The GIANTS were two points shy of making the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final. (Picture: GIANTS Netball/Website, Design by Will Cuckson)

Having a largely successful year in the SSN this season, GIANTS Netball’s season was overshadowed by a disappointing last quarter in the preliminary final. Losing by two goals, they missed out on making the SSN Grand Final for the third consecutive time and another chance at their maiden premiership.

In the opening round of the season, GIANTS Netball played in a grand final rematch against the NSW Swifts. After winning the close encounter, big things were projected for them for the rest of the season. Unfortunately their quick start did not continue, losing the next three matches albeit in part, due to players being out due to COVID Health and Safety Protocols.

The middle of the season would provide a winning run for the GIANTS as they tried to cement their spot in the top four. Battling against the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Collingwood Magpies and NSW Swifts for the top four, they would run ahead of the pack to clinch third place.

The Inner Sanctum looks at the GIANTS Netball season in review.

What Worked?

GIANTS Netball had a great year all around the court. Whether it was Jo Harten scoring Super Shots, Amy Parmenter intercepting the oppositions passes, Matilda McDonell getting the rebound in the defensive circle or April Brandley putting pressure on the opposition shooters.

The mid-court made up of Parmenter, Jamie-Lee Price, and Maddie Hay proved difficult for the opposition. Not only were they able to make pin-point passes into the attacking circle but were a dominant trio in defence. They could always be counted on to secure intercepts from the opposition passes.

Matilda McDonell had a sensational season in the defensive circle. (Photo: Giants Netball Website)

The dominant duo of McDonell and Brandley helped secure rebounds for the GIANTS. They were also able to put a good amount of pressure on the opposition shooters without giving away penalties for contact.

At the other end of the court, Sophie Dwyer has shown a level of growth and maturity by not succumbing to pressure from defenders, like in previous years. Harten, continued her dominance in the league, shooting the Super Shots with ease while assisting Dwyer in the circle.

What Didn’t?

The fact that the GIANTS were the only team that was able to beat every team in the regular season apart from the Melbourne Vixens is a testament to their structure and firepower this season. One thing that didn’t go according to plan was being plagued by COVID-19 early in the season.

If they were not plagued by the illness, they could have gotten themselves into the top two position. This would have allowed them to go straight into the final or receive a double chance. It would also have given them the home court advantage, playing with their fans behind them.

The GIANTS also failed to utilise their bench and give them any game-time especially in key games that could have given them great experience. The bench of Matisse Letherbarrow, Lauren Moore and Amy Sligar played less than 25 games between them.

Next season, their bench should be given more experience especially when they are winning by a large margin going into the fourth quarter.

Season Highlight

The season highlight for GIANTS Netball was making the preliminary finals, the team went into the semi-finals in third place, finishing the season with 32 points. In the semi-final they put on a dominant display against the Collingwood Magpies especially in the second half.

Heading into the break, behind by three goals, the GIANTS came out firing in the third quarter and closed it in the fourth. The attacking duo of Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer made 43 out of 49 shots and 6 out of 9 super shots during the game.

The mid-court were at their best having two intercepts and limiting their turnovers to only six. The GIANTS’ continuous pressure on the Magpies forced them into 20 turnovers, which allowed them to gain more possession of the ball. With the win they advanced to the next stage of the finals against the Melbourne Vixens.

Season Lowlight

The lowlight of the season happened in the preliminary final against the Melbourne Vixens. In twelve minutes, they could only score seven goals in comparison to the Vixens’ 17. Ahead by seven goals at the the three-quarter time break, it seemed as though they had booked themselves a place in the Grand Final.

Unfortunately it was not to be. Sophie Dwyer missed three consecutive shots early in the term, which would have given them a 13-point lead. In the closing seconds the GIANTS had one more opportunity, however a Jamie-Lee Price pass found Vixens player Emily Mannix and the game was all wrapped up.

In the last quarter the team had seven turnovers, two interceptions and six goals out of ten shots. They also failed to stop Vixens goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda who made all of her shots making 14 out of 14.

The last quarter had so many what ifs? What if Dwyer made the shots or what if they had less turnovers? What if Price had made a clean pass?

Team MVP

England international star and captain of GIANTS Netball, Jo Harten was the MVP of the team. Playing with them since 2017, she had yet another tremendous year in the shooting circle. Continuing her red-hot 2021 season, she was able to put away 463 goals at a success rate of 87 per cent.

In the last five minutes of each quarter, Harten was able to get away from the defenders and shoot 64 Suncorp Super Shots at a 53 per cent success rate. She was able to lead the team to the finals and nearly attend another Grand Final against the West Coast Fever.

Jo Harten has achieved the GIANTS MVP four times. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball)

At the GIANTS awards ceremony post-season, she went home with the 2022 HCF Most Valuable Player award. This is the fourth time she has achieved this feat.

GIANTS coach Julie Fitzgerald had high words of praise for the locker-room leader during the awards night.

β€œJo is an amazing player both on and off the court,” said coach Julie Fitzgerald.

β€œShe leads with her actions, and it amazes me how she keeps coming back each year and raising her game.

β€œShe plays quite a different game to a lot of the other shooters in the league but her skill and her smarts make her a huge threat, not only in Suncorp Super Netball but in world netball.”

More SSN Season Reviews

SSN 2022 Season Review: Collingwood Magpies – Building the foundations

SSN 2022 Season Review: NSW Swifts – So close but so far

SSN 2022 Season Review: Queensland Firebirds Season Review – What could have been?

Rising Star

This season there were two players contending to become the best rising star for GIANTS Netball. These two players were young shooter Matisse Letherbarrow and midcourter Amy Sligar.

After playing three games in the 2021 Super Netball season, Sligar took to the court seven different times this season. This included a big role in the match against the Adelaide Thunderbirds where they were missed three starters and a training partner due to COVID Health and Safety Protocols. During this game she showed the club what she is fully capable of as a player.

In only seven games, she earned 82.5 Nissan Net Points, caused five turnovers in defence and had four deflections. The young wing midcourter will hope to continue this form going into next season, where she will get more opportunities.

Amy Sligar and Matisse Letherbarow showed off their full potential. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball)

Promising youngster, Matisse Letherbarrow received more game-time on the court this season. The tall attacker made waves in the shooting circle, especially during the last five minutes of each quarter. She was often brought on when the GIANTS were behind needing Suncorp Super Shots.

During her time in the shooting circle, she scored 34 goals and 13 Suncorp Super Shots. Both types of shots were achieved at more than a success rate of 65 per cent. Born in 2002, she has her full career ahead of her and has plenty of time to develop into a complete goal shooter.

Moving Forward

After being plagued by COVID-19 at the beginning of the season, the GIANTS will be looking to have a quick start at the start of the season. They will also be looking to prove themselves after a disappointing preliminary final loss.

They have made no changes to their roster for the next season, as they prepare to return to the Grand Final. The squad has the ability and skill to go far but it depends on how they play on the given day.

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