Category: ANZ Premiership

2020 ANZ Premiership: Stars and Magic play out dramatic draw

A WINNER could not be decided between the Northern Stars and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic with the game resulting in the first draw of the season, 46 goals apiece. Playing their second game of the round, the Magic came out with a real fire in the belly, contesting every ball and taking an early commanding lead. Their ability to fight back in the dying stages of the last quarter was inspired by their captain, Sam Winders with the wing defence pulling out all the stops but it was not enough to get her side over the line and claim their second win of the season. 

With the centre pass in hand it did not take long for the Magic to open their account at the hands of Abigail Latu-Meafou. Despite a disappointing output last night Latu-Meafou came out firing, using her precision with ball in hand and deceptive speed to insert herself on the contest from the get-go. Her confidence filtered across the court with the defensive unit of Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler creating an early turnover ball from the Stars and propelling the ball back down court with plenty of haste. The defensive combo shut down Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson under the post, blocking her every move and forcing her into early turnovers. The Stars finally hit the scoreboard three and a half minutes into the quarter but it was not without plenty of hard work with the Magic holding a 5-1 lead. With Wilson well held, goal attack Jamie Hume upped the ante delivering a bullet pass into the goal shooter but it was not enough with the Magic returning serve up the other end and pushing out to a seven goal buffer. Much like Latu-Meafou, Kelsey McPhee stepped up to the plate with the goal shooter dominating under the post only missing one goal for the term and showcasing her fancy footwork on the baseline to score despite falling out of court. As the Magic motored on the Stars struggled as Wilson was forced to come out of the circle on the second phase to try and open up the attacking end. 

With a handy five goal lead, Storm Purvis upped the ante in defence for the Stars winning an early turnover but her efforts were not rewarded with the ball lost in transition. An increased hunger for the ball across the court saw the Stars intensity lift and most importantly find better rhythm in attack, using their ball speed to pierce through the Magic defensive unit. With the Stars growing with confidence, McPhee and Latu-Meafou continued on their merry way but were denied the same easy access they were given in the first term. But it seemed to be all one-way traffic for the Stars in the second quarter with each player rallying to try and win ball back to reduce the deficit. In hope to quell the influence of Hume and Wilson under the post, dynamic defender Georgia Tong entered the court, replacing Fowler in goal defence. Going goal for goal through the mid part of the term, neither side was willing to give an inch however, Wilson upped the ante playing with more freedom and space while Magic wing attack Whitney Souness built into the game providing silver service to McPhee and Latu-Meafou with her skill to draw defenders. But a big intercept from Purvis gifted the Stars a chance to level scores and hit the front with the centre pass to come. The Magic quickly responded to go into half time at 24 goals apiece. 

Known as the premiership quarter the Stars did all the running piling on 14 goals to seven. The introduction of Fa’amu Ioane in wing defence provided an extra layer of defensive pressure for the Stars with the tenacious midcourter taking Souness out of the game, covering her drives and using her physicality to offset Souness’ vision into the circle. The Stars struck first nailing the first goal of the second half before going on a mini goal spree and opening up a three goal lead. McPhee struggled to impose herself, shaky on the shot and allowing the Stars to capitalise in defence with clever rebounds. The quarter was plagued with patches of inconsistency, unable to find any real continuity with the likes of Mikaere constantly disrupting play for the Stars in attack thanks to her long limbs. Tong racked up the penalties forcing the Magic to look to the bench and bring Fowler back on while Khiarna Williams came on to replace McPhee and was quickly into the action missing the shot but then getting back and helping to defend. With the Magic throwing ball away Stars continued to push ahead, with Purvis taking another strong intercept and showcasing her read of the play and aerial presence to open up a seven a goal lead. 

With the game on the line the Magic came out with a renewed sense of purpose and intensity, fighting hard from the opening minute of the quarter. Souness collected an early turnover with a crucial intercept in the midcourt to reduce the margin to six sparking her side to go on a two goal run. Souness continued to up the ante showcasing her impressive vision to release the ball from range into McPhee. The tables continued to turn with Magic taking a huge rebound with the centre pass to follow and cut the margin down to three goals. With pressure mounting, Wilson remained confident on the shot, shouldering the load of Hume who seemed to have gone off the boil. Goal defence, Kate Burley delivered for the Stars with a big tip and Ioane backing her up across the court. The Stars pushed the lead back out to six goals but the Magic were not done with yet cutting the lead to four goals with less than three minutes to play. The experienced Mikaere took with a huge rebound, dwindling the lead to two goals before McPhee impressed with a strong offensive rebound. But it was Winders who stole the show with a huge intercept in the attacking third to level the scores before the whistle blew. 

Wilson was huge for the Stars sitting at 34 goals from 37 attempts at 92 per cent while Hume slotted 12 from 17 at 71 per cent. McPhee also struggled for accuracy only converting 28 of her 37 attempts at 76 per cent while Latu-Meafou managed 17 from 20. Defensively Mikaere starred racking up four gains, seven deflections and two rebounds.

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN:

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

Northern Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

ANZ Premiership: Round 4 – Second quarter blitz gifts Pulse fifth straight win

DESPITE a slow start to their Round 4 ANZ Premiership match on Sunday, the Pulse proved why they are the team to beat, putting the foot down in the second quarter and asserting themselves on the last placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic running out convincing victors (51-30). The 21 goal thumping was off the back of some impressive defensive efforts from the Pulse not allowing the Magic to generate enough scoring opportunities to trouble the Pulse.

It was an arm wrestle in the opening term with the Pulse looking a little worse for wear in their second game in less than 24 hours. Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders quickly inserted herself in the game with a clever intercept on the circle edge to catch the Pulse off-guard. Her constant pressure caused a wealth of headaches for the Pulse attacking end forcing them to throw the ball around to open up space while the likes of defensive duo Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler also impressed. Mikaere and Fowler shut down Aliyah Dunn at the post with the two double teaming the Pulse goal shooter and forcing her out of the contest. They simply shut down all of the space and contested every high ball coming into the circle. But that did not stop the likes of Ameliaranne Ekenasio from dominating with the goal attack coming off an MVP performance the night before. Ekenasio shouldered the load in attack, using her speed, spatial awareness and accuracy to post to keep her side within touch. With seven minutes left in the term the Magic hit the front as Kelsey McPhee started to really find her feet despite the constant pressure from Kelly Jury. The Pulse struggled to find momentum in attack with the Magic continuing to apply smothering defence with Winders really leading the way with her hands over pressure. But testament to the Pulse they withstood the waves to draw level with less than two minutes in the quarter and hit the front in the dying minutes.  

Holding a one goal lead the Magic kickstarted things in the second term with the centre pass and subsequent conversion to tie things up once again. But unfortunately it went downhill from there with the Pulse going on a goal scoring spree with Ekenasio leading the charge under the post. They really started to generate some better movement in the circle allowing both goalers to find space and create timely screens. The Magic simply had no answers for the Pulse who upped the ante both in attack and defence with Dunn finding a wealth of space under the ring, holding strong and commanding the ball. Defensively Karin Burger stepped up with the wing defence making the most of her three-foot marking and long arms to disrupt the flow of Whitney Souness and win ball back for the Pulse. The combination of Katrina Rore and Jury also stood up with the duo working more cohesively and backing each other up across the court. Jury racked up an impressive three gains throughout the term while wing attack Maddy Gordon also showcased her defensive traits, hustling hard at the transverse line to win the ball back for the Pulse and quickly transition back into attack. With the Magic defensive end up in arms, Georgia Tong entered the game replacing Mikaere but that did not stop the Pulse who continued their merry way with Burger running amok down back picking up another impressive intercept. It was all one way traffic with the Pulse notching up a whopping 17 goals to five despite the ball ping ponging around in the final minutes of the quarter. 

Struggling to generate any sort of momentum across the court the Magic made a couple of changes with Khiarna Williams coming on to replace Abigail Latu-Meafou in goal attack. Williams had her work cut out for her against Rore but proved that she was all class slotting four goals while teammate and goal shooter McPhee could not shake Jury in defence. The Magic were unable to convert on opportunities throwing the ball away on multiple occasions while the Pulse defence proved just how elite they are with each player able to stand up and play their role effectively. Holding a commanding lead the Pulse started to empty their bench with Elle Temu coming on in goal defence while Tiana Metuarau pulled on the goal attack bib pushing Ekenasio into goal shooter and Dunn to the bench. In her 50th game Metuarau impressed once again with her clever movement, attacking prowess and confidence to post. With the connection missing through the midcourt the Magic pulled the pin with Souness moving to the bench, Ariana Cable-Dixon swapping into wing attack, Winders into centre and Jenna O’Sullivan into wing defence in hope to stop the bleeding when it came to scoreboard pressure. Unfazed by the changes Central Pulse kept their foot on the throat extending the lead heading into the final change. 

With the game all but won the Pulse took the time to work on some developing connections across the court bringing on Renee Savai’inaea in wing defence. Her tenacity was on show throughout the term working hard to get hands to ball while centre Claire Kersten showcased her impressive endurance and stamina to run out the whole game and finish with 17 goal assists. Although it was a sloppy final term from both sides, unable to get any real consistency it was the Pulse that once again proved too strong for the Magic with their increased defensive pressure and quick ball speed causing all sorts of havoc. This marked the Pulse’s fifth consecutive win while the Magic are yet to register a win since the return to netball. 

Dunn found her form after a slow start with 23 goals from 27 attempts, Ekenasio was not far behind with 21 goals from 24 attempts while Metuarau managed seven from 11. Inaccuracy and lack of opportunity plagued the Magic front line with McPhee only managing 19 goals from 26 attempts at 73 per cent and Williams slotting eight from 11.

>>>PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Maddy Gordon
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Kelly Jury

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

ANZ Premiership: Round 4 – Pulse remain unbeaten after topsy-turvy victory over the Steel

COMING into the game with nothing to lose, the Steel put up a good fight over the Pulse but left empty-handed after the fiery Round 4 contest. While the Pulse did not have it all their own way, they were utterly dominant under the post and defensively it is hard to see any teams really coming close. At points, it was a lot closer than expected, with the Steel ahead at three quarter time, but the reigning champions were just too good and do not look likely to be giving up their crown any time soon, getting up with a 14-5 last term to run away with a 47-40 victory.

A held ball on the first centre pass meant the Steel were in chase mode from the very start. Ameliaranne Ekenasio put on an absolute clinic in the goal attack position, moving flawlessly and demonstrating her balanced and effortless shooting technique. She combined fantastically with Maddy Gordon at wing attack to provide plenty of options in the Pulse attack end. Despite a few early turnovers from both sides, Pulse started off in control, whilst the Steel seemed tense and took a while to find their feet. Through some smooth playmaking from Kalifa McCollin, the Steel pulled it back to within one, but the opening quarter was the Ekenasio show.

The Silver Ferns captain provides so much inspiration for her team, and they were contesting every ball and making transition play very difficult for the Steel. There were moments of fluency in the Steel attack but a couple of misplaced feeds were eaten alive by Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore. For the Steel, Kate Heffernan’s work rate was impressive, and they managed to claw their way back in through a timely intercept from Shannon Saunders. The Pulse demonstrated strong drives and plenty of punch while the Steel were struggling to get the ball over the transverse line and their feeding accuracy let them down. Towards the end of the first quarter, the Pulse took their foot off the pedal to finish the quarter with a slim three-goal lead.

In the second quarter, Jury’s height was causing all sorts of problems, and the Steel ended up giving away the ball several times by taking too many passes before going to post. The Pulse were lethal on their transitions, and though the Steel were clinging on there was a sense that the game may turn into a total washout. But Te Huinga Selby-Rickit had other ideas and was ready to take on the challenge of Ekenasio. She came to life in the second quarter and the Steel notched up five in a row with the chance to take the lead heading into the break.

Gina Crampton was finding great feeding position, letting the ball go easily and seemed to have the measure of Karin Burger. As the Pulse started to lose their connections and tense up, the Steel made it seven on the trot and forced Pulse to make a change in the defensive end. Elle Temu came on to offer another look but Jennifer O’Connell was confident and really firing, so Temu struggled to have the desired impact.

The experienced pair of Saunders and Claire Kersten were having a good tussle in the midcourt, but this quarter was all about the wing attacks. When Crampton started to lift, Gordon did the same and the vision and pinpoint feeds helped keep shooting percentages very high for both teams. Through pure willpower, and with help from a couple of Pulse errors, the Steel steamed on ahead with a defiant display and the score was 24-23 at half-time.

The Steel attack combination of Crampton, O’Connell and McCollin really started to sing in the second and third quarters. Steel came out of the blocks very strong defensively in the third, with Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita getting hands everywhere. The Pulse defence, in contrast, seemed flat. Changes for the Pulse saw Jury return to the court and Tiana Metuarau come into wing attack, replacing Gordon. Fifita was doing a lot of work at the back keeping Aliyah Dunn busy, she had actually shot fewer goals than Ekenasio in the first half. In a total switch from the first quarter, it was now the Pulse clinging on to the game, trailing by two when the whistle blew for three-quarter time.

In a game that was expected to be a blowout, it was now danger time for the Pulse and they knew they needed a big effort for the final quarter. Gordon replaced Kersten at centre and the talented youngster Metuarau stayed on in wing attack. Pulse equalised and started the quarter all guns blazing, playing with power and presence. In a complete turnaround from the third quarter, Pulse began to dominate defensively and really punish the Steel.

After scoring eight in a row, the Pulse finally let the Steel score their first goal of the final quarter with six minutes remaining – the score was now 42-36 to the Pulse. Steel had lost their fluency in attack and the Pulse were taking advantage of the slower ball speed and miscommunication. The champions were ruthless in the final quarter, pushing the score out to 47-40 and denying the Steel a much-needed bonus point. Too many errors for Steel and their final quarter let them down, it was a shame they could not come away with something after such a strong opening three quarters.

The Pulse finished the game on 100 per cent shooting accuracy, and it is hard to know what teams can really do to stop them. The Magic will take on this challenge next, while the Steel will need to maintain a full performance when they take on the Pulse for the second time next week.

>>>PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>>STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 14 | 9 | 10 | 14 (47)
SOUTHERN STEEL 11 | 13 | 5 (40)

STARTING SEVEN:

PULSE:

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Maddy Gordon
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Kelly Jury

STEEL:

GS: Jennifer O’Connell
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Mystics bounce back for stellar come-from-behind win

IT was a quality game from the get-go with highly touted matchups across the court when the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix went head-to-head on Friday night. Coming off their first loss last round, the Mystics were hoping to bounce back well and so they did, winning 47-42 in a tightly contested match.

The Tactix were not to be discouraged by the Mystics’ form, and with the first centre pass in hand the side proved solid from the get-go. It was a tantalising and unpredictable affair, with the two sides unable to be split for much of the match. While the Tactix has the early ascendancy scoring four of the first five goals, it did not take long for the Mystics to even up the ledger once more, clogging up space in the Tactix attack again and again, and keeping the ball out of Ellie Bird’s hands. Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit impressed early with her ability to apply scoreboard pressure from anywhere in the circle, using her threatening footwork to find plenty of space.

It was a frantic first quarter, and neither side was really able to find that momentum, But the Tactix would not let the Mystics’ form faze them, leading 14-11 at the first change credit to stellar defensive work from Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson. The height mismatch between Fakahokotau and Grace Nweke was evident immediately, with the circle pair going head to head and both finding patches of strength for an even contest. While she did not put up a wealth of shots, speedy goal attack Asher Grapes provided a quality feeding option in and around the circle, forming a crucial cog in the Mystics’ slow start, though her unwillingness to go to post saw Nweke under a lot of pressure.

The second quarter started with a bang, with a couple of changes to the Mystics lineup and Fakahokotau getting up and about early with another couple of great saves to keep the Tactix a step ahead. Saviour Tui joined the fray and in doing that took some of the pressure off Nweke, with the tall timber applying a wealth of scoreboard pressure but well and truly being double teamed by the Tactix defence. Up the other end, Erikana Pedersen was having a field day out the front in wing attack, though Selby-Rickit had a slower patch meaning Bird had to step up if the side was to maintain control.

With both sides taking plenty of risks, Tactix were taking better advantage of their opportunities, with the likes of Fakahokotau and Watson doing wonders in defence, though Nweke’s clean hands continued to pay dividends. But while Peta Toeava had a slow first quarter, her vision to Nweke at the post was second to none and even when Charlotte Elley continued to block her vision and path to the ball, Toeava’s work rate allowed the Mystics to draw even to 24-apiece at half time.

A great start to the third from the Mystics saw the side take their first consistent lead of the match, scoring the first three goals of the term to stake a claim on the match, after trailing for most of the first half. Toeava really brought the flair in the third, switching on to be a constant threat and using her speedy hands to propel constant ball to Nweke – who was still at 100% accuracy until midway through the third. Fakahokotau worked her way back into the game to even the ledger before a speedy finish saw Mystics take a late 35-33 lead to end the quarter.

A long bomb from Selby-Rickit started the final term, with the Tactix hoping it was a sign of another strong quarter given the first started the same way. But the Tactix’ patience in attack could not compete with the Mystics’ hunt, with the defensive unit of Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick picking off any loose ball they could muster up. Improved speed and connection through the midcourt paid dividends for the Mystics, and while the Tactix were still fighting for every chance at the ball, it seemed like the Mystics were pulling away and rattling the usually composed Tactix outfit.

With the game hanging in the balance, it was the Mystics’ consistency that got the job done, making good use of turnover ball and, while relying on Nweke’s hands, also worked Tui into the fray, though the young attacker was forced off the court with less than two minutes for the blood rule – before returning less than a minute later with plenty of confusion ensuing. While the Tactix had provided a constant threat down court, their inconsistency failed them and with a final score of 47-42, the Mystics came away with one of their better wins for the season.

In a game of high powered matchups, an interesting one was that between Tayla Earle (14 assists, one intercept) and Kimiora Poi (11 goal assists), with the young defensive-minded centres almost canceling each other out. Toeava was impressive as ever, racking up 25 goal assists and taking the lead out the front, serving the ball on a silver platter to Nweke (38 goals at 95 per cent accuracy) and Tui who finished with a solid eight goals from 12 attempts. Pedersen led the way in the Tactix camp, heading up assists with 18 from 32 feeds and a gain, while Bird and Selby-Rickit shared the load to combine for 79 per cent accuracy (26 and 16 goals respectively). In defence, both Fakahokotau and Fitzpatrick finished with five gains, though Fitzpatrick was far cleaner in her pursuit with just five penalties to her name and awarded the player of the match award for her efforts. Karaka (four gains) and Watson (two gains) were similarly impressive.

Neither side plays again this weekend, but will have another go of it next round when they go head-to-head once more next Sunday evening.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 13 | 11 | 12 (47)
MAINLAND TACTIX 14 | 10 | 9 | 9 (42)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Asher Grapes
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Emily Burgess
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

TACTIX:

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Erikana Pedersen
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau

2020 ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 4

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition, Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week the player in focus is Central Pulse midcourter Maddy Gordon who impressed in Round 3 with her speed, tenacity and desire to take the game on. 

Age: 20
Height: 174cm
Position: WA, C, WD

Still honing her craft, the young midcourter has walked into the permanent wing attack position and taken each challenge in her stride. Typically known for her role as either a centre or wing defence, Gordon has taken like a duck to water in the attacking position, using her speed to full effect and delivering the ball on a silver platter to the likes of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn. Her ability to read the play and vary her passes depending on the goalers is impressive, able to release the ball with speed and trajectory to Dunn holding under the post, or popping a short pass to Ekenasio at the top of the circle. 

For someone so young her vision is also impressive, able to sight her teammate in space and deliver accordingly as shown last round racking up 10 goal assists against the Mystics despite the long arms of opponent Emily Burgess. Gordon will once again have to use her speed and fancy footwork to evade the hands over pressure from her opponent and have a profound impact in the attacking third for the Pulse against both the Magic and Steel. 

Standing at 174cm, the wing attack is not afraid to take the hard drive to the top of the goal circle and create plenty of attacking forays. She hardly ever stands still, constantly repositioning around the circle and looking to open up space making her incredibly hard to match-up against. She is a real energiser bunny for the Pulse through the midcourt with her explosive speed and impressive change of direction to keep defenders head on a swivel. Her nippiness around the court and strong hands makes her a crucial cog for the Pulse through the centre and attacking third while her athleticism is also another key element of her game play. Gordon’s balance around the perimeter and general spatial awareness is second to none and given she is still early in her career has plenty of upside.

Impressive in attack, Gordon has proven more than once that she can do the defensive things incredibly well, with her three foot marking and aerial ability allowing her to get hands to ball. She is never out of the contest, always on the hunt for an intercept and contesting every ball that comes her way. Her pressure through the midcourt is pivotal to the Pulse’s game style with the 20-year-old renowned for her timing to create tips and skill to switch from defence into offence in a heartbeat amassing three deflections and two pickups for her efforts in Round 3. 

Combining with the likes of Claire Kersten through the midcourt, the two balance each other out, knowing when to run or when to hold in the attacking third. Their quick ball movement and link up through court adds to the Pulse line-up and will have to be on song once again this week if they are to remain undefeated.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to Head: Round 4

IN each round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This match-up sees a mix of experience and youth going up against each other in the goal circle making for an interesting contest between the two sides, given just how much is on the line. 

WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC v. NORTHERN STARS
Erena Mikaere (GK) v. Maia Wilson (GS)

With both the Magic and Stars looking for their second win of the season it will be an intense battle under the post to claim the early ascendancy and stake a claim on the match. Maia Wilson has been a focal point for the Stars throughout the season so far while Erena Mikaere has been up and down, keen to find some consistency in her performance. 

Spearheading attack once again, the load falls to Wilson to lead her team under the post and deliver. She is a commanding presence who is hard to match-up against given her versatility and prolific scoring ability making her a constant threat for opposition teams. Her movement and increased stamina has been evident since the return to netball with the goal shooter carving up the goal circle with her quick footwork. Not afraid to back herself from range, Wilson can create options both under the post and from mid-range. It is almost impossible to stop the ball from going into Wilson when she is holding strong under the post, able to keep defenders at bay with her clever body work and use of angles. The 22-year-old continues to develop at a rate of knots, unfazed by the pressure of defenders and instead absorbing the physicality and thriving off it to make her opposition pay with her accuracy to post. Thriving off the ball placement and movement of captain Grace Kara, Wilson can quickly get into damaging positions in the goal circle and deliver a high volume week in week out. The main scorer for the Stars, an increased effort from the likes of Jamie Hume will allow the goaler to shine even more and take advantage of the one on ones under the post.

For the Magic Mikaere is as experienced as they come plying her trade in both the ANZ Premiership and Suncorp Super Netball in recent years. The goal keeper can turn the game on its head with her long limbs and read of the play to go out hunting and take a huge intercept. Mikaere is never far from the contest whether it be under the post or in the defensive third credit to her tenacious style of play. Standing at 192cm she is deceptively quick, able to spring into action within a blink of an eye while her pressure and lean over the shot is just as intimidating. Pairing with the likes of Holly Fowler and Georgia Tong, Mikaere relies on her experience to do the talking, dictating the space and controlling the tempo of the game with her composed nature. Sometimes heavily penalised given her ferocious attack on the ball, Mikaere makes up for it with her ball winning tendencies whether it be via intercepts, deflections or pressure to create turnovers. Her positioning under the post is another key element of her game play allowing the goal keeper to go up for the rebound and drag it down. 

With Wilson in ripping form under the post and hardly ever missing Mikaere will have to draw on every inch of experience to get inside the young goaler’s head and deter her from going to post. The battle will be intriguing given both are strong in the air and can hold their own under the post testament to their strength and netball smarts. Mikaere is an excitement machine for Waikato Bay of Plenty but has struggled to find consistency in recent weeks, something she will have to do if she has any chance of shutting down Wilson at the post.

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 4

WITH three teams sitting on one win apiece expect Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership to bring plenty of excitement and cause a major shake-up to the ladder. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Central Pulse both play two games in Round 4 with the latter hoping to keep their undefeated record intact. 

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Friday, 3 July

Sitting at two and three respectively on the ladder the clash between the Mystics and Tactix will generate a wealth of excitement. With star power across the court and strong defensive units it will come down to who can deliver under the post on Friday and get their side over the line in what will be a defensive slog. 

There is no denying that the Tactix pose one of the strongest defensive line-ups with Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau running rampant down back. Watson is incredibly damaging in the goal circle with her ability to cleanly manoeuvre around the body of her opponent, hunt for the ball and skill through transition while her partner in crime oozes tenacity and aerial strength. However the duo will have their work cut out for them up against power house goal shooter Grace Nweke. The 18-year-old burst onto the scene last year and has not only grown in confidence but so too firepower, able to reel the ball in time and time again, using her strength and footwork to constantly command the ball. It will be up to fellow Mystics goalers Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes to detract from Nweke under the post and draw either Watson or Fakahokotau to allow the goal shooter to engage in one on one battles in which she is almost impossible to beat. Although Watson and Fakahokotau are formidable in the defensive circle it will be pivotal for the likes of Charlotte Elley to stand up and quell the influence of Peta Toeava in wing attack if they are to reduce the speed and accuracy in which the ball enters the circle for the Mystics. 

Still ironing out their connections in the goal circle Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit seemed to find their rhythm last week and will be eager to replicate that again this round. Selby-Rickit is a real playmaker in the attacking third for the Tactic able to set up a plethora of plays and create space with her pin point passes and ability to glide into space. Her long range shooting allows Bird to do damage under the post and hold strong. Both down on their usual accuracy in their previous outing they will have to sink them against the Mystics given how strong both Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick are when it comes to rebounds. The Mystics pair are extremely tight, constantly applying physical pressure and using their long lean to get in the head of their opponents. Karaka and Fitzpatrick are renowned for their ability to hunt ball and stop any attacking forays meaning the Tactix will have to be on their a-game if they are to get past the Mystics defensive unit.

With Toeava a key through the midcourt for the Mystics, the output of Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen will play a big part in whether or not the Tactix can get over the line and potentially progress up the ladder. 

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 4 July

Looking for their fourth straight win the reigning champs will be eager to stamp their authority against the struggling Steel who only managed their first win last week. It will be no easy feat however, as the Steel will be riding a wave of momentum and seeming to find their rhythm across the court. 

Headlined by a couple of Silver Ferns the midcourt is a real engine room for the Steel but the Pulse also boast a couple of handy players through the centre third. The combination of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton is ultra impressive with the two able to seamlessly link up across the court and deliver bullet passes into the likes of Jennifer O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. Crampton is explosive in the attacking third, able to hit circle edge with ease and precision but will be challenged every step of the way by Karin Burger. Not your typical wing defence, the Pulse midcourter oozes defensive pressure and height, standing at 184cm, a full 10cm taller than her opponent. Her hands over pressure and clever three foot marking is what makes her such a commanding presence able to block Crampton’s vision into the circle. Meanwhile the battle between Saunders and Claire Kersten will also generate plenty of intrigue with the two able to run all day and almost cancel each other out. Having both represented the Ferns the two centres know what it takes to stand up on the big stage and deliver both in attack and defence.

Coming off a strong performance last round O’Connell will be keen to emulate her hot form, with her strong holds, clever circle positioning and increased accuracy. Despite spending some time on the bench last week McCollin was a real playmaker in the attacking third, using her speed and flair to keep defenders on their toes. Without Georgia Heffernan in the mix due to a suspected knee injury, the Steel will have to be on their A-game if they are to combat the extreme defensive pressure of the Pulse given they boast so much experience and skill. Kelly Jury is no easy beat under the post imposing her 192cm frame on opposition attack units with her lean over the shot, long limbs and strength. Partner in crime Katrina Rore is another key element for the Pulse with her ball winning ability, transition through court and sheer netball smarts. 

With both sides coming in with momentum it will come down to whether or not the Steel can deliver under the post and keep the Pulse at bay. 

Central Pulse v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 5 July

In their second game of the round the Pulse will be hoping to keep their undefeated record and inflict more pain on the Magic. It has been a tricky return to netball for Waikato Bay of plenty unable to register a win since Round 1 but will be hoping to exploit any fatigue the Pulse may have in their second outing of the round. 

There is no denying that the Pulse have one of the most dominant attacking units in the competition with the likes of Aliyah Dunn the main culprit under the post. The young goal shooter is a commanding presence, able to score at both a high volume and high accuracy making her incredibly hard to stop. Unfazed by the physical nature of the game Dunn takes everything in her stride and will have to absorb a wealth of physicality from Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere. Renowned for her long limbs and body on body style of play expect Mikaere to be on the hunt for plenty of ball to stop it from coming into Dunn under the post. The calming presence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio for the Pulse adds another string to their bow in the shooting circle meaning Holly Fowler or Georgia Tong will have to try and disrupt the goal attacks flow with their hands over pressure. Ekenasio often has the ball on a string, able to seamlessly set up clever plays and can shoot from range making her a threat to be reckoned with while the inclusion of Tiana Metuarau is exciting for the Pulse as all three goalers can hold their own in the circle. 

Up against the likes of Magic shooter Kelsey McPhee, the likes of Jury, Elle Temu and Rore will be wanting to win back a lot of ball and shut down the aerial path to goal with her read of the play. Dispute not getting a wealth of court time Temu is an exciting prospect for the Pulse in defence with her strong body on body pressure, ability to rotate through the circle and sheer strength to outmuscle her opponents under the post. McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou have struggled for volume over the past couple of games and will be keen to prove their worth under the post. Latu-Meafou oozes flair and creativity with ball in hand, able to create plays and set up McPhee under the post something she will have to do in order to combat the Pulse. 

Given the amount of star-power across the court for the Pulse, they should get the job done comfortably but do not rule out the Magic who will be hungry for a win given their lacklustre start to the 2020 season. 

Waikato Bay Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Monday, 6 July

With the Magic taking the court the night before the Stars will be hoping to capitalise on their opponents and get back in the winners column after an up and down season so far. Sitting at one win apiece heading into the round this game could have a huge impact on both teams ladder position and their chances of potentially making finals. 

Headlined by Maia Wilson in goal shooter the Magic in particular Mikaere, will have to be on song from the get go to limit any easy ball into the towering shooter. Wilson is almost unstoppable from under the post with the goaler able to hold space effortlessly and use her body angles to keep the defenders at arms length. Throw in her ability to score quickly and accurately and the Stars definitely have the upper hand. However, Wilson is renowned for her ability to reel in the high balls much like Mikaere meaning the work from Jamie Hume out the front will be instrumental. If the goal attack can get off the hook early, command the ball and take the attention away from Wilson it will give the Stars a chance to generate some real scoreboard pressure. 

Through the midcourt the battle is just as fierce with a couple of Silver Ferns set to butt heads. In her first season back after giving birth, Grace Kara has not skipped a beat, able to deliver the ball perfectly into Wilson under the post. Kara’s use of speed, clever ball placement and vision is what makes her such a formidable opponent, able to dart in and out of traffic with ease. However she struggles up against niggly styled defenders, cue Magic captain Sam Winders. The talented wing defence is lightning quick, extremely athletic and renowned for her defensive marking, able to keep the attackers away from circle edge largely in part to her high netball nous. After a solid outing last week for the Stars, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan will be hoping to keep that intensity up with the young centre carving up the court. Her speed, ball delivery and skill to read the play is crucial for the Stars while Ariana Cable-Dixon along with Whitney Souness have speed to burn for the Magic in attack. 

With talent through the midcourt it will ultimately come down to whether or not the Magic can nullify the influence of Wilson under the post and if they can it will go a long way in securing their second victory of the season.

2020 ANZ Premiership stats wrap: Round 3

WITH Round 3 of the ANZ Premiership done and dusted, it’s time to take a look at the best stats of the week. Both Northern Mystics and Southern Steel took the court twice, making for some interesting numbers to finish the round.

In a round that seemed a lot more defensively focused than last week, a couple of defenders stood out with Sulu Fitzpatrick leading the way with four intercepts and nine gains in a winning Mystics outfit on Saturday, before adding two more gains to her tally against the Pulse on Monday. Fitzpatrick’s partner in crime Phoenix Karaka had a similar output, pulling off three intercepts in the first match while Emily Burgess combined for three intercepts across the two games. Also impressive was the explosive defensive unit of the Tactix, with the side running out victors thanks to the efforts of Temalisi Fakahokotau (three intercepts, six gains), Jane Watson (two intercepts from five gains) and Charlotte Elley (two intercepts).

Magic’s Holly Fowler racked up five gains and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was also solid with six evenly spread across her two matches, while Taneisha Fifita well and truly led the penalty tally this round with 32 and four gains across the two games.

Down the other end, Maia Wilson led the way in singular games thanks to a phenomenal 37-goal output at 88 per cent accuracy, while Grace Nweke was similarly dominant across her two matches, shooting 63 goals from 73 attempts. Jennifer O’Connell had a much better week, scoring 60 goals at 88 per cent accuracy in her back-to-back matches, while Ellie Bird was solid once more with 33 goals.

For Magic, Kelsey McPhee (21 from 26) and Abigail Latu-Meafou (15 from 21) shared the load while Ameliaranne Ekenasio led the tally for goal attacks, shooting 21 from 24 and spending some time in goal shooter towards the end of the match, while Kalifa McCollin was slightly down on her output and accuracy this week but across her two games still managed 26 goals from her 35 attempts. Te Paea Selby-Rickit was not quite as dominant to post with 12 from 19 but made up for it with her 17 centre pass receives, doing a wealth of work out the front.

Through the midcourt, dual match players in Peta Toeava (39 assists across both games) and Steel’s Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders (33 assists apiece) dominated the stats sheet, while Mila Reuelu Buchanan stepped up to dominate the individual match stats with 20 assists against the Steel. Reuelu Buchanan was closely followed by Claire Kersten (18 assists) and Erikana Pedersen (17 assists) while Whitney Souness put out an impressive well-rounded performance with 17 goal assists and two intercepts.

 

MORE MATCH STATS:

>> Mainland Tactix (45) defeated WBOP Magic (36) 

>> Northern Mystics (46) defeated Southern Steel (42)

>> Northern Stars (47) defeated by Southern Steel (49)

>> Central Pulse (42) defeated Northern Mystics (35)

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 3

THE ANZ Premiership delivered once again over the weekend with all six teams showcasing their skill and dominance across the court. Round 3 was unfortunately marred with injury while the Pulse continued their merry way and ended the Mystics winning streak on the way. 

Steel claim first win of the season:
In their second game of the round the Southern Steel mustered up a strong performance downing the Northern Stars in a rematch of the elimination final that saw them knocked out of grand final contention in 2019. It was a hot start for the Steel who proved that when firing on all cylinders they are hard to beat and are classy with ball in hand. Jennifer O’Connell was a commanding presence under the post, able to clearly indicate where she wanted the ball and use her footwork to ward off defenders. Through the midcourt the class of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton shone through with the tried and tested duo relying on their strong connection to thread the ball through the defence and deliver the ball on a silver platter to O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. The shared effort between the two midcourters worked wonders with defenders unable to effectively stop their consistent output around the circle edge. 

Defensive masterclass:
Round 3 was heavily dictated by defence with the Tactix keeping the Magic to 36 goals for the game, Mystics restricting the Steel to 42 goals and Pulse limiting the Mystics to 35. Dominant performances from Tactix duo Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau set tongues wagging with the two putting on a clinic down back with a combined 11 gains, five intercepts, four rebounds and six deflections. Watson elevated her game even further, only registering the one penalty for the match, showcasing her restraint and cleanliness at the contest. For the Mystics the combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka worked wonders with the two applying a wealth of pressure to shut down options and pick off passes with 13 gains, seven intercepts, eight deflections and one rebound between them in the clash against the Steel. Although the Pulse defensive unit did not have a stats filling performance it was their perceived pressure and stifling style of play that caused havoc, shutting down their opponents’ every move. Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore managed four gains, three deflections and two rebounds. 

Devastating injury blow to young up and coming goaler:
After settling into the attacking unit, Southern Steel’s Georgia Heffernan was struck down with a knee injury midway through the third quarter against the Northern Stars. Awaiting confirmation to the extent of the injury, Heffernan could be a huge loss for the Steel who were starting to find their rhythm in attack with the young goaler able to come on and have an immediate impact credit to her height and netball nous. In her first season at ANZ level Heffernan was steadily building into her role on court, displaying her accuracy to post and clever movement in the attacking third. 

Magic need to unlock their shooting potential:
Despite challenging both the Mystics and Tactix in the past two rounds the Magic have been unable to do enough on the scoreboard to worry their opponents and collect the win. In Round 2 the Magic managed 40 goals while their Round 3 total was even lower with 36 goals. Although the combination of Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee is strong they simply cannot generate enough opportunities at goal to put up a commanding score. In the second half against the Tactix, the Magic due only scored 14 goals – seven goals per quarter – while their opponents piled on 14 goals alone in the third term showcasing just how much the Magic’s attack end struggled. While accuracy was not a huge problem with McPhee sitting at 81 per cent and Latu-Meafou at 71 per cent, it was their output that did the damage with McPhee converting 21 goals and Latu-Meafou sinking 15. 

Pulse are still the team to beat:
In a gruelling four quarter battle against the Mystics, the Pulse had the final say, running over the top of their competitors in the last quarter. It was a strong showing from the Mystics but the reigning premiers were simply too good, able to wear their opponents down and capitalise on their opportunities. Clever with ball in hand and strong in defence the Pulse won ball back and propelled the ball back down court to create plenty of attacking forays. Their ability to withstand pressure and rise to the occasion is second to none. Inspired by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Tiana Metaurau in attack the Pulse looked revitalised and composed giving them that much needed competitive edge while the speed and excitement of Maddy Gordon helped to lift the Pulse. 

Compare the Pair: Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Kiera Austin

THE next instalment in the Draft Central Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different competitions, with the next showcasing two goal attacks in Silver Ferns’ Te Paea Selby-Rickit and talented young Australian Kiera Austin.

Two highly skilled goalers in vastly different points of their careers, there is no doubt that the likes of Selby-Rickit and Austin play different roles for their respective teams, but it’s their ability to turn and shoot and apply pressure to take attention away from their goal shooter that they have in common. With clean hands, unsuspecting speed and a high work ethic, the duo can create plays and also be that go-to option at the post when required.

Selby-Rickit has a big presence on court and is one of those goal attacks that needs to be paid constant attention given her netball nous and ability to enter the contest with ease. Selby-Rickit has the build to really interrupt defensive motion and cause havoc with her accuracy and volume to post, especially from distance, allowing her to provide a constant threatening presence in goal attack. Selby-Rickit’s ability to provide an option in both goal attack and goal shooter makes her a quality option in any team, using her quick feet and quickfire passes to rotate the circle with ease, but can also provide a holding option at the post thanks to her 188cm frame and sticky fingers to be an aerial threat. With 46 caps to her name, Selby-Rickit has plenty of international experience and will hope to boost her resume once international competition returns.

Still in the early days of her career at only 22, Austin may not have yet officially debuted for Australia but has clearly proved she is one to watch, having taken the court in the 2018 Fast5 and as part of the side in the 2020 Bushfire Relief match. Her ability to evade her opposition is crucial while she has also proved to be a handy versatile option to rotate through virtually any of the main attacking positions, honing her wing attack craft last season. While she is likely to stay in that role in 2020, her clever ball placement and know-how will allow her to gain some precious court time and potentially rotate into the goal circle with the addition of the rolling subs rule in the Super Netball this season. Austin’s speed and ability to turn and shoot allow her to form a handy entrant to any team, using her vision to provide an option on circle edge or zip into position to apply scoreboard pressure. 

Te Paea Selby-Rickit

46 caps, 2016-present

Kiera Austin