Thu | Nov 30, 2023

Mixed fortunes for Sunshine Girls down under

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2023 | 1:27 AM
Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler has been perfect in the two games she has played for the West Coast Fever in the Suncorp Super Netball League.
Jamaica’s Jhaniele Fowler has been perfect in the two games she has played for the West Coast Fever in the Suncorp Super Netball League.

MELBOURNE, Australia (CMC):

SUNSHINE GIRL Shimona Nelson produced a stellar effort but Collingwood Magpies suffered a final quarter meltdown, to slump to a 62-61 defeat to Melbourne Vixens in a tense affair which ended in controversy on Sunday.

Behind the 24-year-old Nelson’s brilliant 47 goals from 48 attempts, the Magpies had controlled the contest at John Cain Arena throughout the first three quarters, to lead 47-41 ahead of the last stanza.

However, Magpies found themselves outscored 21-14 down the stretch, edged out by a single goal in the end.

But the final moments of the game were mired in controversial officiating, which turned the game in the hosts’ favour.

In error, Vixens were awarded two consecutive centre passes, both of which resulted in goals, before Malawi international Mwai Kumwenda nailed a ‘super shot’ to sink the Magpies.

Following a heated discussion with officials afterwards, a furious Magpies coach Nicole Richardson slammed the officiating as a “fiasco”.

“What happened is an absolute fiasco. You cannot have a result like that. This is an elite level of competition,” she said.

“You’ve got an automated scoreboard that tells you whose centre pass it is. You’ve got a bench that knows exactly whose centre pass it is, but the bench do not have the power to do anything about it?

“That has just cost us the game. That’s why I’m angry.”

She added: “We’ve just been completely robbed … because we would’ve had an opportunity to go two goals up.

“We would have had an opportunity to starve [Vixens of] the ball and take some time off the clock, and they shot after the siren anyway.

“So that is a massive error. They’ve stuffed up, they’ve cost us a game.”

Kumwenda finished with 31 from 35 attempts while goal attack Kiera Austin supported with 21 goals from 23 attempts.

Magpies led 18-15 after the first quarter and sustained their momentum in the second quarter to be up 33-28 at the break.

The contest summed up a fractious weekend in the Australian Super Netball Championship as the game between Adelaide Thunderbirds and New South Wales Swifts on Saturday was abandoned at half-time and declared a 25-25 draw, after a power failure at the break.

Following a delayed start due to safety concerns at the Netball SA Stadium in Adelaide, Sunshine Girls shooter Romelda Aiken-George provided the early momentum for the Swifts with 15 goals from 19 attempts before the premature end to the game arrived.

There was no such drama, however, on Saturday at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney where outstanding Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler kept up her perfect start to the season, as West Coast Fever edged Giants Netball 74-73 in another close affair.

The 33-year-old Fowler netted 59 goals from as many attempts to follow up her superb first-round display when she shot 55 from 55.

For the losers, Jo Harten led with 22 from 23 attempts with support from Sophie Dwyer who finished with 21 from 24.

Fever were narrowly ahead 40-37 at the half and produced a stellar 23-goal third quarter to stretch their lead to 63-52s, before finding themselves outscored 21-11 in the final quarter, to make the contest a close one in the end.

At the Queensland State Netball Centre in Brisbane also on Saturday, Sunshine Girls defender Kadie-Ann Dehaney was part of a Sunshine Coast Lightning side which brushed aside Queensland Firebirds 65-55.