BY ERIN CONSTABLE
These calls from the umpires were confusing to commentators and spectators alike, with the collective feeling the send offs were harsh and uncalled for during competitive play.
The second send off resulted in the GIANTS having six players on the court for the final nine and a half minutes of the match, playing without a goal defence.
The GIANTS went on to lose the match by one goal with the final score 57 to 58.
This is the first send off in Suncorp Super Netball league history, which was founded in 2016 as the National Netball league.
Manu’a, who had previously received a warning in the second quarter for rough play, was first sent off in the third quarter for two minutes for a late challenge on Cara Koenen right under the goal post.
The second send off was for a challenge on Laura Scherian, where Manu’a attempted a late intercept near the transverse line as the Lighting brought the ball down to its shooters.
The International Netball Federation rules clearly outline actions that may be taken by the umpires in addition to normal sanctions.
These actions are a caution for behaviour, a warning for behaviour, a two-minute suspension and finally to order a player off.
The first two-minute send off and the second nearly 10-minute send off align with the rules outlined in section 13.1, however the calls still shocked many.
GIANTS captain Jo Hearten spoke after the game and said it was a “confusing match, there could have been more clarity throughout”.
“I don’t think I’ve been in anything quite like it, professionally.”
Hearten was named the Nissan Player of the Match despite missing two crucial two-point ‘Super Shots’ in the final minutes of the game, which could have put her team ahead to win.
Hearten went on to commend Kate Shimmin, the goal keeper who defended alone in the circle during Manu’a’s exits from the court.
“Playing against two shooters of absolute quality and she came out with some ball,” Hearten said.
Commentators Cath Cox, Liz Ellis and Sue Gaudion were left confused by the calls from the umpires.
“We were looking in the commentary box wondering what was happening,” Cox said.
“One hundred per cent there was nothing wrong with either of those contests.”
Gaudion supported Cox, “as far as I am concerned it is disgraceful”.
While affirming the tough role umpires have, Gaudion said “it shouldn’t have happened”.
Comments on the Super Netball’s tweet about the incident varied between support for great umpiring and criticism for the harsh call.
Kimberlee Green, former GIANTS and Australian Diamonds player, tweeted she was “not sure that warranted a send off”.
These controversial umpiring calls are a first for the league among a 2020 season with many changes to the game such as the introduction of rolling substitutions and two-point ‘Super Shots’.
Netball Australia has not yet made a comment on the match.
At the conclusion of this round, the Lightning are second on the ladder and the GIANTS are sixth.