Key Learnings: Round 1 v Sunshine Coast Lightning

3 months ago

It may not have been the desired result, but there were plenty of positives and important lessons to take from Saturday night's clash with the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Gabrielle Keegan

1. Centre-pass conversion is key

If there's one message that Head Coach Nicole Richardson has preached over the pre-season, it's the importance of centre-pass conversion.

Richardson lamented her side's inability to maximise their opportunities after the weekend's loss to the Lightning.

"I think our centre pass conversion in the last quarter was at 36 per cent and overall 56-57 compared to (Lightning's) 71 – you're never going to win a game that way," she said.

A new side coming together certainly plays into the stat, and while improvement will come as the group spends more time together on court, there's no doubt what the key focus will be when the Magpies hit the track again this week.

2. Our new recruits are here to play

Both Kalifa McCollin and Jacqui Newton made their presence known in their first official games in black and white.

With the dominant Diamond duo of Cara Koenen and Steph Wood to deal with, Newton was injected into the game early in the third quarter and immediately had an impact. With two deflections to her name, Newton caused disruption to the shooting circle, while providing drive through the court into attack.

After three seasons as a training partner with the Melbourne Vixens, it was clear that Newton was more than ready to compete at Suncorp Super Netball level, and will only continue to grow with further opportunity.

A buzzer-beating Super Shot was perhaps the most fitting way for McCollin to acquaint herself with the black and white faithful. The clutch shot cut Sunshine Coast's halftime advantage to 33-30 and placed the Magpies well and truly back in the game.

McCollin joined the Magpies after a season with the Southern Steel in New Zealand’s ANZ Premiership League, where she held an impressive 84 per cent shooting accuracy for the 2020 season.

From the glimpse we saw of McCollin on Saturday night, we can look forward to her sharp-shooting and creative flair continuing into the Suncorp Super Netball competition.

3. There’s plenty of depth through our mid-court

While under the cloud of injury, the need for Molly Jovic and Melissa Bragg to step up last season in the Queensland hub has only fast-tracked their development.

With the return of Kelsey Browne and Ash Brazill, Richardson now has a bevy of talented mid-courters at her disposal and a potential selection headache when it comes to her starting seven.

Browne (28 feeds and 17 goal assists) and Brazill (17 feeds and 8 goal assists) both made successful returns to the court, while Jovic more than held her own (46.5 Nissan Net Points) amongst the players she initially came in for as an injury replacement.

Throw into the mix the ability to bring Bragg on for added pressure or swing Jodi-Ann Ward out of the circle and into wing-defence, it will be about finding the right balance and choosing the moment for rolling subs for Richardson moving forward.

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