The Magpies, the Suncorp Super Netball League’s most experienced team on paper, have struggled to put good games together this year. A star-studded line-up has not translated into many wins for the team against less fancied opponents. On the other hand, the Fever is a relatively inexperienced line-up, with three of their previous players moving to the Magpies for the inaugural season of this competition. On paper, the teams look miles apart, but the Magpies were searching for just their fourth win and the Fever, their third.
The first quarter was relatively even. Sharni Layton (GK) put the pressure on young shooter, Kaylia Stanton early in the game. A number of hard hits occurred between them in the opening minutes with both ending up on the floor a number of times. Stanton missed her first goal, but Verity Charles (C) was able to pick up a midcourt intercept from an off-target pass. Early in the first quarter Layton and Ash Brazill (WD), in particular, managed to create doubt for the feeders. Stanton could be forgiven if she’d exhibited some heebie jeebies with Layton rampaging around in her usual fashion and bellowing out instructions and congratulations to her team. Stanton, despite an early miss, managed to remain relatively calm in the face of this. Layton was holding space well, however, and Stanton found herself on the receiving end of two contact penalties for lifting the ball into Layton in the circle and pushing off Layton to catch the ball. These two penalties allowed the Magpies to go out to an early lead
Thwaites (GS) was outstanding for the Magpies with no hesitation in going straight for the goal from all over the circle. Her shooting partner, Alice Teague-Neeld was preferring to pass off to ensure the goal. Teague-Neeld was also called for an early offensive penalty, but immediately made up for it with an intercept in the attacking third. The midcourt for both teams struggled at times, particularly in transition, and a number of turnovers and intercepts in the first quarter were the result of not taking enough care in transition from turnovers. The Magpies went into the quarter-time break up by three goals.
The second quarter proved a lot more even with Stanton gaining an upper hand over Layton. Stanton managed to dodge and use her height to her advantage and Layton, as a result, was not getting her hand to as much ball. Concurrently, Natalie Medhurst (GA) stepped up her goal attempts and continued the high volume of feeds to Stanton under the post. Teague-Neeld, at the other end of the court, appeared exceedingly nervous on the shot. However, she was ahead of Madi Robinson (WA), and everyone else on court, in centre pass receives. Both teams were still struggling in transition with turnovers and intercepts resulting. Heavy marking from Jess Anstiss (WD) in the midcourt against the inimitable Robinson caused some key turnovers and the Fever drew even with just over three minutes to go in the quarter.
Thwaites continued to be outstanding for the Magpies taking shots from all over the circle against some heavy marking from Courtney Bruce (GK). She shot 13 goals at 100% for the quarter, equal to the volume from Kaylia Stanton. Both teams will look back at this quarter, however, and rue the number of turnovers and off-target passes resulting in intercepts. The Magpies, who should have been able to capitalise on their scoreboard advantage against a far less experienced midcourt, instead struggled. The hard work of Anstiss against the world’s best wing attack in Madi Robinson made her usual drives towards the circle much more difficult and this match-up was to prove key for the whole game. Brazill and Colyer (WA) also had a hard fought contest, with Brazill managing to cut off the number of goal assists and feeds from Colyer, who struggled to feed the shooters.
The third quarter was when things started to unravel a bit for the Fever. An early win from Layton against Stanton created more doubt for the Fever midcourt. Teague-Neeld continued to struggle on the shot, but her impact was broader, winning an important intercept early in the third quarter. The communication and timing between Medhurst and Stanton also began to break down, with Medhurst’s no-look passes often not being seen by Stanton either. Medhurst was driving into the circle less, preferring to wait outside the circle and this was in stark contrast to earlier in the game. The influence of Layton in this third term was immense, with four gains, one intercept and one deflection for the quarter. Stanton’s accuracy also dropped to just 33% for the quarter (3/9).
The Magpies, again, didn’t capitalise on their advantage as much as they could have with a number of turnovers from the midcourt and attacking players. Stacey Francis (GD) was the best player for the Fever in this quarter. Despite the swing in momentum, she gained the upper hand on Teague-Neeld and picked up two key intercepts, which halted the momentum of the Magpies. The Magpies continued to struggle in transition with a number of pick-ups from players then lost in the midcourt and attacking third. The Magpies went into the break eight goals up, while the Fever only managed to score six goals in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was a better one for the Fever. They quickly reduced the deficit to five with a turnover from a missed shot by Teague-Neeld. Layton continued to cause plenty of stress for Stanton picking up intercepts from feeds to her under the post. Francis continued to impress at the other end, getting an intercept ahead of Thwaites, who had been pulling in feeds from everywhere the whole game. The game got a little messy with both teams turning over the ball, particularly in transition.
The Fever had some early wins, but were unable to put any inroads into the Magpies’ lead. Towards the end of the quarter, the lead extended for the Magpies. An injury time-out was called and Micaela Wilson came on for April Brandley in only her second appearance this season. Shae Brown was then brought on for Kim Ravaillion at centre. Layton continued to beat Stanton to the ball on a number of occasions. Wilson impressed with an intercept within minutes of taking the court and we will hopefully see more of her in the future.
The Magpies ended the game 13 goals up on the Fever. The Fever will be disappointed with the inability to stay competitive after halftime, while the Magpies will still be concerned about their inability to capitalise on their advantage until late in the game. From here, the Fever will face the Firebirds next week, while the Magpies will come up against the table-topping Giants.
Kaylia Stanton vs Sharni Layton
This was an up and down contest, with Stanton gaining the advantage late in the first quarter after some early tussles. A noticeable discussion on movement in the circle between Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell and Layton had the intended effect with Layton coming into the third quarter with a new lease on life. Layton was able to cut off the feeds to Stanton by changing her positioning and the game ended well in Layton’s favour.
Madi Robinson vs Jess Anstiss
There is no doubt in my mind that Anstiss is a star of the future. She managed to cut down the volume of passes to Robison in the centre-third causing a lot of difficulties for the Magpies in transition simply through making Robinson less available. This was a fairly even match-up throughout the game with Robinson having the slight edge on Anstiss, although both feeds and goal assists from Robinson significantly dropped in the last quarter. Robinson finished the game with the most goal assists and feeds of any player, continuing her excellent form this season. She finished with MVP. However, Anstiss was one of the best on court for the Fever and was a constant presence for Robinson.
Caitlin Thwaites vs Courtney Bruce
Thwaites never looked like missing for the majority of the game and Bruce, who has gained a reputation as a very tough defender, could not have much impact on Thwaites, who soared to 50 goals for the game. Her ability to shoot from anywhere is impressive. Bruce got her hand to five deflections, but was unable to gain an advantage on Thwaites for any period of the game. Thwaites was tough competition for best on court with Robinson.
Collingwood Magpies 56 def West Coast Fever 43
Player of the Match: Madi Robinson (Magpies)
Thwaites 50/54 93%
Teague-Neeld 6/10 60%
West Coast Fever
Stanton 32/42 76%
Medhurst 11/14 79%
Madi Robinson (Magpies) 19
Verity Charles (Fever) 11
Centre pass receives
Alice Teague-Neeld (Magpies) 24
Ingrid Colyer (Fever) 19