Collingwood Magpies fans have a new hero and her name is Nyah Allen, who after getting the late call-up to replace two attackers down with Covid, starred in Wednesday’s win.
Collingwood fans have a new hero and her name is Nyah Allen.
The side would have been demoralised heading into Wednesday night’s match, with no wins to their name and key goal attacks Sophie Garbin and Gabi Sinclair both out for Round 4 and 5 with Covid.
But they needn’t have worried as late replacement Nyah Allen was up for the challenge, helping the side to a 10 goal win against Sunshine Coast Lightning, 74-64.
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The loss will be a major concern for the Lightning who are not used to losing this many games at the beginning of a season.
Speaking after the match, Magpies head coach Nicole Richardson praised her side.
“When our backs were against the wall and we were facing adversity with 0-3 and then losing Sophie yesterday and Gabi today… it was a gutsy win,” she said.
Allen has been in the Magpies’ environment for a few seasons, albeit with minimal court time, so she relished the opportunity handed to her. Seemingly unphased by the weight on her shoulders, Allen calmly went about her business, and ended the game with 14/19 at 74% accuracy.
Richardson praised Allen’s courage: “She filled a massive hole. I rang her this morning to tell her she would get a starting role and to tell her to make the most of every opportunity. She definitely did that.
“For a young player in her first start, she stayed composed. I was a little concerned about whether she would be able to run out a full game at goal attack and she did. Super impressive. She had a good connection with Shimona. And, to have the courage to go to post on the 2 point shot in that first quarter. Just courageous.”
Uncharacteristic ball handling errors plagued Lightning throughout the match with every attacking team member notching a turnover. Magpies seized these opportunities scoring 79% of the gains they snatched.
The interplay between Allen and Magpies’ wing attack and MVP Kelsey Browne was often left undefended as they worked the ball into the safety of Shimona Nelson’s hands. Lightning did not have an answer for Nelson’s aerial style of game which allowed her to claim the place under the post more often than not.
At the 3/4 break, Lightning captain, Steph Wood spoke to the umpires seeking clarification on a few calls. Fox Netball sideline reporter Kiera Trompf noted that Wood was unhappy with some decisions and asked for extra attention to be paid in the goal circle.
During the final super shot period, Lightning introduced rookie Reilley Batcheldor with the specific instruction to go for the 2 point goals. She drained 4/5 to cut the deficit and help her side to win one quarter of the match.
With this loss, the Lightning now slump to an unfamiliar position at the bottom of the ladder with the worst goal percentage in the league of 80.6.
COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 74, SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 64
John Cain Arena, Melbourne
Heading into Round 4 Lightning and Magpies sit in positions 1 and 2 respectively on the negative stats chart. On average Lightning is guilty of 30 turnovers per match, followed by Magpies on 29.7. Each of these squandered opportunities will need to be addressed quickly
if either team hopes to travel further up the ladder.
With the Diamonds squad to be named next week, all eyes have turned to Cara Koenan and Sophie Garbin. Both are more comfortable at goal shooter and both are having less than stellar seasons.
While both are still likely to be named in the full 2022/2023 squad, their positions in the final team headed to Commonwealth Games may be in jeopardy with head coach Stacey Marinkovich using Firebird Gretel Bueta at goal shooter in the January Quad Series.
HOW DO YOU FIX A PROBLEM LIKE THE MAGPIES?
On paper, Collingwood Magpies have all the ingredients of a premiership-winning side. They have ball winning, international talent all over the court and yet are unable to turn that into consecutive wins.
Looking at the stats, they sit third on the ladder for intercepts and second for deflections, so we can assume that the problem is not in winning the ball, but is somewhere further down the court. They’ve averaged 24 turnovers in the matches they’ve lost this year, yet in tonight’s win they only coughed up 12.
SWIFTS HOLD OFF THUNDERBIRDS FOR KEY WIN
NSW Swifts’ title defence is back on track after overcoming Adelaide Thunderbirds 45-44 in a low-scoring, physical clash in Mile End on Wednesday night.
After dropping their opening two games, the Swifts held off a charging opponent to square the ledger following the round 4 triumph.
For the Thunderbirds, it was their second successive frustrating loss after opening with two impressive wins.
The Swifts, forced to experiment with their goal circle after losing gun shooter Sam Wallace to a season-ending injury in the opening round, opted for Sophie Fawns alongside Helen Housby, while the Thunderbirds reverted to the starting seven who took the court
in the opening two rounds.
Both sides adopted relentless defensive pressure from the outset and delivering the ball into goal circle was a testing challenge.
The Swifts, especially, struggled to get the ball into the circle against a tough Thunderbirds’ defence. So desperate was Thunderbirds’ champion goal keeper Shamera Sterling, she risked serious injury pursuing possession when she landed on the courtside television commentators table.
The Thunderbirds were securing plenty of turnover ball, only to waste opportunities with a failure to convert their fine work.
Late in the first quarter, Housby nailed two two-point super shots to give her side a four-goal advantage.
The Thunderbirds altered their defensive structure for the second period, replacing Matilda Garrett with Latanya Wilson and midway through the quarter the Swifts moved Housby to goal shooter and introduced Kelly Singleton at goal attack.
There was no relaxing of the pressure, creating not-so pretty action at times.
Incredibly, the Swifts led by three at half-time after bagging just eight goals for the quarter. Two of those were worth two points, however, courtesy of accurate long-range shooting from Housby.
Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst again revamped her line-up for the third quarter, but it was the visitors who took control with five unanswered goals to build an eight-goal buffer.
In the first three minutes of the second half, the home side had just one unsuccessful attempt. Then the game changed complexion.
The Thunderbirds got their hands to an abundance of turnover ball in defence and the attack end found some cohesion to close the gap to only two.
NSW SWIFTS 45, ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 44
Netball SA Stadium, Adelaide
Originally published as Covid fill-in inspires Pies; champs’ crucial win: Super Netball wrap