The midway point of the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball season has come around quickly, with seven rounds down and the reverse fixtures on the way this week. We run through the season so far and take a look at what’s to come for the Magpies.
Despite a trying start to the 2022 season, head coach Nicole “Richo” Richardson has set out the prove the Magpies are no easy beat.
With a high standard, positive mindset and the innate ability to get the best out of her athletes, Richo has stepped it up a notch over the past few weeks to take the Magpies win ratio to 3-4 with seven rounds remaining.
On the first seven rounds:
“Look, we started the season off very slowly, so probably a disappointing start to the season, but I think our last two weeks in particular have been very good.
“They've been very solid out on court, and I think the improvement that we've made there is that we've got the ability to balance between our long game and also being able to chip away and keep possession. So finding that good balance, as I said, to go short, or then look long into Shimona, has worked quite well.
“I think we knew from round one that the teams that were going to be able to adapt from week to week and actually go with the flow and not get caught up on things that you can't control, were going to be the teams at the end of the day that were going to have success.
“We’ve had our ups and downs this year, you know, we were hit pretty hard with COVID, we had Brazzy out Round 1 with concussion, and Jac out most recently. So, you know, there's not been many of those seven games where we've had our 10 suited up, so I think the group's really adapted quite well to that.
“I think that's resulted in our last two weeks in the performances that we've been able to put out.”
On how we can keep the momentum going:
“I'm most excited to see if we can continue to take the brand of netball that we've played in the past two weeks into the back end of the season.
“We’ve got a really got a big challenge this week ahead of us when we travel over to Perth, to play West Coast Fever, but I reckon the group's up for the challenge and if we continue to find that balance, as I said, between our long game and also the capacity to keep possession and chip away until something opens up, I think we're going to be a real threat moving forward.
“Also just that consistency in performance week in, week out. We’ve been able to do it for the past two weeks, now the challenge is moving forward. Are we able to produce that kind of netball under pressure in the remaining seven matches?”
Shimona Nelson has had a stellar start to the year, only missing 33 minutes of game time all season. She sits second in the league for goals scored (307) and third in the league for both goal attempts (338) and offensive rebounds (20), with an overall 91 percent goaling accuracy.
Most importantly, she held up well in the absence of Sophie Garbin and Gabby Sinclair during rounds four and five, with the two additional goalers playing key roles across the rest of the season.
Kelsey Browne has similarly had an impact on the league leaderboards thus far, tracking well in second for goal assists (158) and fifth for centre pass receives (137).
Spending more time in centre due to the team’s disrupted start to the season, Browne has been a key player in the Magpies attack alongside workhorse Molly Jovic, while Maggie Lind has had her moments in wing attack with 25 goal assists to her name.
Co-captains Ash Brazill and Geva Mentor are key to the Magpies backline, and are real focal points as the midcourt ace and last line of defence.
The highly competitive back unit - comprised of Brazill, Mentor, Jodi-Ann Ward and Jacqui Newton - has remained the same for a few seasons now, and it has really shown out on court as the season goes on.
There is great athleticism across the whole defensive unit, with the four players combining for an average of nine gains per game.
Two of our tenacious training partners have earned a call-up to the gameday squad this season, with Nyah Allen setting the court alight across rounds 4 and 5, while Zoe Davies also made her mark in rounds 5 and 6.
Allen’s time in the Magpies training environment was clear across her two outings, pairing seamlessly with Shimona Nelson and Kelsey Browne in attack.
“The two games that Nyah stepped out on court for us, she's played a really pivotal role,” Richo explained. “She was part of our first win against the Lightning, and particularly when you've got both Sophie and Gabby out of that lineup, to be able to win there with Shimmy and Nyah as our goaling combo was very pleasing.”
Davies is a relative newcomer to the program, making her debut in Round 5 against the GIANTS, but made her presence known on court with a combined 60 minutes across her back-to-back appearances.
“Zoe’s had a couple of hit outs and she just brings a lot of intent and energy to the lineup. She’s just someone that is so excited to be a part of Collingwood and the SSN environment.”
Hear from Richo: