WITH one game already done and dusted for Round 13 the remainder of Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous round is set to play out over the weekend as the race for finals intensifies. The GIANTS are still in with a shot but rely on results from other games as the Fever and Swifts tussle for prime position in the top four.
West Coast Fever v. GIANTS Netball
Saturday, 19 September
It is a do or die clash for the GIANTS as they look to keep their finals chances alive, however the West Coast Fever have been in scintillating form and will be keen to secure the win in order to rise up the ladder and potentially claim at top two finish.
The GIANTS will have to be on their A-game in defence with Jhaniele Fowler simply unstoppable in the past couple of weeks, recording a whopping 124 goals and showcasing just how damaging she can be at the post. Alice Teague-Neeld has elevated her game in 2020 and while she does not put up a wealth of shots, working alongside the likes of Emma Cosh and Verity Charles the Fever have been able to weave their way down the court with great ease and allow Fowler to do the heavy lifting. To stop Fowler and the Fever the GIANTS will have to employ full court defensive pressure to stop the ball from flowing freely into attack and ending up in Fowler’s hands – meaning the likes of April Brandley, Sam Poolman, Kristiana Manu’a, Amy Parmenter and Jamie-Lee Price will all have to ply their trade consistently in order to stop the ball from coming down with pace.
With everything on the line the GIANTS attacking unit will have to be on song from the first whistle. Caitlin Bassett has not received a wealth of court time this season but given the speed and accuracy with which she can score, she could definitely make a handy cameo and alter the course of the game. There is no denying that Jo Harten and Kiera Austin are fast becoming the super shot queens with their ability to turn and sink them from long range, something the Fever defenders in Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis will be acutely aware of heading into the clash.
Adelaide Thunderbirds v. NSW Swifts
Saturday, 19 September
The Adelaide Thunderbirds are a team that should not be underestimated given the amount of international prowess they have across the court, and while they cannot make finals they are still in a position to have an influence on ladder positions. The Swifts have struggled to find their mojo in season 2020 but heading into finals they will be eager to find some continuity across the court and claim the all-important win.
Hopefully returning after missing last week’s clash with concussion, Helen Housby will be a great addition into the attacking end given her experience, class with ball in hand and willingness to go to the post. Her connection with England roses teammate Natalie Haythornthwaite is also pivotal to the Swifts attacking unit while Sam Wallace is a strong target under the post thanks to her athleticism and creativity with ball in hand. However the high release into Wallace will play directly into the hands of Shamera Sterling with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper renowned for her athleticism to reach up and gobble any looping passes .The support she receives from the likes of Layla Guscoth out the front, Kate Shimmin, Shadine van der Merwe and Maisie Nankivell allows her to go out and hunt the ball with freedom.
The midcourt battle will be intriguing with both sides not afraid to throw the bibs around as shown with Paige Hadley sliding back into that wing defence position allowing the likes of Maddy Proud, Tayla Fraser and Haythornthwaite to take the reins in attack. As for the Thunderbirds, Nankivell, Hannah Petty, Tayla Williams and Georgie Horjus have all floated through various centre court positions, though it is fair to say Horjus does her best work inside the goal circle with South African Lenize Potgieter. The Thunderbirds will hope to welcome back co-captain Chelsea Pitman with her class and ball placement critical to their attack if they are to keep Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner and Lauren Moore busy and out of the contest.
Melbourne Vixens v. Queensland Firebirds
Sunday, 20 September
The final game of the round sees minor premiers Melbourne Vixens take on a young and exciting Queensland Firebirds outfit. The Vixens have been in ripping form in season 2020 while the Firebirds have showcased that they have plenty of potential and are building towards a strong 2021 season, making for an exciting contest between the two sides.
Inside the shooting circle the Melbourne Vixens have a plethora of options with Caitlin Thwaites, Mwai Kumwenda and Tegan Philip all able to seamlessly rotate in and out of the game and have a profound impact when called upon. Their innate understanding and connection with their midcourters in Liz Watson and Kate Moloney enables the Vixens to constantly create space and find easy avenue to goal meaning the Firebirds defenders will have to be on song if they are any chance of slowing down the Vixens’ attacking unit. Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe are a formidable duo for the Firebirds down back, able to hunt ball and cause chaos, while Rudi Ellis can add that extra height if required. It will be up to captain Gabi Simpson to nullify Watson if she returns or limit the impact of Tayla Honey or Elle McDonald if the Firebirds are any chance of an upset.
Boasting a different style in attack to their opponents, holding shooter Romelda Aiken has been a lynchpin under the post for the Firebirds with her strong and clear holds, aerial ability and increased accuracy consistently on display. Aiken is the Firebirds’ get out of jail free card with the likes of Mahalia Cassidy, Jemma Mi Mi, Lara Dunkley and Macy Gardner all able to bomb it long into the shooter when there are limited options, an area the Vixens will be hoping to shut down with Kate Eddy’s long arms to block vision. Dunkley has been crucial over the past couple few rounds, due in part to her strength around circle edge and composure with ball in hand. Youngster Tippah Dwan has also proven to be a revelation with her speed, confidence and super shot shooting meaning the Vixens defensive duo in Emily Mannix and Jo Weston cannot afford to pay all their attention to Aiken.