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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Smarrelli

Tips and Tricks: Round 1

Image: Super Netball

VICTORIA dominated while two teams caused upsets in the first round of Suncorp Super Netball for 2019, as new-look teams took the court for their first official hitout.

Saturday’s double header played out as expected with the Melbourne Vixens walking away 12-goal winners over the Queensland Firebirds. The Collingwood Magpies dismantled the Sunshine Coast Lightning in similar fashion, beating the back-to-back premiers by 14 goals.

On Sunday, despite having a few exclusions due to injury, the New South Wales Swifts stood up on the big stage and came out seven-goal winners against GIANTS Netball. Over in South Australia, the Adelaide Thunderbirds broke their 27 match losing streak with a one-goal victory over the West Coast Fever.

Melbourne Vixens There were a lot of positives on the weekend for the Melbourne Vixens. In the shooting circle both Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip were accurate, only missing one goal each , while Liz Watson didn’t miss a beat with 46 feeds into the circle. Defensively, Emily Mannix effectively shut down Romelda Aiken, as Renae Ingles made her mark in wing defence to shut down feeds into the circle. On the less positive note for the Vixens, a slow start meant they were chasing the Firebirds for majority of the first half, only able to take advantage of their momentum in the second half of the match.

Queensland Firebirds The Firebirds had a strong start to their match against the Vixens, however they faded out of the match as the Vixens lifted. Defensively, it was a case of experience versus young talent in the goal circle, with the likes of Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe tremendous in defence early to prevent the Vixens from getting on the board, however struggled to regain momentum after the first quarter. Gretel Tippett was accurate in the goal circle with only one goal missed throughout the match. Heading into next week the Firebirds will be looking to improve on their penalty count through defence, with 79 penalties compared to the Vixens’ 53.

Collingwood Magpies The Magpies continued on from their strong preseason with a comfortable win over the 2018 premiers. Shimona Nelson put out a very strong performance at the post, aided by accurate feeds from Kelsey Browne and Kim Ravaillion. Defensively, the Magpies were settled with Geva Mentor and April Brandley stealing the ball with ease. The Magpies will be looking to pull off a full quarter performance after losing the second quarter by a goal. They also will be wanting to clean up on a few mistakes and have their bench players transition onto the court a little bit smoother in coming weeks.

Sunshine Coast Lightning Despite losing their first match of the season, there were some positives for the Lightning to take from their battle with the Magpies. Laura Langman‘s return to the team paved the way for their midcourt with 28 feeds and two intercepts. SPAR Proteas teammates, Karla Pretoriusand Phumza Maweni were strong in defence with five and three intercepts respectively. Moving forward, the Lightning will need to hold onto the ball better after this match saw 36 general play turnovers, the highest of any team in round one.

NSW Swifts The NSW Swifts had a strong season opener against their state rivals, GIANTS Netball. Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner led the way from defence, with Klau’s eight gains, four intercepts and Turner’s three gains and three intercepts shooting the ball back forward. Down in their attack end, Sam Wallace (46/49 goals) proved that she could not only shoot but could nail a lay-up. There wasn’t too much to be disappointed with from their round one match, though Helen Housby‘s accuracy was a little rusty. Housby showed her experience, adjusting her play and opting to pass off and feed the ball rather than risk turnovers.

GIANTS Netball Though the GIANTS fell short against the Swifts on Sunday, there were a few positives to come out of the match. Jamie-Lee Price and Kim Green worked well in attack, sharing the workload and racking up 27 feeds apiece. Sam Poolman had a good match in defence with seven gains and two intercepts. Despite not really having much momentum, the GIANTS won the second quarter which they’ll be wanting to replicate across four quarters next week. The biggest issue for the GIANTS was the goal circle, with the likes of tall shooters, Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett struggling to gel. Taking into account that Bassett missed a fair bit of training and preseason with an arm injury sustained ahead of the Northern Quad Series, it’s not really surprising that the GIANTS attack was an issue in their first match.

Adelaide Thunderbirds The Adelaide Thunderbirds can hold their heads high after winning their first match since 2017. Their defensive end starred with Shamera Sterling finishing the match with 10 gains and five intercepts against 2018’s highest goal scorer in Jhaniele Fowler. Layla Guscoth was also strong with five gains and seven intercepts, showing some versatility moving into wing defence. In attack, Sasha Glasgow was phenomenal to watch, rebounding and breaking free of her opponents to score and create space for her shooting partner Maria Folau. Despite the win, the Thunderbirds lost the middle two quarters of the match and had a nervous start with five general play turnovers in the first five minutes, so will want to improve on their consistency.

West Coast Fever The West Coast Fever will be disappointed with a loss to start their season, though they had some good patches throughout the match. A strong second and third quarter kept them on par with the Thunderbirds. Jhaniele Fowler shot at 100 per cent accuracy, while Kaylia Stanton and Alice Teague-Neeld did well to give Fowler the space she needed. However, the Fever had some trouble moving the ball downcourt and struggled in defence, with the likes of captain, Courtney Bruce injuring her wrist in the first quarter. Despite issues, Bruce fought through the pain to put constant pressure on in the circle. Olivia Lewis replaced Bruce at times during the match and played well with two gains. The other problem for the Fever came towards the end of the match with Fowler helped from the court after injuring her ankle. Without Fowler the attack end fell apart, and the Thunderbirds flipped the script to steal the win after falling behind.

Originally published on: Netball Draft Central

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