Draft Central Courtside Comments: Round 11 – Mel Bragg
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. Our Round 10 focus is Collingwood Magpies’ Mel Bragg, with the wing defence holding down a regular spot on court credit to her hunt and ability to create turnover ball. Each set of notes showcases the opinions of our writers individually.
Despite this being Bragg’s first full season out on court, she has had to somewhat take on the experienced role through the midcourt since the retirement of Madi Browne and Kelsey Browne’s step back from court time due to injury. What makes Bragg such an intriguing to player to watch is that often she can fade into the background given the calibre of defensive stars behind her, but has been fairly effective this season, using the big names behind her to build confidence and help bolster her individual game. Against the GIANTS on Thursday night Bragg had a more quiet outing in terms of stats with 13 centre pass receives, two deflections (one gain), one goal assist while also tallying four turnovers, however it was her ability to block drives of her opposition that counted in the close affair.
Here’s what we had to say:
By: Sophie Taylor, Draft Central Senior Editor
Bragg had a solid game this week, not quite as stats-heavy as other recent performances but fairly consistent. Had a few good looks at the loose ball but gave away a couple of easy turnovers especially in the first quarter, leaving the court but returned to start the second. Bragg seemed to be tracking Jamie-Lee Price in the GIANTS attack third, using her strength to block the centre and peeling off when required to allow speedy Molly Jovic to pull focus on transition from defence. Gave plenty of physicality back to Price, and scrapped for the ball on a number of occasions, willing to do the dirty work. Bragg put Maddie Hay under all sorts of pressure, forcing her off circle edge in the pocket and managed a handy deflection on circle edge not long toward the end of the first half, with her front positioning on Hay paying off and resulting in a Magpies gain. In the second half, Bragg did a good job on the centre pass to force the ball to go backwards of play, darting out across the transverse line and blocking the drive of the GIANTS attackers. Took on Kiera Austin in the second half who seemed to find space a lot easier than Hay but Bragg upped her game in the final quarter, putting the wing attack under a heap of pressure.
By: Taylah Melki, Draft Central Managing Editor
It was another consistent performance by Bragg who used her drive down court to punch through the GIANTS defence. Playing in wing defence, Bragg worked tirelessly to try and win ball back for her side and despite spending some time on the bench in the opening quarter came back out with a real fire in the belly. She contested hard throughout the game, tussling around circle edge for prime position and used her three-foot marking to block Hay’s vision. Had to shake up her game play in patches given Austin rotated into the wing attack position. Bragg was a constant option at the centre pass, often bursting out of the blocks to release long bombs toward the circle and catch the defenders off-guard. She was not afraid to back herself in the contest and use her quick footwork to dance around her opponent. Although it was not a stats stuffing performance from the wing defence the work she did off the ball was impressive, tracking her opponent’s every move and using her hands over pressure to create wayward passes and mount the pressure on the GIANTS forward half.
By: Lucy Pollock, Draft Central UK Writer
I have enjoyed watching Bragg make her mark on the SSN this season. She is a quiet achiever at wing defence and has been consistently putting out solid performances, despite the Magpies not seeing much success. Initially matching up against Hay, Bragg was doing a good job at tagging the wing attack and contributing to the success of the other Magpies defenders by doing so. When Austin moved into wing attack, Bragg started to fade slightly, due to Austin’s speed and deception in the wing attack position. Bragg is confident to bring the ball through court, although in this game she had a few general play turnovers which spoiled some of her hard work. Overall I think Bragg has demonstrated that she is a tenacious player with good game smarts. Like a lot of wing defences, she might not always get the credit for her efforts but she was a key cog for the Magpies in this game.
By: Kate Cornish, Draft Central volunteer writer
Melissa Bragg is relishing time on court this season and she improves with every game. She has a ‘typical Aussie’ defending style that is body-on-body and her role is to wear her opponent down and contest every ball. As wing defence in round 11 against the GIANTS she needed to stop Hay, who has performed well over the last few rounds in wing attack. Magpies coach Rob Wright took Bragg from the court in the first quarter and had her watch a few minutes from the bench after giving her instructions and when she was reintroduced into the game she came on with new purpose. She was back to contesting every ball and she had good hands over the pass trying to disrupt the feed into the circle. Bragg also does a great deal of work off the centre pass for the Magpies allowing a lovely second phase for the attacking end and in this game. She took 13 centre pass receives and with beautiful vision and a lovely wind up shoulder pass, Bragg also saw her name appear twice on the ‘feed’ list. Four general play turnovers during the game is an aspect that Bragg will want to tidy up to really cement herself as a wing defence that other teams need to be wary of.