CAITLIN BASSETT: Ex-Aussie netball skipper breaks down Super Netball round one game and who will finish first

Caitlin Bassett
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Adelaide's Shamera Stirling-Humphrey showed why she is the reigning MVP and the Melbourne Vixens
Adelaide's Shamera Stirling-Humphrey showed why she is the reigning MVP and the Melbourne Vixens Credit: Getty Images

A record off-season of player movement and a completely new team has flipped netball in Australia on it’s head making this season the hardest yet to predict.

A bumper opening round set a new league attendance record for the first week and it also gave us a glimpse of the competition’s stars at their new clubs.

So, what did we learn and who is Super Netball’s real deal in 2024?

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Fever make a Giant statement

With five debutants in their round one side, many anticipated a slow start for the completely new Fever group.

But their confidence was high and they gelled from the get-go, notching up a record 19-goal win against the Giants.

Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard came to play, her confidence sharing the circle with Jamaican shooting partner Shanice Beckford evident sinking three super-shots in the first quarter.

Beckford was classy, her combination and speed in attack alongside Alice Teague-Neeld and Kelsey Browne will be sure to cause headaches this season.

With all 10 players taking the court Fever won every quarter showcasing a versatility their side has lacked in previous years. Their win allayed some fears over how long it would take their new list to build.

There were some worrying signs for Giants, who crumbled under the pressure of the Fever’s impressive defence.

Giant Chelsea Pitman competes with Maverick Amy Parmenter for possession.
Giant Chelsea Pitman competes with Maverick Amy Parmenter for possession. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Netball Austral

After losing intercept machine Amy Parmenter to the Mavericks new recruit Jodie-Ann Ward failed to make an impact. Their defensive end in general failed to fire, coming up with only three gains for the entire game.

Despite struggling, coach Julie Fitzgerald left her shooting circle unchanged with Matisse Letherbarrow the only player not to take the court.

Fever are serious title contenders, Giants will fail to make the top four again this season.

Battle of the birds goes down to the wire

Reigning premiers Adelaide Thunderbirds went in heavy favourites but were forced to fight until the last second to snatch a one-goal victory against the Queensland Firebirds.

After losing coach Tracey Neville and star shooter Eleanor Cardwell to the new Mavericks franchise it was unclear how the Thunderbirds would fair.

Young Georgie Horjus is undoubtedly the key in attack, she played the majority of the game in wing attack before slotting back into goal attack to finish. Regardless of what position she plays the Thunderbirds need her on-court.

Thunderbird Shamera Sterling-Humphrey made a match-winning interception to deny the Queensland Firebirds.
Thunderbird Shamera Sterling-Humphrey made a match-winning interception to deny the Queensland Firebirds. Credit: Maya Thompson/Getty Images

Jamaican defender Shamera Stirling-Humphrey continued the impressive form which won her the league MVP last season. Her match-winning intercept proved her ability to create a turnover in pressure situations is a get out of jail free card for her side.

Diamond Donnell Wallam had two opportunities to draw or win the game for the Firebirds but failed to seal the deal. Her combination with Tippah Dawn is promising and if her team can get more ball to her they will be dangerous this season.

Thunderbirds will be in the mix to challenge for back to back premierships while Firebirds will push teams but ultimately fall short of making finals.

Melbourne bragging rights

The Melbourne Mavericks have built lots of hype but season-ending injuries to recruits Sasha Glasgow (broken leg) and Lauren Moore (ACL) have put a dampener on the excitement surrounding the side.

Led by fan favourite Parmenter, the new team was slow to start but eventually found their feet and drew the second half.

The main concern is support for English star shooter Cardwell who was eventually forced to play out in goal attack and shoulder a huge load both in and out of the circle.

Without Liz Watson, Vixens debutant Zara Walters dominated at the elite level, finishing with 40 feeds she fit flawlessly into the all-Australian attacking end of Sophie Garbin, Keira Austin and Kate Moloney.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 14: The Vixens celebrate victory in the round one Super Netball match between Melbourne Mavericks and Melbourne Vixens at John Cain Arena on April 14, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
The Vixens celebrate victory in their round one Super Netball match over the Mavericks. Credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Despite last-minute injuries to Hannah Mundy and Jo Weston the Vixens still got the job done and will take plenty of confidence from the eight-goal win.

Vixens will be a top four team while Mavericks will be building for the future.

Lightning strikes Swiftly

The Sunshine Coast Lightning confirmed their status as premiership favourites but took until the last quarter to put the foot down against the Swifts.

Silver Fern Elle Temu failed to have an impact in her league debut wearing the red dress while shooter Sam Wallace-Joseph was also kept quiet in her long awaited return from an ACL injury.

Lightning superstar recruits Courtney Bruce and Liz Watson were up to their usual tricks in new colours. Bruce finished with four intercepts while the Australian captain topped the Nissan Net Points on 122.5.

Despite winning the pre season Team Girls Cup the Swifts were sloppy and undisciplined coughing up 20 turnovers and racking up 71 penalties.

Lightning will be the team to beat in 2024 while Swifts will fall out of finals contention.

Caitlin Bassett’s predicted ladder

1. Lightning

2. Fever

3. Thunderbirds

4. Vixens

5. Swifts

6. Firebirds

7. Mavericks

8. Giants

Predicted MVP: Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard — the five-time Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year lost out to Jamaican team mate Shamera Stirling-Humphrey last season and will be reaching into her deep bag of tricks to regain the crown.

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