Tag: maddie hinchliffe

Sky is the limit for Hinchliffe

A DIAMOND of the future, Queensland Firebirds defender Tara Hinchliffe was dropped right into the thick of it throughout the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season with the 21-year-old tasked with the challenge to hold up the defence end.

The young defender started playing netball at age seven, relishing the opportunity to get off the sidelines at her older sister’s game and get onto the court with twin, Maddie who is a training partner with the Firebirds.

“I absolutely love having a twin sister. We used to do everything together whether it was different sports but netball always seemed to be the thing we looked forward to the most.”

But Hinchliffe was not always a defender. In her junior years she often found herself under the post going for goal rather than defending it, but a stroke of genius from her coach saw her switch ends and pull on the goal defence bib.

“We both started playing shooter, we were always down the same end together so that was always fun,” Hinchliffe said. “I went down the other end and I didn’t really mind it and the coaches liked it because we were both tall. That’s how it all started, then I stuck in defence.”

Hinchliffe was lucky enough to be mentored by former Firebirds and Diamonds captain Laura Geitz last year, with the youngster picking up plenty of tricks of the trade from Geitz and crediting the talented goal keeper to making her feel so welcomed at the club.

“I guess for me coming in as a young player it was all sort of new for me so I could look to Gabi on one side and Geitzy behind me and know that they backed me in any situation and know what to do,” she said. “They would always be the first ones to respond and tell me what to do. I was more than happy to just follow their lead. That was a really good experience in my first year to know what it was like.”

The Firebirds struggled throughout the 2019 campaign only notching up the one win for the season ,but that did not stop captain, Simpson, from spurring on her troops and encouraging them to play their game and try their hardest.

“When you have a good leader you just want to play for them. You want to work hard for them,” Hinchliffe said.

“Gabi just likes to have fun. I love it when she smiles at you on court, she’ll make a joke and just lighten the mood so that’s something different that she brings and I think that works for our team because we are younger and we like to just enjoy it as well.”

Despite the trying season the Firebirds faithful have remained as boisterous and passionate as ever, with Hinchliffe absorbing the colourful and decorated culture associated with the club.

“I know this season has been one of the toughest seasons we’ve had, knowing the fans are still there makes it really exciting and you want to turn up and you want to work even harder for them which I think is special to the Firebirds, that I’m not sure all the other clubs have.”

The young defender has taken it all in her stride, absorbing the pressure and stepping up to the plate time and time again while her partnership with fellow 21-year-old Kim Jenner developing at a rate of knots.

“We both know we are young and are the biggest critics of ourselves. To know that we can both look at each other and trust each other. We often just get on court and look and say let’s just play netball, we don’t need to overthink it,” Hinchliffe said.

“We are both still very young to be playing SSN and both being 21 I guess we both look at each other and say can you believe that we are really here?”

Hinchliffe was immersed into the Firebirds last year with coach, Roselee Jencke a key figure in her life, helping to guide her down back and foster her netball skill.

“Sure there’s a lot of hard work but she’s also a great person and relationship builder. As soon as I came in I knew she’d look after me, she’s your biggest defender and protects us as well which we are grateful for,” she said.

Hinchliffe has already had a highly decorated career playing in the Under 21 World Cup in Botswana and was recently recognised for her impressive performance on the court with a call up to the Diamonds Development Team, an accolade she was not really expecting.

“Yeah it’s pretty crazy, I see myself being two years in SSN so I definitely wasn’t expecting anything to do with Australian netball. But it’s very exciting, I think the squad is a great opportunity to have a mix of the younger and more experienced girls,” she said.

“Any day to wear the green and gold dress is a good day, I remember Geitzy sending that to me a few years ago.”

GIANTS win against injury ravaged Firebirds

GIANTS Netball strung together their second consecutive win after knocking off an injury-depleted Queensland Firebirds by eight goals. The Firebirds were struck with some big injury news with up and coming defender Kim Jenner out after breaking her finger, while captain Gabi Simpson was managed throughout the game due to a groin injury. With an inexperience and undermanned defence the GIANTS took full advantage claiming all four bonus points credit to their ability to move the ball with speed and find their shooters with ease. After struggling in recent weeks the GIANTS looked much more composed across the court and their connections were a lot crisper.

It was a close contest in the opening term with the GIANTS taking a one goal lead into quarter time. The connection between Caitlin Bassett and Jo Harten looked slicker with the two goalers sharing the load between each other. Bassett nailed eight from eight while Harten proved to be a dominant force with her clever movement and rangy shots converting seven of her nine attempts. While her accuracy to post was solid, the off the ball work Harten was doing was equally impressing feeding the ball to Bassett time and time again. She brought her bag of tricks with an impressive lay-up style goal falling out of court after taking the ball at full speed sparking plenty of excitement. The Firebirds were stretched in defence with Laura Clemesha and Tara Hinchliffe working in overtime to try and limit the ball going into their opposing shooters. Clemesha pushed Basset up high and created doubt in the feeders’ mind picking up an intercept and a gain for her hard work but the experience of Bassett and Harten proved too much. Up the other end of the court Sam Poolman had an influence in defence for the GIANTS applying strong pressure over the shot and working Romelda Aiken under the ball. Aiken struggled to convert under the post and looked shaky on the shot dishing off to teammates.

With the margin only narrow at quarter time the Firebirds worked hard to stay in it but were unable to hold on as the GIANTS surged ahead. Wing attack Kim Green showcased her experience and ability to thread the needle with bullet passes into Harten and Bassett who were finding good space. The match-up between Simpson and Green was exciting but only lasted the first five to six minutes of each quarter with Simpson rested throughout the game given her injury. However, while on court she made her presence felt, picking up deflections, intercepts and using her speed to chase down and loose ball. The Firebirds were led by Gretel Tippett who showcased her work rate, creativity and sheer athleticism slotting 10 from 10 in the second term alone. She carried the load in attack with partner in crime Aiken well held. Tippett ran rings around Kristiana Manu’a who struggled to keep up with her athleticism. Firebirds coach, Roselee Jencke showed she was not afraid to make changes brining on Caitlyn Nevins in wing attack replacing speedster Jemma Mi Mi who was struggling to penetrate through the GIANTS strong defence.

After half-time the GIANTS kicked it up another gear with Bassett owning the goal circle. With Harten struggling to find her radar, youngster Keira Austin made her way onto the court and did not disappoint with her accuracy and play making ability. Austin slotted five goals from seven attempts and found good feeding position into Basset while Jamie-Lee Price also impressed in the third term with her ability to apply defensive pressure picking up an intercept and gain while also using her precision passes to assist the goalers. Through the midcourt for the Firebirds, Mahalia Cassidy worked tirelessly to apply hands over pressure and attack the ball. Youngster, Maddie Hinchliffe made her first appearance of the season and proved that she has what it takes to compete at the highest level with her tenacity and ability to read the play with a clever deflection. With Aiken struggling under the post she strayed away from her usual holding game under the post coming out the circle to provide Tippett with more freedom and space inside the goal circle. But the GIANTS were able to weave the ball down the court with ease and poke holes in the defence of the Firebirds credit to their wealth of experience and clever game play.

With the Firebirds struggling to find their rhythm across the court and down by seven goals at three quarter time, Tippett stood up absorbing the pressure and showcasing her pure class once again. Her accuracy, timing and ability to create space puts her in a league of her own nailing 15 goals straight and finishing with 41 from 41. Aiken struggled under the post only managing one from three in the final term. GIANTS wing defence, Amy Parmenter was solid applying good pressure over Nevins and working hard to try and limit her influence picking up an intercept and gain in the final term. But since being injected into the game Nevins was prolific leading the way with 30 feeds and 18 goal assists. Defensively the duo of Clemesha and Hinchliffe looked more threatening in the last quarter with Simpson out the front with three combining for eight gains and four intercepts but it was a little too late.


Queensland Firebirds:

GS | Romelda Aiken
GA | Gretel Tippett
WA | Jemma Mi Mi
C | Mahalia Cassidy
WD | Gabi Sinclair
GD | Tara Hinchliffe
GK | Laura Clemesha

GIANTS Netball:

GS | Caitlin Bassett
GA | Jo Harten
WA | Kim Green
C | Jamie-Lee Price
WD | Amy Parmenter
GD | Kristiana Manu’a
GK | Sam Poolman

Lightning triumph over the Firebirds in the Queensland derby

THE Sunshine Coast Lightning struck against their state rivals on the weekend, taking three bonus points in their 15-goal win against the Queensland Firebirds.

The Firebirds went into the match without their captain Gabi Simpson after straining her hip at training forcing the late change. Without Simpson on court the Firebirds lacked that experience and guidance down back but tried hard all game. Maddison Hinchliffe twin of up and coming defender Tara Hinchliffe was brought into the squad for Simpson, but did not get any court time.

It was goal-for-goal early, but a strong intercept from Phumza Maweni resulted in a Peace Proscovia goal which she then backed up, giving the Lightning a two-goal lead. During the rest of the quarter, the Lightning demolished the Firebirds with Laura Scherian and Laura Langman speeding through the mid-court, delivering the ball easily into the goal circle.

Down the other end, the Lightning suffocated the Firebirds’ attack with Maweni and Karla Pretorius making it hard for the Firebirds to get a clean feed into the circle. Although the Firebirds were finding it hard to score, Gretel Tippett slotted in her 1000th league goal during the first quarter and continuously injected herself into the game to make her an option both in the goal circle and across the court.

The Firebirds made some much needed changes in the second term to try and combat the brilliant start that the Lightning had with their quick ball movement, precision and accuracy to post. Coach Roselee Jencke tinkered with the defence end moving Hinchliffe from wing defence into goal keeper and forcing Laura Clemesha to the bench after an ordinary start. But the changes did not stop there with Mahalia Cassidy swapping the centre bib for wing defence while Jemma Mi Mi came off the bench onto centre in hope to provide some more speed and defensive pressure on the Lightning attackers. The Firebirds moved better, with Kim Jenner and Hinchliffe in the defensive circle, but Lightning’s Proscovia was still too good under the net, only missing one goal in the quarter following a 17/17 first quarter.

Often going under the radar, Madeline McAuliffe shone for the Lightning pairing well with Langman to effectively slow down the Firebirds mid-court. 11 goals down at half-time, the Firebirds swung momentum their way in the final minute of the first half with a clever pick up from Mahalia Cassidy quickly transitioning into a goal further down the court.

They carried that momentum into the third quarter, taking a risk that threw the Lightning off their game and stole a bonus point in doing so.

Firebirds’ shooter Romelda Aiken was moved into goal keeper as the Firebirds tried to find an answer to the Lightning’s Proscovia. Aiken appeared uncomfortable at first, but the switch worked well for the Firebirds. The move altered the dynamic of the Lightning’s attack as they slowed down, appearing unsure of where to place the ball. The defensive pressure from Aiken also seemed to throw Lightning’s goal attack Steph Wood who uncharacteristically only scored 3/8 of her goal attempts.

With Aiken playing in defence, the Firebirds brought Amy Sommerville on in goal shooter. Sommerville scored five from six of her goal attempts during the quarter proving she is a viable option in the Firebirds attack end.

Alongside Sommerville, Gretel Tippett shot 12/12 in the third quarter, her largest haul for the match. Tippett’s accuracy carried on from earlier quarters and went straight through to the last as she finished the match on a perfect 100%. Tippett’s work rate was impeccable doing a wealth of work to bring the ball down the court and recording a huge 40 goals for the match.

The Lightning returned to the court in fourth quarter, much more settled than the previous one. Despite the Firebirds having pulled back the margin to only nine goals, the Lightning were able to stretch it back out. The Sunshine Coast blitzed down the court with strong transitions making it easy to regain control against a Firebirds side who appeared to be tiring after a strong third quarter.

Proscovia backed herself under the post in her first full four-quarter performance of the season and was named Player of the Match, having racked up 116.5 Nissan NetPoints.

The match highlighted the youthfulness of the Firebirds’ defence and showcased the Lightning as serious finals contenders once again.

The Firebirds will face an in-form Giants next, while the Lightning will be looking to deliver the New South Wales Swifts their first loss of the season this weekend.


Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS | Peace Proscovia
GA | Steph Wood
WA | Laura Scherian
C | Laura Langman
WD | Madeline McAuliffe
GD | Karla Pretorius
GK | Phumza Maweni

Queensland Firebirds:

GS | Romelda Aiken
GA | Gretel Tippett
WA | Caitlyn Nevins
C | Mahalia Cassidy
WD | Tara Hinchliffe
GD | Kim Jenner
GK | Laura Clemesha

Australian Netball League: Season Review

THE Australian Netball League (ANL) plays a big role in providing the Suncorp Super Netball League with access to players as each club has a direct correlation with an ANL team. The ANL allows for players to be elevated to the elite level if needed and is imperative in setting up a competitive league.


Canberra GIANTS:

Canberra is directly linked to the GWS GIANTS in the Suncorp Super Netball League and much like their counterparts they had a solid season, finishing in fourth position with nine wins. The GIANTS fell agonisingly short in the grand final but the shooting trio of Kiera Austin, Angelina Frketic and Beryl Friday proved to be a handful to contain showcasing their accuracy to post and ability to hurt opposition teams on the scoreboard. Promising defender, Teigan O’Shannassy was also important for the GIANTS with her ability to read the play and get hands to ball.


Netball NSW Waratahs:

The NSW Swifts are affiliated with the Waratahs and put out a strong season to claim second spot on the ladder. They racked up ten wins only losing in Round 1 and Round 4 to Victorian Fury and the Tasmanian Magpies. 16-year-old, young gun, Matisse Letherbarrow was a revelation in the shooting circle along with Alison Miller with accuracy proving to be no challenge for either of them. The inclusion of AFLW player, Elle Bennetts into the side has been a real positive for the Waratahs as she offers great strength through the midcourt. Bennetts also has a lot of experience having played with Victorian Fury for four seasons.


Queensland Fusion:

The Fusion had a tough trot finishing seventh, racking up a mere three wins for the season. The feeder club for the Queensland Firebirds bred some up and coming stars with the likes of Maddie Hinchliffe, twin sister of Firebirds goal defence Tara Hinchliffe, getting her opportunity to prove her worth on the court. While the likes of goal attack, Tippah Dwan and Amy Sommerville put in a big season and showed why they could be a real force to be reckoned with more experience and time on the court. Laura Clemesha was also solid down in defence for Queensland with her ability to read the play.


Southern Force:

The Southern Force just fell short of the finals finishing the year in fifth spot but have showed plenty of promise with players such as Sasha Glasgow making her debut for the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Glasgow proved to be a pivotal player in the goal circle with her clever movement and ability to hit the scoreboard. Young versatile centre court player, Gia Abernethy impressed with her speed and agility while Abigail Meafou was also important for the Force shooting plenty of goals. The Force also saw New Zealand goal shooter Cat Tuivaiti make her much awaited come back after tearing her ACL. The Silver Fern played an important role in the goal circle providing plenty of class and experience for the young team.


Tasmanian Magpies:

The Tasmanian Magpies had a much better season than their Suncorp partners the Collingwood Magpies, taking out the 2018 ANL premiership. After finishing in third spot the Magpies fought tooth and nail to secure the grand final win. With the likes of Cody Lange who has Suncorp Super Netball experience along with Jane Cook and Gabrielle Sinclair the shooting combination worked effectively for the Magpies posting some impressive totals. Defensively Melissa Bragg and Sharni Lamben also showcased their skills applying plenty of pressure and hustle to win the loose ball. Kelsie Rainbow was also lethal in the midcourt for Tasmania with her impressive speed and ability to get clever deflections.


Territory Storm:

The Storms performance throughout the season was completely different to their Suncorp club the Sunshine Coast Lightning who won the premiership. The Storm finished at the bottom of the ladder only managing one win for the season. Cara Koenen was an important player for the Storm contributing plenty of goals to their total when she was named in the team. Koenen is a smooth mover and can open up space in the goal circle. New Zealand defender Erena Mikaere was also valuable for Territory credit to her height, ability to read the play and willingness to get involved in the contest on the court.


Victorian Fury:

Melbourne Vixens are connected to the Fury allowing for players such as Samantha Gooden to shine and be prepared for a call up to the Suncorp league when needed. Gooden starred throughout the season with her clever movement, strong hands and more importantly ability to sink goals when it counted. The Fury continued their hot form finishing at the top of the table after another impressive season but unfortunately fell short when it came to finals unable to make it to the big dance. Jacqueline Newton was also consistent down in defence for her side.


Western Sting:

The Western Sting are affiliated with the West Coast Fever and have plenty of up and coming young talent. The Sting have been lucky enough to taste success winning the premiership in 2017 after overcoming the Victorian Fury in what was an impressive performance, but they failed to maintain that dominance in season 2018 finishing in sixth spot. The Sting only managed to win four games for the year but the likes of Tess Cransberg and Kaylia Stanton stood tall in the goal circle. Annika Lee-Jones also provided a good presence down in defence for the Western Sting with the rangy defender using her height and long arms to intimidate the shooters.