Can the Adelaide Thunderbirds rise in 2022? (Photo: Adelaide Thunderbirds; Design: Will Cuckson)

With a settled squad and signs of improvement starting to show for the young guns, are the Adelaide Thunderbirds finals bound in 2022?

Last season:

2021 was a mixed season for the Thunderbirds, ending in a seventh placed finish. Five wins was a positive step forward, and they began to show some consistency under Tania Obst.

However, finishing second from bottom still showed plenty of improvement to come. With a relatively settled line up and one big name addition, the Thunderbirds will be looking to quickly put 2021 behind them.

What’s made waves in the pre-season?

The player that has drawn eyes in the pre-season has been Tippah Dwan, and her arrival at the Thunderbirds.

One of the most talented young players in the league, Dwan has spent the preseason rolling through the attacking positions. She is a natural goal attack due to her height, shooting ability at two point range, as well as her mobility.

Last season it was Georgie Horjus and Lenize Potgeiter who combined so well at goal attack and goal shooter for the Thunderbirds. There has been plenty of talk that Dwan can push Horjus out into wing attack.

Along with talented youngster Lucy Austin, it gives Obst more versatility in the team.

What needs to change?

The Thunderbirds won some very impressive games last year, but also lost games by large margins. While they looked a lot better as a team, they still finished second from the bottom of the ladder.

One problem with their approach last year was in regards to the rolling substitutions. Obst would sometimes ring in the changes across the court too often and unsettle the team. This would hand over momentum and rhythm within the match to their opposition.

Another problem was their slow start, losing five games straight to begin last season. They are now a team that is starting to learn how to grind out a game and win ugly, and they need to do this on a more regular basis to rise up the ladder.

Who’s in for a big season?

Jamaican defender Latanya Wilson looks to have come on in leaps and bounds this offseason and after spending last year under the tutelage of Shamera Sterling.

Her strength is her speed and her creativity, but she also seems to have settled in with the Thunderbirds team and their defensive unit.

With a defence made up of Sterling, Wilson and Matilda Garrett, the Thunderbirds will continue to rise as the young guns grow and develop together.

The games that matter

Round 7 will be a game that the Thunderbirds will want to win, where they play in the ‘Western Derby’ against the West Coast Fever at Priceline Stadium.

Last season, they played the Fever in Perth and were shown up all night with a loss of 25 goals the final margin. They scored 44 goals for the game, which was their second lowest of their season.

Generally the Thunderbirds have slow starts, so the first couple of games will also be crucial to show that they are not making up the numbers in the competition anymore.

Ladder prediction:

The Thunderbirds will push for the top four but ultimately miss out in fifth or sixth position on the ladder.

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