In a white-knuckle ride, West Coast Fever took home the points in their grittiest win of the Super Netball season, while a miraculous victory in Adelaide kept their dream of the final alive.
In a white-knuckle ride, West Coast Fever took home the points in their grittiest victory of the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season, entering the record books in the process.
Without four players due to illness and injury, and with no defenders available on the bench, the resounding nine-point win against the Giants was the highest score in league history.
Fever was tested for depth, with four players unavailable. In contrast, the Giants were at full strength but running dangerously close to empty after a trip from Sydney to Launceston to Perth.
Watch Suncorp Super Netball on Kayo. Every game of every round LIVE. New to Kayo? Try 14 days free now >
Both teams ran goal-for-goal in the first period, as early penalty issues and a booking to center Jamie-Lee Price put her on notice to tone down the physical.
With Fever’s defensive connections under pressure, the Giants’ shooters had too much room to move and rarely seemed to miss. Jo Harten’s movement worried Courtney Bruce for most of the game, but the defender was still able to come up with two interceptions, three deflections and three rebounds.
With MVP Jhaniele Fowler unstoppable in the post, shooting 67/69, midway through the second period, the Giants traded April Brandley against the Jamaican. She made little difference, as Fever moved up to a nine-point margin at the main break.
Rush center Verity Simmons made up for a quiet few weeks, as the pocket rocket generated a series of turnovers and burned Price for speed. She, Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow provided impeccable service in the Fever shooting circle throughout the match.
As the game progressed, the impact of playing three games in one week became apparent. Bodies, too tired to get out of sometimes clumsy challenges, hit the deck at regular intervals. Turnovers, which had remained impressively low in the first half, exploded as both clubs battled for victory.
Leading off the third, Amy Sligar moved into the side attack for the Giants, but with Stacey Francis-Bayman leading the rush, Fever extended their lead to 13 despite a long-range mutual shootout.
With the Giants desperate to close the gap in the final term, they shuffled the cards and went back to their original line. Amy Parmenter’s closing speed continued to worry her opponents, but the sting was gone from the game and Fever walked away with her record win.
After the game, Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said the Fever were on fire: “No matter how hard we tried to stop the ball, getting to Jhaniele was virtually impossible.
“I’m proud of the effort, but disappointed by some of the opportunities we missed.”
West Coast Fever 86 def Giants Netball 77
More than any other team, the Fever and Giants have been tested this season by injuries and illnesses. Covid plagued the Giants early in the season, when they tried unsuccessfully to get a postponement of the game.
While Fever has struggled with Covid, their team has also been ravaged by injuries at the wrong end of the season, including vice-captain Jess Anstiss (missing four rounds with a foot problem), Ruth Aryang (knee injury which ended the season) and Zoe Cransberg (ankle).
Scientists may have figured out how to split the atom, but separating West Coast Fever and Giants Netball would be challenging. Two-thirds of all their matches have been decided by three or fewer goals, resulting in one of Suncorp Super Netball’s greatest rivalries. Sunday’s result was the biggest margin between them since 2019.
SUNDAY ON MY MIND
When Sunday Aryang burst onto the Suncorp Super Netball scene in 2020, fans were thrilled with the youngster’s out-of-the-blue interceptions and fair play. She was quickly promoted to the Diamonds team and formed a strong connection with her fellow defender Courtney Bruce.
However, this season has been a bit more challenging. Aryang is way down on the interceptions list, and her penalty count has increased dramatically: She is now the sixth most penalized player in the league.
THE MIRACLE OF ADELAIDE CONTINUES ITS RISE IN THE FINALS
Despite three key players being ruled out under COVID protocols, the Adelaide Thunderbirds pulled off a miraculous victory, defeating the Collingwood Magpies in Melbourne with a solid five-point win.
The Thunderbirds finally live up to their preseason hype and have cemented third place on the SSN ladder to keep their final hopes alive.
The Magpies remain seventh on the ladder and will need to win all of their remaining games and have other results to have any chance of reaching the final.
The Thunderbirds opted to begin coaching teammate Lucy Austin in archery in the absence of Lenize Potgieter. With Hannah Petty also ruled out, star defender Latanya Wilson was pushed into wing defence, with Matilda Garrett returning to the side in goal defence.
It was a dominant game from the Thunderbirds, who outshone the Magpies on every third of the floor. Jumping quickly off the blocks, the Thunderbirds forced their opponents into a 15-turn first half with Sophie Garbin’s bench unable to stem the tide.
The Thunderbirds were only too happy to reward these victories, scoring most of them to take an eight-goal halftime lead.
The turnovers did not let up in the second half, as the Magpies continued to throw the ball and were unable to advance to the Thunderbirds’ lead. The Magpies finished with a season-high 32 turnovers and an unacceptable number for a team hoping to advance to the finals.
After the game, Magpies coach Nicole Richardson lamented that “our ball-in-hand decision-making let us down today… our turnovers have been under 20 for six weeks and we’re at 32 today, so there’s the difference right away.”
Richardson made several changes to try to stem the flow of the Thunderbirds and only Ash Brazill and Jodi-Ann Ward remained on the floor in their original positions. Maggie Lind’s entry on the wings after halftime did not have the desired effect, as the middle of the pitch continued to try to make passes into the long arms of Shamera Sterling.
Lucy Austin was a strong target for the Thunderbirds, posting heavily against England’s Rose Geva Mentor. The Magpies defense found itself offside too often and unable to impact the speed of the ball going into the circle.
Tayla Williams continued her recent strong form, collecting the MVP of the match award and forcing her direct opponent Molly Jovic to sit on the bench. She also had an impressive impact on Kelsey Browne when the switch was made in the second half.
An impressive run of super shots by Gabby Sinclair in the final minutes of the game made the scoreboard more flattering for the Magpies, but it couldn’t change the outcome.
Richardson highlighted this after the match saying “it was nice to see the response at the end. In such a tight season it is very important that even though the game slipped away… we finished off hard and tried to minimize the [margin] as low as we could.”
Adelaide Thunderbirds 58, Collingwood Magpies 53
COVID STRIKES AGAIN
The Thunderbirds were forced to play without three of their key players in Lenize Potgieter, Hannah Petty and Maisie Nankivell due to Covid. This gave goal shooter Lucy Austin, who had previously shown promising form, the opportunity.
This is not the first time we have seen strong performance thanks to the Covid protocols and it begs the question of whether the league needs to expand to provide more opportunities for emerging players.
Sophie Garbin continues to struggle with her move to the Feet and this could affect her chances for Diamonds. Relegated to the bench after a quiet first quarter, she returned to the pitch in the third but finished with just five goals on 55% accuracy.
Kelsey Browne, who hopes to return to the national team, has switched from wing attack to centre-back. She didn’t have the usual strong impact of hers and finished with just 19 feeds for five turnovers.
Ash Brazill was one of the standout players in a poor performance for the Magpies, finishing with seven wins as she continues to solidify her control over the Diamonds’ wing defense bib.
WORRYING LOSS LOSSES
After a strong run of games, the Magpies turned the ball around too much, negating any chance they had of winning the game. Molly Jovic was benched after giving up six in the first half, but they continued to rack up for the Magpies.
By contrast, the Thunderbirds who had delivered high turnover totals earlier in the season were much cleaner and took better care of the ball they won.
– Face Gledhill
Originally published as Adelaide’s miracle continues to rise; High Fever: Super Netball Wrap