Tag: peace proscovia

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

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #2

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season beginning in just a couple of days, the Draft Central team has decided to count down five things we are looking forward to this season. One of the most interesting adaptations this season is the addition of rolling subs, with a few teams that could benefit more than others in different parts of the court.

Starting with last season’s premiers, the NSW Swifts have plenty of talent on their bench that proved they could impact where required last season. Over the past few seasons the development of Sophie Garbin has been impressive with the youngster finding patches of court time last season and a huge benefit of her improvement could see her jump on as an impact player where required to assist Helen Housby and Sam Wallace. Through the midcourt, the Swifts have some high quality names in the mix with Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite all dominant attackers and Proud returning from injury, as well as some stellar youngsters on the bench who can ply their trade when required. In defence the side is a little less versatile than past seasons so is unlikely to see as much change as past seasons, though expect to see the likes of Lauren Moore ply her trade to rest Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner.

Sunshine Coast Lightning are almost in a completely different position to the Swifts in that they rarely made use of their bench in past seasons, bar to rotate Steph Wood, Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia last season. Given Wood is the most confident on the long bomb, expect the pocket rocket to be the main offender in the last five minutes of the quarter while Koenen can push out to goal attack when required to assist Proscovia at the post, though we are still yet to see who will take the starting spot alongside Wood. What we could see from the Lightning is a different kind of rolling rotation through the midcourt, with potential of Laura Langman and Laura Scherian shuffling for a different approach to the centre position or to rest given the condensed fixture will see double the games in a short amount of time.

Heading to the Melbourne Vixens and it is much the same story to the Lightning, with rotations expected in the goal circle but significant and trusted connections formed down the rest of the court. With a number of goalers who are able to sink the long bomb, expect the Vixens to adapt their rolling subs based on the game at hand, with the trio of Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip all able to ply their trade from anywhere in the circle. While the Vixens have been known to not make a huge amount of changes in past seasons, the addition of Kate Eddy this season could open up different defensive combinations, though the tried and tested duo of Emily Mannix and Jo Weston has rarely faltered with little rotations expected unless injury strikes.

Heading to a new look Collingwood Magpies side and it is safe to say that the Magpies will see plenty of rotations, especially with the return of Madi and Kelsey Browne from injury. With the dynamic sisters able to impact in any position through the midcourt and potentially set to be rested in patches to work up to full match fitness with no recent practice matches behind them, expect a couple of the Magpies’ young guns in Mel Bragg and Molly Jovic to take full control of their opportunities to get valuable court time. The goaling unit will be crucial for the Pies, with Shimona Nelson and Gabby Sinclair all but expected to play full games at this point with Julia Woolley returning to her Victorian Netball League side. This puts training partners Emma Ryde and Nyah Allen in good stead to make their Magpies debut but also puts a question mark over their heads with Allen having no prior SSN experience and Ryde a goal shooter like Nelson. Defensively, expect Jodi-Ann Ward and Matilda Garrett to be the major switch-ups in goal defence, with Ward also able to ply her trade in wing defence and Geva Mentor holding strong in goal keeper. 

Sitting just out of the top four last season, this GIANTS unit is looking very similar and is sure to benefit off the rolling subs with Kiera Austin a fantastic long shot to rotate into goal attack with fellow long bomb specialist Jo Harten at the post during the five minute two goal super shot period. Austin will likely fill the wing attack hole left by Kim Green at the end of last season for much of the rest of the quarters, with Caitlin Bassett important at the post and plenty of time for the goaling unit to meld better than they did in season 2019. After some fiddling last season Jamie-Lee Price secured the centre position with Amy Parmenter holding ground at wing defence little midcourt changes are expected except in the instance of the final five minutes, with Maddie Hay a potential to come off the bench where required. Defensively, Kristiana Manu’a and Sam Poolman are expected to hold down defence with assistance from Matilda McDonell.

After a disappointing season last year, West Coast Fever has nowhere to go but up and will likely see the most rolling sub movement through their goal circle in much the same way as they did in 2019. With Jhaniele Fowler as consistent and reliable as they come at the post, much of the movement will likely come from Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld, though Stanton’s goal shooter experience could prove crucial given she and Teague-Neeld are certainly more confident and used to the long bomb than Fowler. While it would be a huge change not having Fowler at the post, perhaps the switch-up is what the Fever need up forward when the two goal super shot comes into play. When it comes to  the midcourt and defence the Fever were forced to blood up a couple less experienced names last season that saw some impressive development, giving plenty of confidence to rotate where required. While Courtney Bruce is unlikely to rotate from goal keeper, Stacey Francis had a couple of runs out in wing defence last season while Jess Anstiss is a versatile midcourter meaning there could be plenty of movement in this Fever side.

A much-improved 2019 season saw the Thunderbirds suffer injuries aplenty and a bottom two finish while the off-season saw a flurry of changes. The retirement of long bomb specialist Maria Folau will hurt the Thunderbirds with the super shot coming into effect so shortly after her time with the side, and while the T’birds still have some stellar goalers, the likes of Lenize Potgieter and Sasha Glasgow are not the most adaptable, playing out most of their time in goal shooter. Still potentially in recovery from her 2019 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, Glasgow will likely be rested early in the part of the season leaving much of that attacking rotation to Charlee Hodges and Sam Gooden out the front with Hodges expected to get the start. With a highly versatile back-end, expect Kate Shimmin, Layla Guscoth and Shamera Sterling to really utilise the rolling sub with each defender able to add something different to the circle, while Shadine Van Der Merwe can also be a handy option down back.

Like the Magpies, expect the Firebirds to really take advantage of the rolling subs in 2020 with a couple of young, inexperienced names and plenty of upcoming talent in the mix. With a couple of young defenders holding down the circle expect to see some rotation between Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe and Rudi Ellis, while the experience and consistency of Gabi Simpson will hold up well in wing defence and highly unlikely to change from her regular post. The attacking midcourt will be down to Jemma Mi Mi and the hopeful return of Mahalia Cassidy, although young guns Macy Gardner and Lara Dunkley are both capable of rotating in where required especially if Cassidy is still a while off returning from ACL recovery. The real question for the Firebirds is what will happen in attack, with Romelda Aiken the obvious go-to girl at the post but no official replacement for Gretel Bueta as of yet. The rolling subs rule will allow the Firebirds to really feel out connections, with South African import Ine-Mari Venter the only viable option for the time being as the sole additional goaler on the list, though training partner Tippah Dwan is a solid option on the bench after being a quality option in preseason last year prior to injury.

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #5

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #4

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #3

SSN: Five things we’re looking forward to – #1

Centre Pass Podcast: Season preview

 

2020 Suncorp Super Netball preview: Round 1

DESPITE a last minute fixture change the highly anticipated return of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is set to kick off this weekend with cross town derbies the main flavour of the round. With COVID-19 restrictions in place for many of the states, teams have made the last minute dash to the Sunshine State meaning all four games will be played at Nissan Arena.

Queensland Firebirds v. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Saturday, 1 August

Grand finalists Sunshine Coast Lightning will be eager to get the wood over their state side rivals and prove that they will once again be the team to beat in 2020. Despite losing the grand final last year the Lightning have had little to no turnover in the off-season with the major change coming in the coaches box with Kylee Byrne taking charge. For the Firebirds they have been dealt a huge blow with Gretel Bueta announcing her pregnancy and subsequently out for the season.

With options aplenty in the goal circle for the Lightning expect the two time premiers to rotate their options to find their best combination. Entering her second SSN season Ugandan shooter Peace Proscovia will be hoping to bring her intensity and accuracy to post to become a real force to be reckoned with in the circle. Bursting onto the scene last year, Cara Koenen is another option in at goal shooter for the Lightning able to go to post from range and showcase her clever movement. But it is her versatility that could cause headaches for the Firebirds defensive unit able to switch out to goal attack when needed. The ever-reliable Steph Wood is crafty with ball in hand and not afraid to put up the long bomb and while she did not finish the way she would have liked last year will be keen to make amends in 2020. Although still young, the combination of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe will have to be on song from the opening minute of the match if they are to shut down the Lightning attack. Jenner and Hinchliffe are both renowned for their ball winning ways but can often rack up the penalties, which is something they will have to monitor in this clash to limit the amount of free opportunities to go to post. The injection of Rudi Ellis could provide a point of difference and some extra height to nullify either Proscovia or Koenen at the post.

Boasting a stacked midcourt with the likes of Silver Ferns veteran Laura Langman and Diamonds representative Laura Scherian the Lightning will be hoping to exploit the young Firebirds midcourt of Jemma Mi Mi, Macy Gardner and Lara Dunkley. Bueta’s absence will leave a w=hole both through the midcourt and in the goal circle meaning it will be up to Romelda Aiken to lead the charge under the post and do the heavy lifting. Defensively the Lightning have one of the strongest combinations with Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius constantly on the hunt for any loose ball and able to apply a wealth of pressure both on the shot and through transition. With Ine Mari Venter or Tippah Dwan likely to take the goal attack position expect the Lightning to double down on Aiken at the post and freeze up any easy avenue to post.

Given Sunshine Coast’s strong connections down the court and their never say die attitude they should have the upper hand against the Firebirds.

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. West Coast Fever
Saturday, 1 August

Both sides had an up and down season last year and will be hoping to put their foot down in Round 1. When they met in the concurrent round last year it was the Adelaide Thunderbirds that got the job done ended their 23 game losing streak. It was a feat they will be hoping to repeat this season against a relatively unchanged West Coast Fever line-up.

There is no denying that Jhaniele Fowler is the go-to girl for the Fever. Standing at 196cm the goal shooter is the Fever’s get out of jail free card, able to bomb it long into her and she will deliver on the scoreboard. She is prolific to post and oozes nothing but class, composure and balance to reel in errant passes. The battle in the air will be exciting to watch with Shamera Sterling a real menace for the Thunderbirds given her long limbs and impressive leap. Still solidifying their starting goal attack, both Alice Teague-Neeld and Kaylia Stanton will have to up the ante if they are to draw attention off Fowler at the post. Both goalers have the ability to go for the long bomb and are clever with ball in hand to create space but at times lack confidence, something the Thunderbirds will be hoping to exploit. The return of Layla Guscoth will bolster the Thunderbirds line-up with the experienced defender able to tag players out of a game with her shadowing style of play while Kate Shimmin is another viable option inside of the defensive circle to provide that spark and athleticism.

With Fowler up one end the other bookend for the Fever is captain and Australian Diamonds goal keeper Courtney Bruce. She is a hardnosed defender, constantly on the lookout for an intercept and uses her quick feet to will herself to the ball. Her lean over the shot is impressive while her physicality alongside Stacey Francisconstant niggle can offset opposition goalers. In her first official outing as a Thunderbird, South African Lenize Potgieter will have her work cut out for her but is no stranger to the big stage often letting her quickfire shot and accuracy to post do the talking. While it may take a couple of minutes for her to settle into the match expect Potgieter to control the flow in attack and be the main avenue to goal with Samantha Gooden and Charlee Hodges to play more of a supporting role. Neither Gooden or Hodges played at SSN level last year meaning the T’birds frontend will have a very fresh look this season with experienced heads in Potgieter and Chelsea Pitman to lead the way.

It will be an intense battle with both teams vying to kickstart their season in style and showcase their development. A settled line-up could give the Fever a slight edge however the T’birds have a couple of game changers across the court.

GIANTS Netball v. NSW Swifts
Sunday, 2 August

Fresh off a premiership the NSW Swifts will be hoping to make it back-to-back grand final wins and it all starts here with a clash against their state rivals. The Swifts stunned many last season with their remarkable season and will be hoping to build on that momentum this season. After narrowly missing the finals last season the GIANTS will have a real fire in the belly and another preseason together could give them that edge they have been looking for.

Both sides boast a relatively young and developing midcourt making for an intriguing battle through the centre third. The loss of Kim Green could be huge for the GIANTS but Kiera Austin is shaping up to be the favourite to replace the veteran with her impressive ball placement, speed across the court and vision into the circle while centre Jamie-Lee Price will be looking to elevate her game even further. Although more accustomed to the wing defence position, Price showed last year that she has the endurance and skillset to flick the switch and deliver in attack, something the GIANTS will be hoping to see more of this season. No longer the new kid on the block, Amy Parmenter will be keen to back up her stellar 2019 season and prove it was not a one off with her speed off the mark, tenacity and silky footwork set to match up on Swifts wing attack Natalie Haythornthwaite or returning captain Maddy Proud. Coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL) Proud offers experience and excitement in attack with her fancy footwork and hustle for prime spot on circle edge while Paige Hadley is dynamic in centre able to light up the court with her speed and read of the play.

Defensively the combination of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner will have their hands full with Caitlin Bassett and Jo Harten at the post. Klau and Turner found their rhythm last season with their defensive prowess, ability to set up a wall down back and cleanliness to attack each and every play. But Bassett and Harten are no easy beats, oozing nothing but netball smarts and experience to work the ball around the court and get into damaging positions. Harten is not afraid to go for the long bomb which could prove a problem with the introduction of the super shot while Bassett’s accuracy wavered at times last season, something she will be hoping to address.

If Sam Wallace and Helen Housby can get on top of Sam Poolman and Kristiana Manu’a it will go a long way in setting the tone for the Swifts and ultimately claiming the win.

Melbourne Vixens v. Collingwood Magpies
Sunday, 2 August

The last time these two sides met the Melbourne Vixens got the last laugh, dominating the Pies in the semi-final from start to finish. But since then the Magpies have had a complete overhaul with four of their starting seven all not taking the court this season while the Vixens have maintained a stable list with Kate Eddy the only person to join the fray, replacing Renae Ingles. Having played no practice matches due to the COVID-19 restrictions both sides could come out a bit rusty but that will not stop either team from fighting tooth and nail to secure the first derby win.

The weight of putting up a competitive total ultimately falls onto the young shoulders of Shimona Nelson with the Collingwood goaler a dominant force under the post with her strong holds, aerial skill and height. With no Nat Medhurst out the front to deliver into her or put up shots it will be up Gabby Sinclair to fill the hole left and showcase her netball nous to dish off pin point passes and go to post. The added bonus and potential return of Madi or Kelsey Browne for Round 1 will also have a huge influence on the Magpies shooting unit with the duo able to release the ball with confidence and ease credit to their impressive vision, variety of passes and ball placement. But the Vixens have a tight defence with Emily Mannix and Jo Weston a threatening combination with their suffocating pressure, three foot marking and physicality to force turnovers aplenty.

Up the other end the Melbourne Vixens also have a three pronged attack with Mwai Kumwenda officially returning from her ACL injury in 2018 and joining tried and tested duo of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip. The three can all rotate seamlessly through the circle and, most importantly, quickly adapt to whatever scenario they are placed into. Thwaites and Philip are a concerning prospect for the Magpies when it comes to the super shot with the two reliable from range while Kumwenda is an excitement machine thanks to her leap and aerial presence. It will be up to Collingwood co-captain Geva Mentor to stand up in defence and win ball back for her side while both Matilda Garrett and Jodi-Ann Ward offer that element of unpredictability.

With Collingwood boasting a new look team expect the Vixens to exploit their developing connections with their quick ball movement and accuracy to post to catch them off guard and secure a win.

2020 SSN: Season preview – Sunshine Coast Lightning

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

Coach: Kylee Byrne
Captain: Laura Langman
2019 finish: 1st

Another monumental season in 2019 saw the Lightning almost win their third premiership in as many years but suffered a heartbreaking grand final loss that saw the side down on its typical form under a barrage from the Swifts. The team had some major changes at the end of the 2018 season making for a shaky start in 2019, though their pickups more than made up for their losses once the season was underway. The return of Laura Langman paid dividends with the champion midcourter having an immediate impact, while both Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia shared the goal shooter role early and were able to offer different options to post, making for a varied attack with a couple of versatile and mobile options in there alongside Steph Wood. The departure of captain Geva Mentor at the end of 2018 could have shaken the Lightning, but the pickup of South African defender Phumza Maweni proved valuable, with the goal keeper working in tandem with compatriot Karla Pretorius to dominate defensively.

2020 predictions/expectations:

While last season saw a host of player changes as the side rebuilt after losing key names, 2020 will see the exact same list as last year meaning that the side has not had to worry about forging and developing connections. The Lightning are not known for staying stagnant for long, so they will surely be a team to watch in 2020 with versatility around the court and a solid group on the bench who can rotate on and make a difference within the game. This will be Kylee Byrne’s first year at the helm, so the real question this season is whether the team will cope without past coach, Noeline Taurua, with the New Zealand coach returning home at the end of last season. With three grand finals behind them and wins in two of them, expect the Lightning to be up there again thanks to the impressive form and adaptability the team has showed so far in the competition, with a core group proving impressive time and time again.

Key player to watch:

Koenen may still be young, but has well and truly proven over the past season that she is more than ready to take on further load on match-day and has the accuracy to cement her spot as one to watch not only for fans, but for future international selectors. The 24-year-old made a case for herself in 2019, plying her trade at the post and putting on consistent performances to prove she is up to the task. The goal shooter has proved over the past few years that she is a sponge soaking up feedback, learning to be a strong holding shooter from Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett when the towering goaler was at the Lightning, before the young talent worked hard in 2019 to pave her own way to the post, with her versatility and clean footwork allowing her to have an impact out in goal attack too. 

Team list:

Steph Wood
Laura Langman
Cara Koenen
Maddy McAuliffe
Karla Pretorius
Laura Scherian
Jacqui Russell
Annika Lee-Jones
Peace Proscovia
Phumza Maweni

Memorable Matches: Swifts deny Lightning three-peat for inaugural SSN premiership

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in recent history. Next up is NSW Swifts’ spectacular 2019 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final performance against Sunshine Coast Lightning. Looking to make it three in a row, the Swifts put on a masterclass stopping the Lightning in their tracks and clinching their first premiership in over 10 years.

It was an impressive display from the Swifts, who came into the match as the underdogs despite spending a wealth of the season on top of the ladder. The Lightning had an impressive track record against the Swifts heading into the grand final, but that was all thrown out the window with New South Wales pouncing on every opportunity that came their way to blow the Lightning out of the water.

With youngster Cara Koenen getting the start over Peace Proscovia and Steph Wood struggling for accuracy, the hungry Swifts defensive unit of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner switched it on from the starting whistle, gobbling up a wealth of ball between them. While Karla Pretorius had a similarly strong start, the Swifts were careful and patient with ball in hand and it paid dividends, heading into the second quarter four goals up thanks to the clean movement down court.

Sam Wallace proved she was in for a big one from the get-go, and while the Lightning put some solid pressure on the goal shooter defensively, she used her improved aerial ability to post 20 goals by half time and provide a constant threat – aided by Helen Housby who consistently evaded Pretorius to be a handy option inside the circle. With plenty of young talent running around through the Swifts midcourt, many wondered whether the experienced strength of Lightning livewire Laura Langman and speedster Laura Scherian would run them down. But that was not the case with the Swifts midcourt well and truly rising to the occasion, unfazed by the Lightning’s experience and instead doing what they do best, treasuring the ball and using their cautious approach to feed into the goalers. With Paige Hadley, Nat Haythornthwaite and Katrina Rore firing on all cylinders early, the Lightning could not seem to find purchase to steal momentum away, seeing the Swifts lead 31-23 at half time.

With rotations all around, the Lightning seemed to lack consistency especially in the goal circle, and with Hadley holding off an unusually quiet Langman there was not enough drive through the midcourt for the Lightning to pull back the margin. While many expected the Lightning to fire back heading into the second half, the Swifts did not let up and came out firing once more, not allowing the home side to generate any easy passage of play and establish their signature ball movement across the court, that many had gotten to used to seeing. Hadley and Haythornthwaite continued to ply their trade out the front, providing constant ball into the circle and despite the slower quarter the Swifts were still well and truly in control ahead of a massive final quarter. 

The real turn in the game was in the final quarter, seeing the Swifts finally really pull away from the Lightning thanks to the defensive unit putting on a show and Wallace continuing to dominate under the post. Defensively, Klau was having a day out dominating the one-on-one contest, and the usually threatening duo of Pretorius and Phumza Maweni seemed to pale in comparison to the Swifts’ defensive prowess. A phenomenal shared final quarter effort saw Wallace, Housby and Sophie Garbin dominate the scoresheet, combining for 18 goals compared to the Lightning’s 11, with the reigning premiers unable to compare to the Swifts’ hunt across the court. With a final margin of 17 goals, the Swifts had come in hot and could not be matched, winning their first Suncorp Super Netball premiership and proving that trusting in their youth would continue to pay off after a rough season at the top. 

Looking to the stats, Wallace earned a well-deserved Player of the Match award, shooting 40 goals at 91 per cent, followed by Lightning youngster Koenen with 23 at 85 per cent. Housby was consistent as ever with 18 goals, 19 centre pass receives and an intercept, while Proscovia racked up 16 goals in her 31 minutes on court. Swifts’ Haythornthwaite (21 assists, one intercept) and Hadley (20 assists) proved crucial through the midcourt, and while Laangman and Scherian similarly shared the feeding role (16 and 15 respectively) there just was not enough ball that reached their goalers to be a winning side. Defensively, Klau was spectacular with 10 gains (five intercepts, four rebounds and 10 deflections – one to advantage), and was aided well by partner in crime, Turner (two intercepts). Both Pretorius and Maweni put in a solid effort to combine for five intercepts, but it was not enough against the Swifts sharpshooters.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 12 | 11 | 13 | 11 (47)
NSW SWIFTS 16 | 15 | 15 | 18 (64)

Lightning

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

BENCH: Jacqui Russell, Peace Proscovia, Annika Lee-Jones
COACH: Noeline Taurua

Swifts

GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Nat Haythornthwaite
C: Paige Hadley
WD: Katrina Rore
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau

BENCH: Sophie Garbin, Sophie Halpin, Tayla Fraser
COACH: Briony Akle

SHOOTING STATS

Lightning

Cara Koenen 23/27
Peace Proscovia 16/18
Steph Wood 8/14

Swifts

Sam Wallace 40/44
Helen Housby 18/22
Sophie Garbin 6/7

Opinion: Which teams in the SSN will benefit from the Super Shot?

IN light of the introduction of the Suncorp Super Netball “Super Shot” Draft Central casts an eye over which team will benefit from the new rule and which teams may struggle. The Super Shot allows goalers in the last five minutes of each quarter to earn double the points if they can sink them from beyond the designated 3 metre arc. 

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

The new attacking end will have their work cut out for them this season boasting a very different line-up to last year. Headlined by Lenize Potgieter the Thunderbirds will be relying on the South African shooting sensation to lead the way under the post. The Tbirds could be disadvantaged with the new rule given Potgieter, Samantha Gooden and Charlee Hodges do most of their damage from close to the post. However the possible return of Sasha Glasgow could provide some relief with the goal shooter confident from range. The Thunderbirds would be wishing that the Super Shot rule was introduced last year with the now retired, long bomb specialist Maria Folau at their disposal. 

Collingwood Magpies:

Relying heavily on Shimona Nelson under the post the Magpies may have a difficult 2020 season given the close range in which the goal shooter does her damage. Nelson came along in leaps and bounds in season 2019 and will be looking to elevate her game once again this season and will more than likely be the spearhead for the Magpies attack end. Newbie Julia Woolley has proven at Victoria Netball League (VNL) level that she can shoot from anywhere and could be a key prospect for the Magpies when it comes to the Super Shot. Although more comfortable on the mid-range shot, Woolley can shoot from the perimeter while Gabby Sinclair is also another possibility to wreak havoc in the final five minutes of the quarter. 

GIANTS Netball:

It will be a good combination of long bomb and close range shooting with the two GIANTS goalers possessing very different styles. Although both renowned for their holding style of play, England Roses goaler Jo Harten is accustomed to the long bomb, able to rock back on the shot and score. Able to shoot from both under the post and perimeter it will be up to Harten to deliver from further out in the final five minutes of the quarter to try and give the GIANTS that competitive edge. While Caitlin Bassett is dominant under the post, able to put up a wealth of shots she does not venture far out from her comfort zone meaning the Super Shot scoring will lie heavily on Harten and potentially youngster Kiera Austin. Although Austin does not get a wealth of court time in the goal circle she has proven that she can come on and have an impact with her ability to back herself from mid-range. 

Melbourne Vixens:

Renowned for their long bomb shooting thanks to the likes of Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip the Melbourne Vixens are in good stead with the introduction of the Super Shot. Both goalers have continuously proven that they can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle with their composure and skill on constant display. Thwaites while strong under the post is equally as damaging from close to the perimeter and while Philip is more commonly known for her baseline drives and mid-range shots she is not afraid to back herself from range, making the Vixens a real threat in 2020. Although Malawian goal shooter, Mwai Kumwenda is not known for her long range shooting she can rely on the likes of Thwaites and Philip to steer the ship from distance and can focus on delivering from under the post.  

NSW Swifts:

Another team in a strong position with the new rule is the Swifts with England Roses goal attack Helen Housby a commanding presence close to circle edge. Although more comfortable with her mid-range shooting, Housby can sink them from distance and deliver, potentially making her the go to girl in the latter half of the quarters. Sophie Garbin is another option that can shoot from further out and while it is not her go to shot, her ability to stand up and deliver could make her an interesting prospect for the Swifts in the dying minutes of the quarter. Trinidad and Tobago goal shooter Sam Wallace is renowned for her skill and strength directly under the post but may have to look at broadening her range to suit the SSN rule change. 

Queensland Firebirds:

There is no denying that the Firebirds game plan centres around Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta who are both recognised for their close range shooting. Aiken is arguably one of the most formidable goal shooters in the competition with her aerial presence, long splits and high volume of shots. The only downside being the majority of her goals come from directly under the post, placing a wealth of pressure on the Firebirds attack unit to generate more scoring opportunities. Coming from a basketball background Bueta is used to shooting from distance but on the netball court the dynamic goaler opts to edge closer to the post. Although she has proven over time that she can convert from further out many are used to Bueta doing the most damage from a metre or so under the post. The inclusion of Ine-Mari Venter may provide that element of long range shooting that could benefit the Firebirds when it comes to converting on the Super Shot. 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

After a breakout season last year Cara Koenen will be hoping to go even bigger this season to really leave a mark on the competition. While she is most comfortable under the post and does most of her scoring from there, the Sunshine Coast local can shoot from mid-range, making her a viable option when it comes to the two point shot. However, the Lightning are well placed having the likes of Australian Diamonds goaler Steph Wood who is able to carry the load when it comes to shooting from further out. Wood is no slouch in the goal circle, able to shoot from just about anywhere and use her turn of speed to receive the ball and goal. Rounding out the shooting options for the Lightning is Ugandan goaler Peace Proscovia, while typically known for her holding role under the post, she might have to get on the move more in 2020 to create additional scoring chances.

West Coast Fever:

With Jhaniele Fowler the go-to-girl, West Coast might have to shake-up their game plan for the 2020 season in order to benefit from the Super Shot. The towering goal shooter is prominent under the post able to shoot quickly, accurately and at a high volume. But with most of Fever’s goals coming from within a metre or so of the ring, the Fever might have to look to Alice Teague-Neeld and Kaylia Stanton more often to capitalise on the two point shot. Stanton can shoot from further out  while Teague-Neeld hardly puts up a shot instead proving to be a playmaker in the attacking third with her quick hands and vision into the circle. While accuracy can be an issue for both Stanton and Teague-Neeld at times the new rule could cause a few headaches for the Fever in 2020 with the team in green potentially forced to stray from their usual game play of turn and deliver to Fowler under the post.

Who will develop the most in the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season?

AFTER an action packed 2019 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season, there will be plenty of players hoping to kick it up a gear in 2020 and really showcase their X-factor on the court. Each player proved they have the capabilities to mix it with the best in the league and will be keen to take that next step in their development throughout the SSN season and potentially prove their worth for an international call up.

Cara Koenen: Sunshine Coast Lightning

Without the likes of Australian Diamonds captain, Caitlin Bassett at the helm last season, Sunshine Coast local Koenen stood tall under the post. Vying for a spot against new Ugandan recruit Peace Proscovia the young goal shooter showcased her dynamism, strength, skill and accuracy to post. The 190cm goaler steadily built into the season and most importantly grew in confidence, using her clever body positioning to command the ball and apply scoreboard pressure. At 24, Koenen still has plenty of development left in her but if last year is anything to go by Lightning fans have plenty to be excited about heading into season 2020 with her versatility an obvious factor in her game play. Her ability to seamlessly switch between goal shooter and goal attack makes her a dominant threat while her height, quick footwork and long arms allow her to reel in balls that would typically fly over the baseline. More court time surrounded by some of the best players in the world will aid Koenen’s game style and allow her to play with more freedom and confidence.

Amy Parmenter: GIANTS

The highly touted wing defence took the competition by storm last year, bursting onto the scene and not looking back. Her speed off the mark is second to none able to stream down the court and fly past to pick off an intercept. Parmenter’s quick change of direction and hands over pressure is also highly impressive. While she faded out of high intensity games at times the 22-year-old will be hoping to put out a more consistent performance in 2020 to really assert herself as a dominant player in the SSN. Already a threat in the air with her intercepting skill, her court coverage is equally impressive able to shadow her opponent step for step and block their every move to cause confusion in the attacking third and create errors. Renowned for her defensive traits, Parmenter can swing into centre and showcase her attacking tendencies with her strength around circle edge and deliver well-weighted passes into the goalers. With further exposure at the highest level her netball smarts will only continue to develop and make her a player to watch.

Kim Jenner: Queensland Firebirds

Entering her third season with the Queensland Firebirds, Jenner has quickly become an integral member in their defensive unit. Renowned for her more physical style of defence the 22-year-old will be hoping to clean up in 2020 to ensure she stays in play more and can assert herself on the attackers. She is an excitement machine that constantly sets tongues wagging with her ability to take a huge intercept and read the play. Her ability to regularly interchange between both goal keeper and goal defence is an impressive feat. Standing at 184cm the highly skilled defender is lightning quick on her feet, able to get to contests and create timely deflections. She is strong in the air credit to her leap while her strong hands enable her to reel in intercepts or swat away balls entering the defensive third. Her constant movement and repositioning causes headaches for attackers with Jenner confusing the space to pick off intercepts. Her attacking drive through midcourt is another key element of her game play and will only further develop with more court time. She proved she could match it with the best and hold her own and while she was worn down at times by the experienced players there is no denying that Jenner has plenty of grit and determination.

Sophie Craig: NSW Swifts

Coming off a premiership last season and earning herself a full time contract this season expect Craig to up the ante even more in 2020 to prove it was not a one off. The skilled midcourter has versatility to boot able to pull on the wing attack, centre and wing defence bib, the latter her preferred. She is clever with ball in hand and strong around the circle edge, denying her opponent any easy passage into the attacking third. Craig proved to be a crucial cog in the Swifts premiership last year and more court time in 2020 will only foster the development of the dynamic midcourter. The 177cm wing defence is not the speediest player to grace the court but her netball understanding, ball placement and drive through the centre is what sets her apart. She provided a good chop out for the Swifts last season, injecting plenty of energy and defensive pressure when on court but will be wanting to ensure she can sustain that over a period of time in 2020 to have her intended impact.

What if … Laura Langman did not return to SSN in 2019?

IN the inaugural season of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) back in 2017, New Zealand Silver Ferns veteran and centre Laura Langman played a crucial role in her sides’ premiership. The Sunshine Coast Lightning were filled with a wealth of talent ranging from Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett, partner-in-crime Steph Wood and England Roses star Geva Mentor showcasing just how much talent was amongst the mix. At the end of 2017, Langman stepped away from SSN duties to comply with Silver Ferns regulations leaving the Lightning one star midcourter down. However, that did not faze them, going on to win their second premiership and make it back-to-back titles. But 2019 was slightly different. The Lightning had a major overhaul at the end of 2018 with fresh faces joining the 2019 roster and some of the more experienced ones departing for other clubs in the competition. Speedster and dynamic wing attack, Kelsey Browne made her way back home to Melbourne to be with sister Madi at Collingwood, while Mentor and Bassett both departed as well. With Browne gone there was a Langman-sized opening in the midcourt, one many netball fans were glad to see filled by the highly skilled centre.

But what if Langman did not return to SSN in season 2019? Would the Lightning have made it all the way to the grand final?

While we know that no team is better than any one player, the inclusion of Langman is like having an extra two players on court. The centre court player is in a league of her own, thanks to her unfathomable endurance, speed off the mark and defensive pressure. She can easily run a player into the ground while her netball knowledge is out of this world. Having played for upwards of 15 years at the highest level possible, Langman can quite easily change the course of a game single handily whether it be with a huge intercept or a well-timed feed into the circle Langman can do it all and she consistently proved that throughout the SSN season. But without her they may have struggled to generate the same winning formula. Her side had some teething problems early in the 2019 season, but the experience and of wisdom of Langman paid dividends thanks to her cool, calm head. With new shooter Peace Proscovia joining the Lightning and Cara Koenen taking the court more frequently the attack end had a very different look to it, while Laura Scherian had to find her feet in a new position back in wing attack. But it was Langman’s peace of mind, tactics and ball control that helped to steady the ship and provide options to either push forward or reset making her such an integral member.

Although their connections strengthened as time went on it was Langman’s ability to know where to place the ball, controlled speed and skill to stand up under pressure that got the Sunshine Coast over the line on a couple of close occasions. On the odd occasion when Langman was down on her usual output the Lightning suffered to generate that forward push or pressure through the midcourt indicating that if in fact she was not apart of the side in 2019 it may have been difficult for them to climb the ladder. It is not only her skill but so too leadership in trying situations that makes her that a-list player something that the Sunshine Coast well and truly cherished to get them over the line time and time again, having been the only team to not record a draw throughout last season.

While Langman is not the be all and end all of the Lightning she is a key cog in both the attack and defence end and given her side had gone through a major personnel change her presence on court played a huge role in making it to the grand final despite falling short on the day. Without Langman, the Sunshine Coast would have lacked that ace up their sleeve through the midcourt.

Would Sunshine Coast Lightning have made the 2019 SSN Grand Final without Laura Langman?
Yes
No
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Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #5 – Fran Williams

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 five is England defender Fran Williams. Williams came in at number three on our Top 25 Young Guns countdown and makes the cut once more thanks to her star power and rate of improvement over recent seasons.

At 22-years-old, Williams has rocketed through the netball rankings with her positioning, clean hands and ability to switch up her game. Currently a defender for Wasps Netball in the Vitality Netball Superleague and having racked up some valuable caps with the England Roses since debuting in 2018, Williams could be a valuable defender to join the fray in Australia. With drive to do better and an ability to time her drive for an intercept, Williams is a constant moving threat and with her long arms and speed off the mark. Her exposure to the top level thus far has seen her take the court against key Super Netball goalers in Peace Proscovia, Sam Wallace and Lenize Potgieter at the Netball World Cup in 2019, when injury struck starting defender Layla Guscoth. Williams was able to slot into the circle unit to pick up some of the slack, drawing on her experience training with the likes of Guscoth and Geva Mentor to lift her game.

The young defender had a solid start to the 2020 Superleague despite the Wasps only putting the one win on the board, collecting 11 intercepts and eight deflections from the four matches. While her penalty count for the first few games could leave something to be desired, her ability to track the ball across the court and use her speed to regain possession after a penalty sees her room to improve immense – making her a huge threat in defence when she has more experience under her belt. Williams is a reliable option on court with strong netball nous, and while the Super Netball may not necessarily need defenders at the moment, her rate of improvement and ability to take on constructive feedback and apply it on court could see her join a number of England internationals on court in Australia 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)

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #10 – Joice Takaidza

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 10 is Joice Takaidza.

The Zimbabwean goal shooter burst onto the international scene at the 2019 Netball World Cup in England. Takaidza is an unknown quantity but proved that she has a big bag of tricks able to mix it amongst the best and hold her own. Throughout the World Cup, Takaidza played against a host of A-list defenders in Australian duo Courtney Bruce and Jo Weston along with Silver Ferns stars Jane Watson and Phoenix Karaka. She was a key reason why her side progressed as far as they did in the World Cup with her sure-fire shooting and ability to hold space in the circle on full display. She racked up a whopping 198 goals throughout the World Cup taking out the leading scorer for the Gems and while she did not feature highly on the assists leaderboard with three she showcased her strength on the rebound with six offensive rebounds.

Takaidza took the competition by storm with her silky footwork, impressive balance and ability to hold under the post her main attributes. While she is still a raw prospect she has proved that further development at the highest level possible could help mold her into an exciting prospect for years to come. Already residing in Australia and living in a small country town in South Australia, Takaidza could be a key acquisition for an SSN club much like Peace Proscovia. Her split under the post and strength to consistently butter up and offer an option puts her in a good light while her ball handling skills are strong in the circle able to reel in any errant passes. Though she is not the quickest, her body positioning is what sets her up to be a commanding figure in the goal circle as shown in her time on court for Zimbabwe. Although she is not the most accurate shooter, her ability to put up a high volume of shots and remain a constant threat in the circle paints her as a key figure for any side and continued exposure to a high level of netball will further enhance her skillset.

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

#10 Joice Takaidza (Zimbabwe)