Netball: Swifts show no sign of slowing as finals near

By Dana Johannsen

The Swifts' Kimberlee Green says her side's performances this season have been far from perfect. Photo / Getty Images
The Swifts' Kimberlee Green says her side's performances this season have been far from perfect. Photo / Getty Images

Thirteen wins on the trot and showing no signs of slowing, the NSW Swifts are the frontrunners to secure the 2010 ANZ Championship title.

The Swifts face the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Sunday's major semifinal, and are widely tipped to march straight into the grand final.

The loser of the match will go on to face the winner of Monday's minor semifinal between the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic and the Southern Steel.

And such has been the Swifts' dominance this season that many believe the grand final result is a foregone conclusion.

They may have a perfect record, but Swifts midcourter Kimberlee Green said her side's performances this season had been far from perfect.

Even last week's 17-goal win over fellow semifinalists the Southern Steel revealed a long list of work-ons for the minor premiers.

"We don't actually look at 13 from 13 at all, we sort of just look at our performance each week, and against the Steel it definitely wasn't one of our consistent games," she said.

"We had a video analysis session [on Wednesday] and we listed all the bad things we did throughout the game, and there were quite a few, so we definitely keep ourselves in check and make sure we don't get too far ahead of ourselves."

While some suggest the Swifts have yet to be really tested this season, Green disagrees, pointing to a couple of lucky escapes over the opening rounds.

There was real concern among the team earlier in the season that although they were winning, they were playing well below their best.

Interestingly, their worst performance this season was in round three against the Canterbury Tactix, who now lay claim to the wooden spoon.

The Sydney side followed that performance up with a patchy showing against the Central Pulse in round four.

Green said the Swifts were only just beginning to hit their straps.

"Obviously we'd always like to be better than what we are, but from the beginning of the season we have improved out of sight, and that's definitely our defence through the court. Instead of four defenders on court we've got seven and the same on attack as well.

"So we're getting there, there's always things we can work on, but as opposed to the beginning of the year, I think things are coming along quite nicely."

Such comments are likely to send shivers up the spine of the other title hopefuls - the Thunderbirds, Magic and Steel.

So can any of these teams stop the relentless Swifts juggernaut?

To find out we we must first examine where the Swifts' edge lies, and the mountain of statistics that have emerged over the season paint an interesting picture.

Surprisingly, none of the leaders in each of the categories come from the undefeated Swifts line-up.

In fact there is only one instance of a player featuring in the top three - Green, their star centre, lies in second for goal assists behind the Queensland Firebirds' Lauren Nourse.

But look at the overall team statistics and the Swifts perform very well in most of the categories.

They put up more shots at goal than any other team, with only the Firebirds averaging more goals during this season.

Their turnover rate is also very frugal, although surprisingly both the Magic and Steel are better in thisarea.

On defence they are highly disciplined and ruthlessly efficient.

They are the least penalised team in the league, and rate well in both the intercepts and deflection categories.

They are just extraordinarily consistent and clinical in everything they do.

"We all do our jobs evenly, and I think there's not one weak link in our team," said Green.

"In terms of our defence we have quite a good structure, we've worked out that if we work together it's easier, rather than trying to outrun or outplay your own opponent."

But Green said the team's biggest strength was one that cannot be reflected in numbers.

"We just have a lot of belief in one another. I guess confidence is a great thing to have on your side."

ANZ CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM STATISTICS

Goals per game

55.2 Firebirds, 54.2 Swifts, 53.5 Mystics

Attempts per game

69.3 Swifts, 68.2 Firebirds, 65.4 Fever

Intercepts per game

7.2 Magic, 7.2 Mystics, 7.1 Swifts

Deflections per game

19.0 Thunderbirds, 16.5 Mystics, 16.1 Swifts

Penalties

47.5 Swifts, 50.6 Steel, 51.8 Thunderbirds

Turnovers

19.7 Firebirds, 21.3 Steel, 22.0 Magic, 22.1 Swifts

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 24 Oct 2014 20:35:12 Processing Time: 419ms