Tag: romelda aiken

2020 Suncorp Super Netball Preview: Round 13

WITH one game already done and dusted for Round 13 the remainder of Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous round is set to play out over the weekend as the race for finals intensifies. The GIANTS are still in with a shot but rely on results from other games as the Fever and Swifts tussle for prime position in the top four.

West Coast Fever v. GIANTS Netball
Saturday, 19 September

It is a do or die clash for the GIANTS as they look to keep their finals chances alive, however the West Coast Fever have been in scintillating form and will be keen to secure the win in order to rise up the ladder and potentially claim at top two finish.

The GIANTS will have to be on their A-game in defence with Jhaniele Fowler simply unstoppable in the past couple of weeks, recording a whopping 124 goals and showcasing just how damaging she can be at the post. Alice Teague-Neeld has elevated her game in 2020 and while she does not put up a wealth of shots, working alongside the likes of Emma Cosh and Verity Charles the Fever have been able to weave their way down the court with great ease and allow Fowler to do the heavy lifting. To stop Fowler and the Fever the GIANTS will have to employ full court defensive pressure to stop the ball from flowing freely into attack and ending up in Fowler’s hands – meaning the likes of April Brandley, Sam Poolman, Kristiana Manu’a, Amy Parmenter and Jamie-Lee Price will all have to ply their trade consistently in order to stop the ball from coming down with pace.

With everything on the line the GIANTS attacking unit will have to be on song from the first whistle. Caitlin Bassett has not received a wealth of court time this season but given the speed and accuracy with which she can score, she could definitely make a handy cameo and alter the course of the game. There is no denying that Jo Harten and Kiera Austin are fast becoming the super shot queens with their ability to turn and sink them from long range, something the Fever defenders in Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis will be acutely aware of heading into the clash.

 

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. NSW Swifts
Saturday, 19 September

The Adelaide Thunderbirds are a team that should not be underestimated given the amount of international prowess they have across the court, and while they cannot make finals they are still in a position to have an influence on ladder positions. The Swifts have struggled to find their mojo in season 2020 but heading into finals they will be eager to find some continuity across the court and claim the all-important win.

Hopefully returning after missing last week’s clash with concussion, Helen Housby will be a great addition into the attacking end given her experience, class with ball in hand and willingness to go to the post. Her connection with England roses teammate Natalie Haythornthwaite is also pivotal to the Swifts attacking unit while Sam Wallace is a strong target under the post thanks to her athleticism and creativity with ball in hand. However the high release into Wallace will play directly into the hands of Shamera Sterling with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper renowned for her athleticism to reach up and gobble any looping passes .The support she receives from the likes of Layla Guscoth out the front, Kate Shimmin, Shadine van der Merwe and Maisie Nankivell allows her to go out and hunt the ball with freedom.

The midcourt battle will be intriguing with both sides not afraid to throw the bibs around as shown with Paige Hadley sliding back into that wing defence position allowing the likes of Maddy Proud, Tayla Fraser and Haythornthwaite to take the reins in attack. As for the Thunderbirds, Nankivell, Hannah Petty, Tayla Williams and Georgie Horjus have all floated through various centre court positions, though it is fair to say Horjus does her best work inside the goal circle with South African Lenize Potgieter. The Thunderbirds will hope to welcome back co-captain Chelsea Pitman with her class and ball placement critical to their attack if they are to keep Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner and Lauren Moore busy and out of the contest.

 

Melbourne Vixens v. Queensland Firebirds
Sunday, 20 September

The final game of the round sees minor premiers Melbourne Vixens take on a young and exciting Queensland Firebirds outfit. The Vixens have been in ripping form in season 2020 while the Firebirds have showcased that they have plenty of potential and are building towards a strong 2021 season, making for an exciting contest between the two sides.

Inside the shooting circle the Melbourne Vixens have a plethora of options with Caitlin Thwaites, Mwai Kumwenda and Tegan Philip all able to seamlessly rotate in and out of the game and have a profound impact when called upon. Their innate understanding and connection with their midcourters in Liz Watson and Kate Moloney enables the Vixens to constantly create space and find easy avenue to goal meaning the Firebirds defenders will have to be on song if they are any chance of slowing down the Vixens’ attacking unit. Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe are a formidable duo for the Firebirds down back, able to hunt ball and cause chaos, while Rudi Ellis can add that extra height if required. It will be up to captain Gabi Simpson to nullify Watson if she returns or limit the impact of Tayla Honey or Elle McDonald if the Firebirds are any chance of an upset.

Boasting a different style in attack to their opponents, holding shooter Romelda Aiken has been a lynchpin under the post for the Firebirds with her strong and clear holds, aerial ability and increased accuracy consistently on display. Aiken is the Firebirds’ get out of jail free card with the likes of Mahalia Cassidy, Jemma Mi Mi, Lara Dunkley and Macy Gardner all able to bomb it long into the shooter when there are limited options, an area the Vixens will be hoping to shut down with Kate Eddy’s long arms to block vision. Dunkley has been crucial over the past couple few rounds, due in part to her strength around circle edge and composure with ball in hand. Youngster Tippah Dwan has also proven to be a revelation with her speed, confidence and super shot shooting meaning the Vixens defensive duo in Emily Mannix and Jo Weston cannot afford to pay all their attention to Aiken.

SSN Stats wrap: Round 12

FOR the first time in season 2020, our Suncorp Super Netball stats wrap will just look at the one round that passed over the weekend, Round 12. Wins to three of the top four sides saw the Melbourne Vixens sew up the minor premiership, although it did not come easy with a huge start from Collingwood Magpies forcing the Vixens onto the back foot. As for the West Coast Fever, they asserted their dominance with another huge victory over the NSW Swifts while the Queensland Firebirds were relentless in their pursuit for a fifth win when they took on the Sunshine Coast Lightning. The final match saw the GIANTS keep their finals hopes alive with a 10-goal win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Starting in defence this week, there is no denying the fine form of Courtney Bruce, Phumza Maweni and Emily Mannix. The three goal keepers were lynchpins in defence for their respective teams, anticipating the ball down the court and picking up a handful of intercepts apiece as they controlled proceedings from the back end. Bruce was arguably the most effective up against Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin, coming away with four intercepts and seven deflections, while Maweni’s stellar combination with Karla Pretorius saw the Lightning defensive unit combine for six intercepts and 15 deflections which resulted in 11 gains. Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward have continued to grow their partnership, combining for 12 gains, while there was no denying Shamera Sterling when she got going, finishing with eight gains from two intercepts and 11 deflections in the Thunderbirds’ loss to the GIANTS.

Heading through the midcourt, it was a great week for centre court defence with a number of midcourters picking up defensive stats to go with their offensive attributes. Kate Moloney (two intercepts, 22 goal assists, 10 pickups) and Amy Parmenter (two intercepts, 13 goal assists, seven pickups) were two of the most prolific ball winners, while Maddie Hay, Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley collected two intercepts apiece, with Proud sitting on 20 goal assists. Both Lightning wing defenders in Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell found themselves on the stats sheet with a combined four gains between them, while Laura Langman took on the offensive load for 27 goal assists to lead all comers this round. Magpies goaler Gabby Sinclair was next in line with six goals and 25 assists but eight general play turnovers, while Verity Charles (24 assists, one intercept) and Mahalia Cassidy (24 assists, four turnovers) also had an impact out the front. 

When it comes to goalers, there is no player more consistently impactful than Jhaniele Fowler, with the tall timber registering another 69 goals to her name at 96 per cent accuracy in Round 12. Romelda Aiken was next on the board with 47 from 52 – a more accurate output than we typically see from her – while the duo’s young Jamaican compatriot Shimona Nelson put out one of her better performances with 43 goals at 96 per cent. Next in line was Cara Koenen who shot true at 100 per cent against the Firebirds, unfazed by the tight defensive unit for 41 goals, while Lenize Potgieter was slightly less accurate than usual with 41 from 47 and Wallace put up 35 goals from her 40 attempts, with a whopping 10 super shots to her name allowing the Swifts to keep close contact with the Fever. When it came to goal attacks, there were none more influential than Steph Wood who almost single handedly fought the Lightning back into the contest after a sloppy start, racking up 19 goals (five super shots), while Kiera Austin and Jo Harten combined well once more for 30 and 28 goals apiece, although their inaccuracy told a much bigger story at a shared 74 per cent. That being said, the duo won ball back with three intercepts between them. The Vixens shooting circle shared the load as per usual with all three goalers sitting between 85 and 95 per cent accuracy, while Garbin also hit the scoreboard well with 18 goals and impressively hit five super shots from her 10 attempts, not known for her long range ability.

2020 Suncorp Super Netball: Five Talking points – Round 11/12

ROUND 11 and 12 of Suncorp Super Netball saw the Melbourne Vixens secure the minor premiership sitting two games ahead of the next comers while other major talking points surround player injuries to some big names. The past two rounds have also brought attention to the lack of court time the Australian Diamonds captain is getting, while the Queensland Firebirds have showcased their growth and development to secure their fourth victory of the season.

Melbourne Vixens are the team to beat and boast a wealth of depth
Missing two of their star players in alternating rounds the Melbourne Vixens proved that they have a winning formula. Facing the reigning premiers in Round 11 without starting goal keeper Emily Mannix and missing lynchpin in attack Liz Watson in Round 12 against Collingwood, the Vixens resorted to their bench showcasing just how much talent they have. Not getting a wealth of court time so far this year, Kadie-Ann Dehaney came out with a real purpose while the youngsters in Elle McDonald and Tayla Honey stepped up to the plate. Typically criticised for their lack of bench usage, the Melbourne Vixens have showcased in 2020 and especially in recent weeks that their full roster can come on and have an immediate impact, proving why they are the team to beat in finals after securing the minor premiership with two rounds left in the season.

Firebirds building for the future
There is no denying that the Firebirds have a wealth of young talent coming up through the ranks with Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe, Tippah DwanLara Dunkley and Jemma Mi Mi all stepping up to the plate this season. Their growth and cohesion is undeniable and that has shown recording their third win in Round 11, highlighting their increased intensity and ability to ride out games. Hinchliffe and Jenner have become one of the most dynamic and impressive defensive duos in the competition while Dwan has taken the competition by storm. In Round 11 the goal attack had a stats-stuffing performance with 14 goals, 15 goal assists and an impressive three intercepts. Spearheaded by two experienced players in Romelda Aiken in the goal circle and captain Gabi Simpson in wing defence, the young players around them have proven they are not afraid to elevate their game, relishing the extra and more consistent time on court as they steadily build towards the future.

West Coast Fever shaping up to be likely grand finalists
It is the Fever of 2018 with the West Australian side blowing teams out of the water thanks to the sheer volume produced at the hands of Jhaniele Fowler. in the past two rounds the goal shooter has managed a staggering 124 goals proving to be unstoppable under the post and causing headaches for opposition sides. Despite missing Ingrid Colyer who is set to miss the remainder of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury the Fever have not skipped a beat, with Alice Teague-Neeld finding her groove although not hitting the scoreboard regularly and Verity Charles starring through the centre. Defensively the Fever have tightened up with Courtney Bruce, Stacey Francis and youngster Sunday Aryang all making it incredibly difficult for their opponents to score.

Caitlin Bassett struggling to get court time
GIANTS goal shooter, Caitlin Bassett found herself on the bench once again in Round 12 and while the side did win – their first without her taking part in the match – it begs the question of why she is not getting the court time and ultimately where the Australian Diamonds captain will end up next season. There is no denying that the GIANTS are blessed with options inside the goal circle with Kiera Austin and Jo Harten a damaging duo, able to shoot the long bombs or convert from directly under the post. However Bassett offers plenty of stability, control and firepower able to score with great ease and speed; something the GIANTS have struggled with this season. The goal shooter has proven that she is an impact player coming on for 36 minutes in their clash against Collingwood in Round 11. In doing so she changed the course of the game, nailing 19 of 20 goals and providing a sense of composure in attack with Jamie-Lee Price and Austin able to identify her holds instantaneously.

Injuries starting to come into play
Round 11 and 12 saw a couple of notable names miss games through injury or management due to the condensed season. The Melbourne Vixens missed the services of Watson and Mannix for one and two rounds respectively while the Fever will be without Colyer for the season. in the Thunderbirds camp, co-captain Chelsea Pitman sat on the sidelines in Round 12 with a calf complaint while GIANTS wing defence Amy Parmenter also missed a round of action with the same niggle. Although not an injury as such, Helen Housby was also forced to the sidelines for precautionary measures after suffering a concussion in Round 11 showcasing how gruelling and taxing this 2020 Super Netball season has been, with her head knock and resulting time off court mirroring earlier injuries this season.

Lightning strike in Pretorius’ 100th

THE Queensland derby was just as good as expected, with the Queensland Firebirds coming out strong but unable to weather the Sunshine Coast Lightning storm, falling short by eight goals (75-67) in Karla Pretorius’ 100th national game.

It was a hard and fast start from the Firebirds, with the defensive connections forcing early errors and clogged space while the confidence out the front was huge. But sure enough, Pretorius was in everything early, testing Romelda Aiken’s hands and getting hands to ball thanks to Phumza Maweni’s ability to force Aiken high. But up the other end Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe would not be outdone, strong as ever forcing turnovers. Peace Proscovia was a huge target out the front for the Lightning but did not receive any favours from Cara Koenen out the front, with the duo struggling to set up plays in attack and seeing Steph Wood take the court to inject some extra speed and agility. Wood’s impact was immediate as was her connection with Laura Langman, with the duo combining well as the Lightning inched back the margin. The improved connection out the front was not enough though, with the Lightning trailing by seven goals at the first change.

Both sides had some issues getting on the board early in the second, with the defensive effort continuing to dominate for both sides. The improved movement from the Lightning frontline was paying off although Lara Dunkley’s stellar few rounds continued with a great start once more on circle edge for the Firebirds making it hard to split the two sides. A five goal buffer was enough to maintain the Firebirds momentum but the Lightning’s fight back had only just begun with Koenen at the post using her body well on Hinchliffe to limit the goal keeper’s chances for the loose ball. What had been a seven goal game at the first break turned into just two goals as the Lightning continued to fire, both in defence and offence. Tippah Dwan had a huge start but was quiet for much of the second credit to Pretorius’ ability to keep the youngster away from easy possession. Jemma Mi Mi was injected to add some speed in attack and while she did not find a heap of ball, when she did it allowed Dwan to find pockets of space putting up two straight super shots to ensure the Firebirds stayed in the lead going into half time. 

Macy Gardner headed into wing attack to start the third, with the constant effort from Maddy McAuliffe forcing a third change in the position. The Lightning’s class came to play early in the third, with the attack moving much better and Koenen winning the battle over Hinchliffe with her excellent goalline drive. A couple of big moments from the Lightning saw the scoreline reduce to just one goal with a Firebirds tactical timeout imminent, while a couple of great defensive moments from Pretorius and Maweni allowed the Lightning to capitalise off the Firebirds centre and draw ahead for the first time all game midway through the third. 

Rudi Ellis made her way onto the court in goal keeper to add some extra height and hands over pressure on Koenen, while Hinchliffe stepped out to goal defence as Jenner headed to the bench, such was Wood’s dominance out the front. While Mahalia Cassidy and Langman were both starring in their respective attacking thirds, the Firebirds wing attack woes continued, with Gardner hesitating on the feed allowing the defenders to get the upper hand. The super shot was the saving grace for the Firebirds with Dwan putting one on the board although Wood did the same at the other end, with neither team letting up on the scoreboard and as the Lightning held a three goal lead heading into the final term.

The stifling defence from the Lightning was relentless, and with a finals berth on the line the home side’s final quarter effort was testament to the buildup from defence. While Aiken was continuing to fire from all cylinders, the defensive effort outside the circle was just as strong as within, not letting anywhere near as much ball into the circle as they did early on. Dwan came off the court with minor shoulder pain requiring strapping, seeing youngster Mia Stower take the court, and while the goal attack put up a few shots the unintended change did not do the Firebirds any favours as the Lightning extended to a six goal lead with less than 10 minutes on the clock. 

With both Lightning goalers on fire, the Firebirds defenders did not know where to look. Despite constant efforts from Gabi Simpson, the Firebirds looked tired and could not seem to find the intensity they needed despite a super shot from Dwan who returned to the court heavily strapped. Jacqui Russell came alive in the dying minutes, turning over the ball multiple times and while an Aiken super shot kept the Firebirds in touch it was not enough as the Lightning kept their season alive with a 75-67 victory. 

Pretorius and Wood were the difference in this match and Pretorius deservingly won player of the match honours for her effort, with three intercepts and six deflections resulting in six gains, while Wood finished with 19 goals (five super shots), 24 feeds and 20 centre pass receives to her name. Koenen starred at the post with 41 goals at 100 per cent, while Langman racked up 27 assists from 47 feeds. The Lightning defensive unit of Pretorius, Maweni, McAuliffe and Russell carved up the Firebirds attack with a huge nine intercepts between them, three apiece to Pretorius and Maweni while Russell managed two in 19 minutes on court. For the Firebirds, Aiken was huge with 47 goals from 52 attempts at improved 90 per cent accuracy, including her one super shot, while Dwan was well and truly nullified by Pretorius to finish with 11 goals at 52 per cent (five super shots). Cassidy finished with 24 assists while defensively it was a much quieter one than typically seen from the purple, with the combination of Jenner, Hinchliffe and Ellis only picking up an intercept apiece.

>>>LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE
>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL MATCH STATS

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 13 | 19 | 23 | 20 (75)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 20 | 17 | 15 | 15 (67)

STARTING SEVEN

Lightning

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

Firebirds 

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

SSN Head to Head: Round 12/13

IN each round of Suncorp Super Netball we will identify key match-ups, provide an analysis of players and compare the two styles. This week’s head to head focuses on a couple of centres, one who has international experience in Jamie-Lee Price and the other a young up and coming midcourter in Hannah Petty, who has helped lead the way for her side this season.

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS v. GIANTS NETBALL
Hannah Petty (C) v. Jamie-Lee Price (C)

Two extremely competitive and strong athletes are set to go head to head in the final game of Round 12 in the form of Thunderbirds co-captain Petty and GIANTS youngster Price. Both centres boast a more defensive style of play, making for an enticing match-up as the duo are real barometers for their respective sides.

Petty has missed a couple of rounds this season through concussion however that has not stopped the dogged centre, who is renowned for contesting each and every pass. Petty is no easy beat through the middle, able to effectively ply her trade both in defence and attack. she is incredibly strong on the take and around circle edge to consistently claim prime feeding position. Petty is not afraid to look long and over the mess to deliver directly into the likes of Lenize Potgieter under the post. the centre works seamlessly with fellow co-captain Chelsea Pitman with the duo balancing the circle extremely well to give their shooters plenty of options. Effective in the front half, some of Petty’s best work comes in defence with the midcourter able to get hands to ball credit to her read of the play and speed off the mark. She is a key link through the centre court syncing the defensive unit to the attacking half with her drive and vision. Her adaptability to alter her game play to suit her teammates around her whether it be Maisie Nankivell, Shadine van der Merwe or Tayla Williams is a credit to her high netball IQ.

For the GIANTS Price has been as consistent as they come in season 2020 with her gut running frequently on show. In what has been a relatively up and down season, Price has provided a sense of composure and stability through the centre third, not often getting overrun or outworked, instead often flying under the radar such is her consistency. She is a menace in defence leaning on her offensive tendencies to force timely tips or intercepts especially around circle edge. The centre is extremely strong, able to outmuscle her opponents and keep them guessing given her closing speed and deceptively rangy arms while her work in attack has improved tenfold given the constant changes in the front half for the GIANTS. Her connection with Amy Parmenter is solid through the centre court while her one-two play with Jo Harten is also impressive. Price has a bullet pass on her, able to slice through congestion and defenders and can create plenty of space whether it be for Harten, Kiera Austin or Caitlin Bassett in the attacking third.

Both players are renowned for their inability to take a backwards step, consistently hustling for any loose ball and covering the court with great ease. It will ultimately come down to which player can treasure possession and lower their eyes to find a target rather than bomb it long and hope for the best. They are evenly poised when it comes to speed however Price does have a slight edge when it comes standing up in big matches, which this one is given their finals chances relies on securing a win.

Other key match-ups for Round 12 include the battle between Melbourne Vixens goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda and Magpies’ defender Geva Mentor while the top four clash between West Coast and Swifts sees the potential for England Roses teammates Stacey Francis and Helen Housby battle it out for their respective sides. The other game of the round will also see a contest between the in-form Romelda Aiken and Phumza Maweni along with a couple of young guns in Cara Koenen and Tara Hinchliffe. Round 13 welcomes the battle between a couple of international stars in Jodi-Ann Ward and Steph Wood while West Coast Fever’s Courtney Bruce is likely to line-up on Harten. A goal circle battle between Shamera Sterling and Swifts’ Sam Wallace will set tongues wagging while the final game of the round sees Gabi Simpson and Liz Watson go head to head.

2020 Suncorp Super Netball Preview: Round 12

ROUND 12 sees some big match-ups as clubs look to keep their finals hopes alive with the Thunderbirds, GIANTS and Firebirds all teetering on the edge of a finals berth with four wins apiece. West Coast will be out to leapfrog their opponents and steal second spot on the ladder as the Vixens hope to hold onto top spot.

West Coast Fever v. NSW Swifts
Saturday, 12 August

The Fever will be on a high heading into their clash with the reigning premiers after trouncing their Round 11 opponents by 20 goals. Meanwhile the Swifts will be hoping to work their way back onto the winners list and find some continuity in what has been an up and down season.

Jhaniele Fowler is an unstoppable force under the post, consistently recording ridiculously high numbers however the work out the front from Alice Teague-Neeld has enabled the goal shooter to recapture elements of her 2018 form. The chopping and changing in defence for the Swifts in the way of Lauren Moore and Maddy Turner is something to keep an eye on as they look to offset Teague-Neeld or potentially help Sarah Klau by doubling back on the Jamaican shooter.

The Swifts are gifted with a multitude of options through the midcourt with Paige Hadley, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Maddy Proud and Tayla Fraser all handy choices and have proven they can come on and have an impact. With no Ingrid Colyer, Emma Cosh has well and truly stepped up to the plate and is getting better and better with more court time while Verity Charles is arguably in career-best form in centre. When it comes to the shooting circle the Swifts have lacked a bit of cohesion with Sam Wallace, Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin all labouring and clumping together which will play into the hands of the Fever defence as Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis are master-readers of the play. Even if Bruce and Francis are not up to the challenge, Sunday Aryang has been a revelation this season while Olivia Lewis has shown she is no slouch down back.

Collingwood Magpies v. Melbourne Vixens
Saturday, 12 August

Having not played each other since Round 1, a lot has changed with the Magpies losing a couple of integral members through the midcourt in Madi and Kelsey Browne while the Vixens have really kicked into gear. The Vixens hold a firm grip on top spot while the Magpies languish down the bottom of the table, however that will not stop either side from putting on a show given their crosstown rivalry.

There is no denying that the combination between Mwai Kumwenda and Caitlin Thwaites has developed at a rate of knots in 2020 with the two effortlessly pairing in the goal circle while the injection of Tegan Philip’s speed can slice a game right open. Geva Mentor has been a consistent factor for Collingwood down back as Jodi-Ann Ward powers through in goal defence out the front. The Magpies will be hoping to find an answer in the form of Mel Bragg to shut down Liz Watson with the wing attack in hot form and often setting up the attacking forays for the Vixens. Partner in crime Kate Moloney is another player Collingwood will hope to contain given her explosiveness and ability to break a game wide open, meaning the responsibility will land on either Kelly Altmann or Molly Jovic to quell her influence through the middle.

Shimona Nelson has had a rocky 2020 season, often fading in and out of games which is an area she will be hoping to rectify while Gabby Sinclair has proven more than once she is up to the challenge especially when it comes to the super shot. Emma Ryde has also been a good impact player for the Pies however the Vixens have an extremely cohesive defensive unit, even if Emily Mannix is missing, with Simone McKinnis able to shuffle the cards between Kate Eddy, Jo Weston, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Allie Smith.

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Queensland Firebirds
Sunday, 13 August

The Lightning have struggled to generate their usual dominance this season and are coming off another heavy loss at the hands of the Fever. On the other hand, the Firebirds have found their groove and confidence making for an intriguing battle between the two Queensland sides.

With a new sense of confidence in the goal circle Romelda Aiken has elevated her game in 2020, holding strong under the post and dominating the airwaves allowing Tippah Dwan to be a menace out the front. Dwan has proven she is no slouch consistently tearing games apart with her two point shooting, something the Lightning defenders will have to be acutely aware of if they are to stop the Firebirds in their tracks. Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni are no easy beats, however Maweni gives away close to 10 centimetres meaning it will take a full court defensive effort from the likes of Laura Langman and the rotating wing defence’s Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell if they are to stop the ball from getting down to the inform shooter.

The Firebirds have a wealth of midcourt options and have proven they are not afraid to use the bench with Macy Gardner, Mahalia Cassidy, Lara Dunkley and Jemma Mi Mi all viable options through the centre. The Lightning on the other end tend to stick to a consistent line-up with the most changes coming in the shooting circle between Cara Koenen, Steph Wood and Peace Proscovia. Koenen has really come into her own this season however the hesitancy on the release into her under the post could play into the hands of the ball hungry Firebirds defensive unit in Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe. Pair that with their physical nature and it could upset the Lightning in attack while Gabi Simpson’s work off the ball will be integral in nullifying the impact of Laura Scherian around circle edge to limit the Lightnings’ chance of scoring.

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. GIANTS Netball
Sunday, 13 August

The final game of the round sees an intense battle between two sides hoping to keep their finals hopes alive. Adelaide and the GIANTS are evenly poised across the court and sitting just outside the top four know just how much a win means if they are to cause headaches come the pointy end of the season.

There is no denying that Georgie Horjus has been a revelation in season 2020 with her ability to sink super shots often keeping her side in touch while the connection between her and Lenize Potgieter continuously gets better. The ball placement and movement from Chelsea Pitman and Maisie Nankivell is crucial to the Thunderbirds meaning it will be up to the midcourt duo of Amy Parmenter – if she returns after missing Round 11 – and Jamie-Lee Price to shut down her drive in attack. However Kristiana Manu’a proved she is also a viable option out in wing defence if needed given the defensive capability of Matilda McDonell, Sam Poolman and April Brandley, all able to rotate through circle defence.

Shamera Sterling is a menace in the air, able to consistently win ball back for her side while Layla Guscoth, Shadine van der Merwe and Kate Shimmin are dogged in defence making for an exciting battle between the rotating GIANTS shooting trio of Kiera Austin, Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett, with the latter hoping to secure some regular court time.

SSN stats wrap: Round 10/11

TWO huge rounds opened September’s Suncorp Super Netball proceedings, with the second draw, a couple of shaky performances by finals contenders and a huge Queensland Firebirds win telling the tale of the week in netball. Instead of combining player stats from the two rounds as we did earlier in the season, we will now take a look at the two different rounds of competitions separately and delve into the top performers based on individual outings. While Nat Medhurst has not played a game in season 2020 after taking leave for her pregnancy, the Magpies goaler retired during the week marking the end of another era. A huge asset to Australian netball, Medhurst’s ability to goal from anywhere, her constant drive to be the best and her perseverance saw an illustrious career pan out over the last 17 years. 

ROUND 10

As usual, it is tough to skate past the incredible effort of Jhaniele Fowler who once again put up a huge amount of goals against the Vixens, shooting 59 from 62 attempts in the draw. Three players hit the 40-mark with Sam Wallace and Romelda Aiken both putting up 43 goals at 90 per cent and 80 per cent respectively, while Lenize Potgieter was unstoppable with 41 goals from 46. When it came to goal attacks, Kiera Austin stood up once more for the GIANTS with 31 goals to her name – including five super shots – while Tippah Dwan impressed in the Firebirds’ win over the Swifts with 26 goals (18 from 22 in regular time plus eight from nine super shots). Alice Teague-Neeld may have had a quiet game at the post but racked up 23 assists and two intercepts, while Liz Watson was held well in the first half against the Fever but still managed to lead all comers on goal assists with 25 to her name.

Emma Cosh was also in the mix for Fever with 19 goal assist in her first full SSN match, finding Fowler with ease at the post. Lara Dunkley also put in a solid performance out in wing attack with 21 assists and three deflections. Maddy McAuliffe has stepped up this season and was relentless against the GIANTS coming away with two intercepts against Jamie-Lee Price who managed five gains, while Maisie Nankivell and Mel Bragg cancelled each other out with a couple of intercepts apiece and Vixens debutant Allie Smith put herself out there with two intercepts in her half on court. When it came to circle defenders, Courtney Bruce seems to be completely over the back niggle that kept her out of matches early in the season with six deflections (four gains), while Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni were huge in the Lightning’s win over GIANTS, combining for 13 gains. Shamera Sterling came up with six gains of her own following up from an ankle injury, aided by a huge effort from Layla Guscoth (two intercepts).

ROUND 11

While both Fowler and Aiken were up there for goals scored once more in the second round of the week (55 and 45 goals respectively), Mwai Kumwenda put up a huge 48 goals from 51 attempts (one super shot) in the Vixens’ win over the Swifts, in a round that saw just about every other team share the load at the post. Youngsters Georgie Horjus and Dwan held up well once more (17 from 21 and 15 from 21, respectively), while Caitlin Bassett shone with 19 goals from 20 attempts and continued the trend of the GIANTS winning when she is on the court. In attack, Watson overcame an early ankle roll to still topscore the goal assists tally with 26 this round, closely followed by Verity Charles (23), Cosh and Nankivell (both 22). 

When it came to defensive efforts this round, it was not just the defenders who had all the fun in a solid week for midcourt defence as 12 midcourters registered at least one intercept to their name – Dwan was the outlier with three intercepts out in goal attack. Sam Poolman and Geva Mentor cancelled each other out in a tight battle between the GIANTS and Magpies with seven gains (four intercepts) apiece while Bruce tallied the highest amount of gains for the week with 11 (four intercepts, six deflections, one rebound). The Firebirds defensive unit of Gabi SimpsonTara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner was consistent as ever, combining for seven intercepts while Vixens’ Kadie-Ann Dehaney racked up four of her own in the absence of Emily Mannix. Stacey Francis was a tough opponent in goal defence, registering eight pickups such was her hunt for the loose ball, while Caitlin Thwaites racked up six pickups in her first full match in goal attack, relishing the extra space to take charge of the ball.

Courtside Comments: Round 1 – Maisie Nankivell
Courtside Comments: Round 2 – Tippah Dwan
Courtside Comments: Round 5 – Georgie Horjus
Courtside Comments: Round 9 – Alice Teague-Neeld
Courtside Comments: Round 11 – Mel Bragg

Firebirds go back-to-back for first time since 2018

A HUGE second Battle of the Birds saw the Adelaide Thunderbirds host the Queensland Firebirds with the two teams sitting toward the bottom half of the ladder but technically within touching distance of the top four. The Firebirds were hot from the starting whistle and did not stop despite the continuously mounting pressure, running away with a 61-59 win.

The Firebirds started very strong defensively, forcing a couple of early turnovers from the Thunderbirds with the midcourt attack unit of Lara Dunkley and Tippah Dwan blocking vision as the likes of Mahalia Cassidy and Gabi Simpson denied easy drives up the court. An early six goal run from the Firebirds saw the Thunderbirds call an early tactical timeout, with Maisie Nankivell making every effort defensively to disrupt the circle flow. The Jamaican matchup between Romelda Aiken and Shamera Sterling was huge, with Aiken seeming to have a lot of the early control before an offensive contact allowed the Thunderbirds to convert off a much-needed turnover. Plenty of patience was taken by the Firebirds early in attack, chipping the ball around and making the most of Aiken’s control in the circle. The attack was confident, seeing Dwan collect a magnificent intercept up high on the defensive transverse line, and the Thunderbirds were seemingly left reeling by the Firebirds’ fast start. 

Lenize Potgieter was not as efficient with ball in hand as usual, racking up turnovers early, unable to assert herself on the contest with the heavy defence of Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner. It was a huge start from Dunkley, as the midcourter went out hunting and running laps around Nankivell forcing the wing defence further up the court. A good start from the Firebirds saw three straight goals to the away side to start the second, with the Thunderbirds unable to disrupt the flow and confidence of the Firebirds. While a lot of the attack unit had starred early for the Firebirds, Jenner got involved and helped the Firebirds extend to an 11-goal margin just five minutes into the second. 

A great intercept from Layla Guscoth aided the Thunderbirds in taking a few little wins, chipping away at the margin but they needed a couple more clean turnover ball gets first. Despite efforts from Shadine van der Merwe and Sterling, the Thunderbirds just could not take possession of their deflections, allowing the Firebirds to win ball back with ease. Hasty movement from the Thunderbirds but hesitance on the assist was what was letting the home side down, with precision perfect passes by the Firebirds and extensive hands over pressure reducing easy options into the circle. Nankivell did not stop out in wing attack, constantly driving hard toward the ball, with the movement paying off as Potgieter put a super shot on the board. Errors continued to plague the Thunderbirds though, and while the Thunderbirds found pockets of the form they needed to pull back the lead it was not enough with the margin remaining at 10 goals. A couple super shots from Georgie Horjus allowed the Thunderbirds to draw back, although Dwan was not to be outdone as the Firebirds put one back on the board. A super shot shootout saw the Firebirds come out worse off but still with a convincing seven-goal lead, dominating much of the contest. 

The second half started with both teams coming out strong once more, both putting quick goals on the board and Sterling plucking a great ball out of the air to transition down the court and put up a goal courtesy of Potgieter. Much better movement down the court from the T’birds did not pay off, with stagnant attack forcing a held ball from Hannah Petty who did everything she could to win back the ball down the other end. Horjus injected herself much better this quarter, finding a bit more ball inside the circle and using her movement to zip around the circle with Potgieter often being double defended. 

The physical matchups down the court stepped up a notch, seeing bodies flying as the defensive pressure lifted across the court. The home crowd got involved as the Thunderbirds put five straight on the board to reduce the margin to five and the super shot period began. Horjus was quick to punish with a super shot on the board, and soon enough reduced the margin to two. While Horjus switched on in offence, opposition goal attack Dwan was hunting through the centre third, relentless in her pursuit for the loose ball. Soon enough the Firebirds made the change, with Macy Gardner hitting the court in centre to inject fresh legs and speed, settling the lineup well to stop the Thunderbirds in their tracks. The Firebirds only just had their noses in front by four as the quarter ended, with all the momentum swinging the way of the Thunderbirds.

A huge final quarter began with a Firebirds centre pass, with Aiken putting the first shot up and an offside from Petty allowing the away side to convert another shot to maintain control. Guscoth headed out to wing defence to take on Dunkley, forcing the wing attack wide while Kate Shimmin entered into wing defence to put hands over pressure on Dwan’s shot. The Firebirds still maintained control though, with a six goal buffer allowing a bit of breathing room as the tight contest continued. While Hinchliffe was working hard to negate Potgieter’s movement, she drew a lot of whistle as she did so which allowed some simple goals on the board for the Thunderbirds. 

With the Firebirds defence getting clumsy, the Thunderbirds attack needed to take advantage and so they did as the margin was reduced to four with just over five minutes on the clock. Both sides were looking for the super shot and neither were able to command space in the two-point zone, with tight defence from both sides forcing single shots on the board. But Potgieter proved she was willing to start them off, putting a super shot on the board while the time trickled down and a single goal margin the way of the Firebirds. Sure enough, the Firebirds were able to maintain control for the last 30 seconds to put one last goal on the board and reign supreme for a 61-59 win.

Aiken was huge with 45 goals at 87 per cent accuracy, aided by Dwan with 15 goals (one super shot) who also collected three intercepts, while Cassidy led the way for assists with 22. Simpson also collected three intercepts while Hinchliffe and Jenner combined for five gains. For the Thunderbirds, Potgieter impressed with 33 goals (two super shots) and Horjus stepped up when the side needed her most, shooting 17 goals of which seven were super shots. Nankivell led the assists tally with 22 and two gains, while Sterling was the only player to manage more than one intercept, coming away with two and four rebounds, with none of her 10 deflections resulting in gains.

>>>THUNDERBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>>FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>>FULL MATCH STATS

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 11 | 17 | 14 | 17 (59)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 17 | 18 | 11 | 15 (61)

Thunderbirds

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Georgie Horjus
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Maisie Nankivell
GD: Layla Guscoth
GK: Shamera Sterling

Firebirds

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

Suncorp Super Netball Preview: Round 11

THE fight for finals continues to heat up with a couple of top four clashes headlining the Round 11 action. Just outside the top four, the Adelaide Thunderbirds will be looking to find their way into the mix while the Melbourne Vixens will be hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table.

NSW Swifts v. Melbourne Vixens
Tuesday, 8 September

In their Round 8 encounter the Melbourne Vixens got the wood over the Swifts, something the reigning premiers will be hoping to rectify this round as they look to steal top spot on the ladder. Both sides are evenly matched across the court however Briony Akle is not afraid to swing the axe and change the line-up given the amount of depth the Swifts boast.

The Swifts have a plethora of options through the midcourt with Paige Hadley, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Tayla Fraser and Maddy Proud all viable options through the centre. The potential matchup between Hadley and Vixens wing attack Liz Watson will be one to keep an eye on given their strength and courage while the Swifts will look to match the energy and go-get it attitude of Kate Moloney in centre. The likes of Sam Wallace, Sophie Garbin and Helen Housby have struggled to hit their stride so far this year, plagued by inconsistency and will have their work cut out for them against the Vixens. Emily Mannix will miss the clash for the Vixens however Jo Weston proved to be a handy option in goal keeper.

The increased versatility in the Vixens line-up has given them an edge this season not only in defence with Kate Eddy plying her trade in either wing defence or goal defence but so too in attack as the shooters have seamlessly rotated through. Caitlin Thwaites has had a resurgence out in goal attack while Mwai Kumwenda and Tegan Philip have proven to be a menace under the post. The concerning part for the Swifts is the fact that all three can punish from the super shot zone meaning Maddy Turner, Sarah Klau, Lauren Moore and potentially Sophie Craig will have to be switched on every second of the match if they are to keep the Vixens out of the game.

Sunshine Coast Lightning v, West Coast Fever
Tuesday, 8 September

The Lightning will be out for redemption against the Fever who completely outclassed them in their last outing, scoring a staggering 80 goals, the highest of the season. Sunshine Coast simply had no answers for Jhaniele Fowler with the goal shooter slotting a staggering 57 goals, an area they will be hoping to address this time round to keep them in the hunt for finals.

West Coast are blessed with a number of defenders who have stepped up to the plate in 2020 with Sunday Aryang and Olivia Lewis the two revelations down back while the ever reliable duo of Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis are solid contributors. Up against the constantly changing attacking unit of Cara Koenen, Peace Proscovia and Steph Wood, the battle under the post is set to be intriguing. In recent weeks Wood has showcased her versatility able to switch into wing attack with the Lightning not afraid to pull the trigger through the centre court and make wholesale changes.

Without Ingrid Colyer it will be up to Emma Cosh to stand up in wing attack while the playmaking load will likely land on Alice Teague-Neeld with the goaler able to dictate the flow out the front. The defensive combination of Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius however is no mean feat with the duo renowned for their ability to steal possession and shut down attacking units, something they will be hoping to inflict in this contest. The likes of Maddy McAuliffe and Laura Langman are also crucial cogs in the defensive third for the Lightning with their hands over pressure and read of the play impressive.

GIANTS Netball v. Collingwood Magpies
Wednesday, 9 September

It has been a disappointing season for the Magpies who farewelled Madi Browne and lost Kelsey Browne to injury while for the GIANTS 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride, filled with plenty of ups and downs. Collingwood have not won a game against the GIANTS in the past two years, a feat the GIANTS will be hoping to keep intact as they cast one eye on a finals berth.

Caitlin Bassett has struggled to get much court time in season 2020 with Jo Harten and Kiera Austin often getting the nod in goal shooter and goal attack respectively. However Bassett is no slouch, able to change the course of a game with the speed in which she can score and given the experience of Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward could likely be injected into the game against the Pies.

Molly Jovic has proven to be a key cog through the centre court with her speed and dynamic movement while Kelly Altmann has also showcased her strength around circle edge but copped a nasty knock last round. Tyler Orr debuted in Round 10 and did not skip a beat for the Magpies however the GIANTS are not without star power of their own through the mid court with Jamie-Lee Price, Amy Parmenter and Maddie Hay all formidable forces through the centre third. Defensively the GIANTS have a wealth of options with Matilda McDonell, April Brandley, Kristiana Manu’a and Sam Poolman all able to effectively ply their trade under the post.

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. Queensland Firebirds
Wednesday, 9 September

In a battle of the birds expect the game to go down to the wire with both sides coming off strong victories and looking to prove themselves in 2020. The Thunderbirds have steadily worked their way up the ladder and sit marginally out of the top four while the Firebirds are eager to keep their winning ways going.

There is no denying that Romelda Aiken is in career best form while Tippah Dwan is relishing the court time and feeding off the energy and dominance of Aiken at the post. However the goal shooter will have her work cut out for her against compatriot Shamera Sterling as the Thunderbirds goal keeper is an aerial mastermind, able to swat away ball time and time again. Partners in crime Layla Guscoth and Kate Shimmin are also major ball winners who are renowned for their tagging style of play to nullify the influence of their opponent.

The midcourt battle is also set to be enticing as both sides boast a wealth of youth and one experience spearhead – Chelsea Pitman for the Thunderbirds and Gabi Simpson for the Firebirds. The two are likely to match up against one another meaning it will be up to the players around them to impact the play as they often cancel each other out. Lara Dunkley really came into her own last round while Jemma Mi Mi offers plenty of dash in the attacking third. The strength of Mahalia Cassidy could match up nicely against the likes of Maisie Nankivell or Hannah Petty while Shadine van der Merwe is another handy option. Inside the goal circle Lenize Potgieter oozes nothing but class, composure and accuracy while Georgie Horjus has quickly become a super shot star meaning the likes of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe will have to be on their A-game and look to attack the play if they are to upset the Thunderbirds and keep their slim finals hopes alive.

2020 Suncorp Super Netball: Five talking points – Round 9/10

ROUND 9 and 10 of the Suncorp Super Netball saw some impressive individual performances from a couple of towering shooters while the GIANTS’ struggle in the attacking third continued as they dropped to sixth spot on the ladder. The Firebirds mustered up another win for the season as the Adelaide Thunderbirds showcased they should not be underestimated in season 2020.

GIANTS still looking for answers inside the goal circle
The issues in the shooting circle have plagued the GIANTS throughout the season, unable to find any continuity in the front half and seeming to be out of answers, steadily dropping down the ladder. In Round 9 the GIANTS copped a 20 goal drubbing at the hands of the top of the table Vixens while in Round 10 they went down by two goals to the Lightning. The GIANTS are not without star power, arguably boasting one of the most damaging shooting trios in the competition, however it is their inability to cohesively work together that is impacting their scoreboard pressure. Caitlin Bassett has struggled to get court time this season and once again found herself on the bench, only managing 25 minutes across both games. Although the combination between Jo Harten and Kiera Austin is increasing as time goes on, the trio is relatively inconsistent and the frequent chopping and changing seems to upset the dynamic in the attacking third with Austin sometimes swinging into wing attack forcing Jamie-Lee Price to adjust her game.

Jamaican shootout
Both Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler are integral members for their respective teams with the Jamaican natives prominent under the post and key reasons for their sides resurgence. Fowler is enjoying the extra support she is getting this season from Alice Teague-Neeld when it comes to her pinpoint feeds and clever timing to drive into the circle. In the absence of Gretel Bueta, Aiken has taken her game up a notch acting as a real leader in the front half for the Firebirds, working seamlessly with Tippah Dwan to cause headaches for opposition sides with her increased accuracy and volume of shots. Fowler and Aiken sit one and two on the leader board when it comes to the number of goals scored and starred once again in Round 9 and 10 with 122 and 88 goals respectively, indicating just how influential they are under the post.

Thunderbirds keep finals chances alive
Coming off four consecutive losses the Thunderbirds rallied in their game against the Pies to secure an 11-goal victory and most importantly keep in touch with the top four. Boasting a highly versatile squad the Thunderbirds have relished the extra movement and rotations across the court with the defence end often changing between Shamera Sterling, Kate Shimmin and Layla Guscoth. However it is their young players that are really leading the way with Georgie Horjus and Maisie Nankivell plying their trade across the court and doing damage. Tayla Williams played a strong role through the centre in Round 10 for the T’Birds while the acquisition of Lenize Potgieter has paid dividends with the goal shooter oozing plenty of composure to settle things in attack.

Firebirds’ youth paying off
After a disappointing 2019 season, it was looking like 2020 would follow a similar track. But the Queensland Firebirds seem to have unlocked their winning ways, sitting on three wins for the season. With a bit of a personnel change up at the end of last season, the Firebirds have taken the changes in their stride and have not looked back. Aiken and Dwan have taken the competition by storm while the defensive combination of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe is often where the magic happens. The duo are a formidable force down back able to regain a wealth of possession and stream down the court. Through the midcourt the inclusion of Lara Dunkley has added an element of calmness and stability while Jemma Mi Mi injects that dynamism. They have proven they can mix it with the best knocking off the reigning premiers by 13 goals last round and given the competition is so close this season, if the Firebirds notch up a couple more wins they could potentially push for a spot in finals.

Super shot comes up big in Round 10
Down by as many as 14 goals midway through the third quarter, the Melbourne Vixens fought their way back into the contest against the Fever, mainly due to some impressive super shots from Caitlin Thwaites and Mwai Kumwenda. The shooting duo registered nine for the game and while they did not win, they managed to secure a draw credit to their ability to peg the margin back quickly and accurately. But they were not the only team that resorted to the long bomb with the GIANTS taking full advantage of the super shot as Austin and Harten combined for 12 to remain in the hunt against the Lightning. In terms of individual performances, Dwan was unstoppable for the Firebirds with eight from nine while Steph Wood sunk the winning super shot for Sunshine Coast showcasing just how impactful the super shot can be to results.