Draft Central Courtside Comments: Preliminary final – Gamechangers
EACH week the Draft Central team will focus on one Suncorp Super Netball player across the round and take a look at their individual highlights, key moments and improvements across their match. During the finals series, the team will instead focus on individual gamechangers across the matches and how they took the game into their own hands. Each set of notes showcases the opinions of our writers individually.
There were a couple of young guns who stood up in the preliminary final over the weekend, with West Coast Fever’s talented names dominating much of the commentary given the side’s overall dominance against the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Emma Cosh earned player of the match honours for her skilful execution on circle edge, while Alice Teague-Neeld was left to her own devices and Jess Anstiss was pivotal preventing movement through the Lightning attack.
Here’s what we had to say:
By: Sophie Taylor, Draft Central Senior Editor
Another remarkable effort from Cosh in the preliminary final, showcasing every bit of her work ethic and how much she has developed since sitting on the sidelines earlier in the season. While Cosh has rarely had an issue finding the ball this season, she seemed to have the ball on a string in this match, using her quick feet and take-off speed to take her defenders in Maddy McAuliffe and Jacqui Russell off guard while also creating a wealth of ball movement through the centre third. Her combination with Verity Charles and Teague-Neeld has been on song and continues to improve week on week, with the trio highly dangerous moving through attack. Finishing with 27 goal assists from a whopping 43 feeds, Cosh had no issue finding Jhaniele Fowler at the post and was confident feeding a looping ball into the Jamaican at the post. Cosh also showcased some of her defensive attributes with a deflection, gain and pickup, also topping the Fever’s leaderboard for centre pass receives (23). In an overall consistent performance, Cosh faded into the background somewhat but was never far away, constantly working hard and well and truly early her player of the match honours this week.
By: Taylah Melki, Draft Central Managing Editor
The wing defence took a while to get into the game and combat the speed of Laura Scherian but once she found her mojo she could not be stopped. Anstiss wore Scherian down, covering her every drive and forcing her work in overtime to receive any pass. She used her speed and physicality to push Scherian off her line and force her into the pockets allowing the likes of Courtney Bruce and Stacey Francis to go out hunting. Often an unsung hero in the defensive line-up Anstiss came out with a real purpose to apply strong hands over pressure and shut down the drive of Scherian which she did, forcing the Lightning wing attack to the bench midway through the third. Anstiss played a crucial role in taking the speed out of the game while using her own quick footwork and transition to send the ball blistering back down the court for the Fever. Her ability to read the play and use her closing speed to inject herself into the action enabled her to cause havoc in the Lightning frontend while also being a threat for West Coast. Although it was not a stats stuffing performance it was the work off the body that paid dividends, keeping Scherian away from circle edge and creating hesitation on the drive or pass.
By: Kate Cornish, Draft Central volunteer writer
The preliminary final between the Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever was always going to come down to which goal attack showed up for their team in the big moments of the game. Fans have been critical of both Steph Wood from Lightning and Teague-Neeld from Fever during the season, as wins for their teams were largely dependent on their performances; and while the stats show that Wood took a greater volume of shots during the game, that was not the stat that mattered.
Teague-Neeld has been guilty of going missing during games and has on occasion been pulled from court, but against the Lightning she looked calm and confident against Karla Pretorius, arguably one of the best defenders in the world. While she only shot 10 goals during the whole game, three of them were super shots and her work outside the circle kept Pretorius occupied which was what gave the Fever the edge over Lightning. With an incredible work rate that included 31 feeds and 19 centre pass receives, she played her role as the third feeder in the attacking line up with precision and timing, never taking space away from Verity Charles or Cosh, instead complementing the fine work they were doing.
It will take a repeated effort and then some to beat the Melbourne Vixens in the up-coming grand final, the only certainty is that for Fever to stand a chance against the minor premiers, Teague-Neeld must be able to withstand the pressure and show an even greater level of confidence and maturity that she has been inconsistent with this season.