Tag: nat medhurst

2020 SSN: Season preview – Collingwood Magpies

AFTER an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season is set to commence on August 1. Draft Central takes a look at each team, with Collingwood Magpies up next on the list. 

Coach: Rob Wright
Captain: Geva Mentor and Madi Browne
2019 finish: 4th

The Magpies had a strange 2019 season, racking up seven wins and two draws. The side found plenty of purchase through the middle of the season and had a stellar patch to finish, making the finals thanks to a magnificent win against the Vixens in the last round, before then falling to the Vixens in the first round of finals. Overall, the Magpies were a force to be reckoned with thanks to their ability to pull out unsuspecting wins but also lost a couple of matches with a lack of consistency and connection down the court and a couple of major injuries putting their season in doubt. With Madi Browne ruled out prior to the season beginning and Kelsey Browne bookending with the same injury towards the end of the season, the side was interrupted but their good patches were better than most and proved that they could make just about any combination work if they were on. Shimona Nelson impressed upon her move to Melbourne, while Nat Medhurst was a crucial cog in attack, playing almost a dual role in and around the goal circle thanks to her wealth of experience to hold up the circle at times.

2020 predictions/expectations:

Collingwood have an entirely new-look team in 2020, with three crucial players in Medhurst, April Brandley and Kim Ravaillion ruled out with pregnancy and midcourt star Ash Brazill out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury acquired in February. But while the side has lost a wealth of experience, they have brought in some quality talent to replace them with Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward joining the defensive fray to bolster ranks with Geva Mentor and Matilda Garrett, while Gabby Sinclair and Mel Bragg return to the team for a second season, with Bragg elevated to be a permanent player in 2020. Molly Jovic and Julia Woolley also join the fray for the first time, with the duo both snatched up to provide another option in attack and Woolley an interesting selection to join the goal circle given her lack of experience in the elite pathways. The team will need to ensure its connections are on point if they are to challenge some of the top teams in 2020, especially given the new two goal Super Shot with some inexperienced players in the midst.

Key player to watch:

Nelson had a breakout season last year, increasing her volume and accuracy across the season and will have to do the same in 2020 given the loss of Medhurst in attack. While Medhurst did a wealth of work to get the ball to Nelson in 2019, plying her trade and helping the young goaler develop her craft, Nelson will be the go-to girl this season  but could really lack that backup goaler stepping up that she relied on to generate ball, meaning the Magpies could be in a lot of trouble if she cannot get easy access to the ball under the post. With an impressive aerial ability and accuracy, plus her ability to put pressure on the scoreboard and she will be a real player to watch this season. Her development was second to none last season but will need to step up once again this year as the experienced player at the post, and will want to continue her development to ensure she brings her strong hands from the get-go to be a consistent threat at the post.

Team list:

Madi Browne
Kelsey Browne
Geva Mentor
Gabby Sinclair
Matilda Garrett
Mel Bragg
Jodi-Ann Ward
Shimona Nelson
Julia Woolley
Molly Jovic
Kelly Altmann

Is Australian netball moving too far from the regular game?

WITH the introduction of the two goal Super Shot to the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) for season 2020, we delve into the rule changes in the SSN in recent seasons. While some rules have less impact than others, there is plenty to unpack when it comes to why fans and players alike are so frustrated with the changes to netball in Australia.

Starting with ultimately the most controversial and unpopular rule to-date, the two goal Super Shot. Its introduction has thrown a huge spanner in the works for clubs, coaches, players and fans alike six weeks out of from the beginning of the season. Already a contentious announcement, players were blindsided by the rule change, not consulted prior to the announcement on Tuesday and leaving many up in arms and confused by the decision to go ahead with the major rule change. 

With fan engagement one of the most important factors in Super Netball’s success, the league’s deliberate decision to go ahead with the rule change regardless of the unpopularity as shown in an earlier survey conducted by SSN itself, has alienated many fans and could see many turn away from the competition because of it. With a lot of netball fans real traditionalists in the way the game is played, a massive change like this will leave a lot of fans wondering whether they will continue to financially support a league that continues to move further and further away from the typical netball game.

In a media release issued by the Australian Netball Players’ Association (ANPA) on Wednesday, ANPA President and former Diamonds representative Nat Medhurst said that the lack of communication from the Suncorp Super Netball is not good enough, while New Zealand Silver Ferns coach, Noeline Taurua also disagreed with the significant change in rules.

“For a decision of this significance to be made and announced without any engagement with the players, just six weeks out from the start of the season, is extremely disappointing and disrespectful,” Medhurst said.

“The players believe this initiative has been handled poorly, not for the first time, and it cannot happen again. We have written to the SSN Commission to seek their formal assurance on that.”

Another decision made ahead of the season’s start is the introduction of rolling substitutions, though the difference here is that the announcement was made far in advance and off the back of testing in the Australian Netball League (ANL) in 2019. A huge change to the way the sport is played, rolling subs could be a massive game-changer in the Super Netball given it will be an entirely new aspect to the sport that many have not yet seen in action and may not be entirely happy about. With so much changing at once, there is potential for the 2020 version of Suncorp Super Netball to look like an entirely different sport – which then brings us to the next rule change over the past seasons, the tactical timeout rule.

An adaptation over recent years that many have noticed impacts away from the Super Netball competition, the tactical timeout rule allows teams to call two tactical timeouts per quarter, typically adding up to eight timeouts with coach guidance per match. But on the international stage those same rules do not apply, meaning players do not have the same access to coaches and changes to game plans, limiting communication between players to those within the same areas of the court. 

While this example is not as significant as something like the Super Shot, questions can be asked of how the lack of tactical timeouts on the international stage actually benefits teams other than Australia, with the entire Diamonds cohort unused to going full steam for the full quarter without that extra guidance. This is not to call the professionalism or skill of the players into question because realistically these are talented athletes who can buckle down to get the job done, but instead bring up an aspect of how it can have a negative impact on the game, especially when having to swap and change between competitions with different rules.

One of the only decisions that has not significantly changed Australian netball is the introduction of bonus points per quarter won during a match. Where the aforementioned rules can arguably change games for the worse and have a negative impact on Australia’s performance at an international level, this is one of the changes that can actually boost the Diamonds’ chances of success. 

After two seasons with bonus points, many players are now well and truly used to kicking their game up to the next gear to ensure they win that bonus point and climb up the ladder or deny their opposition a chance at full points per round. But this change arguably does not have a bad impact on the nation’s potential internationally which is what makes it one of those rules that does not fundamentally change the game, instead just a point of difference for the competition compared to other domestic leagues.

Where rules such as the bonus points for winning quarters could actually be a booster to Australia’s chances internationally, huge changes like Super Shots and rolling subs could seriously hurt Australia on the world stage. While Super Netball players are professional enough to not need to rely on double goals or constant substitutions to win games, the further that Australia’s domestic netball moves away from the traditional game so do the Diamonds, having to constantly readjust to different rules.

For such a major adaptation to the game to be made with little to no communication to clubs, players and coaches – less than two hours notice of the announcement, in fact – is a real slap in the face with just six weeks left before the season starts. Factor in the need to now add a new element to team strategies that have already had to adapt to the rolling subs rule, and teams have very little time to prepare for a competition that will look very different to past Super Netball seasons. 

Who will improve the most in 2020?

WITH Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) set to commence on August 1, we take a look at a couple of teams that might rise up the ladder this season after struggling in 2019. The delayed start to the season has gifted some clubs with valuable time when it comes to potentially regaining injured stars and working on connections with new recruits.

Queensland Firebirds:

Unfortunately, last year was not the Firebirds’ year, struggling to win games and play their normal game flamboyant game style, but hopefully 2020 will be a different story. With the likes of dynamic midcourter Lara Dunkley joining the ranks and Spar Proteas goaler Ine-Mari Venter also in the fold, Queensland have more versatility in the squad, giving them more options when things don’t go to plan on court. The Firebirds have a core group of a-list players such as captain Gabi Simpson in wing defence while powerhouse shooting duo Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta headline the attacking third. But it is the combinations around them that many can expect to flourish this season with the likes of defensive partners Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe. The young defenders have come along in leaps and bounds already and entering their third season together, could be what sees them win more games. They are strong in the air and apply a wealth of defensive pressure both over the shot and in the third itself, often out hunting for ball. If they can maintain a high level of intensity throughout the matches and stimulate some drive out of defence it will go a long way in pushing the Firebirds to further success this season.

West Coast Fever:

After the highs of 2018, the Fever’s 2019 campaign was a little disappointing, unable to replicate that same intensity and strangle-hold over other teams in the competition. The loss of Nat Medhurst was substantial but with the likes of Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld in the mix for a second season, the Fever will be hoping to find a spark. While Stanton is known more for her goal shooter tendencies her ability to rotate into goal attack was solid, but at times lacked that play-making ability. On the other hand, Teague-Neeld struggled to find consistency in her game play and put up shots ultimately putting pressure on the Fever frontend. While there is no denying that Jhaniele Fowler is the go-to-girl, West Coast will be hoping to have ironed out their attacking issues and come back stronger than ever this season. With extra time to work on their connections in the goal circle the varying styles could be beneficial to the Fever and give them that edge to recapture their dominance.

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

After showing some promise early last season the Thunderbirds were hit with injuries that slightly derailed their season, but will be looking to build on their foundations in 2020. Experienced Roses defender, Layla Guscoth missed the second half of the season but given the extended break could make a comeback this season and have an impact. Her experience down back, pressure over the shot and tagging style of play will pay dividends and add that extra layer of class to the T’birds defensive unit. Her connection with Shamera Sterling, Kate Shimmin and Shadine van der Merwe could cause headaches for opposition attackers. While shooting sensation, Sasha Glasgow sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury late last season, the recruitment of Lenize Potgieter will hopefully fill that hole. The South African goaler is accurate to post, quick on her feet and can hold her own in the goal circle but if Glasgow was to return she could offer another option under the post whether it be goal attack or goal shooter. With more time to develop their connections both in defence and through the midcourt the Thunderbirds will be hoping to use that defensive pressure to bring the ball down court and create attacking forays.

Top 20 players over 30: #12 Nat Medhurst

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Although she is currently on a netball hiatus with pregnancy, Nat Medhurst comes in at number 12 on the countdown.

The Collingwood Magpies goaler elevated her game again last year with her effortless movement across the court and sheer netball smarts constantly on display. Her on-court leadership and ability to control the front end made her an integral member in the Magpies side, able to direct traffic and control the flow of the game. Although she is not renowned for her high volume of shots it is her play making ability that sets her apart from fellow goal attacks able to see the play two steps ahead of the next. The 36-year-old has an uncanny ability to drop into space when needed and can sense the moment to stand up under pressure. Her floating style of play across the court is varied with her hard drives into the circle to beat the defender and gain prime position under the post, which in turn keeps the opposition on their toes.

She is not afraid to take on the contest relying on her quick footwork to out manoeuvre and outsmart her opponent while her quick hands leave many in awe. There is no denying that the fast footed Medhurst has gotten better with age, darting around the court easily and exploiting every little bit of space there is to offer. There is nothing more poetic than seeing Medhurst’s baseline drives in full swing, able to burst through the circle and receive the ball. She is renowned for her impressive balance and spatial awareness able to step on to one foot and do a full 360 to assess her options and off-load the pass.

Her delivery into the circle is second to none, able to release that high ball into the likes of current shooting partner Shimona Nelson, and former teammates Jhaniele Fowler and Caitlin Bassett with ease. Her connection with the likes of Kelsey Browne, Kimiora Poi and Kim Ravaillion started to blossom towards the tail end of the season with the midcourters able to read Medhurst’s movement and play accordingly.

When she is on there is almost no stopping Medhurst who has proven that she has the calibre to explode and cause all sorts of headaches for defenders, whether it be with her play making capabilities or skill to go to post. Medhurst has a lovely high release shot that makes it hard for defenders to stop and while she does not contribute a large amount to the scoreboard it is her presence that makes her a commanding figure in the goal circle.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

Top 15 SSN training partners: #1 Emma Ryde

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 15 training partners stepping up to the Suncorp Super Netball plate in 2020. This countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development. Coming in at number one is none other than Collingwood Magpies goaler Emma Ryde, a dominant performer who has been unlucky to not receive a consistent contract at Suncorp Super Netball level.

Named the 2019 Australian Netball League (ANL) MVP, Ryde was crucial in the Victorian Fury outfit as a holding goaler, able to use her body cleanly to attract the defender and use the space to get hands to ball. With clean hands, accuracy and height to match, there is no denying the impact Ryde has when she takes the court. The 22-year-old made a fantastic return to netball in 2019 after taking time off for injury, using her netball smarts to take her game to a new level and ultimately playing at each level last year. At 197cm, Ryde can be a real target at the post with her ability to take on the contest, and with a strong work ethic and tactical mindset she can be a threat taking on any opposition. 

Coming up through the Victorian netball pathways, Ryde was snatched up by the Adelaide Thunderbirds as an injury replacement player in 2019, picking up a few domestic caps along the way although injury cut her time short. Playing four matches for the ailing Thunderbirds, Ryde shot 66 goals at 93 per cent accuracy, well and truly making herself known to the league as a handy option who can jump on court and have an impact. Ryde has also trained and played with Melbourne Vixens in the past, gaining valuable experience and court time and making for an impressive resume despite not taking the court consistently in the Super Netball.

Season 2020 sees Ryde join forces with Collingwood Magpies as a training partner, returning to Victoria once more and with the opportunity to learn from crafty veteran Nat Medhurst and Jamaican young gun Shimona Nelson, among a smattering of young Magpies stars coming up through the pathways. Still young and with plenty of potential, Ryde has plenty left in the tank and will hope to prove herself on the Super Netball stage once more in 2020.

Read our 2019 feature with Emma Ryde here.

TOP 15 SSN TRAINING PARTNERS SO FAR:

#15 Ashlee Unie (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
#14 Ruby Barkmeyer (Melbourne Vixens)
#13 Tippah Dwan (Queensland Firebirds)
#12 Matisse Letherbarrow (GIANTS Netball)
#11 Chelsea Blackman (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#10 Sunday Aryang (West Coast Fever)
#9 Latika Tombs (GIANTS Netball)
#8 Sharni Lambden (Collingwood Magpies)
#7 Jacqui Newton (Melbourne Vixens)
#6 Allie Smith (Melbourne Vixens)
#5 Elle Bennetts (GIANTS Netball)
#4 Brooke Allan (Magpies Netball)
#3 Tayla Fraser (NSW Swifts)
#2 Beth Cobden (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
#1 Emma Ryde (Collingwood Magpies)

Players that got away: Chelsea Pitman

THERE are a number of netballers in the world that have pulled on the international dress for more than one country throughout the career. With netball on hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Draft Central has decided to take a look at those players and their international careers and what could have been. Next up is former Australian Diamond and current England Roses wing attack Chelsea Pitman.

It is fair to say that Pitman has had the best of both worlds and tasted her fair share of success with both Australia and England. The fancy footed midcourter burst onto the scene in 2011 with the Queensland Firebirds where she really made a name for herself with her composure and on-court brilliance. In fact, her impact was so profound in her first year at the Firebirds that she quickly caught the eye of the Australian Diamonds selectors. At the ripe age of 21, Pitman made her debut for the Diamonds and did not look back, seamlessly transitioning onto the international stage with great skill and movement. That year, she was also apart of the winning gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games.

Her ability to thread the needle and deliver the ball with pin-point accuracy into the goal circle made her near on impossible to stop. Her vision and connection into the likes of Nat Medhurst, Catherine Cox and Caitlin Bassett was simply undeniable and helped to push the Diamonds to victory. Although she is not the fastest player on court it is her understanding, spatial awareness and variety of passes that sets her apart from others.

But after spending times in the Australian Diamonds ranks, Pitman decided to jump ship and join the England Roses, something she was eligible to do thanks to her Yorkshire-born father. Pitman debuted for the Roses in 2017 and quickly became an integral member in their starting seven with her dynamic footwork and leadership.

Her experience both at an international and domestic level paid dividends for the Roses who were clearly building into becoming a powerhouse team. The classy wing attack, tasted her first lot of Roses success in 2018 on the Gold Coast after downing Australia by one goal in an epic gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games. Although they did not claim gold in the World Cup, Pitman also played a vital role in getting her side to challenge for bronze. Her ability to find Jo Harten, Helen Housby and Rachel Dunn under the post plus her strong connection with gut-running centre Serena Guthrie only makes her a more commanding presence for the Roses. She is reliable around the circle edge and works hard to tussle for prime feeding position.

Renowned for her skill out in wing attack, Pitman is quite versatile able to rotate into that goal attack position as shown at both an international and domestic level such as the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Since swapping countries, Pitman has played 38 caps in the red and white to go with her 15 for Australia. The New South Wales born talent has continued to elevate her game using her netball smarts to full effect.

Netball fantasy teams: West Coast Fever All-Stars v. Adelaide Thunderbirds All-Stars

THE West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds have a highly decorated history with both clubs boasting a long line of a-class players since their inception. Draft Central has comprised two All-Star teams filled with past and present players.

West Coast Fever:

GK: Courtney Bruce
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
WD: Ash Brazill
C: Shae Brown
WA: Madi Browne
GA: Nat Medhurst
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Jhaniele Fowler, Stacey Marinkovich, Ama Agbeze

Although they have not tasted a lot of success throughout their time in both the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball, the West Coast Fever has been home to a wealth of highly talented netballers both from an Australian and international perspective. When it comes to the goal circle the Fever have been littered with stars none bigger than Australian Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett. The towering goal shooter really made a name for herself under the post for the Fever with her strong holds, lanky arms and volume. Her connection with teammate and fellow former Diamond Nat Medhurst was near on unstoppable. Medhurst was the real playmaker inside the attacking third with her impressive balance, vision and ability to think two steps ahead of her opponents. While she did not put up a high amount of goals it was her off the ball work that made her such a damaging player.

Moving into wing attack is Madi Browne. The speedy centre court player oozes strength and excellent ball handling skills to deliver the ball with precision to the goalers. Shae Brown was a key contributor for the Fever, spending almost ten years at the club using her energiser bunny speed to dart around the court and cause havoc. The centre proved that she could run all day and was not afraid to put in the hard yards taking the strong drive to the top of the goal circle. It is no surprise that wing defence come centre Ash Brazill gets the start in the All-Star Fever team given her sheer athleticism, speed off the mark and ability to make something out of nothing. Brazill quickly developed into one of the most influential players with her defensive pressure constantly on show and desperation to attack the ball.

Down in defence is England Roses goal defence Eboni Usoro-Brown who is renowned for her body on body pressure, physicality under the post and ability to pick off intercepts. She is light on her feet and uses her long arms to cause confusion for the feeders looking into the circle. Current captain and Diamonds keeper, Courtney Bruce takes out the goal keeper position thanks to her tenacity and impressive leap. She does not take a backwards step on the court, consistently looking to take on the physical tussle and use her quick footwork to get around the body of her opponents and force tips and turnovers.

Rounding out the team is Jamaican shooting powerhouse Jhaniele Fowler along with former England Roses captain Ama Agbeze, while coach and former midcourter Stacey Marinkovich also earned herself a spot on the All-Star team.

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GK: Sharni Layton
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natalie Bode (nee von Bertouch)
WA: Chelsea Pitman
GA: Erin Bell
GS: Maria Folau

BENCH: Carla Borrego, Maddy Proud, Rebecca Bulley

Over the years the Adelaide Thunderbirds have added to their trophy cabinet and experienced their fair share of success. With that success has come some highly talented players filtering through the club such as former Australian goal keeper Sharni Layton. She was one of the most dynamic and physical defenders in the game, renowned for her constant niggle and innate ability to go screaming out for an intercept. Her constant movement, hands over pressure and sheer pressure was a focal point of her game much like her defensive counterpart Mo’onia Gerrard. The goal defence was strong both in the air and at ground level, hustling for every ball that came her way and not giving her opponent an inch. Gerrard used her speed off the mark to force turnovers and apply pressure.

In at wing defence is none other than Renae Ingles. Arguably one of the most profound and impactful wing defences in the competition Ingles was the heart and soul of the Thunderbirds for many years, thanks to her on-court leadership and netball nous. Her go-get it attitude, long reaching arms and innate ability to sense the moment and make something special happen was second to none. Another former captain in Natalie Bode takes out the centre position with the dynamic midcourter able to run all day and ply her trade across the court. Her precision ball placement, strength around the goal circle and impressive vision made her hard to stop when on song. While in wing attack is England Roses and current Thunderbirds co-captain Chelsea Pitman. She is a smooth mover, that boasts plenty of class with ball in hand and a high level of execution.

The goal circle is full of long bomb specialists with yet another former T’birds captain and Australian Diamonds shooter, Erin Bell taking out the goal attack position. Her high release sky-scraper shots, silky movement across the court and cool, calm temperament was a key reason to their success. She was not afraid to back herself from range and showcased her spatial awareness every time she was on court. While she only spent one season with the Thunderbirds, Maria Folau had an undeniable impact in the goal circle with the long bomb specialist well and truly living up to her name. Her effortless shooting action and accuracy to post proved to be the key for the Thunderbirds throughout the 2019 season.

On the bench and unlucky not to get a start is defender Rebecca Bulley, renowned for her tagging style of play, while former basketballer Carla Borrego and fan favourite Maddy Proud both also got the call up.

Who would win?

Although the Adelaide Thunderbirds have won more premierships than the West Coast Fever throughout history, it is hard to go past the quality talent on the list. The Fever probably have the upper hand when it comes to goalers with the likes of Fowler, Medhurst and Bassett all at their disposal. Defensively both teams are stacked but the scales tilt towards the Fever given their extra depth.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the West and South?
West Coast Fever
Adelaide Thunderbirds
Created with Poll Maker

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

Memorable matches: Silver Ferns defeat Diamonds in double extra-time – 2010 Commonwealth Games

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal match in Delhi, India, which saw the 100th test match between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns finish in magnificent fashion. For many Australian netball fans, this week’s memorable match is one that would be better left forgotten, with a devastating result for the Diamonds but the ultimate victory for the Ferns.

The two sides were unable to be split from the early stages and though Australia seemed to have the momentum, New Zealand never let up in their tough approach and whittled down the margin bit by bit to keep the Diamonds on their toes. With scores locked at 47 apiece at the end of regular time and the Diamonds fighting from seven goals down in the final term, the match would go on to be one of the longest ever official matches coming to 84 minutes in double extra-time.

Defensively the Aussies were on fire early, with Mo’onia Gerrard leading from the front, collecting loose ball left, right and centre, while Susan Fuhrmann stayed back in the goal circle keeping a crucial eye on Irene van Dyk. But while van Dyk was kept quiet, only shooting the 25 goals, Maria Folau had something to prove, providing that crucial long-range shot to shoot up a storm from anywhere in the circle. Folau finished the match with a whopping 41 goals from 50 attempts, well and truly dominating at the post with her silky movement and ability to not just finish plays, but also create them.

For the Diamonds, captain Sharelle McMahon had a stellar start credit to her cleanliness with ball in hand and quick footwork, aided by Lauren Nourse and Nat Medhurst out in goal attack, with the goaling duo influential against the Ferns’ defensive unit which had a slow start. But as it goes with the likes of Casey Kopua and Katrina Rore, they can never be discredited with the work they do off the ball, working their way into the game and proving to be a massive defensive threat to the Diamonds at the post on every opportunity later in the game to close the margin.

Through the midcourt, Renae Ingles was on fire in the first half blocking Temepara Bailey at every turn and using her hands over pressure and bodywork to force errors which the Diamonds took advantage of, seeing a combined eight crucial deflections from Gerrard and Fuhrmann. New Zealand centre Laura Langman was her usual workhorse self, constantly there to apply pressure on Natalie Bode in centre and create that run down the middle of the court.  The change through the midcourt in the second half had an immediate impact, with Anna Scarlett and Liana Leota replacing Joline Henry and Bailey respectively.

While Australia was ahead for majority of the early stages of the match, New Zealand flipped the switch in the third to lead at three quarter time, leading 35-33 after the major switch up to the midcourt unit saw the Diamonds fade away as tiredness began to set in. Cath Cox and Kim Green entered the court in the final term to have an immediate impact, pairing well with McMahon who topscored for the Diamonds with 30 goals at 88 per cent accuracy. The trio’s ability to move through the space was second to none, while Cox and McMahon’s experience together and respective ability to split and evade their opposition saw the unit play out the rest of the match – almost 25 more minutes than a regular game. 

Painful to watch for so many as the clock wound down in the second half of overtime, Australia had its chances to collect the win but the Ferns were just relentless in their pursuit for their second Commonwealth gold, denying Cox a goal to win the match and daring to go into double extra time, with the clock essentially stopped until one team was two goals ahead.

With the overall game time edging over 80 minutes and the two sides still going goal for goal, a final shot from Folau saw the Ferns take out the game with a crucial -and her specialty – long-range shot that rang true to finish in the most dramatic of fashions, ending with the ultimate celebration for the Ferns and devastation for the Aussies, 66-64. The gold medal match came to a head to be one of the greatest matches in recent history between the Trans-Tasman rivals.

AUSTRALIA 10 | 13 | 10 | 14 (47)
Extra time: 6 | 5 (58) | 6 (64)

NEW ZEALAND 9 | 11 | 15 | 12 (47)
Extra time: 5 | 6 (58) | 8 (66)

STARTING SEVEN

Australia
GS: Sharelle McMahon
GA: Nat Medhurst
WA: Lauren Nourse
C: Natalie Bode
WD: Renae Ingles
GD: Mo’onia Gerrard
GK: Susan Fuhrmann

BENCH: Cath Cox, Kim Green, Bec Bulley, Laura Geitz, Susan Pettitt
COACH: Norma Plummer

New Zealand
GS: Irene van Dyk
GA: Maria Folau
WA: Temepara Bailey
C: Laura Langman
WD: Joline Henry
GD: Casey Kopua
GK: Katrina Rore

BENCH: Anna Scarlett, Liana Leota (Nee Barrett-Chase), Leana de Bruin, Grace Rasmussen
COACH: Ruth Aitken

SHOOTING STATS

Australia:
Cath Cox 20/26
Sharelle McMahon 30/34
Nat Medhurst 14/18

New Zealand:
Maria Folau 41/50
Irene van Dyk 25/29

What if… Kelsey and Madi Browne did not do their ACLs?

LAST season was shaping up to be the year of the Magpies in the Suncorp Super Netball after recruiting a wealth of A-list players. Fresh off back-to-back premierships, Lightning duo Geva Mentor and Kelsey Browne joined the black and white, while former Australian Diamond and West Coast Fever star Nat Medhurst was also among some of the key signings for the club. In the first pre-season tournament, Collingwood reigned supreme taking out the inaugural Team Girls Cup thanks to their slick ball movement, defensive strength and speed. But unfortunately, the tournament was marred by injury with co-captain Madi Browne succumbing to what was later revealed as a season ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Often criticised for having too many highly talented midcourters with both Madi and Kelsey Browne, along with Kim Ravaillion and Ash Brazill the Magpies were at a crossroads. Although it was hard to replace the co-captain on court, they made do with the skilled list they had shuffling players around and later bringing in the likes of Silver Ferns dynamite Kimiora Poi. But the injuries did not stop there with Kelsey Browne also rupturing her ACL in August that season, all but putting a dampener on their 2019 grand final hopes.

So what if Kelsey and Madi Browne did not do their ACL in season 2019? Would Collingwood have progressed into the next stage of finals?

It is fair to say that both Kelsey and Madi Browne are the heart and soul of the club often providing that spark both on and off the court with their flashy style of play and excitement. With Madi going down before the season officially started it put a clear strain on the Collingwood line-up with the side struggling to find their rhythm in attack. The classy wing attack oozes experience and is strong around the circle edge, something that the Magpies lacked at times. Her ability to move into centre and have an influence also allowed Collingwood to shake-up their midcourt and keep opponents on their toes, something they would have been hoping to have up their sleeve throughout the season. With new connections in the goal circle thanks to recruits Medhurst and Shimona Nelson it took some time for the feeders to adjust to their varying styles meaning the experience and presence of Madi Browne was sorely missed in the early stages. Although they have similar styles the speed of Kelsey Browne is what made her such an integral player for the Magpies, able to dart around the court and exploit even the tiniest spaces. She delivered the ball with confidence and precision a skill that would have been highly valued heading into the finals.

Towards the backend of the season the Magpies seemed to find some strong form trouncing crosstown rivals Melbourne Vixens by 11 goals in the final game of the home and away season to walk into finals. But when it came to D-Day Collingwood was all out of options missing the depth on the bench and reliability of both Browne sisters. There were changeups across the court with wing defence come centre Brazill announcing herself as a real powerhouse with her athleticism and endurance and while she along with Poi and Ravaillion worked gallantly it was clear that there was a piece missing in the jigsaw puzzle. Gabby Sinclair often found herself out in wing attack to provide another option out the front while training partner Kelsie Rainbow was elevated to add to the midcourt stocks.

Given the fact that both Kelsey and Madi Browne offer such unique talent, speed and netball understanding an assumption could be made that Collingwood could have gone one further if not all the way had they not been affected by injury from the very beginning of the season.