Tag: Simone McKinnis

Sharelle McMahon: Pushing the boundaries

IN the midst of COVID-19 confusion, umpire supervisors at Melbourne-based Parkville Netball Competitions have taken it upon themselves to continue as much umpire-based learning as possible while matches are postponed. The competition is one of two umpiring Centres of Excellence in the state, seeing its Tuesday Premier Open division umpire cohort come together weekly during the pandemic to further their skills. 

With a combination of theory-based learnings such as now-disused umpiring papers and examining footage of the Victorian Netball League (VNL), the group has been gathering online every week during the unprecedented break and enjoying the odd Q&A throughout thanks to connections its supervisors have forged over the years – namely former VNL coach, Leesa Maxfield, internationally accredited umpire, Kate Wright and most recently, Australian netballer, Sharelle McMahon.

A player who redefined the goal attack position, champion netballer McMahon has become a household name in Australia over the years, pulling on the green and gold 118 times over the course of an outstanding 13 years internationally as well as a number of years with both the Melbourne Phoenix and Melbourne Vixens. McMahon has racked up the accolades over the years, debuting for Australia in 1998 and making her mark on international netball with her match-winning goal at the 1999 World Netball Championships final

Growing up in Bamawm in country Victoria, McMahon grew up playing a combination of netball and athletics, playing in footy-netball and association competitions. McMahon was eventually picked up for the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) at age-16, with that aspect of her netball journey culminating in a move to Melbourne at a young age to pursue her netball.

“The legendary Marg Caldow rang me and asked me to move down to Melbourne and take up a scholarship at the VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport), so that meant going to school at Wesley College for year 11 and 12,” McMahon said. “That was really hard and initially I didn’t want to do that. Initially I thought ‘nah, I think I’ll stay, that sounds too hard!’” 

“With some encouragement and some really great support around me I took that jump at 16-years-old and moved down to Melbourne and, you know, it was a great experience, I’ve worked with some amazing people over the journey. And that started with Marg Caldow so I feel very lucky with the people that I’ve worked with.”

A big challenge at the time however was McMahon’s homesickness. While she had her support network in Melbourne, the young goaler still wanted some home comforts, one of which was getting to return to her hometown and close-knit family and friends to play in the footy-netball league where possible.

“One of the things we said to Marg Caldow when we were talking about whether I would come to Melbourne was as long as I can go home on the weekends and play! And so she allowed me to do that, but sometimes not as often as I would have liked.”

But heading home for the footy-netball league opened up a new can of worms for McMahon, who had progressed with Caldow from being a self-confessed ‘free spirit’ on the netball court, to having a bit more structure in her game play and having to adjust back to the country level.

“One of the things I do really clearly remember is working with my coach on my rebounding. I used to rebound from behind and kind of flick it over and take the ball, jump up and grab the ball, and I used to get called for contact a lot in the country doing that.”

“My coach got some umpires to have a look and was like, ‘she’s not touching them when she’s jumping up to get that ball!’” McMahon said. “I think my ability to be able to do that was surprising to some people and so I was getting called for contact when probably I wasn’t contacting, but you know there was that adjustment that I had to make when I was going back both with my play and what I was experiencing.”

Adjusting to the umpires continued throughout McMahon’s career, as McMahon brought up how there were times when, even at the top level, she sometimes had to adjust the way in which she played, not only for the players on court but the umpires who were officiating, whether it be at the domestic or international level.

“That happened right throughout my career. We spoke about this a lot in the Australian team … each country has a different style of play, each country has different strengths, so we would have to adjust what we did according to that. And we actually approached how we were being umpired in a very similar way.”

“Depending on which coach I had, Norma (Plummer) was very big on reading umpires and adjusting to that … we used to watch videos about what calls are being made and how we could adjust to that more quickly when we were in the game. So, you know, as you say at those different levels you have to adjust but that happens right through whatever level you’re at.”

With international umpires coming together from across the world to umpire world-class competitions such as the Netball World Cup (then-World Netball Championships) and Commonwealth Games, different interpretations between umpires and their respective experience can sometimes also factor into how matches play out and the quality of contests in those matches.

“They (some umpires) just interpreted things differently, they had a different style, just like us athletes, we had different styles when we were coming from different countries and I guess in those different levels that’s the same, everyone’s got a different style and different strengths and different ways of reading it, probably more so with the Australian level.”

McMahon says that where players and coaches have a massive influence over what happens on court, the umpires have just as big a role in how they officiate matches and to what extent they allow the contesting of play and testing of boundaries – with McMahon herself one who would time and time again try to push that boundary to the limits.

“One of the things I always liked about playing netball was not just the challenge against my opposition but the challenge against myself, looking at what moves I could make, how small was that gap that I could get through, really wanting to kind of challenge myself on that,” McMahon said. “And if I was allowed to get through that tiny gap, even though there was a bit of contact, well probably next time I’ll try and get through a smaller one!”

“If I was allowed to do that, probably next time I’ll do it a bit more until I find where that line is. And if the line is a little bit further than what you thought, well, that’s where the play will go. That’s kind of how I always approached it, rightly or wrongly, so I definitely think that the umpires can have a huge influence over the style of play and the contest, and how far that goes.”

While those were some of the on-court, boundary-pushing opportunities that McMahon took to gain the best positioning or access to the goals, she also spoke about some of the post-netball opportunities she has had in coaching and commentary roles after retiring from international duties in 2011 and netball overall in 2013.

“I think in many ways, when you’ve been around for as long as I had, you’re a coach even though you’re only a player anyway – you’re always working through tactics and helping your teammates out, figuring out what their strengths are and how to get the best out of them. So I’d always loved that part of it, and getting the best out of people is what drives me.”

“I went straight into broadcast, but I was given the opportunity to continue working with the group (Melbourne Vixens) and probably from a selfish standpoint, I was really keen to do that … I moved out of home when I was 16 and lived in an elite training environment where I had been around people like that, inspiring me I guess in many ways and supporting me for 20 years. So I think for me the thought of going cold turkey on that didn’t sit very well.”

“It’s always been about opportunity, you know, when I had the opportunity to move down to Melbourne I wasn’t sure but I took it and you know there’s been many moments like that in my life that I’ve kind of gone – ‘I don’t know if I should do that’. And it might be too hard or it might be outside my reach. But I’ve tried to always just say yes to those things, and give it a go.”

“People asked me how I chose netball over athletics. It was because the opportunity came up in netball first. And so that’s what I jumped at and went with,” McMahon said. “Those opportunities kept coming up in netball, and what I had to do was make a decision between coaching and commentary last year, which was really hard because I love commentary, I really enjoy that. But the opportunity to work with a group like this and Simone (McKinnis), and learn from her from that perspective was something I was really excited about.”

Tune in later this week for PART 2.

Thank you to Sharelle McMahon and the supervising team at Parkville – Joel Owen, Juleen Maxfield and Penny Carlson – for giving Draft Central access to this session.

Note – All questions throughout the meeting were contributed by the aforementioned umpiring cohort and supervisors, with just snippets of the hour-long meeting making the cut and much of the conversation revolving around umpiring.

Memorable Matches: 1991 Netball World Cup – Frantic final sees Australia win sixth title

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is Australia’s 1991 World Netball Championship triumph in Sydney over New Zealand, with the one-goal victory the start of a decade of Australian netball dominance on the international stage.

The 1991 World Netball Championships saw a new dawn in netball, with the sport getting further support and a then world record crowd of over ten thousand fans showing their support in Sydney. It was the first year that the knockout phase had been introduced, with the final four predictably being undefeated Australia and New Zealand, closely marked by England and Jamaica. One for the history books, it was also the first time an Australian Prime Minister had been present at an all-female sporting event with Bob Hawke in attendance for the first Australian World Netball Championship triumph on home soil.

New Zealand was the team to beat heading into the tournament, as the world number one nation and the most recent world champions in 1987, but Australia would stop at nothing to get the green and gold over the line. With regular wing attack in Sue Kenny unable to take the court with injury following Australia’s semi-final win against Jamaica, the side was not at its usual firepower but did not let it stop them from achieving that final goal. 

But where Australia had the drive to win, New Zealand was always one step ahead at every change, maintaining that ounce of control to lead the Aussies who, to their credit, never stopped in their pursuit. Vicki Wilson was spectacular as ever throughout, holding down the fort in goal shooter for Australia with 42 goals to her name, aided by Catriona Wagg in goal attack who did not find much of the post but was accurate when she did so. Wagg teamed up well with Shelley O’Donnell to deliver ball on a silver platter to Wilson, whose footwork was remarkable evading the tight double defence in the circle.

Wilson was threatening at the post but the likes of Waimarama Taumaunu and Robin Dillmore were relentless, rendering Wilson to a lower accuracy than she typically recorded, as Wagg’s low tally placed more pressure on the talented goal shooter. At the other end of the court, Tracy Eyrl-Shortland and Julie Carter were that bit more consistent in their sharing of the load, forming a tight attack line that Australia defenders, Michelle Fielke and Keeley Devery at times could not contain, seeing Roselee Jencke come off the bench and have an immediate impact with her vision and ability to confuse the space.

Eyrl-Shortland and Carter were phenomenal at the post, with poise and accuracy seeing New Zealand combine for 87 per cent of their attempts, as opposed to Australia’s 77 per cent. None of the four goalers were afraid of attempting the long bomb, making every shot a crucial opportunity for a defensive rebound to propel the ball back up the court.

The speed with which both teams ran down the court was impressive, with the centre battle between Carissa Tombs and Sandra Edge spectacular as both players used every ounce of their endurance and speed to evade the other, driving with precision and constantly applying hands over pressure to limit vision down the court. Where O’Donnell used her smarts to find circle edge, she was well and truly dogged by her wing defence in Louisa Wall who applied a constant pressure, unafraid of the contest, while Simone McKinnis was formidable with her speed and hands over pressure to block Joan Hodson’s vision in attack.

With the match likely to go toe-to-toe throughout, the final quarter saw neither team willing to give up any momentum. The Aussies had managed to stop New Zealand in their tracks at the end of the third, holding up an almost certain goal to ensure they were only down by the one goal heading into the final term. Overall, Australia was cleaner than the Kiwi outfit, and while the green and gold missed more attempts on goal, they also put up eight more shots than New Zealand. Add on that the Kiwis doubled Australia’s penalty count in majority of the quarters, and it’s a hard stat to look past when the margin comes down to a single goal.

While Australia had the first centre pass of the final quarter, they were continually thwarted by New Zealand’s patient approach in attack, equalising again and again to build up pressure on both teams. As the two teams continued to battle, real flair began to come out as the speed of the match lifted once more. With a two goal lead with under five minutes left to play, New Zealand only needed to maintain some clarity down the court to go back-to-back world champions, but the Aussies had other ideas, turning over on a crucial New Zealand centre pass and evening up the ledger with just over two minutes on the clock and frantic play to ensue. 

Two late intercepts from opposing defenders in Taumaunu and Jencke settled the score with under 30 seconds left in the match, as Taumaunu foiled Australia’s plans in attack before Jencke turned over the ball, and with confusion as to whether the final whistle had been blown, Australia claimed its sixth World Netball Championship title.

AUSTRALIA 13 | 13 | 14 | 13 (53)
NEW ZEALAND 14 | 13 | 14 | 11 (52)

Australia

GS: Vicki Wilson
GA: Catriona Wagg
WA: Shelley O’Donnell
C: Carissa Tombs (Nee Dalwood)
WD: Simone McKinnis
GD: Michelle Fielke
GK: Keeley Devery

BENCH: Sharon Finnan, Roselee Jencke, Jennifer Kennett, Sue Kenny
COACH: Joyce Brown

New Zealand

GS: Tracy Eyrl-Shortland
GA: Julie Carter
WA: Joan Hodson
C: Sandra Edge
WD: Louisa Wall
GD: Waimarama Taumaunu
GK: Robin Dillmore

BENCH: Tanya Cox, Leonie Leaver, Ana Nouvao, Carron Topping, Sheryl Waite
COACH: Lyn Parker

SHOOTING STATS

Australia

Vicki Wilson 42/56
Catriona Wagg 11/13

New Zealand

Tracy Eyrl-Shortland 34/40
Julie Carter 18/20

Diamond Liz Watson focused on Super Netball success with Melbourne Vixens

LIZ Watson is one of the most recognisable names in the netball world. The Melbourne Vixens turned Australian Diamonds wing attack provides a vital cog through the midcourt, using her netball nous to deliver crucial ball to her goalers and provide an option on circle edge with her impressive hold and clean hands. But like much of the world, Watson is having an unprecedented break from netball, having to switch up her plan and structure for the year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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While it was tricky in the beginning, Watson said the adjustment to isolated training has come in time thanks to routine and constant contact with her Vixens teammates and friends.

“I guess it was a bit tricky at the start when it all kind of happened but now I’ve got a bit of a routine and I’m still keeping busy with uni, we check in with the girls every day at Vixens which is really helpful,” she said. “So it sets up the day on what we’re required to do.”

Settling into a routine has made social distancing that little bit easier, working into training plan that fits around other ways of keeping busy during the pandemic.

“Before we went into lockdown we were pretty much match fit and I guess building up to competition mode, and now we’ve kind of had to strip that back and go right back to basic kind of fitness and strength,” Watson said. “Our training plans have been sort of up and down, so that’s probably the most tricky part and I think now we’re just starting to incorporate a bit more footwork and netball specific drills.”

“I love going for a big long walk in the morning, that kind of gets me moving and I guess sets up the day, but we are following a training program from the coaches so it’s set out every day – there’s either gym, conditioning and a bit of footwork stuff, but I also am loving doing a bit of palates and yoga, which is good because I don’t usually do that as much throughout the year.”

The past weekend was shaping up to be a blockbuster round one battle against Queensland Firebirds in the Suncorp Super Netball, one that Watson would have hoped to see replicate their 2019 matches, during which they defeated the Firebirds on both occasions. 

“It’s probably just, you know, the mental and physical idea that you’re preparing for a match, but now we’re going right back to sort of that preseason fitness base kind of work,” Watson said.

“We’d be having a pretty much a normal week at training but I guess that it’d probably be a bit lighter and throughout the back end of the week we’d have a light training session at the venue which would have been at Melbourne Arena for us. “That’s where we were playing round one so we would have headed there on the Friday for a training session and then played there on the Saturday, so a lot different at the moment, but yeah it is what it is, I guess.”

On the international stage, Watson is vice-captain of the Australian Diamonds, joining forces with a number of her Super Netball rivals. She said the vice-captaincy has given her a lot of confidence in her game, able to share the leadership load with a number of her teammates.

“It’s really special,” she said. “I think the one thing I love the most about it is that you actually are voted in from the team and I think that it’s really important to have that belief and confidence and trust from the teammates to put you into that position. “That gives me a lot of confidence going out there and actually being able to be the vice captain alongside Bass (Caitlin Bassett) as captain so it’s a really special group. “Everyone has to come together, obviously we’re rivals throughout the year but then we are teammates.”

Teaming up with quality players from across the country, Watson has had to switch up her game style on the odd occasion, namely when taking the court with one of her round one opponents in dynamic goal attack, Gretel Bueta. Watson also took on somewhat of a different role in the Diamonds in 2019, playing more of a centre role than her typical wing attack.

“I absolutely love playing with Gretel because you don’t really know what she’s going to do,” Watson said. “I think that’s something that we’ve learned and are really encouraged, is to let Gretel play the way she plays and we kind of mold in around that.”

“I think I definitely feel it more in my lungs in centre, rather than wing attack. “But yeah, I think that they’re quite similar in their positions and the gameplay isn’t too different… in all our analysis sessions we’re always talking so I was across what centres have to do typically in a game so from a game sense it wasn’t too bad.”

At the Vixens, Watson feeds a couple more conventional – but not any less talented – goalers in Caitlin Thwaites, Tegan Philip and Mwai Kumwenda, typically teaming up with captain Kate Moloney to feed into the goal circle.

“A good mid courter, our job is to make our goalers look good and we need to do that by playing to their strengths,” Watson said. “So someone like Tegan is very fast and speedy and Caity, she can hold really well and get that high ball in, so as a mid courter it’s about working with each goaler and actually enhancing their strengths as much as possible and letting them do their thing and kind of fitting in around their their gameplay.” 

With plenty of talent coming up through the pathways, Watson is well aware of the Victorian netball pathways given she followed them through in the traditional sense, even playing much of her junior netball at the State Netball and Hockey Centre where the Vixens train and hosted their impressive semi-final against Collingwood Magpies last season.

“I’m very lucky I’ve played and pretty much followed the Netball Victoria pathway to a tee,” Watson said. “I’ve been there ever since I started really, 11-years-old.”

Watson said the Victorian pathway helped curate her competitive streak, with the winning culture something that helps push every young player to keep putting their best out onto the court. 

“We always have a strong history of winning in Victoria, and right through nationals, Victoria were always expected to be in that top two, if not number one,” she said. “So it brings that competitive side and I think it’s great that we’ve got such a really structured pathway for young girls and they know the step by step to become a Vixen, and it’s easy when kids say to you, you know, how did you become a Vixen and I say ‘I followed this pathway, this is what you can do to get there’. “We’re very lucky in Victoria that we have that winning culture and that success and that’s because all our pathway is planned out right from when we’re juniors.”

Simone (McKinnis) has made a Vixens squad so we’ve got an extended squad of girls who are up and coming and I think that’s really important,” Watson said. “It’s so special. “As a young kid I remember going into the Vixens environment, even if it’s just for one training session, and you just see how they train and then you go back and you say, ‘that’s how I need to be training if I want to become a Vixen or be at that level’. “So I think it’s great that we’ve got this squad, and then they can go back to their clubs and I guess drive that standard with their local clubs too so I think having the extended squad has been really valuable for us.”

While the 2020 season is ultimately still up in the air, Watson said the Vixens’ season aims still ring true despite not yet taking the court. Having made finals last season but fallen short, the tenacious Vixens want to win back some of the glory that has evaded them in the Suncorp Super Netball and bring the trophy back to Victoria.

“We want to be the team that comes out of isolation the best… yes we can be fit and strong and deliver our programs but it’s that mental toughness that we’ve always been working on and that’s the side that I feel has let us down previously, that mental side of our game, and if we can come out of this isolation the toughest strongest team mentally, then nothing can really stop us,” Watson said.

As for fellow netballers who are itching to get back on the court and may be feeling a bit sluggish or unmotivated, Watson said it is useful to remember that everyone is in the same position and acknowledge that plenty of others are in far worse situations across the globe.

“I think it’s important to know that everyone’s probably feeling a little bit like that, even us as elite athletes do feel like that … I always think I’m so lucky – I am still playing, I still get to train and I still get to talk to my teammates every day, it’s just in a different way and that’s just the way it has to be right now,” she said. “I think just acknowledging that – yes it’s hard, but if we just sit here and say it’s hard then we’re not going to really move forward at all.”

“(We’re) all trying to work to come out as I guess, fitter and stronger but also just mentally ready to hit competition mode and, yeah, hopefully have a really good season. “Fingers crossed we do play some sort of netball in the back end of the year.”

Netball fantasy teams: Commentators v. Coaches

WHILE now renowned for their presence off court whether it be behind a microphone or boundary side these commentators and coaches were once known for their on-court prowess. Both sides consist of former players from across the globe now turned media personalities or coaches whether it be assistant or head.  To be eligible to make either team they must have held a position in either role in the past two years.

Commentators:

GK: Liz Ellis
GD: Laura Geitz
WD: Bianca Chatfield
C: Anna Stanley
WA: Tamsin Greenway
GA: Sharelle McMahon
GS: Cath Cox

BENCH: Anne Sargeant, Adine Wilson, Ama Agbeze

There is no shortage of talent behind the mic with each and every player in the squad showcasing their class and talent at both an international and domestic level. Starting in goal keeper is none other than fan favourite and Australian Diamonds royalty Liz Ellis. The talented defender was an easy pick given her influence on court, long arms, ability to clog up space and come out for a screaming intercept when needed. Much like her defensive counterpart, Laura Geitz was another sure starter even though she was pushed out to goal defence to accommodate for Ellis. The former Diamonds goal keeper turned commentator was an excitement machine down back, generating plenty of turnover ball and using her impressive timing to perfection. Moving out to wing defence is Melbourne Vixens great and fellow Diamond defender Bianca Chatfield. Although typically known for her presence in circle defence, Chatfield is no stranger to the wing position with her height and long arm span doing a wealth of damage to block her opponents vision into the circle. New Zealand commentator and former Silver Ferns representative Anna Stanley takes out the centre position with the highly skilled midcourter possessing class and speed to boot. Her experience and nous on the court was unquestionable able to thread the needle with her passes and good vision while wing attack and former England Roses star Tamsin Greenway oozes plenty of game changing attributes. Arguably one of the headline duos in the team is the goal circle pairing of Sharelle McMahon and Catherine Cox. The two Australian Diamonds dynamites lit up the court with their explosiveness and deadeye accuracy. McMahon is a smooth mover, renowned for using her light and quick footwork to glide across the court while Cox can play both the holding and moving shooter with great ease. one thing that is fair to say is they hardly missed with the two making the most of their opportunities inside the goal circle and most importantly were not afraid to back themselves from range. Unlucky not to get the start was Anne Sargeant while the likes of midcourter Adine Wilson also just missed out despite pulling the bib on 79 times for the Ferns. Rounding out the team is former England Roses captain and defender Ama Agbeze with the lanky goal keeper known for her hunt for the ball, quick movement and ability to create something out of nothing.

 

Coaches:

GK: Roselee Jencke
GD: Claire McMenimen
WD: Simone McKinnis
C: Temepara Bailey
WA: Noeline Taurua
GA: Vicki Wilson
GS: Irene Van Dyk 

BENCH: Norma Plummer, Tracey Neville, Nicole Richardson

This squad is filled with some of the most recognised and highly established netball coaches at either an assistant or head coach position in the world. They range from international and domestic leagues but most importantly were silky smooth on the court. Firebirds head coach and former Diamonds defensive coach, Roselee Jencke is a star in her own right. She represented the Diamonds 43 times and was a real commanding presence down back with her hands over pressure and quick footwork to get around the body and force turnovers. After playing under Jencke at the Firebirds the now Diamonds specialist coach Clare McMeniman is set to pull on the goal defence bib. With class, defensive pressure and three-foot marking a couple of her key attributes it would be hard to go past the skilful defender. Although she was not the flashiest player it was her ability to shut down opponents with her tagging style of defence and skill to drop back into space and cherry pick passes and propel the ball back down the court with ease. Successful Vixens coach, Simone McKinnis has a firm grasp on the wing defence position thanks to her dynamic movement while veteran and now coach with the Northern Stars Temepara Bailey was a sure start in centre. Bailey is one of the most durable players able to run all day and all night, using her change of direction to full effect and delivering the ball with ease into the circle. Arguably one of the most praised coaches in netball history, Noeline Taurua pulls on the wing attack bib with the classy netballer in a league of her own when it comes to awareness and tactics. Taurua was clever with ball in hand able to see the play with ease and create space to allow attacking forays to unfold. Vicki Wilson was a key cog for the Diamonds with her precise shooting, impressive ball movement, clever footwork and versatility to switch between goal attack and goal shooter. After spending time with the Central Pulse last year, superstar goal shooter Irene Van Dyk was an easy call up. Van Dyk is one of the most accurate shooters the world has ever seen and was never fazed by the physicality of the contest. Her strong holds, incredible ability to stand and deliver from right underneath the ring and silky footwork put her in a league of her own while her high volume of shots made her the complete package. On the bench is none other than the great Norma Plummer, along with the retired Tracey Neville while Collingwood Magpies assistant coach Nicole Richardson completes the team.

Who would win?

Although there is plenty of class across both sides the defence end of the commentators’ squad is stacked with a host of game changers. Both Ellis and Geitz are renowned for their impressive feats in big grand finals or gold medal matches making them a tough challenge even for the likes of the ever-impressive Van Dyk. Throw in the tried and tested combination of McMahon and Cox in the goal circle and the commentators side has the slight upper hand given their strong connections across the court and explosiveness.

Who wins in this hypothetical battle?
Commentators
Coaches
Created with Quiz Maker

Who steps up? Potential Diamonds coaches

WITH Lisa Alexander and Netball Australia parting ways today, the hunt for a new Diamonds coach is underway. There is no shortage of candidates willing and able to take a shot at the top job. Here are some of our potential coaches:

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Briony Akle:
The New South Wales Swifts coach is a smoky chance to be awarded the head coach position considering her stellar season last year and ability to build a team filled with young talent. Akle showcased her belief to back her players on the netball court and use her netball nous to find good fit players for her specific game style. Her traditional style of netball caught many teams off-guard with the Swifts coach prioritising careful and considered movement rather than any form of erratic play. Her ability to drill in the importance of treasuring the ball and slow and steady pace could add a different dimension to the Diamonds line-up.

Megan Anderson:
The former Australian Diamonds attacker is a definite chance to be selected as the next coach given her experience at the highest level and high level knowledge of the game. The current specialist coach oozes plenty of understanding credit to her strong grasp on the game having played it for an extensive period of time. Anderson knows what success tastes like winning three premierships with the Swifts while her knowledge of the New Zealand game plan could pay dividends having played with both the Mystics and Southern Steel.

Roselee Jencke:
The Queensland Firebirds coach is no stranger to the Diamonds outfit or success having spent a couple of years with the green and gold as a specialist coach. Her defensive knowledge is second to none, developing and nurturing the young up and coming talent through the ranks making her an exciting prospect to take the reins. Jencke has coached the Firebirds to back-to-back grand finals in the ANZ Premiership and while she has not had the same luck in Suncorp Super Netball has a wealth experience and skill that could provide a different perspective to the Diamonds.

Julie Fitzgerald:
The former Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic coach and current GIANTS netball coach has plenty to offer to the Diamonds who are embarking on new era. Fitzgerald is a true servant of the game dedicating her life to the game with her in-depth knowledge in both an attacking and defensive mindset. She has coached over 300 national league games highlighting her extensive knowledge of the game and sheer commitment to not only developing the league but so too the players involved at the club. She knows what it takes to win, yielding four premierships throughout her coaching tenure. Fitzgerald offers a different perspective to the game able to see varying patterns across the court and exploit opposition teams.

Simone McKinnis:
With 63 international caps under her belt the now Melbourne Vixens coach is a chance to step up to the plate and take control of the ever-developing Diamonds. McKinnis has spent plenty of time at the top with the Vixens guiding them to multiple finals and grand finals and while she has fallen short on recent occasions has an undeniable ability to bring the best out of her players. Her more defensive style of play could suit the Diamonds who have a wealth of options down back. McKinnis has spent many years coaching and could use her knowledge and understanding to formulate a new look game plan.

Netball Australia Award Predictions

WITH the Australian netball awards season quickly approaching we cast an eye over a host of potential players that could win the prestigious awards ranging from international level to the Australian Netball League (ANL). This article is purely based on opinion and how we perceive each player’s season to have panned out.

Liz Ellis Diamond: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

It is hard to think of another player that has had as great an impact as Gretel Tippett has in the past year, with the talented goal attack taking her game to a whole new level in 2019. The typically explosive shooter owned the court both at international and domestic level, a clear testament to her sheer power, netball nous and dominance no matter her opponent. She broke records, becoming the first Australian to shoot 100 consecutive goals and putting an end to any doubters who questioned her accuracy, along with upping the volume of shots she attempted. Tippett was simply unstoppable when given the time and space and showed she can apply defensive pressure thanks to her three-foot marking and read of the play.

Wing attack and 2018 Liz Ellis Diamond winner Liz Watson also put her best foot forward for the coveted award, thanks to another year full of consistency, clever plays and dynamic movement proving to be a key cog through the midcourt. Her endurance was unquestionable running hard and creating attacking forays to surge her side ahead, but her season failed to have the same individual impact as Tippett.

Australian International Player of the Year: Gretel Tippett (Queensland Firebirds)

With Tippett expected to take out the Liz Ellis Diamond award expect the Firebirds shooter to make it two from two and take home the International Player of the Year award, credit to a stellar season in the green and gold. She was often the point of difference in tight matches, using her physicality and commanding height to full advantage to get under the skin of opponents and capitalise on her opportunities. Tippett did not disappoint in the Constellation Cup, only missing three goals from her 85 attempts at an impressive 96 per cent, highlighting her accuracy to post and class while her performance at the World Cup was unrivalled by any other Diamond. She showcased her versatility moving into goal shooter to become a holding goaler and key target under the post.

Despite missing a couple of games with injury, goal keeper Courtney Bruce was a dominant threat in the defensive goal circle thanks to her immense pressure and ball tracking ability making her a potential winner. Caitlin Thwaites is another player up there for many, and although she did not get a wealth of court time the retiring goal shooter served as a smokey with the fan favourite making an impact each time she took the court with her long range shooting and versatile game style.

Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year: Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

After another big year of Suncorp Super Netball it is hard to narrow down a winner but it is equally as hard to go past Karla Pretorius with the talented goal defence reminding everyone why she is so dominant and exciting to watch. She was a key reason behind the Lightning’s success spurring them into another grand final tilt, albeit falling short. Pretorius lights the court up with her go-go gadget arms, closing speed and ability to pick pocket players making her Draft Central’s number one choice.

Also up there is fellow international and Lightning returnee, Laura Langman. On return, Langman proved to be a key cog through the midcourt and had some impressive games where she well and truly won games off her own back. In her first season of SSN Jamaican recruit Shamera Sterling could also give Pretorius a run for her money with the Adelaide Thunderbirds goal keeper highlighting her class to pick off passes with her lanky arms and impressive leap. Hot on her tail is the likes of Ash Brazill who lifted another gear in 2019 for the Magpies using her electric pace, aerial ability and defensive pressure to remain a threat across the court. Meanwhile NSW Swifts goal shooter Sam Wallace also put her hand up as a potential winner thanks to her cool, calm and collected nature under the post paired with her aerial ability, something which helped the NSW Swifts to their inaugural Super Netball premiership.

Joyce Brown Coach of the Year: Briony Akle (NSW Swifts)

It is no mean feat coaching your side to victory after failing to make the top four the year before, and NSW Swifts coach, Briony Akle well and truly showed it can be done. Akle proved that the mix between international star power and belief in youth was key to success with the likes of ANL players Elle Bennetts, Sophie Halpin and Tayla Fraser all playing a crucial role in their premiership. Despite being hit with a host of injuries with Helen Housby sidelined after World Cup, Maddy Proud relegated to the bench after tearing her ACL and Kate Eddy out with a season ending ankle injury the talented coach pulled it all together only in her second year as head coach.

Grand final opposition coach Noeline Taurua also posed a good candidate taking her side to their third consecutive grand final while the ever-reliable Simone McKinnis could have also been selected but in the end it was hard to deny Akle given her successful 2019 campaign.

Suncorp Super Netball Young Star: Cara Koenen (Sunshine Coast Lightning)

It was a break out season for the 24-year old shooter who well and truly announced herself on the domestic stage, mixing it with some of the world’s best and most talented defenders. Koenen emerged midway through the season as a key player for the Lightning with her height, strong holds and deceptively silky movement a key feature of her game making her a front runner for this year’s Young Star award.

Koenen was no easy pick with the likes of Queensland defensive duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe also in contention for the Young Star award given their impressive season, but both suffered injuries forcing them to the sidelines for weeks at a time. Another potential was Sophie Garbin who held her own in her non-preferred position of goal attack in the absence of teammate Housby, using her accuracy to post and strong movement to pose a threat. But none seemed to have the same impact as Koenen who at times was a barometer for the Sunshine Coast with her accuracy, volume and general netball nous.

Side by side the Magpies march to finals

WITH finals on the line the Collingwood Magpies rose to the occasion defeating the Melbourne Vixens by 11 goals (58 – 47) at Melbourne Arena on Sunday.

The Magpies needed to win at least three quarters and the match by seven goals or more to steal fourth place on the ladder from the Giants and sneak back into the top four for finals. Securing the first three quarters of the match and drawing the last, the Magpies did enough to rob the Giants of their position on the ladder by 0.6 per cent. Collingwood made the most of their opportunities early scoring from turnovers while the Vixens struggled to work the ball into their goal circle to convert.

Shimona Nelson and Nat Medhurst were composed in Collingwood’s attack end, moving around the goal circle with precision allowing Ash Brazill and Kimiora Poi to easily feed into them. While down the other end of the court, the Vixen’s were uncharacteristically stuck with superstar midcourters Liz Watson and Kate Moloney both recording their lowest number of feeds for the season, credit to the amount of work the Magpies did in defence. Collingwood wing defence Kim Ravaillion had every move from the Vixens covered while April Brandley and Geva Mentor were out hunting for the ball, putting pressure on passes entering the goal circle. Tegan Philip was a star for the Vixens throughout the match, driving into space well and confidently slotting goal after goal only missing one goal in the first quarter, while teammate Caitlin Thwaites nailed four from four of her first quarter attempts.

Only two goals ahead at the first break, the Magpies came out strong once again in the second with Mentor tipping the ball to Brandley for a Medhurst goal off a Vixens’ centre pass and a few minutes later scoring off another with a Brazill intercept. The Magpies were able to get ahead by eight goals at one point during the quarter but the Vixens settled as the quarter wore on. Emily Mannix and Jo Weston worked hard in defence to try to throw off the Magpies and when the opportunities came the Vixens took them with Renae Ingles, Moloney and Watson safely transitioning from defence to attack closing the gap down between the two teams to only three goals by halftime.

Collingwood swooped in the third quarter, winning it 17 goals to nine. The pairing between Medhurst and Nelson shone with both players scoring from 100 per cent of their attempts in the quarter, although Nelson put up 11 more goals the work Medhurst did out the front to open space for Nelson at the back was terrific. The Magpies were smarter with their ball use, treasuring it with only three general play turnovers for the quarter in comparison to seven from the Vixens. Tweaking with their line-up the Vixens tried to find a way to throw off Collingwood, however, the Magpies ended the quarter 11 goals up and with an important third bonus point.

The Vixens matched the Magpies during the final quarter, midcourters Watson and Moloney worked well together to feed the ball safely into the circle and found room to break free of the Magpies defence while Mwai Kumwenda brought some fresh movement to the Vixens’ goal circle. Aware of what was riding on the final margin, the Magpies remained strong not allowing the Vixens to trim down the margin they had worked so hard to build. Mentor deflected pass after pass to slow the Vixens while Brazill continued to apply pressure across the court. It was a four-quarter performance from the Magpies that sees them heading to finals on a high, leaving the Vixens with a week to bounce back before coming up against the Magpies again in the minor semi-final.

Speaking after the match Vixens head coach Simone McKinnis said she was disappointed in the loss but they still have next week.

“Magpies were all over us right from the word go, so disappointing but we have to look at next week,” she said. “We seemed a bit hesitant across the court particularly down in that attack so maybe it’s that confidence and that bit of belief that’s maybe missing at the moment so we’ve got to talk that through.”

“We went into this game wanting it to be about us and our season playing in preparation for next week, certainly playing against a team who’s playing for their season but heading into finals you should be able to withstand that sort of drive from a team and I don’t think that we handled it very well,” McKinnis said.

While assistant coach for the Magpies Nicole Richardson who along with fellow assistant coach Kate Upton filled in for Collingwood head coach Rob Wright again this week said she was proud of her team.

“If they were going to bring it, today was the day to bring it. We spoke to them before the game, I speak a lot about their heart and their head and I thought they brought that today. We also spoke about they had a choice, the door was ajar they just needed to take a foot through it and they were given a choice a choice in what they wanted to do and the performance they wanted to put out there and you can’t fault them. From a club we’re so proud of what the girls put together and I’m sure Rob back in Sydney will be just so proud and pumped of the performance the girls have been able to put out and it’s not just about today their past month’s been very good we knew they could play that brand of netball, it’s just taken a little bit to get it out of them so hopefully we’ve got some momentum going into finals and we’re actually there not to make up numbers we’re there to do some damage,” Richardson said.

“It is a massive step for the club to play finals you put it in the perspective of the year with Rob losing his mum and the two Brownes going down they are a big big part of our club and we spoke about that before the game. We spoke about the people who weren’t here today and the people who weren’t on the court it was about doing it for them and about doing it for themselves,” she said.

Brazill was named the Nissan Player of the Match for the third week in a row for the Magpies and Richardson had nothing but praise for the new-found centre.

“She just offers a different style of game, we felt that we were struggling to punch through down into the circle edge and when you’ve got such a post-up goaler like Shimmy you really need to try to get to the circle edge to create those feeds and Brazzy’s just raw athletic ability she’s able to punch through and get to the circle edge to create those easier feeds for us,” Richardson said.

Looking to next week and reflecting on the game Richardson said she does not think the Vixens held back knowing they were going to finish third on the ladder either way the day went.

“I think Vixens even though they had nothing to play, the rivalry between the two clubs is massive so what they had to play for today was to knock us out of the finals so they still gave it their all and their heart and soul so I would expect the same intensity of the game and we need to ensure that we can then lift to another level to can match it again,” she said.

STARTING LINE-UP:

Collingwood Magpies:

GK | Geva Mentor
GD | April Brandley
WD | Kim Ravaillion
C | Ash Brazill
WA | Kimiora Poi
GA | Nat Medhurst
GS | Shimona Nelson

Melbourne Vixens:

GK | Emily Mannix
GD | Jo Weston
WD | Renae Ingles
C | Kate Moloney
WA | Liz Watson
GA | Tegan Philip
GS | Caitlin Thwaites

Swifts stun Vixens to snatch top spot in 10-goal win

NEW South Wales (NSW) Swifts have produced their best performance of the season to down a strong Melbourne Vixens team on the road on Sunday afternoon. The Swifts lost Sophie Garbin before the game, but following on from the weekend’s trend of injured sides getting up – with the Fever downing the Magpies and Lightning knocking off the GIANTS – the Swifts had all the answers, even when challenged. They not only won away, but they claimed all eight points in a dominant performance against arguably the competition benchmark side, littered with Diamonds.

The first quarter saw the the normally reliable Vixens miss two shots, with Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip shooting 13 of a possible 15 goals, the difference in the quarter as Sam Wallace and Helen Housby nailed all 16 attempts. In her 50th league game Maddy Turner was huge in restricting Philip, recording four deflections and two gains credit to her work rate, hands over pressure and ability to read the play. Wing defence Kate Eddy was also important in disrupting the attacking end of the Vixens picking up a couple of intercepts as the Swifts headed into the break with a three-goal lead.

That lead increased to six by the main break as Sarah Klau began to have a huge impact at goal keeper. With the Vixens unable to find their normal connections in attack and create space Thwaites moved out to goal attack, forcing Philip to drop back into goal shooter. Thwaites relished the extra space driving hard into the circle and giving the defenders something extra to think about. She posted nine from 11 in the term credit to her composure and accuracy with ball in hand before another change came which saw Philip head to the bench making way for South African goaler Ine-Mari Venter in her debut game for the Vixens. Philip had just six of a possible nine shots at that stage, while Thwaites had 18 of 21. Credit must go to the Swifts who forced the changes, as Wallace (eight goals from nine attempts) and Housby (six from six) continued to pile on the pressure, while Klau had three gains and two rebounds in the quarter. Even when the Vixens made their charge in the quarter to cut the deficit to one, the Swifts had the answers.

Philip returned to the court for the third term, and found her groove with six goals from six attempts, but Klau’s work on Thwaites continued as the normally heavy volume shooter managed just six goals from seven attempts. While the defensive circle was doing its job for the visitors, Wallace and Housby continued to pile on the pressure, as Wallace nailed all 11 attempts, while Housby sank three out of four. Paige Hadley in centre played out of her skin in the third quarter, recording seven goal assists and nine feeds, while Maddy Proud had five goal assists and seven feeds. The connection between Hadley and Proud is growing week in week out, setting up clever triangle plays at the top of the circle and consistently swinging the ball around to find an opening in the circle. Their ability to thread the needle and use their speed to get into damaging positions on the circle edge is second to none. For the Vixens, Liz Watson was doing all she could at wing attack, with 19 goal assists, producing more than half of the Vixens’ 36 goals.

Despite the eight-goal lead at the final break, the Swifts knew the importance of bonus points and the firepower at the Vixens’ disposal, powering on to a 16-14 final term to win 60-50. Wallace was enormous again under the post with 14 of a possible 15 goals, while Housby shot two from four. While many would have predicted the versatile Swifts to be the side to make changes throughout the game, their pressure and cohesion forced the Vixens to be the ones to shuffle the magnets. Kate Moloney was her usual self instructing the troops across the court and working tirelessly while Renae Ingles was down on her normal standards credit to the work of Proud in attack. Watson continued her great form for the four quarters, but Venter returned to the court after nine minutes to play the final seven with Philip as Thwaites had a break. The Vixens only missed the one goal – as Venter and Thwaites nailed all four of their attempts, but it would not be enough as the Swifts enjoyed a 60-50 win at Margaret Court Arena.

Hadley won Player of the Match for her work in the centre on Kate Moloney, finishing the game with an impressive 18 goal assists and 27 feeds, while Proud was equally as strong with a massive 26 goal assists and 35 feeds. Wallace finished the game with 45 goals from 47 attempts, as her partner in crime, Housby had 15 from 18. Klau’s three intercepts, two rebounds and five gains were a highlight as Turner had the three gains, seven deflections and one rebound. For the Vixens, Moloney and Watson were strong, combining for 42 goal assists and 55 feeds, as only four other assists and six feeds came from other players. Emily Mannix still ahd the seven deflections and one gain, while Venter’s debut yielded her four goals at 100 per cent, working with both Philip (18 from 22) and Thwaites (28 from 32). The result saw the Swifts take top spot, while the Vixens rue their first loss of the season after surviving a scare from the Fever a week earlier.

STARTING LINE-UP:

Melbourne Vixens:

GS |Caitlin Thwaites
GA |Tegan Philip
WA |Liz Watson
C |Kate Moloney
WD |Renae Ingles
GD |Jo Weston
GK |Emily Mannix

NSW Swifts:

GS |Sam Wallace
GA |Helen Housby
WA |Maddy Proud
C |Paige Hadley
WD |Kate Eddy
GD |Maddy Turner
GK |Sarah Klau

Vixens stunned by undermanned Fever

IT was a blockbuster game between the West Coast Fever and Melbourne Vixens with neither side able to be separated at the final whistle. Both sides were neck and neck drawing the third and fourth quarter highlighting their intensity and pressure. It was clear that the Fever had a point to prove and they well and truly made their move showcasing their dominance to post, quick ball movement and ability to mix it with the top teams.

Still without captain and general down in defence, Courtney Bruce, many questions were raised about whether the Fever will be able to withstand the attacking prowess of the Vixens. In recent weeks both Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip have showcased their skill under the post sharing the load and capitalising on their opportunities. But credit to the Fever’s hot start the Vixens struggled to find their rhythm early with wing defence Jess Anstiss doing a wealth of work to keep Liz Watson off the circle edge. The new look attack for the Fever were on song early on with Jhaniele Fowler and Kaylia Stanton working well in tandem with Stanton showing she is not afraid to go to post. Her work outside of the circle was equally impressive with the goal attack feeding the ball well into Fowler racking up 10 goal assists in the first quarter alone while she also managed two intercepts credit to her ability to hunt the ball and use her long arms to disrupt the play from her opposition. With a goal in the dying seconds of the first quarter Fowler secured the first bonus point of the game for the Fever and gave them a narrow margin heading into the break.

Down by one goal at quarter time the Melbourne Vixens lifted both in attack and defence with coach, Simone McKinnis bringing on talented Jamaican defender Kadie-Ann Dehaney in hope to disrupt the high ball going into Fowler. Dehaney’s aerial ability helped to reduce the volume of shots by Fowler with the goal shooter only managing 10 compared to the 16 in the previous quarter. Dehaney threatened the Fever midcourt but Verity Charles and Ingrid Colyer continued their dominant ways creating space in the attacking third and delivering the ball to Fowler. Up the other end Watson stepped it up a gear using her speed and netball smarts to consistently re-offer on the circle edge and feed the ball into the Vixens shooters. Youngster, Olivia Lewis worked tirelessly in defence applying strong hands over pressure and congesting the space to nullify the influence of Thwaites at the post who only slotted seven goals for the term. With the Vixens fighting hard to stay in the game Philip shot a clutch goal after the buzzer to claim a bonus point for Melbourne and tie things up heading into half time.

The arm wrestle continued after half time with both the Fever and Vixens going goal or goal until the Vixens went on a four goal streak to claim some momentum. The lead pushed out to four goals but the Fever quickly replied with an impressive five-minute stint in the quarter to break even at three quarter time. Through the midcourt Kate Moloney was imperative for the Vixens using her clever ball movement and voice to encourage her teammates to stay in the hunt. Struggling to combat the height and dominance of Fowler, Jo Weston reappeared from the bench after Emily Mannix tried her luck out in goal defence. Renae Ingles worked her way into the game with her impressive footwork, ability to read the play and long reach to get a deflection and reduce the influence of Colyer around the circle edge. While in defence for the Fever, Lewis moved to the bench making way for Shannon Eagland who had an immediate impact picking up an intercept.Stacey Francis remained a constant down in defence for the Fever using her experience and ball winning ability to full advantage getting a timely deflection.

With the final quarter underway both the Vixens and Fever were locked in a tight tussle until the Fever forged ahead to claim a five goal lead thanks to Fowler. With the game looking all but over with less than five minutes left on the clock the Vixens experience and class shone through with Watson taking a crucial intercept and streaming down court to create a scoring opportunity for the Vixens. It was just the spark the Vixens needed with the players upping their intensity and hunting every ball to get back to level playing. A goal from Fowler in the last 30 seconds saw the Fever fans get excited but with the clock still ticking and the Vixens centre pass to come, Philip showcased her desperation and skill bombing it from the middle third falling out of court to Thwaites who turned and scored with all but one second left on the clock. In the end it was 63 goals apiece with Fowler claiming Player of the Match for her efforts under the post with 51 from 54 at 94 per cent.

STARTING LINE-UPS:

West Coast Fever:

GS | Jhaniele Fowler
GA | Kaylia Stanton
WA | Ingrid Colyer
C | Verity Charles
WD | Jess Anstiss
GD | Stacey Francis
GK | Olivia Lewis

Melbourne Vixens:

GS | Caitlin Thwaites
GA | Tegan Philip
WA | Liz Watson
C | Kate Moloney
WD | Renae Ingles
GD | Jo Weston
GK | Emily Mannix

Vixens outfox Thunderbirds in dominant display

THE Melbourne Vixens continued their hot form and stamped their authority on the competition with a 16-goal win over the Thunderbirds who could not keep up. Melbourne won all the bonus points and looked like a well-oiled machine the entire way down the court.

After a disappointing loss last week, the Thunderbirds came out hard pushing out to a two goal lead with long bomb specialist Maria Folau leading the way in attack. She was instrumental with ball in hand, delivering pinpoint passes into youngster Sasha Glasgow and finding the net herself slotting four from five. Glasgow stood tall under some immense pressure from Vixens defenders, Emily Mannix and Jo Weston who contested every ball that came their way. Chelsea Pitman was important in attack using her speed and precision to hit the circle edge hard, getting a clever tip into Glasgow who was home alone in the dying seconds of the first term, but was unable to convert. The Vixens worked hard and allowed their systems to take control with their calm, composed and clever use of the ball on display to peg back the margin and go into the break two goals up.

Defensively the Thunderbirds lifted their intensity with both Beth Cobden and Layla Guscoth picking up crucial intercepts to stop the attacking flow of the Vixens. But injury struck early in the second quarter, sending shockwaves through both the Adelaide and England camp with wing defence Cobden going down with a suspected ACL after landing awkwardly. Cobden was helped off the court with teammate, Pitman in close pursuit going down a few minutes later. Both players looked to be in quite a lot of discomfort and failed to return to the court, leaving the Thunderbirds severely undermanned. Adelaide were forced to make a couple of changes with Kate Shimmin moving into wing defence and Kelly Altmann pulling on the wing attack bib. With all the injuries to the Thunderbirds side, the Vixens took control piling on 17 goals with Caitlin Thwaites slotting 10 straight. The silver service from Liz Watson was on full display with the wing attack tearing up the court with her silky footwork, clever ball placement and general netball nous racking up nine goal assists in that term alone. Excitement machine, Kadie-Ann Dehaney made her way onto the court and showcased her aerial ability. Her impressive lean and ability to read the play won her an intercept and a gain to kick-start her afternoon.

The Vixens piled on more pain after half time, keeping the Thunderbirds to just eight goals for the quarter while Tegan Philip took control in their attack end. Philip slotted seven of her nine attempts while Renae Ingles had a field day across the court, driving hard to open up the angles and swing the ball with ease. Her three feet reach caused havoc for Petty and Altmann but it was the work she was doing off the ball that was impressive, covering every drive and cut and roll of her opponent. The Melbourne Vixens went into three quarter time with a 13 goal lead, with their connections down court strong. The Thunderbirds had some great passages of play with Shimmin showcasing her aerial strength taking a big intercept at the start of the quarter to grab the ball midair and then run it down the court but it was not enough to stop the Vixens who went from strength to strength.

With the game all but over, Shamera Sterling came into a league of her own using her quick footwork, long reach and impeccable timing to win the ball back numerous times for her side. Her ability to read the play was second to none, amassing six gains and four intercepts in the fourth quarter alone. Glasgow found more of the ball in the final term, sinking seven of her eight attempts while Folau continued her playmaking style with six feeds and four goals for the quarter. as the Thunderbirds seemed to tire, Weston lifted to another level using her long arms to get clever and timely deflections, finishing the quarter with four gains and four intercepts. Captain, Kate Moloney was her usual consistent self, doing the little things well and finding space across the court. she was not afraid to let the ball go into the Vixens shooters. Simone McKinnis made a surprise change, moving Thwaites out to goal attack in the last few minutes of the final term and pushing Philip into goal shooter.

STARTING LINE-UP:

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS | Sasha Glasgow
GA | Maria Folau
WA | Chelsea Pitman
C | Kelly Altmann
WD | Beth Cobden
GD | Layla Guscoth
GK | Shamera Sterling

Melbourne Vixens:

GS | Caitlin Thwaites
GA | Tegan Philip
WA | Liz Watson
C | Kate Moloney
WD | Renae Ingles
GD | Jo Weston
GK | Emily Mannix