Match Report – Adelaide Thunderbirds vs. Collingwood Magpies (Round 11, Suncorp Super Netball 2019)

The Adelaide Thunderbirds and Collingwood Magpies played out the sixth draw of the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season on Sunday afternoon in Adelaide.

Shamera Sterling with 11 gains (five intercepts, one deflection, five rebounds) and Geva Mentor with 12 gains (six intercepts, one deflection, five rebounds) were the standouts in a low scoring match, indicative of wasteful and stagnant attacking play from both sides.

Within the opening thirty seconds, Sterling took the first of many intercepts for the afternoon, but the ball was lost in the midcourt just as quickly. Collingwood gained an early 3-1 lead, but a Sterling rebound enabled the Thunderbirds to equalise.

Two rebounds by Mentor mopped up her team’s turnovers, until a stepping call against Shimona Nelson allowed the Thunderbirds some breathing space.

After a Collingwood time out, Mentor picked up a crucial gain as the score swung out to five goals in Adelaide’s favour. However, miscommunication on the Thunderbirds’ centre pass saw the ball straight into Ash Brazill’s waiting arms, and the Magpies pulled the difference back to two.

With just over a minute remaining in the quarter, Adelaide coach Tania Obst called a time out, and it worked for the home side. Sterling rebounded Nelson’s attempt at goal, and off their following centre pass the Thunderbirds took a four-goal lead into the first break.

Geva Mentor was at her brilliant best against the Thunderbirds. Image: Sue McKay.

Collingwood’s struggle to feed the ball to Nelson caused them headaches in the second quarter. Their attackers were looking to Nelson as a target, but given Sterling was guarding the aerial space while also holding front position, they either fed the ball in too high or too low.

However, the Magpies’ defenders were also causing havoc in the Thunderbirds’ attack and transitional play, forcing them into the sidelines and corners, and causing them to turn over the ball. Maria Folau was forced to do a wealth of work outside the circle, putting pressure on her goaling partner, Sasha Glasgow.

The margin was hovering around five goals when the Magpies injected veteran goaler Nat Medhurst into the game in an attempt to polish their attacking end.

Another Adelaide attacking turnover, followed by a miss by Folau, saw the Magpies draw level. This prompted the Thunderbirds to switch Folau into GA and bring mid-season recruit Emma Ryde on court.

Another intercept to Sterling’s name, along with a mistimed feed in Collingwood’s goal circle, gave Adelaide a 24-21 lead at half time. Neither team looked comfortable in attack. For the Thunderbirds, their goalers were doing too much work to bring the ball down, while the Magpies’ attacking strategy was hampered with Sterling dominating in her battle against Nelson.

Ash Brazill’s aerial skills on display. Image: Sue McKay.

Another rebound by Sterling widened the margin to a game-high six goals early in the second half, until an overcooked feed by Kelly Altmann allowed Collingwood to bounce back.

An intercept by April Brandley once again pegged the margin back, but Sterling rebounded a miss by Medhurst and kept Collingwood at bay.

The Magpies called another time out to switch Ash Brazill into C and bring Melissa Bragg into WD. When play resumed, Brandley collected another intercept, but Folau won the ball back in the centre third.

It was only in the final minute that Ryde missed and the Thunderbirds allowed their quarter score to slip once again, with the Magpies snatching another bonus point by a single goal.

Shamera Sterling won plenty of ball for the Thunderbirds. Image: Sue McKay

Sterling rebounded Nelson’s miss early in the fourth quarter, but Mentor was the Magpies’ hero once again, taking another intercept.

The work which the Magpies had done to shut down Adelaide’s attacking options caused a held ball against Chelsea Pitman, and at the halfway point of the quarter, Collingwood had drawn level. Medhurst then scored to put her side in the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the match.

The Thunderbirds called a time out, bringing Maisie Nankivell into WD and switching Shadine van der Merwe into GD for a few minutes. Chelsea Blackman replaced her in GD soon after when Collingwood called another time out.

With the scores ticking over goal for goal, an intercept by Brazill with two minutes on the clock seemed to seal the match for the Magpies. However, under heavy Adelaide defensive pressure, a held ball against Brazill brought scores level again.

Off their final centre pass, Collingwood treasured possession, happy to play the ball around until they could get it into Nelson, who then missed her attempt. With seconds to win the match, Adelaide were too slow to bring the ball down court and the scores remained tied at the final whistle.

Collingwood’s Ash Brazill and Melissa Bragg after the match. Image: Sue McKay

The Magpies took home five points to the Thunderbirds’ three, but the draw put a further dent in their finals aspirations. With the Giants winning their Round 11 match against the Queensland Firebirds, the gap between fourth and fifth has widened and the Magpies are running out of time to glue their season back together.

Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds showed that they have improved since their previous clash against the Magpies in Round 4, where they suffered an 18-goal thrashing. However, given they were in control for the better part of the match, the team will rue the fact that they let the match slip away with missed goals and unforced errors.

In the coming round, Collingwood will fly to Perth and battle the West Coast Fever to keep their slim premiership hopes alive, while the Thunderbirds face the winless Queensland Firebirds in a bottom of the table clash.

FINAL SCORE: ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 46 drew COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 46
(15-11, 9-10, 10-11, 12-14)

Player of the Match: Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

Adelaide Thunderbirds
Emma Ryde 20/22 91%
Maria Folau 15/19 79%
Sasha Glasgow 11/15 73%
46/56 82%

Collingwood Magpies
Shimona Nelson 28/38 74%
Nat Medhurst 13/16 81%
Gabrielle Sinclair 5/6 83%
46/60 77%

Key Stats

Rebounds
Geva Mentor (Collingwood) 5
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) 5
Sasha Glasgow (Thunderbirds) 2

Intercepts
Shamera Sterling (Thunderbirds) 5
Geva Mentor (Collingwood) 6
Ash Brazill (Collingwood) 3
April Brandley (Collingwood) 2

Feeds
Chelsea Pitman (Thunderbirds) 36
Kelsey Browne (Collingwood) 27
Maria Folau (Thunderbirds) 23

Starting Line Ups
Adelaide Thunderbirds
GS Maria Folau
GA Sasha Glasgow
WA Chelsea Pitman
C Hannah Petty
WD Shadine van der Merwe
GD Kate Shimmin
GK Shamera Sterling
Changes: Q2 GS Emma Ryde, GA Maria Folau
Q3 C Kelly Altmann
Q4 WD Maisie Nankivell GD Shadine van der Merwe GD Chelsea Blackman

Collingwood Magpies
GS Shimona Nelson
GA Gabrielle Sinclair
WA Kelsey Browne
C Kim Ravaillion
WD Ash Brazill
GD Matilda Garrett
GK Geva Mentor
Changes: Q2 GD April Brandley, GA Nat Medhurst
Q3 C Ash Brazill WD Melissa Bragg

What They Said

Tania Obst – Adelaide Thunderbirds Coach

On her feelings after the draw
“We’ll look back and see that there was opportunities to take the game and be a little bit more clinical with the ball to get the win. I think we’ve got still some hangover from World Cup. There’s certainly no doubt that there is some fatigue – mentally and physically.”

“I think when we review this game there’ll be some uncharacteristic mistakes, and we’re trying to eradicate them from our game … I think they’re the sorts of things that come with that (mental fatigue).”

“It would’ve been nice to pinch another couple of quarters there, because we were certainly in it and we were in it to win the game, but we’ll certainly take a draw, that’s for sure.”

On the Thunderbirds’ improvement since their last meeting with the Magpies
“Pleased that we were able to peg back 18 goals from when we last played them, and probably kicking myself that we weren’t able to get the win.”

On Emma Ryde
“I think she’s a decent target down there. I’m not sure that we worked the ball to the circle, I think we could’ve been a little bit more clinical and a little bit more direct with how we did that, but that’s all for our learning and her learning.”

The game was played in front of a sold out crowd at Priceline Stadium. Image: Sue McKay.