Tag: maddy proud

2019 SSN season team review: NSW Swifts

IT was a fairytale season for the NSW Swifts, claiming their first premiership since 2008. Despite being devastated with injuries throughout the season the Swifts maintained their structures and game plan, treasuring the ball and working it down the court with ease.

Position: 2nd
Percentage: 111.92%
Win-loss:10-1-3

Overview:

Goal keeper Sarah Klau had a breakout season, imposing herself on the contest up the defensive end with her hands over pressure, rotation through the circle and ability to read the play. Her combination with Maddy Turner steadily developed over the season with the duo posing a dominant threat, nullifying access into the goal circle and picking off passes. Prior to her season-ending ankle injury, Kate Eddy worked wonders with the towering wing defence able to ply her trade in a number of positions and force turnovers with her extra height and deceptive speed. But with Eddy gone the introduction of Katrina Rore paid dividends with the New Zealand international adding extra experience, netball nous and X-factor down back. Captain Maddy Proud’s season was cut short, tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in Round 7 and while her absence was sorely missed, English international Nat Haythornthwaite along with Elle Bennetts and Tayla Fraser all did their bit to propel the ball forward. Paige Hadley also lifted her intensity, taking full control of the midcourt in Proud’s absence. Goal attack, Helen Housby was plagued with injury in the latter part of the season but showcased her class and skill to stand up in the big moments and command the ball when needed, while Sam Wallace lifted another gear, working tirelessly under the post. Wallace stood up in the goal circle using her strong holds and accuracy to post to cause havoc for the opposition.

Shining light:

The Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter is no stranger to the big stage, well and truly bringing the heat in season 2019. Cool, calm and composed under the post, Wallace looked unphased by everything that came her way, reeling in lobs and using her silky footwork to manoeuvre around the body of her opponent. She backed herself from range and showed she was not afraid to swing the ball around the circle edge to reposition when needed. Wallace constantly provided an option under the post using her commanding figure to slot goal after goal, making her an integral player for the Swifts.

Predictions 2020:

This year proved that the Swifts have plenty of depth despite being struck by injury time and time again. The likes of Fraser, Sophie Garbin and Turner all showed they have what it takes to make it to the big time and with further court time can clearly develop into stars of the future. The core group of players at the Swifts is already strong meaning the further development of the young up and coming players could cause headaches for the opposition. Garbin has showcased her versatility throughout the season switching between goal attack and goal shooter seamlessly while Fraser provides plenty of energy, speed and excitement to the attack end.

2019 Suncorp Super Netball Team of the Year

THE 2019 Draft Central Suncorp Super Netball Team of the Year is here, featuring 10 key players from across seven of the eight SSN sides. Despite a mostly successful season, GIANTS Netball is the only club with out at least one representative, while the only sides with more than one player featured in the side are fittingly Grand Finalists, NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning.

GK: Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

The Thunderbirds may not have won many games this season, but when they did often it was well and truly off the back of Shamera Sterling’s defensive pressure in the goal circle. The young defender may not have the experience to control games the way Geva Mentor can, but it’s her ability to impact the contest and provide a surprising element down back that forces teams to think about every single feed heading into the goal circle. While it can be argued Sterling got a large volume of turnover ball because the side was losing and their opposition occasionally got lazy with feeds, full credit still goes to Sterling for regularly being that star player the Thunderbirds needed to spark the side into action. Her hands over pressure, rebounding ability and deceptively quick footwork found her with the loose ball time and time again, finishing off the season leading the defensive rebounds tally (35), deflections (120) and second for intercepts (68).

GD: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

While Sterling pipped Karla Pretorius to the post to a number of defensive stats this season, Pretorius proved to be a key player for the Sunshine Coast Lightning yet again, sitting in first for intercepts (69) and being the stalwart defender every side aspires to have. Pretorius’ ability to confuse the space and find the loose ball was second to none, consistent to a tee and conceding less penalties than many of her defensive counterparts – sitting in 12th overall for penalties (166), almost 100 less than fellow Lightning defender Phumza Maweni with 261. It’s Pretorius’ speed that catches her opponents off guard, with a quick takeoff and impressive aerial ability seeing her find plenty of turnover ball, often phasing her opponent out of the game altogether. While Pretorius’ impact inside the circle impressed, it was her ability to speed the ball back up the court that gave her the edge over the rest of the competition, providing a constant threat across the court.

WD: Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)

Apart from a stellar few weeks in the centre bib, Ash Brazill was by and large the most impressive and consistent wing defence in the competition this season. Her versatility was key, finding the ball anywhere across the court and propelling it back down to provide a massive threat both through the defensive and middle thirds. It is Brazill’s athletic ability that finds her in the side, with dominant performances week in and week out and one of the most consistent players in the Magpies line-up. Brazill’s ability to provide hands over pressure as well as the excitement of circle edge intercepts found her one of the most watched players on court, ultimately finding enough turnover ball to push her side into a finals campaign. Brazill finished up the season with 18 intercepts and 68 deflections, getting hands to plenty of ball and putting doubt in attackers minds with her speed, anticipation and netball smarts.

C: Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

Laura Langman’s ability to play both the defensive and attacking game was second to none in 2019, providing the spark the Lightning needed to turn the tides and come from behind on a number of occasions. Langman’s speed, agility and strength moving down the court proves why she is one of the most effective midcourters in the world. The Lightning captain worked seamlessly with her side this season, not skipping a beat after missing the 2018 season and continuously putting on exceptional performances to lead her side to a minor premiership finish. Her consistency makes her a constant threat both on circle edge feeding into her attackers and deflecting through defence, with bullet passes and aerial ability to boot. Langman’s defensive and attacking prowess was clear during the season, racking up 246 goal assists from 512 feeds as well as 16 intercepts and 34 deflections.

WA: Liz Watson (Melbourne Vixens)

Similar to Pretorius, it was unquestionably Liz Watson who was the most dominant and consistent wing attack all season. Even after coming back from the Netball World Cup, Watson continued her exceptional form to be the number one for goal assists in 2019 with 430 from 627 feeds, proving an impressive ability to find circle edge and feed to the advantage of her goalers. Watson also collected a whopping 376 centre pass receives, sitting in second on the leaderboard, along with nine intercepts and 28 deflections across 16 games, proving that along with her attacking skill she has the ability to turn the ball over to advantage. While Watson’s speed and footwork is impressive, it’s her ability to spot her goalers at the post and shoot lightning-quick passes into the goal circle that make her key to both the Vixens and Australian Diamonds lineups.

GA: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

Unconventional goal attack Gretel Tippett had the season of her career in 2019, keeping the Firebirds in most games even when everything seemed to be thrown against them. Tippett’s accuracy and volume rocketed this season, shooting 394 goals from 411 attempts at 96 per cent accuract for the season, proving time and time again that she has the star power and excitement to change the game. Her daring style of play makes her a constant threat, using her height to find the ball with ease and challenge every defender she comes across. Tippett finished third in the competition for centre pass receives (325) credit to her speed off the mark while also showcasing her versatility, switching up her play style when required to make a seamless transition for every challenge the Firebirds faced, coming out the other side as one of the most consistent goalers in the competition.

GS: Sam Wallace (NSW Swifts)

Sam Wallace was one of the most consistent goal shooters in season 2019, flying under the radar but putting up solid performances every round to be the stalwart option at the post for the Swifts. She upped her game this season, finding more volume and accuracy than prior seasons, shooting 648 goals from 695 attempts at 93 per cent accuract – a whopping 233 goals more than her 2018 season. Wallace was also awarded the coveted Grand Final Player of the Match, dominating at the post against the defensive calibre of the Sunshine Coast Lightning and taking advantage of every ball fed her way. The goal shooter only picked up 18 penalties across 17 games proving her cleanliness with both ball in hand and with hands over pressure, while her aerial ability came to the forefront this season to ensure ball in hand at the post.

BENCH: Sarah Klau (NSW Swifts), Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts), Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever)

While all three of these players had impressive seasons, they unfortunately fell short with their respective counterparts taking the top spot. Sarah Klau dominated in season 2019, finding enough ball to generate a much deserved Australian Diamonds selection and elevation, credit to her cleanliness with both ball in hand and on the body. Klau’s speed saw her find plenty of turnover ball, while her ability to find and mark her opposition created opportunities to generate some of the flair and excitement the Swifts have lacked over the past few seasons. Paige Hadley is another who came out of her shell in 2019, forging ahead early in the season to snap up a recall into the Diamonds. While Hadley started the season in wing attack, she well and truly made the centre bib her own after Maddy Proud went down to injury, finding plenty of the ball around the circle in attack and relishing the extra space when going down court to defence, putting on the accelerator to generate turnovers. Jhaniele Fowler may not have had the same impact as her 2018 campaign, however she well and truly carried the Fever through rocky patches despite at times carrying an injury of her own. Her height, accuracy and volume make her a formidable opponent in the ring, plucking the ball out of the air and rebounding with ease.

While these three players were selected for the Draft Central bench, a number of other players staked their claim during the season with the likes of Kate Moloney Cara Koenen, Renae Ingles and Geva Mentor also thrown in the mix.

Suncorp Super Netball 2020 Team Lists

WEST Coast Fever and GIANTS Netball are the first Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) sides to secure their 2020 team lists after re-signing their only uncontracted players in goaler, Kaylia Stanton (Fever) and the GIANTS’ quartet of Sam Poolman, Kristiana Manu’a, Amy Parmenter and Matilda McDonnell. On the other end of the scale, Melbourne Vixens have a remarkable five potential re-signings or signings to complete, with just the defensive circle of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston, and midcourt pairing of Kate Moloney and Liz Watson locked in for next season.

The ability to lock in a defensive pairing has been a priority for clubs, with all eight SSN clubs securing their defensive circle for next year. The reigning premiers, NSW Swifts are relatively settled, with just Kate Eddy yet to sign from the starting line-up, while their grand final opponents, Sunshine Coast Lightning just have captain Laura Langman as the only starter yet to put pen to paper.

The Firebirds will likely look for a midcourt player over the off-season with a couple of retirements meaning they currently have just five players signed and a further two – Jemma Mi Mi and Tippah Dwan – uncontracted. The Swifts have a spare spot for the injured Maddy Proud, while the Magpies have one available for April Brandley‘s departure due to pregnancy, and the Vixens will look to replace Renae Ingles who retired.

Monday, September 16 marked the first day that SSN clubs could complete and announce signings from other clubs as per Suncorp Super Netball regulations, which we will update as they come to light.

Swifts’ Proud as punch over premiership victory

AFTER toiling away for the past three years and fine-tuning their line-up, the NSW Swifts struck gold in season 2019, overcoming a multitude of injuries to run out victorious against back-to-back premiers, the Sunshines Coast Lightning. In her second year as head coach at the Swifts Briony Akle sung the praises of her sides trouncing of Sunshine Coast.

“I don’t know where to go from here it’s just like we want to win this over and over again and the Swifts have a fantastic legacy and I think for us it’s about looking forward and celebrating this now and it starts all again in November,” Akle said.

Despite being ravaged by injuries with courageous captain Maddy Proud tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) midway through the season, Kate Eddy sidelined with an ankle injury and both England Roses stars Nat Haythornthwaite and Helen Housby forced to the bench for large parts of the year the side stood up in the adversity with Akle enjoying every moment of their historic win.

“Proud, just amazing what we’ve been through all year and just to get to this point you know this is amazing lets celebrate it enjoy the moment,” Akle said. “These guys did that they just went out there and looked at the crowd and soaked it all in and finally we followed the game plan. “The old cliché 60 minutes but we did it so yeah very very proud.”

Akle took it all in her stride recruiting the likes of Silver Fern Katrina Rore and Sophie Halpin to replace the injured Eddy meanwhile putting faith in the likes of Tayla Fraser to try and fill the void of their injured captain. While it was hard to sit on the sidelines and watch, Proud could not be happier commending her side for their gallant efforts.

“I mean it’s hard to watch no one likes watching from the sideline but again the way they played today was just incredible and made me very very proud and even more eager to get out there next year,” Proud said.

Unable to participate in the Swifts finals campaign, Proud highlighted the persistence and tolerance of the playing group to be able to overcome the injury obstacles and run out victorious against a formidable opponent.

“I think like we said it’s been one of those years where we’ve had probably 15 players come in and out at any given time and we knew from the get go this was going to be a special year and how we got there was probably a bit more of a windy road than we thought it would be,” Proud said.

The Swifts climb up the ladder also shed a light on some serious talent with goal keeper Sarah Klau getting a call up to the Diamonds credit to her defensive pressure while Paige Hadley re-captured some form getting the nod in the green and gold after a couple of years. Coach Briony Akle had nothing but praise for the defender touting her skill and pressure as one of the key reasons for the Swifts emphatic win.

“Amazing,” Akle said. “I think I just got told she had 11 possession gains so a fantastic game for her, probably the best game I’ve seen her play. It was a great one to do it at.”

While the rise up the ladder took many onlookers by surprise, internally the Swifts had plenty of belief in their structures and players.

“I think we’ve been kind of building on this for a couple of years now and we’ve obviously had the ingredients for a few years now and today was the day we put it all together,” Proud said. “The Swifts have always been a team that you’ve looked up to, you feared playing the Swifts for as long as I’ve been playing which is a little while now, and now being able to recreate it with this group is very exciting. “As Briony said we hope this is only the beginning but we are going to enjoy this one for a little bit.”

Looking ahead to 2020, Akle has high hopes for her side which tasted its first bit success since 2008 despite making it to a couple of losing grand finals.

“I think the legacy of the Swifts is great and if we can keep this team together and get a few more of these trophies,” she said.

SSN: Finals game changers

WITH finals around the corner each side in the top four have shown they have what it takes to mix it with the best on their day. Each team has won against each other throughout the course of the season showcasing just how close the competition is heading into the pointy end of the season.

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

Position:1st
Win-loss: 12-0-1
Percentage: 112.85%

It has never been done before but if any team could do it, it would be the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Since Suncorp Super Netball was established no team has won the premiership after claiming the minor premiership but the Lightning could quite possibly break that hoodoo given their plethora of stars both on and off the court. In what will be her last matches with the side, Noeline Taurua has proven to be a coaching mastermind and will be looking to push her side once again to go back-to-back-to-back.

Game changer:
The Lightning have plenty of game changers across the court but none bigger than South African Karla Pretorius who continues dominate for the Sunshine Coast with her explosive speed, tenacity and netball nous. Pretorius is renowned for her ability to will herself to contests, win ball back from unthinkable positions and turn the game on its head in an instance. She has racked up a whopping 63 intercepts for the season and has single handedly dragged her team back into the contest when the chips were down. Her combination with Phumza Maweni has developed at a rate of knots meaning the duo pose a damaging threat come finals.

NSW Swifts:

Position:2nd
Win-loss: 10-1-3
Percentage: 111.92%

After an impressive start to the season the Swifts faltered at the wrong time of year, losing top spot and their right to host a home semi-final. NSW have been hit with plenty of injuries throughout the year with Maddy Proud going down with an ACL, Kate Eddy out for the remainder of the season and both Natalie Haythornthwaite and Helen Housby relegated to the bench with injury but have shown plenty of spirit. They have taken the competition by storm with their ability to treasure possession and capitalise under the post.

Game changer:
With Eddy out for the season, Trans-Tasman rival Katrina Rore made her way across the ditch and could prove to quite possibly be the game changer for the Swifts. Rore oozes class and defensive pressure credit to her experience and general netball understanding. Though she has not been with the team long, her injection into the side has been seamless while her versatility is equally as important for NSW proving that she can float between circle defence and midcourt defence in the blink of an eye and with ease. She can win ball back time and time again with her timely tips and well executed intercepts.

Melbourne Vixens:

Position: 3rd
Win-loss: 8-1-5
Percentage: 107.87%

The Melbourne Vixens are no strangers to the finals, having been there on occasion in their history but failing to make an impact in recent years, making this year all the more important. The Vixens have struggled with consistency throughout the season unable to string four quarter performances together but have shown that they have the fire power to do plenty of damage when on song. Emily Mannix, Jo Weston and Renae Ingles have proven to be hard to combat given their defensive prowess while since making the switch from the Magpies Caitlin Thwaites has not skipped a beat, owning the circle with her holds and accuracy.

Game changer:
Tegan Philip has been a real barometer for the Vixens throughout the year and has the skill to cause havoc in the goal circle if given enough time and space. The goal attack is renowned for both her work out the front and in the goal circle. Her ability to read the play and inject herself into the game is second to none, using her vision and well-timed sweeps to receive the ball in prime position in the circle.

Collingwood Magpies:

Position: 4th
Win-loss: 7-2-5
Percentage: 102.2%

Collingwood have well and truly had one hell of a month, snatching fourth spot in the final game of the home and away season by a mere 0.6 per cent. The Magpies have had an inconsistent season to date, struggling to build momentum and live up to the hype but have shown they have the class and know how to win when it counts. The black and white have been dealt their fair share of injuries with both Madi Browne and Kelsey Browne rupturing their ACLs, leaving a big hole in the Collingwood midcourt and forcing the Pies to stand up in their absence.

Game changer:
English international Geva Mentor can turn a game on its head with her intense defensive pressure and composure. Mentor is no stranger to the big stage having won two premierships with the Lightning credit to her ball winning attributes, netball smarts and dynamic footwork to get to the ball cleanly and contest. She is a key player for the Magpies with her ability to cause confusion in the defensive circle and pick off passes as she pleases, making her a huge threat for opposition teams going into the finals.

SSN Round 14 Preview – Final round to determine minor premier

THE final round of 2019 has hit Suncorp Super Netball, with both Collingwood Magpies and GIANTS Netball still fighting for one spot in the top four while the title of minor premiers will be decided by this round’s results. The only position secured in the top four is the Melbourne Vixens in third, while all three of their fellow top four sides will take on teams far below them on the ladder.

GIANTS Netball v. West Coast Fever

The opening match of Round 13 will see GIANTS fight for their spot in finals, currently sitting in fourth but needing a big win to ensure they finish ahead of the Magpies on the ladder. The Fever are well and truly out of the finals race after a breakout season last year crumbling with injuries aplenty in 2019, once again missing Courtney Bruce this round after scans revealed a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) meaning she is unable to fly, let alone play. While the GIANTS’ physicality on court has been called into question in recent weeks, their ability to get the job done under pressure is credit to their connections and combination of experience and youth across the court. Amy Parmenter has starred this season in wing defence, adding a new element to the GIANTS’ defensive lineup while Kim Green will play her final home game – and potentially final game altogether – after announcing her retirement today. While goalers Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett had a shaky start to the season there is no questioning their ability to turn and shoot, while Kiera Austin continues to provide an exciting alternative rotating through both goal attack and wing attack. For the Fever, Olivia Lewis is another youngster coming through the ranks with adaptability and talent to boot, and while lacking experience Lewis has been a solid option in Bruce’s absence this season pairing with the likes of Stacey Francis and Shannon Eagland. Ingrid Colyer has had a mostly inconsistent season and was held well by Firebirds’ Gabi Simpson last round so will be under the pump against Parmenter.

NSW Swifts v. Queensland Firebirds

In a big switch compared to the last time these sides met, the Swifts come in to Round 14 after a loss last week while the Firebirds finally got their maiden win for the season against the Fever. With NSW looking for a home final, this match will also see the Swifts look toward a top spot finish after being bumped into second by the Lightning. Last time these sides met the Swifts came out 22 point victors despite captain Maddy Proud going down with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. They will welcome back dominant shooter Helen Housby after missing the past two rounds with injury. While both Sophie Garbin and Nat Haythornthwaite have rotated through goal attack in recent weeks with relative success, it does mean more pressure is on Sam Wallace at the post. The big goal for the Swifts will be to stop Gretel Tippett, who has been arguably the best goal attack in the competition this season with accuracy, volume and excitement going in her favour. Katrina Rore has been a big in for the Swifts in recent weeks with her versatility key, meaning she could line up against Tippett if the scales start to tip, making for an interesting contest. Meanwhile, this will be the Firebirds’ final match for the season with Caitlyn Nevins and Laura Clemesha pulling on the purple dress for the final time before retirement. Romelda Aiken did not play last time the Firebirds took on the Swifts, meaning Sarah Klau will be under some pressure to keep her at bay while Lenize Potgieter can also provide a big threat at the post with her low-release shot and quick footwork.

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Adelaide Thunderbirds

Sunshine Coast may already know prior to their match whether they have secured the minor premiership, however they are sure to finish the season strong regardless after another impressive season. Lightning are still the only side that has not played in a draw this season showing their ability to close out games. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds have showed some impressive fight this year but have well and truly succumbed to injury with Sasha Glasgow and Emma Ryde both out of the side with knee injuries suffered in Round 13, adding on to their already extensive list. While the Thunderbirds put up an impressive performance last time they met, going down by six goals after leading at three quarter time, the Lightning came back from a 10 goal deficit last week against the Vixens to win and are sure to switch on early this match to ensure they get a win on the board. The real question in this match is who the Thunderbirds will bring in as injury replacements, with both Charlee Hodges and Cody Lange viable options to rejoin the gameday squad. Maria Folau has been in form all season shooting a bag of goals every round from all over the ring while Shamera Sterling continues to prove a massive threat in defence with her height and agility to get plenty of ball back an asset for the Thunderbirds. But while the T’birds have plenty up their sleeve, Lightning not only match it defensively thanks to the skill and timing of Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni creating turnovers out of nothing, but also have Laura Langman‘s speed through the midcourt and versatility in attack to be threatening all over the court.

Collingwood Magpies v. Melbourne Vixens

The final match of the season pits the two Victorian teams against the other once more, but this time with different stakes – the Vixens have already secured a home final, while the Magpies need a win to jump the GIANTS and make finals. While the Vixens will want to get one back after losing to the Pies for the first time in SSN history in Round 7, it will be interesting to see whether they look to try and knock the Magpies out of contention or rest some of their big name players in time for finals. The Magpies will be missing Kelsey Browne with their star wing attack going down with a devastating ACL injury last round against the Swifts. Defensive midcourter Ash Brazill has been in exceptional form since the Netball World Cup break, playing out in centre for the past few weeks and providing a massive threat through both attack and defence. Veteran defender Geva Mentor put out a vintage performance last week to spur the Pies to victory, meaning the Vixens will really be under the pump this week if she is on song. The Vixens have been feeling out different attacking connections in recent weeks with Mwai Kumwenda back in the mix with Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, and while that is a huge luxury and threat to their opposition it has been their downfall against both the Swifts and Lightning over the past few rounds. Meanwhile Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst have been in great form over the past few rounds, finding the ball with ease making it a tough job for Jo Weston and Emily Mannix in defence.

SSN: Round 12 preview – Finals-defining round awaits

WITH finals spots on the line, Round 12 of Suncorp Super Netball is shaping up to be a huge weekend filled with plenty of intense match-ups and milestones. Nat Medhurst will equal the record of 232 national league games played currently held by Susan Pettitt while Tegan Philip is set to notch up 1000 Super Netball goals.

GIANTS v. Sunshine Coast Lightning

The Lightning have barely put a foot wrong all season and will be hoping to build on their momentum again this round against the GIANTS. The last time these two sides met the Sunshine Coast showcased their netball prowess, exploiting the GIANTS’ attacking end and running out 11 goal victors. The GIANTS’combination in the goal circle has well and truly developed between Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett with the two proving to be a lethal duo under the post. Kiera Austin has displayed her versatility switching between wing attack and goal attack providing dynamic movement and clever ball placement while Jamie-Lee Price has been crucial through the midcourt for the GIANTS making for an intriguing battle between the two sides. The Lightning will be wanting to stamp their authority on the game and snatch top spot from the NSW Swifts with the likes of Karla Pretorius and Laura Langman steering the ship. There are a plethora of options in attack with Cara Koenen having a breakout few games with her accuracy to post, silky movement and strong holds while both Peace Proscovia and Steph Wood have showcased that they can stand up under pressure and perform.

NSW Swifts v. Melbourne Vixens

The Swifts will be wanting to get back on the winners list after going down by two goals to the Sunshine Coast Lighting last round. Although they were without goal attack and play maker Helen Housby the Swifts showed great intent and drive making for an exciting Round 12 match-up against old foes Melbourne Vixens this round. The Vixens have found good form of late credit to their strong connections down court and explosive speed. Both teams play a very similar game style, treasuring possession and using their ball placement to exploit their opponents making for a close match. Unfortunately, the Swifts have been struck by injury with Kate Eddy and Maddy Proud both set to miss the rest of the season however the inclusion of Katrina Rore has paid dividends with the Silver Fern renowned for her defensive pressure and strong drive through the midcourt. The Vixens are spoilt for choice in attack with Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip both in career best form while Mwai Kumwenda has shown that she can be an impact player on return from an ACL injury suffered in June 2018. Both Thwaites and Philip have been instrumental in the goal circle with the two able to turn and shoot from anywhere. creating a hot contest for Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner.

Queensland Firebirds v. Adelaide Thunderbirds

In a battle of the birds Queensland will be hoping they can register their first win of the season in what is likely their best opportunity to do so. The Firebirds only sit four points behind Adelaide on the ladder despite not having won a game all season, showcasing their ability to score quickly and accurately making them an ominous threat for the Thunderbirds. In their last encounter the Thunderbirds just scraped over the line by three goals, making for a hot contest this round. The connection between Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett could cause real headaches given their aerial skill, attacking flair and physicality while Lenize Potgieter is also a deadly option under the post. After a week of heavy umpire scrutiny, youngster Kim Jenner will be hoping to stay away from the whistle while applying her trademark defensive pressure and strong intent. The T’birds will be hoping Shamera Sterling continues her break out season, currently leading all comers in intercepts, deflections and rebounds to nullify the influence of Aiken under the post. Without Layla Guscoth Adelaide have been forced to make changes in the goal defence position with Kate Shimmin and Shadine Van Der Merwe both getting a run, making for an interesting match-up on the in form Tippett. Emma Ryde has been a handy inclusion pairing well with Maria Folau while Sasha Glasgow has showcased her versatility switching between goal attack and shooter.

West Coast Fever v. Collingwood Magpies

After a surprising draw last round the Magpies will be seeking vengeance against West Coast Fever. There will be plenty of feeling involved in the game with Medhurst returning for the first time since her departure at the end of last season and playing in a milestone match for the entire competition. Collingwood have struggled away from home this season but with a potential finals chance on the line they will be wanting to pull out all the stops and keep their dreams alive. Ash Brazill has been a revelation in centre over the past few weeks using her strong drives and aerial ability to spur the Magpies on while Geva Mentor has been a rock down back winning back plenty of ball. For the Fever, bookends Jhaniele Fowler and Courtney Bruce are the real barometers of the side. Fowler has showcased time and time again that she has the skill to score quickly and accurately credit to her strong holds while Alice Teague-Neeld will have to lift her load in the goal circle if the Fever are to get on top of Collingwood. Youngster Beryl Friday provides plenty of excitement and potential for the Fever while Ingrid Colyer and Verity Charles will have their work cut out for them against the likes of Brazill, Kim Ravaillionand Kelsey Browne. After a shaky week under the post Shimona Nelson will want to put the critics to bed and post a hefty total to regain her confidence.

SSN Midseason review: NSW Swifts

THE NSW Swifts have staked their claim on the competition with a hot start to the season. Boasting a solid line-up they have proved that hard work and doing the little things well can win you games time and time again.

Ladder: 1st
Win-loss: 7-1-1
Percentage: 118.62%
Bonus points: 27

Overview:

The Swifts have taken the competition by storm with their dynamic movement and traditional style of netball with Briony Akle playing a huge role as coach in helping the team come together and become a formidable side. They impressed right from the get go only dropping one game to the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 4 and drawing with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Overall they have put out impressive performances to claim dominant wins against the Magpies, Firebirds and Fever.

Surprises:

The NSW Swifts have surprised many throughout the season going from strength to strength penetrating the circle edge with ease to feed into the shooters. Their sheer connection down the court and ability to flick the ball around the court with precision makes them near on impossible to stop. Goal shooter, Sam Wallace upped the ante this season leading the way in the scoring end with her composed nature and combination with Helen Housby proving hard to stop. Midcourt player Paige Hadley has had a stellar start to the season and played an influential role in helping to propel the Swifts up the ladder this season given her drive and delivery into the circle. Another player riding high for the Swifts is Sarah Klau who has dominated down back with her read of the flight and connection with fellow defenders allowing her to pick off passes and then shoot the ball back down the court.

Improvements:

With captain Maddy Proud gone for the rest of the season it will be a challenge to find a replacement that plays a similar role. Though the Swifts have England international Natalie Haythornthwaite on the bench she offers a very different game style to that of the injured captain. The versatile wing attack is a very different mover compared to Proud but she uses her strength and vision to cause damage in the attacking third.

Expectations:

If the Swifts are able to maintain their composure and treasure the ball across the court they will be hard to stop and could easily take out their first Suncorp Super Netball title.

Thunderbirds and Swifts draw even

ROUND 9 saw yet another draw with the Adelaide Thunderbirds and NSW Swifts unable to be split with 51 goals apiece. After a week full of controversy, Maria Folau had the opportunity to steal the win with a shot after the siren but the ball fell agonisingly short hitting the rim and bouncing out.

It was a hot start from the Thunderbirds with Sasha Glasgow and Folau on song early. Glasgow’s confidence was up and about slotting long bombs from just inside the circle mirroring that of her shooting counterpart. The attack end was firing on all cylinders with the young goaler showcasing her hot hand nailing six goals straight while experienced wing attack Chelsea Pitman commanded the ball and dictated the space in the attacking third. She worked overtime to hit the circle edge with precision and deliver ball into the shooters accumulating seven goal assists from 11 feeds. Up the other end for the Thunderbirds, Shamera Sterling was having a day out. Her go-go gadget arms and ability to cleanly contest from behind was second to none picking up four gains and three intercepts while her general netball smarts to get into the right positions at the right time put her in good stead to win the ball back for Adelaide. The Swifts had a shaky start making uncharacteristic errors with 10 turnovers in the opening term. Sam Wallace got the nod once again at goal shooter but she did not last the whole 15 minutes coming off at the 13-minute mark with a suspected knee injury but made her presence felt with five goals from seven attempts before Sophie Garbin pulled on the goal shooter bib. Defensively both Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner did a wealth of work, getting hands to ball and confusing the space with four gains and three deflections collectively but the Thunderbirds showed great patience with to work the ball around the circle edge.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds headed into the break up by five but the second quarter brought a whole new level of intensity with the Swifts working hard in transition to win the ball and capitalise on turnover opportunities. Wing attack Elle Bennetts lifted her intensity in attack driving hard and taking the ball with strength. Though at times she faded into the pockets her quick release and good vision allowed her to feed easily into Garbin who found good space under the post sinking 11 goals straight. Without Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley shouldered a lot of the load in attack running hard through the midcourt to provide an option and deliver into the circle with the centre amassing four feeds. She also showcased her defensive abilities and clever footwork to pick up two gains and two intercepts. Even though the attack end kicked into gear, Sterling still posed a dominant threat collecting another three intercepts and four gains showcasing her impressive read of the play and attacking intent. Through the midcourt Tania Obst made a change bringing Kelly Altmann on to replace Hannah Petty who did a wealth of work early on but was getting lost on transition.

The half time break served the Swifts well winning their first bonus point for the game. Looking for a spark in attack and more drive Hadley moved into wing attack while Sophie Halpin made her way onto the court in centre. She injected speed and dynamism both in attack and defence working hard across the court to re-offer and apply hands over pressure. The move also brought goal attack Helen Housby into the game after a relatively quiet first half. The English international nailed seven goals from eight attempts while her body positioning under the ring was impressive getting a clever rebound to edge them closer. But the Thunderbirds did not back down with Glasgow and Folau swapping positions but still showing their dominance to post.

With the game on the line the NSW Swifts proved that they have what it takes, wrestling back the lead and pushing out to four goals. The connections down court all seemed to click in to gear with Kate Eddy applying strong defensive pressure picking up an intercept to help surge the Swifts forward. Although both Shadine Van de Merwe and Layla Guscoth struggled to make an impact on the game they did their job to tag their opposition out of the game and block their space in the attacking third. Youngster Charlee Hodges was injected into the game in the opening few minutes of the quarter sweeping across the circle and drawing the attention of the defender. She found the net with ease slotting two goals but was costly with ball in hand with two turnovers and quickly made her way back to the bench. The Thunderbirds rallied in the final minutes of the quarter to draw it back and with a shot after the whistle Folau was unable to capitalise marking the fifth draw of the season.

STARTING LINE-UPS:

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS | Sasha Glasgow
GA | Maria Folau
WA | Chelsea Pitman
C | Hannah Petty
WD | Shadine Van de Merwe
GD | Layla Guscoth
GK | Shamera Sterling

NSW Swifts:

GS | Sam Wallace
GA | Helen Housby
WA | Elle Bennetts
C | Paige Hadley
WD | Kate Eddy
GD | Maddy Turner
GK | Sarah Klau

SSN: Round 9 preview – Final round before World Cup break

ROUND 9 of Suncorp Super Netball sees the end of the first half of the season as the league pauses for July’s Netball World Cup. The Fever are surely looking for redemption after the Lightning dealt them a 25 goal thumping in the 2018 Grand Final rematch back in Round 2, while this is the last chance for bottom of the table Firebirds to get a win on the board before the break.

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. West Coast Fever

It is the battle of the coasts once more, and the Fever are sure to come out firing this time around after conceding 80 goals to the Lightning last time they met. Though both sides come into this contest with wins under their belt last week, Lightning will be brimming with confidence after beating the Magpies by a 23 goal margin. Fever come in once again with a question mark over their heads after an apparent knee twinge to Jhaniele Fowler in Round 8. While Fowler played out the match, her movement seemed depleted as she favoured her unstrapped knee. That being said, the Lightning have Courtney Bruce to worry about this time around, with her experience and physical nature likely to put doubt in the minds of Lightning shooters, Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia. The new-look Fever defensive unit could be a big plus, with Shannon Eagland in goal defence and Stacey Francis holding strong in wing defence, but the lack of injection of Jess Anstiss defensively may hurt the side given Laura Langman and Laura Scherian are continuing to dominate across the court week in week out. But, if Anstiss were to line up on Langman, we could have a real battle on our hands given the pair have a similar defensive style across the court.

GIANTS Netball v. Melbourne Vixens

The Vixens have had a rocky few weeks but stepped up in the second half last round against the Firebirds to prove they deserve their spot in the top four. Meanwhile the GIANTS have been chasing for the better half of the season before finally jumping the Magpies last round on percentage. Last time they saw the Vixens came out on top by 16 goals in Kim Green’s 200th national league game, but while the Vixens have been strong in recent weeks, the GIANTS have found some really good form and combinations. Jo Weston’s Round 2 performance on Jo Harten was one of her best all season and the goal defence will be hoping to apply a similar amount of pressure to cancel Harten out of the game once again, especially given the improved pairing of Harten and Caitlin Bassett. Liz Watson will be put under the ringer against the likes of Amy Parmenter, who is in fine form and continues to shine despite coming up against some big names on court. The midcourt battle between Kate Moloney and Jamie-Lee Price will be one to watch, with both wing defenders-turn-centre able to create turnover ball out of nothing and still be a strong presence in other aspects of their game. With stalwart players bookending the court, look for another tight contest this week as the GIANTS fight to keep their season alive ahead of the break.

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. NSW Swifts

Last time these teams met, the Swifts well and truly dominated against the Thunderbirds with an 18 goal win proving they were the real deal in 2019. Since then the Swifts have continued their form, fighting hard for a win last week against an intense GIANTS outfit and without captain, Maddy Proud. They have all but proven their ability to put on strong team performances regardless of their combinations on court. The Thunderbirds have been an unknown quantity this season, scraping two wins from eight rounds but putting some impressive performances up over the past few weeks, challenging the Lightning in Round 7 and only going down by one against the Fever last week. While the Thunderbirds have shown some great improvement, the Swifts’ consistency and connection is likely to get them over the line once again this week, while Elle Bennetts will hope to get the start in wing attack with Paige Hadley in centre after playing out three quarters over the weekend. For the Thunderbirds, Maria Folau has hit her straps in recent weeks, dominating around the goal circle with her distinctive long bomb shot, meaning the likes of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner cannot rely on keeping Folau at the circle edge. Meanwhile, the defensive unit of Shamera Sterling and Layla Guscoth continues to impress, while the injection of Shadine Van Der Merwe has done wonders through the midcourt.

Collingwood Magpies v. Queensland Firebirds

If there is any round where the Firebirds need to get their first win for 2019 on the board, it is this week before the World Cup break. The Magpies come into this round off the back of a massive loss to the Lightning. With this match marking the final round to prove themselves against the winless Firebirds the Magpies will be hoping that the home crowd will spur them onto another victory. Last time these two sides met we saw the first draw of 2019 in the ultimate tale of two halves, with neither team able to be split at the final siren. Interestingly, this was when the Firebirds were still at what was considered ‘full strength’, with both Romelda Aiken and Mahalia Cassidy in the side. While the new combination in goals of Gretel Tippett and Lenize Potgieter has been fantastic since Potgieter’s inception in Round 6, the lack of connection and consistency through attack has proven to be a problem, especially against rock hard defence. For the Magpies, their defensive unit is one of the most settled with Geva Mentor holding ground in goal keeper, giving April Brandley and Ash Brazill plenty of room to cause chaos. Though the pairing of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe has done wonders in defence for the Firebirds, the volume of penalties the young players collect will need to go down this week to prevent Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst from putting goals on the board.