Underdogs look to cause GIANT upset

JUST one game remains until the grand final of the 2022 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season, with the winner of Melbourne Vixens and GIANTS Netball set to clash tomorrow night at John Cain Arena. The GIANTS have not been able to get on top of the Vixens in the two clashes the sides have had this season, but a crucial loss of shooter Kiera Austin means the minor premiers will be understrength.

Saturday, June 25 @ 7pm
John Cain Arena

After winning the minor premiership and with the discussion of Perth earning the SSN Grand Final regardless of the major semi-final result, the Vixens did not quite look themselves last week, going down by nine goals. Even that margin humbled them with the game effectively out of reach over the first three quarters with 74 penalties to 47 telling a story. The Fever also had more rebounds (8-3), intercepts (11-8) and gains (13-7), which was a credit to the visitors tenacity. Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler piled on 67 goals from 69 attempts, but the Vixens defence know it will be a shared effort for the GIANTS this weekend.

The Vixens will be without Austin due to COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, having shot 15 goals from 19 attempts in the semi-finals. Mwai Kumwenda fired off 20 goals at 100 per cent accuracy, while rising star Rahni Samason was almost there with eight foals from nine attempts from single-goal range and 10 of 14 from the Super Shot. Leader Liz Watson tried hard with 21 goal assists from 33 feeds, one gain, one intercept and one deflection, while Jo Weston had two gains, two intercepts and two deflections.

In the minor semi-final, the GIANTS had a see-sawing contest with the Magpies before getting on top in the second half to win by seven goals, 55-48. The talking point out of the game was the GIANTS’ ability to nail the Super Shot, scoring six goals from nine attempt compared to the Magpies’ one from three. They had five more penalties and one more turnover, but also three more deflections and one more rebound. Jo Harten shot four goals from six attempts from Super Shot range, while making 36 from 38 closer in. Sophie Dwyer (two of three and seven of 11 respectively) chipped in, whilst wing attack Maddie Hay was best on court with 18 goal assists from 45 feeds, as well as four gains, one intercept and three deflections.

The defensive third which featured Amy Parmenter, April Brandley and Matilda McDonell will be a worry for the Vixens, with the trio collecting 13 deflections, on top of centre Jamie-Lee Price‘s two. Having missed out on the Commonwealth Games squad, Price will be keen to one-up Diamonds centre Kate Moloney, while Emily Mannix and Weston will need to limit the influence of Roses star Harten in the shooting circle. The key to the game will come through the midcourt battle, with both sides capable of shooting consistently all over the circle.

Given the season history, the Vixens should be favourites, but the GIANTS looked good when they were up last week, though it is hard to imagine Melbourne looking as shaken as they did against the Fever for a second consecutive week.

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