Tag: steph wood

SSN Stats wrap: Round 14

THE final round of Suncorp Super Netball produced some great stats across the board to finish off an excellent season. Intriguingly, very little seemed to go to plan with the top four spots sewn up and three teams fighting for second position on the ladder – but two teams out of the running by the end of Saturday’s proceedings – allowing the Sunshine Coast Lightning to go into their final match of the season with a guaranteed second chance at finals. The Collingwood Magpies got so close yet so far from their second win of the season against the Queensland Firebirds, leading much of the match before going down by two, while the Adelaide Thunderbirds dealt one final blow to the West Coast Fever with a one goal win and GIANTS Netball put a spanner in the works for the NSW Swifts with a draw. Just the one predictable outcome came true, with the Melbourne Vixens standing up to the Lightning once more for a four goal victory.

It was the round of goal shooters standing up and holding down the fort, with the three Jamaicans in Jhaniele Fowler (54 goals from 60 attempts), Romelda Aiken (48 from 53) and Shimona Nelson (42 from 43) stepping up once more, while Sam Wallace (50 from 56, six super shots) and Mwai Kumwenda (43 from 44) dominated in their respective outings. Intriguingly, just two of the aforementioned goalers came away with wins (Aiken and Kumwenda), with both players sharing much of the role with their respective goal shooters in young gun Tippah Dwan (13 from 18, one gain) and retiree Caitlin Thwaites (11 from 13, two gains). Other impressive goalers in the round were Gabby Sinclair (15 from 22, six super shots and 22 goal assists), GIANTS duo Kiera Austin and Jo Harten (combined 60 goals from 72 attempts including 17 super shots) who had improved accuracy this round and Adelaide Thunderbirds livewires Georgie Horjus (18 from 24, eight super shots in three quarters) and Lenize Potgieter (34 from 37). Steph Wood stepped up again despite a tough challenge against Jo Weston, finishing with 16 goals from 22 and 15 assists.

Weston was one of a number of great goal defenders this week, finishing with four gains as did her two goal keepers in Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Emily Mannix. Karla Pretorius stood up when it counted for three gains, while Maddy Turner put out one of her best performances all season with six gains (three intercepts) to her name, with her effort replicated by partner in crime Sarah Klau. Both Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe continued to impress with five gains (two intercepts) apiece, while the Magpies defensive unit of Geva Mentor, Mel Bragg and Matilda Garrett seemed to rarely skip a beat for a combined 14 gains (nine intercepts), and Courtney Bruce was a menace down back for the Fever with 11 gains (three intercepts). The Thunderbirds’ full court defence was immense with Maisie Nankivell, Shamera Sterling and Kate Shimmin racking up four gains apiece, while Shadine van der Merwe stepped up once more with two intercepts. 

Leading the attack this week was newbie Emma Cosh out in wing attack with 23 goal assists, while in centre it was Mahalia Cassidy with 26 assists to go with her two gains. Nankivell’s 19 saw her share the load with Chelsea Pitman (17 assists, two pickups) while the Vixens had Liz Watson back for the first half of their battle against the Lightning, with the co-captain finishing with 16 assists from just 30 minutes, while Kate Moloney and Elle McDonald combined well for 14 and 13 respectively. Jacqui Russell collected two intercepts in her 50th match after announcing her retirement once the finals are complete, while Amy Parmenter continued her pursuit of dominance with three intercepts against the Swifts. 

SSN Momentum shifts: Round 14

THE final round of the Suncorp Super Netball home and away season 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 have 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.

Collingwood Magpies (63) defeated by Queensland Firebirds (65)

In a see-sawing affair a final quarter push from the Queensland Firebirds is what got them over the line. Trailing at three quarter time, the Firebirds threw everything they had at Collingwood to weave the ball down the court and wrestle back the momentum from the black and white with an 18 goals to 12 quarter. It completely turned the tables on the match as impressive shooting from Tippah Dwan and Romelda Aiken dictated the term as the duo only missed four attempts for the quarter. However, it was captain Gabi Simpson that really influenced the play, coming up big with a couple of timely deflections and intercepts to stop the Magpies from hitting circle edge and delivering into Shimona Nelson. Simpson worked in tandem with Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe as the defensive trio picked up a combined five gains to nullify the likes of Molly Jovic, Gabby Sinclair and Nelson and steal the win.

NSW Swifts (77) drew with GIANTS Netball (77)

Some sharp shooting from captain and England international Jo Harten in the final term changed the course of the game for the GIANTS. Down by as many as 10 goals prior to the super shot period, Harten found her rhythm from range and single-handedly drew her side back into the contest nailing five consecutive super shots, and one later to ice the cake. Although it was not enough to get the win, her individual efforts were enough to secure a draw while the increased pressure stemming from the likes of Amy Parmenter made her attacking forays possible. The entire GIANTS frontline were quick to identify Harten’s hot hand with Jamie-Lee Price, Maddie Hay and Kiera Austin delivering pinpoint passes into the circle.

West Coast Fever (63) defeated by Adelaide Thunderbirds (64)

West Coast Fever lead for majority of the game, largely due to the dominance of Jhaniele Fowler however with the game on the line the spirit and fight of the Adelaide Thunderbirds came to the fore. Bidding farewell to co-captain Chelsea Pitman after not being offered a contract for 2021, Pitman left nothing to chance with her silky movement and strength around circle edge doing all the talking. She was a real general in attack, receiving just about every second pass and constantly setting up clever plays to create options for the likes of Lenize Potgieter and Georgie Horjus. Her influence allowed the Thunderbirds to steadily build back into the game and provided a wealth of confidence to the youngster in Horjus as the goal attack slotted three consecutive super shots. The Fever had no answers for the dynamic goaler as Courtney Bruce, Sunday Aryang and Stacey Francis all endeavoured to stop the sharp shooter who simply could not be tamed and ultimately landed the final blow.

Sunshine Coast Lightning (54) defeated by Melbourne Vixens (58)

A third quarter fightback and come-from-behind win loomed as a prospect for two-time premiers Sunshine Coast Lightning as the home side kicked into gear. Their connections in attack started to fire as Peace Proscovia, Steph Wood and Cara Koenen found their rhythm and subsequently applied scoreboard pressure while Laura Scherian found plenty of space and depth in the attacking third. However the Vixens were not about to lie down, flexing their muscles when it counted to run rampant in the final term. Wood tried her best to wrestle back the momentum into the favour of the Lightning putting up three super shots to cut the margin however the patient and cautious approach of the Vixens enabled the minor premiers to hold on. Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Jo Weston proved to be a formidable duo down back, winning back a wealth of ball and quelling the speed of the Lightning as they restored the Vixens rhythm across the court.

Vixens reign supreme in minor semi-final preview

THE top two clash lived up to the hype as the Melbourne Vixens and Sunshine Coast Lightning battled it out in a precursor to the major semi-final next week. It was an enthralling battle, however it was the minor premiers that flexed their muscles in the final term to run out four-goal victors (58-54).

The Lighting started with a real pep in their step, having secured second spot on the ladder and subsequently a double chance no matter the outcome of the game. They forced a turnover off the Vixens centre pass and converted before delivering off their own to open up a two goal zip lead. But the challenge was quickly answered as the Vixens fought their way back into the contest to level the scores thanks to the dominance of Mwai Kumwenda. It was a hard fought battle between the two sides as no pass was left uncontested and both sides went goal for goal. The gears well and truly started to kick into gear for the Vixens as Caitlin Thwaites and Kumwenda dominated to post as they created a handy three goal buffer. The speed through the centre coming from centurion Liz Watson was virtually unstoppable as the Lightning had no answers for her dynamic movement and pinpoint accuracy as the Vixens extended their lead to four goals.

Calling a timeout, the Lightning looked to regroup, coming out of the break with a real fire in the belly as Jacqui Russell picked up an intercept and sent the ball into attack. The Lightning steadily pegged the margin back as Cara Koenen held strong under the post and showcased her impressive timing to pop out and score. It was tit for tat for the majority of the quarter as the Vixens held onto a slim lead but an Emily Mannix inspired intercept and Kumwenda super shot on the buzzer gifted the minor premiers a five goal lead.

The Melbourne Vixens picked up where the left off, hitting the scoreboard within the first 20 seconds of the second. An element of inaccuracy started to creep into the Lightning frontend as the Vixens capitalised on their chances time and time again. Thwaites turned it on in the second quarter with the goal attack running rampant not only under the post but so too in the centre picking up a timely intercept along the transverse line. The hands over pressure from Jo Weston and Mannix was second to none forcing the Lightning to play the ball around and labour in attack while it was a completely different tale up the other end for the Vixens who oozed nothing but pace and precision.

Phumza Maweni injected some intensity into the Lightning defence end with an impressive rejection as her partner in crime Karla Pretorius reaped the rewards and the Sunshine Coast converted to reduce the margin to five. The offline defence from the Vixens caused chaos for the Lightning but a super shot from none other than Steph Wood seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered. Russell came alive, driving through the centre third while Laura Langman flexed her defensive muscles to take a big intercept. But the ability for the Vixens to remain composed and clinical in attack allowed them to continuously ride through the Lightning’s attacking forays and maintain a five goal margin at half time.

Both sides made some changes out of the break with Elle McDonald coming on in wing attack for the Vixens and Peace Proscovia pulling on the goal shooter bib. A couple of errant passes in the Vixens attacking end saw missed opportunities while the injection of Allie Smith allowed Laura Scherian to run rampant. The changes did not stop there for both sides as Tegan Philip made her way onto the court in hope to provide a spark in the goal circle while Sunshine Coast wing defence Maddy McAuliffe brought plenty of intensity. Everything seemed to be falling the Lightning’s way as the attack started to hum and the defence got hands to ball drawing within one goal.

Proscovia was proving to be a menace under the post with her strength on the take, prompting the Vixens to inject Kadie-Ann Dehaney. The desperation from the Lightning came to the fore as they scrapped hard for any loose ball. Missed shots from Proscovia gifted the Vixens plenty of chances to add to the scoreboard but Wood was not content to let the game slip away sinking a super shot.

With only one goal separating the teams at three quarter time the Vixens put their foot down creating a six goal lead. McDonald steadily built into the game while Thwaites’ return to the court gave the Vixens more ascendancy. Sunshine Coast started to labour across the court with wayward passes plaguing them as the Vixens went on a tear. Out by as many as 10 goals, Wood put on a super shot spree with three consecutive goals but it was not enough to get the win as the Lightning went down by four goals.

Koenen continued her stellar form to post with 22 goals at 82 per cent accuracy, while Wood once again starred converting five super shots along with 15 goal assists. Langman was at her best through the midcourt picking up two deflections and 12 goal assists while Watson’s return to the Vixens bolstered their attack as the wing attack amassed 15 goal assists in her half on court. Kumwenda topscored for the Vixens with 43 goals while Thwaites was rock solid once again notching up 11 goals at 85 per cent. Defensively, the likes of Pretorius and Maweni inflicted a wealth of pain collecting five gains as their counterparts in Mannix, Dehaney and Weston registered 13 gains, five of them intercepts.

>>> LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE
>>> VIXENS TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Sunshine Coast Lightning 13 | 13 | 16 | 12 (54)
Melbourne Vixens 18 | 12 | 13 | 15 (58)

STARTING SEVEN:

Sunshine Coast Lightning:

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Jacqui Russell
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

Melbourne Vixens

GS: Mwai Kumwenda
GA: Caitlin Thwaites
WA: Liz Watson
C: Kate Moloney
WD: Kate Eddy
GD: Jo Weston
GK: Emily Mannix

2020 Suncorp Super Netball preview: Round 14

THE final round of 2020 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) action is upon us, with a host of great games ahead and a couple of results that could change up positions in both the top and bottom four. While none of the top four sides are in danger of falling out of finals contention, the West Coast Fever are just two points behind the Sunshine Coast Lightning – who will take on the Melbourne Vixens – meaning the Lightning need a win on the board to secure a top two position and a second chance run at the finals. 

Collingwood Magpies v. Queensland Firebirds
Saturday, 26 September

The Collingwood Magpies will have their last opportunity to put a second win on the board for the season but with the Queensland Firebirds continuously growing this season there is little chance of the Magpies collecting one last hurrah. That being said, it was the Firebirds they defeated back in Round 3 for their first win of the season, meaning the side may come in with some confidence as they bid goodbye to a forgettable season.

Expect a huge battle between two in-form players inside the circle, with veterans Romelda Aiken and Geva Mentor going head to head in what could be the kicker in this match. That being said, youngster Tippah Dwan has been in scintillating form in her first season on court, being as much a playmaker out the front as a threat at the post meaning she cannot be left on her own and forcing the one-on-one between Mentor and Aiken. Through the midcourt, expect a tight battle between Mahalia Cassidy and Molly Jovic with the youngster stepping up to SSN level with ease, though expect plenty of rotation and fresh legs against the Firebirds centre as the match continues with Collingwood constantly switching up their centre-court lineup. The Magpies will be up to their ears in the attack third, with the Firebirds defensive unit of captain Gabi Simpson and exciting up-and-comers Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe impressing every week without fail. The Magpies will need Shimona Nelson to stand up and command space and attention at the post if the Magpies expect to get a win on the board to finish a lacklustre season.

NSW Swifts v. GIANTS Netball
Saturday, 26 September

The GIANTS will be ruing missed opportunities – and goals – after a hard slog last week resulted in a close battle with the Fever but coming up short yet again, meaning they miss out on finals for a second straight year. Meanwhile, the Swifts will be out to prove their recent form is just a blip in the radar as they attempt to go back-to-back and rewrite their one goal victory from way back in Round 1.

It will be a huge battle when Kiera Austin and Jo Harten take on a threatening defensive combination in Sarah Klau, Maddy Turner and Lauren Moore on the weekend, with each of the three defenders all having standout games in patches but this season seemingly just missing the mark when it comes to consistency. That being said, the trio are adept at rebounding so will want to take advantage of Austin and Harten’s combined accuracy, with the side renowned for relying on super shots. Through the midcourt, expect a heap of changes for the Swifts with speed and energy the name of the Swifts game in the centre whereas the GIANTS like to stay as consistent as possible. Paige Hadley and Amy Parmenter are both key names for their respective sides with both attacking and defensive attributes, while Jamie-Lee Price has had an excellent season so will want to finish with a bang. The absence of Maddie Hay could throw a spanner in the works for the GIANTS, while the Swifts have a number of quality attackers at their disposal to create plenty of rotation both in and around the circle.

West Coast Fever v. Adelaide Thunderbirds
Saturday, 26 September

The Fever have had a stunning season after a disappointing 2019 and indeed shaky start to 2020, but since Round 7 they have rarely skipped a beat. Adelaide Thunderbirds have certainly had their own purple patch but have struggled with consistency at times after an exciting start to the season. The Fever need a win here to have a chance of a top two finish, with the waiting game lasting a whole extra day before they will know if they have secured a safe spot – if they get the win.

Jhaniele Fowler has been virtually unstoppable in season 2020, and while if anyone is capable of taking Fowler down it is Shamera Sterling, the Jamaican goal keeper has not been quite as energetic in the last few weeks making this an interesting contest. Verity Charles has had a fantastic season with the high ball into Fowler but will need to watch her hand with Sterling’s ability to anticipate the air ball, while a dogged combination of Shadine van der Merwe and Maisie Nankivell will look to quell Charles’ impact on circle edge. That being said, Fever have both Alice Teague-Neeld and Emma Cosh to steal focus if required, with both attackers able to thread the needle to Fowler and create attacking forays. Defensively, Courtney Bruce has been huge over the past few rounds, meaning Lenize Potgieter will have her work cut out for her – as will her feeders in Georgie Horjus and Nankivell, and also possibly the now-uncontracted Chelsea Pitman and goaler Sam Gooden.

Sunshine Coast Lightning v. Melbourne Vixens
Sunday, 27 September

The final match of the round – and indeed the season – is a huge battle between the Lightning and Vixens. While the Vixens are in no danger of losing top spot and the minor premiership, a win here would do a lot for the side’s confidence heading into finals after a scrappy few rounds without co-captain Liz Watson working the ball around. For the Lightning, they have been a new and improved side in recent rounds, making this an enticing clash and a potential finals preview.

These two sides are no stranger to rotating their attack, and if anything from this season has become apparent, there are very little missing links in either side’s attack. Last time they played, Kate Eddy did a number on Laura Scherian but expect the pocket rocket to come out flying, with Steph Wood stepping up in the latter half of the season and proving she is more than capable of stepping up when her side is down. Wood’s partnership with centre Laura Langman is exceptional, with Kate Moloney tasked with shutting down the New Zealand powerhouse, while Jo Weston has had a phenomenal season being a thorn in every goal attack’s side making for a huge contest. At the other end, Caitlin Thwaites seems to have a new lease on life in season 2020, transitioning to goal attack and not skipping a beat. Taking on Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni – with the latter also having a fantastic season – will be tough, especially if Watson is not out the front once more.

SSN Head to Head: Round 14

IN each round of Suncorp Super Netball we will identify key match-ups, provide an analysis of players and compare the two styles. The final round of the home and away season sees the top two sides go head to head with the battle in the centre between Kate Moloney and Laura Langman expected to set the tone for their respective sides.

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING v. MELBOURNE VIXENS
Laura Langman (C) v. Kate Moloney (C)

Neither Langman or Moloney are known for their desire to take a backwards step, and instead they are often applauded for their hustle and grind to constantly win ball back. They are both barometers for their side, able to stand up when needed and have an influence.

Coming off a surprise loss last round the Vixens, led by captain, Moloney, will be hoping to get back onto the winners list and rekindle that dominant form that saw them notch up the minor premiership two rounds ago. Without partner in crime, Liz Watson, Moloney has had to step up her attacking game in recent weeks, to feed the ball into the likes of Caitlin Thwaites, Tegan Philip and Mwai Kumwenda under the post. Her 1-2 punch around circle edge and speed off the mark makes her an effective option while her gut running is unquestionable, frequently contesting every ball that comes her way. Moloney’s on court leadership is paramount to the Vixens both in attack and defence as she is often that driving force and integral link between the two thirds. She is a real dogged style of player, in the sense that she does not allow her opponent any space and rides every pass. Her defensive attributes are clear, able to create tips and deflections such is her read of the play while her never say die attitude often sparks her teammates around her.

Much like a fine wine, Langman continues to get better with age and is a key cog for the Lightning. When she is firing Sunshine Coast are just about unstoppable with the centre able to break through the defence with great ease and penetrate into the circle in the blink of an eye. Her athleticism and endurance is almost unmatched, able to run rings around her opponents while her experience allows her to bring out all the tricks in the book. However it is the connection with Steph Wood that is the most damaging with the duo able to set the court alight with their dynamic movement, speed and netball nous to weave their way down the court. Langman is a real general in attack able to create something out of nothing and most importantly is not afraid to go back and reset to allow the Lightning frontend in Cara Koenen, Laura Scherian and Wood to re-position. The New Zealand veteran is damaging in attack but so too down back with her hands over pressure, ability to read the play and pick off an intercept, while her skill to transition in a heartbeat can often catch opposition teams off-guard.

It will be a hotly contested tussle in the centre with both players possessing very similar attributes and game play given their defensive tendencies. Any cross court passes will play into the hands of Langman, with the centre renowned for her ability to peel off and go hunting meaning the Vixens will have to be meticulous especially in attack if they are to get the chocolates. However if the two captains nullify each other it will be up to the players around them to step up and lead the pack which could be tricky for the minor premiers if Watson misses out again this round.

2020 Suncorp Super Netball: Five Talking points – Round 13

THE penultimate round of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) sparked plenty of intrigue and debate as the GIANTS failed to keep their slim finals hopes alive while the league celebrated Indigenous round despite it being marred by controversy.

Bassett remained on the bench in GIANTS do-or-die clash
In arguably one of their biggest games of the season, the GIANTS’ narrow loss to West Coast Fever all but ended their hopes of sneaking into the top four. There was no denying that accuracy seemed to be a big issue for the GIANTS as Jo Harten and Kiera Austin shot at a combined 70 per cent, failing to convert their chances as Australian Diamonds captain and shooting sensation Caitlin Bassett sat on the bench. It looked like her time might come as wing attack Maddie Hay went down with an injury midway through the third but instead of swinging the relatively inaccurate Austin into wing attack like previous matches, the GIANTS shuffled the bibs around as Amy Parmenter moved into wing attack momentarily before Claire O’Brien ran out the rest of the game. The attack seemed to suffer in the final quarter as the GIANTS struggled to find their rhythm with Courtney Bruce and Olivia Lewis starring as the GIANTS lacked Bassett’s accuracy and rebounding ability under the post.

Controversy sparked as Jemma Mi Mi failed to take the court
In a round dedicated to celebrating Indigenous culture many were looking forward to Queensland Firebirds midcourter Jemma Mi Mi taking the court. Currently, Mi Mi is the sole Indigenous player in the SSN and in the lead up to the match on Sunday had done a wealth of work promoting her journey and encouraging other young Indigenous girls to follow in her footsteps. However, the speedster failed to take the court against the Vixens with the decision sparking plenty of debate. In the dying minutes of the final quarter wing attack Lara Dunkley seemed to pull up gingerly with some form of cramp, but instead of coming off the court, opted to stay out there and run out the game as Mi Mi waited patiently on the sideline to be subbed on. Many fans questioned the decision behind not injecting Mi Mi into the game given the significance of the round and the fact that the game was a dead rubber as it did not impact finals.

Liz Watson is key to the Vixens success
Highly talented wing attack, Liz Watson was forced to the sideline once again with an ankle complaint which allowed the Firebirds and Gabi Simpson in particular to take full control when it came to tempo and flow. Youngsters Tayla Honey and Elle McDonald have plenty of raw talent but ultimately lack that craft and finesse that Watson has especially around circle edge, with her direct passes into the goalers. Watson is renowned for her exceptionally high work rate at the centre pass and movement within the attacking third, something that was once again missed in the Vixens frontend against the Firebirds on the weekend. The likes of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe capitalised on Melbourne’s lack of movement and assertiveness in Watson’s absence.

NSW Swifts prove they know how to win ugly
It was an inconsistent performance from the reigning premiers who struggled to find any continuity in attack as they chopped and changed. Challenged in the second and third quarter and with the game on the line the Swifts kicked it up a gear, albeit marginal in the final term. The combination of Sophie Garbin and Helen Housby seemed to be what the doctor ordered in the goal circle as the duo found their range only missing two goals for the quarter as the midcourt work stemming from Natalie Haythornthwaite and Paige Hadley increased. Although it was not pretty, it showed that the Swifts have the ability to grind it out against tough opposition with Shamera Sterling and Layla Guscoth putting in the hard yards and making life tricky for the Swifts’ attackers.

Cara Koenen and Steph Wood could be the Diamonds next starting shooting combo
The Lightning frontend ooze plenty of class with Laura Scherian and Laura Langman real playmakers in the attacking third thanks to their speed, drive and spatial awareness. However, inside the circle is where the real damage happens as Cara Koenen and Steph Wood put on a show under the post. The shooter to shooter interplay is near on impossible to negate with their deft touches and perfect timing proving to be a headache even for the best such as Geva Mentor as shown in this round. Although it took a few minutes for Koenen to build into the match, once the goal shooter found her range and confidence she starred sinking an impressive 41 goals from 45 attempts at 91 per cent while Wood was not only the goal assist mastermind but so too effective from range nailing four super shots. Their partnership is one of movement and dynamism, something that could be handy for the Diamonds in the future.

SSN Stats wrap: Round 13

OUR Suncorp Super Netball stats wrap will again this week solely focus on Round 13’s proceedings, with a huge penultimate round of action culminating in a couple of massive results and its fair share of controversy with Caitlin Bassett once more left on the bench and Jemma Mi Mi in a similar position despite being touted as the face of SSN Indigenous Round. Meanwhile, the NSW Swifts confirmed their place in the top four thanks to the GIANTS’ tight loss to West Coast Fever and the Melbourne Vixens suffered their second loss of the season to the Queensland Firebirds to close out the round. 

There were many top performers across the round once more, with defenders seeming to be top of the list again with a number of players stepping up and causing errors aplenty. Phumza Maweni continued to star in her second season, racking up eight gains (five intercepts) to lead the tally for the round while Courtney Bruce collected 12 gains in a tough battle. Maddy Turner had arguably her best outing of the season so far with six gains (three intercepts), matched by her opposition goal keeper in Sterling with the same stats and a three goal margin as the final whistle sounded. A huge combined defensive effort from the Firebirds completely exposed the Vixens who were without playmaker Liz Watson, seeing Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe and Gabi Simpson combine for 15 gains (eight intercepts) between them. 

Looking further up the court, Jamie-Lee Price was excellent with 17 goal assists and four intercepts in a losing effort, while Verity Charles topped the assists chart this round with 24 from 36 feeds and 17 centre pass receives. Paige Hadley and Nat Haythornthwaite combined well in the Swifts camp for 23 and 19 goal assists, both also racking up an intercept apiece while Kate Moloney held up the Vixens attack with 18 assists. Firebirds duo Mahalia Cassidy and Lara Dunkley also left no stone unturned, sharing the load out the front with a combined 35 goal assists and two intercepts, while youngster Georgie Horjus plied her trade out the front for the Thunderbirds to finish with 29 centre pass receives and 14 assists. 

Horjus was not the only attacker to hit the centre pass and assists stats, with both Steph Wood and Gabby Sinclair finding their playmaking form, albeit while playing on opposing teams. Wood impressed once more in at goal attack with 10 goals at 71 per cent and 21 assists, while Sinclair finished much the same on the goaling front with 10 at 67 per cent and 17 assists. Sam Gooden got the start for the Thunderbirds with another 10-goal haul – this time at 53 per cent – while Tippah Dwan was solid once more against the Vixens with 16 goals from 23 attempts. Caitlin Thwaites was excellent with 17 goals (seven super shots) while Kiera Austin was shaky on the shot with 28 goals from 43 attempts at 65 per cent and 11 general play turnovers but came away with four intercepts credit to her ability to win ball back. In at goal shooter, Jhaniele Fowler (63 goals from 66 attempts), Romelda Aiken (45 from 51), Cara Koenen (41 from 45) and Shimona Nelson (40 from 44) were not only impressive in their volume but also their accuracy, standing up well under pressure with only the latter coming away with a loss.

Courtside Comments: Round 13 – Tara Hinchliffe

Where could Chelsea Pitman end up in 2021?

ANNOUNCING that Adelaide Thunderbirds did not offer her a contract for the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season, Thunderbirds co-captain and England Roses midcourter Chelsea Pitman will be on the move next season. The wing attack has been in arguably career best form in 2020 and is keen to play on next season, making her a handy acquisition for any team she decides to join. The main question however, is where will she go and which team is in need of a specialist wing attack? Draft Central poses some potential options, keeping in mind that team lists for next season have not yet been announced.

West Coast Fever:
With Ingrid Colyer going down with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury she can be expected to spend a large chunk of next season on the sidelines as she recovers, effectively leaving a hole in the Fever attack. Although Emma Cosh has stepped up to the plate in the past few games, she is still developing her craft and with the services of Pitman up for grabs West Coast would be silly not to pounce. Pitman is clever with ball in hand and has experience feeding into tall holding shooters such as Jhaniele Fowler, playing with the likes of Romelda Aiken back in her heyday at the Firebirds and more recently Shimona Nelson when she was at the Thunderbirds. The Roses wing attack is cautious with ball in hand and while she does not do all the flashy things it is her patient approach down court and skill execution that sets her apart from other midcourters.

Sunshine Coast Lightning:
With the future of Laura Langman still up in the air with the New Zealand international announcing her retirement from Silver Ferns duties, the question of whether she plays on in 2021 is one that must be asked. If she does in fact retire it could see a huge shake up in the Lightning attack end with Laura Scherian likely to swing into that centre position leaving the wing attack position vacant and open for someone like Pitman to swoop in. Pitman has proven her ability to adapt on the fly and feed with great ease into a moving circle such is her high netball IQ and impressive ball placement, which could play into the hands of Sunshine Coast. With speed to burn when it comes to Scherian, Pitman could provide that steady head and composure to hit circle edge and deliver into the likes of Steph Wood, Peace Proscovia and Cara Koenen, making her an exciting possibility for the 2021 season.

GIANTS Netball:
After somewhat of an up and down 2020 season, the GIANTS could be on the hunt for a specialised and experience wing attack, a role which Pitman could fill if the position became available. With Kiera Austin spending majority of her time out in goal attack and Jo Harten pulling on the goal shooter bib, the feeding role has fallen to youngster Maddie Hay and while she has impressed in patches the consistency of Pitman could be the edge the GIANTS need to bat deep in 2021. Pitman already has forged strong connections with Harten thanks to the duo playing in the Roses together while Pitman is also familiar with Caitlin Bassett having won the 2011 Netball World Cup together; albeit a while ago now. Pitman is a smooth mover who is hardly ever overawed and could offer that sense of stability and class to a consistently changing GIANTS line-up.

Although it is a long shot, Pitman could potentially ply her craft across the ditch in the ANZ Premiership while the possibility of Pitman taking her netball to England is also a chance with new franchise Leeds Rhinos searching for some experienced names to round out the squad. Either way, it is fair to say whichever team picks up Pitman, they will be better for it given her composure, netball smarts and all round experience.

SSN Momentum Shifts: Round 13

THE penultimate round of Suncorp Super Netball saw some phenomenal matchups across every games and some highly talented players take the court. The condensed fixture and introduction of rolling subs this year have 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.

Collingwood Magpies (53) defeated by Sunshine Coast Lightning (63)

The positional switch through the midcourt for the Lightning changed the momentum early as the connection between Laura Langman and Steph Wood impressed. Playing in wing defence to start the match, Langman’s drive and class was missed through the attacking third as Maddy McAuliffe got the nod in centre before moving back into the wing defence slot. But once the change was made the Lightning clicked into gear, finding space in the attacking third as Wood and Langman linked up with ease while Cara Koenen dominated under the post with her sidestep on Geva Mentor. The fast moving Sunshine Coast frontline seemed to be humming as they had the ball on a string and capitalised on their opportunities as the likes of Jodi-Ann Ward struggled to inject herself into the game.

West Coast Fever (71)  defeated GIANTS Netball (66)

The introduction of Kaylia Stanton seemed to be the piece missing in the Fever attack line with Alice Teague-Neeld held goalless and unable to have her usual influence out the front in terms of goal assists. Stanton came to life in the second quarter, subsequently forcing the hand of the GIANTS with April Brandley entering the game as they reshuffled the defensive cards. Stanton’s influence started to come into play with the goal attack spotting Jhaniele Fowler with relative ease and most importantly hitting the scoreboard herself. The cogs started to tick over in the Fever frontline as the move of Verity Charles into wing attack and Jess Anstiss into centre really started to motor and swing momentum into their favour. Fowler’s dominance was paramount, overcoming the physicality of Sam Poolman as the Fever piled on 21 goals in the third term to steal the lead and flex their muscles.

Adelaide Thunderbirds (54) defeated by NSW Swifts (57)

After playing majority of the game in wing attack, Georgie Horjus slotted into her more familiar role of goal attack in the final quarter and made a real difference. Although the Thunderbirds fell agonisingly short, going down by three goals, the youngster shifted the momentum into the favour of Adelaide with her long bomb shooting coming to the fore. The final minute and half of the game however was played on the Swifts terms with the reigning premiers showcasing why they are finals bounds with their composure and ability to treasure possession to keep the Thunderbirds at bay. The defensive pressure from Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner was testament to the Swifts skill while the accurate shooting from Sophie Garbin and Helen Housby put a dampener on the Thunderbirds come back.

Melbourne Vixens (58) defeated by Queensland Firebirds (64)

The defensive pressure stemming from Kim Jenner, Tara Hinchliffe and Gabi Simpson across the four quarters was undeniable. After coming off a relatively quiet performance Simpson was on fire throughout their clash with the minor premiers forcing Tayla Honey to the bench and steadily nullifying the influence of Elle McDonald around circle edge to pick up a wealth of ball. Her effort out the front alongside Mahalia Cassidy enabled the likes of Jenner and Hinchliffe to go to work and collect intercepts and deflections aplenty down back. Their constant physicality and arms over pressure caused the Melbourne Vixens to tinker with their shooting combinations as Tegan Philip, Caitlin Thwaites and Mwai Kumwenda all rotated through the circle but failed to get the wood over their opponents as the Firebirds defenders consistently sensed the switch in momentum and stopped the Vixens in their tracks to get the win.

SSN Stats wrap: Round 12

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

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

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

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