TWO TEAMS EMERGE AS THE SIDES TO BEAT IN 2018, QUEENSLAND PASSION SERVES UP A FINALS-QUALITY DERBY AND NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE MELBOURNE VIXENS – HERE IS WHAT WE LEARNED IN ROUND 2 OF THE SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL SEASON.
GIANTS Netball are showing they are just as hungry as 2017, maybe even hungrier. After reaching the 2017 decider (where they fell to the Sunshine Coast Lightning), the GIANTS are tracking well to achieve another finals appearance. They notched up an impressive 71-48 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds, including all four bonus points for winning all four quarters. Adelaide, though, have plenty of work to do. After going on a major recruitment drive in the off-season, the club has plenty of new faces – many from foreign shores looking to make a name for themselves in the world’s best league. Plenty of rotations were trialled in this match again as Adelaide searches for the right combinations.
The West Coast Fever appear to be the team to beat, though, after another impressive win in the early stages of the season. The Fever defeated Collingwood 68-57 and Jamaican superstar Jhaniele Fowler was almost unstoppable again – this time with 62 goals at 93 per cent. That leaves the Magpies with no wins from their first two starts, after losing a nail-biter to Vixens in round one. A positive was the performance of Sharni Layton, who missed the international season with exhaustion. She is improving every game.
Another side yet to notch a win in 2018 is last year’s champions Sunshine Coast Lightning, who have been on the wrong end of close results twice in a row now. They came up against Queensland rivals, the Firebirds, at the weekend and what a match it was. From the first whistle, both sides brought a finals level of intensity to the derby. The Firebirds came up big to get the 55-52 result, especially considering champion veteran Laura Geitz (back) sat this one out. Laura Clemesha was impressive in her absence, while fellow defenders Gabrielle Simpson and Tara Hinchliffe also helped lay the platform for the win.
The final match of the round saw a gutsy performance from the Vixens to claim their second win of the season, this time over the NSW Swifts. Jo Weston suffered an ankle injury and missed most of the match receiving treatment, before returning to the court. Liz Watson also took a heavy knock in a collision with Paige Hadley. The Swifts fought hard from end-to-end, but the Vixens managed to dig deep to ease past them in the final minutes to notch up the 63-61 win.
photos Janos Schmidt