2023 SSN | Round 14 preview: One last shot at dream

AFTER a rollercoaster of a season, the final round of the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball season has arrived. Even though the minor premiership and the top four itself has been decided, the order is still well and truly up for grabs.

The weekend’s action begins with a clash in Sydney between two of that top four, the NSW Swifts and Adelaide Thunderbirds.

The clash could just about decide the order of the top four. The Swifts will finish top regardless, but Adelaide is still fighting for the double chance. The Thunderbirds may truly come to rue their recent late season form slump because even if they win, the Fever can still jump them later in the day. If they lose they could even slip to forth if the Vixens win the following day.

The Thunderbirds will be wanting to ensure Shamera Sterling’s influence does not get taken out of the game to the scale it was last week, but she and Matilda Garrett will certainly have their hands full attempting to quell the influence of a red hot Helen Housby and Romelda Aiken-George. Garrett and Latanya Wilson will perhaps need to lift their performances to counter any target put on Sterling’s back again.

The second match of the day on Saturday is sure to be hotly contested and emotionally charged.

On the one hand there is the Collingwood Magpies playing their final ever match, and even though it is not in Melbourne there is still going to be plenty of emotion involved.

On the flipside, their opponent West Coast Fever are still fighting for the double chance, and by the time Verity Simmons or Ash Brazill throw that first centre pass, the Fever will know exactly what they have to do to get that double chance because the game before will have finished.

Geva Mentor and Jodi-Ann Ward have really stood up in the past few weeks, but will certainly have their hands full this week tackling one of the strongest shooting combinations in the league in Jhaniele Fowler and Sasha Glasgow.

The action on Sunday begins with a good old fashioned Queensland Derby as the Sunshine Coast Lightning host Queensland Firebirds.

Even though neither side can make finals any finals anymore, they will still both want to finish on a high. They can both also finish fifth, which particularly for the Firebirds and the depths they have been in at times this season would be a huge achievement.

One of the Firebirds’ biggest strengths this season has been the combination of Ruby Bakewell-Doran and Remi Kamo, but they will have quite the challenge this week, trying to contain the might that is the Diamonds’ combination of Cara Koenen and Steph Wood.

The round – and the regular season – ends with another match in Sydney, this time GIANTS Netball hosting Melbourne Vixens.

The GIANTS will want to send off April Brandley will a win, while the Vixens will be attempting to find some momentum and confidence ahead of finals. Last time these sides met it was a narrow win to the Vixens, but that was back in Round 3 and a lot has happened since then.

Brandley will have her hands full in trying to contain the influence of Kiera Austin, but there will be plenty of other entertaining battles across the court, mainly in the midcourt as the likes of Kate Moloney, Liz Watson, Amy Parmenter and Jamie-Lee Price all try and put an emotionally taxing week behind them and give it their all for their respective teams.

SSN Round 14 Fixture (All times local)

NSW Swifts vs Adelaide Thunderbirds – Saturday at 5pm – Ken Rosewall Arena

Collingwood Magpies vs West Coast Fever – Saturday at 7pm – Silverdome

Sunshine Coast Lightning vs Queensland Firebirds – Sunday at 2pm – UniSC Arena

GIANTS Netball vs Melbourne Vixens – Sunday at 4pm – Ken Rosewall Arena

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