Review finds umps were right in controversial Kristiana Manu’a send-off

The umpires involved in Wednesday night’s controversial Super Netball send-off have been given the all clear by officials after protests from Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald.

Giants defender Kristiana Manu’a was sent off twice for foul play in the match against the Sunshine Coast Lightning, the first time for two minutes and the second for the remainder of the game.

Super Netball officials met with Netball Australia’s high-performance umpire coaches to review the matter after a complaint was made by Fitzgerald who was furious with the decision.

Fitzgerald, who has led various teams to five premierships, was seething on the sidelines, saying to the referee “it was not even her fault”.

Former Australian stars-turned-commentators Liz Ellis and Catherine Cox criticised the umpires’ interpretation of “rough play” saying that neither act really warranted such a penalty.

“The first one was definitely a good contest and the history was that there was the warning before, so that was what happened there,” Cox said.

“The second one looked like clean ball, but I think by that stage one of the umpire’s minds might have been swayed just a little bit by what had just taken place.”

But following discussions, which included Fitzgerald, it was determine the umpires followed the International Netball Federation rules correctly “in line with how they interpreted the play on court”.

The review of the incident found that:

  • The umpires followed the correct procedure when managing the warning, suspension and ordering off of a player, as provided within the game management rules.
  • A discussion was held at the half-time break between the umpires, captain and infringing player which clarified a) that a warning was given, and b) that any further infringement in the same manner would result in a suspension.
  • When the player who was warned subsequently repeated the specific action again, the co-umpire was bound to then progress with a suspension.
  • Early in the final quarter, the player repeated the action in the same way for a third time. As per Rule 13.1.4 the umpire ordered the player off the court following the suspension.
  • As per Rule 13.1.4 (ii), a player who has been ordered off may not take any further part in the match and must immediately leave the court.
  • It was determined the umpires applied the International Netball Federation rules correctly in line with how they interpreted the play on court

It was decided no further action was warranted and in a statement from Super Netball full support was given to the umpires.

“Suncorp Super Netball and Netball Australia remain confident in the world class standard of all umpires within the high-performance umpire program currently umpiring the Suncorp Super Netball season,” the statement said.

“The opportunity to bring through emerging umpire talent from across Australia this season has provided an excellent pathway for umpires, as it has for players.”

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Giants defender Kristiana Manu’a sent off as Sunshine Coast Lightning pull off improbable win

The 200th Super Netball match has been marred by the controversial send-off of Giants player Kristiana Manu’a, with the Sunshine Coast Lightning fighting back from six goals down to win 58-57.

The Giants were forced to play the last nine minutes of the match at the University of Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night with just six players after defender Manu’a was sent off for her second incident of rough play.

The goal defence was suspended for two minutes in the third quarter after a challenge on Lightning shooter Cara Koenen, before being penalised a second time for rough play, the umpires then having no option but to send her off.

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With no substitution allowed, goalkeeper Sam Poolman was left to defend two shooters in the circle, with the Lightning clawing back the six-goal buffer to take a bittersweet win.

Giants captain Jo Harten had two chances to win the match with a super shot but missed both opportunities.

It was Manu’a’s send off that dominated post-match conversation though, with commentators deeming it “disgraceful”, saying she had eyes only for the ball on both challenges.

Lightning captain Laura Langman was also uncomfortable at the end of the match, saying it was an “unfortunate way to finish”.

“It was definitely interesting, I don’t think we wanted to finish the game like that,” Langman said.

“I felt at the time it was probably setting up for a really nice battle in that last nine minutes.

“We had to create something and we certainly didn’t want to finish the game playing on six players.

“I thought we did pretty well but we certainly got out of jail.”

The Giants clawed their way back into the match after the Lightning bolted from the blocks but were in control late in the match.

Harten, who started the match at goal attack before a switch to shooter and a game-swinging combination with Kiera Austin from the second quarter, was livid in the final stages but careful not to be overtly critical of the umpires after the match.

“That was quite a tricky game to play in, I don’t think I’ve been in anything quite like it professionally but we gave it our all,” she said.

“I think it was just a confusing match, there could have been more clarity throughout.

“We had a player sent off and that’s the bread and butter of it. If you’ve not got your goal defence, it’s going to be tricky from that point.

“We could have won that game twice, I missed the shot twice.”

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 58 (Koenen 32, Wood 15, Proscovia 8, Hunt 3)

GIANTS NETBALL 57 (Harten 27, Austin 21, Bassett 9)

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