2021 SSN: Season review – GIANTS Netball

THE 2021 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season has come to a close with the focus now on the off-season and next year. Draft Central takes a look at each teams respective season with the next team under the microscope minor premiers and runner-up GIANTS Netball.

Ladder: 2nd
Win-loss: 9-5
Percentage: 107.03%

It was a year of so close but yet so far for the GIANTS who came away with second spot due to a disappointing grand final performance. After claiming the minor premiership and taking the hard way to the grand final the GIANTS showcased their star power and depth but fell agonisingly short at the final hurdle. Handed a huge blow at the start of the season with the loss of Kiera Austin, they impressed with their ability to adapt and flourish under pressure with plenty of big time players stepping up to the plate. The GIANTS played an exciting brand of netball, not afraid to take the game by the scruff of the neck and rely on their physical attributes to gain the upper hand in tough and gruelling encounters. 

What worked well?

There were a number of overwhelming factors for the GIANTS that got them both the minor premiership and to the grand final – one being their defensive depth. The GIANTS were not afraid to ring in the changes down back with Matilda McDonell providing a bit of spice and energy to the defensive unit when injected into the game. But the consistency and ever growing combination between April Brandley and Sam Poolman was at the forefront of the GIANTS success with the pair able to rotate strike in defence and go out hunting. Brandley looked reinvigorated throughout the season, contesting hard for every pass and shutting down space with her new found closing speed, while Poolman upped the ante down back. Kristiana Manu’a was another player that offered a point of difference down back often coming on as an impact player to shift the defensive dynamic. The other key positive for the GIANTS was the consistency and solidarity through the midcourt with the likes of Jamie-Lee Price, Amy Parmenter and Maddie Hay all elevating their game to the next level this season. The trio showcased their connectivity and cohesiveness to manoeuvre the ball down the court and utilise their turn of speed to blister away and create attacking forays. Hay in particular had a standout season, often shouldering the load around circle edge to feed the ball into the shooters and control the tempo of the game as Parmenter dazzled with her athleticism around circle edge to regain possession for the GIANTS.

What went wrong?

The reliability on the super shot cost the GIANTS at times with the side often trying to inch their way back into the contest with long bombs, rather than opting to work the ball to post to guarantee an easy goal. The super shot proved to be a double-edged sword because when it worked it was amazing as the GIANTS cut down large deficits within the blink of an eye but the downfall more often than not was the fact inaccuracy crept into the game and ultimately handed possession back to the opposition. While both Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer impressed from range when they were on song, if they were off or under mountain loads of pressure it was hard to fire on all cylinders.

Most valuable player:

Captain and English international Harten was undoubtedly the most influential player out of court for the GIANTS. She was a real barometer inside the attacking third, often shaking up her game play depending on her opposition credit to her wisdom and experience. Harten impressed with her seamless transition between goal shooter and goal attack with her movement front and centre along with her strength. Harten continued to star with her balance and fancy footwork enabling her to secure prime real estate along the goal line. She was a reliable figure in attack and while her accuracy dipped at times, she still managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over thanks to her work rate and competitive nature. 

Most improved player:

This was arguably the toughest decision to make with two prominent up and coming players at the GIANTS disposal. But in her first season it is hard to go past Dwyer who adapted to the SSN level like a duck to water. Her impressive timing, composure and smarts to play the ball around was second to none. Throw that in with her combination between Harten and the pair formed a formidable duo. At just 19 years old Dwyer grew with confidence each and every time she stepped out on court with her attacking nous enabling her to have an impact both in the scoreboard and out the front. Dwyer showcased her willingness to go from long range, or use her footwork to sneak closer to the post making her an incredibly dynamic threat. 

Photo credit: AAP

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