Tag: new zealand silver ferns

Where to next for Victorian Super Netball teams?

WITH Victoria sent back into lockdown for a minimum six week period due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the state it poses many questions for the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season. SSN is set to commence on August 1 but with Victorian borders shut there is no chance of teams flying in or out of the state on a weekly basis. The element of a required 14 day quarantine must also be taken into account when looking into the logistics of how the 2020 season will run and the implications this lockdown will have on the competition as a whole. Quarantine and a lack of facilities such as Melbourne Arena being unavailable as a result of the Victorian lockdown ultimately throw the competition into a spin when it comes to fixturing, since the league has agreed to hosting a complete 60 round season.

With both the Collingwood Magpies and Melbourne Vixens based in Melbourne, Super Netball have to make a decision on how to deal with the two clubs. As seen with the AFL, NRL and A-League, all of the Victorian teams have fled or are in the process of leaving the state to ensure the remainder of the season is viable, something SSN will have to consider in order for the season to actually go ahead. While it is an expensive prospect, weighing up the cost of accommodation, flights and facilities for both the Vixens and Magpies, it is one that must be done to ensure the longevity of the competition.

It is clear that for the season to go ahead the two Victorian teams must find a new home, despite already missing the cut off date to leave the state. But the big question is where do they go? As discussed on this week’s episode of the Centre Pass Podcast, the options of taking solace in New South Wales and Queensland are the glaringly obvious choices for the Victorian sides with both states playing host to two teams and also boasting recently refurbished stadiums. The Queensland Firebirds unveiled the Nissan Arena or Queensland State Netball centre last year fit with all the bells and whistles while the Sunshine Coast Lightning have already expressed their willingness for interstate teams to join them up in the Coast. The redevelopment of the Ken Rosewall Arena could also play a factor in getting the Victorian teams to set up shop in New South Wales. However, that is not to say that Western Australia and South Australia are not viable options given the quality of their facilities and are probably the cheaper option in terms of accommodation in comparison to the likes of Sydney and Queensland.

There is also a very limited chance of the SSN rescheduling or pushing the start back further as it runs into the international season with the Diamonds and Ferns confirming the annual Constellation Cup for late November. International netball is a huge drawcard for both countries and something Australia and New Zealand will be hoping to generate some money back into the netball sphere. Postponing the season could ultimately bring up issues surrounding venue fixturing as many sporting arenas are booked out years in advance given the high amounts of sport Australia plays host to.

While we all hope that it does not come to this stage, there is a small sliver of doubt that the season could not go ahead or that the Vixens and Magpies might not be able to compete given the recent developments in Victoria and the restrictions prohibiting them to travel. While the latter idea is unconventional and an extreme last resort, it could be the only way to salvage the season and ensure that some form of domestic netball is played in 2020.

Players that got away: Leana de Bruin

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 in line is former Silver Ferns and Spar Proteas defender Leana de Bruin.

Starting off her career with South Africa, de Bruin played 34 international caps for the Proteas before transitioning to the Silver Ferns in 2000 where she racked up a whopping 104 international caps in the black dress. She was as consistent as they came for the Spar Proteas acting as a real wall down in defence and using her smothering style of pressure to halt any easy movement into the attacking third. De Bruin was a commanding influence for South Africa throughout her time able to lead her side on court with her impressive vision and ball handling skills.

A member of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, de Bruin was a key cog in the defensive circle with her hands over pressure, speed off the mark and tagging style of defence. She was hardly ever beaten in a one on one given her strength and general netball nous to work around the body of her opponent. Renowned for her physical pressure and aerial ability de Bruin was a constant pain in any goalers side, able to ruffle their feathers and create turnovers.

Her connection with the likes of Katrina Rore and Casey Kopua was electric with the trio able to cause all sorts of havoc down back. Their zone style of defence was what made them such a formidable unit able to transition well and continue that high pressure intensity. She well and truly cemented herself in the squad becoming the fifth player to notch up over 100 tests with her hard-working mentality constantly on display. While her defensive pressure was a clear asset for the Ferns it was her ability to bring the ball down the court and provide attacking options that also made her a force to be reckoned with.

She has had a decorated career, with the highly touted defender lucky enough to feature in five Netball World Cups – one for South Africa in 1999 and the next four in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 with New Zealand. Her dominance did not stop there with de Bruin also playing in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games for the Ferns. Throughout her time, she tasted plenty of success filling the trophy cabinet with gold and silver medals.

After switching to the Silver Ferns, it is fair to say that de Bruin’s services were well and truly missed for the Spar Proteas who at times lacked that X-factor she possessed. Her ability to read the flight of the ball and inject herself into the game was second to none able to make something out of nothing more times than not given her long reaching arms and footwork.

Who will replace Laura Langman when she retires?

ONE of the most impressive and threatening midcourters in the world is New Zealand product, Laura Langman. Despite showing no signs of slowing down, Langman’s retirement is imminent with the gut running centre edging ever closer to the 40 mark at 34. She has proven to be a real barometer for any side she plays in whether it be domestic or internationally.

Langman oozes nothing but class, endurance and experience something that many wish they had. She is renowned for her ability to do the unthinkable and simply stand up under the pressure. The New Zealand Silver Ferns veteran is one of the key cogs in their line-up with her ability to link up both the defensive and attacking ends with her movement and impressive game play. But the big question remains; who will replace the star midcourter when she retires?

Shannon Saunders

The Southern Steel midcourter has spent her time in and out of the Silver Ferns side but really, showcased her skill in the 2019 Netball World Cup after being recalled to the squad. Saunders is more of an attacking style midcourter able to switch into that wing attack role when needed. She has proven that she has the calibre and netball nous to mix it with the best in the world and run out that centre position with her clever game play and good timing. Saunders is exciting to watch, able to dart around the court and vary her passes into the circle thanks to her vast skill set. She can read the play and deliver the ball accordingly. The 29-year-old also does the defensive things well, able to create doubt in the feeder’s minds with her constant pressure around the circle edge. Her electric connection with fellow Silver Fern and wing attack, Gina Crampton also puts her in good stead to take the reins from Langman if and when the time comes.

Sam Winders

The 24-year-old plays a very similar role to that of Langman, with Winders renowned for her defensive style of play. She is a gut running centre that is quick off the mark and applies a wealth of pressure on the ball carrier with her hands over pressure and three-foot marking. Winders still has plenty of development left in her but has proven that she is a true leader on-court with her clever plays and strong movement. Her ability to create space in the attacking third and then seamlessly transition into defence is a testament to her high netball IQ. Winders is quick on her feet able to shadow her opponent and go toe-to-toe with her around circle edge and create tips and turnovers. She is strong on the take and uses her body well to outhustle her opponents. The defensive minded midcourter has spent time in the Silver Ferns but will be hoping to solidify her role in the black dress.

Kimiora Poi

Although she is still coming up through the ranks and has limited exposure to the international stage, Poi has come along in leaps and bounds. She is an energiser bunny across the court constantly on the move and repositioning. The centre court player has speed to burn with her dynamic footwork often wrong-footing opponents allowing her to hit circle edge with ease. Her variety of passes into the circle, quick hands and good vision makes her a strong option to secure a more permanent role in the Ferns outfit. Poi plays more of an attacking style with her movement and positioning but is no slouch when it comes to defence able to block space and cause confusion. She can read the play well and insert herself into the gaps to either force a turnover or create an attacking foray.

Players that got away: Cathrine Tuivati

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.  Now retired goal shooter, Cathrine Tuivaiti (nee Latu) spent time with both Samoa and New Zealand throughout her career.

Tuivaiti started out her international career with Samoa, in fact playing in the 2007 Netball World Cup with the side. Although Samoa did not progress far she proved to be a force to be reckoned with, given her demanding style of play, adept footwork and scoring prowess. The talented goaler was a focal point for Samoa, able to slot goals from anywhere in the circle and most obviously, her ability to hold space. She was renowned for her ability to easily roll off the body of her defender and most importantly create space out of nothing.

After making the switch to the Silver Ferns in 2011, Tuivaiti later made her debut against England and did not skip a beat with the soft handed and quick footed goaler owning the goal circle. Her strong holds on the baseline and sheer volume of shots made her unstoppable under the post. She was not afraid to use her body to claim prime position in the goal circle and make the defenders work for it, thriving on the physicality of the game.

While her accuracy was impressive her play-making ability is what left many fans and teammates in awe with the goal shooter able to fling the ball across the court with such accuracy and precision. Her hands were lightning quick able to fire off the ball to the midcourters, re-shuffle in the goal circle to get closer to the post and receive the ball all within a blink of an eye. Tuivaiti was a master of the back space able to drop back and take the ball cleanly while her strong hands never seemed to fail her, unflustered by the pressure.

Standing at 189cm the goaler made the most of her height and long arms to reach the high balls and most importantly reel them in, hardly ever wasting a ball. Playing alongside the likes of Maria Folau and Ellen Halpenny, Tuivati proved that she was in the right place, seamlessly sliding into the line-up and having a profound impact with her ball smarts and movement. Although she only played 24 caps for the Silver Ferns there is no denying the impact she had on the squad helping her side to many victories and using her netball smarts to outthink and out manoeuvre her opponents.

Although she debuted for the Ferns in 2011, Tuivaiti was ineligible to play in the 2011 Commonwealth Games due to the rules surrounding playing in back to back World Cups for different countries. Although Samoa would be disappointed Tuivaiti departed to play with New Zealand they would be thankful for the impact she had when on court notching up 30 caps throughout her time.

Players that got away: Ameliaranne Ekenasio

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 in the series is New Zealand sweetheart and gold medal winner Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

Although she never pulled on the green and gold dress, Ekenasio could have represented the Diamonds given she was born in Queensland. The shooter spent time with the Queensland Firebirds in the early stages of her career playing alongside some of Australia’s most notable defenders in Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman. While she struggled for court time given the presence of Romelda Aiken, the talented goaler proved more than once that she was cool, calm and collected on court able to sink them from long range and back herself under pressure. Ekenasio would have been a handy inclusion in the Diamonds side with her silky movement and rangy shooting consistently doing the talking.

After spending four years with the Firebirds, Ekenasio decided to make the trek across the ditch and join the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championship where she blossomed into a shooting sensation full of confidence. A regular starter in the Pulse line-up, Ekenasio quickly became renowned for her ability to create space and become a force to be reckoned with on the netball court, eventually catching the eye of the New Zealand Silver Ferns.

She debuted for the Ferns in 2014 and became a permanent fixture in their line-up for years to come thanks to her impressive timing, strong drives, ability to glide across the court and sheer netball nous. She is a focal point for the Ferns side with the talented goaler not shying away from the pressure instead rising up to the occasion as shown in the dying seconds of the 2019 World Cup Gold Medal Match where she sunk one of the most important goals of her career.

Ekenasio oozes class, commitment and dedication, returning to the elite level of netball shortly after giving birth and has continued to deliver time and time again. Her on-court leadership as shown with her brief captaincy of the Ferns along with precision ball placement and skill to change up her game play depending who is on court with her makes her hard to stop. In recent outings her connection with Maria Folau has torn opposition defences apart, while at a domestic level, her shooter-to-shooter interplay with Aliyah Dunn is too hot to handle.

At the ripe age of 29, Ekenasio is not showing any sign of slowing down and still has plenty of years ahead of her as shown by fellow past and present Silver Ferns stars, Irene Van Dyk and Laura Langman. The 186cm goal attack has played 41 caps for the Ferns and will be hoping to build on that when netball returns. Although she is now a Silver Ferns, fan favourite, it is fair to say that the Australian born shooter would have been a valuable asset to the Diamonds given her high work rate, effortless movement and impressive footwork to dance across the court.

Players that got away: Irene Van Dyk

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. Starting off the series is none other than New Zealand shooting sensation Irene Van Dyk.

Prior to becoming a cult hero in the Silver Ferns outfit, Van Dyk was an integral member for the Spar Proteas. She lead the way as captain, with her netball nous on constant display. The talented goaler played 72 caps for South Africa and was a commanding figure under the post allowing her accuracy and high volume of shots do all the talking. Van Dyk debuted for her home nation back in 1994 and immediately burst onto the scene with her long limbs, uncanny precision with ball in hand and sheer brilliance under the post.

But after making the move to New Zealand in 2000, she quickly became a key reason for the Ferns continued success. Her career spanned a whopping 14 years for New Zealand and consistently contributed to become one of the worlds most decorated and renowned shooters. She was the thorn in the Diamonds side for as long as many Australian fans can remember with her strong holds and accuracy under the post causing all sorts of havoc.

Van Dyk was simply unstoppable with her quick footwork, ability to read the play and effortless shooting action. The physical nature of opposition players did not faze her and she was hardly ever out-positioned credit to her netball nous. She often did the unthinkable, reeling in a ball travelling over the baseline and was quite agile given her height. Throughout her time with New Zealand, her partnership with fellow goaler Maria Folau and seasoned centre Laura Langman did a wealth of damage with the trio combining seamlessly to create a wealth of attacking forays.

Although retired now, Van Dyk is still is the most capped player in netball history racking up a whopping 217 games, testament to her high-level endurance, skillset and durability playing at the highest level well into her 40s. She had a highly decorated career for both the Proteas and Ferns, so much so that she appeared in a staggering five World Cups two of which were for South Africa, while also playing in four Commonwealth Games where she tasted her fair share of success, winning in a double over-time thriller in 2010.

Van Dyk quite literally became the face of netball for New Zealand with the 190cm tall goaler owning the goal circle with her long split, deceptive strength and spatial awareness. It is fair to say that South Africa will be ruing the day that Van Dyk left and opted to play for New Zealand instead, with the Spar Proteas missing that deadly accuracy under the post and class across the court.

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

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #1 – Ameliaranne Ekenasio

THE Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is already home to a number of international stars making it one of the strongest netball competitions in the world. However, we as the Draft Central team are creating a list of top 10 players we would like to see join the competition. Coming in at number one is star goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

An ex-Australian netball and dual citizenship holder, Ekenasio is a talented goaler and current captain of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, making her the ultimate “the one who got away” for the Aussies. With speed, resilience and volume to boot, Ekenasio has really come into her own over the past few years playing alongside Maria Folau for the Ferns and was part of the history making Central Pulse grand final victory in 2019. Another player who has played for an Australian domestic competition throughout her career – albeit during the ANZ Championship which saw Australia and New Zealand compete with and against each other – Ekenasio has shot herself to stardom since settling in New Zealand credit to her cleanliness with ball in hand and ability to provide crucial scoreboard pressure. The ex-Queensland Firebirds product has flourished and played a crucial role in the 2019 Netball World Cup where the Ferns took home gold against the Aussies.

The versatile goaler can ply her trade both beside and away from the post, and is a crucial option with her quick feet and positioning which sees her evade defenders again and again. Her strong work ethic sees her constantly improving and able to impact the play even when she  may not have her eye in, and as a commanding presence on court, she is a constant threat with plenty of tricks up her sleeve. At only 29-years-old, Ekenasio is really in her prime and has made big strides through her career over the past few years and plenty left in the tank for a potential return to the Australian competition. Her excellent vision both on and off the ball has seen her become a massive threat in the goal circle, and with impressive timing and aerial ability she will continue to be that huge threat in the coming years.

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN:

#10 Joice Takaidza (Zimbabwe)
#9 Zanele Vimbela (South Africa)
#8 Joyce Mvula (Malawi)
#7 Razia Quashie (England)
#6 George Fisher (England)
#5 Fran Williams (England)
#4 Maia Wilson (New Zealand)
#3 Jade Clarke (England)
#2 Jane Watson (New Zealand)
#1 Ameliaranne Ekenasio (New Zealand)

Silver Ferns head into Nations Cup undefeated following win over Spar Proteas

NEW Zealand Silver Ferns have triumphed over South Africa SPAR Proteas to book a spot in the 2020 Netball Nations Cup in Birmingham. The Silver Ferns went into the clash undefeated against a South African side yet to register a win, but the match proved that either side can stand up at different moments with the SPAR Proteas making a comeback at one stage, only for the Silver Ferns to settle and record a seven-goal win.

New Zealand started the stronger of the two sides, racing out to a three-goal advantage at quarter time with Maia Wilson shooting 11 of a possible 12 goals, while Gina Crampton had eight goal assists from 13 feeds. For the South Africans, the combination of Lenize Potgieter and Lefebre Rademan was working well with the experienced goal shooter scoring five goals from seven attempts, while her teammate had six from eight. Bongiwe Msomi was the key playmaker in the attacking end with seven goal assists from 10 feeds.

New Zealand continued its defensive stronghold in the second term, adding 13 goals to nine. The Silver Ferns headed into the half-time break with a seven-goal advantage as once again the defensive combination of Karin Burger (one intercept) and Jane Watson was doing well. Ine-Mari Venter came onto the court to carry the bulk of the scoring with seven goals from eight attempts, while Potgieter capitalised on both her attempts. Msomi’s work through the midcourt (six assists from seven feeds) was admirable to keep her side in it, while Zanele Vimbela timed her hands to perfection with two key rebounds.

South Africa made its move in the third term as Venter’s high-volume scoring ability helped the Spar Proteas cut the deficit back to three thanks to a 14-10 quarter. Venter shot 12 of her 13 attempts successfully with a 92.3 per cent efficiency. Potgieter managed the two from three, while Msomi had eight goal assists from 11 feeds. Karla Pretorius was managing the side superbly from the back half, now teaming up with fellow Suncorp Super Netball star, Phumza Maweni who immediately had an impact with a rebound in the term. For the Silver Ferns, Te Paea Selby-Rickit came on for Wilson and scored from all five of her chances, while Ameliaranne Ekenasio capitalised on a near-perfect five from six. Whitney Souness helped out with four goal assists from six feeds, but it was clear the side was thrown off a bit with Crampton and Watson both on the bench.

The Silver Ferns held firm though, backing in the side out there with Wilson coming on for Ekenasio, shooting seven goals from eight at 87.5 per cent and Selby-Rickit had four from six as the favourites scored 11-7 to run out 48-41 winners. Burger had two rebounds and an intercept in the final term, while Karaka had one of each, working well with Kimiora Poi (five goal assists from 10 feeds) in the centre. Venter’s goal scoring accuracy faded a little in the last term with just five goals from eight attempts as the Spar Proteas struggled to continue their flow down the court. Shadine van der Merwe had been consistent throughout and picked up another intercept, but the connection between the midcourt and shooters, and the shooters’ accuracy was not as effective as the quarter before and they faded away.

Wilson finished the match with 24 goals from 30 attempts at 80 per cent efficiency, teaming well with both Ekenasio (15 from 18) and Selby-Rickit (nine from 11) in the goal circle. Up the other end, Burger had two rebounds and two intercepts, while Karaka had one of each but also 12 penalties. The strength of the duo allowed them to rest Watson for a half, while Poi finished with 13 assists from 25 feeds in a strong performance. For the Proteas, Venter shone particularly through the middle quarters, finishing with 24 goals from 29 attempts, working best with Potgieter (11 from 15). Msomi was influential for the most part thanks to 23 assists from 31 feeds and an intercept, while van der Merwe had two intercepts and a goal assist too. Pretorius and Maweni combined for three rebounds but 24 intercepts as the pressure was constantly on the defence.

Now the Silver Ferns head into the final in less than 24 hours to take on Jamaica, while the Proteas go head-to-head against the home side, South Africa in the Bronze Medal playoff.

Head 2 Head: Nations Cup – Round 1

THE first day of the Nations Cup is set to kick off on Sunday with all four nations hoping to get their first win on the board. We take a look at two potential matchups from each game and assess the likely outcome.

ENGLAND v. NEW ZEALAND

Fran Williams (GD) v. Ameliaranne Ekenasio (GA)

In the first international game of 2020, both players will want to have an immediate impact and kick start their campaign on a positive note. New Ferns skipper Ekenasio oozes experience and class while Williams is still perfecting her craft down in defence.

Williams has proven time and time again that she can be a game changer with her read of the play and attacking nature. Her ability to get hands to ball and cause confusion for the feeders is second to none, constantly getting in the way down in defence. Williams is persistent and does not give an inch, riding every bump to remind opponents of her physical nature. Her footwork is highly impressive, able to get around the body and collect a tip or force a turnover making her a constant threat. Although she is still young, she has plenty of drive and determination which is a key element of her game.

After a stellar 2019 at both an international and domestic level Ekenasio has been gifted the captaincy. The new Silver Ferns leader will be chomping at the bit to get on the court and cause havoc in the goal circle. Ekenasio can shoot from anywhere with high release and smooth action a key aspect of her game play. She sweeps across the top of the goal circle with ease but can change up her game play in the blink of an eye not afraid to take the hard drive along the baseline, or become a holding shooter. She does a wealth of transition work to bring the ball down the court and consistently re-offers to help reset play and surge forward. Ekenasio is highly versatile, able to slot into goal shooter when need be and can post a high total of goals credit to her accuracy and high netball IQ.

Ekenasio is a confidence player, so if Williams can get on top early it will go a long way in disrupting the attacking flow of the Ferns especially given the retirement of Maria Folau and the inconsistent form of Bailey Mes. Up against someone with the calibre of Ekenasio, the Roses goal defence will have to work in overdrive to cover her every move and remain a threat for a full four quarters.

 

JAMAICA v. SOUTH AFRICA

Jhaniele Fowler (GS) v. Phumza Maweni (GK) 

There will be plenty of action in this match-up with both players renowned for their dynamic movement and athleticism. Jamaican shooter, Fowler is a mastermind under the post while Maweni is no slouch, often flying under the radar.

Fowler is as impressive as they come, not overawed by the occasion and instead thriving on the opportunity. She is a commanding presence under the post and can vary up her game style as shown in the latter half of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season. Renowned for her typical holding goal shooter style, Fowler has shown that she can get on the move and is not afraid to drive into the circle to create space. She is prolific under the post and remains close by the ring where she does the most damage. Her aerial ability is second to none, getting up high to receive passes while her ball control is just as solid. Despite her height, Fowler is quite light on her feet with balance another important element of her game play.

The South African goal keeper has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, taking some decent scalps and minimising the impact of star shooters. Maweni does not take a backwards step, consistently working to better herself and frequently injecting herself into the game with her leap. Her read of the play and netball IQ is high, able to get into the right positions quickly and cut off any forward forays by the opposition. What she lacks in bulk and stature, Maweni makes up for in tenacity and skill, able to get timely tips and hunt the ball to take big intercepts. Her footwork is impressive, able to get around the body of her opponents with ease and cause confusion for the feeders with her quick change of direction and long wing-span.

If the Jamaican shooter can make her mark early with her commanding presence and proficiency the Spar Proteas will be on the back foot and forced into catch-up, a position they do not want to be in against Jamaica. It will take more than Maweni’s efforts in goal keeper to shut down Fowler meaning the South African defensive unit in Karla Pretorius and Shadine van der Merwe will have to work together if they are to reign supreme.