Super Netball 2023: Round Nine (Un)Wrapped

Every week, Edge of the Crowd will unwrap all the action from the weekend that was in Super Netball. A mix of the behind the scenes, and the in-depth analysis, catch up on everything from the court.

Another week of Super Netball is done, and one eye has started to turn to finals, as the end of the season is just over a month away now.

The top four is looking increasingly locked in, with the weekend's results putting a three game buffer between the top four and the bottom four, with just five matches left.

With the top two sides also missing points from their Round Two draw when the match was abandoned, the makeup of the top four could still be anything, but it seems almost certain that the four teams making up the finals are locked in.

Adelaide Thunderbirds def Queensland Firebirds 63-46

The Adelaide Thunderbirds were challenged for much of the game, held in check by a Firebirds outfit that was intent on fighting hard for every ball, every inch of the court.

With the Thunderbirds battling an injury crisis, it seemed like the Firebirds would be a chance to pounce, with Tippah Dwan (ankle), Eleanor Cardwell (knee niggle), Latanya Wilson (calf cramp) and Hannah Petty (quad) all nursing injuries at different times.

Despite the challenge to their depth, the Thunderbirds put on a show, with a smashing last quarter that blew the Firebirds away.

The Thunderbirds turned it on across the board, with the two stats that were most telling were the gain to goal and the centre pass to goal ratios both closing in on 100%.

A ruthlessly efficient performance, turning every blemish from the Firebirds into a goal, and taking every opportunity of their own, the Thunderbirds won the final quarter 24-9, and finishing with a 17 goal win.

Tellingly for the Firebirds, seven of their eight turnovers in the last quarter were by Hulita Veve, Mia Stower and Emily Moore, the inexperienced trio trying to feed Donnell Wallam against the defensive duo of Matilda Garrett and Shamera Sterling. Wallam was the other culprit, her turnover coming from a missed shot.

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The stats reflected this, as Garrett and Sterling had five gains between them in the quarter, generating ball for the Thunderbirds, with a ten goal swing generated by just those turnovers.

The inexperienced Firebirds, missing Gretel Bueta, and at this point in the game, Gabi Simpson, just struggled to find the necessary cohesion in the attacking half when it mattered.

Luckily for the Thunderbirds, Cardwell and Wilson have been cleared of serious injury, while Dwan and Petty are awaiting scans at the time of publication.

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If either, but particularly Dwan, is out for an extended period, it could cause trouble for a shooting circle that has had fits and starts at times this season.

West Coast Fever def by NSW Swifts 64-65

The NSW Swifts were already the clutchest team in Super Netball history, but few were expecting them to prove it again in the dying seconds against the West Coast Fever.

The Fever were rocked by news that Sasha Glasgow and Jess Anstiss would both miss the matchup, replaced by Jordan Cransberg and Nat Butler, with both players making their Fever debut.

In the end, there was something inevitable about the way Helen Housby played that just gave a sense that she was going to be the match-deciding player, for good or for bad for the Swifts.

Housby was 8/9 in the first quarter, including two super shots, and continued that impact throughout the game, as the only goaler to have a major impact from the two point range.

It wasn't just from range that Housby was devastating. The Swifts goalers were both more effective defensively, forcing deflections and keeping pressure on the Fever, including what became the deflection that tipped the match for the Swifts in the dying minutes.

The win puts the Swifts above the Fever on the ladder, as the 2021 have now won five matches on the trot, while the 2022 premiers have faced back to back defeats on the siren, and will be looking to regroup.

Sunshine Coast Lightning def by Melbourne Vixens 61-62

The Lightning were left to rue a poor start, after scoring just six goals in the first quarter, with eight turnovers before the first break. The Vixens piled on 17 goals in the same time, capitalising on the Lightning's sloppy start.

As the Lightning fought back, they were always running behind, playing catch up to try and undo their poor start. Coming home in the final quarter with a wet sail, the Lightning were up against it.

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With 45 seconds left, Steph Wood sank a super shot to take the lead for the first (and only time in the match) for the Lightning.

The mighty comeback was complete, but with just one issue - the Vixens had another centre pass. Kiera Austin took advantage with a super shot on the siren to steal back the win, and give the Vixens the four points.

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While the Lightning will be concerned by their start, after starting poorly in three of their last four matches, they fought back into the contest, winning the final three quarters, and dominating the last quarter.

Meanwhile, the Vixens will be more pressed to find what went wrong in the last quarter. It wasn't the shooting circle, who didn't miss a shot after three quarter time.

Three turnovers in the midcourt will be a concern, but the Vixens only generated one gain in the last quarter - a feature of much of their season. Their season has been boom or bust in terms of gains, outside of Jo Weston.

At times this season, the Vixens have not been able to find a gain when they need one. When the chips are down, the Vixens have struggled to pull a wizard out of the hat. While the centre pass timing worked well this week, the Vixens have still struggled with finding the ball in those tight moments.

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As they push towards finals and the end of the year, the Vixens will be looking at ways to generate turnovers when they need to shift the momentum of the match.

Collingwood Magpies def by Giants Netball 56-69

The Giants came into the weekend as favourites, having outplayed Collingwood in their earlier match up this season, but were under pressure from the start, with Jo Harten (knee) and Amy Sligar (concussion) both missing, replaced by Angelina Frketic and Taylah Davies.

Matisse Letherbarrow shoots for the Giants in front of Geva Mentor. Image: Nigel Barrie / NBarrie Photography

Matisse Letherbarrow shoots for the Giants in front of Geva Mentor. Image: Nigel Barrie / NBarrie Photography

Letherbarrow struggled to settle into the match early, as she faced the guile and experience of Mentor, but eventually, she and Sophie Dwyer hit their stride, and kept the scoreboard ticking over.