Team Girls Cup FInals Wrap
After four sessions of fierce netball, the Melbourne Vixens have emerged as the champions of the Suncorp Team Girls Cup at Melbourne’s Parkville Stadium.
After a busy couple of days of flights, content and media obligations and three sessions of games, the Suncorp Team Girls Cup has come to an end following a big finals session at Melbourne’s Parkville Stadium. And it was the hometown Melbourne Vixens coming away with the Grand Final win, out lasting the West Coast Fever 45-43 in a hard-fought tournament closer.
The Vixens looked at their 2020 best throughout the tournament and saved their best until last against a Fever team that has not put a foot wrong this weekend.
Player of the Match Kate Moloney was unstoppable through the middle and looked to be loving having her co-captain and midcourt partner Liz Watson back on court. The pair finished the match with a combined 27 feeds, 14 goal assists and five gains, including a match sealer late by Watson.
My biggest takeaway from the Grand Final match was just how deep these two sides in particular are. Both teams clearly wanted to take home the trophy, but neither head coach was afraid to keep testing their combinations and putting their younger players into the pressure situations. Despite this, the game was played at an incredibly high level throughout, a true indicator of the talent in these two lists.
It capped an intriguing session of netball which saw a thriller sandwiched between two surprising blowouts.
The biggest margin of the day came in the battle for third between the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning, with the girls in pink putting the Queenslanders to the sword to the tune of 21 points.
I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen from the Thunderbirds defensive end, and it wasn’t just Shamera Sterling filling up the highlight reel in this one. Latanya Wilson should find herself near the top of many ‘Player of the Tournament’ lists, and this one against the Lightning might have been her best performance yet. With these two and Matilda Garrett, this will be a tough group to break down.
It was a pretty ugly way to finish the weekend for the Lightning, but they will take a lot of learnings away. Reilley Batcheldor has shown a lot of promise, as has defensive training partner Bridey Condren, who capped a strong tournament with an impressive five gain performance. It’s a new era of Lightning netball, and that usually means some drastic ups and downs. This was a certainly a down.
In what was arguably the game of the session, the Queensland Firebirds and Collingwood Magpies had Parkville Stadium rocking thanks to 40-minutes of highlight filled netball. This one was there to be won in the final few minutes, and the Firebirds snapped it up, thanks to three straight one-pointers and a late Super Shot to seal it.
It was a true team effort by Queensland, with Gretel Bueta having a huge game in attack alongside Donnell Wallam and Mia Stower, new captain Kim Ravaillion was impressive across four quarters and Eboni Usoro-Brown looked the goods. Head coach Megan Anderson will be pretty happy with that performance to finish the tournament.
Nicole Richardson and her Magpies will take plenty away from this one. This was the best game of the weekend in the midcourt for Collingwood, with Ash Brazill, Kelsey Brown and Molly Jovic all turning in really solid matches. Shimona Nelson and Sophie Garbin look to be building a strong combination in attack. And Jacqui Newton continued her strong tournament against a shooting circle that was really on song.
And the early game between the NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball wasn’t pretty but the GIANTS should be thrilled to finish the tournament with a win, particularly against the cross-town rivals.
A tough weekend in Melbourne became even more challenging for the Swifts when news broke that assistant coach Bec Bulley, who’s been calling the shots at the tournament with Briony Akle not travelling with the team, would miss the game due to sickness. And, while I’m sure Sam Wallace and Helen Housby did an admirable job filling in for Bulley, that lack of leadership from the bench clearly affected the team who looked slow to react to the GIANTS gameplan. This is going to be a very good Swifts side again; this was just a matter of netball being hard enough without having no one on the bench and no coach. But we’ve all been there, right?
It was a solid performance for the GIANTS, particularly in defence, where the combination of Tilly McDonell and Lauren Moore continued to impress. It’s great to see these talented young Australian defenders going at it together and having plenty of success. Throw April Brandley into that group and this is going to be one hard nut to crack in 2022.