Super Netball 2021 - where it stands at Round 8
We are now well into the 2021 Super Netball Season and despite a three-game disad vantage as punishment for salary cap breaches, the West Coast Fever has established themselves as easily the best team in the competition.
Winning seven out of seven games played, the Fever is led by dominant goal-shooter Jhaniele Fowler (pictured above, left). Fowler has already scored a staggering 400 goals, that’s an average of 57 goals per game.
That’s more than some teams manage to put on the board as a whole.
Just to put Fowler's dominance into further context, Super Netball's next best goal-scorer is Sam Wallace of the NSW Swifts, who has amassed 337 goals.
The Fever currently sits fourth, and could go top if they beat bottom side the Melbourne Vixens in a grand-final rematch from last year.
The Vixens have endured a season to forget after winning last year’s premiership, clearly not only suffering from a premiership hangover, but also from lack of quality personnel.
A side also suffering from a quality deficit - particularly in the attacking areas of the court - is the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Sitting 7th, with two wins and six losses, the Thunderbirds have struggled to consistently score a competitive total, as exemplified by their most recent loss, albeit to ladder leaders the Giants.
The girls from Adelaide only managed 41 goals, as the Giants ended their three-match losing streak.
Adelaide’s final score was the lowest of any team this year.
Despite being led by Wudinna’s own Hannah Petty, the Thunderbirds mid-court struggled, as the team made 31 general play turnovers.
Giants coach, Julie Fitzgerald, said:
“There was a lot of pressure built up and down the court which forced them into errors and gave us ball back.
“The last couple of weeks have been difficult and we were certainly dreadfully disappointed with last week (losing to the Lightning) because we felt that was a game we could have won and it would have put us in such a good position.”
The Giants have recorded five wins and three losses thus far.
The brilliance of offensive player and captain, Jo Harten, has been on full display, with her sparkling footwork, vision and eye for goal making her a very damaging player.
She scored 28 points against the Thunderbirds.
The Giants have scored the second most points, recording 492 goals from their eight matches. Only the Queensland Firebirds have more.
Like their cross-state counterparts, the Swifts have also had a good 2021 campaign.
Sitting in third, with five wins and three wins, the NSW side has been strong on both ends of the court and should play finals.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning have done it a different way, opting for a more defensive and gritty style of play.
It has proved effective, as they could also move into the top two alongside the Fever should they beat the Collingwood Magpies this week.
The Magpies sit fifth, and surprisingly pushing for a finals place, despite a poor start to the year as they lost their first two games, since then winning three of their next five.
Having quickly developed into one of the best midcourt players in world netball, Kelsey Browne is leading the way for goal-assists, amassing 145 in 2021.
Her Queensland Firebirds counterpart and former Magpie Kim Ravaillion is also having a decent year, having recorded 137 goal-provides. Despite her best efforts, the Firebirds have had an inconsistent year, sitting in sixth as a result.
The Firebirds have the worst defence but best attack in the competition, conceding 522 goals and scoring 505.
It seems they are compensating in attack for their poor defensive efforts.
There will undoubtedly be more changes in the standings before seasons end, but the Fever can easily be assumed as premiership favourites, especially if Fowler continues her dominance.