THERE is no denying that Victoria has been home to some A-class talent throughout the years. Prior to the inception of both the ANZ Championship and Suncorp Super Netball, the Commonwealth Bank Trophy existed in which both the Melbourne Kestrels and Phoenix were a dominant force. But as netball developed the two Melbourne teams amalgamated to form the Vixens. We take a look back at the talent to grace each team and create an all-star team.
GK: Amy Steel
GD: Rebecca Bulley
WD: Julie Corletto
C: Shelley O’Donnell
WA: Madi Browne
GA: Ashlee Howard
GS: Caitlin Thwaites
BENCH: Cynna Kydd, Chelsey Tregear, Janine Ilitch
Starting in the goal circle it is hard to go past the likes of Australian Diamond and current Melbourne Vixens goaler, Caitlin Thwaites. The rangy goal shooter can score from just about anywhere in the goal circle and has accuracy to boot. Her strength on the take and positioning under the post makes her a challenging prospect for any defender. In at goal attack is Ashlee Howard with the goal attack acknowledged for her timing and accuracy to post.
There was no shortage of options through the midcourt given the amount of talent that worked its way through the Kestrels doors. Starting at wing attack is speedster Madi Browne. The talented midcourter is renowned for her pinpoint precision with ball in hand and attacking mentality, constantly looking to deliver the ball on a silver platter to her goalers. Centre, Shelley O’Donnell is another star to play for the Kestrels. She played a whopping 84 international caps for the Diamonds and was captain for the Kestrels while also making two comebacks her 10-year stint at the club. She was a key contributor with ball in hand able to drive the attacking plays and create defensive pressure. The wing defence bib goes to Julie Corletto with the versatile defender able to clog up space and cause turnovers with her timely tips and speed.
Down in the defensive circle, retired GIANTS star Rebecca Bulley takes out the goal defence slot. Bulley is a workhorse on the court, not often known for doing the flashy things but instead recognised for her dogged style of defence and tagging abilities. She wears players down with her constant nagging and physicality while her pressure over the shot caused plenty of headaches. In at goal keeper is the forgotten about Amy Steel. Although goal defence is her preferred position the highly skilled defender showed plenty of versatility and tenacity, willing to hunt the ball and cause a turnover.
Unlucky not to get a start was goaler, Cynna Kydd who was applauded for her efforts under the post and accuracy. Former captain Chelsey Tregear also earned herself a spot on the bench along with defender Janine Ilitch.
GK: Bianca Chatfield
GD: Fiona Themann
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natasha Chokljat
WA: Wendy Jacobsen
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Eloise Southby
BENCH: Abby Sargent, Sarah Wall, Jo Curran
The Melbourne Phoenix were littered with stars throughout their history and the attacking third is a testament to that. Australian Diamonds duo Eloise Southby and Sharelle McMahon take out the positions under the post. Across her 132 games for the Kestrels, Southby was cool, calm and collected under the post able to hit the scoreboard effortlessly. Her connection with McMahon was effortless with the two able to rotate through the circle with ease and cause all sorts of confusion for opposition defence units. Out in goal attack, McMahon was a real playmaker able to set plays up, deliver the ball into Southby and most importantly back herself from range in the circle.
Through the midcourt vice-captain Wendy Jacobsen takes out the wing attack position. Jacobsen was a key cog through the centre court with her quick footwork, ability to drive into the space and quick delivery into the circle. Teammate Natasha Chokljat pulls on the centre bib in the Phoenix all-star team thanks to her impressive contributions across the court. Her ability to run both ways and have an influence while also controlling the tempo of the game made her an easy selection. It is no surprise that Renae Ingles takes out the wing defence position with the fancy footed centre court player making that position her own. Her strong hands over pressure, speed off the mark and ability to disrupt the attacking flow of the opposition made her a shoe in for the all-star team.
Moving down into the defensive unit in at goal defence is Fiona Themann. The highly skilled defender and Scottish Thistles representative took everything in her stride and used her lean over the shot to put doubt in the mind of the goalers. Her ability to swing around the body of her opponent and confuse the space allowed her to create turnovers and win ball back for her side. The final spot on the starting line-up goes to none other than Bianca Chatfield, with the defensive powerhouse and co-captain of the Phoenix a mastermind down back. Her skill to read the play and go out hunting for the intercept, intimidated plenty of shooters while her cleanliness also made her a daunting prospect.
On the bench is midcourter and slick ball user, Sarah Wall while versatile defender Jo Curran also earned herself a spot thanks to her defensive pressure and three-foot marking while Abby Sargent rounds out the all-star team.
Who would win?
While both teams boast some strong line-ups the Melbourne Phoenix seem to have the upper hand when it comes to the goal circle with both Southby and McMahon on their side. the shooting duo are arguably one of Australia’s most dominant combinations while they have a wealth of talent in the defence end. Although the Kestrels have some x-factor players across the court they lack that extra layer of class that the Phoenix squad seems to have given their international experience.