Tag: 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

Who will replace Bongi Msomi as captain of South Africa?

THE Spar Proteas have risen up the rankings, seen as a team to beat with star players across the court and speed to boot. Led by inspirational captain Bongi Msomi, South Africa have pushed many of the top four nations to their limits, collecting crucial wins and getting inside opposition heads. But in a look to the future, the question must be asked who will replace the role of captain when Msomi retires, with the midcourter celebrating her 32nd birthday this year. The two options listed have experience playing in both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL), showcasing their ability to perform both on an international level and domestic level, week in week out. 

Karla Pretorius:
There is no denying that the electrifying goal defence has skill, stamina and x-factor to boot. She is lightning quick and able to have an impact at every single contest such is her read of the play. The 30-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down and is already a key leader down back with the goal defence dictating the space and using her experience to lead the likes of Phumza Maweni and Shadine van der Merwe. Pretorius’ read of the play and calming presence pays dividends in the defensive third for the Proteas, able to swoop in and change the course of the game in an instant. Her go-go gadget arms and quick footwork makes her nearly impossible to stop while her endurance and durability makes her a crucial cog in the Proteas defence and attack, often able to feed the ball through the midcourt. Already the vice-captain, it would make sense for the defender to step up to the plate and deliver as captain if and when Msomi retires. Pretorius is the one that players look to to lift or inspire the side to create turnover ball and go on a scoring spree. She is hardly ever out-muscled despite her slight stature and is a real workhorse across the court with her ferocity and desire to win the ball. 

Lenize Potgieter:
The talented goaler is clearly a key cog in the future development of the Spar Proteas with her quick fire shooting style and accuracy to post. Potgieter is strong under the post and has been a permanent figure in South Africa’s line-up for the past couple of years with her ability to hold space, create scoring opportunities and pile on the attacking pressure. Her silky movement and strong hands makes her a commanding presence in the goal circle. At 26, Potgieter still has plenty of time left to continue her leadership and has proven to be a threat to be reckoned with under the post with her unconventional shooting style, high volume of goals and play making abilities. She can withstand the pressure and is not afraid to absorb it to act as the main goaler for South Africa as shown throughout all her international outings. Potgieter has developed her versatility throughout her career, able to switch from a holding shooter to a moving one, and occasionally pushes out to goal attack displaying her netball smarts and clever ball delivery. She can adapt to a wealth of shooting partners whether it be Sigi Burger, Ine Mari Venter or young gun Lefébre Rademan, such is her composure and leadership in the attacking third, something she will have to maintain if she does take over the reigns.  

While there are a wealth of other options such as Khanyisa Chawane, Venter, Maweni and Zanele Vimbela, expect the leadership role to fall to either Pretorius or Potgieter given they are both consistent figures for the Spar Proteas.

Netball fantasy teams: VNSL Roses v. VNSL International All Stars

FOLLOWING the huge success of the thrilling Diamonds vs All Stars Bushfire Relief game in March, it got us thinking about another hypothetical exhibition match, with international Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) players facing up to the top England Roses squad members who are currently plying their trade in the UK.

VNSL Roses:

GK: Razia Quashie (Saracens Mavericks)
GD: Fran Williams (Wasps Netball)
WD: Laura Malcolm (Manchester Thunder)
C: Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball)
WA: Gabby Marshall (Saracens Mavericks)
GA: Ellie Cardwell (Manchester Thunder)
GS: George Fisher (Saracens Mavericks)

BENCH: Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (Team Bath), Nat Panagarry (Loughborough Lightning), Jodie Gibson (Saracens Mavericks)

This Roses fantasy squad has a huge amount of experience and depth across all areas of the court. In the 2020 Netball Nations Cup, we saw the emergence of a new England shooting partnership between Ellie Cardwell and George Fisher – nicknamed “Fishwell”. Whilst Cardwell is usually seen wearing the goal shooter bib, in goal attack she opened up the shooting circle nicely for Fisher and can sink a sweet long bomb herself. This partnership would certainly give any defensive lineup a lot of headaches, especially given Fisher’s clever footwork and shooting accuracy. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis also plays more of the traditional goal attack role with her speed and strong drives and could provide another look for the shooting end. Whilst Drakeford-Lewis is at the beginning of her international career, she would be well supported in this lineup. She is likely to become a key option for England in the future – especially given she can also move into wing attack if needed, much like a versatile Nat Haythornthwaite or Kiera Austin.

In the midcourt, a balance of experience and youth creates this formidable unit. Youngster Gabby Marshall has great vision at wing attack and can keep any wing defence busy so they don’t go looking for trouble. Marshall is backed up by the veteran Jade Clarke who can keep a cool head in the middle and dictate play with ease. Tenacious tagger Laura Malcolm completes this midcourt lineup. Though she spent some time away from the England setup, her recent performances in the red dress have been outstanding. Nat Panagarry proved herself capable at the Netball World Cup 2019, showing that she is a confident team-player and can have an impact when needed. She has a good read of the game and her infectious energy can really lift a team.

The defensive end is where this team gets exciting. Whilst you have the reliable and gutsy Fran Williams out the front causing havoc, you also have one of the most threatening defenders coming up the England ranks in Razia Quashie at the back. Whilst Quashie is not the tallest defender in the game, she clearly has the athletic ability and pure strength to be a game-changer. With this defensive end, the difficulty may be the partnerships. As we saw in the Bushfire Relief game, putting two defending superstars out on court together doesn’t always mean they gel easily. I would love to see this combination out on court for England more as Quashie and Williams have such complementary styles of play. Given time together they could become a lethal partnership. Jodie Gibson is another versatile and experienced defender, providing a sparky and reliable option at the back should the defensive end need to change tactics.

VNSL International All Stars:

GK: Zanele Vimbela (Sirens, SA)
GD: Latanya Wilson (Dragons, JAM)
WD: Nia Jones (Stars, WAL)
C: Caroline O’Hanlon (Thunder, NI)
WA: Liana Leota (Stars, NZ)
GA: Alexia Baker (Wasps, AUS)
GS: Sigi Burger (Pulse, SA)

BENCH: Kim Commane (Bath, AUS), Adean Thomas (Pulse, JAM), Jo Trip (Mavericks, NZ)

This International All Stars side is undoubtedly stacked with talent. At the shooting end, it’s hard to ignore the threat of Sigi Burger under the post, given her 98% shooting average after three rounds of the 2020 VNSL Season. New to the VNSL, Alexia Baker is no stranger to high-quality netball, having been a Queensland Firebirds training partner. She knows how to feed a holding shooter like Burger and can also provide a solid option to goal. Kim Commane had an outstanding start to the 2020 season, ending up in the top five goal scorers, and she provides another different style of play to keep the defenders guessing. While this shooting end has very few international caps between them, these players have demonstrated their skills domestically and wouldn’t shy away from an opportunity on a bigger stage.

Liana Leota is a typical wing attack, extremely crafty and with a wealth of tools in her arsenal to feed the goal circle effectively. In the centre position, Caroline O’Hanlon is so impressive, not only due to her insane fitness but also her defensive pressure and a cool head. Leota and O’Hanlon combined effectively to secure Manchester Thunder’s Grand Final win last season, and could easily replicate this successful chemistry. Supported by Nia Jones in wing defence, the position where she is arguably her strongest, this midcourt unit would have no issues with transition play and swift goal conversion. Adean Thomas has also demonstrated her flair and skill, both at the VNSL and for Jamaica. Thomas is unpredictable, exciting and would be a great impact player in this lineup.

In the defensive circle, Latanya Wilson has been compared to a young Shamera Sterling and this glowing comparison is not undue. Wilson has fantastic aerial ability and was sitting on 14 intercepts when the VNSL was cancelled. This was just one behind the leader in Quashie, and Wilson racked up this impressive tally despite the fact she was suspended for one game due to dangerous play. Whilst discipline is an area to improve on, her surprising gameplay and rangy limbs would be a valuable asset in goal defence for the All Stars. Teaming up with Wilson is South African, Zanele Vimbela. Vimbela has proven her worth internationally and is surely next in line to the goal keeper bib for South Africa after Phumza Maweni. She is a fearless defender who attacks the ball and provides consistent pressure to unnerve the opposition feeders. Able to cover both positions effectively is Mavericks stalwart Jo Trip. Her height and experience mean she can make a difference in close games and would be a valuable addition to the All Stars.

Who would win?

The International All Stars have a tremendous amount of talent and a really diverse range of playing styles. However, the Roses consistency and familiarity with each other would most likely mean they would take the win. The battle would be lost and won in the midcourt, as the two sides are fairly evenly matched at both ends – with the Roses’ shooting circle slightly superior to the All Stars’. This would be a great spectacle of VNSL talent, but it’s likely the Roses would be able to edge out the All Stars.

Top 20 players over 30: #2 Karla Pretorius

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming in at number two on the countdown is arguably the world’s best defender, Karla Pretorius.

The Spar Proteas goal defence is simply in a league of her own. There is no stopping Pretorius when on song, getting her hands in everything that comes her way. She is deceptively quick and while she is not the tallest defender standing at 181cm she has an uncanny ability to get up for the high balls and swat them away. Her on-court influence is second to none, able to spark something for her side and single handedly change the course of a game. The South African defender provides that element of excitement every time she steps out on court and often leaves people in awe, pulling off the unthinkable time and time again.

Her timing is extremely impressive, able to sense the moment, leave her player and take a breathtaking intercept while her ability to stay away from the whistle makes her a damaging prospect. Her cleanliness to get around the body of her opponent and use her inside arm is something to behold, applying a wealth of pressure on the entire attacking unit given her defensive prowess.

Just scraping into the age bracket at age 30, Pretorius still has plenty of gas left in the tank and has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. Her ability to perform at an international level and domestic level is undeniable, constantly bringing her a-game and causing headaches for attackers. She was a key reason why the Sunshine Coast Lightning won back-to-back premierships in the Suncorp Super Netball with lean over the shot and skill to clog up space in the defensive third and suffocate the attacking options. Her adaptability to play with a changing defensive unit is impressive, unfazed by what is going on around her and simply digging deep and getting the job done. While the connection she has with Lightning and South African teammate Phumza Maweni, in the defensive goal circle is also integral to her game play, allowing her to go off hunting and create turnover ball.

Her quick change of direction, and drive down court is another key element of her game play, often providing that support along the transverse line to the frontend. Pretorius is not one to have a bad game, able to work her way into a match and wear her player down to help nullify their influence whether it be under the post or setting up attacking forays. She is a real barometer for any team and a true leader for the defensive end with her ability to read the play and shut down options.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

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

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

#11 Mwai Kumwenda (Melbourne Vixens/Malawi)
#10 Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens/Australia)
#9 Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball/England)

#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)
#7 Caitlin Bassett (GIANTS Netball/Australia)
#6 Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever/Jamaica)
#5 Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies/England)
#4 Katrina Rore (Central Pulse/New Zealand)
#3 Serena Guthrie (Team Bath/England)
#2 Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)

What if… the international players were not allowed to return to SSN?

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) hopeful to return in the coming months, star players from across the globe are slowly making their way back to Australia and their respective teams ahead of the impending season. The Adelaide Thunderbirds will welcome back three of their stars with Lenize Potgieter and Shadine van der Merwe returning from South Africa while Layla Guscoth is set to make the journey from England. Phumza Maweni will re-join the Sunshine Coast Lighting while Nat Haythornthwaite will make her way back to the New South Wales Swifts. Each player, plays an integral role for their respective side often forming the crux of the squad, providing that element of experience and class across the court.

But what if they were not allowed to re-enter the competition? How would that effect each club and the overall competition?

The Adelaide Thunderbirds would have been hit the hardest if Potgieter, van der Merwe and Guscoth were all not able to re-join the squad with each of them expected to earn a starting spot. While Guscoth missed the second half of last season due to an Achilles injury the talented defender will be eager to get back out on court and prove her worth. The lanky goal defence oozes class, understanding and a sense of calmness down back able to call the shots and apply pressure over the shot. With Maria Folau retiring last year and Sasha Glasgow out with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the goal shooter position all but falls to Potgieter. The South African is a sure shot under the post able to find space with ease and most importantly convert with ease. She is quick and unconventional on the shot and puts up a high volume of goals making her the go-to for any team. The final piece of the puzzle is van der Merwe with the versatile defender able to seamlessly transition from wing defence to goal defence when needed. Her defensive pressure, quick footwork and tagging style of defence makes her another key cog for the Thunderbirds. While Adelaide have a wealth of options without these international stars they could have been facing a very difficult year unable to generate scoring power and defensive pressure.

Maweni’s combination with South African and Lightning teammate Karla Pretorius is simply unstoppable when on song. The two work seamlessly together able to rotate through the defensive circle with ease and use their three-foot marking to create doubt in the goalers mind. The Spar Proteas goal keeper is light on her feet able to read the play and go out hunting for the intercept something that the Lightning would be missing from their line-up which is renowned for stimulating turnover ball. Without Maweni the Lightning would be lacking that extra layer of class and connection with Pretorius given the two work like clockwork.

Although the NSW Swifts have a wealth of depth on the bench with the likes of Tayla Fraser, Paige Hadley, Sophie Craig and the inevitable return of captain Maddy Proud the absence of Haythornthwaite would be sorely missed. The England Roses wing attack sees the game in a way no one else can delivering pin point passes into the likes of Sam Wallace and Helen Housby. She is nimble on her feet able to dart around the attacking third and hold strong on the circle edge while her ability to switch into goal attack adds another string to her bow. If Haythornthwaite was not able to return to the Swifts they would lose that versatility and composing presence in the attacking third.

Memorable Matches: South Africa defeat Jamaica – NWC 2019

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is South Africa SPAR Proteas’ stellar three goal victory over Jamaica at the 2019 Netball World Cup. Then world number two nation, Jamaica lost to the Spar Proteas for only the third time, seeing South Africa top Pool C heading into the preliminary rounds.

It was a spectacular start that kept the Proteas ahead from the get-go, limiting every opportunity the Sunshine Girls had to get goals and the board and forcing plenty of errors. While Jamaica has a wealth of talent bookending the court, where they lack some star-power is through the midcourt which is where they were well and truly beaten by South Africa.

The first half went all the way of the South Africans, leading by more than 10 goals at the main change. While it was partially down to the impressive scoreboard pressure the Proteas applied, full credit had to go to the defensive efforts of Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni, with the pair denying every opportunity into the goal circle. Where Jhaniele Fowler is a major target at the post for Jamaica, Maweni well and truly shut her down while Pretorius kept the likes of Shanice Beckford away from her range.

Pretorius racked up three intercepts and four gains throughout. A real workhorse through the middle of the court, Erin Burger impressed with her ability to impact on and off the ball and propel the play forward, with Bongi Msomi doing what she does best in attack, running laps around her opposition to hand ball on a silver platter to Lenize Potgieter, who shot 19 goals alone in the first half – only two less than the Sunshine Girls did overall. 

But while the first half was all down to South Africa, Jamaica came out flying to well and truly outscore the Proteas in the second half. A massive 17 goal to 10 third quarter allowed the Sunshine Girls to power their way back into the game, only down by four goals by the final change. Burger was well matched in the second half by Nicole Dixon in at centre, while Vangelle Williams did whatever was necessary to limit Msomi’s impact by blocking her every move – but racking up the penalties as she did so, collecting 16 penalties out at wing defence, only two and one less than respective goal keepers, Sterling (19) and Maweni (18). Khadijah Williams racked up the 21 goal assists to form a threatening combination with Beckford feeding into the circle, racking up 12 alone in the second half.

Where goal keeper Shamera Sterling had a messy first half she cleaned up her act later, only picking up the eight penalties in the second half to pull back the margin, but was not entirely able to limit Potgieter’s silky movement at the post. Sterling only picked up the two intercepts across the entire game, with South Africa aware of the goal keeper’s ability to pluck ball out of the air with ease and able to poke holes in the defensive play.

Fowler dominated at the post with ease in the second half, drawing penalties from the long-limbed Maweni and shooting 23 goals at 100 per cent accuracy to keep Jamaica in the game. It was South Africa’s dominant defensive effort that kept them afloat even when Jamaica came out flying in the second half, with five Proteas collecting an intercept to their name. Where the Proteas racked up elements of defensive pressure, they also kept down the penalties, maintaining the defensive without the physicality. 

The last quarter was neck and neck with neither side really able to grab the momentum, seeing the score see-saw as each team took advantage of their centre pass. But a vital turnover or two allowed South Africa to always stay one step ahead of Jamaica, never conceding a goal for the Sunshine Girls to take the lead. While the defensive pressure was what saw the game come down to the close margin in the end, the phenomenal scoreboard pressure applied by both goal shooters saw the game come down to the wire with little to separate the two stars.

Fowler missed just the one goal all match for 38 goals at 97 per cent accuracy, while Potgieter was just as solid with 36 from 39 attempts. Their respective goal attacks in Beckford and Maryka Holtzhausen were not quite as accurate, shooting at 74 and 66 per cent respectively, but it was their ability to evade their opposition and assist their goal shooter that allowed them both to still have an impact.

JAMAICA 9 | 12  | 17 | 12 (52)
SOUTH AFRICA 16 | 16 | 10 | 13 (55) 

STARTING SEVEN

Jamaica
GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Shanice Beckford
WA: Khadijah Williams
C: Nicole Dixon
WD: Vangelee Williams
GD: Stacian Facey
GK: Shamera Sterling

BENCH: Adean Thomas, Jodiann Ward, Romelda Aiken, Kadie-Ann Dehaney, Rebekah Robinson
COACH: Marvette Anderson, Sasher-Gaye Henry

 

South Africa

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Maryka Holtzhausen
WA: Bongiwe Msomi
C: Erin Burger
WD: Khanyisa Chawane
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

BENCH: Shadine van der Merwe, Sigi Burger, Izette Griesel, Renske Stoltz, Zanele Vimbela
COACH: Norma Plummer

SHOOTING STATS

Jamaica
Jhaniele Fowler 38/39
Shanice Beckford 14/19

South Africa
Lenize Potgieter 36/39
Maryka Holtzhausen 19/29

Top 20 players over 30: #17 Phumza Maweni

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. In at number 17 on the countdown is Sunshine Coast Lightning defender and Spar Proteas representative Phumza Maweni.

Since making the move to the Sunshine State, Maweni has found a new lease on life with her immense defensive pressure and on-court coverage kicking up a gear. Her long reach over the shot and quick footwork has developed at a rate of knots able to dart around the defensive third and force turnovers. The 35-year-old has grown with confidence over the past 12 months and has become a commanding presence in the goal circle with her strong movement.

Despite her slight stature, Maweni has proven she has the footwork and netball nous to out-position her opponent and push them out of the circle. Her ability to read the play and pick off passes as they come in makes her a constant threat. Although she can be costly at times with errant penalties her workhorse mentality is one of her prominent traits working hard to regain the ball and then send it into attack. She can stand up under the pressure and uses her vision and spatial awareness to set up accordingly.

Maweni is constantly on the move not letting the goaler settle and putting doubt in the mind of the feeders. Her physical style of defence also gets under the skin of her opposition and makes her a force to be reckoned with.

Her pairing with arguably the world’s best goal defence Karla Pretorius is highly impressive with the two able to seamlessly rotate through the defensive third. Not only do they star on a domestic level in the Suncorp Super Netball but so too for the Proteas on the world stage. Their connection is simply unstoppable with Maweni able to direct traffic in the defensive third and use her long limbs to get tips and turnovers. Fellow defenders Shadine Van der Merwe and Zanele Vimbela also excel with the experience and guidance of Maweni down back with the defender able to sight the play before it happens.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)

Memorable Matches: 2019 Quad Series – South Africa defeats England ahead of Netball World Cup

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is the 2019 Quad Series match between South Africa and England, where the Proteas shocked the reigning Commonwealth champions, England Roses on their opponents’ home turf ahead of the Netball World Cup.

The three-goal victory stunned the Roses who went toe-to-toe early on but were ultimately outclassed by the Spar Proteas over the course of the match, which saw Player of the Match Karla Pretorius team up with Phumza Maweni to make life difficult in the goal circle. Pretorius’ four intercepts were crucial with the stalwart defender pushing the likes of Jo Harten and Helen Housby to the limit, while Shadine van der Merwe was crucial on circle edge racking up the five deflections. England’s goalers were uncharacteristically inaccurate, shooting at a combined 81 per cent for the match while Harten was well and truly kept away from her regular goal tally, unable to put up her usual volume thanks to the Proteas’ constant defensive pressure.

But while South Africa came away with the win, England maintained their class and cleanliness throughout, collecting 11 less penalties while they were at it and winning the second half – albeit by a single goal. It was the second quarter where the Roses lost control, only shooting 10 goals and allowing the Proteas to take the lead, with the defensive pressure of Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown not entirely having the desired effect, leading to a change with returnee Layla Guscoth taking the court and playing out the match for three gains to Mentor’s four. But it wasn’t enough, with a solid partnership forming between Bongi Msomi and Erin Burger, seeing Burger use her gut running to constantly be a threat in centre while Msomi’s speed and feeding ability saw her collect 21 goal assists from 36 feeds, while her opposition in Jade Clarke collected two intercepts.

For the Proteas, Lenize Potgieter was the difference with her atypical – yet accurate – shooting technique accurate as ever, shooting 34 goals at 92 per cent. While England maintained some control in the second half, it seemed the second quarter had shaken the usually confident Roses, with the side ultimately unable to gain dominance and take a lead against the Proteas. Serena Guthrie was a good match for Burger through the midcourt but was moved back to control Msomi, while Chelsea Pitman racked up 18 goal assists from 29 feeds despite van de Merwe’s best efforts. But it was to no avail as the Proteas put themselves in good stead for the Netball World Cup with the 48-45 victory.

ENGLAND 13 | 10 | 11 | 11 (45)
SOUTH AFRICA 13 | 14 | 10 | 11 (48)

STARTING SEVENS

England

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Serena Guthrie
WD: Jade Clarke
GD: Eboni Usoro-Brown
GK: Geva Mentor

BENCH: Layla Guscoth, Rachel Dunn, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Razia Quashie, Fran Williams
COACH: Tracey Neville

South Africa

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Maryka Holtzhausen
WA: Bongi Msomi
C: Erin Burger
WD: Shadine Van der Merwe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

BENCH: Khanyisa Chawane, Rome Dreyer, Renske Stoltz, Ine-Mari Venter, Zanele Vimbela
COACH: Norma Plummer

SHOOTING STATS

England:
Helen Housby 27/32
Jo Harten 18/22

South Africa:
Lenize Potgieter 34/37
Maryka Holtzhausen 14/16

Netball fantasy teams: All-Star Queensland teams

OVER the years there have been a multitude of stars pulling on the Firebirds dress and while the Lightning are still relatively new to the netball world compared to their state rivals, Sunshine Coast have had some A-list players come through the doors. Draft Central has comprised two teams filled with past and present players to create the ultimate Queensland rivalry line-up.

Queensland Firebirds:

GK: Laura Geitz
GD: Clare McMeniman
WD: Gabi Simpson
C: Kim Ravaillion
WA: Lauren Nourse
GA: Gretel Bueta
GS: Romelda Aiken

BENCH: Nat Medhurst, Chelsea Pitman, Rebecca Bulley

The Firebirds are one of the most successful clubs in netball history winning three ANZ Premiership grand finals but have struggled to have the same influence since the inception of Suncorp Super Netball. But that has not stopped a high calibre of players from gracing the court. It is no surprise former Firebirds and Diamonds captain, Laura Geitz gets the nod at goal keeper with the highly talented defender in a league of her own. Geitz was a key contributor the Firebirds’ continued success throughout the ANZ Championship with her impressive on court leadership, tenacity and cleanliness to attack the ball. Partner in crime Clare McMeniman takes out the goal defence position thanks to her impressive timing on court, ability to read the play and tagging style of defence. The two were renowned for their immense pressure over the shot, ability to switch things up in the defensive circle and undeniable attack. Current captain, Gabi Simpson is set to pull on the wing defence position with her sheer athleticism constantly on display. Her aerial skills and speed off the mark make her a tough opponent, while her strength around the circle edge adds another element to her game play. Although she made the move to the Magpies in 2017, Kim Ravaillion was a staple in the Firebirds line-up with the gut running centre well and truly leaving her mark on the competition, helping to push her side to grand final victory in 2016. Her good vision and delivery into the circle made her just about unstoppable from anywhere on the court consistently creating something out of nothing. Ravaillion’s high level of endurance, netball smarts and defensive pressure are heer most prominent attributes. In wing attack is none other than Lauren Nourse. The former Diamonds representative possessed some real class around the circle edge with her slick hands, quick footwork and solid positioning in the attacking third.  Moving into the goal circle is arguably one of the most dynamic duos netball has seen. Dynamo Gretel Bueta takes out the goal attack position with the 191cm shooter owning the goal circle with her energy and exciting game style. Bueta is no average goaler, willing to take on the contest and use her athleticism to outmuscle opponents time again. Her combination with Romelda Aiken is second to none with the two connecting seamlessly. Aiken has been a long-standing servant of the club with her commanding height, high volume of shots and relative accuracy doing wonders for the Firebirds. Throw in her ability to get up to the high balls and consistently deliver even under pressure and Aiken was a sure start. Unlucky not to get the starting nod is current Magpies goaler Nat Medhurst with the smooth mover an integral member in the squad’s earlier success while Roses wing attack Chelsea Pitman also finds herself on the bench. Rounding out the team is Rebecca Bulley and while she only spent a short amount of time with the club had an influence on court.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GK: Geva Mentor
GD: Karla Pretorius
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
C: Laura Langman
WA: Kelsey Browne
GA: Steph Wood
GS: Caitlin Bassett

BENCH: Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian, Phumza Maweni

Despite only being around for three years the Sunshine Coast have played host to a number of international stars that have helped shape their impressive legacy. Much like their state rivals, the Lightning won back-to-back grand finals in 2017 and 2018 announcing themselves as true competitors. Although she has now departed the club, Roses star Geva Mentor was an easy choice to get the start at goal keeper. Standing at 191cm the defender oozes class and composure under pressure and is clean across the court able to manoeuvre around her opponent and force turnovers with her lanky arms. She is strong under the post and has an uncanny ability to read the play and disrupt the attacking flow. Arguably the world’s best goal defence, Karla Pretorius takes the bib thanks to her dynamic movement, go-go gadget arms, read of the play and ability to make something out of nothing. She is one of the most exciting defenders to watch with her unpredictable nature and attacking mindset constantly on display. Maddy McAuliffe pulls on the wing defence position with her defensive pressure and three-foot marking while New Zealand superstar Laura Langman takes the cake at centre. Langman is renowned for her impressive endurance, play making ability, change of direction and sheer athleticism. Her ability to sense the moment and stand up to the pressure is unfathomable consistently able to deliver the ball on a platter to the attackers while her defensive pressure to block the attacking forays makes her the complete package. Moving into wing attack is speedster Kelsey Browne and while she made the move to Collingwood her impact and influence throughout 2017 and 2018 was unquestionable. Her skill to persistently hit the circle edge, dart around the court and use her quick footwork to reposition made her hard to stop. Browne was a real pocket rocket for the Lightning connecting well with Steph Wood. The goal attack is a smooth mover, able to glide across the court and set up plays thanks to her spatial awareness and general netball nous and while she may not put up a wealth of shots, she has an uncanny ability to sense the moment and deliver. The goal shooter position goes to Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett with the towering goaler a commanding presence under the post. Her long limbs, strong holds and consistency to put up a high volume of shots makes her a challenging prospect for opponents. On the bench is young up and coming star Cara Koenen who burst onto the scene last year with her strong movement, clean hands and accuracy to post while Laura Scherian takes out the midcourt position. Spar Proteas representative Phumza Maweni finalises the squad with her defensive pressure.

Who would win?

With star players in each position it is hard to separate both sides given the amount of game changers across the court, so it comes down to consistency, something the Firebirds line-up possesses. While the Lightning squad has more international flavour with representatives from New Zealand, England and South Africa the Firebirds boast a well-connected and experienced squad.

Who wins this All-Star battle of the Sunshine State?
Queensland Firebirds
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Created with Quiz Maker

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #9 – Zanele Vimbela

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. In at number nine is South African Zanele Vimbela.

The lanky defender has shown that she can hold her on both on the international scale and domestically plying her trade for the Strathclyde Sirens in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL). She only joined their ranks this year but in her three games racked up impressive stats thanks to her go get it attitude, hunt for the ball and tenacious mindset amassing 11 intercepts and nine deflections. Her quick footwork and ability to get around the body makes her an imposing figure despite her slight stature. Although she is not the most physical defender it is her ability to get in the heads of opponents with her three-foot marking, lean over the shot and skill to clog up space and force turnovers. Vimbela can swap between circle defence and wing defence such is her netball nous and transition work to bring the ball down court seamlessly. While her impressive elevation, quick reflexes and strong footwork allows her to cause havoc down in the defensive circle.

As shown through her performance at the Netball World Cup, Vimbela is no easy beat, consistently buttering up and applying a wealth of pressure against a-list players. Her ability to stay on her toes and change direction in the circle to go out and grab the intercept or collect a deflection makes her an exciting prospect and further exposure to the highest league would give her another platform to develop on. She racked up nine intercepts, nine rebounds and eight deflections across the World Cup while only having one turnover to her name showcasing her skill and nous to treasure possession. Fellow Spar Proteas’ defenders Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni have become key features in the Sunshine Coast Lightning with the first, winning two consecutive premierships. Pretorius and Maweni have developed at a rate of knots with their defensive pressure and endurance ramping up across the board something that Vimbela would benefit from if she was picked up by an SSN club.

Pretorius and Maweni are not the only South African players to compete in the SSN with Ine-Mari Venter and Lenize Potgieter joining the ranks while captain Bongi Msomi played for the Adelaide Thunderbirds back in 2017. The addition of Vimbela would add an element of excitement to the SSN and despite being 30 she still has plenty of raw talent that has not been tapped into.

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

#10 Joice Takaidza (Zimbabwe)
#9 Zanele Vimbela (South Africa)