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.