The uncertainty of Super Netball’s off season came to an end over the weekend as four opening games were held at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.
The condensed season came together during a time of enormous pressure for Super Netball. With limited resources compared to other major sporting codes in Australia, the league overcame the odds placed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic to start a season that had already been revised twice.
As players and coaching staff dealt with a last-minute move to a Queensland hub for its first round, they managed to put on some brilliant performances.
The season opened with a clash between Sunshine Coast Lightening and Queensland Firebirds, with the Lightening coming away with a 66-48 win. Firebird’s Tippah Dwan became the first player this season to capitalise on the new super shot, that rewards the shooter with two points per goal scored in the outer section of the circle in the last five minutes of each quarter. The Sunshine Coast side trailed behind during the first half, but the experience of their players proved too good for the Firebirds in the fourth quarter.
Later on Saturday afternoon, West Coast Fever took on the Adelaide Thunderbirds, earning a 74-62 win. Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler shot an impressive 53 goals herself, barely needing to utilise the super shot. The game between these two teams was a last minute fixture, with the Fever expecting to come up against the Giants in Sydney until last minute changes during the week.
The NSW Swifts had an impressive start to the season, coming from behind to record an exciting 63-61 win over the Giants. The two teams from NSW were forced to relocate to Queensland just days before the start of the season, but it didn’t stop them from putting on a show for fans. The Swifts, the defending premiers of Super Netball, trailed by 5 points at half-time, but played a strong third quarter to bring them into the lead.
Melbourne Vixens closed the first round of Super Netball with a 63-52 victory over the Collingwood Magpies. It was a hard fought, close game with both sides taking the lead at different points. Collingwood’s new line up held their own against the experience of Melbourne’s side, but couldn’t quite keep up in the end.
The fixture for round two has not yet been announced by Super Netball. The league will review its plan for player health and welfare before announcing any further changes.
Ahead of last weekend’s games, Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said flexibility from the league was key to dealing with the shifting reality of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The league has understood from the beginning that this season would need to be flexible to ensure we’re able to carry out a full 60-match competition and we have created a system and fixture to deal with the uncertainty of this health emergency,” he said.
“We thank all of our players, officials and support staff, especially those based in New South Wales today, for being so flexible with the circumstances we’re facing. We understand it isn’t easy to leave home for an extended period at short notice and we will ensure the league is adequately supporting these teams.”
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