The Fever recorded a fast-moving victory against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic this Sunday afternoon 57-51. Fever goal keep Eboni Beckford Chambers was MVP on the day, but the game was won on the centre court as much as in the goal circles.
Quite different interpretations of contact by Australian referees were given in today's game seemingly in contrast to New Zealand refs' contact calls. This affected player safety. Irene van Dyk suffered more than her share of being pushed into, around and out of Court by Fever defenders. There was no doubt that Beckford Chambers showed excellent technique in halting goals by her great standing jump, but van Dyk particularly, was not often allowed any room. She had to call time when she was literally unable to breathe. Worse, New Zealand shooters attempting to hold a position incurred penalty after penalty. It seemed as though contact was permissible if a player kept moving around, jostling and pushing within the three foot range. However, New Zealand shooters attempting to hold a near proximity position to goal were penalised by contact calls despite shooters having ball in hand. Although van Dyk justifiably complained about contact and danger within the circle after the game, it was also a feature of centre court. Fever's mid-Court netballers displayed brilliant passing, but serious injuries may occur if intercept attempts are made so close to fast-moving players. It seemed more like attempts to pluck ball from a player's hand rather than true intercepts.
Undoubtedly the Magic were slow to adjust, but is so much contact - and potentially dangerous play - going to become the norm? It's not like the Fever victors don't have oodles of great technique, athleticism and fast, efficient teamwork. Magic sorely missed Jess Tuki in its centre court, and Leana de Bruin and Jess Waitapu had to leave court because of injuries. Magic's defenders frequently had no answer to the swift passing of Fever's attackers to shooters Caitlin Bassett and Cath Cox. Bassett and Cox performed admirably, able to concentrate on their role, because their centre court players were so adept.
Ellen Halpenny had a great game for the Magic scoring 32 from 42 goals, with van Dyke being held to 17. Halpenny did seem to counter the penalty counts with her beautiful runs to the goal. Well done!
Perhaps it would be timely for refs from both sides of the Tasman to gather together and look at the videos of this game. Perhaps some of the rough stuff is unseen by the refs, but it's getting worse. Last time they consulted, it seemed as though they said the differences weren't too great. But the margin on what is acceptable seems to be widening.