Draft Central Courtside Comments: Semi finals – 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 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 two semi finals over the weekend, with West Coast Fever talent Sunday Aryang proving once again that she is more than capable of a starting spot, exploding out of the blocks in an excellent five intercept effort. In the major semi final, Melbourne Vixens training partner Allie Smith got her first start after Kate Eddy was sidelined due to foot soreness, and did not seem to skip a beat despite the daunting task. While there was not much for Sunshine Coast Lightning fans to get excited about, NSW Swifts midcourter Tayla Fraser showcased her ability to impact the play in her side’s elimination.
Here’s what we had to say:
By: Sophie Taylor, Draft Central Senior Editor
Young gun Smith may not have found a heap of court time in 2020, but has made the most of it each time she has seen the court and did not look out of place lining up for her first SSN start on the weekend in the Vixens’ semi-final against Sunshine Coast Lightning. A zippy midcourt defender, Smith’s half against veteran speedster Laura Scherian last week seemed to do wonders for her confidence, coming out this week with renewed energy and knowledge of how to limit Scherian’s impact. Smith used her two-way running ability to continuously impact the play, cutting off Scherian’s drives and forcing errors from the wing attack who racked up nine general play turnovers. Smith slotted seamlessly into the long arm brigade of the Vixens defence to block vision and take a flying intercept. With long arms and quick reflexes to snatch the ball out of the air, Smith racked up four pickups and used her excellent vision to bomb a long ball down to Mwai Kumwenda for a second week in a row, collecting a goal assist as she did so. Still a training partner, Smith showcased her ability to have an impact and while she still has plenty to learn, is definitely one to watch in the future. The Melbourne Vixens did not seem to lose much in having Smith on court instead of the more experienced Eddy, proving how seamlessly their young talent can slot into position and impact when required.
By: Taylah Melki, Draft Central Managing Editor
Only registering a mere nine minutes in this match, it was what Fraser did when she was on court that caught the eye. Oozing nothing but speed, the centre injected a wealth of movement in somewhat of a stagnant Swifts end. Her 1-2 punch around the circle edge with Sam Wallace was on song from the minute she stepped on court, delivering the ball on a silver platter to the goal shooter and doing it confidently. Fraser was clean with ball in hand and made it obvious where she wanted the ball, positioning cleverly around circle edge to claim prime feeding position. The Swifts attack end seemed to work smoother when she was on court, able to avoid the physicality of Jess Anstiss for the most part, credit to her speed. In saying that, the duo did engage in a couple of tight tussles, but Fraser was not overawed by the contest instead using her smarts to get on the move and reset. In attack, Fraser was able to dictate the flow and set up passes to Maddy Proud in the pocket or Wallace under the post and was deserving of extra court time given the profound impact she had while on court amassing four goal assists from seven feeds highlighting just how accurate she was with ball in hand. Defensively, Fraser also put in the hard yards, with her three-foot marking and speed off the mark to track the ball and contest the pass, forcing a couple of deflections such was her intensity while on court.
By: Lucy Pollock, Draft Central UK Writer
Aryang has consistently impressed for the Fever defensive line in 2020. The rookie training partner took the court in the elimination semi-final and out-performed players with heaps more experience, by quietly going about her business and getting the job done. She has such fantastic timing, elevation and most importantly anticipation – and her entry into the game completely turned the tide for the West Coast side. She was able to almost completely shut down Helen Housby, completely rattle the Swifts attack end and also provide her attackers with more and more opportunities to take the game into their own hands. The most exciting thing about this youngster is her raw talent and natural ability to win ball. After just one season in the SSN she has already made a name for herself, and it will be so interesting to see how she develops and the impact she can have on Australian netball in the coming years.
By: Kate Cornish, Draft Central volunteer writer
The NSW Swifts looked like they were on track to secure their ticket into the preliminary final against the Sunshine Coast Lightning, until West Coast Fever coach, Stacey Marinkovich made the genius move of introducing her young gun, Aryang into goal defence at the end of the second quarter. It was a massive show of faith and confidence in Aryang, who has more than proved her worth over the season. The Fever were searching for answers against the Swifts who were arguably playing their best game of the season, but the injection of Aryang proved to be the gamechanger for the team from the west. Her timing and ability to read the game only gets better as she spends more time on court and in this game with her impact hitting full flight by the end of the third quarter, and as Fever had managed to claw back an eight-point deficit, she showed the fearless nature the younger constituents of the season have become renowned for. The stats that Aryang was able to produce in just 30 minutes on court were spectacular. Four gains, four intercepts and four deflections saw her worthy of the MVP performance. Fans will be hoping to see this rising star with a full-time contract in 2021, and until then, she has helped book her team at least one more game in season 2020.