Tag: sam wallace

Swifts dominate third quarter for one-goal victory

JUST a premiership quarter worth of effort was what separated NSW Swifts and West Coast Fever in a seesawing match on Sunday night, to cap off Round 2 of Suncorp Super Netball. While Fever had the first half all but sewn up, the Swifts came out firing in the third and it was just enough to come away with a one goal win in a high-scoring affair (73-72).

With Courtney Bruce ruled out ahead of time the Fever were coming in without their captain and key cog down back in defence but did not skip a beat in the first quarter with their intensity against the reigning premiers impressive given the youth down back. Nat Haythornthwaite got the start in wing attack and even though her footwork was impeccable she did not seem to open up her usual space around circle edge. The Fever defence started really well with Olivia Lewis fighting for every ball on her more experienced opposition, while Jhaniele Fowler was huge at the other end.  The battle between Lauren Moore and Alice Teague-Neeld was huge from the very first whistle with the two players going head to head and well matched, while in the Swifts attack, hesitancy going into Sam Wallace  limited chances of going to post. With a small lead with just over five minutes played, the Swifts called a timeout to ground the side and settle. 

The midcourt hands over pressure was influential from the Fever, but Swifts’ patience after the timeout paid dividends, gradually chipping their way down the court and cleaning up well with the injection of Maddy Proud doing its job to snip the lead to two goals. Sophie Craig started well on Ingrid Colyer, with the speedy wing defence putting hands over pressure on every ball. The beginning of the super shot period saw Teague-Neeld find her range immediately, shooting two on the trot as the Swifts continued to chip away. The Swifts midcourt defence was huge and worked multiple missed shots back into play, edging back into the contest and levelling the score at 17-apiece. 

Helen Housby and Stacey Francis were well matched and physical as ever, with both England internationals doing a wealth of work to win back ball, made clear by a huge couple of midcourt moves. Jess Anstiss had to be removed from the court with the blood rule with less than a minute on the clock, and the Swifts took it in their stride to disrupt play to go into the second with a two goal deficit at quarter time (18-20).

The second saw a couple changes through the court for the Swifts, with Sophie Garbin joining the fray in goal attack and both Haythornthwaite and Proud getting the nod. Lewis continued to win back plenty of ball, zipping out into the front space and denying Wallace the ball. The Swifts’ patience seemed to go missing, seeing Paige Hadley join the court in wing defence and using her speed to disrupt play. But the Fever attack was hard to stop and Sunday Aryang was doing a heap of work to block vision, seeing the Fever extend a five goal lead and maintain that range for much of the quarter. 

Wasting centre passes, the Swifts seemed out of sorts and a scathing timeout from Briony Akle saw a few changes with Tayla Fraser and Nicole Styles on the court, with Proud’s mounting errors seeing some wayward ball go flying and Fever picking up all the scraps. A lack of super shot siren saw neither team take many attempts from the two-point zone, while the Fever midcourt defence and hands over pressure was influential, extending the lead to 10 with under 10 seconds on the clock, before a huge clash between Haythornthwaite and Francis gifted Housby a super shot attempt, taking on the pressure to reduce the lead to eight at half time, 41-33.

The changes were made once more heading into the second half with Sarah Klau moving to goal defence and Garbin down in goal shooter alongside Housby. Garbin’s injection was immediate against Lewis, with the two knowing each other’s game well but Garbin’s reach and strength paying off. The Swifts did not look like they were coming from behind but instead like they were well in control, with a four goal margin secured just minutes into the third quarter. The Swifts’ confidence and Garbin’s presence demanded the ball, with 11 goals to four in the first six minutes seeing the Fever call a timeout with just a one goal margin. 

Every player was out hunting for the loose ball, with Housby taking advantage of the super shot to extend a two goal lead with the next centre pass allowing Garbin to add another to the tally. Garbin’s rebounding ability was just as significant as her ability to put goals on the board, influential and coming away with a huge eight goal lead going into the final quarter (60-52). 

Dominating the third quarter, the Swifts came into the final term with all the momentum and plenty of confidence to get the job done. With Garbin still holding ground well in goal shooter and the change in defence between Klau and Moore doing wonders, the side was bristling with a win but the Fever would not let it go that easily. Matching goal for goal early in the quarter, it seemed like the Swifts would run away with an easy second half victory, but the Fever kept hunting down the ball and reducing the margin little by little to ensure they had a chance once the super shot period began. It was easier said than done though, with the Swifts’ patience paying off down the court and their collective ability to stop Fever’s movement in its tracks influential. 

A few late contests from Francis saw the physicality well and truly take its toll on the Swifts, with plenty of players hitting the deck but the reigning premiers not letting up out the front and playing through the intensity. The high pressure final quarter saw the Fever struggle to edge back the margin, though the super shot period saw the Fever take advantage of every super shot chance they had, with Fowler shooting all three Fever two-point shots for the quarter to reduce the margin. But the Swifts’ settled approach to the game, paid off as they kept hold of the ball, with the Fever trailing by one with less than a minute on the clock. Fowler’s leveller saw the Swifts eat up time to finish, only just getting away with the one goal 73-72 victory.   

The Swifts’ 27 goal haul in the third was the highest individual quarter score in Suncorp Super Netball history, with Garbin’s huge 21 goal term seeing the goal shooter change the course of the match for player of the match honours. Garbin finished with 28 goals at 88 per cent, with both Housby and Wallace racking up 19 and 17 apiece in the mid-70s for accuracy but producing all eight super shots between them. Housby also tallied two intercepts, while Moore racked up three and Proud dominated the assists with 20 and Hadley not far behind with 15. For the Fever, Fowler was just about unstoppable with 53 goals from 57 attempts including four super shots, aided by Teague-Neeld with 11 goals (three super shots) and 20 assists. Verity Charles was also influential out the front with 20 assists and an intercept, while Lewis was huge down back with seven gains (two intercepts) and Aryang had a great injection into the game with four deflections to disrupt play.

>>>SWIFTS TEAM PAGE
>>>FEVER TEAM PAGE
>>>FULL MATCH STATS

NSW SWIFTS 18 | 15 | 27 | 13 (73)
WEST COAST FEVER 20 | 21 | 11 | 20 (72)

Swifts

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

Fever

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

2020 Suncorp Super Netball preview: Round 2

A HUGE second round of Suncorp Super Netball is set to take place over the weekend, with plenty of quality match-ups across all four games. With Round 3 following just two days later, expect a heap of rotations on court for all eight teams in a bid to rest players and ensure plenty of young guns take the court once more.

GIANTS Netball v. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Saturday, 8 August

The opening game of Round 2 is an enticing matchup between two sides that were beaten last week but ultimately were both in their contests for majority of their respective matches. Interestingly, while the Thunderbirds ended up losing by a hefty margin they still beat the GIANTS’ final score by a goal meaning this match could be a real close one given the shooting prowess of both sides. 

For the GIANTS, consistency is key with the side standing up under pressure for patches last round and relying too much on the super shot to stay ahead of the Swifts. That being said, they have one of the most prolific long range goalers in the world in Jo Harten, so that will likely be their sticking place once more and inevitably a huge target for the Thunderbirds defence. However, the T’birds do not currently have a set goal defence who would really be able to match up against Harten for a significant period of time given the goaler’s endurance and height, meaning goal keeper Shamera Sterling will be under a heap of pressure trying to close off avenues to post for Caitlin Bassett and using her rangy arms to deflect circle ball where possible. At the other end, Lenize Potgieter is the staple out the front and consistent as can be, with an ability to evade defence and tally goals with ease and accuracy. With Kristiana Manu’a potentially out of the side this round after a calf niggle on Sunday, expect Sam Poolman to sit back on Potgieter and the potential of both Tilly McDonell and April Brandley to make an appearance out the front. 

The midcourt battle is set to be a tough one, with both teams boasting a mix of experience and youth. An interesting battle is set to see Chelsea Pitman and Amy Parmenter go head to head, while Hannah Petty should get the start against Jamie-Lee Price but Maisie Nankivell had a solid outing last round so could add an extra defensive element to the play. With firepower in different areas of the court and plenty of players who stand up best under pressure, expect a tough and fairly even contest this time around between two teams hungry for a win.

 

Queensland Firebirds v. Melbourne Vixens
Saturday, 8 August

A huge match-up between the Firebirds and Vixens is next up on the weekend, with neither side putting out their best performance last round though the Vixens got a win on the board where the Firebirds could not compete for the full four quarters. That being said, the Firebirds’ opening half last round was stellar, proving they can certainly match it with the best, and the Vixens cannot afford to not let the Firebirds start the same way this round. 

Vixens co-captains Liz Watson and Kate Moloney are the key cogs through the middle of the court and with two physical matchups in Gabi Simpson and Mahalia Cassidy to look forward to, expect both sides to start with a bang and get the early upper hand. Simpson had a huge match last round but faded out in the second half, and is well-matched with Watson which could see the pair go toe-to-toe and limit the easy access into the goal circle. Moloney’s ability to transition between attack and defence is seamless while Cassidy’s hunt and hunger for the ball was made evident last round on her return from injury. Defensively, the combination between Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe grows with every match and as two of the most outstanding young defenders in the country expect the duo to apply a heap of pressure on the Vixens’ goaling trio in Mwai Kumwenda, Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, with the goalers rendered inaccurate – by their standards – last round. 

Turning to the Firebirds goal circle, Romelda Aiken is a huge target at the post and based off last round’s starting seven the Vixens could force a Jamaican stand-off in the circle with Kadie-Ann Dehaney lining up against her compatriot. Lara Dunkley and Kate Eddy will be a huge match-up, with the duo both able to apply a heap of pressure, while Jo Weston will likely get the start on youngster Tippah Dwan who will look to replicate her debut performance, though the versatility in the new-look Vixens defence could see some major changes between wing and goal defence, with Weston and Eddy both able to ply their trade with ease in either position. The Vixens’ endurance game could be both the winning or losing point in this one, and if the Firebirds get far enough ahead early they could have a real chance of getting on top to limit the Vixens’ ability to work their way back.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Collingwood Magpies
Sunday, 9 August

Another interesting match-up, with a very new-look Collingwood outfit taking on the highly experience and consistent Sunshine Coast Lightning. While the Magpies did not get the win last week, they came out with a fire in the belly and were with the Vixens for majority of the match, and now know what to look for in the Lightning firepower. The Lightning had a shoddy start last round but ended up coming away with the biggest win of the round, meaning the Magpies will need to put out a full four quarter effort to ensure the Lightning do not get away from them this round.

Looking to match-ups, Steph Wood and Jodi-Ann Ward will likely be the one to watch, with both players putting on a show last round with their respective work rate and ability to lift where required. Wood’s long bomb accuracy will be the kicker, and if Ward can limit her opportunities to go to post the Magpies have a real chance here with the experience of Geva Mentor holding up in goal keeper ready for the rebound. At the other end of the court, expect a new-look circle from the Magpies with Shimona Nelson expected back at the post this week with her ability to leap for the loose ball and put up shots with ease. A flurry of Magpies goalers had an impact lat round with Emma Ryde, Gabby Sinclair and Nyah Allen all plying their trade to post though their youth gave the Vixens an opening out the front, so the Magpies attack will need to ensure they do not rely on just Nelson at the post this round.

Defensively, the Lightning have one of the most influential defensive units in Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius, with the duo critical if they are to go two wins on the trot. Through the midcourt, the battle between Madi Browne and Laura Langman will be huge with both players workhorses through the centre while Kelsey Browne will hope to continue working back to full court time with her feeding ability second to none and Laura Scherian a hugely consistent name out the front for the Lightning. 

 

NSW Swifts v.  West Coast Fever
Sunday, 9 August

The final match of the round will see the reigning premiers take on a fast finishing Fever outfit, with the Fever of 2020 thus far looking a lot like their 2018 side. The Swifts reintroduced Maddy Proud last round but missed Maddy Turner down back, and still managed to get a win on the board proving they are well and truly able to put up a fight against this Fever unit despite missing a critical defensive link. The only match between two winning teams from last round, a win here is crucial.

Lauren Moore burst out of the gates last round with her explosiveness and ability to impact the contest, meaning the goal defence could be crucial locking down Alice Teague-Neeld, whose all-round performance out the front last round put her in the spotlight. Sarah Klau will get the tough job on Jhaniele Fowler, while up the other end Courtney Bruce and Sam Wallace will go head to head in an intriguing battle given the duo are both very adaptable players. Helen Housby had a quiet match last round and fellow England Rose Stacey Francis will hope to take advantage of that with her niggling defence style. The injection of Sunday Aryang into the circle worked wonders last round so could take the court once more, while Jess Anstiss also had a strong outing last round so will be on the case against the rotating duo of Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite in wing attack. 

While the Fever play a very physical game, the Swifts for the most part play a clean and ball-treasuring game, using their consistent hands over pressure to limit vision and space down the court, and evading defence with a constantly moving circle. The Fever rely a lot on Fowler, so will need to ensure Teague-Neeld steps up once more if they are to get a win and draw attention away from the tall timber.

2020 SSN/ANZ: Stats wrap – Rounds 1/8

A NEW look stats wrap is in effect this week, with both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership taking the court on the weekend. While the ANZ Premiership is heading into its final rounds with some big performers stepping up towards the end of the season, the SSN had Round 1 over the weekend making for some interesting stats across the two rounds. It is important to take into consideration that the two leagues currently have different rules and matchplay times, with differing stats evident. 

ATTACK 

The introduction of the super shot added a new element to the SSN stage in the opening round, with Steph Wood (10 super shots), Jo Harten (nine) and Sam Gooden (nine) shouldering the super shot load for their respective teams, with Harten the most accurate of the trio missing just four attempts across the board to finish with an overall 86 per cent accuracy. Looking to tall timbers at the post, Jhaniele Fowler was hard to stop with 52 goals from 55 attempts (including two super shots) while Lenize Potgieter and Cara Koenen shot 35 goals apiece. In her new Collingwood colours Emma Ryde  impressed (34 from 38) and Sam Wallace (33 from 40) once again proved to be a solid target. Alice Teague-Neeld proved the nay-sayers she could have an impact with 10 goals at 67 per cent (including four super shots at 100 per cent accuracy) and plying her trade out the front with 19 goal assists and a gain to her name.

Heading across the ditch to the ANZ Premiership, there were a couple huge performers across the five matches, with repeat offenders in Maia Wilson (74 goals from 80 attempts) and Ellie Bird (63 from 72) adding to their goaling tallies off the back of two games apiece, while Grace Nweke racked up 38 goals from 44 attempts in her sole match for the round. The likes of Central Pulse duo Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn once again shared the load with 21 and 20 goals respectively in their first loss for the season, while there is no discounting the work ethic of Te Paea Selby-Rickit with the goal attack combining for 31 goals across her two games as well as her work out the front to finish with 25 goal assists.

MIDCOURT

The opening round of Super Netball saw Liz Watson not skip a beat over the off-season, racking up 28 goal assists from 49 feeds, while Chelsea Pitman picked up 26 centre pass receives credit to her take-off speed and first phase play. Both Watson and Charles also racked up a gain apiece, while Magpies midcourters Madi Browne (12 assists, one intercept) and Molly Jovic (two intercepts from 21 minutes of play) both impressed in their first matches, albeit Browne’s first on return from injury and Jovic on her overall debut. In wing defence there were a couple high performers, with young guns Kate Eddy (four intercepts, two pickups, three penalties) and Amy Parmenter (six intercepts, seven deflections (none to advantage), five turnovers) both plying their trade well in wing defence while Maisie Nankivell stepped up through the Thunderbirds midcourt with 12 goal assists and two intercepts though 14 penalties. Mahalia Cassidy also impressed on her return from injury with 17 assists from 35 feeds and two gains to her name.

Heading to the ANZ Premiership midcourt, the stand-out this round – and our Round 8 ANZ Premiership Player of the Week – was Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic’s Whitney Souness, with the speedster racking up 16 assists in her first match before finishing with 19 in her second, also picking up an intercept in each of her outings. Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle were consistent as ever in their winning outing against the Pulse, sharing the load on circle edge with 19 and 17 assists respectively, also picking up a gain apiece. Meanwhile, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan racked up a round-high 26 assists in her second outing of the round from 35 feeds though was kept quiet in her first match with just 12 assists, an effort matched for the most part by Erikana Pedersen who was explosive in her first outing (23 assists, one gain) but shared the load better in the second with Selby-Rickit. Meanwhile, Kate Heffernan and Sam Winders both racked up four intercepts apiece across their respective matches.

DEFENCE

Lauren Moore and Parmenter led the intercept tally for the round, with the two young guns stepping up with six intercepts apiece. Phumza Maweni put on an impressive final quarter performance to trip up the Firebirds attack and finish with six deflections and three intercepts, while veteran Geva Mentor proved she is still more than capable of pulling out impressive performances with nine deflections, closely followed by Sarah Klau (eight deflections and three rebounds) and Kim Jenner (seven and three). Jenner and partner in crime Tara Hinchliffe will want to clean up their act in the coming rounds, racking up a whopping 35 penalties between them to be first and second in the least preferred statline after Round 1.

On the ANZ Premiership stage, Temalisi Fakahokotau was consistent as ever down back with Jane Watson in their first outing combining for 11 gains (14 across two matches), while Georgia Tong stepped up with nine gains (six intercepts) in her first outing but was overshadowed in her second with just the three gains – still a solid effort. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit showcased her ball winning ability again this round with three and four gains, while Kate Burley continued to impress for the Stars with six gains (four intercepts) and two gains across her two matches, consistently matching up on court to have an impact despite the prowess of her opposition.

SSN Momentum Shifts: Round 1

THE exciting return of Suncorp Super Netball over the weekend saw some phenomenal matchups across all four games and some highly talented players take the court. The condensed fixture and introduction of rolling subs this year has seen plenty of young names already jump on the court and have a huge impact despite their lack of experience. We take a look at each game and note which players shifted the gears and switched up the momentum.

Queensland Firebirds (48) defeated by Sunshine Coast Lightning (66)

In a match-up between a new-look young side and the highly experienced Lightning, there was plenty of talent out on the court. The Firebirds fielded a relatively young midcourt, with Tippah Dwan one of the major talking points out the front in goal attack. Finishing with 11 goals (three super shots) at 67 per cent on her first outing, the goal attack stood up in attack with her smooth movement and confidence, while Mahalia Cassidy did not skip a beat on her return from injury, going toe-to-toe with Laura Langman for much of the game. For the Lightning it was Steph Wood who stepped up to the plate, sinking 10 super shots to go with her four short range attempts and turning the tide of the game in the process. A huge last quarter was what saw the Firebirds’ demise, with Phumza Maweni racking up three gains in that quarter alone and limiting the Firebirds to just six goals to finish.

Adelaide Thunderbirds (62) defeated by West Coast Fever (74)

In a high scoring affair both the Thunderbirds and Fever blooded some youngsters, proving the amount of talent the two states having coming up through their pathways. While the Thunderbirds only won the one quarter, Lenize Potgieter was strong as ever at the post with Sam Gooden and Georgie Horjus having an impact off the bench, with Gooden racking up nine super shots and Horjus showcasing her speed on the drive. Maisie Nankivell was stellar through the midcourt with 12 assists and two intercepts though caught a lot of attention from the umpires. For the Fever, the real surprise packet was Alice Teague-Neeld with the goal attack stepping up to the plate and earning player of the match accolades for her effort out the front with four of her 10 goals super shots. Jhaniele Fowler showcased her long bomb ability with two super shots to contribute to her hefty 52-goal tally, while young gun Sunday Aryang provided a handy connection defensively with plenty of speed allowing her to collect two gains. 

GIANTS Netball (61) defeated by NSW Swifts (63)

The tightest match of the round saw the GIANTS come dastardly close to victory against the reigning premiers, with the Swifts holding on as the seconds counted down. Lauren Moore was the big difference in this one, with the 22-year-old winning player of the match for her non-stop running and ability to impact the contest with five intercepts to her name. Sam Wallace has not skipped a beat over the off-season sinking six super shots, while the consistent rotation between returning captain Maddy Proud and speedster Nat Haythornthwaite kept the GIANTS defenders guessing on the feed. For the GIANTS, Amy Parmenter was a workhorse with seven intercepts while Kiera Austin showcased her versatility rotating between wing and goal attack and youngster Sophie Dwyer took the court for just five minutes but sunk two super shots to close the margin.

Melbourne Vixens (63) defeated Collingwood Magpies (52)

With so many new players in the Magpies lineup this season it was just experience and trusted connections that got the Vixens over the line in a tight tussle. Madi and Kelsey Browne made phenomenal returns from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, with their ability to spot Emma Ryde at the post what kept the side in it for the majority of the match. Jodi-Ann Ward had a solid start in her Super Netball debut, topping the Magpies’ intercept tally with two and injecting plenty of physicality to the defensive circle and at the centre pass. The Vixens’ major switch was Kate Eddy’s rotation from wing defence into goal defence, which saw Jo Weston apply her height around the circle edge and ultimately changed the game in the final quarter as the Vixens were finally able to take some control. 

Swifts swoop on GIANTS in Proud’s return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> GIANTS TEAM PAGE

>>> SWIFTS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

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

STARTING SEVEN

GIANTS Netball:

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

NSW Swifts :

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

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

WITH the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season beginning in just a couple of days, the Draft Central team has decided to count down five things we are looking forward to this season. Coming in at number one on the countdown is the highly anticipated grand final rematch between Sunshine Coast Lightning and NSW Swifts.

The NSW Swifts came out with a real fire in the belly in the grand final making light work of what was a dominant Lightning side, romping home a 17 goal win. Since then there have only been a couple of changes for both sides with Lightning coach Noeline Taurua departing and replacement player Katrina Rore no longer with the Swifts for the 2020 season making for an exciting battle when the two teams take the court this season.

After being riddled with injury throughout 2019 the NSW Swifts are set to welcome back captain Maddy Proud with the wing attack returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Proud is reliable through the midcourt able to slice through opposition defences with her impeccable timing and quick footwork to dart around her opponents and deliver the ball on a silver platter into the circle. Her return to the side will further bolster an already stacked midcourt with Natalie Haythornthwaite, Paige Hadley and Sophie Craig all dominant forces in their own right.

The Swifts controlled the grand final from start to finish and will be hoping to inflict more pain in their potential rematch and prove that it was not a one off given the strong record the Lightning have over them. Prior to the grand final Sunshine Coast had an impressive track record against the Swifts with the likes of Laura Langman leading the charge through the centre third stopping the Swifts in their tracks with her drive, quick hands and immense defensive pressure.

Swifts goalers Helen Housby, Sam Wallace and Sophie Garbin all got on top of their Lightning counterparts in the 2019 grand final with the trio displaying their accuracy to post and adaptability to rotate through the circle and have a profound influence. But the Lightning will be keen to make amends and definitely have star power to ensure a tight contest with Karla Pretorius leading the charge down back with her tenacity and read of the play to constantly inject herself into the action. Pretorius alongside Phumza Maweni are a commanding force in defence with the two working in tandem to force turnovers and create opportunities to push forward in attack. Down on their usual output in the grand final the duo will be keen to rectify their performance and come out raring to go, whenever it may be.

With a strong rivalry brewing between the two teams and no shortage of fire power for either side, the clash between the 2019 grand finalists will surely live up to the hype. There is no doubt that the Lightning will be eager to exact revenge on the Swifts and reclaim their status as the team to beat for 2020 given their two-time premiership status.

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

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

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

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

Centre Pass Podcast: Season preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Centre Pass Podcast: Season preview

 

2020 Suncorp Super Netball preview: Round 1

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

Queensland Firebirds v. Sunshine Coast Lightning
Saturday, 1 August

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

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

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

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

Adelaide Thunderbirds v. West Coast Fever
Saturday, 1 August

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

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

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

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

GIANTS Netball v. NSW Swifts
Sunday, 2 August

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

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

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

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

Melbourne Vixens v. Collingwood Magpies
Sunday, 2 August

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

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

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

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

2020 SSN: Season preview – NSW Swifts

AFTER an extended break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season is set to commence on August 1. Draft Central takes a look at each team, with the next in line reigning premiers, New South Wales Swifts.

Coach: Briony Akle
Captain: Maddy Proud
2019 finish: 2nd

2019 was a year to remember for the NSW Swifts, breaking their 10 year premiership drought with a 17 goal victory. Riddled with injuries throughout the season the Swifts showcased their resilience and incredible depth to bring in a host of young, up and coming players that took the competition by storm. Unfortunately captain, Maddy Proud was struck down with a devastating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury early in the season, forcing her to the sideline while Kate Eddy also joined Proud on the sideline for the remainder of 2019 with an ankle injury but that did not seem to faze the Swifts who kicked it up a gear. Resorting to the Australian Netball League, the Swifts uncovered some gems such as Tayla Fraser and Elle Bennetts but really came through with arguably one of the biggest pick-ups of the season in Silver Ferns star Katrina Rore. She walked into the team after the World Cup break and immediately asserted herself into the thick of it, with her three-foot marking and versatility.

2020 expectations/predictions:

Defensively both Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner emerged as true stars with their ball winning ability and excitement something they will be hoping to replicate. Although the Swifts will be without the flexibility of both Rore and Eddy in the defensive circle expect the combination of Turner and Klau to stand up to the pressure. Through the midcourt Paige Hadley well and truly found her feet last season, using her speed and strength to exploit every inch of space while the inclusion of Sophie Craig (nee Halpin) injected some real dynamism. The possible return of Proud also generates plenty of excitement for the Swifts with the midcourt player able to explode out of the blocks with her fancy footwork, speed and strength around circle edge while the class of Nat Haythornthwaite will once again be on show. The England Roses star is a powerhouse in attack able to seamlessly transition from wing attack into goal attack, but it is her undeniable connection with fellow Roses teammate Helen Housby that the Swifts will be hoping continues to cause headaches in 2020. Housby can back herself from range and is a real playmaker in the goal circle, providing silver service to Sam Wallace under the post. The Swifts have arguably one of the strongest line-ups in the competition with all of their bench players able to come on and have a profound impact, none bigger than Sophie Garbin who will be keen to announce herself as a serious competitor in 2020.

Key player:

Reprising her role in the Swifts leadership group and debuting for the Diamonds late last year, Turner has a bright future ahead of her and will be definitely be one to watch in 2020. Growing with confidence as the season progressed, Turner is a clever decision maker and reads the play exceptionally well. The tagging style goal defence has the ability to wear her opponent down and win back a wealth of ball such is her innate hunt for the ball. She is deceptively quick, able to nip around the court while her smarts to double back on the goal shooter when necessary gives her another competitive edge. Her hands over pressure is impressive, getting in the head of her opposition goaler over the shot and making the goaler work for every single inch of space or pass.

Team list:

Sophie Craig
Sophie Garbin
Paige Hadley
Nat Haythornthwaite
Helen Housby
Sarah Klau
Lauren Moore
Maddy Proud
Maddy Turner
Sam Wallace

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