Tag: Lucy Herdman

What if….. The VNSL introduced the Super Shot?

THE introduction of the two-goal Super Shot to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) has been the biggest shock to the netball community in recent history. Coaches, players and the biggest names in netball across the world have come forward with their thoughts on the introduction of the controversial rule change. But what would happen if the UK followed in the footsteps of the SSN and introduced a reward for long-range shooting?

No team would benefit more from this rule change than Wasps Netball. Renowned as the “long bomb queen” Rachel Dunn has a habit of slotting them from anywhere in the circle, and even from outside when it comes to Fast 5. She was the MVP at the British Fast 5 All Stars in 2018 and just missed out on that title in 2019 to the formidable Jo Harten. Backed up by Katie Harris and Alexia Baker, Wasps would be unstoppable if they managed to keep the score close during the first ten minutes of each quarter. With the experienced Dunn at the post, and their exciting defensive line of Fran Williams and Hannah Knights creating plenty of turnover ball, they would be back on top as the team to beat.

London Pulse’s Chiara Semple is another master of the long bomb. With good accuracy from range and the typical New Zealand confidence to post, Semple would most likely benefit from the Super Shot rule, as she typically shoots from distance anyway. With Sigi Burger standing at 6′ 5″ under the post for the rebound, Pulse could fire these off all day long. Especially given their exciting form at the start of the 2020 season, this would add another advantage to the already improving side. Another team with confidence in their attack end is Team Bath. You would expect youngster Sophie Drakeford-Lewis to rise to the challenge of a two-goal shot if it were introduced, and her connection with Kim Commane would provide a strong starting point.

Two England Roses who do not shy away from a long ranger are Ellie Cardwell and George Fisher for Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks respectively. These two have such great composure on their shot and have both been going from strength to strength over the past few seasons. Whilst Fisher usually takes the majority of her shots from under the post, she is accurate from anywhere, memorably sinking one from near the transverse line in Fast 5. For Thunder, Cardwell has so much strength on the hold and knows how to create space for herself to find good mid-range shooting position. Given her skill in the circle, it would not be hard for her to transition into an exciting long-range shooter. Both of these teams benefit from strong and experienced shooting partnerships, Fisher with Kadeen Corbin, and Cardwell with Kathryn Turner, giving them the edge over teams with only young blood in the attacking end. Saracens Mavericks also have the advantage of defensive mastermind Razia Quashie, as well as tall tower Jo Trip, to scoop up any stray shots and build pressure at the back.

Both Celtic Dragons and Severn Stars have potential secret weapons when it comes to shooting from further away from the post. Jamaican import Rebekah Robinson has fantastic movement in the circle for Dragons and is a playmaker with the ability to shoot long when needed. England Fast Nets player Lucy Herdman delighted fans with her distance shooting at Fast 5 in 2019, leading Dragons to their first-ever semi-final in the competition. She now plies her trade for Severn Stars and while we did not see much of her on court during the short 2020 season, Herdman would be a valuable asset for Stars to have up their sleeve.

The remaining teams would probably struggle to keep up based on their current shooting strengths. Loughborough Lightning’s Ella Clark does have the experience shooting from range due to her basketball background, however her accuracy can sometimes falter when she is under heavy defensive pressure. Another team that would need to improve their accuracy to post are Strathclyde Sirens. Lynsey Gallagher can be a real threat, and as a shorter goal attack, she does tend to take shots from further out. However Sirens are usually less accurate than other teams on their goal conversion, and in a situation where shots are worth more than one point, this could really hurt their chances. For Surrey Storm, their issues lie in other areas of the court. Karen Bailey typically shoots from under the post, and while Sophie Hankin is a possible threat from further out, Storm would need to stay in touch with other teams to secure wins. After a shaky start to 2020 they will be rebuilding, and hopefully will have secured some of their structures by the time netball resumes.

Netball fans in the UK, like many in Australia, are generally not keen for the introduction of the Super Shot in the VNSL. Sara Bayman has been openly critical of the decision on the Netball Nation podcast, stating that the rule change moves even further away from the international game. She accused the new rule of “sabotaging your own national team” and believes it is likely to bring more bad news for the Diamonds. However, Tamsin Greenway has claimed this is a chance for netball to evolve and suggests we will see a move away from the tall holding shooter slotting them in from under the ring. Clubs in the UK may be glad this is being trialled down under and not in the VNSL during such a time of uncertainty for netball in the UK. Due to the backlash from netball fans in the UK, it seems unlikely that such a bold move would be considered, especially when the influence of broadcasters in England is much lower than in Australia.

Vitality Netball Superleague review: Round 3 – Pulse among three sides undefeated

ALL five home sides won in Round 3 of the Vitality Netball Superleague, with Team Bath, Manchester Thunder and London Pulse continuing to reign supreme, sitting undefeated after three rounds. Interestingly, outside the top four the leaderboard is still relatively even, with rankings five through eight on only the one win, while two sides sit at the bottom of the table with no wins thus far.

Strathclyde Sirens (61) defeated Surrey Storm (53)

Sirens got their first win on the board for the season with a stellar performance against Surrey Storm, proving they do have the ability to surprise teams and be a real contender in 2020. It was a great first half effort that kept them on the ball with Bethan Goodwin (41 goals) and Lynsey Gallagher (20 goals) impressive from the get-go, applying offensive pressure to ensure the ball stayed up the attack end and only missed four goals apiece in an all-round terrific effort. Captain, Gia Abernethy and Claire Maxwell worked in tandem with clever movement through the midcourt keeping their respective opposition in Yasmin Parsons and Mikki Austin relatively quiet. Sirens defenders, Zanele Vimbela and Natalie Bright did a solid job shutting down Storm shooters Karyn Bailey and Sophie Hankin, with Hankin shooting at less than 70 per cent accuracy making it tough for the side to work their way back into the contest. Bailey was on form with 37 goals from 39 attempts but it was not enough against a hungry Sirens outfit.

Team Bath (63) defeated Wasps Netball (51)

Team Bath dominated in the second half against the Wasps in Round 3 to continue their phenomenal 2020 form, remaining undefeated at the top of the ladder. Wasps came out with a point to prove early, with stalwart midcourter Jade Clarke leading from the front while Rachel Dunn and Iona Christian proved a solid combination working well in attack, with Dunn interestingly carrying the shooting load with 46 goals from 47 attempts, in comparison to what is typically a shared effort with Katie Harris. Harris put in the hard yards in goal attack but to no avail, unable to work herself into the game thanks to the defensive effort of Bath’s Tash Pavelin and Summer Artman, who completely dominated defensively in the second half and only let in 19 goals after half time. It was a second half blitz from Bath that got their nose in front to win the match, shooting 36 goals in the second half to run away with the 12 goal win. The combination of Kim Commane and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis continues to improve with Commane shouldering the load with 45 from 49 shots while Drakeford-Lewis impressed with 18 from 19 attempts. New midcourter Khanyisa Chawane continues to prove her place in the side, slotting in nicely with Rachel Shaw, Imogen Allison and Fionnuala Toner through the midcourt to create an exciting centre-court unit.

Saracens Mavericks (61) defeated Severn Stars (45)

Saracens Mavericks went two from two with their second victory over Severn Stars in as many weeks, though the Stars certainly did their homework, limiting the home side’s shots on goal for a slightly better outcome than their Round 1 outing. Towera Vinkhumbo, Ella Powell-Davies and Ama Agbeze well and truly had their work cut out for them in defence, and a caution to Vinkhumbo did little to help the matter with George Fisher (42 from 43) and Kadeen Corbin (17 from 18) on form with speed, timing and communication alike, while stellar feeds from Georgia Lees and Sasha Corbin on circle edge kept the Stars defenders on their toes. Razia Quashie and Jo Trip put their defensive prowess on show combining for nine intercepts and propelling the ball back up the court, forcing Stars shooters Georgia Rowe (29 goals), Paige Reed (14 goals) and Lucy Herdman (two goals) to work hard to find purchase in the goal circle. 

Manchester Thunder (67) defeated Loughborough Lightning (64)

Manchester Thunder timed their run to overtake Loughborough Lightning to perfection coming back from a 12 goal deficit at times to run out with a three goal victory. They shot the lights out in the second half with a 39 goal to 28 display after the main break credit to their offensive pressure. Player of the match Laura Malcolm did what she does best, finding plenty of the ball through the midcourt and rotating through to wing attack late, using her tenacity to find loose ball and feed to a range of options at the post. While Kathryn Turner did not put many goals on the board, her work off the body to open up space in the circle was second to none, allowing Joyce Mvula to dominate to post, shooting 37 goals while Eleanor Cardwell was also prolific with 24 goals from 28 attempts. For Lightning, Mary Cholhok was impressive as ever and especially unstoppable early, with her height making her a massive and imposing threat under the post. Midcourt defender Jas Odeogberin showed off her game smarts moving into the goal circle late to impart some of her phenomenal pressure on Mvula and Cardwell. This loss sees Lightning in a similar position to last season with only the one win across opening rounds, but with a finals berth last year the side is sure to lift in the coming weeks to replicate their 2019 form. Meanwhile, Manchester will want to continue this undefeated run and maintain third spot on the ladder.

London Pulse (69) defeated Celtic Dragons (38)

The lone Monday night match was shaping up to be a close one before the announcement that key Dragons defender Latanya Wilson would not take the court after being sent off for rough conduct in Round 2. Pulse well and truly took advantage of the goal keeper missing out, with Sigi Burger dominating at the post and proving her value to the side. Both sides were quick to the punch, unable to be split early with neither side really dominating in the first quarter, before Pulse extended a five goal lead by half time to set up a solid second half. Dee Bolakoro and Paige Kindred put in the hard yards early but had a tough battle after half time, with Pulse pulling ahead thanks to a 40 goal to 15 second half, well and truly leaving the visitors behind and proving their first few wins were not just flukes. Halimat Adio was on fire for Pulse, winning back a wealth of ball and teaming up well with Lindsay Keable to force long bombs from the Dragons, while midcourter Adean Thomas was key through the centre, providing pressure and opening up space. Burger showed all her class at the post, with impeccable timing and ability to find the ball  highlighting what makes her such a key pickup for the Pulse side. 

VNSL 2020 team preview: Severn Stars

WITH the 2020 season of the Vitality Netball Superleague now upon us, we take a look at each team heading into a massive year in Superleague netball. The next team in our season preview is Severn Stars.

Coach: Melissa Bessell
2019 finish: 6th (7-11)

Despite a slow season, the Stars do not have too much to be disappointed about with clear improvements throughout the season and a real ability to come up with shock wins. While they had plenty of talent across the court last season, they did not have the polish to get the job done consistently and were ultimately unable to really compete against the tougher teams.

2020 predictions:

With a number of big pick-ups this season, the real question for the Stars is whether they will have the connections across the court to improve on their 2019 form and create a new brand of Stars netball that can really compete with the best. The likes of Celtic Dragons trio, Nia Jones, Bethan Dyke and Lucy Herdman will bring a solid connection to make for an interesting addition to the side while veteran, Liana Leota can bring a wealth of experience to a side that seemed to lack that last season. They have really bolstered their stocks through the midcourt with Dyke, Jones and Leota all able to rotate through wing attack, centre and wing defence giving them plenty of options heading into 2020. Towera Vinkhumbo will be another one to watch throughout the season with the Malawian defender able to get hands to ball and hopefully create turnover opportunities for her side to capitalise on. 

Key pick-up: Ama Agbeze GD/GK (London Pulse)

Ex-captain of the England Roses, Agbeze will bring not just a wealth of knowledge and experience but also the winning mentality the Stars need to go one better this season. With leadership skills and an ability to lead from the front, Agbeze has the game smarts to win a game off her own back and the cleanliness to intervene attacking forays. With balance and strength to boot, expect Agbeze to play her role but also bring a different aspect to her play with her ability to elevate the young players around her. The defender can switch between goal keeper and defence when needed and is not afraid to back herself to go for intercepts and propel the ball back down the court. 

Team list:

Sam Cook (player-coach role)
Liana Leota (Manchester Thunder)
Nia Jones (Celtic Dragons)
Bethan Dyke (Celtic Dragons)
Georgia Rowe
Paige Reed
Lucy Harris
Ella Powell-Davies
Lucy Herdman (Celtic Dragons)
Ama Agbeze (London Pulse)
Towera Vinkhumbo (Malawi)
Hannah Howl
Chloe Carchrie
Jane Taylor
Ellie Gibbons
Chloe Cubello

Vitality Netball Superleague wrap: Round 10

ROUND 10 was a gamechanger for the competition as the season had its first repeat round for 2019, seeing each team come up against their Round 1 rivals for a second time. London Pulse were unable to replicate their debut victory against the Severn Stars, while Loughborough Lightning conjured an exciting upset win over ladder leaders, Wasps Netball.

Bath were lucky to get their sixth win of the season over the weekend, taking the lead against Celtic Dragons in the first half. Though their intensity dropped in the second half they still came away with a six goal win (56 – 50). The Dragons showed composure as they stayed relatively level with the higher ranked side, however could not get the job done in the tightly contested match. Credit to the Dragons for staying in the match, shooting only one goal less in the second half to keep Bath on their toes. Bath player of the match, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis was prolific in goals, showing her versatility as she moved from goal attack to goal shooter after the opening half without skipping a beat. Still being rested from injury meant star centre, Serena Guthrie sat out of the first quarter, before coming on in the second to spark an instant change in her team. As usual, having Guthrie in the side lifted the strength of the defensive end, comprised of Imogen Allison, Eboni Usoro-Brown and Summer Artman, with the trio driving to win back possession and storm the Dragons’ attack. Lucy Herdman got the call-up in goals for the Dragons, playing out the match and proving the impact her inclusion can have on the side. Herdman paired well with powerhouse goal attack, Kalifa McCollin, who did her job well in the circle. Dee Bolakoro and Stacian Facey were efficient in defence, but were unable to combat the effective shooting combinations of Bath. Bath will be rueing the opportunity to boost their percentage on the ladder with their third win in a row, and are still sitting one game behind Lightning in fourth, but have opportunities in the coming weeks.

Next up saw Surrey Storm defeat Strathclyde Sirens, 53 – 44 in their first home victory for the season. It was not a close game by any means, as the Storm took an early lead, sitting six goals ahead by half time and ready to press harder in the third, rendering the Sirens to only nine goals in the third. The Sirens showed some intensity in the final quarter, pushing to win the term by a goal and turn around their average third quarter effort. Despite missing key shooter, Cat Tuivaiti the Sirens showed the hard work they have been fostering this season, with the likes of Gia Abernethy and Hayley Mulheron piling on the pressure. The Sirens have a lot of promise if they can boost their consistency throughout the match and push their opposition for more than just the final quarter. Sigi Burger dominated under the ring for the Storm, while defenders, Katy Hughes and Shadine Van Der Merwe pushed hard to regain loose ball in the midcourt and conjured impressive intercepts.

Pulse were unable to pressure the Severn Stars enough to be rewarded with their second win for the season, going down by nine goals (51 – 60). The Stars proved to be too strong this time around despite being well-matched by the Pulse across the court, winning their third match for the season. The likes of Stars defender, Sam Cook stepped up in this matchup to put her side back on the winners list after a hard fought loss to the Wasps last round. Cook was tough on dominant Pulse shooter, Shantal Slater making it hard for her to have an impact on the match and the scoreline, however Slater still found it in her to put ball to post and capitalise for her side. Stars shooters, Maryka Holtzhausen and Georgia Rowe paired well under the ring, showing their composure and playing more purposeful in the final quarter to take home the win. Pulse defender, Loreen Ngwira proved to be difficult to get past for the Stars, with her impressive hands over pressure keeping the Pulse in the game.

Saracens Mavericks hosted Manchester Thunder in the battle for second on the ladder, with the Mavericks hoping for a better outcome than their Round 1 loss. Unfortunately the Mavericks were unable to redeem themselves this time around, dropping into third on the ladder as they lost by eight goals for a final score of 49 – 57, a margin almost replicating their Round 1 loss. The Mavericks started strong, winning the first term before Thunder turned the game around, shooting 33 – 42 after the first quarter to take home the points. Thunder goal keeper, Kerry Almond commanded the Mavericks shooting circle, showing her strength in defence as she all but took star shooter, George Fisher out of the game after a dominant start to the match. It was the battle between Thunder goal defence, Emma Dovey and Mavericks goal attack, Kadeen Corbin that proved to be the more intriguing matchup, with the pair battling it out in every contest for the ball. Joyce Mvula was excellent in goals for Thunder, maintaining her volume of shots despite the efforts of Mavericks defenders, Jo Trip and Mavericks player of the match, Razia Quashie.

The talking point of this round was Monday night’s blockbuster between top four sides, Wasps Netball (first) and Loughborough Lightning (fourth). The Lightning were backed by a home crowd and defied all odds to win their fifth game on the trot and deliver the Wasps their second loss of the season, 60 – 59. It was a major turnaround from Round 1 for the Lightning as last time they met saw a complete blowout, with the Wasps beating Lightning by 30 goals. The Lightning took control early, winning the first term before bowing to the Wasps’ immense pressure in the second and third quarters. It was the Lightning’s final quarter, however that brought the game back into contention, as Lightning shot 20 goals to 13 in the final term to take the game by one point in the dying minutes. Nat Panagarry showed great hustle for the Lightning, keeping her team in the match with her speedy passes and game breaking intercepts. Teammate, Mary Cholhok was dominant as ever in goals, with her height in the circle making her hard to contain as she flawlessly and continuously put ball to post. Despite Cholhok’s strength, Wasps defender, Josie Huckle did a great job limiting the ball through the circle, especially in the second and third quarters. Katie Harris and Rachel Dunn linked well in goals, credit to their shared volume of shots and composure under the post. Despite their loss, Wasps will stay on top of the ladder for at least one more week, sitting .01 per cent ahead of Manchester Thunder on the leaderboard.