ROUND 12 sees some big match-ups as clubs look to keep their finals hopes alive with the Thunderbirds, GIANTS and Firebirds all teetering on the edge of a finals berth with four wins apiece. West Coast will be out to leapfrog their opponents and steal second spot on the ladder as the Vixens hope to hold onto top spot.
West Coast Fever v. NSW Swifts
Saturday, 12 August
The Fever will be on a high heading into their clash with the reigning premiers after trouncing their Round 11 opponents by 20 goals. Meanwhile the Swifts will be hoping to work their way back onto the winners list and find some continuity in what has been an up and down season.
Jhaniele Fowler is an unstoppable force under the post, consistently recording ridiculously high numbers however the work out the front from Alice Teague-Neeld has enabled the goal shooter to recapture elements of her 2018 form. The chopping and changing in defence for the Swifts in the way of Lauren Moore and Maddy Turner is something to keep an eye on as they look to offset Teague-Neeld or potentially help Sarah Klau by doubling back on the Jamaican shooter.
The Swifts are gifted with a multitude of options through the midcourt with Paige Hadley, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Maddy Proud and Tayla Fraser all handy choices and have proven they can come on and have an impact. With no Ingrid Colyer, Emma Cosh has well and truly stepped up to the plate and is getting better and better with more court time while Verity Charles is arguably in career-best form in centre. When it comes to the shooting circle the Swifts have lacked a bit of cohesion with Sam Wallace, Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin all labouring and clumping together which will play into the hands of the Fever defence as Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis are master-readers of the play. Even if Bruce and Francis are not up to the challenge, Sunday Aryang has been a revelation this season while Olivia Lewis has shown she is no slouch down back.
Collingwood Magpies v. Melbourne Vixens
Saturday, 12 August
Having not played each other since Round 1, a lot has changed with the Magpies losing a couple of integral members through the midcourt in Madi and Kelsey Browne while the Vixens have really kicked into gear. The Vixens hold a firm grip on top spot while the Magpies languish down the bottom of the table, however that will not stop either side from putting on a show given their crosstown rivalry.
There is no denying that the combination between Mwai Kumwenda and Caitlin Thwaites has developed at a rate of knots in 2020 with the two effortlessly pairing in the goal circle while the injection of Tegan Philip’s speed can slice a game right open. Geva Mentor has been a consistent factor for Collingwood down back as Jodi-Ann Ward powers through in goal defence out the front. The Magpies will be hoping to find an answer in the form of Mel Bragg to shut down Liz Watson with the wing attack in hot form and often setting up the attacking forays for the Vixens. Partner in crime Kate Moloney is another player Collingwood will hope to contain given her explosiveness and ability to break a game wide open, meaning the responsibility will land on either Kelly Altmann or Molly Jovic to quell her influence through the middle.
Shimona Nelson has had a rocky 2020 season, often fading in and out of games which is an area she will be hoping to rectify while Gabby Sinclair has proven more than once she is up to the challenge especially when it comes to the super shot. Emma Ryde has also been a good impact player for the Pies however the Vixens have an extremely cohesive defensive unit, even if Emily Mannix is missing, with Simone McKinnis able to shuffle the cards between Kate Eddy, Jo Weston, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Allie Smith.
Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Queensland Firebirds
Sunday, 13 August
The Lightning have struggled to generate their usual dominance this season and are coming off another heavy loss at the hands of the Fever. On the other hand, the Firebirds have found their groove and confidence making for an intriguing battle between the two Queensland sides.
With a new sense of confidence in the goal circle Romelda Aiken has elevated her game in 2020, holding strong under the post and dominating the airwaves allowing Tippah Dwan to be a menace out the front. Dwan has proven she is no slouch consistently tearing games apart with her two point shooting, something the Lightning defenders will have to be acutely aware of if they are to stop the Firebirds in their tracks. Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni are no easy beats, however Maweni gives away close to 10 centimetres meaning it will take a full court defensive effort from the likes of Laura Langman and the rotating wing defence’s Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell if they are to stop the ball from getting down to the inform shooter.
The Firebirds have a wealth of midcourt options and have proven they are not afraid to use the bench with Macy Gardner, Mahalia Cassidy, Lara Dunkley and Jemma Mi Mi all viable options through the centre. The Lightning on the other end tend to stick to a consistent line-up with the most changes coming in the shooting circle between Cara Koenen, Steph Wood and Peace Proscovia. Koenen has really come into her own this season however the hesitancy on the release into her under the post could play into the hands of the ball hungry Firebirds defensive unit in Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe. Pair that with their physical nature and it could upset the Lightning in attack while Gabi Simpson’s work off the ball will be integral in nullifying the impact of Laura Scherian around circle edge to limit the Lightnings’ chance of scoring.
Adelaide Thunderbirds v. GIANTS Netball
Sunday, 13 August
The final game of the round sees an intense battle between two sides hoping to keep their finals hopes alive. Adelaide and the GIANTS are evenly poised across the court and sitting just outside the top four know just how much a win means if they are to cause headaches come the pointy end of the season.
There is no denying that Georgie Horjus has been a revelation in season 2020 with her ability to sink super shots often keeping her side in touch while the connection between her and Lenize Potgieter continuously gets better. The ball placement and movement from Chelsea Pitman and Maisie Nankivell is crucial to the Thunderbirds meaning it will be up to the midcourt duo of Amy Parmenter – if she returns after missing Round 11 – and Jamie-Lee Price to shut down her drive in attack. However Kristiana Manu’a proved she is also a viable option out in wing defence if needed given the defensive capability of Matilda McDonell, Sam Poolman and April Brandley, all able to rotate through circle defence.
Shamera Sterling is a menace in the air, able to consistently win ball back for her side while Layla Guscoth, Shadine van der Merwe and Kate Shimmin are dogged in defence making for an exciting battle between the rotating GIANTS shooting trio of Kiera Austin, Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett, with the latter hoping to secure some regular court time.