05/03/2024

The NSW Swifts were so close to clinching a finals spot after a disappointing start where they sat near the bottom of the ladder. With high hopes in the pre-season, they were unable to go back-to-back for the championship.

After two early losses to their campaign they fought back winning the next two games. Their winning ways were not to last as the Swifts fell into a mid-season slump.

Losing the next three games, their hopes to win consecutive titles looked worse for ware. Out of nowhere they courageously garnered wins but it was not enough to get them ahead of the competition.

The Round 13 match against the West Coast Fever was a do-or-die clash for the Swifts. A win would have booked a finals berth but a loss would take them out of contention.

Down by one point and two seconds to go, Helen Housby attempted a super shot for the win. The ball hit the rim, but bounced away from the net giving them the loss. This attempt clearly illustrated the season the Swifts had encountered.

The Inner Sanctum looks at the New South Wales Swifts season in review.

What Worked?

Housby was able to successfully shoot the super shot for the Swifts all season, nailing 56 of them. She used the two-point goal in times, where the team needed to get back into the game.

The mid-court of the Swifts dominated the games with Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley leading the way. Their impact on the season landed them spot in the Australia Diamonds squad for the Commonwealth Games.

Goal-keeper Sarah Klau had an astonishing season that saw her land a spot in the Australia Diamonds team. Her intercepts were crucial in changing the momentum of most games. When games seemed to get away from the Swifts, Klau would come up with a freakish intercept putting the Swifts back on the attack.

What Didn’t?

Underscoring the season for the Swifts was the injury to star shooter Sam Wallace, which didn’t help matters, however games were lost when the Swifts struggled to take the game away from the opposition when in the lead.

Four of their seven wins were won under four points. They continually left the outcome of the game right to the end allowing their opponents to come back into the game, this it cost the Swifts a finals run.

One example was the must-win clash against the West Coast Fever. Winning in the first quarter, they were unable to keep the intensity going throughout the remainder of the match. This allowed the Fever to come back in and ultimately win the match.

Season Highlight

The season highlight for the NSW Swifts was nearly coming back to make the Suncorp Super Netball finals. After a rocky start where they lost their first two games, they hit another losing slump mid-season.

As the games started to become must-win games, they had three big performances against the Giants, Thunderbirds and Lightning.

Nearly pulling off a finals miracle, the Swifts were two goals short of reaching the finals. However head coach, Briony Akle was proud of her side nearly pulling off the unthinkable. In their Round 13 clash against the Fever, they put on a performance for the ages in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Season Lowlight

Sam Wallace missed the whole season after rupturing her ACL in Round 1. (Photo: NSW Swifts)

The season lowlight came in Round 1 in the Sydney derby. Wallace tore her ACL in the Swifts’ loss against the Giants. She was not seen again for the remainder of the season. After a dominant display in 2021, her injury shook up the rest of the Swifts line-up.

The star from Trinidad and Tobago halted their ability at the beginning of the season. If Wallace was fit and uninjured there may have been a different outcome to the rest of the NSW Swifts season as the young shooters in the side in Sophie Fawns and Kelly Singleton had to adjust to more game-time.

More Netball Season Reviews

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

SSN 2022 Season Review: Adelaide Thunderbirds – A sense of deja vu

SSN 2022 Season Review: Sunshine Coast Lightning – An underwhelming season

Team MVP

NSW Swifts Co-Captain Maddy Proud (Picture: NSW Swifts/Twitter)

Proud had an outstanding year leading the Swifts through her leadership and netball ability. Through her leadership she nearly led the Swifts to the finals after injuries derailed the first few games of the season.

Through her netball ability, Proud recorded 364 goal assists, a season record for any individual player. She provided her attackers with easy balls into the attacking circle. While defending, she had numerous interceptions not allowing the opponents to get a quick break.

The co-captain was awarded multiple honours at the end of the season. After being named the best centre of the 2022 competition, she took home a host of awards for the Swifts. Proud was awarded the QBE Most Valued Player Award and Players’ Player Award.

During the Swifts awards night, coach Akle said this about Proud,

“Maddy is one player in a pretty brilliant bunch, but no-one could argue that she has been the standout midcourter in the game this year,” Akle said.

β€œFor Maddy it has been another stellar campaign and I love how she led from the front when we were thrown some pretty big curveballs, especially with injuries.”

Rising Star

Sophie Fawns was a rising star in the competition not just for the Swifts. (Photo: NSW Swifts)

There was no-doubt at the end of the SSN season that the rising star for the NSW Swifts was Fawns. Her arrival in the competition became the fairytale story, especially after she was awarded a contract extension with the Swifts for the next season.

Originally not meant to be part of the team at the start of the season, Fawns came in as a temporary replacement player. She came into the side for an injured Sam Wallace.

Her season statistics include 159 goals at a 79 per cent success rate, 11 rebounds and seven super shots from 14 attempts.

Mainly coming off the bench during the first half of the season, Fawns would later go on to become a starter. She was the unsung hero of the squad, providing calmness in the attacking circle and confidence when shooting.

Fawns was able to supplement Housby to perfection. Next year, she will be hoping to learn from the more experienced players as she continues to develop.

Moving Forward

The NSW Swifts bring in the same roster for next season apart from Kelly Singleton being moved out for Sophie Fawns. The team have continuously shown what they are capable of and will be fired up after missing the finals.

The Swifts have the calibre of players that can get them to the finals but it just depends on whether they are fit to play. Attacker Sam Wallace will come back into the side from injury and can provide them with another option. This will take all the pressure off Helen Housby and allow her to play her natural goal attack game.

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