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TTNL Round 3: Mathematics, reality shows and mental fitness

How about a Netball State of Origin? (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Expert
20th April, 2016
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Another round of the Trans-Tasman Netball League is done and dusted and here we are again, left contemplating the fundamental nature of time and its propensity to pass.

The round opened with the Queensland Firebirds (for those playing at home, still yet to be struck down by the premiership curse) taking on the Melbourne Vixens (suffering through the perpetual curse of being Victorian).

Although the game started out far closer than anyone imagined it would, one got the feeling that the Firebirds were simply toying with their prey, allowing the Vixens to think they’d escaped unharmed before swiping out with a claw and striking them down.

And that indeed proved to be the case as Gretel Tippett’s full range of powers were unleashed late in the game to lead the Queenslanders to a comfortable 11-goal win.

Unfortunately for column favourite Beryl Friday, goal shooter Romelda Aiken did not seem to enjoy the ‘Introduction to Sitting on a Bench’ classes that coach Rosalee Jencke signed her up for and declined the opportunity for further practice during this game.

Next up we had the NSW Swifts publicly humiliating the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Just as in the previous game, the Swifts cruelly allowed the Thunderbirds to stay within spitting distance for the first quarter, before realising that being spat on was gross and quickly powered on to an unassailable lead.

Swifts coach and master mathematician Rob Wright consulted his formulae and discovered that it was mathematically possible to throw on all his bench players in the final quarter and still win the game by a ridiculous amount. It remains to be seen whether this newfound generosity from coaches to let their bench players actually play in a real game will engender loyalty to their current team as is the apparent aim of the exercise, or just make them an even more valuable prospect to the three new teams entering the competition next year.

Following on from that emphatic win from the NSW A team, we got to take a look at the NSW B team (aka the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic) in their clash with the Southern Steel. After a tight first half with the teams running goal for goal, the Steel broke away in the second half to record atengoal win, even replacing star goal shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid with renowned goal watcher Brooke Leaver for the final two minutes of the match.

To round out our Superior Sunday of netball viewing we got the West Coast Fever graciously hosting the Mainland Tactix in their lovely part of the world. This week we even let the Fever play at a time that was convenient for the people of Western Australia to watch. Very generous indeed.

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It was a clinical victory for the Fever, who went about their business as if the Tactix players weren’t even there, like one of those training drills when the coach tells you to pretend there are defenders on you, but no one does because that just makes everything much harder.

In the final quarter, Fever coach Stacey Rosman followed in Rob Wright’s footsteps and unleashed her entire bench on the game. With the Swifts and Fever set to play each other next week, look out for the coaches trying to take this tactic a step further to out do each other. Rumour has it Rosman will be selecting the kid who gives the players high fives as they go out on court as her starting goal shooter and captain, while Wright will be conducting a reality show during the week called “Are You Louder than Sharni Layton?” with the winners to coach the team for him on Sunday.

Finally we ended the round with the Central Pulse up against the Northern Mystics. Leading up to the game, Mystics coach Debbie Fuller had admitted fitness was an issue for her team, who are yet to win a game in 2016. To which everyone went “No, really? We never would have guessed!” in a really sarcastic tone of voice.

The game swung as wildly as one of the Mystics’ after parties (I mean, we know they’re not spending their time on fitness, so they must be doing something to fill the hours) with neither team able to get a solid lead.

Umpire Jono Bredin issued one of his famous cautions, when defender Anna Harrison committed the heinous crime of standing a bit further away from the spot he indicated she should stand on than was ideal. He then upgraded the caution to a warning (and you just know he almost died of excitement when he saw that the new rules included a cool hand signal for a warning) when she didn’t heed his caution to the level that he would have liked. Never change Jono.

Eventually of course, the game ended in an exciting draw, a favourite result of all players, coaching staff and fans across the league. After the game, Mystics goal shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti claimed it wasn’t physical fitness plaguing the team, but rather mental fitness. So while the other teams are all running their yoyos and doing their high intensity court work sessions during the week, the Mystics will be heading off to a Mathletes meet and conjugating verbs really fast. Watch out Tactix – next week you’re going to be coming up against the most mentally fit bunch of netballers out there.

And so that rounds up another week of silliness across these two great lands (most of it in New Zealand of course) and we must say goodbye until next week, when we find out if it’s physically possible for the Swifts to lose, or for the Mystics to win. And when we will mourn the very concept of the bye round for stealing two hours of possible netball viewing from our lives.

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