Super Netball Super Shot: Are the Swifts in trouble?

Natalie Avellino, assistant coach of the Swifts talks to her players Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Round eight of Super Netball has drawn to a close with two upsets headlining another great round of netball.

The Vixens and Fever got the job done to continue to cement themselves in the top two as they look to secure the all-important double chance. Losses to the Lightning and Swifts and a win to the Mavericks mean that the race for the top four is getting closer with six rounds remaining in the regular seaosn.

ESPN takes a look at the four biggest talking points from Round eight.


West Coast Fever goaler Olivia Wilkinson was instrumental in the Fever's three-point win over the Sunshine Coast Lighting. Wilkinson was injected into the game at the eight-minute mark of the third quarter and almost instantly turned the game on its head. Her entrance gave the Lightning defence something else to think about while adding extra height into the goal circle.

The confidence to turn and shoot, no matter the situation was a huge positive. This also took the pressure off Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard because Wilkinson proved to be just as dangerous in the goal circle.

Fever coach Dan Ryan was pleased with the way Wilkinson made an impact on the game.

"I think we probably had to change the dynamic slightly and also what we looked like," Ryan said.

"I think we were playing a little bit small and low, and we probably had to get a bit more presence about our game. Obviously Olivia brought that in immediately, with her ability to take a great phase one or phase two drive, and straight away get into the action of taking shots to post and freeing up J [Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard] a little bit, which is really important.

"Olivia's on a journey here in her first year as a rookie player, but she's getting better all the time. To be able to enter a game in a pressure cooker moment is huge for her and she's been demonstrating great growth at training.

"I've always been very mindful that we need to keep getting her out there and putting her in these situations and seeing where her game is at. She learned some lessons very quickly today when she first got out there, and I think she'll take a lot of confidence out of today's game because she was a bit of a game changer for us."

Wilkinson finished the match with six goals including two Super Shots, shooting at 100 percent accuracy.


Like it or not, the Super Shot is here to stay (or for this season at the very least). So teams have to have a plan for it and use it to their advantage to win games. Unfortunately for the Lighting that wasn't the case on Saturday night.

The Lightning have two prolific two-point goalers in Steph Fretwell and Reilley Batcheldor but in the game against the Fever, Batcheldor never took to the court, Fretwell only shot three Supershots for the game with 50 per cent accuracy and Koenen had just one attempt which missed.

When the game was up for grabs in that final five minutes, the Fever defence double defended Fretwell forcing Koenan to go for the ones, then with no defensive turnovers down the other end, the Fever were able to come away with the win.

Questioned why she didn't bring Batcheldor into the action in the crucial final five minutes, Lightning coach Belinda Reynolds said she wanted to rely on her experienced players to get the job done.

"We've been a little bit off our Super Shot," Reynolds said.

"I think at the end of the game, we chose to stick with our experience out there in such a tough type of contest. To bring Roo on would be a big ask in the last couple of minutes. I think it goes back to the third quarter; we bumped out a little bit of a lead then. I think that's the time where if we could've pushed on in that particular period, we could have probably entered Roo there and had a bit more freedom and licence to go there.

"So we'll look at those moments in the third quarter as well."

Currently, three teams have three wins to their name and with the season as close as it is you'd hope this game won't come back to haunt the Lightning in the long run.


Round eight saw two big upsets which will have massive ramifications on the ladder as the race to finals heats up. The Firebirds were able to bounce back after a disappointing fortnight to defeat the reigning premiers by 10 goals.

When the two teams faced each other in Round one, Shamera Sterling-Humphrey dominated as she picked off the the high ball feeds the Firebirds were sending into Donnell Wallam. This time, the feeds into Wallam were better and the star goaler was on song from the outset. Wallam finished the match with 35 goals which included a Super Shot.

The defence was on from the first whistle with Remi Kamo getting an intercept within the first minute of the game. The Firebirds defence forced plenty of changes through the Adelaide front line with the Thunderbirds unable to find the right mix without star Georgie Horjus.

Kamo finished the game with two intercepts, seven gains and four deflections. While her partner in crime Ruby Bakewell-Doran had her best game for the season, able to cause havoc in defence. Bakewell-Doran finished with two intercepts, five gains and seven deflections.

It's a huge confidence boost for the Firebirds who were able to get the win without captain Kim Ravaillon and rookie Isabelle Shearer due to injury.

"You've got to keep doing the work, that's my biggest message," Bulley said after the match.

"We can't just expect where we've had a win, we take our foot off, we relax. I think we've looked at a lot of things that we could change and improve on. We've got to keep looking to improve because you don't just want to go 'that was one good win' and next week we undo all that good work.

"So we certainly want to keep building."

Meanwhile in Melbourne, the Mavericks got their first win at John Cain Arena and their third for the season over the NSW Swifts.

Captain Amy Parmenter had one of her best games for the season. She was able to disrupt the Swifts midcourt by coming up with plenty of ball, finishing the match with five intercepts, one deflection and six gains.

Eleanor Cardwell was sidelined with an injury but in her absence, Gabby Sinclair and Shimona Jok were able to step up and keep the momentum going for the Mavericks. Jok finished the game with 41 goals while Sinclair had 14 goals including four Super Shots.

Kim Jenner had one of her best games for the Mavericks finishing with 10 deflections, two intercepts and eight gains. Jenner was able to stay in play a lot more than in games gone by with the 26-year-old not racking up the penalties, which paid off on Sunday evening,


Going into the season many had the Swifts as their premiership favourites. The squad went through minimal changes with Sam Wallace-Joseph returning from an ACL in place of Romelda Aiken-George, and Lili Gorman-Brown who played seven games in 2023 came in for Tayla Fraser.

Post Round eight, the club is currently sitting outside the top four with just three wins. So what's gone wrong for last season's grand finalists?

Firstly, Maddy Proud is a huge out for the Swifts with the Swifts co-captain having been injured since Round six against the Vixens. Proud adds more grit and determination to the Swifts midcourt, not to mention her combination with Paige Hadley has been instrumental over the last few seasons.

The re-introduction of Wallace-Joseph hasn't been as seamless as the Swifts would have liked either. Wallace hasn't been able to get back into a rhythm out on court which saw her omitted from the match day squad of 10, in place of Grace Whyte this weekend.

The consistency from the Swifts across the game over the last few weeks hasn't been there either. In Sunday's match against the Mavericks they were up for the fight in the first half, but a 23-12 third quarter in favour of the Mavericks gave the home side all the momentum they needed to bring home a win.

In defence, the penalties are starting to rack up, which means either the Swifts' defence can't contest for the ball or give the shooters an extra shot at goal if they've missed. The Swifts finished the match with 66 penalties, Sarah Klau finished with 17 penalties while Maddy Turner had 14.

Swifts coach Briony Akle was critical of the sides' increased penalty count.

"It's picking and choosing your moments of when to be able to really contest," Akle said.

"That's something that we will continue to look at and tidy up. Whether it's a 50/50 ball, if it's a chance of getting two hands you got to go for it. If it's a good hard look at the intercept then I don't mind but it's probably the more silly ones around the circle edge or in the midcourt that break momentum that's disappointing."

As we know the competition is so tight that to lose a very winnable game like this one may come back to haunt the Swifts.