01/03/2024

The New South Wales Derby is set to take the finals by storm. (Photo: Dani Brown)

The Inner Sanctum previews both matches in week one of the Super Netball Semi Finals. Who needs to stand up? And what is standing in the way of teams progressing?

As we reach the first week of the Super Netball finals, The Inner Sanctum‘s netball team takes a look at both games, who needs to stand up and what is standing in the way between teams making it to the next round.

Both match-ups have huge stories behind them, and fans are eagerly anticipating the first centre passes on Saturday.

For the Giants and Swifts it’s a Sydney derby rematch under finals intensity. Pundits have written off the Sunshine Coast Lightning advancing over the Fever, but they hold the best record against the finals sides of anyone this season.

We break down the key players and match-ups behind both clashes.

Giants Netball vs NSW Swifts 

Last Time They Met 

In the first ever Sydney Derby played in Adelaide, the Giants beat the Swifts 59-55. Defender Sam Poolman dominated shooter Sam Wallace, with eight gains and five rebounds. Maddie Hay earned Player of the Match, with 19 goal assists and two gains. 

Critically, the Giants were able to force the Swifts into turnovers, and prevent them from the clinical passing game that has been a hallmark of Swifts wins this season. Helen Housby, Maddy Proud and Wallace combined for 13 turnovers between the trio, as the Giants ran riot. 

Sophie Dwyer was key for the Giants, as she forced Maddy Turner to be accountable all day, and didn’t allow her to drop off and assist Sarah Klau with additional defensive pressure. That aggression, coupled with defensive pressure all the way up the court stifled the Swifts and kept them to just 55 goals for the afternoon. 

Key Match-Up- Tayla Fraser/Lauren Moore vs Maddie Hay

While the Swifts have tried different options against Maddie Hay in their two encounters this season, the way they face up against the Giants’ wing attack will be key.

Whether the choice is to use Fraser’s speed, and force Hay to revisit her wing defence days and slow down the counter attack, or whether the choice is to use Moore’s height to disrupt Hay’s feeds into the circle, the decision lies in the hands of coach Briony Akle.

Hay was instrumental last time, as Player of the Match, and was the difference between the sides. She will need to be slowed down, however the Swifts try to do it. 

Pivotal Player – Sam Poolman

Poolman dominated Wallace in the last Sydney Derby, and the Giants won that day. The first time these two sides met this season, Wallace was flawless in her shooting, and was the best player on the court.

Poolman will have plans in place to slow down the Swifts shooter. There will need to be a plan B and plan C as well however, depending on whether Wallace finds her groove, or whether Akle pulls a switch and injects Garbin into the game. 

If Poolman can hold her own against whoever is in the circle for the Swifts, it will go a long way to the Giants booking a place in the grand final for the first time since 2018. 

Sam Poolman will be fit and firing against the Swifts. (Photo: Super Netball)

Potential Kryptonite – Ball Movement

Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald has talked repeatedly about the importance of maintaining possession from the centre pass, and converting any turnovers. When the Giants keep possession better than their opponents, they generally win (which is not earth-shattering insight). 

The Swifts are known for their ability to slow their play down, and find a target with every pass. The clinical ability to work their way through the challenges that defences around the league have thrown at them has been a hallmark of Swifts’ performances for years.

If they find a way to do it again this weekend, it will prevent the Giants from getting on top. 

Tip For the Match – Swifts by 1

Daniel Coppel

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West Coast Fever vs Sunshine Coast Lightning 

Last Time they Met 

The last time these two sides met, the Sunshine Coast Lightning were able to take the chocolates over the West Coast Fever at RAC Arena in Perth. 

It was tightly contested for most of the game, with the Lightning always having their noses in front. It was the third quarter that won them the game, leading the scoring 20-14.

While the Fever won the last, they weren’t able to peg back the run that the Lightning got out to.

The defensive duo of Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius probably put up the best defensive effort when coming up against Jhaniele Fowler. They were able to confuse the space that would allow for the ball to spill out of court or to get the intercept.

The pair were able to limit Fowler to 45 goals in regular time and one Super Shot. 

Key Match-Up – Sunday Aryang vs Steph Wood

Steph Wood is the barometer for the Sunshine Coast Lightning. If the Fever want to continue their quest for a championship, they’ll have to shut Wood down, and Sunday Aryang will be the person for the job. 

If Aryang gives Wood an inch, she’ll take it and play a massive deciding factor in the game, so she is going to have to keep her quiet early. If she can force Wood to take the ones In the Super Shot periods, it will be the first step in shutting her down. 

Sunday Aryang will have bring her A-game against Steph Wood (Photo: Super Netball)

Pivotal Player – Karla Pretorius

Karla Pretorius will play a key role in allowing the Lightning to continue their hunt for a third championship. 

With Alice Teague-Neeld the playmaker of the Fever along with Verity Charles, they both do majority of the feeding into Fowler. Preterious will need to apply pressure over the ball to come up with possession, and it will be a key component of the semi final.

Pretorius will also be working alongside Maweni to minimise the effect of Fowler in the game. With one confusing the space it will allow for the other one to come up with the intercept, a tactic they employed so well the last time the sides met. 

Pretorius will need to be on her best game if she wants to help her side progress into the next round and stand up in those big moments, like she has so many times before. 

Potential Kryptonite – Super Shots

The Lightning aren’t afraid to go for the Super Shot, and while the Fever prefer the ones, if the side allows Wood to constantly score the Super Shots they’ll have to start taking that risk.

The Fever’s defensive end will be on high alert when that Super Shot siren sounds throughout Nissan Arena, aiming to prevent the Lightning from sinking those two goal shots as much as possible.

There has been a number of occasions where the Lightning has gotten back into games on the back of the Super Shots, using the extra scoring period better than anyone.

Tip For the Match– Fever by 2 

Elly McNerney 

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