In our final International Player Watch of the season we highlight the key players in Australia’s Netball Super League Grand Final, where Thunderbirds beat Swifts 60-59, to win their first Premiership in 10 years.
The first international player to make her mark in this final was Thunderbird and Jamaican Sunshine Girl, Shamera Sterling, who battled with her opponent, soon to be teammate in Cape Town, Romelda Aiken-George, from the very first whistle giving her team their first opportunity to go ahead.
Keeping on the theme of Jamaican Sunshine Girls, Latanya Wilson, then did her bit for Thunderbirds making a turnover that saw her side go on to take a four-goal lead into the first break.
The Thunderbirds Jamaican defensive duo were a force to be reckoned with in the first quarter, and the second was no different as they started how they left off, in front of a 9,622 crowd in Melbourne, extending their lead to seven goals within 8 minutes of the second quarter.
Swifts struggled in this quarter as Thunderbirds dominated throughout, but England Rose Helen Housby tried to make amends for her Swifts team in the Power Five slotting a Super Shot to keep Swifts within touch.
Thunderbirds lead by eight as the penultimate quarter of the Grand Final got underway, but it was clear Swifts were not about to give up as their co-captains and Australian Diamonds Maddy Proud and Paige Hadley lead the way as they re-grouped their team and set a new tempo out on court which allowed Swifts to close the gap slightly.
However, with every movement Swifts made in their attacking end, Sterling seemed to have an answer; showing just why she finished this match with three interceptions and seven gains and the season top of the deflections and intercepts charts.
Thanks to Sterling’s interceptions, and England Rose Eleanor Cardwell’s standout shooting Thunderbirds remained in front going into the fourth quarter, despite Swifts winning the third.
Swifts continued to grow into the game coming out stronger again in the fourth quarter as they piled on the pressure in defence, clawing themselves back even closer.
With Swifts within touching distance again, the final 5 minutes became a battle of the Super Shots between Cardwell and Housby.
The two England Roses were on fire as they continued to keep their respective teams in the game, putting up Super Shots when it mattered most and sending the game into extra time.
Swifts Sophie Fawns levelled the scores again in extra time, but Sterling was not having any of it as she performed under pressure to make another interception which her team of course made count to win the Grand Final 60-59.
Cardwell was awarded Most Valuable Player for her performance in which she scored 31/33 of her shots and 5/6 of her Super Shots.
The Suncorp Super Netball League season will be made of 14 rounds, with the Grand Final scheduled to take place on the 8th July 2023, just in time for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2023 which will begin on the 28th July in Cape Town, South Africa.
To find out more about the Suncorp Super Netball League, click here.
To view the full fixture list, click here.
To find out more about the start date of the other domestic leagues around the world, visit our Domestic League page here.