West Coast Fever kicked off their 2023 Super Netball campaign the weekend they finished the 2022 season; By winning a piece of silverware.
West Australia beat the Adelaide Thunderbirds 49-41 on Sunday afternoon to claim the pre-season girls’ team trophy and send a message to the competition that it means business again.
Here are the main talking points from the three-day tournament.
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The weak green fever machine strikes into gear
West Coast Fever coach Dan Ryan might say that this year is “just another chance” and that the Super Netball premieres of 2022 aren’t focused on going backwards, but his team’s strong performance in winning the Girls’ Team Cup had all the hallmarks of a budding dynasty.
While other sides have lost stars and are already dealing with injuries, the Fever are fit and have added firepower in the off-season, and now boast ex-Firebird Kim Jenner as a “useful back-up” in defense and adding depth in the midfield if needed. Nursing training partners, the Twins Victorian Zoe and Jordan Kransberg. Nat Butler (nee Medhurst), recently added as a training partner, is also a handy backup, to say the least.
With star Jhaniele Fowler doing what she always does in the shooting circle and defenders Diamond Courtney Bruce and Sunday Aryang on the other end of the court, the Fever remains the same lean green machine it has been in 2022.
And after barely out of first gear this weekend, there seemed no reason the West Australians couldn’t become the second team in Super Netball history to win two in a row.
The only blemish on the Fever’s Team Girls Cup record was the four-goal loss to NSW Swifts on Friday, when he rested Ryan Fowler for one half and gave each of his players a run.
Then, they beat Sunshine Coast Lightning 46-43, Collingwood 54-43 and then the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the Grand Final 49-41 – again with Fowler only playing one half – in impressive fashion.
Inexhaustible Wood hits hard with injuries
Collingwood were already behind the eight balls heading into the Girls’ Cup – missing bowlers Sophie Garbin and Nia Allen and center Molly Jovic through injury – and two stars struggled with injuries in the team’s first match on Friday.
Quarterbacks Kelsey Brown and fullback Jiva Mentor were both injured in the 38’s Pie tie with the Sunshine Coast Lightning and did not participate in the tournament, despite finishing the game.
On Saturday morning, the Patties announced that the Browns were hit by a hit, believed to be from a clash with Lightning opponent Mahalia Cassidy in the third quarter, while veteran Mentor bruised the inside of a muscle from a direct hit—an injury usually seen in the laws of football.
The pair join Garbin, who picked up a minor calf injury in training last week, Allen still recovering from off-season surgery to correct a musculoskeletal condition and Jovic, who is dealing with an ongoing calf injury, on the sidelines on the Gold Coast. She forced coach Nicole Richardson to try a large number of new combinations.
Despite strong performances by Shimona Nelson in goals and Jacqui Newton in defence, only Collingwood managed to equalise again, against the New South Wales Swifts, losing to Fever 54-43 on Saturday and the Queensland Firebirds 49-40 in the Game 7 play-off on Sunday .
A water-catch moment as teams don all-in gear
In what was Australia’s first elite netball game, several teams wore an all-inclusive kit throughout the weekend.
The Queensland Firebirds, Sunshine Coast Lightning and Adelaide Thunderbirds have all benefited from new rules allowing players to choose from a range of uniform options, including singles, shorts, long and short-sleeve shirts, long pants, leggings and shorts in addition. traditional play dress.
The change was designed to “recognize the different individual preferences and religious beliefs of netball players” and make netball more inclusive, with dresses and skirts often cited as reasons for women and girls abandoning the game.
Before the tournament, Thunderbird linebacker Matilda Jarrett said it was time for elite players to show inclusivity.
“Representation is strong and it is crucial for young netball players of all genders, abilities and cultural backgrounds to see professional athletes lead the way,” she said.
The new uniforms can be seen during the Super Netball regular season as well, with a spokesperson for Netball Australia confirming the league’s approach.
“Inclusive uniforms are permitted throughout the regular season and will be worn at the clubs and players’ discretion,” they said.
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The Queensland Firebirds managed to keep several positives out of the tournament, despite being dropped in their first two matches.
After losing to the Thunderbirds 51-33 and Giants 48-37, the Birdies beat the Melbourne Vixens 43-40 on Saturday, before handily squeezing Collingwood on Sunday to avoid the wooden spoon with a 49-40 win.
Coach Peake Boley said the team’s focus was on what wins it could make.
“It’s not about huge changes, just marginal gains. Going from our first game – losing by almost 20 goals – to losing by 10, winning by 2 goals and then again (on Sunday), finishing with a really good win over the Magpies was fantastic,” she said. . .
The first year Super Netball coach was happy to get minutes from each player.
“We have a lot of depth in our squad. I wouldn’t hesitate to wear any of them,” said Boli.
“When they got their chance they did a really good job. (Sunday) it was about seeing how we can finish games, but also executing plays where we need to. They did a good job.”
Ball Bell: Queensland Pistol lights up
In last year’s Girls’ Team Cup it was all talk of the deadly performance of First Nations athlete Donnell Wallam – who was at the time on a ‘train-and-trial’ deal with the Firebirds and went on to land a contract and debut for the Diamonds – and this year was another shooter; Charlie Bell.
An injured replacement player for the Lightning, the 21-year-old quietly belied her age in her team’s four games. The 197cm Queensland-born goalkeeper didn’t take a step back all weekend, despite featuring some of the best defenders on the field.
Bale finished the tournament with 76 goals from 83 attempts, with an accuracy rate of 91%. She was close to besting in her team’s 46-41 win over NSW Swifts on Saturday, scoring 28/31 for 93% and catching a rebound in three quarters on Diamonds fullback Sarah Klau.
The Australian Under-21 squad member has looked home to the big stage and will only grow under the tutelage of Diamonds duo Steve Wood and Kara Koenen.
Coach Belinda Reynolds was impressed.
“Charlie has added a different dynamic to our offensive line that has taken time to adjust to but will improve as the season progresses,” said Reynolds.
“I played with several experienced international defenders this weekend and managed to give us a solid goal.”
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