Tag: maddy mcauliffe

Netball fantasy teams: All-Star Queensland teams

OVER the years there have been a multitude of stars pulling on the Firebirds dress and while the Lightning are still relatively new to the netball world compared to their state rivals, Sunshine Coast have had some A-list players come through the doors. Draft Central has comprised two teams filled with past and present players to create the ultimate Queensland rivalry line-up.

Queensland Firebirds:

GK: Laura Geitz
GD: Clare McMeniman
WD: Gabi Simpson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WA: Lauren Nourse
GA: Gretel Bueta
GS: Romelda Aiken

BENCH: Nat Medhurst, Chelsea Pitman, Rebecca Bulley

The Firebirds are one of the most successful clubs in netball history winning three ANZ Premiership grand finals but have struggled to have the same influence since the inception of Suncorp Super Netball. But that has not stopped a high calibre of players from gracing the court. It is no surprise former Firebirds and Diamonds captain, Laura Geitz gets the nod at goal keeper with the highly talented defender in a league of her own. Geitz was a key contributor the Firebirds’ continued success throughout the ANZ Championship with her impressive on court leadership, tenacity and cleanliness to attack the ball. Partner in crime Clare McMeniman takes out the goal defence position thanks to her impressive timing on court, ability to read the play and tagging style of defence. The two were renowned for their immense pressure over the shot, ability to switch things up in the defensive circle and undeniable attack. Current captain, Gabi Simpson is set to pull on the wing defence position with her sheer athleticism constantly on display. Her aerial skills and speed off the mark make her a tough opponent, while her strength around the circle edge adds another element to her game play. Although she made the move to the Magpies in 2017, Kim Ravaillion was a staple in the Firebirds line-up with the gut running centre well and truly leaving her mark on the competition, helping to push her side to grand final victory in 2016. Her good vision and delivery into the circle made her just about unstoppable from anywhere on the court consistently creating something out of nothing. Ravaillion’s high level of endurance, netball smarts and defensive pressure are heer most prominent attributes. In wing attack is none other than Lauren Nourse. The former Diamonds representative possessed some real class around the circle edge with her slick hands, quick footwork and solid positioning in the attacking third.  Moving into the goal circle is arguably one of the most dynamic duos netball has seen. Dynamo Gretel Bueta takes out the goal attack position with the 191cm shooter owning the goal circle with her energy and exciting game style. Bueta is no average goaler, willing to take on the contest and use her athleticism to outmuscle opponents time again. Her combination with Romelda Aiken is second to none with the two connecting seamlessly. Aiken has been a long-standing servant of the club with her commanding height, high volume of shots and relative accuracy doing wonders for the Firebirds. Throw in her ability to get up to the high balls and consistently deliver even under pressure and Aiken was a sure start. Unlucky not to get the starting nod is current Magpies goaler Nat Medhurst with the smooth mover an integral member in the squad’s earlier success while Roses wing attack Chelsea Pitman also finds herself on the bench. Rounding out the team is Rebecca Bulley and while she only spent a short amount of time with the club had an influence on court.


Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
C: Laura Langman
WA: Kelsey Browne
GA: Steph Wood
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian, Phumza Maweni

Despite only being around for three years the Sunshine Coast have played host to a number of international stars that have helped shape their impressive legacy. Much like their state rivals, the Lightning won back-to-back grand finals in 2017 and 2018 announcing themselves as true competitors. Although she has now departed the club, Roses star Geva Mentor was an easy choice to get the start at goal keeper. Standing at 191cm the defender oozes class and composure under pressure and is clean across the court able to manoeuvre around her opponent and force turnovers with her lanky arms. She is strong under the post and has an uncanny ability to read the play and disrupt the attacking flow. Arguably the world’s best goal defence, Karla Pretorius takes the bib thanks to her dynamic movement, go-go gadget arms, read of the play and ability to make something out of nothing. She is one of the most exciting defenders to watch with her unpredictable nature and attacking mindset constantly on display. Maddy McAuliffe pulls on the wing defence position with her defensive pressure and three-foot marking while New Zealand superstar Laura Langman takes the cake at centre. Langman is renowned for her impressive endurance, play making ability, change of direction and sheer athleticism. Her ability to sense the moment and stand up to the pressure is unfathomable consistently able to deliver the ball on a platter to the attackers while her defensive pressure to block the attacking forays makes her the complete package. Moving into wing attack is speedster Kelsey Browne and while she made the move to Collingwood her impact and influence throughout 2017 and 2018 was unquestionable. Her skill to persistently hit the circle edge, dart around the court and use her quick footwork to reposition made her hard to stop. Browne was a real pocket rocket for the Lightning connecting well with Steph Wood. The goal attack is a smooth mover, able to glide across the court and set up plays thanks to her spatial awareness and general netball nous and while she may not put up a wealth of shots, she has an uncanny ability to sense the moment and deliver. The goal shooter position goes to Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler a commanding presence under the post. Her long limbs, strong holds and consistency to put up a high volume of shots makes her a challenging prospect for opponents. On the bench is young up and coming star Cara Koenen who burst onto the scene last year with her strong movement, clean hands and accuracy to post while Laura Scherian takes out the midcourt position. Spar Proteas representative Phumza Maweni finalises the squad with her defensive pressure.

Who would win?

With star players in each position it is hard to separate both sides given the amount of game changers across the court, so it comes down to consistency, something the Firebirds line-up possesses. While the Lightning squad has more international flavour with representatives from New Zealand, England and South Africa the Firebirds boast a well-connected and experienced squad.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the Sunshine State?
Queensland Firebirds
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Created with Quiz Maker

Collingwood and Lightning set to face off in practice match

COLLINGWOOD Magpies and the Sunshine Coast Lightning are set to face off in Hobart on Friday night, with both sides preparing for yet another big year of Suncorp Super Netball. It will be the Magpies’ first outing in 2020 since winning the Super Club tournament over in New Zealand, while the Sunshine Coast will be hoping to get on the winners list after going down to the Fever last week in a practice match.

The Magpies will be missing the defensive prowess of Ash Brazill with the dual code athlete unable to make the trip due to her AFL Women’s commitments on Friday night, instead allowing the likes of Sharni Lambden to step up to the plate. It will be a great opportunity for the side to try out new combinations with a 10-player squad filled with new players set to make the trip down south. Replacement player for Nat Medhurst, Victorian Netball League (VNL) premiership star Julia Woolley, will be hoping to make an immediate impact on the court with her strong drives and ability to go to post. Woolley will be a real surprise packet for the Lightning given she has not played at Australian Netball League (ANL) or Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) level before. The clash will provide an opportunity through the midcourt for the likes of Kelsie Rainbow and Molly Jovic to formulate strong connections with the likes of Shimona Nelson with the duo looking to use their dash and clean hands to exploit the Lightning’s weaknesses. Having already played with the Magpies, Mel Bragg will be aiming to impose herself with her defensive style while recruit Jodi-Ann Ward will be hoping to use her long arms to force turnovers. Despite playing in the Bushfire Relief game for the All-Stars, co-captain Geva Mentor will pull on the goal keeper bib for the Pies. Renowned for her quick feet and ability to cause confusion in the circle Mentor will need to be on her A-game and lead from the front being the most experienced player in the Collingwood line-up.

With a loss fresh in their mind, the Lightning will be hoping to rectify their issues and claim an early win over the Magpies. They have a plethora of options in the goal circle with Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia proving to be a damaging duo. In the absence of Steph Wood, Koenen has found herself out of position in goal attack but has not looked uncomfortable using her silky movement and strong drives to full effect. Ugandan shooter, Proscovia is strong under the ring with her accuracy to post and strong holds the key aspects of her game play. Jacqui Russell even showed her hand in goals floating through goal attack highlighting her versatility. With the Bushfire Relief game on Sunday, both Laura Langman and Karla Pretorius may have limited minutes on the court but will be hoping to have an impact with their ball-winning ability. Langman will be hoping to exploit Collingwood’s young and inexperienced midcourt with her gut running, speed and impressive ball placement across the court, while Pretorius is no slouch given her dynamic movement and go-go gadget arms. In her second SSN season, Phumza Maweni will be hoping to build on her form and cement her connections with young up and coming players in the side despite it not changing a whole heap over the off season. Speedster, Laura Scherian will be looking to take the reins in wing attack once again with up the other end expect the combination of Ash Unie and Maddy McAuliffe to be trialled.

It will be a tight battle between both sides but given the Lightning have a relatively unchanged side from last year and are filled with experience expect them to get over the top of Collingwood.

2019 SSN season team review: Sunshine Coast Lightning

THE Sunshine Coast Lightning almost made history in 2019, making it to their third consecutive grand final but falling at the last hurdle. They farewelled coaching mastermind Noeline Taurua while the future of Laura Langman is still unknown.

Position: 1st
Percentage: 112.65%
Win-loss: 12-2

2019 Overview:

The Lightning were dealt a relatively big blow over the off season with star goaler and Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett departing the club along with Geva Mentor and Kelsey Browne. But that did not seem to faze the Lightning who established themselves as fierce competitors once more, welcoming Phumza Maweni, Peace Proscovia and the returning Langman. All three players had a profound impact with Langman providing her telltale drive and dynamic movement across the court, accompanied by her experience and match winning ability. Maweni posed a dominant threat in the defensive circle, pairing well with fellow international Karla Pretorius to send any ball that came their way back up the court and picking off a host of intercepts. The wing defence bib rotated between Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell with the pair providing good coverage and hands over pressure. Through the midcourt, speedster Laura Scherian came into her own, relishing the reduced space that allowed her to perfect her feeds into the circle and build her connection with Proscovia. The Ugandan shooter displayed her strength, holding well and bodying up to take the ball on the baseline while Steph Wood continued on her merry way with her quick hands, netball nous and footwork on full display.

Shining light:

Cara Koenen elevated to a whole new level throughout the latter half of the season, absorbing every bit of pressure and commanding the ball time and time again. she continuously showcased her explosiveness with both her speed and strength while her versatility was crucial for the Lightning’s finals assault. The 23-year-old shooter made the goal shooter bib her own, working with Wood and Proscovia with ease and displaying her silky footwork to drive along the baseline or sweep across the top of the circle. Her ability to read the play, get up high and have a presence whenever the ball came her way enabled her to stay in the game and cause plenty of havoc. As she grew with confidence, the goal shooter backed herself from range proving accuracy and volume was no issue.

Predictions 2020:

With a couple of years under Silver Ferns coach and extraordinaire Noeline Taurua, newly appointed coach Kylee Byrne has plenty to offer when she takes the reins in 2020. Byrne has seen first-hand what it takes to match it with the best in the business and definitely has the clientele to replicate a similar outcome once again next year. She oozes experience and knowledge having been in the coaching game for the past 10 years, making her a key figure for the side going forward if they are to continue to succeed.

2019 Australian Development Team & Squad

WITH a big season of international netball set to commence, the Australian Diamonds have released a Development Team and Squad consisting of 20 players. The side is dedicated to strengthening the Aussie stocks and fostering the talent of young up-and-coming players to become future Diamonds.

Experienced heads Gabi Simpson, Kate Moloney and Emily Mannix have all been named in the team after missing out on Constellation Cup selection. The trio are renowned for their hard work, endurance and craft in their respective positions and will provide plenty of composure and wisdom on the court given the youth and inexperience.

After a breakout season, it is no surprise Sunshine Coast Lightning versatile shooter Cara Koenen got the nod in the team. The 23-year-old played an integral role in the Lightning’s finals berth with her accuracy, clever footwork and strong holds all but cementing her spot in the starting side. Given her scope the training squad could be just the beginning and a stepping stone for the talented goaler who oozes composure and class. Teammate Maddy McAuliffe also got the call up with the wing defence plying her trade credit to her hands over pressure and tagging style of defence.

Despite of a lack of court time in 2019 through injury Matilda Garrett has been named in the Development Squad thanks to her defensive pressure while fellow Magpie Gabby Sinclair has also secured a spot. After coming in as a replacement player for Maddy Proud at the Swifts youngster Tayla Fraser has earned a spot in the squad with her dynamic movement and speed to boot a real feature of her game. Fellow Swift, Sophie Garbin also got the nod in the Development Team after an impressive season with her accuracy and strength on full display throughout the year. Other shooters such as Kiera Austin and Alice Teague-Neeld have also been selected with Austin renowned for her versatility, silky movement and general netball know how able to adapt to just about any situation on the court.

Queensland Firebirds defensive duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe also landed a spot in the Development Team with their hard work throughout the season well and truly recognised. Both Hincliffe and Jenner have plenty of class paired with tenacity and a desire to hunt any cross-court ball making them a promising combination. Teammate Jemma Mi Mi also caught the eye of selectors with her speed, agility and ability to stop on a dime.

The GIANTS are well represented with Kristiana Manu’a and Amy Parmenter both in the team, along with 28-year-old goal keeper Sam Poolman who was selected in the squad. Parmenter burst onto the scene this season with her speed off the mark, ability to read the play and skill to cover the court. West Coast Fever duo Jess Anstiss and Olivia Lewis will also be hoping to have an impact while Hannah Petty is the only representative from the Thunderbirds after having a solid season in the midcourt with her drives and speed.

2019 Australian Development Team
Jess Anstiss
Kiera Austin
Sophie Garbin
Tara Hinchliffe
Kim Jenner
Cara Koenen
Emily Mannix
Kristiana Manu’a
Maddy McAuliffe
Jemma Mi Mi
Kate Moloney
Amy Parmenter
Gabi Simpson
Alice Teague-Neeld

2019 Australian Development Squad
Tayla Fraser
Matilda Garrett
Olivia Lewis
Hannah Petty
Sam Poolman
Gabby Sinclair

NSW Swifts dash Lightning dreams of a three-peat

IT was a miraculous performance by the NSW Swifts who reigned supreme against the Lightning (47-64) to clench their first premiership since 2008. The win ended a five-game losing streak against the Lightning but most importantly gifted them with the trophy after a dominant 2019 season.

From the first whistle, the battle was on with both sides competing hard and not giving an inch. But it was the Swifts that jumped out of the blocks going on a three-goal shooting spree thanks to Sam Wallace. Uncharacteristic turnovers from the Lightning gifted their counterparts with easy avenues to goal before Cara Koenen answered with a couple of goals of her own but it was not enough to quell the influence of the Swifts who threw everything at them. With momentum swinging back and forth the Swifts took the game by the scruff off the neck with Wallace and Sarah Klau completely dominating their opponent with their pressure and silky skills. Klau imposed herself on every single pass contesting the high balls time and time again and using her feet to cleanly get around the body of Koenen. The Swifts goal keeper notched up three gains, one intercept, two deflections and two rebounds. Inaccuracy cost the Lightning with Steph Wood missing a sitter resulting in a turnover and giving the Swifts another shot at goal. Wallace was on song early relishing the space and dominating under the post with her split and aerial skill. At the 12 and a half minute mark, Noeline Taurua swung the axe forcing Wood to the bench, pushing Koenen out to goal attack and Peace Proscovia into goal shooter. The combination between the two paid dividends, going on a scoring rampage to peg the margin back before the Swifts called a timeout to calm the troops. The Swifts headed into the first break up by four goals.

The game continued at a frenetic pace but it was the Lightning that struck first with a quick fire goal. But the Swifts did not ease up with Housby quickly answering before the Lightning mounted pressure with Proscovia and Koenen putting on a masterclass in the goal circle with their movement and ball placement. The ball bubbled up and down the court woth both sides unable to settle before Proscovia showed good composure under the post to take her three seconds and nail the goal to get the Lightning back within a goal. The Lightning were coming hard credit to the defensive duo of Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretouris winning ball back while Koenen lifted her work load in attack to deliver the ball into Proscovia and provide an option out the front. Pretoirus took a breathtaking intercept miday through the term but the Lightning lost it through transition with the ball firing back down into the circle resulting in yet another Wallace goal. With seven minutes down in the second term Sophie Garbin entered the game with the goal attack taking control and throwing her body around to work the ball into the circle. The physicality lifted up another notch with bodies flying everywhere with Pretorius finding the floorboards twice within a couple of minutes. But a costly turnover in the middle third for the Lightning allowed the Swifts to push back out to three goal lead and build from there. Lightning once again looked to the bench bringing Wood back on but it was not enough with the Sunshine Coast down by eight at half-time.

Up by eight goals after the main break, the Swifts maintained their intensity nullifying the influence of the Lightning and working in overdrive to extend their lead. Wood failed to impact the scoreboard missing a crucial goal in the opening minutes of the quarter and allowing the Swifts to pile on a quick couple of goals. Wood did not slot her first goal until four minute of the term but up the other end Wallace and Housby dominated with Maweni and Pretorius struggling despite a couple of good attempts to regain possession for their side. The Lightning nailed two goals in a row prompting a Swifts timeout but that attacking thrust was quickly quashed with the Swifts owning the rest of the term. Nat Haythornthwaite lifted her load in attack while Paige Hadley continued to find good space. Maweni took a ridiculous intercept but was equally matched by Klau up the other end reading the flight of the ball and propelling the ball back down the court with ease. the third quarter was dominated by plenty of whistle with the umpires having a huge influence on the Lightning defensive unit. With the Sunshine Coast struggling Jacqui Russell entered the game while Koenen made her way back on in goal shooter at the 13 minute mark but it made no impact with the Swifts nudging out to a 10-goal lead.

With only 15 minutes left in the game, the Swifts ran it home making the most of their opportunities under the post. They answered every challenge posed controlling the game with their clever passes and strong structures. In possibly her last game, veteran Laura Langman played her heart out running hard both ways but it was not enough to drag her side over the line. NSW were simply too good and ran rampant in the last term with the fans well and truly riding every bump, goal and intercept. Sophie Halpin made her way onto the court in the final five minutes while Garbin (six from seven) also re-entered replacing Wallace at the post. With three minutes left Annika-Lee Jones pulled on the goal keeper bib while Tayla Fraser also came on for the Swifts. Wallace dominated with (40 from 44) winning the Player of the Match award while Housby notched up (18 from 22). For the Lightning Koenen topscored with (23 from 27).


Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS | Cara Koenen
GA | Steph Wood
WA | Laura Scherian
C | Laura Langman
WD | Maddy McAuliffe
GD | Karla Pretorius
GK | Phumza Maweni

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Helen Housby
WA | Nat Haythornthwaite
C | Paige Hadley
WD | Katrina Rore
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

Can Ingles be replaced?

IN the wake of Renae Ingles retirement the Melbourne Vixens will be eagerly looking to find someone to replace the veteran wing defence. With a relatively stable list and strong defensive end it may be hard to find someone who will adequately fill the void left by Ingles. With that in mind we take a look at possible candidates to replace the wing defence.


Kate Eddy: NSW Swifts

With Ingles retired and Eddy out of contract it could be a match made in heaven. Despite suffering an ankle injury in the latter half of the season Eddy could be a good fit for the club given her ability to play both circle and wing defence. The Victorian born defender could be looking to return to her home state and would offer the Vixens plenty of skill, composure and netball nous. Her ability to cover the court with ease and apply strong hands over pressure is second to none while her speed can also cause problems credit to her ability to get to contests cleanly and impact the play. With Kadie-Ann Dehaney also out of contract at seasons end, Eddy could be a sure thing given her ability to slide back into the circle if needed. Eddy is good under pressure and is not afraid of the contest often recognised for her ability to confuse the space and cause headaches with her persistent tagging style.

Kim Ravaillion: Collingwood Magpies

With clear ties to Victoria, it is highly unlikely that the Australian Diamonds midcourter will leave the state but a switch to cross-town rivals is quite possible. Ravaillion is out of contract and may be looking for a new home in 2020 making the Vixens a viable option given her new-found role in wing defence at the Pies. Her endurance is second to none often running opponents off their feet with her two-way efforts while her desire to get to contests is impressive. Ravaillion oozes plenty of experience despite only being 26 with her defensive pressure and three-foot marking a key element of her game play. The midcourt player is familiar with the game style of Liz Watson, Jo Weston and Emily Mannix having played with them for Australia making her an interesting prospect for the side. Although costly at times with wayward passes Ravaillion consistently re-offers and provides plenty of drive down the court with her dynamic movement. Her versatility could be beneficial to the Vixens given her preferred position is centre.

Maddy McAuliffe: Sunshine Coast Lightning

Still not committed to the Lightning next year, the two-time premiership player could be a key acquisition for the Melbourne Vixens and may provide that spark they need to go deeper into the finals in 2020. McAuliffe has shared the wing defence role at times with Jacqui Russell throughout 2019 and may be looking to build on her individual game next season. McAuliffe has a plethora of skills credit to her defensive pressure and speed off the mark to cover her opponents drive. Her vision down the court is impressive able to release strong shoulder passes to clear the mess in defence and transition down the court. The wing defence still has plenty of development left in her but could add another element to Vixens defensive unit given her general netball know how and ability to take timely intercepts and deflections across the court.

Lightning three-peat on the cards

THE Lightning put the minor premiership curse to bed, running out 10-goal victors against the NSW Swifts (58-48) in the first semi-final. It was neck and neck early, with both sides contesting hard before the Sunshine Coast pulled away, exploiting the Swifts’ vulnerabilities at every turn.

Lightning centre, Laura Langman set the tone within the first 30 seconds of the game with an impressive intercept off the centre pass and propelling the ball down the court. The Swifts quickly answered steadying the ship across the court and working well to reduce easy access into the circle for their opposition. Both teams were up and about going goal for goal for most the quarter and proving accuracy was no issue only missing two goals collectively. Upon returning from injury, Helen Housby showcased her dominance under the post slotting seven goals straight while also displaying her play making ability delivering the ball into goal shooter Sam Wallace with ease. Wing attack Natalie Haythornthwaite showed her experience and class carving up the attacking third with her strength, vision and second phase work notching up six goal assists for the term. With the Swifts gaining control Phumza Maweni stood up in defence with the goal keeper posing a dominant force getting hands to ball and using her aerial ability to pick up three gains and to intercepts. But with the clock counting down Housby once again delivered nailing her seventh goal to hand her side a one goal lead heading into the quarter time break.

Only down by one goal Sunshine Coast started with the centre pass but failed to capitalise giving the Swifts an opportunity to score consecutive goals. Wallace lifted her intensity in attack using her leap to reign in ball while piling on four goals straight before the Lightning wrestled back some momentum thanks to Cara Koenen. The young goal shooter put on a show in the goal circle standing strong and demanding the ball under the post nailing 10 goals from 11 attempts while partner-in-crime, Steph Wood pulled out all the tricks of the trade to create space and feed the ball in with ease. Wood used her dynamic movement, silky footwork and quick hands to work the angles and re-offer both in the circle and on the circle edge. With Housby still returning from injury and the Lightning starting to get on top defensively, Sophie Garbin made her way onto the court late in the quarter. Garbin had an immediate impact going to post and offering a good link through the midcourt to transition the ball into the goal circle. Despite the changes the Lightning suppressed the Swifts to 11 goals in the term while adding on 14 goals themselves establishing a two goal lead at the main break.

The third quarter or premiership quarter well and truly came to fruition with the Lightning running rampant across each third. Goal defence Karla Pretorius came to life denying the Swifts any movement in the attacking third and applying a mountain load of pressure. Pretorius contested every single pass and showcased her ability to read the play picking up two intercepts, two gains and one deflection for the term. Her work with Maweni caused headaches for the Swifts forcing Wallace to the bench after a relatively shaky performance under the post. With a five goal Lightning spree midway through the quarter the Swifts tinkered with the line-up bringing on Tayla Fraser and Sophie Halpin pushing Paige Hadley and Maddy Turner to the bench. Hadley struggled throughout the quarter to keep up with Langman who was putting on a show both offensively and defensively credit to her high endurance and netball know how. The changes did not stop there for the Swifts with Katrina Rore moving into goal defence in hope to reduce the Lightning’s attacking forays. But it was not enough with the Sunshine Coast adding 18 goals to their tally while keeping the Swifts to a mere 10 goals.

With one quarter left to play the Lightning left nothing to chance maintaining their intensity and running hard to shut down the Swifts options in attack. Peace Proscovia (six from seven) entered the game replacing Koenen at the post and offered a solid option under the ring with her strength and aerial skill on full display. Up the other end, Garbin made her presence felt in the goal finding her rhythm straight away only missing one goal for the quarter. Defensively Sarah Klau stepped up albeit a little too late picking up three gains, two intercepts and two deflections. Each Swift shooter nailed 16 goals apiece with Garbin and Housby notching up 16 from 18 at 89 per cent, while Wallace was slightly less accurate with 16 from 19 at 84 per cent. For the Lightning, Koenen was the go to girl slotting 30 goals from 32 attempts at 84 per cent followed by Wood with 22 from 29 at 76 per cent. The win secured the Lightning a home grand final and a shot at their third premiership.


Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS | Cara Koenen
GA | Steph Wood
WA | Laura Scherian
C | Laura Langman
WD | Maddy McAuliffe
GD | Karla Pretorius
GK | Phumza Maweni

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Helen Housby
WA | Natalie Haythornthwaite
C | Paige Hadley
WD | Katrina Rore
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

Lightning storm home to claim minor premiership

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning secured the minor premiership after a dominant performance against Adelaide Thunderbirds in the final game of the home and away season (58-37). Lightning walked away with seven points to snatch top spot from the NSW Swifts and claim rights to a home final while restricting the Thunderbirds to their lowest score to date.

The opening couple of minutes was played at a frenetic pace with the ball flying up and down the court before the Thunderbirds settled into a routine. With both Emma Ryde and Sasha Glasgow out with knee injuries, Cody Lange got the nod at goal shooter and did not look back. Lange was composed at the post and made the most of her opportunities with two goals straight, albeit playing second fiddle to New Zealand international, Maria Folau who slotted 13 goals at 100 per cent. Adelaide were determined not to go down without a fight, striking first and establishing a four goal lead in the opening term thanks to Shamera Sterling putting on a show in defence with her impressive aerial skill. Sterling put on a clinic denying easy entry into the circle with five gains; three intercepts, two deflection and one rebound. But Karla Pretorius proved that anything you can do I can do better, taking her fair share of intercepts in the first quarter to keep the Lightning in the match and create doubt in Adelaide’s minds. With two minutes left in the quarter Cara Koenen made her way onto the court replacing Peace Proscovia who struggled to make an impact in the goal circle only registering five goals. Sunshine Coast were not the only side to make changes with Maisie Nankivell replacing Shadine Van der Merwe.

Down by four goals at quarter time the Lightning well and truly flipped the script, piling on the pain both in attack and defence. Although they did not post a huge total they kept the Thunderbirds to a mere seven goals highlighting their defensive prowess and pressure to limit their transition and impact under the post. Koenen made her presence felt in the goal circle with eight goals straight while Laura Langman lifted her intensity, hitting the circle edge repeatedly with pace and precision. Her offensive work was just as impressive as her defensive efforts amassing one gain, one intercept and one pick-up. Goal keeper Phumza Maweni also upped the ante applying strong hands over pressure, clogging up space and forcing errors in the defensive third. After a solid start Lange struggled to find the net, not sinking a single shot from her three attempts and forcing Folau to carry the load in the circle. Tania Obst rung in the changes with Chelsea Pitman and Kate Shimmin making their way to the bench while Hannah Petty switched into wing attack. Kelly Altmann also entered the game in centre while Van der Merwe took the court once more in goal defence in hope to reclaim their first quarter form.

The Lightning continued to go from strength to strength, unphased by Adelaide’s wholesale changes. Former training partner, Charlee Hodges made her way onto the court but simply could not find the post, struggling to have an impact under the post with one goal from three attempts. Folau continued on her merry way but Pretorius outshone her with an impressive four gains and three intercepts credit to her defensive nous and cleanliness to win ball back. Up the other end, Steph Wood took control in the circle for Sunshine Coast with her cuts and drives on full display. Meanwhile, her ability to turn and shoot created headaches for the Thunderbirds with the goal attack scoring seven goals at 100 per cent. Sunshine Coast won their second bonus point thanks to an 18 goal to eight third quarter.

With one hand on top spot and the minor premiership crown, the Lightning pushed hard to end their home and away season on a high. Annika Lee-Jones replaced Maweni in goal keeper while Proscovia also re-entered the game late in the final quarter. Maddy McAuliffe donned the centre bib with Langman heading to the bench. Even with the changes the Lightning were slick with ball in hand while the Thunderbirds simply looked out of sorts across the court. Folau finished the match with 33 goals from 39 attempts at 85 per cent while Koenen topscored for the Lightning only missing two of her attempts to finish with 30 goals.


Sunshine Coast Lightning:

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

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS | Cody Lange
GA | Maria Folau
WA | Chelsea Pitman
C | Hannah Petty
WD | Shadine Van der Merwe
GD | Kate Shimmin
GK | Shamera Sterling

Player Focus: Melbourne Vixens v. Sunshine Coast Lightning

IN a ladder-defining match it was the Sunshine Coast Lightning that snatched victory over Melbourne Vixens to claim top spot on the ladder. We attended the match and took notes on one player from each side, analysing their impact on the match.


The Vixens’ goal attack got off to a hot start with her dynamic movement and clever ball placement on full display from the first whistle. Although she missed the first shot of the game she steadily built into the quarter, nailing her next eight attempts credit to her good rhythm under the post. She had the ball on a string in the first quarter, carving up the court with her speed and general netball nous to exploit mismatches across the court and capitalise.

Her combination with Caitlin Thwaites proved hard to stop in the opening half with the two creating plenty of space in the goal circle and opening up the attacking third time and time again. Philip did a wealth of work out the front to feed the ball into her shooting partner credit to her crafty feeds into the circle while pairing well with the likes of Liz Watson and Kate Moloney around the circle edge. The Vixens shooter worked tirelessly all game to provide an option in the attacking third, leading hard and faking passes to cause confusion.

Philip was a real play maker in the attacking third, drawing the attention of both Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius with her strong drives, timely dodges and silky footwork. She really controlled the tempo of the game in the opening half and proved that she was not afraid to turn and shoot from anywhere in the circle, backing herself from range. Philip finished with 26 goals from 33 attempts at 79 per cent.


The Lightning goal defence did not disappoint, with her sheer ability to turn a game on its head credit to her timing and general netball smarts to consistently stay in the hunt for the ball. Although Pretorius had a relatively quiet start to the game unable to assert herself on the contest, she worked her way into the match to outplay the Melbourne Vixens attack end and win back plenty of ball.

She was well held in the first half credit to the amount of off the body work Philip put in using her vision, slick movement and accuracy to post to keep Pretorius busy before the South African defender lifted her intensity to take her out of the game. Pretorius rose to another level time and time again, picking up timely intercepts credit to her impressive read of the play and cleanliness to get around the body. Her follow-up efforts in the last term and ability to contest every single pass made her near-on impossible to stop.

Pretorius won ball both in the air and on the ground, showcasing her versatility and hunt for the ball and standing up when it counted to keep her side well and truly in the hunt. The goal defence paired exceptionally well with Maweni in the goal circle to confuse the space and force turnover ball while Maddy McAuliffe provided good protection out the front. She applied strong hands over pressure across the court to try and block her opponent’s vision while her aerial ability to leap and get tips on both the shot and pass provided plenty of excitement for Lightning fans. Pretorius finished with six gains, five intercepts and three deflections.

Lightning secure top spot after downing Vixens

IN a top-of-the-table clash it was the Sunshine Coast Lightning that claimed victory by one goal over the Melbourne Vixens (55-56). Both teams tussled hard to find their feet early and build some momentum throughout the match with the Vixens settling first but the Lightning did not back down silencing the Melbourne crowd.

Despite an early miss the Vixens got off to a hot start piling on 17 goals to 11. The Melbourne Vixens had a real point to prove using the angles well across the court and slicing through the Lightning defence. Caitlin Thwaites did not repeat her form of last week finding the net quickly and with ease slotting nine goals straight in the opening quarter showcasing her sheer skill and clever footwork in the goal circle. The Lightning looked rattled in attack throwing away plenty of ball credit to the work of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston controlling the space and flow across the court. Cara Koenen got the start once again and built into the game finding good rhythm in attack thanks to her clever drives and strong holds under the post but Mannix made her fight for every pass, contesting every passage of play and forcing her out of the circle. Vixens opened up a five goal lead midway through the quarter forcing the Lightning to call a timeout which was closely followed by a raft of changes in the attacking third with Koenen moving out to goal attack and Peace Proscovia making her way onto the court in goal shooter. But it was to no avail with the Vixens claiming the first bonus point of the game after prevailing through a couple of scrappy minutes late in the term.

Lightning started with the centre pass but quickly threw it away with Mannix taking an early intercept sending the ball back down the court with ease, speed and precision. Both Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni lifted their intensity in the defensive third with the two combining well and creating turnovers but were not rewarded down the other end. Meanwhile, Maddy McAuliffe took a huge intercept flying across the court but was quickly answered by opposing wing defence Renae Ingles who simply could not be stopped. Laura Scherian failed to have an impact with the speedy wing attack unable to unleash her crafty passes credit to Ingles’ smothering pressure. Up the other end, Melbourne Vixens continued their merry way with Liz Watson and Thwaites completely dominating. Watson showcased her speed, impressive ball placement and vision into the circle to control the attacking third for the Vixens and provide them with easy avenue into the circle. The Vixens got out to a 10-goal lead midway through the term before the Lightning pegged their way back into the contest. With 30 seconds left in the quarter, Pretorius produced a timely tip in the circle to gather possession and stream down the court resulting in a Proscovia goal to level the quarter scores at 14 apiece.

Up by six goals at half-time, the Vixens were determined to keep their hot form rolling, while the Lightning came out with a real presence. Wood returned to the goal attack position bringing Scherian into the game with her clever movement and ball placement. She brought a real sense of urgency and intensity demanding the ball and creating plays in the attacking third but was equally matched by Tegan Philip up the other end who is in arguably career best form. Weston inserted herself into the match contesting every ball and double teaming Proscovia in the circle to claim timely deflections while the work of Kate Moloney lifted across the court. Moloney showcased her leadership, composure and vision to deliver well weighted passes into Thwaites and Philip while remaining a strong presence up the defensive end for the Vixens. The battle between Moloney and Laura Langman intensified as the game went on with both centres going toe to toe. Langman was a real lynchpin across the court for the Lightning credit to her strength and athleticism. Pretorius got a timely intercept tracking the ball exceptionally well at ground level to draw her side to back within five but the Lightning were not done with yet, with Maweni taking a huge intercept in the dying minute of the game and propelling the ball back down the court to not only win their first bonus point of the game but draw them back to within four goals heading into the final change.

With the game delicately poised, both sides left nothing on the court with the Vixens bringing on fan favourite Mwai Kumwenda. Pretorius took a huge intercept in the opening minute but Maweni showed anything you can do I can do better with an outrageous intercept taking the ball at full flight and coping the contact to propel the ball back down the court. With scores all tied up the Melbourne Vixens called a timeout with 12 minutes forcing both sides to wrestle for the momentum. The Vixens settled first out of the break nailing two consecutive goals to create a handy buffer. Kumwenda failed to have an impact under the ring missing a couple of goals under the post gifting the Lightning with turnover ball. Lightning edged out in front with the lead ebbing and flowing the in the final five minutes of the game. With 20 seconds left in the match, Wood ended the Vixens hopes by slotting a midrange goal on the whistle.


Melbourne Vixens:

GS | Caitlin Thwaites
GA | Tegan Philip
WA | Liz Watson
C | Kate Moloney
WD | Renae Ingles
GD | Jo Weston
GK | Emily Mannix

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS | Cara Koenen
GA | Steph Wood
WA | Laura Scherian
C | Laura Langman
WD | Maddy McAuliffe
GD | Karla Pretorius
GK | Phumza Maweni