 90 per cent showcasing her skill and execution under the post.

Karin Burger:

There was no denying her fierce intent and general netball nous to contest every ball. Burger was pivotal in both of the Ferns’ wins with her physical pressure and ability to get up high and cause doubt in the feeders minds. Although she struggled at times to combat the height of the Australian shooters, her ability to use her feet and get around the body was second to none. She finished with 12 gains for the series credit to her timing and defensive pressure.

B+

Katrina Rore:

The wing defence made full use of her height and impressive three-foot marking to block the view of her smaller oppositions. Although she could not cover the speed of Laura Scherian her attacking mentality and general netball know-how put her in good stead, able to read the play and pick off intercepts. Rore worked exceptionally hard in transition to bring the ball down the court and re-offer on the transverse line, making up for the few times when her opponent was left unmarked on the circle edge.

Jane Watson:

Watson was impressive in New Zealand’s victories, able to dictate the space against the likes of Gretel Tippett and Caitlin Bassett but struggled to get on top and have the same influence in Game 4. In saying that, Watson consistently posed a threat in the air, leaping high to force turnovers and create doubt in the feeders minds while her quick feet around the body was impressive.

B
Phoenix Karaka:

After copping a concussion in Game 1 and missing the following game, Karaka showcased her ability to be an impact player thanks to her hunt for the ball and speed off the mark. The goal keeper backed herself across the court to gobble up errant passes but was costly in terms of penalties, often caught running through the player rather than around them. she also gave away quite a bit of height but made up for it with her leap and athleticism.

C

Shannon Saunders:

Saunders seemed to struggle on the international stage, not having her usual impact around the goal circle and often caught up high unable to penetrate the Diamonds’ defensive setup. When on song her connection with Folau and Ekenasio was hard to stop, releasing the ball with confidence into both the front and back space, but was also the culprit of plenty of turnovers.

Gina Crampton:

The wing attack had a relatively inconsistent Constellation Cup, unable to find her normal rhythm and damaging attack across the court. She struggled with the physical nature of Ash Brazill at times and was unable to use her speed to dodge her way around the attacking third. However, she had glimpses of excellence with her strong drives to the top of the circle occasionally on display along with cleverly crafted passes.

D+

Bailey Mes:

Unfortunately the athletic goaler failed to have the desired impact for the Ferns, unable to find her feet and clogging space in the goal circle. Mes got the start in the fourth and final game of the series but was unable to rotate through the circle and was shaky on the shot, only sinking two of her four attempts and racking up three offensive contacts. Renowned for her aerial ability, Mes seemed shackled to the ground unable to take advantage of her athleticism. The second test followed much of the same blueprint with the talented goal shooter unable to impact the scoreboard with a mere three goals from five attempts throughout her 20 minutes on court.

Both Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson did not get game time for the Silver Ferns throughout the Constellation Cup, but offer plenty of skill and excitement.

Constellation Cup: Every Diamond ranked

WITH the Constellation Cup over and Australia claiming victory for the seventh consecutive year we take a look at the performances from each Diamond across the four game series and rank them. They are listed in order of who influenced the contest most.

A+

Gretel Tippett:

There is no denying that Gretel Tippett well and truly announced herself on the world stage once more only missing a mere three goals and sinking 82 goals from 85 attempts at 96 per cent across the four games. She is a real game changer for the Diamonds with her strength in the air and at aground level with her strong drives and high leap. Although costly at times in terms of turnovers, Tippett thrives on the physicality of the contest and can exploit opponents with her sheer athleticism and dynamic movement. Her second phase work and work rate is impressive able to cover the court with ease and seamlessly rotate through the circle to remain a real threat.

Ash Brazill:

Fan favourite Ash Brazill, well and truly left her mark on the international stage claiming MVP honours in the final game of the Constellation Cup and showcasing her versatility switching from her typical wing defence role to centre. The explosive and highly athletic midcourter did not leave anything to chance especially in the final game running laps around her opponents. Despite taking some time to find her feet in the opening game Brazill was not overawed by the opportunity and did not look out of place credit to her defensive pressure.

A

Caitlin Bassett:

In her hundredth game the Diamonds captain put on an absolute masterclass, moving around the circle with ease and reeling in stray passes. It was a vintage performance from the goal shooter who turned back time making full use of her height and strength. Although her previous three games were not up to the same standard as her final performance Bassett was consistent and provided a strong target under the post sinking 87 goals from 99 attempts at 88 per cent for the series.

Caitlin Thwaites:

In what would be her last international campaign Thwaites made the most of her opportunities oozing composure and accuracy. The talented goaler made no mistake using her experience and silky movement to pose a threat under the post. She did not play in the second game of the series but featured in all three others playing a huge role in Game 3 with 16 goals from 17 attempts. She finished the series with 25 goals from 27 attempts and will be sorely missed in the Diamonds side.

Courtney Bruce:

Although she missed the first game, Bruce came back with a vengeance using her physicality to get into the heads of her opponents and wreak havoc in the defensive third. Her speed, lean over the shot and dynamic movement was a real feature in the Diamonds win in Game 2 with the goal keeper capitalising on anything that came her way. She notched up 16 gains for the series along with six intercepts credit to her impressive defensive prowess.

B+

Laura Scherian:

The 31-year-old made her debut for the green and gold and did not skip a beat. With speed to boot Scherian nipped around the court to receive the ball and deliver it into Bassett time and time again. She relished the extra court time and although she tired at times showed plenty of grit to work herself back into the contest and create clever second phase plays. She was a real energiser bunny often unmarked around the circle edge credit to her speed and grew with confidence as the series progressed.

Liz Watson:

The ever-reliable Watson was tasked with a challenging opponent, spending large amounts of time against Langman. However, she stood up in Game 2 taking it to the veteran Silver Fern using her strength, endurance and smarts to have an impact across the court. she went missing at times but ran hard both ways applying both offensive and defensive pressure. Watson worked hard on the circle edge with 63 goal assists credit to her vision and variety of feeds into the circle.

Sarah Klau:

She was relatively hot and cold throughout the Constellation Cup. Klau got the start in the first game but was and truly outclassed by Ferns shooting duo Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. When she came on as an impact player in future games she shut down her opponent and highlighted her versatility moving out to goal defence at times.

Jo Weston:

The Melbourne Vixens goal defence offered plenty of defensive pressure down back but was costly at times giving away her fair share of contacts and obstructions. She has plenty of speed and can read the play with ease able to pick off passes but struggled to maintain her pressure over four quarter fading in and out of games.

B

Maddy Turner:

The youngster made her much awaited debut in the last game of the series and had an immediate impact forcing a held ball on no other than Maria Folau along with a huge intercept. She played with confidence and backed herself in the short time she was given. An exciting prospect going forward for the Diamonds.

Paige Hadley:

A broken wrist in the second game ended, Hadley’s series early but when on court she offered plenty of versatility and strength. She hustled hard for prime position on the circle edge and made her opponent accountable with her strong drives and quick ball movement. Hadley faded in and out of games a bit unable to have a full four quarter impact against the likes of Katrina Rore and Laura Langman.

C

Jamie-Lee Price:

Price really struggled to find her feet throughout the series with the young up-and-coming wing defence relegated to the bench for majority of the Constellation Cup. However, when she did make an appearance she was a fraction off the pace given the amount of time out of the game. Did some really clever things though using her speed and defensive pressure to limit her oppositions access to the ball.

Tegan Philip:

The Melbourne Vixens goaler had an up and down international series standing up at times and crumbling at others when the pressure was on. Her movement was solid while her connection with Thwaites was undeniable with the two moving well to create space.

Diamonds make it seven straight Constellation Cup victories

IN typical Australia and New Zealand style it all came down to the last game of the Constellation Cup for the winner to be decided with the Diamonds securing the trophy for the seventh consecutive time with a 53-46 victory. It was a milestone game for the Diamonds with Maddy Turner debuting, captain Caitlin Bassett playing her hundredth international game along with fellow goaler Caitlin Thwaites farewelling the green and gold announcing her retirement from international netball. But the Ferns were not to be forgotten about with long bomb specialist Maria Folau playing in her 150th cap for New Zealand.

With emotions running high for both sides, the first quarter started off how most would have expected it with great intensity, pressure and plenty of turnovers. There was no easy ball down the court with both sides contesting hard to get the early ascendancy and secure that all important lead. The Ferns started with a new look shooting combination with Folau out in goal attack and Bailey Mes getting the nod in at goal shooter with Mes using her athleticism under the post to full advantage. Mes struggled to have an impact racking up three offensive penalties while Folau continued her hot form from last week sinking the first goal of the game before Bassett answered up the other end of the court for the Diamonds. It was neck and neck early with the ball ping ponging across the court before Bassett made it two in a row to give the Aussies a one goal buffer early. Katrina Rore got off to a hot start taking a screamer of an intercept through the middle third and sending the ball down court with ease into the hands of Mes. But that did not seem to faze the Diamonds who went from strength to strength edging out to a five goal lead before the Ferns fought their way back into the contest thanks to Laura Langman and Folau. Ash Brazill took the game by storm in the opening quarter showcasing her speed and agility with timely deflections and an exceptional intercept on the circle edge. Mes’ shaky start forced changes to the Ferns attacking end with Ameliaranne Ekenasio entering the game in the dying minutes of the quarter but the Diamonds powered ahead despite the changes establishing a seven-goal lead at the first break.

The second quarter carried on much the same as the first with the Diamonds outclassing the Ferns at every turn. Noeline Taurua pulled the pin bringing Shannon Saunders on in wing attack and forcing Gina Crampton to the bench in hope to kick start the Ferns attacking end. But the Diamonds were simply undeniable putting on a clinic in the goal circle thanks to 100-gamer Bassett and excitement machine Gretel Tippett. The two combined seamlessly in attack opening up the space beautifully time and time again. Courtney Bruce made life difficult applying strong physical pressure and shutting down the space in the attacking third for the Ferns while Jo Weston lifted her intensity chasing the ball across the circle and transitioning the ball down the court with ease. The Diamonds continuously extended their lead working the ball down the court patiently and effortlessly getting out to a 12-goal lead five minutes into the quarter. The Ferns struggled in defence with Phoenix Karaka replacing Jane Watson with two minutes left in the second quarter while the ever reliable Langman took a timely intercept streaming down court with Folau converting to peg the margin back to a 13 goal deficit

Thwaites made her way onto the court nailing the first goal of the second half, but the tables turned after that with the Silver Ferns coming out with a real fire in the belly to pile on five consecutive goals to reduce the margin to eight goals. The Ferns’ shooting combo kicked into gear with Ekenasio and Folau finding their rhythm while the defensive duo of Burger and Karaka lifted their intensity shutting down both Tippett and Thwaites. Ekenasio did everything right in the third term getting into the right position at the right time and sinking them from anywhere in the circle. With the Ferns pushing, Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander made a host of changes switching Brazill into wing defence with the crowd going into overdrive while Jamie-Lee Price made her way onto the court. Moments later, Turner ran onto the court in goal defence giving the Ferns something to think about in attack. The goal defence had an immediate impact forcing a held ball against Folau in the goal circle and then quickly streaming down court.

With a nine-goal buffer at three quarter time Bassett came back on to the court but the Ferns struck first nailing the first goal of the term to set the tone of the final term. Liz Watson also returned to the court using her strength and speed to hustle for prime position circle edge racking up 15 goal assists for the match. The ball ebbed and flowed down the court with both sides throwing everything they have at it and the fatigue well and truly showing on the players face. Karaka and Burger did a wealth of work in defence to worry the feeders out of delivering the ball into Bassett and Tippett competing well in the air and at ground level. Diamonds debutante Turner impressed with a huge intercept but was not rewarded for her efforts credit to the scrappy style of play. New Zealand fought back to get within five goals with seven minutes left in the quarter but Bruce upped the intensity in the last five minutes of the quarter pushing Folau wide and limiting any easy access into the goal circle. Rore showcased her class and sheer experience with two timely tips to cut the margin back even further before Bassett and Tippett hit back to secure the win.

In her final game Thwaites finished with six goals from seven attempts, while Bassett nailed 25 from 28 at 89 per cent and Tippett slotted 22 from 23 at 96 per cent. Ekenasio made no mistake under the post with 21 goals from 23 at 91 per cent while Folau only missed two shots with 23 goals at 92 per cent. Brazill was rewarded for her outstanding performance winning the MVP credit to her three gains, two intercepts and six deflections.

Head to Head: Constellation Cup Game 4

IT all comes down to the final match of the Constellation Cup to see whether New Zealand or Australia will take home the coveted trophy. With the match nearing, we cast an eye over a potential match-up between the two sides.

AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS v. NEW ZEALAND SILVER FERNS

Liz Watson (C) v. Laura Langman (C)

Both players are renowned for their high endurance, class and ability to break a game wide open making for a tough battle. Liz Watson offers plenty versatility to the Diamonds line-up while veteran Laura Langman is a real barometer for the side.

The typical wing attack has adjusted exceptionally well to the centre role using her ball placement and good change of direction to make the most of her opportunities with ball in hand. Watson works hard both in attack and defence getting back to help out the defenders while also showcasing her smarts to fly down the court in transition. Her second phase work is impressive able to hit circle edge time and time again. Despite not playing with new Diamond Laura Scherian for long Watson has made the connection look easy with the two finding good space and swinging the circle to create multiple options for the goalers. Watson works seamlessly with the likes of Gretel Tippett and Caitlin Bassett executing well weighted passes while her already established connection with Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip is undeniable.

Langman is as strong as they come able to hustle any opponent for space on the circle edge and commands the ball with her presence. She can do the unthinkable whether it be take a match winning intercept or deliver a cleverly weighted feed into the circle making her a key cog for the Ferns. Both her attacking prowess and defensive pressure is second to none able to deny her opponents any easy path to the top of the circle. Her connection with both Maria Folau is hard to stop with the two able to connect instantly to feed into the circle while she has shown that she can find Ameliaranne Ekenasio in the circle with ease. Langman is the gift that keeps on giving credit to her ability to re-offer across all areas of the court and knowledge to reset play and not force the ball into the circle. She is both patient and speedy making her a tough challenge for any opponent.

Constellation Cup: Game 4 Preview

THE fourth and final game of the Constellation Cup marks the decider with the Silver Ferns currently sitting one game clear – but the Diamonds can catch up if they win in Perth on Sunday. Australia suffered another one goal less in their last outing and will be seeking vengeance in Game 4 to maintain the trophy meanwhile the Ferns will be hoping to claim bragging rights over their Trans-Tasman rivals, having not held the Cup in seven years.

The loss of midcourter Paige Hadley has plagued the Diamonds, with the squad unable to have the same flexibility and versatility across the court. However, the loss has given Laura Scherian the chance to really cement her spot in the side using her speed, quick hands and confidence to deliver carefully crafted passes into the circle. But given that it is her first international test series, Scherian has gone missing at times credit to the immense pressure applied by Katrina Rore, with the towering wing defence blocking her vision and causing hesitation. Although not in her usual position of wing attack, Liz Watson has taken ownership of the centre bib and third for Australia, but has been beaten by the class and endurance of Silver Ferns opponent Laura Langman in both of Australia’s losses. Langman is simply the gift that keeps on giving, willing her side on and doing the unthinkable to spark New Zealand into action. Ash Brazill has gotten better as time goes on and has relished the court time displaying her sheer athleticism to deflect and pressure the passes going into the circle. Not typically renowned for her shut down style role, Brazill has adapted nullifying the likes of Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders by shutting down their space and mirroring their every move. Fellow wing defence, Jamie-Lee Price could also be an option in the final game given her tight marking and speed off the stop to shut down the New Zealand front end.

New Zealand have a plethora of options in the goal circle with the tried and tested duo of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maria Folau causing the most havoc for the Diamonds. Folau and Ekenasio can shoot from anywhere in the circle and rotate seamlessly through the circle creating headaches for the Aussie defenders. In what could be her last international game, long bomb specialist, Folau will be looking to continue her hot form and remain unfazed by the physical nature of Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston. Bailey Mes has proved to be an impact player for the Ferns with the goal shooter making the most of her athletic traits and ability to reel in stray passes. The Diamonds will be looking to assert themselves early in the defensive circle with both Bruce and Weston renowned for their attacking mentality and skill to hunt the ball. Despite being named in the squad, Maddy Turner has yet to get a game and could be an exciting option heading into the final game of the series especially given her combination with Sarah Klau. The Swifts defender has plenty of versatility able to switch out to goal defence if needed which could provide a different look for the Diamonds defensive unit and catch the Ferns off guard.

The shooting combination has chopped and changed for the Diamonds throughout the Constellation Cup, with coach Lisa Alexander not afraid to ring in the changes to find the winning combination. All in all, towering goal attack Gretel Tippett has been a shining light for the Aussies only missing two goals throughout the three matches and will be hoping to maintain her accuracy. She has imposed herself with her commanding presence, attacking mentality and strength making her hard to stop when on song. Captain, Caitlin Bassett has had an up and down series thus far while Caitlin Thwaites has showcased her accuracy and range when brought on, backing herself from range and converting. Although shaky at times when the pressure is piled on, Tegan Philip has been solid for the Diamonds but will have to work wonders if she is any chance to steal the starting position from Tippett. That being said, Philips’ combination with Thwaites is tried and true with the pair working well in tandem. The Ferns have toyed with their defensive pairings but the duo of Karin Burger and Jane Watson has paid dividends throughout the series. Watson is not afraid to hunt the ball using her speed, height and timing to full advantage while Burger uses her physicality to get under the skin of her opponents. Phoenix Karaka is also a handy inclusion with her aerial ability making for another tight and physical battle in the goal circle.

Who should get the nod in the Diamonds goal circle?

AFTER yet another heartbreaking one-goal loss many Diamonds fans are up in arms asking what needs to be done for Australia to win? Jumping out of the blocks in the first quarter with a six-goal lead, the Silver Ferns pegged their way back into the match with the likes of experienced heads Laura Langman and Maria Folau standing up. The Aussies had no answers for the Ferns onslaught with the attack end thrown into disarray with coach Lisa Alexander making a host of changes in hope to find the winning combination. Is it time for a new look shooting combination? We look at the statistics across the past three games and the potential starting goal circle ahead of the next and final match on Sunday.

Caitlin Bassett:

62 from 71 at 87 per cent, 11 turnovers, 5 penalties, 11 feeds

The captain is no stranger to the big stage able to hold her space under the post and command the ball with her height and reach but has struggled to get off the body at times throughout the Constellation Cup. Renowned for her typical holding style the Ferns have her game plan well and truly worked out applying a wealth of physical pressure and forcing her wide. Bassett often draws the attention of both defenders credit to her skill and dominance under the post using her height to reel in errant passes. Her lack of variety or predictability can be costly at times in the attack end for the Diamonds.

Tegan Philip:

13 from 17 at 76 per cent, 7 turnovers, 3 penalties, 10 feeds

After making it back into the Diamonds side, Philip has offered a point of difference in the attacking third with her dynamic movement, speed and ability to nip around the court and re-offer. Her connection with Thwaites is unquestionable with the two able to rotate through the circle with ease and make for a damaging combination. However, she can go missing at key stages in big games with a couple of crucial misses in the dying minutes of Game 3. Despite those hiccups she has presented well throughout the tournament providing a viable option and working hard to receive the ball and set up plays off the ball. She did not play the first game but has been used as impact player in the past couple of games.

Caitlin Thwaites:

18 from 19 at 95 per cent, 0 turnovers, 2 penalties, 1 feed

Thwaites definitely packs a punch, with the Melbourne Vixens shooter able to score from anywhere in the circle. She can switch up her game play from a holding shooter to a moving goaler credit to her netball nous making her a damaging prospect for the Diamonds. Stuck behind Bassett at times she has been starved of opportunities but her last quarter performance in Game 3 showcased her explosiveness and accuracy nailing 16 goals from 17 attempts. Her movement and strength makes her hard to stop when given the chance with her clever baseline drives, rolls of the body and deceptive aerial skills. Thwaites did not play the second game but after last games performance will be hoping to get the nod for Game 4.

Gretel Tippett:

60 from 62 at 97 per cent, 10 turnovers, 18 penalties, 20 feeds

Arguably Australia’s greatest asset both in the goal circle and across the attacking third. Her dynamic movement and sheer strength is hard to match paired with her towering height Tippett is a true game changer. She can blow games wide open if given enough time and space while her athletic flair keeps defenders guessing. She has only missed two goals throughout the Constellation Cup sitting at 60 from 62 attempts highlighting her improved accuracy and ability to hurt the opposition. Although she is costly at times in terms of turnovers Tippett is a real barometer for the Diamonds given her ability to work both ways in attack and defence.

Constellation Cup: Game 3 – Langman and Ekenasio stand up in another nail-biter

AMELIARANNE Ekenasio and Laura Langman were the toast of New Zealand after three critical moments between them in the last 90 seconds to secure a remarkable come-from-behind Silver Ferns victory in game three of the Constellation Cup. For the third time in four games, New Zealand Silver Ferns got the better of their Trans-Tasman rivals, Australia Diamonds in a one-goal thriller to go 2-1 up in the series. The 54-53 victory in front of a packed crowd at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney was nail-biting to say the least with both benches up on their feet at times during the tense last couple of minutes to see the world’s two best netball sides go head-to-head.

The one-goal win to the Silver Ferns was not too dissimilar to their Game One triumph on home soil, having to come from behind to overrun the Diamonds in the last term. But unlike that match, the visitors had to come from four goals down at the half, get within a goal at the final break, and hold on under a pressure-cooker situation in the last quarter to win the term 12-10 and get home by the narrowest of margins. Both teams were incredibly accurate throughout the game, shooting at 90 per cent, with the Diamonds having double the turnovers (6-3), but also holding firm close to the post with eight rebounds to two throughout the game.

Of all the moments when both sides needed a hero to stand up, the Silver Ferns had two, with Ekenasio delivering a goal to go one-up with just over a minute remaining after Tegan Philip was called for held-ball just moments earlier up the other end. With 51 seconds left on the clock, Caitlin Thwaites levelled the score again, as New Zealand looked to eat up as much of the time as they could at 53 goals apiece. The visitors upset the defensive rhythm of the Aussies, with Folau darting out to win possession and producing a pin-point pass into Ekenasio who for the second time in 90 seconds, delivered with the roar of the Australian crowd trying to drown out her thoughts. With seconds remaining, Australia had one role of the dice remaining. They raced off the centre pass, but as Jo Weston attempted to slice through the defence, Langman – arguably, if not definitively the world’s best centre – read the play like a picture book, intercepted the ball sending it down the other end for the whistle to sound before another goal could be put on the board.

Langman was absolutely phenomenal throughout the contest, producing a remarkable 26 goal assists from 43 feeds, as well as three intercepts and three gains to be the standout Most Valuable Player (MVP). In the attacking circle, Ekenasio was the standout player, rubbing salt into the wounds that the former Australian junior was in the all-black dress instead of the green and gold. She shot 27 of a possible 29 goals, while having five goal assists from six feeds – as well as New Zealand’s only two rebounds. Folau also had five goal assists from eight feeds and proved to be the long bomb specialist once again nailing 27 from 31. Up the other end, it was Jane Watson who did a strong job on Bassett forcing the Diamonds captain to the bench, picking up three gains and three intercepts, while Karin Burger had four and one, granted with 14 penalties – the most of any player.

The Australian netball fans were again left somewhat frustrated based on the social media feedback, with Gretel Tippett shooting 13 goals at 100 per cent accuracy, only to be replaced by Philip at a crucial time. Thwaites also stood tall in moments of upmost importance, slotting 16 goals from 17 attempts backing herself from anywhere in the goal circle. The Diamonds captain, shot 19 from 21 and was as reliable as ever under the post, but the predictability inside the goal circle seemed costly once again – especially taking the dead-eye Tippett out of the attack. In mid-court it was hard to believe Laura Scherian was only in her debut international series, picking up 24 goal assists from 29 feeds, with Liz Watson beaten by Langman, but still having 13 goal assists from 22 feeds. Ash Brazill started in wing defence and finished with two intercepts and three gains, replaced by Jamie-Lee Price later in the match, while Weston had an intercept and three gains, but 13 penalties, three more than Courtney Bruce who rotated with Sarah Klau.

While both sides showed why they are the two best teams in the world, once again it was New Zealand’s ability to stand up in the pressure-cooker moments and take their chances that got them home by one goal once again. It was so near, yet so far for the Diamonds who now have to lick their wounds and bounce back as they did in game two, to try and turn the tables on their rivals in Perth in the fourth and final match of the series. The fourth game will be held next Sunday at RAC Arena in what is predicted to be a full house.

Constellation Cup: Game 2 – Diamonds get one back in milestone 150th test match

IN their 150th encounter it was the Diamonds that reigned supreme over the Silver Ferns with a well-earned six-goal victory (48-42). Australia came out with a point to prove after a disappointing game one of the Constellation Cup, upping the intensity in defence and shutting down the New Zealand attack end. It was a relatively scrappy and low scoring game with both sides wrestling for momentum and forcing uncharacteristic turnovers, credit to the fast-paced nature of the game.

The Diamonds got out to a handy lead in the opening term with tall timber duo Gretel Tippett and Caitlin Bassett causing havoc in the attacking end. Tippett proved to be the difference, with the goal attack imposing herself both in defence and offence picking up a deflection early to go with seven straight goals. Laura Scherian got the start in wing attack, with the speedy midcourter opening up space with her dynamic movement and confidence on the pass. Scherian backed herself in the attacking third, hustling hard to hit the circle and delivering well-weighted passes into her goalers. After missing out on court time in game one, Courtney Bruce announced herself early using her speed, read of the play and physicality to disrupt the Ferns’ attack time and time again. She picked up two gains, one intercept and four deflections in the first alone, highlighting her defensive prowess. Maria Folau picked up where she left off with the experienced goaler unfazed by the physical nature of Bruce and despite being forced to shoot from range only missed one shot with seven goals from eight attempts. Veteran Laura Langman was crucial through the midcourt once again, using her strength to win the ball and feed it into the circle with six goal assists in the first term.

Australia steadily built on their lead in the second, playing with confidence down the court. Scherian started to tire midway through the second, credit to Katrina Rore working in overdrive applying strong hands over pressure and mirroring her every move, prompting Paige Hadley to enter the game in wing attack. Hadley worked well with Liz Watson through the midcourt, not skipping a beat with the two finding good space and looking into the circle to find an option under the post. Watson lifted her load in the centre third with her strong drives, clean hands and clever movement. Despite a couple of turnovers Tippett continued on her merry way, outscoring Bassett with nine goals straight displaying her ability to blow open a game. The defensive pressure applied by Karin Burger and Jane Watson intensified for the Ferns with the two contesting every pass and getting up to the high balls to create doubt in the feeders’ minds, notching up three deflections, one intercept and two gains between them. Up the other end, Bruce continued to be a thorn in the Ferns side denying easy access into the circle, swatting away passes and cleanly impacting the play, racking up another four gains and two intercepts.

Only up by five goals at half-time, the Diamonds maintained their composure and worked the ball around to edge out to a 10 goal lead before the Ferns mounted a late comeback, piling on six consecutive goals. both sides made a host of changes heading into the second half with Folau moving out to goal attack, Bailey Mes entering as goal shooter and Ameliaranne Ekenasio (8 goals from 11 attempts) moving to the bench after being well held in the first half. Folau and Mes found their mojo with the two using the space in the goal circle to separate the Diamonds defence and capitalise. Mes brought a new element to the Ferns attacking end with her athleticism and aerial ability. Sarah Klau entered the game in goal defence using her height and hands over pressure to block Folau’s vision and while it took a while for the connection to click with Bruce she won her fair share of ball with three gains, one intercept and two deflections. After a stellar first half, Tippett found herself on the bench and replaced by Tegan Philip who injected plenty of speed and accuracy in the attacking third while Ash Brazill moved to the bench midway through the term as Jamie-Lee Price took the court. Youngster Whitney Souness was influential in wing attack for New Zealand with her well-timed drives, silky footwork around the circle edge and ability to help out defensively, picking up one intercept and two gains.

With the final quarter underway the Silver Ferns threw everything at the Diamonds with the defensive pressure increasing as the term went on. Coach Lisa Alexander proved she was not afraid to pull the changes, bringing on Jo Weston and Scherian throughout the term with the two providing fresh legs. Another new combination of Philip and Tippett under the post worked wonders with the two moving seamlessly, finding form quickly to create plenty of Diamonds momentum. Langman kicked it up another gear running up and down the court, contesting every pass that came her way while Burger and Watson tried gallantly in defence. But the Diamonds stuck strong to run out with a hard-fought win in Lisa Alexander’s 100th test cap as coach.

Bruce was named MVP after amassing 12 gains, five intercepts, nine deflections and five rebounds while Tippett showed her skill with 23 goals from 24 attempts at 96 per cent. Folau was the top scorer with 31 goals from 41 attempts at 76 perc ent proving that accuracy was the main cause of the Ferns’ problems in game two.

Constellation Cup: Game 2 preview

WITH the first match of the 2019 Constellation Cup done, dusted and going much the same way as the World Cup Final in July, the Australian Diamonds will have plenty to fight for on Wednesday night against the New Zealand Silver Ferns. Neither side missed a beat coming in with relatively new-look squads compared to their respective World Cup campaigns, with the Ferns delivering the Aussies their first consecutive loss since 2013 and proving the coaching of Noeline Taurua has well and truly paid off. In Sunday’s match the Diamonds seemed to be sluggish and unable to compete with the Ferns’ intensity, meaning they have plenty to prove this time around to bring back some of the dominant form they’ve showed in recent years – though with a very different line-up.

For the Silver Ferns, the tried and true shooting combination of Maria Folau and Ameliaranne Ekenasio was exceptional on Sunday with the pair dazzling with their consistency and versatility in the goal circle. With the pair both able to shoot from range with the speed and star power of Laura Langman around circle edge feeding, New Zealand are unlikely to make many changes after stellar performances from a number of players. Phoenix Karaka had some big moments defensively, joining forces with Katrina Rore and Jane Watson to force turnover after turnover and draw back momentum every time the Diamonds took charge.

While the Diamonds have plenty of stellar options across the court, whether they make changes going into the second match remains to be seen. The defensive unit worked overtime last match but have skilled options on the bench in Courtney Bruce and Maddy Turner, meaning it could be the attacking circle that provides a switch-up with a wealth of talent to rotate through. While Caitlin Bassett and Gretel Tippett provided a dangerous duo in Match 1, the relative versatility of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip could be key coming into the second match if an injection of speed and long-bomb accuracy is required – something the Ferns did not need to worry about with Tippett and Bassett both only shooting from short range and playing a relatively consistent but predictable circle on Sunday.

Given Australia have a fire in the belly expect another tight match with physicality and speed to boot, with both sides ready to contest every single ball.