AFTER ONE OF THE MOST FASCINATING AND COMPETITIVE WEEKENDS OF SUNCORP SUPER NETBALL IN THE COMPETITION’S HISTORY, THERE IS MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.
Are the Magpies in real trouble? Can other teams follow the Firebirds’ blueprint to beat the Fever? And who was the international sporting star in the stands in Sydney on Sunday?
Here are all the big talking points out of a huge Round 5.
While the NSW Swifts were impressive in beating Collingwood Magpies, the question needs to be asked: what is up with the Magpies?
At full strength, they boast a starting seven comprised almost completely of current and former Australian Diamonds players, yet have only managed one win five starts this season.
There will no doubt be some soul searching at training this week as they look for answers.
The bad news? Over the next four rounds the Magpies face all four teams who currently occupy the top four spots on the ladder.
In the opening four rounds of the competition, the West Coast Fever announced themselves as favourites – with a bullet.
Three commanding wins and an impressive victory over a determined Sunshine Coast had them rated as close to unstoppable, with star recruit Jhanielle Fowler generating plenty of headlines as she took the competition by storm.
But the Firebirds unlocked the secret sauce to beating the competition favourites – starving Fowler of enough ball to put themselves in a winning position and rendering the Fever’s defence end largely ineffective.
Now the question remains: can other teams do the same?
Sport can be cruel. The Adelaide Thunderbirds were looking impressive against the Sunshine Coast – good enough to be in with a chance of claiming their first win of the season.
Young shooter Charlee Hodges, who has taken her chance after being called up to replace the injured Sasha Glasgow, was playing out of her skin until a stray shoulder ended her afternoon early.
It was a sad end to what was a great afternoon and a breakout performance for the young South Australian. She will face concussion tests this week.
Eagle-eyed sports fans would have noticed Australian NBA star Joe Ingles in the crowd at Giants Netball’s game against the Melbourne Vixens.
He was hiding under a black cap while supporting his wife Renae, who made her shock comeback for the Vixens in the Round 5 match.
Are we any closer to determining who will contest the Suncorp Super Netball finals? Not likely.
After the Fever’s loss there is no team that is unbeaten, the NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning are surging from the bottom half of the table and the Giants v Vixens match had all the hallmarks of a final.
The bonus point system means it is still anybody’s race as well, with even the Magpies and Thunderbirds able to climb quickly if they can string together some solid wins.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning and Adelaide Thunderbirds all wore black armbands in their clash to honour Kingi Taurua, the father of Lightning coach Noeline Taurua. He passed away during the week after a battle against cancer.
Kingi was a highly respected Maori elder and veteran broadcaster in New Zealand