A HUGE second round of Suncorp Super Netball is set to take place over the weekend, with plenty of quality match-ups across all four games. With Round 3 following just two days later, expect a heap of rotations on court for all eight teams in a bid to rest players and ensure plenty of young guns take the court once more.
GIANTS Netball v. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Saturday, 8 August
The opening game of Round 2 is an enticing matchup between two sides that were beaten last week but ultimately were both in their contests for majority of their respective matches. Interestingly, while the Thunderbirds ended up losing by a hefty margin they still beat the GIANTS’ final score by a goal meaning this match could be a real close one given the shooting prowess of both sides.
For the GIANTS, consistency is key with the side standing up under pressure for patches last round and relying too much on the super shot to stay ahead of the Swifts. That being said, they have one of the most prolific long range goalers in the world in Jo Harten, so that will likely be their sticking place once more and inevitably a huge target for the Thunderbirds defence. However, the T’birds do not currently have a set goal defence who would really be able to match up against Harten for a significant period of time given the goaler’s endurance and height, meaning goal keeper Shamera Sterling will be under a heap of pressure trying to close off avenues to post for Caitlin Bassett and using her rangy arms to deflect circle ball where possible. At the other end, Lenize Potgieter is the staple out the front and consistent as can be, with an ability to evade defence and tally goals with ease and accuracy. With Kristiana Manu’a potentially out of the side this round after a calf niggle on Sunday, expect Sam Poolman to sit back on Potgieter and the potential of both Tilly McDonell and April Brandley to make an appearance out the front.
The midcourt battle is set to be a tough one, with both teams boasting a mix of experience and youth. An interesting battle is set to see Chelsea Pitman and Amy Parmenter go head to head, while Hannah Petty should get the start against Jamie-Lee Price but Maisie Nankivell had a solid outing last round so could add an extra defensive element to the play. With firepower in different areas of the court and plenty of players who stand up best under pressure, expect a tough and fairly even contest this time around between two teams hungry for a win.
Queensland Firebirds v. Melbourne Vixens
Saturday, 8 August
A huge match-up between the Firebirds and Vixens is next up on the weekend, with neither side putting out their best performance last round though the Vixens got a win on the board where the Firebirds could not compete for the full four quarters. That being said, the Firebirds’ opening half last round was stellar, proving they can certainly match it with the best, and the Vixens cannot afford to not let the Firebirds start the same way this round.
Vixens co-captains Liz Watson and Kate Moloney are the key cogs through the middle of the court and with two physical matchups in Gabi Simpson and Mahalia Cassidy to look forward to, expect both sides to start with a bang and get the early upper hand. Simpson had a huge match last round but faded out in the second half, and is well-matched with Watson which could see the pair go toe-to-toe and limit the easy access into the goal circle. Moloney’s ability to transition between attack and defence is seamless while Cassidy’s hunt and hunger for the ball was made evident last round on her return from injury. Defensively, the combination between Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe grows with every match and as two of the most outstanding young defenders in the country expect the duo to apply a heap of pressure on the Vixens’ goaling trio in Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, with the goalers rendered inaccurate – by their standards – last round.
Turning to the Firebirds goal circle, Romelda Aiken is a huge target at the post and based off last round’s starting seven the Vixens could force a Jamaican stand-off in the circle with Kadie-Ann Dehaney lining up against her compatriot. Lara Dunkley and Kate Eddy will be a huge match-up, with the duo both able to apply a heap of pressure, while Jo Weston will likely get the start on youngster Tippah Dwan who will look to replicate her debut performance, though the versatility in the new-look Vixens defence could see some major changes between wing and goal defence, with Weston and Eddy both able to ply their trade with ease in either position. The Vixens’ endurance game could be both the winning or losing point in this one, and if the Firebirds get far enough ahead early they could have a real chance of getting on top to limit the Vixens’ ability to work their way back.
Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Collingwood Magpies
Sunday, 9 August
Another interesting match-up, with a very new-look Collingwood outfit taking on the highly experience and consistent Sunshine Coast Lightning. While the Magpies did not get the win last week, they came out with a fire in the belly and were with the Vixens for majority of the match, and now know what to look for in the Lightning firepower. The Lightning had a shoddy start last round but ended up coming away with the biggest win of the round, meaning the Magpies will need to put out a full four quarter effort to ensure the Lightning do not get away from them this round.
Looking to match-ups, Steph Wood and Jodi-Ann Ward will likely be the one to watch, with both players putting on a show last round with their respective work rate and ability to lift where required. Wood’s long bomb accuracy will be the kicker, and if Ward can limit her opportunities to go to post the Magpies have a real chance here with the experience of Geva Mentor holding up in goal keeper ready for the rebound. At the other end of the court, expect a new-look circle from the Magpies with Shimona Nelson expected back at the post this week with her ability to leap for the loose ball and put up shots with ease. A flurry of Magpies goalers had an impact lat round with Emma Ryde, Gabby Sinclair and Nyah Allen all plying their trade to post though their youth gave the Vixens an opening out the front, so the Magpies attack will need to ensure they do not rely on just Nelson at the post this round.
Defensively, the Lightning have one of the most influential defensive units in Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius, with the duo critical if they are to go two wins on the trot. Through the midcourt, the battle between Madi Browne and Laura Langman will be huge with both players workhorses through the centre while Kelsey Browne will hope to continue working back to full court time with her feeding ability second to none and Laura Scherian a hugely consistent name out the front for the Lightning.
NSW Swifts v. West Coast Fever
Sunday, 9 August
The final match of the round will see the reigning premiers take on a fast finishing Fever outfit, with the Fever of 2020 thus far looking a lot like their 2018 side. The Swifts reintroduced Maddy Proud last round but missed Maddy Turner down back, and still managed to get a win on the board proving they are well and truly able to put up a fight against this Fever unit despite missing a critical defensive link. The only match between two winning teams from last round, a win here is crucial.
Lauren Moore burst out of the gates last round with her explosiveness and ability to impact the contest, meaning the goal defence could be crucial locking down Alice Teague-Neeld, whose all-round performance out the front last round put her in the spotlight. Sarah Klau will get the tough job on Jhaniele Fowler, while up the other end Courtney Bruce and Sam Wallace will go head to head in an intriguing battle given the duo are both very adaptable players. Helen Housby had a quiet match last round and fellow England Rose Stacey Francis will hope to take advantage of that with her niggling defence style. The injection of Sunday Aryang into the circle worked wonders last round so could take the court once more, while Jess Anstiss also had a strong outing last round so will be on the case against the rotating duo of Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite in wing attack.
While the Fever play a very physical game, the Swifts for the most part play a clean and ball-treasuring game, using their consistent hands over pressure to limit vision and space down the court, and evading defence with a constantly moving circle. The Fever rely a lot on Fowler, so will need to ensure Teague-Neeld steps up once more if they are to get a win and draw attention away from the tall timber.