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'Roses Down Under' - ANZ Premiership ends as Super Netball semi-finals locked in

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07: Jo Harten of the Giants shoots during the round 14 Super Netball match between West Coast Fever and GWS Giants at Nissan Arena, on August 07, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Round 14 of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) took place last week which helped decide the four semi-finalists who will all do battle to become 2021 champions.

Sunday also saw the conclusion of the ANZ Premiership season with a Grand Final between Northern Mystics and Tactix.

There were plenty of Vitality Roses involved and we took a look at how they got on:

NSW Swifts 58-53 Adelaide Thunderbirds:

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Natalie Haythornthwaite and Helen Housby’s NSW Swifts went into this clash with Adelaide Thunderbirds fighting to keep their hopes of a double chance in the finals alive. Housby shone in a highly-competitive game which ended with just a five-goal difference.

Housby scored 19 of her 21 goal attempts after coming on to help secure a vital three points. The Commonwealth Games winner also showcased her creative side as Swifts their patented patient approach to goal – preferring to take that extra pass to ensure a high percentage feed into the circle – and no player recorded more assists than Housby’s 16.

As a result of the victory, Swifts kept their hopes of finishing in the top two alive and took on  Lightning on Saturday in the hope of securing a double chance in the finals.

NSW Swifts 69-64 Sunshine Coast Lightning:

The first game of Saturday’s double header was played between the NSW Swifts and Sunshine Coast Lightning at the Nissan Arena. After their win over Thunderbirds, Swifts got the job done with another five-point win and secured themselves a spot in the major semi-final.

The Swifts dominated the opening half, scoring their highest half-time score of the season with 40-points. The lead widened out to 15-goals in the second quarter, as the Swifts dominated both ends of the court. This was helped with both of Swifts’ England internationals in the attacking third with Housby and Haythornthwaite proving influential in the victory.

Housby was typically lethal at goal attack – scoring 18 from 20 and assisting another 13 goals despite the efforts of Lightning goal keeper Kate Shimmin – and Haythornthwaite caught the eye with her creativity and relentless running. Pundit Liz Ellis said she had ‘sprinted a marathon’ against Lightning as she provided 18 goal assists.

The two victories meant Swifts would finish the regular season in second place, level on points with GIANTS, to set up a semi-final showdown with the Sydney outfit on Saturday.

West Coast Fever 73-75 GIANTS Netball:

Two Vitality Roses came up against one another on Saturday afternoon as Jo Harten’s GIANTS Netball took on Stacey Francis-Bayman’s West Coast Fever with the battle for the Minor Premiership coming down to the last match of the final round.

Both teams were level on 32 points and possessed a percentage unreachable by the Swifts. The winner would therefore be awarded the 2021 Minor Premiership. And it was the GIANTS who came away with a hard-fought two goal victory to claim their second Minor Premiership in Super Netball history.

It was Fever, though, who raced into a fierce lead. Francis-Bayman’s side netted 25 goals in the first quarter – the most in any quarter all season – with the England international contributing two turnovers and one gain from goal defence.

GIANTS proved too hot to handle especially with Harten and Dwyer in the circle and the pair scored 40 and 27-points respectively. The GIANTS took 12-attempts from Super Shot territory and converted eight of those attempts. Harten scored five of those goals on 83% shooting accuracy.

Francis-Bayman’s Fever will face the Lightning in the minor semi final and will go into this game as heavy favourites. Harten’s GIANTS will battle Housby and Haythornthwaite of Swifts in a NSW derby, with the winner going straight into the 2021 Grand Final.

Northern Mystics 61-59 Good Oil Tactix:

In New Zealand, meanwhile, the the ANZ Premiership concluded with the Grand Final at the Spark Arena in Auckland. It was Northern Mystics taking on Good Oil Tactix on Sunday for a chance to make history and be crowned champions for the first time in either club’s history.

Tactix earned the right to play Mystics after defeating George Fisher’s Southern Steel earlier in the Finals Series. It proved to be a convincing first season in the Premiership for Fisher and she was rewarded with a new deal with the Invercargill-based side after she finished the season with 585 goals, the third most in the division.

 

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It was not to be for Fisher but one Englishwoman would have the chance to go for gold; Commonwealth Games winner and former England captain Ama Agbeze was on the teamsheet for Mystics. Agbeze lifted the trophy at the end of the game with her side triumphing by two goals after a nervy encounter.

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