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The Netball Show with Flyhawk

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Team Girls Cup Session 1 Wrap

Big wins for the Thunderbirds, Vixens and Fever followed a thrilling draw between the Swifts and Lightning in the first session of the Suncorp Team Girls Cup in Melbourne.

For the clubs, pre-season is an opportunity to trial combinations, build some match fitness, start knocking off the rust and blood some youth.

For us fans, it’s a chance to see some fresh faces, get hyped about those what-if players and make some wild predictions that we end up regretting a month into the regular season.

And session one of the 2022 Suncorp Team Girls Cup delivered on all that and more.

Things kicked off at four with the reigning premier NSW Swifts playing host to the Sunshine Coast Lightning in what ended up being a thrilling 43-43 draw.

We’ve all heard the rumblings about how good Reilley Batcheldor could be, and it seems like that pre-season hype bares some truth. The 19-year-old shooter with the oh-so-smooth shooting style sure looked big-league ready in this one.

The key takeaway for me from the Swifts is that midcourt depth and how Allie Smith might end up being the signing we look back at later this season as the sneaky best of the offseason. She settles that combination of Hadley and Proud and should allow Tayla Fraser to be that change-of-pace player every good midcourt needs.

Next up was the West Coast Fever taking on GIANTS Netball in a soft rematch of last year’s Preliminary Final (look forward to that in Round 6). And, after the GIANTS jumped out to an early lead, the Fever settled and came away from session one with a six-point win.

Biggest note from this one is not an original one; that Fever starting seven is scary good. They seemed faster and slicker than any other side we saw in session one. A group in mid-season form.

But the GIANTS by no means looked miles off the Fever’s pace, particularly through the midcourt where Amy Sligar slotted nicely into the wing attack position left vacant by Maddie Hay who didn’t travel with the team. I also think this defensive group, with new recruit Lauren Moore, could be a tough one to crack in 2022.

The hometown Melbourne Vixens took to the court after that to face the Queensland Firebirds in what ended up being a pretty lopsided Vixens win. They took a seven point lead into the quarter time break and never looked back, shaking hands with the girls in purple at the end with a comfortable eight point win.

Rahni Samason was the clear standout in this one with 37 points in a performance where she showed the ability to work the circle like a veteran, hold and create space with Ruby Barkmeyer and score from anywhere.

For the Firebirds, I found myself saying the name Ruby Bakewell-Doran a lot, and that is always a good thing. The Vixens shooters definitely had the better of the Firebirds defence throughout the game, but Bakewell-Doran’s efforts across the defensive and centre thirds were unbelievable. There was a sequence in the third quarter where she was on the heels of Barkmeyer, contested the feed, had hands over the shot, went up for the rebound, took two or three passes as the Firebirds transitioned into attack, then did it all over again when Charlie Bell’s eventual shot missed. All at 100% effort. It’s the little things but they really stood out last night.

Finally, the Collingwood Magpies and Adelaide Thunderbirds took to the court to close out the night and it looked like two teams at very different stages of their preseason preparations. The Thunderbirds looked polished and sure of themselves. The Magpies looked like structures and gameplans are still being ironed out. And that’s just how it is a month from Round 1! But for the Magpies, it meant hitting the changerooms a little ragged after a 15-point loss.

When it is up and firing, this Thunderbirds midcourt is something special. Maisie Nankivell is one of the league’s most underrated players, Hannah Petty can play anywhere and having Georgie Horjus to slot in at wing attack is very handy.

But what we started to see last year, and was certainly on display last night, is that Elle McDonald is almost the glue that holds it all together. She is relentless and so clean, whatever bib she is wearing. She only played half the game but made a big impact when she was on.

And the for the Magpies, Kelsey Browne should be pretty happy with her first 2022 Team Girls Cup showing, running out almost the entire match across wing attack and centre.

The Magpies really struggled in transition and were sloppy in possession for much of the game, but Browne looked fast and sharp, especially when let loose across the entire court with the centre bib. Hopefully this sets her up for a big season.

Report and Pic : https://supernetball.com.au/

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