Matrics players and officials celebrate their Premier League grand final win. Picture: TOM HUNTLEY

ANOTHER chapter was added to Premier League netball’s pre-eminent modern rivalry last Thursday as Matrics beat Contax by two goals in an epic grand final at Mile End.

In the fourth title decider between the clubs in seven seasons, Matrics prevailed 49-47 after overcoming a five-goal second-quarter deficit and staving off a late charge.

Matrics has now won three premierships since 2010, while Contax has captured the other four.

The joy on Matrics players and officials’ faces after the final whistle was in stark contrast to the despair of last year’s finale, when the team performed sluggishly and lost to Contax by 12 goals.

Matrics coach Jacqui Illman was proud of her players’ response to last season’s defeat.

“It’s a very different feeling to last year,” Illman said.

“We really tried to learn from our experiences last year.

“We needed to learn how to play under pressure and how to come back when we were down, and change the momentum of a game.

“We weren’t forced to experience that last year until we weren’t able to cope with it in the final.

“We put some different things in place to make sure we could this year.

“We’re very excited to get over the line.” Matrics entered the match a warm favourite after losing just once this season and thumping Contax 60-38 in the semifinal.

Both sides started nervously and the first four minutes of the game were riddled with turnovers from haphazard passes.

Scores were even until late in the quarter when Contax jumped out to a twogoal buffer. Lanky goal shooter Sasha Glasgow, recruited from Moonta Bay at the start of the season, was on fire early, using her height to outleap Letisha Heintze and working well with Charlee Hodges.

With Contax leading by five goals during the second quarter and one at half-time, Illman brought Thunderbirds youngster Sarah Klau into goal keeper for Heintze. The move changed the game. Klau seemed not only to rattle Glasgow but inspire her Matrics teammates.

Undefeated Matrics beats Garville in Premier League netball grand final

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Celebrating Friday night’s Premier League netball grand final win. Picture: Roger Wyman

IT WAS the grand final win that was two seasons in the making.

Twelve months after losing a heartbreaking premiership decider to Contax by one goal, Matrics beat Garville in the Premier League final at Netball SA Stadium on Friday night.

In a game it led from start to finish, Matrics prevailed 54-44 to claim its first title since 2011.

Matrics became the first team since Contax in 2012 to go through the season undefeated, finishing with a 16-0 record.

The result also capped a huge fortnight for the club’s coach Jacqui Illman, who returned to the sidelines after giving birth to daughter Leila on July 28.

“There’s a lot of relief, a lot of joy and I’m really happy and so proud of the girls,” Illman said.

Garville — a former cellar-dweller in its first grand final since 1996 — started nervously and took 4½ minutes to get on the scoreboard through Georgie Virgo.

At times, Garville was guilty of haphazard or telegraphed passes, particularly entering the goal circle.

In part it was due to Matrics’ suffocating full-court pressure, but there was also a lack of composure from Garville players.

What was a 10-goal lead early in the second quarter was reduced to two in the final stages before half-time, after Laura Packard missed a close-range shot and Garville captain Chloe Drogemuller capitalised on a penalty.

That was as close as the underdogs got.

The top side was simply cleaner, cooler under pressure and had a shooter in Cody Lange that rarely missed.

Lange won the Marg Angove Medal — three years after winning the award as a 16 year old when Matrics won the 2011 premiership.

Matrics goal keeper Sarah Klau had a standout game on Virgo, reading the play with aplomb.

“I thought when we started off we looked scared, nervous,” Garville coach Jackie Blyth said.

Matrics Netball Club Jacqui Illman has given birth to a baby daughter — timing it perfectly between two finals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MATRICS Netball Club has timed its premiership tilt perfectly under coach Jacqui Illman this season.

Illman, of Colonel Light Gardens, gave birth to her daughter, Leila, on Monday, July 28 — three days after steering Matrics to the State Premier League grand final.

Had the club lost its semi-final to Contax, the coach would have been recuperating in hospital during the preliminary final.

Instead Matrics won giving it a week off, allowing Illman to rest ahead of her return to the bench for the grand final against Garville at Netball SA Stadium on Friday (August 8). “It was good timing in the scheme of things,” Illman says.

“We knew when the due date was and that it’d be somewhere around here, but we had plans in place early on and were aware of what the different back-up plans were. “The girls have been focused on what they’re doing, so it’s been pretty good.” Matrics is aiming to win its first top-flight title since 2011 and cap an unbeaten campaign.

It was runner-up to Contax last year when Illman had a one-season stint as the club’s high performance manager while looking after her other child, Lucy, 2.

Illman, Matrics’s 2011 premiership mentor, returned as senior coach at the start of this season and the club went on to win all 15 games to date.

“I certainly wouldn’t have expected that and I’ve never coached a team that hasn’t dropped a game.

“It’s been the cliche of a one week at a time.”

Given the unusual build-up and prospect of an unblemished season, Illman says winning this year’s flag would be especially special.

“What will be will be on the day, but that’s the ultimate goal and what everyone is aiming for.”

Adelaide Thunderbirds goaler and RSB ambassador Erin Bell helps others to see the bigger picture

WARREN PARTLAND – The Advertiser- June 18, 2014 7:36PM

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ADELAIDE Thunderbirds star Erin Bell wanted her association with the Royal Society for the Blind to be far more than just tokenism when she became an ambassador.

The brilliant goaler has desired an active role in helping raise awareness of the organisation as well as funding in her four years of involvement.

“When the RSB approached the Thunderbirds seeking ambassadors I was keen because vision impairment is close to home,’’ Bell said.

“I’ve worn glasses since I was 10 and would not be able to play netball if it was not for contacts.

“I’m not blind but there are so many things I would not be able to do without the contacts. So I wanted to help the charity as much as I could.

“I don’t just want my name associated with the charity — I want to do things to be active.’’

So when Peter Mazzachi, president of Matrics, the state league club Bell is aligned to, said he was keen for the club to be involved with the RSB, she was only too keen to run with the idea.

On Tuesday night, the club kicked off its relationship with the RSB with a fund-raising evening at training and a chance for the players to meet blind dog pups.

More than $1600 was raised for the charity.

“It is amazing to have Matrics involved,’’ Bell said.

“We want to build an awareness of the charity at the club and have a few more events.

“We spoke with the junior players about the charity on Tuesday night and then we a scratch match when the juniors were blindfolded.

“That is so they could relate to how it would feel and why it is important to help.’’

Former T-Birds defender Demelza McCloud set to relaunch her career

QLD_CM_SPORT_NETBALL_ELLIS_26SEP13FORMER Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Demelza McCloud is on a dream netball ride after finding the keys to a door she thought had long been slammed shut. Two years ago she was contemplating a life as a mum and playing out her career with her beloved state league club Matrics.Tomorrow, she will lead Australia into battle at the Fast5 Netball World Series in Auckland after being named co-captain with NSW Swifts goaler Susan Pratley.

It has been a remarkable return to prominence for McCloud and follows her surprise selection in the Diamonds team this year.

”The last 24 months have been phenomenal,” McCloud said.

”To have such an awesome year with the Firebirds and the journey from the middle of July to now is something I could only have dreamed of.

”To get invited to Diamonds training – I was there commiserating the loss in the grand final one minute and the next I was included in the squad to play in an international series.

“That is a dream I thought had passed me.

”Then on Monday morning to be invited to captain your country in a tournament is out of control – I feel so blessed right now.”

McCloud wore the Diamonds uniform in 2004-05 but seriously considered retirement in 2010 before recruited into the Melbourne Vixens line-up as a replacement for injured Julie Corletto.

The following year she captained Matrics and while she refused to believe her ANZ Championship days were behind her, the veteran admitted she felt her hopes of national representation were gone.

”I love Matrics, I’m a life member and that season with them was such a refreshing experience,” McCloud said.

”I thought I was going down the baby line and having a family and I’d be a long-term Adelaide state league player.

”I never lost sight of wanting to play at the best level I could but I thought my Australian dream was lost.”

Her career path took another significant turn when the Southern Steel offered her an ANZ Championship lifeline for 2012.

The decision to accept the deal from the New Zealand franchise ignited questions on whether it was the ”smartest thing” to move to leave the Australian system and further dent her national ambitions.

McCloud is grateful for the opportunities provided by Steel coach Janine Southby, who is in charge of the Kiwi team at the Fast5 tournament, but the following year she opted to sign a two-year deal with the Firebirds.

”(Firebirds coach) Roselee (Jencke) and I had a conversation that if I came back to Australia it would not just be for a one-year deal,” McCloud said.

”I did not want that up in the air again and she assured me I was a part of their plans as long as I could keep going.

”This journey I have had in netball – all the places it has taken me, the teams I’ve been in, the people I have got to know and love over the years – I’m truly blessed.”

Sheree Wingard swoops in to replace injured Thunderbirds skipper Nat von Bertouch

SHEREE-WINGARD

  • Warren Partland – Sunday Mail (SA)- June 01, 2013 11:00PM

MATRICS Captain – Sheree Wingard has been summoned into the Adelaide Thunderbirds for Sunday’s clash against the NSW Swifts in Sydney after Nat von Bertouch was forced to miss the trip after aggravating a finger injury.

Von Bertouch, who has twice had surgery on the finger in the past 12 months, hurt the finger at training on Friday and withdrew from today’s contest to ensure she is fit for the finals.

It is the second match the champion midcourter will miss this season, having being sidelined for the Round 6 encounter against the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane because of a corked thigh.

The Thunderbirds, with Wingard sitting on the bench, came from behind to claim two vital premiership points against the Firebirds. Wingard has been in outstanding form in the Subway Cup.

The Swifts are hopeful co-captain Mo’onia Gerrard will take the court against her former side today after missing last week’s 19-goal victory over the Northern Mystics. Gerrard aggravated a calf injury and was forced from the court early in the third quarter of the two-goal loss to the Thunderbirds in Adelaide two weeks back.

The Swifts attacked the Thunderbirds with an extremely physical game plan and the umpires seemingly lost control. Defender Sonia Mkoloma was given plenty of latitude with her aggressive approach and the umpires must take a more controlled approach.

The Swifts led the Round 9 battle by five goals with five minutes remaining before being overhauled by the Thunderbirds.

Matrics call leads Laura Packard to Adelaide Thunderbirds

From: The Advertiser    by: Matt Turner      November 27, 2012

Laura Packard says she might have been playing basketball if not for an invitation to join Matrics four years ago.  Packard was moving to Adelaide to study in late 2008 when Matrics coach Jacqui Illman asked her to join the netball club.

She took up Illman’s offer and has not looked back. Earlier this month, the 21-year-old goal attack’s rise was capped when she signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds for the 2013 season. “Jacqui remembered me from a Catholic schoolgirls’ competition in Queensland, so at a state under-17 trial she asked me to come out to Matrics,” Packard recalls. “I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do before that because I played basketball as well, and moving to Adelaide meant I was going to have to choose between netball and basketball.

“I could’ve ended up playing basketball, who knows? But when I went out to Matrics I loved it … and I just stuck with netball.” After three seasons playing state league reserves, Packard starred in SA’s top side this year, scoring a competition-best 518 goals.

She says signing with the Thunderbirds was a shock, despite having trained with the squad at times this year.

“I’d had a bit of a chat to (Thunderbirds coach) Jane Woodlands-Thompson over the past couple of weeks about making goals from here, (but) not as a Thunderbird, so it was a surprise I got the call.

“It’s obviously a good surprise.”

Packard hopes to join the Thunderbirds on court next season.

But her main aim is simply to learn as much as possible from Woodlands-Thompson and her new teammates.

“To actually be a team member with them with Carla (Borrego) and Nat Von Bertouch, I’m really excited.

“I hope it’ll bring the best out in me,” she said.

T-Bird Leigh Waddington gets a second chance

From: The Advertiser    by: Duane Schultz   November 7, 2012

The 27-year-old last week signed a one-year deal with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, five years after being cut by then first year T-Birds coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson.

During those years, ANZ Championship netball often seemed a world away for the Gawler resident, who underwent multiple knee operations after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

“The contract didn’t hit me until I actually signed it … I felt like a kid again,” Waddington said.  “At least for the next year I can make a bit of a career of it”  After being cut in 2007 Waddington tore her ACL playing for state league side Cougars. She spent the next 12 months sidelined, only to return and require another knee operation.

A stellar 2011 season in the local competition would mark a turning point, and Waddington won the Netball SA’s State League Player of the Year in 2012.  That led to her signing full time with the T-Birds for the 2013 season, so the social worker can fully concentrate on her netball.

“Working full time (last year), I was using a fair bit of my annual leave to travel with teams, but now I’m in the squad it’s going to be a bit more settled … I won’t be running around like a chicken with its head cut-off,” she said.

Erin Bell (Matrics aligned player): From benchwarmer to Diamond

By Tanya Ahrens on 2 January, 2012 (netballscoop.com)

A few years ago, Erin Bell would not have been a name you associated with netball. Today, Erin Bell is a familiar face of the Australian Netball Diamonds, the curly-haired blonde impressing in the 2011 Holden Netball Test Series, helping the team to the Constellation Cup win against the Silver Ferns.

Backtrack earlier to 2008: As a 20 year-old sitting behind Catherine Cox and Susan Pratley, it was no easy feat when it came to court time. This was the simple truth at the NSW Swifts as she tried to make her mark on the ANZ Championship, warming the bench for 2 years.

It was a big risk to move to Adelaide to the Thunderbirds in 2010, leaving a familiar team, family and friends, in order to gain more court time. The shooter claimed a newly-found position at WA, impressing with her versatility. As the business end of the season approached, Bell was shifted to GA forming a powerful combination with Jamaican import Carla Borrego.

The move paid dividends as the Adelaide Thunderbirds were crowned the winners of the 2010 ANZ Championship, with Bell playing a crucial role at GA. Bell is currently the only player in the ANZ Championship to win 2 premierships – the first in 2008 with the Swifts. Bell also impressed statistically, finishing in the top 10 for goal assists and centre passes.

Following a strong ANZ Championship season, Bell was selected into the Australian FastNet Diamonds teams under coach Norma Plummer. The team played the inaugural World Netball Series featuring the shortened version of netball, “FastNet”. Unfortunately, the youngster’s dream run wasn’t to continue.

“We took her to the FastNet (competition in England in October) and she struggled to slot in,” Plummer told of her performance.

Bell re-signed with the Thunderbirds in 2011, making the GA position her own. She shot a respectable 80.3% for the season scoring 216 goals from 269 attempts.

A consistent 2011 ANZ Championship season saw Erin being called into the Diamonds squad, competing against 22 talented netballers for a position in the Australian Netball Diamonds, competing in this year’s World Netball Championships in Singapore.

After days of gruelling matches, the Diamonds team was announced in alphabetical order. Caitlin Bassett was announced first, with Bell completely shocked to find her name being announced next. With the likes of talented goal-attacks Susan Pratley, Sharelle McMahon and Natalie Medhurst, it was a surprise to see Bell named in the team. McMahon had unfortunately succumbed to injury in the ANZ Championship season, whereas inconsistent form saw Pratley fall behind Bell in the pecking order.

Teammate Sharni Layton was also called to the team, showing the Adelaide Thunderbirds team as an influential environment in growing netball talent.

Singapore was the site of the 2011 World Netball Championships, with the Diamonds travelling to Malaysia to acclimatise to the weather. Although Bell didn’t see court time in the final against the Silver Ferns, the Diamonds pulled through to win the World Championship in extra time. It was an absolutely ecstatic celebration for the team!

That wasn’t the end to the season for the Diamonds though. Another selection camp was held for the upcoming Holden Netball Test Series, with new Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander at the helm. It would’ve been heart-breaking for the 24 year-old to go from World Champion to not continue to play a part in the Diamonds team.

Questions had been asked about her selection into the team, and Bell proved this in the decider of the Constellation Cup against the Silver Ferns. The Diamonds started slowly, trailing by 6 goals at quarter time. Starting slowly in WA, Bell was moved to GA, replacing Natalie Medhurst who had shot a single goal. The unfazed shooter settled in right away, shooting 6 from 6 in the 2nd quarter, partnering with acting captain Catherine Cox. A better quarter for the Diamonds, but they still trailed by 6.

A change in tactics at half time saw Caitlin Bassett come onto the court. Bell accommodated the new change, acting as a 3rd feeder with 5 assists to her name, but also retaining a shooting role with 8 goals from 11 attempts. The Diamonds fought their way through this half, eventually winning by 3 goals.

The match wasn’t all that was at stake. As winners of this match, the Australian Diamonds won back a well-deserved number one ranking, with Erin Bell describing Caitlin Basset as “my hero”.