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TTNL Round 4: UnTrans Tasman, ghosts and Oscar buzz

The Queensland Firebirds' Gretel TIppett has become mired in controversy. (Supplied)
Expert
26th April, 2016
2

Well, what a week of trans-Tasman netball we had! Such an exciting week in fact, that there were actually no trans-Tasman matches played on the Anzac Day weekend and two teams had a bye for no conceivable reason.

Our old friend Andy Crook might have left us for basketball, but his bewildering scheduling and nonsensical draws have lived on.

First up this week, we had the Queensland Firebirds looking to take down the ghost of the Adelaide Thunderbirds Past by beating their record for most consecutive wins in the competition.

Coincidentally enough, to do this, they also had to play the very real and alive Adelaide Thunderbirds Present, and both tasks were equally extremely achievable. If we really wanted to make things interesting, we should also have required them to play the Adelaide Thunderbirds Future, which – if nothing else – would have been really cute.

So being set this relatively simple task of beating a team that hasn’t won any games yet this year, and is mostly made up of injured players and people who hadn’t even heard of netball until last week, the Firebirds took it upon themselves to make things more challenging.

Instead of just trying to win a game of netball, the Firebirds’ defensive pairing of Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman also decided to put in a bid for an Oscar, which they’re sure to win, just as soon as that ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Netball Game’ category has been included.

At the other end of the court, shooters Romelda Aiken and Gretel Tippett chose to up the stakes by adding their best UFC moves – something that looked like so much fun that the Thunderbirds’ Jade Clarke decided to get in on the action as well.

In the end, the Firebirds won 58-46 and will have to either put out a better performance or add some more mixed martial arts in order to beat the Swifts next week.

Over in Perth, it was breakfast time and no one wanted to be playing netball, but heaven forbid we don’t get to watch the matches at perfectly ideal times for us over here on the east coast, so a game at 10am it was. Accustomed to these bizarre timeslots, the West Coast Fever started strongly and gave the previously unstoppable Swifts a bit of a scare.

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Trailing by one at halftime, the Swifts began to question the very meaning of existence – what on Earth was this ‘not winning’ business? Can it truly exist in tandem with their previous might?

Fortunately, the world was set right in the second half, with the Swifts clinically destroying the team from the west and the Fever obligingly unravelling. Just a look from formidable defender Sharni Layton was enough to terrify the Fever midcourt into handing the ball straight to her and all of a sudden, the game was lost, the Swifts running away with an 11-goal win.

Next we crossed the Tasman and again a close first half made it seem like an exciting contest was on the cards. Could we see another exciting draw – the favourite result of every true netball fan? Alas, it wasn’t to be as the Steel powered home in the second half to retain their unbeaten record so far this year – though as they have only had to play against other Division 2 teams so far, it’s probably not worth getting too worked up over just yet.

In all the excitement, the Steel’s best goal watcher, Brooke Leaver, accidentally shot a goal and there’s a chance she may be given the title of goal shooter at some point this season if she keeps this up.

Finally we had the might of the Mystics, widely regarded as the best New Zealand team before the season started, up against the murmur of the Mainland Tactix – given almost no chance to win a game this year.

However, as in all their games this year, the Mystics went wildly back and forth between ‘greatest team in the world’ and a Sydney Roosters-level of incompetence. The Tactix simply pattered along beside them, knowing if they could hold on for 56 minutes, the Mystics would implode in the final four minutes, as the prophecy (and the previous three rounds) predicted.

And not long into those final four minutes, the Tactix’s Jess Moulds was able to take an intercept, which her team faithfully converted and it was just a matter of remembering to play netball for the last few minutes and the win was sealed. Clearly not enough Mathletics for the Mystics during the week – hopefully they can sort out their mental fitness enough to hold off the band of Raggy Dolls the Thunderbirds manage to assemble for next week’s game.

So on to next week we go – where fortunately the peculiar scheduling means that we don’t have another bye round to sit through and we are allowed our full ten hours of netball viewing. Huzzah!

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