After losing the last two Grand Finals, the Queensland Firebirds made it third time lucky this week, lifting the 2015 ANZ Championship – but only after taking their passionate supporters on a heart-stopping ride throughout the season-ending game. Pre-game favourites, the Firebirds found themselves trailing a fired up and committed NSW Swifts side for 59 minutes of the game, before Firebirds’ GA Gretel Tippett nailed only her second goal of the quarter to take her side into the lead for the first time in the match. The Swifts moved the ball back to the centre for one last assault on the circle, but Queensland’s inspirational captain Laura Geitz had other ideas, intercepting the ball on the circle to deny the Swifts a last opportunity to push the game into overtime. Jamaican international Romelda Aiken led the way for the Firebirds with 47 goals from 51 attempts, a record for a finalist in the Grand Final.
There was more heartbreak for the Swifts Susan Pettit when, despite a stellar season capped by a magnificent Grand Final performance during which she netted 26 goals from 28 attempts, she was overlooked for the Australian teamThere was more heartbreak for the Swifts Susan Pettit when, despite a stellar season capped by a magnificent Grand Final performance during which she netted 26 goals from 28 attempts, she was overlooked for the Australian team to contest this summer’s Netball World Cup. Erin Bell of the Adelaide Thunderbirds was named as the squad’s second GA in place of incumbent Tegan Philip, while another Swifts player, Paige Hadley, is the only debutante in the 12 player line up despite missing out on the initial 18 player Australian long squad. According to Lisa Alexander, the Australian coach, her performances during the ANZ season have warranted her inclusion in the final selection. The full Australia squad which will attempt to retain the world trophy in Sydney is: Caitlin Bassett, Erin Bell, Rebecca Bulley, Julie Corletto, Laura Geitz, Kimberlee Green, Paige Hadley, Renae Hallinan, Sharni Layton, Natalie Medhurst, Kim Ravaillion, CaitlinThwaites.
Jamaica’s selectors surprised many with their selections for the World Cup, omitting experienced defender Malysha Kelly and promising shooter Thristina Harwood from the Sunshine Girls squad. Kelly, a former captain, has been plagued by a persistent knee injury this season, which has prevented her reaching full fitness, while Harwood’s university studies have hampered her attendance at national camps. However, the Jamaican front line will include schoolgirl and recent Berger Elite League MVP Kadie-Ann Dehaney as well as ANZ giants Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken. Nicole Aiken Pinnock will captain the squad, which also includes Paula Thompson (vice captain), Shanice Beckford, Nicole Dixon, StacianFacey, Anna Kay Griffiths, Sasher-Gaye Henry, Khadijah Williams and Vangelee Williams. The final selection was made following a friendly series against Barbados, which the Sunshine Girls took 3-0.
There are no real surprises in the names announced by South Africa’s selectors to comprise the country’s squad for the World Cup, but the person named to coach the side took many by surprise. Former World Championship winning coach with Australia, Norma Plummer will lead the Proteas at the Sydney tournament as the newly appointed head coach, with Bennie Saayman as assistant coach and Plummer’s assistant in Singapore Nicole Cusack as the second assistant coach, with specialist responsibility for shooting. The full South Africa squad for Sydney is: Erin Burger, MarykaHoltzhausen (capt), Rochelle Lawson, Lindie Lombard, IzetteLubbe, PhumzaMaweni, Karla Mostert, BongiweMsomi (vice captain), Precious Mthembu, Melissa Myburgh, Adele Niemand, LenizePotgieter
In her first appointment in charge of the Proteas, Plummer showed that she is still committed to making selections on form rather than reputation: leaving captainMarykaHoltzhausen on the bench in favour of debutante Elsunet du Plessis at GA, the veteran Australian masterminded a come-from-behind 40-35 win over African rivals Malawi which gave South Africa the trophy. Stand in captain KalraMostert moved from GD to WD, bringing GK Adele Neimand out to GD.
The world’s most capped netballer Irene van Dyk will be working with the Scottish Thistles in the run up to this year’s World Cup. Van Dyk, who announced her retirement from international netball prior to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, will be working as a technical adviser to the squad, as well as holding a public “meet and greet” event with Scottish fans. For more information please visit www.netballscotland.com/IVD
Finally, the England Netball team this week raised more than £6,600 for charities Mind and Cancer Research UK by co-ordinating the inaugural inaugural Netball Unites charity event in Manchester. Special guests including Winter Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold, athlete Perrie Shakes-Drayton, World Cup rugby champion Tamara Taylor and England captain Pamela Cookey took part in a Q&A session, before a black tie dinner and auction with top prizes including a signed England cricket shirt and VIP package to a Manchester United game.