The countdown is on Adelaide Thunderbirds family… we are now under two months from the start of the 2018 season. Here’s a rundown of what the team has been focussing on for the past month and what is ahead of us.
As the season draws closer a key focus of our pre-season is match play. On Saturday 24 February more than 700 netball supporters made their way to Priceline Stadium for the Best of SA Elite Netball Exhibition where we took on our state men’s team – the SA Dragons – and Southern Force in a round-robin competition.
This day was exciting on many counts; firstly, the crowd was amazing. It was the first opportunity our members and fans had a chance to watch the new look team in action. The players, myself and our club’s staff could feel your energy and support for us. We can’t wait for Round 1 to come.
The exhibition games were a great chance for the team to play in a pressurised competitive environment against varying styles. In our first match we defeated SA Dragons 20 vs 14, then Southern Force 32 vs 18. In the final round SA Dragons just got on top winning 17 vs 14.
Defence was a real feature of our play as all combinations with Leana de Bruin, Fiona Fowler, Kate Shimmin and Kaitlyn Bryce showing plenty of promise, and our young shooters continuing to grow with every outing.
On the first weekend in March we travelled to Melbourne and LaTrobe Valley to play the Collingwood Magpies. This was our first genuine test as a team to measure our progress over the past four months against a benchmark team of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN).
The results confirmed that our training has been extremely beneficial and all the hard work we are putting in – on and off the court – is leading us in the right direction. We had a 54-all draw in game 1, and a 54 vs 45 loss in game 2.
There were only positives to take away from the trip, both the team and each individual athlete were able to learn from the experience. It was again another valuable experience for our three young shooters, in Shimona Nelson, Abigail Latu-Meafou and Charlee Hodges.
At the end of next week we are off to Sydney to play GIANTS Netball and NSW Swifts. This is our final opportunity to face-off against SSN opposition, so it’s critical to our preparation.
It’s shaping up to be a perfect opportunity to get more exposure and match experience into our younger athletes and is another vital chance to learn more about each other in pressurised match situations.
Across the two games we’ll be looking to refine and polish areas of our game that we have identified from Melbourne, but we are certainly keeping eyes firmly fixed on what we are doing right as a team and what we know we are in control of.
You and I will be busy during the Commonwealth Games keeping up with how our three athletes Chelsea Pitman (England) Bongi Msomi (South Africa) and Fiona Fowler (Scotland) are playing. The Games is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and a pinnacle for international netball. Every netballer wants to play at the Commonwealth Games and I am so excited and proud to see our three athletes compete on the Gold Coast.
A reminder that tickets to all our home games are now on sale, along with our memberships. Head to our website for more information. Can’t wait to see you in the Priceline Stadium stands on Sunday 29 April, when our season kicks off against West Coast Fever.