CLOSE games and super shots dominated the final round of the home and away season as the Melbourne Vixens, Sunshine Coast Lightning, West Coast Fever and NSW Swifts all confirmed their top four positions. Some stellar performances from the bottom four teams caught the top four sides off-guard while uncertainty clouds a couple of key netball figures as Round 14 came to a close.
Season high super shot record
The New South Wales derby turned into a super shot shootout as both sides combined for a season high 37 super shots, 23 coming off the hands of the GIANTS, Jo Harten in particular. The England Roses goaler was not afraid to put up the long bomb and it paid off in spades, with the goal shooter single-handedly dragging her side back into the contest in the final term with five straight. A new concept to Suncorp Super Netball in 2020, the super shot well and truly dictated this clash as close range shooters in Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin looked to score from far out to create a hefty buffer. Wallace was the main beneficiary from the super shot for the Swifts sinking six from nine attempts while Harten recorded an impressive 10 equating to 20 points. Kiera Austin was no slouch either for the GIANTS registering seven for her efforts in what was a long bomb showdown.
Geva Mentor continues to get better with age
In what was a trying season for Collingwood, hit with injuries to Kelsey Browne and subsequent retirements in the form of Nat Medhurst and Madi Browne, one thing stayed the same and that was the dominance of Geva Mentor. The goal keeper led from the back in their clash against Queensland Firebirds with the 36-year-old contesting every single pass and making life hard for the in-form Romelda Aiken. Mentor dictated the flow down back for the Magpies with her long arms and ball tracking skills stopping the free-flowing movement for the girls in purple. The goal keeper finished with four intercepts, eight deflections (two resulting in gains) and two rebounds in what was a stellar performance. Her leadership was paramount to setting the tone for Jodi-Ann Ward, Matilda Garrett and Melissa Bragg with the latter two combining for six gains between them and while they did not get the win proved they have the basis of a damaging defence for 2021.
Where to next for Chelsea Pitman?
Playing her last game in the Adelaide Thunderbirds dress, it is fair to say that Chelsea Pitman still has plenty to give with the wing attack gliding across the court and delivering bullet passes into Lenize Potgieter and Georgie Horjus. The wing attack oozed composure, netball nous and class to settle the Thunderbirds attacking third and provide that 1-2 punch. Her work rate was phenomenal, so much so she finished with player of the match honours thanks to her 17 goal assists and 18 centre pass receives. The England Roses midcourter still has plenty of netball left in her, as shown by her Round 14 performance prompting the question of where she will go next.
Goal shooters dominate
There is no denying that Jhaniele Fowler is arguably in career best form with the West Coast Fever goal shooter tearing sides apart with her incredibly high volume and accuracy to post and Round 14 was no different. Up against compatriot Shamera Sterling, Fowler still found a way to dominate on the scoreboard nailing 54 goals from 58 attempts at 90 per cent. The next closest in terms of volume was Aiken with the Firebirds shooter leading the way under the post with 47 goals from 52 attempts. Shimona Nelson also starred in at goal shooter for the Magpies tallying 42 goals with her only miss coming at the 12 minute mark in the final term, highlighting her incredible accuracy to post. Another goal shooter that starred was Melbourne Vixens’ Mwai Kumwenda. The Malawian impressed with her aerial ability, split on the take and high volume as she contributed 42 goals from 43 attempts to the Vixens’ winning score.
Versatility is key for the top four sides
With plenty of fatigued bodies taking the court, all eight sides showcased the importance of throwing the bibs around in order to find that winning combo. Returning from injury Liz Watson only took the court for a half allowing the likes of Elle McDonald to step onto the court while wing defence Allie Smith got some valuable minutes up the other end. The Lightning also chopped and changed their line-up as Peace Proscovia rotated into goal shooter while Binnian Hunt registered court time albeit out in wing attack. Defensively for the Fever Sunday Aryang, Olivia Lewis, Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis swapped the bibs around and while they did not get the win proved they have plenty of viable options. As for in the shooting circle the Fever did not skip a beat changing Alice Teague-Neeld and Kaylia Stanton. NSW Swifts continued their motto of hard and fast changes through the midcourt as Tayla Fraser, Paige Hadley, Maddy Proud, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Sophie Craig and Lauren Moore all spent time in either wing attack, centre or wing defence.