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May 28, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Nothin’ But Net – Heavy Lifting

I can say with some certainty that this will be the one and only netball yarn I am capable of spinning this year.

But despite my fairly glaring illiteracy in netball the events of the last week or so have been pretty interesting in the ANZ Championship (wow, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say).

But it has nothing to do with a game, or the results – in fact I wouldn’t be able to tell you where the two teams in question sat on the table. But this week the Northern Mystics pulled out a brand new tactic against the Melbourne Vixens, the likes of which we see hundreds of times a week on the telly in rugby, but never before in netball.

Leading deep in the fourth quarter, Mystics defender Anna Harrison was lifted, like a lock in a rugby lineout, to block a Vixens’ shot. She won the ball and everyone, from the coaches to the fans, supporters to commentators, went berserk.

The result: an awesome defensive play that has begun championship-wide debate and sent all fifteen followers of the ANZ Championship into a fit of rage, sparking comparisons between the ‘Harrison Hoist’ and Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, the underarm incident, the rising cost of petrol and pretty much everything else that grinds people’s gears.

The players and coaches love the challenge, but the public’s (very Australian-sounding) calls for the tactic to be thrown out – much like cricket’s underarm before it – are growing louder by the minute.

I tend to disagree with them but I feel the opinion might be reversed entirely had the ploy been used against a Kiwi side, or had it occurred in a competition about which more than a dozen people actually cared.

I daresay that had a defender been hoisted to block Maria Tutaia’s winning shot in the Commonwealth Games final two years ago it would have been us, not the Australians, calling for the removal of the technique.

If you ask me, the move’s fair game. A cricketer just can’t knock a ball rolling to his ankles for six, plain and simple. But there’s nothing in netball stopping the shooter pausing for a moment, or passing the ball to a teammate. In either of these circumstances, the defenders and their mistimed lineout would look fairly ridiculous.

But then again what would I know? My only real netball knowledge is that the Australian teams have far more badass names than ours.

It’s just a shame that the technique wasn’t first used by the Canterbury Tactix – it would have been the first and only time that their name will ever be appropriate.

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