All-Stars charity justifies itself as a regular event

Super Netball's Bushfire relief charity match was loud, was fast-paced and did everything to justify why a Diamonds-Super Netball All-Stars match should be a yearly pre-season exhibition event. 

More than 11,000 fans packed into Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon to not only raise funds for an important cause, but to also witness high-intensity, entertaining netball. And the crowd was treated to just that, with the Diamonds and several of the world's best putting on a show. It also proved the perfect way to farewell departing coach Lisa Alexander and retiring shooter Caitlin Thwaites.

Essentially a World XII side, the Super Netball All-Stars team featured players from Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa and Jamaica, and while they couldn't quite match it with the Diamonds - who ran out convincing 66-53 winners - they were physical, fast and most definitely entertaining. And we witnessed the usual from the Diamonds - precision passes, strong attacking drives and fearsome defence.

 Thwaites received the biggest cheer of the day when she came onto the court from the bench minutes into the first quarter and then again when she scored the first 'super shot', while the ever competitive Alexander was farewelled with an impeccable performance from her side.   

While there'll be plenty of bumps and bruises, with the game played with intent, there were plenty of laughs and even more cheers from the crowd with the players showing off their skills and tricks across the court. If the players were trying to sell the event as an annual showcase, they certainly did their job. 

"I would love it to be a yearly event," Thwaites said post-match. "The very first game I played in a Diamonds dress was in a game just like this about 10 years ago - that didn't count for a Test cap either, it was about three more years until I actually got my official debut, so for me it's a bit full circle that this is officially my last game too. 

"I love these [events], and I'd love to see not necessarily the Diamonds versus the All-Stars but actually having two All-Stars teams and integrate. We've got all these incredible players over here and it would be great to be able to integrate and play to different people's strengths. It's a great initiative and maybe we pick a different charity every year and do something like that." 

The introduction of the rolling substitutions, a new rule to be implemented in the upcoming Super Netball season, kept the game moving with just three time outs called throughout the match, while the players remained relatively fresh.

The exhibition match also featured the much slated two point 'Super Shot' implemented perfectly. With the extra points only on offer for the final five minutes of each quarter -- and a cash donation on offer for every made shot -- it saw shooters take every opportunity they had from the circle edge. While more missed than went in, it had the crowd cheering. While netball traditionalist are yet to be convinced on the shot, All-Stars and Swifts coach Briony Akle needed no further convincing.   

"I kind of like it," Akle told ESPN. "I think it brings the crowd back into the game - especially if there's a team that's up by a bit and if you can get a few in a row. But I'm willing to give it a go - I'm not so much a traditionalist like some other coaches, so I'm willing to see how it goes if they introduce it."

With smiles across the court and through the stadium, the charity match was a clear success and would satisfy the cravings of netball fans if it was to become a regular event.