AFTER a week off given continued COVID-19 restrictions, Round 12 of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) returns in what is going to be a condensed final couple of weeks of netball action. The finals are just around the corner and with the top four still not set, every win counts.
Collingwood Magpies vs. NSW Swifts
Tuesday, July 27 @ 3:30pm
The contest between the Magpies and Swifts is going to be an enthralling one with the latter hoping to notch up another victory and continue to build some form heading into the back-end of the season. Currently in second spot on the ladder, the Swifts will be hoping to inch their way to the top of the table and create some separation while Collingwood will be hoping to keep their slim finals chances alive.
The battle between goal shooter Sam Wallace and goal keeper Geva Mentor will be one to keep an eye on with the two players real barometers for their respective sides. Wallace has proven to be a key contributor for the Swifts time and time again but needs the likes of Helen Housby and Sophie Garbin to provide that supplementary support. Housby is incredibly crafty with ball in hand but will have her work cut out for her against the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward who has been in scintillating form with her closing speed and tenacity on full display.
The midcourt is the real point of intrigue for both the Swifts and Magpies given just how many options they have. The Swifts are not afraid to throw around the magnets with Tayla Fraser, Maddy Proud, Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite all able to rotate through that midcourt role and ply their trade with great efficiency and effectiveness. For Collingwood the move of Kelsey Browne into centre has provided that extra level of spark and class to transition the ball down court with great ease, while both Molly Jovic and Ash Brazill are more than capable of filling that centre role or playing in other midcourt positions to combat the Swifts’ moves. It will all come down to whether or not Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner are able to stop that high ball going into Shimona Nelson and really contest the hands of the Jamaican goal shooter. If they are able to do that then it will go a long way in favouring the Swifts and setting them up for the win.
West Coast Fever vs. Queensland Firebirds
Tuesday, July 27 @ 6:30pm
There is no love lost between the West Coast fever and Queensland Firebirds and it is fair to say that this game is set to be a cracker as the Firebirds look to keep their finals hopes alive. Unfortunately, Queensland will be without the services of key defender Tara Hinchliffe who has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will be out for the remainder of the season leaving a huge dent in their defensive structure. This will provide an opportunity for the Fever to really romp home a win.
Without Hinchliffe for the Firebirds it will be up to the likes of Rudi Ellis and Kim Jenner to take on and nullify the influence of Jhaniele Fowler under the post. Fowler is one of, if not the most dynamic and potent shooter in the SSN with her ability to hold space under the ring and score at a great speed. Both Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow have proven to be dynamic options out the front despite not putting up a wealth of shots. The real kicker for West Coast is the workload of Verity Charles with the wing attack able to slice and dice with great ease meaning that Gabi Simpson will have to be on her A-game to stop her. She will also need support from the likes of Kim Ravallion in centre to stop that easy ball into Fowler.
There is no denying that the combination between Gretel Bueta and Romelda Aiken is one to watch out for with the pair able to create so much movement and use their athleticism to their full advantage to keep Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang on the back foot – but all eyes will turn to whether or not Aiken is fully fit, having limped off the court in the previous round with an ankle injury. The Firebirds will also still be without the services of Tippah Dwan with the goal attack having to endure a 14 day quarantine, meaning Queensland’s frontend could be under plenty of duress.
GIANTS Netball vs. Melbourne Vixens
Wednesday, July 28 @ 3:30pm
Sitting in first place on the ladder the GIANTS will be hoping to continue their winning ways and put Melbourne Vixens to bed with a strong win. It has been a disappointing season for the Vixens and they will be eager to gain some respectability with an improved effort here but will have their work cut out for them against a firing GIANTS outfit.
There is no denying that Mwai Kumwenda is the lynchpin in attack for the Vixens with the goal shooter providing both a calming and demanding presence inside the circle. Her athleticism and smarts is what sets her apart but she will not have things all her own way with the GIANTS goal keeper in Sam Poolman a real warrior. If the Vixens are to put up a worrying total they will need either Kaylia Stanton or Ruby Barkmeyer to up the ante and put up a couple more goals. But that is no easy feat with April Brandley in fine form out in goal defence for the GIANTS, with her closing speed and spatial awareness enabling her to win back a wealth of ball.
The real battle is going to be penetrating through the midcourt with Jamie-Lee Price and Amy Parmenter proving to be a damaging duo. Parmenter will be up against the likes of Hannah Mundy who despite finding her form in the past couple of weeks will have to bring her A-game to combat the constant niggle of the wing defence. Speaking of midcourt battles, Kate Eddy will have to employ her strong hands over pressure to upset Maddie Hay around circle edge who has proven she can deliver into both Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer with her eyes closed. It does not matter where she is in the attacking third, but Hay has an uncanny ability to sight either shooter and release pinpoint passes with the pair nine times out of 10 up to the task. The Vixens will be hoping that Jo Weston and Emily Mannix are able to offset the GIANTS goalers early with their one-on-one defence under the ring while Kadie-Ann Dehaney is another option if they need to win ball back given her long limbs and read of the play.
Sunshine Coast Lightning vs. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Wednesday, July 28 @ 6:30pm
The Sunshine Coast Lightning will need to secure a win against Adelaide Thunderbirds if they are to stay within striking distance of the top two on the letter. All eyes will turn to whether or not they are at full capacity given how many players went down in their previous outing while the Thunderbirds will be hoping to bounce back after a very disappointing performance.
Lightning fans and players alike will be hoping that Steph Wood is up and raring to go in this clash with the goal attack an integral part in the Lightning outfit with her class and silky movement, not only inside the ring but outside it, often dictating the way the game goes. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Laura Scherian is ready to take the court with the wing attack hitting the deck and forced to the sideline in her last game. But the Lightning will take full confidence in both Cara Koenen and Peace Proscovia inside the ring with Koenen proving she is more than capable of playing extended minutes out in her non-preferred position of goal attack. However, the Lightning will have to be wary of the likes of Shamera Sterling with the goal keeper a real menace in the air for the Thunderbirds while Matilda Garrett is an unassuming goal defence able to niggle away at her opponent and create tips and deflections aplenty.
It is going to be a South African filled circle down with Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni for the Lightning and Lenize Potgieter for the Thunderbirds. The trio all know each other’s games exceptionally well meaning the likes of Maisie Nankivell and Hannah Petty will have to be creative upon delivery into the circle. But the Lightning are littered with classy midcourters as Kate Shimmin can play that negating wing defence role along with the likes of Mahalia Cassidy and Maddy McAuliffe. Youngster Georgie Horjus will be hoping to have more of an impact on the goal scoring front while Sam Gooden has proven to be an impact player when needed especially when the super shot is in play for the Thunderbirds.
Photo credit: Collingwood Magpies