Tag: netball results

Fever snatch one-goal victory against a charging Collingwood outfit

WITH dominant shooters at either end of the court, it was the West Coast Fever that prevailed against Collingwood Magpies in the dying seconds by one-goal (63-62). Leading for most of the game, West Coast showed composure despite Collingwood winning three out of the four quarters, to take the Fever’s win tally to three.

Kickstarting the action with the centre pass, Collingwood looked to capitalise early, however Olivia Lewis was determined to assert herself after getting the nod at goal keeper with a big intercept in the opening seconds of the quarter to set the tone for the Fever. But moments later her heroics were answered by none other than Collingwood co-captain Geva Mentor who forced the ball to trickle over the baseline. Quick transition play from the Pies saw the ball go streaming back down the court and land into the hands of Shimona Nelson  who quickly delivered. It was goal for goal for much of the opening five minutes as both sides scored off their centre pass and treasured possession. But the tables started to turn as Fever snuck out to a two-goal lead thanks to Stacey Francis hunting down loose ball in the Magpies attack.

Speedster Kelsey Browne started to find a wealth of space and depth on the pass to release the ball into Nelson under the post as the Pies looked to get back into the contest. The experience and smarts of Mentor were on full display with the goal keeper holding her ground in the goal circle and showcasing her impressive lean to offset the towering Jamaican momentarily. However the Fever steadily pushed out to a four-goal lead as they worked in overdrive to cover every move in attack for the Pies and clog up the space. Lewis continued to make life hard for Collingwood owning the front position and getting hands to ball to stop the Magpies in their tracks and then send the ball back into attack for the Fever. With the five minute mark approaching the end of the quarter Collingwood made a wealth of changes with Madi Browne entering the game and using her speed to set the court alight. But the Fever were unfazed as Fowler put up the first super shot of the game and extended the margin to 11 goals at quarter time.

A couple of costly turnovers from the Pies allowed the Fever to make the most of their chances and apply some scoreboard pressure to maintain the momentum of the game. But with the game slipping away Collingwood kicked into gear applying full court pressure and forcing the Fever to call a timeout after scoring five goals to two in the first couple of minutes of the term. Collingwood cut the lead down to seven goals and looked more confident in defence with Mentor making the most of the front position and winning ball back for the side while Matilda Garrett used her height and foot speed to nullify the influence of goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld. The increased Collingwood defensive pressure seemed to force somewhat of a disconnect between Fowler and Teague-Neeld with a couple of balls flying over the baseline. Up the other end the steadying influence of the Browne sisters worked wonders with the two showcasing their speed and dynamic movement able to consistently deliver ball into Nelson.

But the Fever did not lie down pushing the lead back out to seven goals as the Fever settled into the quarter with Ingrid Colyer hitting the circle edge with precision. With Collingwood sensing a change in momentum they called a timeout and once again went on a mini goal spree nailing three straight. Defensively the Fever looked to the bench as Sunday Aryang came onto the court and injected some speed and drive through the midcourt. It turned into a super shot shootout with Teague-Neeld and Sinclair plying their trade in the goal circle, going blow for blow while Garrett impressed with her hands over pressure.

The Fever had not won a third quarter so far this season and did not look like winning one as Collingwood burst out of the blocks throwing everything they had at the Fever to win the term 18 goals to 14. A turnover from the centre pass allowed Collingwood to edge one back and build some serious momentum despite Fever captain Courtney Bruce entering the game in at goal keeper.  After spending some time on the bench Mel Bragg came out with a fire in the belly taking her feet to the ball and winning possession off the Fever centre pass to draw back within six goals. Nelson showcased her aerial presence and strength as Bruce struggled to get into the game drawing a lot of attention from the umpires. Gabby Sinclair found her rhythm under the post as Bruce and Francis covered Nelson in the goal circle.

The Pies were surging, showcasing their patience to work ball to circle edge while the Fever lacked their usual cut and drive as 100 gamer Verity Charles hit the bench and Kaylia Stanton replaced Teague-Neeld at the post. Collingwood got back to within three goals but the Fever were not about to give up as a missed shot off the hands of Nelson swung them into attack as Fowler capitalised at the post. Bruce started to find her feet in defence laying a huge rejection on Sinclair but the goal attack did not seem fazed as she backed up to sink the two point shot and  get back within three goals again. Despite Collingwood dictating the flow for most of the quarter the Fever still held the lead heading into the final change.

An early turnover from Fever prompted Collingwood into attack sinking two goals in a row to slice the margin to two goals. The black and white continued to increase their defensive pressure with both Jodi-Ann Ward and Mentor shutting down the space to cause the Fever. With 11 minutes left on the clock scores were tied as both sides went goal for goal before the Fever pulled away thanks to Bruce contesting in the air and winning possession and sparking her side into action. Collingwood were not done with yet as Ward forced a held ball call from Teague-Neeld and Madi Browne picked up a tip on circle edge to take the lead. The lead ebbed and flowed in the final quarter with neither side able to settle or gain any form of momentum but with seconds left a missed opportunity to sink a super shot saw Collingwood fall one-goal short.

It was a battle of Jamaican goal shooters as Fowler led the way for the Fever under the post with another impressive outing finishing with 53 goals to her name at 96 per cent accuracy, while Nelson was the key contributor for the Pies with 45 goals. Teague-Neeld was influential in attack for the Fever as she totalled 19 goals but struggled to deliver on the scoreboard. Sinclair was strong to post for Collingwood sinking nine goals with three of them super shots.

Madi Browne starred delivering the ball effortlessly into the Collingwood shooters with 14 goal assists and three gains. Bruce got hands to plenty of ball with two intercepts while the experience of Mentor up the other end paid dividends amassing four gains and seven deflections.

>>> MAGPIES TEAM PAGE

>>> FEVER TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL GAME STATS

Collingwood Magpies 11 | 18 | 18 | 15 (62)
West Coast Fever 21 | 16 | 14 | 12 (63)

STARTING SEVEN:

Collingwood Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Kelsey Browne
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Melissa Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

West Coast Fever:

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Alice Teague-Neeld
WA: Ingrid Colyer
C: Verity Charles
WD: Jess Anstiss
GD: Stacey Francis
GK: Olivia Lewis

Tactix secure ANZ Premiership Grand Final spot by defeating depleted Pulse

THE Mainland Tactix have defied the odds to earn themselves a spot in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final for the first time with a week to spare, after defeating Central Pulse – their opponents in the fortnight’s decider. Pulse rested two key starting players in Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maddy Gordon, due to illness and injury respectively, and this meant the Tactix were able to expose some holes in the usually clinical Pulse attack end. It was a low scoring game for both sides with plenty of intercepts as the defensive ends showed off their athleticism and skill. The Tactix will be pleased to come away with a 39-32 win and put themselves in a good position to take on the Pulse again in two weeks.

Tactix were looking strong from the outset coming off their confidence-boosting win against the Mystics. They have been consistently producing top-quality performances in recent rounds and seem to have peaked at the perfect time this season. The vision of Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen into the Tactix shooters was exceptional and they were also providing defensive backup when the ball was turned over. Long feeds and looking in early to Ellie Bird was preventing the Pulse defenders from setting up their structures and caught Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury off guard. The Pulse defence warmed into the game after the opening few minutes, with their tight marking forcing the Tactix to recycle the ball to the transverse line on many occasions. 

The Pulse were struggling to perform with their usual composure and uncharacteristically failed to convert most of their hard-earned turnovers. The Tactix raced out to an early 9-5 lead, however Pulse dug their heels in and started to build their connections. Tiana Metuarau was doing a good job at providing a link in the attack end, but slightly lacks the experience of Ekenasio, something which stands out against the likes of Silver Fern, Jane Watson. Temalisi Fakahokotau was putting Aliyah Dunn under immense defensive pressure and the Tactix managed to keep Pulse to a score of just seven by the first break. 

In the second quarter, the Tactix continued their good form defensively and were able to disrupt the Pulse, resulting in some missed shots from Dunn and Metuarau. Claire Kersten was doing a solid job in wing attack, with the youngster Renee Savai’inaea relishing her first start and a full game in centre. Both teams were turning the ball over more often than usual, and through some excellent aerial anticipation from Jury, the Pulse started to claw their way back into the game. They went on a four-goal run and started to put the Tactix under pressure. The game was lacking some of the finesse we expect to see from these top teams, but the Tactix managed to maintain their grip on the match and went into half time leading by 23 goals to 16. 

After half-time the Pulse came out of the blocks with renewed energy, spurred on by the handiwork of Karin Burger. Burger had racked up three deflections and one intercept and was proving to be a thorn in the side of Pedersen. The Tactix held their ground and the two sides battled for control in the quarter. The Southern side extended their lead to nine goals, but the Pulse fought back by finding their rhythm in attack, notching up three in a row to finish the quarter trailing by just five goals. 

Tactix came onto court for the fourth quarter with a glimpse of the final in their sights. Pulse were putting up a good fight but Tactix had momentum in their favour. Despite both sides showing small signs of fatigue they kept persevering and putting their bodies on the line. Charlotte Elley, in particular, was a workhorse, setting up defensive opportunities until the final whistle. With five minutes to go, the Tactix were up by five and the Pulse ran out of time to catch up. This was a laboured game in the final term for the Tactix, and there was a sense of relief when the final whistle blew. Despite a good effort from the Pulse, their shooting percentage was just 78 per cent, not up to their usual standard, and this ultimately cost them the game. Though the Tactix came away with the win in this Grand Final preview, Pulse were without two of their typical starting lineup will no doubt be ready to fight for the trophy in two weeks time.

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Mainland Tactix 13 | 10 | 7 | 9 (39)
Central Pulse 7 | 9 | 9 | 7 (32)

STARTING SEVEN:

TACTIX:

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Erikana Pedersen
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau

PULSE:

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Tiana Metuarau
WA: Claire Kersten
C: Renee Savai’inaea
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Kelly Jury

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Tactix defeat Mystics en route to finals

A SEASON defining matchup between the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix opened Sunday’s proceedings of ANZ Premiership action, with both teams fighting to the finish and the Tactix running away with a thrilling one-goal win (43-42). The Tactix extended their consecutive winning record, with the tally now at five on the trot as the side edges closer to a top two finish and finals berth.

A strong start from the Tactix proved the side was well and truly ready for a huge match, with a couple quick deflections forcing errors from the Mystics. Patience down the court was critical with Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick in an arm wrestle with Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit early, not forcing any ball into the circle, where the Mystics’ ball speed into the circle was the complete opposite. 

The Tactix extended an early lead, with cleanliness paying off for a 9-4 start, just over five minutes on the clock in the first term. Charlotte Elley was all over Peta Toeava, and while Toeava was able to free herself with her burst of speed, Elley’s take off and height was paying dividends to force Toeava away from the circle. But brilliant work and a splash of momentum proved the Mystics would not be shot out of the match early, with the lead closing to three goals – though the hunt of Temalisi Fakahokotau was just warming up. 

Bird continued her strong form, while Mystics’ Filda Vui got the start in at goal attack with her cleverness with ball in hand paying off at the other end and influential feeding the ball to Grace Nweke at the post. The mismatch in height between Nweke and Fakahokotau was evident though the goal keeper was doing a great job forcing Nweke to the front space rather than her preferred goal line, allowing Jane Watson to speed into the circle and attempt the block. While Watson did not manage a heap of that ball early, if Nweke couldn’t hold her ground and find the goal line the Tactix were well and truly in with a chance on that long ball into the circle. The Mystics’ comeback saw just a one goal lead at the first change, with Tactix leading 12-11 at quarter time.

Where the circles had much of the action early, through the midcourt was where a huge amount of the battle was fought with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi evenly matched and all but cancelling each other out on the drive. Selby-Rickit’s playmaking ability was huge, opening up a heap of space though her direct opposition in Mystics captain, Karaka was huge early with her drive down the court off the turnover and ability to create the loose ball. Karaka switched on with the home crowd behind her, with exceptional timing to flick the ball back onto the court from behind the post, seeing the Mystics take a two goal lead. Fitzpatrick did a lot of the backup work, partnering well with her hands over pressure.

Up the other end, a few handy rebounds from the Tactix saw a heap of turnover ball drive back down the other end, with Watson’s anticipation and timing on the leap paying dividends as the Tactix turned the tides to take back the lead. Emily Burgess took the court in wing defence for the Mystics to block some of Erikana Pedersen’s vision into the circle with the wing attack’s feeds vital for Selby-Rickit. Meanwhile, Saviour Tui joined the fray with her zippy movement and height adding a different element to the Mystics attack and take some attention off Nweke. Every player on the court was hunting for the turnover and pouncing on any loose ball, though it was the Tactix that headed into the second half with a three goal advantage, 24-21.

A tough second half commenced with no changed from either side to start, with the tough contest continuing and neither side letting off. The Tactix’ versatility through the midcourt continued to pay off, able to zone where required but the one-on-one defence huge too, confusing the space well. The rebound and tap from Fakahokotau and Watson was during once more, with the defensive duo impeccable on the timing to deny ball to Nweke. But the Mystics’ defensive pressure outside the circle was great to limit access to circle edge where the Tactix typically prefer to feed from, with Earle and Burgess’ ability to control the space hard to contend with and allowing Karaka and Fitzpatrick to go out hunting. 

Toeava’s pinpoint feeds continued to shine with Fakahokotau just missing the ball at times and the penalties racking up as the Mystics edged ever closer. Courtney Elliott joined the fray in wing defence with just under five left in the quarter, with the Mystics defender able to adapt well to the contest and her hunt limiting options in attack for the Tactix. That being said, the Tactix continued to fire and maintained the lead, despite the Mystics marching them goal for goal as the treasured Tactix ball limited chances for turnovers in attack. A turnover, resulting goal and next centre pass saw the Mystics close to just two goals once more with less than a minute on the clock, seeing the Tactix head into the final change 34-32 but the Mystics ready to fight to the very end. 

The Mystics’ three-goal run at the end of the third saw them take the first centre pass but the Tactix turned it over immediately to make the Mystics work for a win. The Mystics were still struggling to generate that turnover ball, and while defensively Fitzpatrick had a great intercept the attacking unit was failing to really have that significant defensive impact through the midcourt. The change was made defensively with under five minutes on the clock, with Elliott replacing Karaka in goal defence and Dani Gray back into wing defence. It failed to have a huge impact though, with the Tactix maintaining all the momentum and connections firing all the way down the court. The tightness of the contest saw cautions aplenty handed out in the final term, and while a huge last few minutes from Toeava saw the Mystics come close to victory, the Tactix had the final centre pass and kept the ball safe for a huge one goal victory, 43-42.

Nweke was huge as ever with 37 goals at 88 per cent accuracy, winning the battle against Fakahokotau who racked up just three gains – two deflections and on rebound – while Watson was clinical as ever (four gains from six deflections) limiting attempts from both Tui and Vui with the two goal attacks combining for five goals from nine attempts. At the other end, Bird finished with 30 goals at 91 per cent, while Selby-Rickit plied her trade out the front with 13 goals,13 assists and an intercept to her name – the only Tactix intercept for the match. Karaka was huge with three gains (two intercepts) while Fitzpatrick was quiet compared to her usual form. Toeava led the assists tally with 19 and an intercept, while Tactix’ Pedersen and player of the match, Poi racked up 13 and 15 apiece to go with Selby-Rickit’s haul.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Northern Mystics 12 | 9 | 11 | 10 (42)
Mainland Tactix 13 | 11 | 10 | 9 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Filda Vui
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Dani Gray
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

TACTIX

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Erikana Pedersen
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau

Lightning survive dominant Collingwood first half flourish

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning were eager to make it two from two in the Suncorp Super Netball competition, exposing the Magpies in the third quarter with their ball speed and defensive pressure to steal a four-goal win (51-47). With new faces across the court, the Magpies stunned the Lightning in the opening half with their accuracy to post and drive in the attacking third but the Lightning showcased their experience to work their way into the match and hold strong despite a final term push.

With Steph Wood a late out from the starting seven, the Lightning front line took a while to adjust with Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia struggling to find their mojo thanks to the immense defensive pressure from the Pies. Proscovia had the yips early, missing a couple of consecutive goals giving the Magpies a chance to settle into the game. Madi Browne had an immediate impact for the black and white with the wing attack delivering an impressive overhead long bomb into returning goaler Shimona Nelson under the post. Nelson did not seem to skip a beat from the first whistle with the goal shooter commanding the ball under the post and doing the heavy lifting to open up a strong lead for the Pies.

Collingwood continued to press with newcomer Jodi-Ann Ward asserting herself on the game with an early intercept shutting down the space in the defensive goal circle to make life hard for the Lightning goalers. Magpies showcased their confidence and speed to capitalise on the Lightning’s missed opportunities skipping out to a five goal lead with a tick under 10 minutes left in the quarter. But the class of the Lightning was not to be underestimated with the home team rallying in the backend of the quarter. A couple of missed opportunities from both sides saw the ball bubble up and down the court before the Lightning wrestled back momentum. With the super shot in play goals went astray with both sides unable to sink them from long range instead it was Nelson that steadied the ship under the post for the Pies to reclaim the lead albeit by one goal at quarter time.

Lightning levelled the scores in the first minute of the quarter but Collingwood were determined to keep their lead with Nelson delivering at the post moments later. A Geva Mentor inspired intercept gifted the Pies another chance to score to stretch the lead to a couple of goals while the introduction of Matilda Garrett paid dividends with the goal defence having an immediate impact with a strong rebound and drive down the court. The connection between Madi and Kelsey Browne impressed with the two rotating through the space with great ease and delivering with precision into the Nelson under the post.

Struggling to have their usual impact in the goal circle the Lightning looked to the bench with Binnian Hunt making her debut in goal attack. The shooter showcased her classy footwork and nice touch to set up plays while Ward re-entered the game for the Pies in wing defence. A couple of offensive penalties from the goalers allowed the ball to swing up and down the court again but the Pies seemed to maintain control throughout the game.

Gabby Sinclair impressed with her play making abilities out the front and drive into the goal circle but the Lightning were not about to give up gaining some momentum in attack with Laura Scherian hitting circle edge and delivering high ball into Koenen. Karla Pretorius came into her own in the final minutes of the term winning back ball thanks to her impressive ball tracking abilities and sticky hands. But the biggest shock of all came when Wood entered the game and while she did not sink the super shot provided a pep in her teammates step to reduce the deficit to three goals.

It was goal for goal in the first couple of minutes of the second half with both sides scoring off their centre pass. The Magpies attack end kicked into gear with Molly Jovic driving hard into the pocket and going toe to toe with Laura Langman before Sunshine Coast upped the ante to eat into the three-goal margin. They threw everything they had at the Magpies in both attack and defence with Phumza Maweni covering Nelson at the post. The momentum steadily shifted with the Lightning drawing level thanks to Wood and Langman driving the attacking unit and creating a wealth of space in the goal circle.

Kelly Altmann was key for the Pies with the centre taking a well-read intercept and proving that she is not afraid to throw her body on the line, contesting every ball that came her way. But it was not enough to nullify the Lightning who were cooking with gas opening up a strong lead. Sunshine Coast were patient in attack playing the ball around the circle edge to reverse the half time deficit and establish a three goal buffer themselves.

The experience of the Lightning came into play in the final term, as Maweni reading the play like a book while their end to end transition stunned the Magpies who were simply unable to stop their drive through court. With the game getting away from them young goaler Nyah Allen took the game on nailing four goals straight to keep Collingwood in touch. The intensity went up a notch as the quarter ticked down with both sides applying a wealth of pressure down the court but in the end the momentum was with the Lightning as they secured their second win.

In her first game for the season Nelson displayed her scoring prowess nailing 32 goals from 37 attempts while goal attack Sinclair also plied her trade with six goals but down on her accuracy. Koenen was strong once again under the post for the Lightning with the young goaler converting 38 goals from 45 attempts at 84 per cent. The output from Proscovia was minimal with six goals while Wood was not overly accurate shooting at 50 per cent while on court. The work from Madi Browne in the attacking third did not go unnoticed amassing 10 goal assists while for the Lightning it was the defensive pressure of Maweni that shone true as the goal defence picked up six gains and seven deflections.

>>> LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE

>>> MAGPIES TEAM PAGE 

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

Sunshine Coast Lightning 10 | 11 | 16 | 14 (51)
Collingwood Magpies 11 | 13 | 9 | 14 (47) 

STARTING SEVEN:

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

Collingwood Magpies:

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Madi Browne
C: Molly Jovic
WD: Melissa Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

Vixens flex their muscles against the Firebirds in Round 2 blitz

IN a game the Queensland Firebirds would probably rather forget, Melbourne Vixens showed their dominance across all areas of the court, and bench, coming away with a massive 78-50 win. Despite their fantastic opening quarter against the Lightning last weekend, the Firebirds were not able to string together a consistent performance against the classy Victorian side. The Vixens put on a clinic – and if they produce a game of this quality every match will be a premiership contender this season.

The first few minutes of the opening quarter were fairly even, as both teams sized up their opposition and started to find their way into the game. Jemma Mi Mi took the court for the first time in 2020 after missing last round with a calf complaint and was joined by debutant and goal keeper Rudi Ellis. The matchup between Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson and powerhouse wing attack Liz Watson provided plenty of excitement with the two engaging in a fantastic tussle from the outset. It felt like the Firebirds attack end were trying to find their feet, and the combination between youngster Tippah Dwan and Romelda Aiken is showing signs of promise. In the Vixens attack end, the combinations and experience made for a formidable front line who got into a rhythm as the quarter progressed and started to make their intentions known for the match. Caitlin Thwaites showcased her versatility playing out in goal attack and not skipping a beat with her clever feeds into the circle and drive to post. 

Vixens showed great patience in all areas of the court, and the experience of their Diamond-stacked side really came into play. Despite this, the Firebirds mounted defensive pressure through the midcourt, led by Simpson who, as always, was getting herself in everything. The inexperience of the Firebirds lineup became clear as a few silly errors through the midcourt crept into their game, and were punished by the bullet feeding and vision of Watson at the other end. Ellis was making her mark in her first SSN game, showing off her impressive leap and rangy limbs by picking up two rebounds on the trot. Vixens managed to take control towards the end of the first term as they cleared space easily and balanced the court, maintaining composure and staying in control on transition play, ending the quarter with 16 goals to the Firebirds’ 13. 

The Vixens gathered momentum after the break and as their confidence grew, so did the scoreline. Tegan Philip came on for Thwaites and was zipping around the goal circle leaving Kim Jenner for dust. It was clear that all seven Vixens on the court were doing their job, with Watson, in particular, putting on an outstanding show. Firebirds were letting the Vixens derail them slightly, and their passing accuracy was starting to falter under the defensive pressure of the Vixens. The youth and inexperience of the Firebirds was being exposed by the fluency and timing of Mwai Kumwenda and Phillip, and Firebirds were forced into taking a time out to try and stem the flow of the Melbourne side.

The defensive trio of Emily Mannix, Jo Weston and Kate Eddy starred, running rings around the Firebirds attack end as the Vixens extended their lead to 10 goals. Unfortunately, for the Firebirds, as the Vixens went from strength to strength, the Queensland team looked disordered and on top of each other. Their only saving grace was the tried and tested route over the top to Aiken, which allowed them some access to post through the wall of green dresses. In the final five minutes of the quarter, things got even worse for the Firebirds, who could not find their accuracy from the two-goal range. The Vixens shooters were slotting them from everywhere making the most of the super shot as the game really started to slip out of the Firebirds control. Even with Watson taking a rest on the bench, the Vixens were still way too good, winning the quarter by 21-8 and taking a huge 16-goal lead into the half-time break.

This really set the tone for the remainder of the match, as the Vixens really put the foot down. Mi Mi came into the centre position with Mahalia Cassidy out at wing attack, and the Firebirds shuffled the pack almost constantly in the third quarter to try and find the right combination. Their small errors were costing them, and in contrast, the Vixens were doing the little things well and enjoying the chance to play with freedom. They were both rapid and careful with possession, maintaining their structures in both attack and defence. In an unusual move, Simpson came into goal defence in hope to nullify the Philip with her tagging style and aerial presence. The change however left the Firebirds without their experienced leader in the midcourt with the youngsters unable to penetrate through the Vixens defensive pressure as the Melbourne based team pushed out to a 25-goal lead. 

With the score blown out to 57-32, the Vixens continued to utilise their bench players, including Jacqui Newton in at goal defence. The Vixens had only had nine turnovers in three quarters of netball, proving just how clinical and well-drilled they were throughout the game. Tayla Honey was particularly impressive, demonstrating smart footwork and accurate feeding ability. For the Firebirds, no third was really clicking for them in terms of connections, even with the typical combination of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe down back and Simpson back in wing defence. Both teams made good use of the rolling subs rule throughout the fourth quarter, testing out combinations and connections. Towards the end of the game, Ine-Mari Venter slotted an impressive three super shots in a row, which although too late for this game, gives her valuable experience for future rounds. Thwaites sunk a final devastating super shot after the buzzer, meaning the Vixens pushed the score out to 78-50. 

The Vixens will be glad their starting seven earned themselves a rest on the bench, especially when they come up against Lightning in a few days time. They proved their premiership potential and kept the Firebirds to their equal lowest score of all time. With shooters making 90 per cent in normal play, and slotting 13 from 19 super shots, the Vixens were unstoppable. They also managed to rack up seven intercepts to the Firebirds one. The Firebirds lacked experience compared to the Vixens but will be hoping to bounce back with a win against the Magpies in Round 3.

>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>>> VIXENS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Queensland Firebirds 13 | 8 | 11 | 18 (50)
Melbourne Vixens 16 | 22 | 19 | 21 (78)

STARTING SEVEN:

Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Jemma Mi Mi
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Rudi Ellis

Melbourne Vixens:

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Caitlin Thwaites
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix

Swifts swoop on GIANTS in Proud’s return

THE NSW Swifts had the perfect win to start their 2019 premiership defence, beating GIANTS Netball in a two-goal 63-61 nail-biter after trailing for much of the match. While the GIANTS had all the early momentum and well and truly took advantage of the two-goal super shot, the Swifts were cleaner and chipped back the margin throughout the remainder of the quarters to come away with the tight victory.

The Swifts were straight into it, forcing a held ball from the GIANTS to turn over the centre pass although a huge amount of crowding saw the GIANTS do the same to get one back and keep a step ahead. With Maddy Turner ruled out through injury Lauren Moore got her first start, while Maddy Proud made her long awaited return from injury and started well out in wing attack. 

With clashing colours and plenty of intensity on and off the ball early, the GIANTS had the early ascendency with Kristiana Manu’a holding Helen Housby away from the contest and forcing the long ball in to Sam Wallace, while the attack for the GIANTS circle work proved influential with plenty of accuracy and the long preseason paying off. The Swifts’ defensive pressure down the court was immense, seeing a heap of turnover ball on the transition to GIANTS attack. The GIANTS circle work was impressive early with Caitin Bassett and Jo Harten highly accurate to post and finding plenty of avenues into the circle courtesy of Kiera Austin, who slotted into wing attack nicely. 

Nat Haythornthwaite was injected midway through the term to give Proud a break and provided an immediate impact on the drive, finding the circle with ease. As expected, the final five minutes of the quarter saw Austin head to goal attack and Harten to goal shooter, while the Swifts kept up despite taking more short range attempts, whittling down the margin. The Swifts attack may have been more congested but with clever movement they took the front, with the GIANTS drawing even once more to be 17-all at quarter time. 

 An interesting start to the second quarter saw a heap of turnovers, with neither team really able to find a heap of purchase despite accuracy out the front. The low scoring affair saw an even contest with plenty of physicality and no player unwilling to go for the loose ball. The long ball into the goal circle seemed crucial, with both teams clogging up the goal third to limit access to circle edge and the easy feed into the circle. 

Moore’s work rate was immense, with the young defender not letting up despite her impressive opposition while Manu’a was just as willing to put in the hard work to generate loose ball. Harten’s long bomb accuracy saw the GIANTS head into half up time up by five goals but the Swifts were still well and truly in the contest, with only Harten’s long shot really keeping the side in the lead and a few crucial passes flying over the goal line straight past Bassett on the lead. 

The third quarter saw the GIANTS start well but the combination between Sarah Klau and Moore improved as the match went on, which was well and truly showcased with the side evening the ledger even with the GIANTS taking full control of the super shot. The duo did a heap of work to propel the ball back up the court, though Amy Parmenter continued to star through the middle third with her anticipation and cleanliness generating turnover ball. Both teams were willing to test each other, forcing turnovers and creating plenty of intensity around the ball with so much youth plying their trade defensively. 

A couple of errors kept the goal margin at five, with the Swifts edging closer at times but unable to completely take control. Austin’s versatility was crucial, with the young talent plying her trade with ease and telly having an impact in both positions. But whatever Austin did Moore was in the mix, while April Brandley made her GIANTS debut rotating into goal defence and Jamie-Lee Price continued to assert her physicality on the contest in centre. The five minute mark saw the Swifts take the front, leading by three goals with just the last quarter to go.

The second half was all in the way of the Swifts, with the reigning premiers finding plenty of turnover ball prior to the super shot period which paid dividends once the quarters were into the final stages. While GIANTS were quick to take advantage once more when the super shot came was into effect, narrowing the margin, the Swifts were patient with ball in hand. With just over two minutes on the clock the GIANTS came within a couple goals but the Swifts’ work rate paid off, winning 63-61 in a hard fought battle and chipping the ball around in the dying moments to deny a win for the GIANTS.

Moore was announced player of the match with her five intercepts, three deflections proving she is more than capable of slotting into the Swifts lineup regularly, while Klau was consistent as ever with seven deflections (three resulting in a gain) and two intercepts down back. Haythornthwaite led the assists stat for the Swifts with 14 from 24 feeds while Proud was not far behind with 12 upon return, while Wallace topped the tally with 33 goals from 40 attempts including six super shots.

For the GIANTS, Parmenter was a star and did not skip a beat over the off-season, racking up a whopping seven intercepts to go with her seven deflections, and while the deflections did not result in gains her effort was instrumental denying ball to the Swifts. Bassett and Harten shared the shooting load with 22 and 21 goals respectively, though nine of Hartens shots counted for double points. Price racked up the assists with 16 and a gain, while defensively Sam Poolman starred early with three gains.

>>> GIANTS TEAM PAGE

>>> SWIFTS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

GIANTS NETBALL 17 | 16 | 13 | 15 (61)
NSW SWIFTS 17 | 11 | 21 | 14 (63)

STARTING SEVEN

GIANTS Netball:

GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Jo Harten
WA: Kiera Austin
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: Kristiana Manu’a
GK: Sam Poolman

NSW Swifts :

GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Maddy Proud
C: Paige Hadley
WD: Sophie Craig
GD: Lauren Moore
GK: Sarah Klau

Consistent Fever too good for new-look Thunderbirds

BOTH the West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds came out flying in their first battle for the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season, with the Fever’s constant pressure down court paying off for an excellent 12-goal win to start the season on the ultimate high. 

The timing from Shamera Sterling was impressive from the get-go, holding Jhaniele Fowler with ease and seeing an early lead extended by the Thunderbirds. But some calmer ball movement from the Fever saw the away side settle better as the quarter went on, limiting ease of access to the ball for the Thunderbirds. Getting a few goals up took a bit of patience, but the Fever took it in their stride and took advantage of hurried ball movement down court. It took some time for both teams to work into the game, with errant passes flying but some good ball movement happening for both sides. 

Caught unmoving a couple times, young talent Sam Gooden was held well by Stacey Francis early on but gained in confidence, with the Fever defence limiting movement and forcing the ball to go to a well held Lenize Potgieter at the post. Courtney Bruce may not have kept Potgieter quiet, but her hands over pressure on Gooden proved influential. With a mostly even first quarter behind them, the first five-minute super shot period started with a bang thanks to Fowler shooting the first long bomb of the day, with the tall timber opening her bag of tricks and shooting at full accuracy early. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds were unwilling to go long. The Fever had all the first quarter momentum after a slow start, leading 18-13 at the first change.

A couple of good ball wins from Jess Anstiss allowed the Fever to continue their control in the second, with the young gun providing a constant buffer at the first phase to turn over possession. Continuous confusion of the space by Bruce paid dividends, while the ball movement of Ingrid Colyer and Alice Teague-Neeld saw plenty of crucial ball going straight into Fowler at the post. Teague-Neeld’s improved confidence and intensity was mirrored by the evident development of young Adelaide midcourter Maisie Nankivell, who generated some great ball back in wing defence in the second quarter to keep the Thunderbirds in it. 

Charlee Hodges entered the court midway through the term to open up a bit more attacking movement for the Thunderbirds, though less than a minute later Sterling went down with an unsuspecting ankle injury to put a damper on the quarter as Kate Shimmin joined the fray. The height mismatch was clear from the get-go, opening up the long high ball to Fowler at the post, though fortunately Sterling was back not long after, yet not at her typical excitement-boosting form.

The physical matchup saw the two sides taking plenty of risks, with everything on the line and a couple of late challenges seeing plenty of players hit the floor. A couple of debutants took to the court credit to the rolling sub rule, with Georgie Horjus having an impact both on and off the ball in goal attack for the Thunderbirds, showing a good connection with Potgieter and unafraid of the contest. But the Tbirds went into the second half down by a hefty margin, not taking many long bombs and seeing the scoreline extend to 11, 38-27.

The second half started much the same, though the Thunderbirds grabbed a couple great opportunities to pull back to under 10 goals. Defensively, the Thunderbirds were not doing enough outside the circle to stop the ball from getting into Fowler but stayed in the game with Potgieter’s accuracy well and truly paying off and Gooden having an impact on the scoresheet with her long bomb accuracy. A lack of backup down the court saw nothing go the Thunderbirds’ way though, with the Fever maintaining much of the possession and continuing to dominate the contest. 

Young talent Sunday Aryang was quick to have an impact out in goal defence, using her long arms to deflect the ball and plying her trade well on the equally inexperienced Horjus and winning much of the outer circle battle. A couple super shots in a row for the Thunderbirds saw the lead reduce, though the defensive pressure from the Fever continued to mount to force errors. Scrappy physicality saw players from both sides hit the floor in the late stages of the third as the intensity lifted.

Down by just eight goals coming into the final quarter, a quick start from the Thunderbirds was required. While the attack of the Tbirds was on point, defensively they could not cope with the Fever’s confidence in Fowler. With just over six on the clock the Fever had once again extended their lead taking it out to 12 and the Thunderbirds needed to put up every single super shot opportunity offered to them in the final five minutes to narrow the margin. A couple impressive long bombs from Teague-Neeld and Gooden saw the young talent step up, but with the two going toe-to-toe the Thunderbirds were unable to pull back the margin. Fever ran away with an impressive 12-goal win (74-62) credit to a consistent effort across all four quarters, with a Fowler super shot sealing the deal.

Among the top performers were Potgieter (35 goals from 37 attempts, one super shot) with Gooden the main super shot contributor with nine from 10 while Fowler sunk 53 of a possible 57, sinking three super shots while Teague-Neeld was solid with 10 from 15 (four super shots). Eight Fever players racked up at least one gain showcasing the full court defence, with Bruce’s six a testament to her read of the play, while Colyer was second in line with three – all intercepts. Sterling’s four intercepts proved she would not slow down a bit despite her ankle niggle, while both Shadine van der Merwe and Nankivell racked up two intercepts apiece. On the assist, Teague-Neeld and Verity Charles led the way with 19 apiece.

>>> THUNDERBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>>> FEVER TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 13 | 14 | 18 | 17 (62)
WEST COAST FEVER 18 | 20 | 15 | 21 (74)

STARTING SEVEN

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: 
Samantha Gooden
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Maisie Nankivell
GD: Shadine Van Der Merwe
GK: Shamera Sterling

West Coast Fever:

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: 
Alice Teague-Neeld
WA: Ingrid Colyer
C: Verity Charles
WD: Jess Anstiss
GD: Stacey Francis
GK: Courtney Bruce

ANZ Premiership: Round 8 – Deadly opening quarter gives Stars the edge

COMING off a difficult loss against the Mainland Tactix, the Northern Stars had no issue dominating the Southern Steel with a convincing 50-43 win. Uncertainty and a lack of connection in the Steel attack end, due to a string of unfortunate injuries, meant that a tenacious Stars defence were able to come out on top thanks to a strong first term. Despite their big win over the Mystics in Round 7, there were too many holes in the Steel game in this match, and they lacked their usual intensity against a clean and ferocious Stars outfit. The Stars broke a four-game losing streak and will secure themselves in fourth position on the ANZ Premiership ladder.

Kalifa McCollin was given the start at goal shooter for the Steel, with Kiana Pelasio slotting into McCollin’s typical goal attack role. McCollin had suffered an ankle injury in the previous round and the effect of this may have contributed to this position switch, giving her a little less running around to do. Due to these changes in their shooting end, Steel were relying heavily on Silver Fern Gina Crampton to have an outstanding game, to give them a chance at taking a win. The Steel got off to a shaky start and were not able to find each other easily or balance the space on the court. In contrast, the Stars came out of the blocks with plenty of punch in attack and set the tone for the game early. Grace Kara was combining well with Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume grew into the game in her supporting role. After a few soft turnovers from both teams, Kate Burley stepped up a gear notching up a rebound and then an interception within a few minutes. The Stars defence were getting the measure of the Steel attack, with Pelasio unable to convincingly draw the defenders away from McCollin under the post. Another gain from the Stars, this time from Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and they made no mistake at the post, sneaking out to 10-6 midway through the first quarter.

An early change saw Kendall Corkery replace Georgia Heffernan at wing defence, but the Steel were not managing to convert their turnovers and were wasting ball in attack. Another four-goal run for the Stars saw them extend their lead to 16-7 at the first break. Stars were totally in control, creating plenty of opportunities for themselves and forcing the Steel into making silly errors, then capitalising at the post. Steel had eight turnovers in the first quarter and felt compelled to make a change at quarter time. Heffernan was matching up well against Stars captain Kara but ended up replacing Shannon Saunders at centre, a switch-up we have not seen much of at all this season. Ellen Halpenny also slotted into goal shooter with McCollin moving out to goal attack where she seemed more comfortable. These changes had a good impact for the Steel and they managed three in a row to start the second quarter. The Stars were able to regroup and regain control as the quarter progressed, and flooding the middle channel to force a long ball was proving very effective for them. Another gain from Burley took her total to three intercepts and the Stars restored their healthy seven-goal lead.

The midcourt battles were shaping up nicely, with both teams evenly matched in the centre third. Corkery was scrappy; squaring up to Kara and doing her best to keep her away from circle edge, while Heffernan’s defensive prowess was earning the Steel some much-needed turnover ball. With more minutes in centre at this level, her feeding confidence and ball release will improve and she could be a very handy option for the Steel midcourt. Lisa Mather was working hard on Crampton, but the experienced wing attack had the measure of her opposition and was growing into the combination with McCollin and Halpenny. After a much improved quarter from the Southern side, the teams headed into the break with the Stars leading 26-19.

With the defensive end on fire, and Maia Wilson shooting at 100 per cent, it is no surprise that the Stars were still holding onto a solid lead. They were playing like a team that backed themselves to win, and the Steel just were not creating enough opportunities for their attackers. In terms of penalties, Steel were on 29 by half-time, with over 15 of these given to Taneisha Fifita. This released all the Steel defensive pressure, giving Wilson numerous free shots to the post. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was not managing to have her usual impact on the game, and the Steel really needed someone to lift them and provide an energy boost. The Stars kept grinding away, with the speed and slick movement through their midcourt leaving the Steel defenders behind them. In a much-needed switch up, which possibly could have come a little earlier in the game, Fifita went to the bench with Selby-Rickit taking on Wilson in the goal keeper position and Abby Erwood providing a new look at goal defence. Crampton pulled off a fantastic interception at the transverse line and this seemed to be the spark the Steel needed. They went on a three-goal run with Halpenny continuing to demonstrate her reliability and experience at the post. However, the attempted comeback came too late and Stars were able to maintain an eight-goal advantage going into the final term.

With the final quarter underway, the Steel looked as though they would be happy to settle for a bonus point. They lacked speed and anticipation in their defensive end and were struggling to keep up with Wilson and Hume. They were showing patches of good play, with Mather doing a heap of work transitioning the ball down court and the attack end finding some rhythm, but they still have a lot of work to do going forwards. Through the midcourt, the Steel were able to disrupt play, but their circle defence was far too flat and quiet against the likes of the prolific Maia Wilson. Despite a late run of goals from the Steel, the Stars kept them at bay with a seven-goal win, denying Steel a bonus point once again.

Standouts from the game have got to be Kate Burley and Kate Heffernan, each claiming three intercepts and Heffernan coming into her own at centre. It is also hard to look past Maia Wilson shooting at 100 per cent, who earned herself a well-deserved MVP award. Both the Steel and the Stars will take on the Magic in their next game, giving them the chance to consolidate the good patches from today’s game and strengthen connections as the regular season draws to a close.

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN STARS 16 | 10 | 12 | 12 (50)
SOUTHERN STEEL 7 | 12 | 11 | 13 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

Southern Steel:

GS: Kalifa McCollin
GA: Kiana Pelasio
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

Final quarter blitz gifts Sunshine Coast Lightning first win of the season

GRAND finalists Sunshine Coast Lightning proved they are a threat to be reckoned with surviving an early scare from the Queensland Firebirds to win comfortably (66-48). It was a slow start for the Lightning who struggled both in attack and defence to get going while the Firebirds burst out of the blocks to stamp their ascendancy on the match. But the Lightning were not about to go down without a fight pulling together a phenomenal final term.

The Firebirds put their disappointing 2019 season to bed early, coming out with a real ferocity and intensity that was simply unmatched by the Lightning in the first 15 minutes. Captain Gabi Simpson set the tone in the opening stanza with her pressure over the ball forcing a held ball and a subsequent goal. Converting off the Lightning’s centre pass the Firebirds made it two in a row with Romelda Aiken and newcomer Tippah Dwan finding their feet instantly and hitting the scoreboard. The defensive pressure for the Firebirds was immense as the Lightning struggled to penetrate through the midcourt before Cara Koenen eventually sunk the opener for the Lightning. As the ball pinged around goal defence Karla Pretorius injected herself into the contest with a clever intercept to draw level with the Firebirds at two goals apiece.

Determined to keep their momentum rolling the Firebirds upped the ante through the midcourt with Lara Dunkley threading the needle into Aiken and Dwan. In her first outing for the club the wing attacked seemed to have the ball on a string, able to hit the circle edge with great precision. With the attack unit humming the Firebirds pushed out to a six goal lead before Ine-Mari Venter made her way onto the court for the final five minutes of the quarter. With the super shot now in play it was Dwan that made history sinking the first of the competition. Her hot hand led the way for the Firebirds in attack while Simpson continued her merry way picking of passes at every opportunity. The Firebirds were simply carving up the court using their pace and unpredictable nature to keep the Lightning guessing and go on a tear to open up an eight goal lead at quarter time.

Struggling to find any form of rhythm up their attacking end, the Lightning threw the bibs around with Peace Proscovia coming on in goal shooter pushing Koenen into goal attack and Steph Wood into wing attack. But that did not seem to bother the Firebirds with the girls in purple seeming to have the ball on a string. The defensive pressure coming from Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe was exceptional with the two forcing the Lightning goalers off balance and forcing turnovers aplenty with their read of the play and deceptively long arms. Hinchliffe was incredibly strong under the post, positioning well to collect rebounds while Jenner run amuck out the front.

Firebirds wing attack, Macy Gardner showcased her skill with ball in hand, driving into the pocket time and time again, while Dwan was having a field day out in goal attack for the Firebirds with her impressive timing and circle rotation with Aiken. Building in each facet of the game the Firebirds established a nine goal lead and did not look like slowing down until the Lightning rallied scoring three goals in a row. But the Firebirds answered the call once more as Aiken pulled out the party tricks with a unique layup style shot. Mia Stower made her way onto the court but it was her rival goal attack that got all the accolades with Wood proving to be the super shot star nailing five in a row, ultimately cutting the 10 goal deficit to a mere two at the break.

Drawing on their momentum from the second quarter, the Lightning got an early win before the Firebirds quickly answered streaming down court. They showed a good balance of speed and patience in attack with Mahalia Cassidy controlling the tempo and waiting for the options to appear rather than force them. Jenner kicked it up a gear after Wood showcased her class and range in the final minutes of the term with the defender getting hands to everything that came her way. The Firebirds suffocated the Lightning in attack and forced a wealth of missed opportunities with Sunshine Coast remaining goalless for the first five minutes of the term. Simpson continued to deliver for her side not only in defence but so too in attack with her drive through the midcourt and constantly hitting the transverse line with speed and intent.

The Firebirds made the Lightning work for every single pass as they dominated through the midcourt with their youth and speed. As the quarter went on the Lightning started to generate some better ball movement and force turnovers and hesitation in the Firebirds minds. Wood continued to do a wealth of damage from two point range, really rallying in the final five minutes to cull the margin and draw level for the first time since the opening quarter.

With the game on the line, it was the experience and class of the Lightning that shone true with Laura Langman and Laura Scherian taking the game by the scruff of the neck and taking full control in attack. Despite going goal for goal in the first couple of minutes Sunshine Coast put the foot down nullifying the Firebirds defence and forcing Jenner and Hinchliffe to swap bibs. But the Lightning kept coming exploiting the Firebirds youth with their precise ball movement, netball smarts and cleanliness with ball in hand. The momentum completely shifted despite the best efforts of the Firebirds as the Lightning capitalised on each and every turnover to run out 18-goal victors.

Aiken was the hot hand for the Firebirds sinking 26 goals from 33 attempts while Dwan showcased her skillset and excitement with 11 goals from 17 attempts, along with three goals from super shot range. Venter also proved to be a solid option to post with two goals from two point range. However it was Wood that stunned many with her accuracy to post sinking a whopping 10 goals from 11 attempts in the super shot zone, while Koenen did the heavy lifting with 34 goals from 40 attempts. Defensively Jenner had a stats-stuffing performance with five gains, two intercepts and three deflections, while Maweni and Pretorius combined for 10 gains, six intercepts and nine deflections.

>>> LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE

>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 18 | 12 | 12 | 6 (48)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 10 | 18 | 14 | 24 (66)

STARTING SEVEN

Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

ANZ Premiership – Round 8: Tactix too good in front of sellout home crowd

A SELLOUT crowd headlined the opening match of ANZ Premiership Round 8, with Mainland Tactix hosting their first match of the season and taking on the Northern Stars for the second time in just five days. With Tactix getting the win last round the Stars were back with a vengeance but with second position on the ladder up for grabs the Tactix were just too good, winning 52-42 in an exciting and high-energy contest.

The matchup between Maia Wilson and Temalisi Fakahokotau was huge from the get-go, with an ANZ Premiership record 5500 strong crowd behind their Tactix keeper from the get-go. The match saw a mostly even start, with both teams taking advantage of a couple of early deflections as the opposition settled in. The Stars’ quickfire passes were quickly made apparent, speeding down the side channels of the court and zipping around for a couple easy goals.

Jane Watson was quick to take advantage of the predictable movement however, taking a fantastic cross-court intercept to disrupt the flow and extend the Tactix to a lead, coming up with another clever goal not long after and soon the home side had extended to a three goal margin. Wilson continued to be a focal point for the Stars, with Jamie Hume assisting well to begin with credit to her speed and improved accuracy.

Where the Stars defenders were at a loss of how to combat Ellie Bird last round, they came out fighting and making Bird work hard to find the ball, forcing the tall timber to use her footwork to move for the netball. Speed into the goal circle was crucial for the Stars, with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Grace Kara serving the ball on a platter to Wilson but needing to do it quick to evade Fakahokotau on the leap and saying toe-to-toe with the Tactix, trailing 13-11 at the first change.

An interesting change was made to start the second, with Daystar Swift bringing a physical element to the Stars defence line, with the Trinidad and Tobago product matching Bird for height and hoping to have more of an impact than her last outing which only saw her on court for five minutes. After a couple slow matches, Te Paea Selby-Rickit proved crucial once more in attack with her ability to not only go to post but also spot Bird at the post, though that was something that the Stars were able to exploit plucking a couple balls out of the air.

Erikana Pedersen was on fire in the first and backed it up in the second, with her reliability on the drive and wealth of speed allowing the Tactix to make use of a couple crucial intercepts to extend their lead. The Stars were error-ridden in the second quarter, wasting a couple opportunities going cross-court, with Watson able to get hands to turnover ball with ease thanks to her clear vision and long reach.

While Swift was playing a physical game and attracting a fair bit of attention from the umpires, Fakahokotau was doing everything she could to get hands to ball and put off Wilson who had missed just one shot by the main change. A huge couple of minutes by the Tactix saw the home side extend to an eight-goal lead at half time, 28-20.

The Stars made another change heading into the third, with Swift leaving the court for the regular combination of Kate Burley and Storm Purvis once more, while the injection of Fa’amu Ioane helped to shut down an element of the Tactix midcourt, doing a heap of work to shut down Pedersen and limit the Tactix’ speed in attack. Ioane’s work on the transverse paid dividends, allowing more of a split around the circle from Reuelu-Buchanan and Kara.

Watson continued to star in the third, with the formidable defender far too good on Hume and running the young player ragged through the midcourt to exploit Stars’ holes in attack. While Wilson continued to impact, Fakahokotau’s pressure and physicality was constant, blocking vision with her long reach and footwork to get around the body.

The Tactix had to do a heap of work to get ball into the circle, and while they were still ahead by a wide margin the Stars were working hard to limit avenues to post and force continuous feeds around circle edge. Soon the margin had closed to just three goals, with the combination of Ioane and Reuelu-Buchanan impressing defensively to stem the flow of attack, with Pedersen and Poi unable to zip around as per usual to control the space.

With the scoreline reduced early in the quarter the Tactix stole back some momentum, seeing the intense contest continue with no easy avenues to goal for either team but the Tactix taking advantage of any holes in the plan they could find, with the Tactix back to a six-goal lead at the final change, 37-31. Within touching distance of the Tactix, the Stars started the last quarter well but just could not get hands to enough turnover ball, with their only intercept still a mishap pass straight to Swift in the second. With no secure ball taken to turn over possession, the Stars were relying too much on getting a deflection but the Tactix were more than capable of getting to the loose ball first. 

Fakahokotau really switched on in the last quarter, upping her physicality – if possible – and reaping the rewards with her ability to find the ball paying dividends for the Tactix. Charlotte Elley was hungry for the ball in wing defence, though so was a mid-quarter Stars change in Oceane Maihi who entered the fray in time for a 10-goal margin in the way of the Tactix. The height difference was immediately apparent, and while Maihi’s different take on the goal keeper position paid off with a couple of plays forcing Bird to the goal line it was not enough to really reduce that margin with Bird’s confidence seeing her shoot from range with ease where required. A huge last few minutes saw the Tactix finish with their best score for the season, building off the impressive crowd for an excellent 52-42 victory. 

Player of the match Pedersen was influential with 23 goal assists, able to spot Bird at the post from a mile away, with the shooter racking up 37 goals for a second match straight at 88 per cent accuracy. Selby-Rickit was solid with 15 goals and an intercept to her name, while Watson and Fakahokotau were outstanding, with Watson starring in the first half and Fakahokotau a force to be reckoned with in the second half. The defensive duo racked up 11 gains (six intercepts) between them, with three of Fakahokotau’s intercepts coming in the final quarter as the pressure mounted.

For the Stars, Wilson was consistent as ever carrying the load with 35 goals from 41 attempts at 85 per cent, while Hume shot seven goals and collected a handful of assists and centre pass receives to play her role out the front alongside Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan. Burley racked up just the two gains from her six deflections but was solid against two taller attackers while Purvis collected four pickups.

Both teams play again this round though will be glad to have a few days off after the physical matchup, with the Stars back on the court on Saturday evening to face the Southern Steel while Tactix travel to take on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Sunday.

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

MAINLAND TACTIX 13 | 15 | 9 | 15 (52)
NORTHERN STARS 11 | 9 | 11 | 11 (42)

STARTING SEVEN

Tactix

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Erikana Pedersen
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau

Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis