Category: ANZ Premiership

Stars end season on a high with scintillating 19-goal win

IN both teams’ final game of the home and away season, it was the Northern Stars that claimed the win over Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by 19 goals (65-46). It was a one-sided affair as the Stars came out with a point to prove after dropping all the way down the ladder and missing finals.

Caitlin Bassett picked up where she left off hitting the scoreboard within the first 20 seconds of the game for the Magic meanwhile up the other end of the court it was Jamie Hume that carried her hot form into the round with a beautiful long bomb. An early deflection from Lisa Mather around circle edge gifted possession to the Stars as the home side opened up an early lead. The first few minutes of the term was riddled with ball handling errors and uncharacteristic turnovers. Anna Harrison was proving to be a nuisance in the goal circle for the Magic with the long limbed defender picking up intercepts and deflections aplenty. Maia Wilson started with a point to prove with the goal shooter finding some good space inside the ring making the Magic pay for their turnovers. Six goals in a row from the Stars allowed them to open up a five-goal lead with the momentum well and truly favouring them.

Sam Winders’ never-say-die attitude well and truly came to the fore, with the centre streaming through for an intercept and rewarded for her efforts up the other end of the court thanks to Khiarna Wiliams scoring the first goal of the game. If it was not Harrison competing in the air, it was Elle Temu that came up big with the goal keeper using her outside arm to sway ball away. The Stars defence was up and about early forcing Bassett high and out of her comfort zone. Hume was running riot against Erena Mikaere using her speed and drive to receive ball in the circle and most importantly score as the lead ballooned out to six goals. The Magic managed to stem the bleeding momentarily with Bassett upping the ante inside the circle but the Stars still had control of the match heading into quarter time up by seven goals.

Looking for something new in attack, Chiara Semple made her way onto the court for the Magic, and while it did not immediately go to plan with Harrison blocking the shot, she followed up and got the job done. Gina Crampton was providing a real spark around circle edge for the Stars with her quick hands and dynamic movement while Wilson seemed to go off the boil after her strong start. Temalisi Fakahoktau was injected into the game to replace Georgia Tong as the lead extended out to nine goals. The Stars went back to basics in attack utilising the the angles around circle edge. Every time the Magic looked like pushing forward the Stars found a way to win ball back with Mather using her acceleration to full effect.

The Stars pushed out to a 10-goal lead and with that the Magic made a host of changes with Winders swinging back to wing defence as Tori Kolose came on in centre. Monica Falkner came entered the game in goal shooter for the Stars and did not skip a beat instantly in on the action. She was put under all sorts of pressure but managed to stay composed and add to the Stars 11-goal lead. Grace Kara was struggling to find her rhythm in attack for the Magic with the wing attack well covered every step of the way by Mather while Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was also imposing herself in defence and attack with her ability to scrap for the loose ball.

The Stars made a change in the goal shooter role once again as Wilson re-entered the contest while defensively Harrison continued to be a menace coming up for a huge intercept. Things were falling apart for the Magic as the Stars steadily picked away at their structures with their silky ball movement and constant pressure enabling them to capitalise. The Stars were humming in all aspects of the court creating a 16-goal lead with Hume dominating to post meaning the Magic needed to find something to spark them back into action with the midcourt bibs thrown around once again. The messiness of the game started to get a bit out of control with missed shots aplenty and turnovers left, right and centre stopping any type of fluidity across the court.

The Magic started to rally with the changes starting to come together as they reduced the deficit from 14 goals to 10 within a blink of an eye. Semple was finding some nice space as Georgie Edgecombe was proving to be a key contributor in wing defence. Fakahokotau and Mikaere were putting some real pressure on the shot but the Stars goalers held their nerve to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Up by 17 goals the Stars were eager to apply more scoreboard pain with Harrison impressing with her go-go gadget like arms to regain possession for her side. The Stars were working like a well-oiled machine in attack with the Magic unable to quell the influence of the home side as they run away with a convincing win. It was a disappointing final game for Magic coach Amigene Metcalfe as her side simply had no answers for a rampaging Stars outfit.

Bassett finished with 32 goals from 35 attempts while Semple relished her court time nailing 12 goals at 80 per cent. Wilson had a slightly better day at the office for the Stars converting 17 goals from 29 attempts. Hume continued her hot form with her 26 goals while Falkner found her groove finishing with 20 from 28 at 71 per cent. Crampton was crafty around circle edge amassing 24 goal assists as Winders continued her charge for the Magic with 10 goal assists. Defensively Harrison was an imposing force collecting a whopping eight  intercepts and five gains. Temu was also in fine form down back racking up  five intercepts and three gains. Meanwhile Fakahokotau and Mikaere combined for six deflections and five gains.

Mystics impress against Mainland Tactix to claim a four goal victory

NORTHERN Mystics ended their home and away season on a high, denying Mainland Tactix the chance of hosting the elimination final next week with a four-goal win, 63-59. It was a tight tussle between the two teams but it was the Mystics that held sway for majority of the game and were intent on winning, having already secured their spot in the grand final.

The two goal shooters opened the accounts for their respective sides with Ellie Bird and Grace Nweke hitting the scoreboard in a matter of moments. Te Paea Selby-Rickit had her radar on nice and early for the Tactix alleviating the pressure on Bird while Filda Vui got her first start of the season for the Northern Mystics and did not skip a beat. It was blow for blow in the first five minutes of the game with neither side able to pull away. It was turning into a shooting masterclass with all four goalers out on court more than happy to shoot from absolutely anywhere in the circle and do so at a high accuracy. The Tactix and Mystics were treasuring possession with the first turnover not coming until the six minute mark of the quarter with the Mystics capitalising off the soft hands of Bird.

Jane Watson took advantage of her long limbs to create a turnover and within a blink of an eye the Tactix levelled the score and then stole the lead thanks to their ability to convert off the centre pas. Peta Toeava was having a field day with the wing attack releasing the ball with such confidence. Every time the Tactix seemed to get their noses in front the Mystics found a way to flip the script, extending the lead back out to two goals. a missed shot from Selby-Rickit handed possession back into the hands of the Mystics and they did not muck around with Nweke knocking it down before Vui answered the call moments layer for the Mystics to go into half time up by four goals.

The first couple of minutes of the second quarter well and truly favoured the Tactix slotting five goals in a row to tie things. A couple of big defensive wins started to fall the way of the Tactix as they started to kick into gear and chance down the Mystics. The double defence over the shot was not fazing either of  the Mystics shooters as they went on a four  goal spree of their own. Kimiora Poi upped the ante for the Tactix especially in attack with the centre working in overdrive to reset play around circle edge. Charlotte Elley was starting to get found out with Toeava showing her hand both in attack and defence as the Mystics skipped out to a whopping seven-goal lead.

Things were starting to fall apart in the attacking end for the Tactix with Samon Nathan unable to find a wealth of space around circle while Elley moved to the bench allowing Sophia Fenwick to enter the fray for the Tactix in wing defence. Claire O’Brien entered the contest for the Mystics with both sides throwing the bibs around to find an extra gear. The wing attack came on with a hot hand and excellent timing around circle edge to help the Mystics maintain that nine goal margin heading into half time.

Both sides made a raft of changes after half time with Erikana Pedersen getting the call-up in wing attack for the Tactix while the experienced Bailey Mes came on in goal attack for the Mystics. The Tactix started to rally scoring three goals in a row but were still a step off the pace. Karin Burger received a warning in what could have proven to be a turning point of the game with the goal defence on high alert but it did not seem to faze her as she went out hunting for ball. Pedersen impressed with her defensive nous to reel in an intercept while her class around circle edge paid off with Bird relishing the pinpoint feeds as they reduced the margin to five goals.

The intensity rose from both sides as they contest hard for each and every pass. Ama Agbeze replaced Kate Burley in goal defence with her long arms and experience having an impact. It was turning into a battle of the goal keepers with Sulu Fitzpatrick starring up one end of the court and Watson down the other with the pair getting hands to ball. It was a mammoth effort from the Tactix as the midcourt defence kicked up a gear and Burger started to become a damaging factor in defence as they reduced the margin from nine to three at three quarter time.

It was a scrappy start to the final quarter with a couple of errant passes marring the opening minutes. The connection between Mes and Nweke was something special as the Mystics increased the margin to five and did not look like taking their foot off the pedal. Phoenix Karaka got some valuable court time for the Mystics out in goal defence as they continued to tick along and grind out the game to secure a hard fought win with Fa’amu Ioane also proving to be a key cog in the defensive unit with her constant pressure.

Bird was as strong as ever under the post nailing 42 goals from 44 attempts at an impressive 96 per cent while Selby-Rickit lacked that level of accuracy shooting at 68 per cent thanks to her 17 goals from 25 attempts but managed 15 goal assists. Pedersen was solid with her 15 goal assists while defensively the combination of Burger and Watson picked up five gains and three deflections. Nweke was unstoppable once again producing a whopping 49 goals from 51 attempts as Vui also starred with her 11 from 13. Toeava led the charge with her 17 goal assists as Earle also imposed herself with 15 goal assists and two gains. Fitzpatrick was at her best recording five gains in the win.

Steel star in narrow win over Pulse

WITH finals around the corner it was Southern Steel that stood strong to walk away with a narrow two-goal win over Central Pulse (59-57). In Gail Parata’s final game as head coach, the Central Pulse upped the ante and had their moments of magic but simply could not compete for a full 60 minutes.

It was goal for goal to start the term as George Fisher and Aliyah Dunn opened proceedings for their respective sides. It was a steady start for both sides as they carefully crafted the ball down the court unwilling to cough up possession. Fisher was presenting nicely inside the circle to keep the Steel chugging along. Kate Heffernan was proving to be a nuisance early on with the Steel centre competing for everything that came her way. It was turning somewhat into a battle of the long bombs with both Whitney Souness for the Pulse and Shannon Saunders for the Steel releasing long looping passes into their respective goalers. After a clean opening five minutes of the match both sides threw away a couple of costly passes with the Steel able to capitalise on their chances and go on a string of three goals to open up the largest lead of the afternoon.

Maddy Gordon kept the Pulse in striking distance with a huge intercept around circle edge, testament to her impressive athleticism with Dunn rewarding her for her efforts. Defensively the Steel were putting the clamps on as Te Huinga Selby-Rickit came to life with a nice deflection as they went on another three goal run. All of a sudden the buffer was out to five goals with the Pulse seeming to be on the back foot credit to the dominance of Fisher under the post. Heffernan came blistering through for another intercept with the Steel defence causing all sorts of trouble with their stifling three foot marking. Just as soon as it looked like the Steel had things all their own way the Pulse went on a couple of goal spree as they reduced the deficit to three goals at quarter time.

The Pulse made a couple of defensive changes with Paris Lokotui coming on in goal defence and Kelly Jury slotting back into her traditional goal keeper. The change paid dividends with Jury coming up with an intercept as the Pulse started to gain some momentum. Souness was a real livewire inside attack with her speed and cut and drive to the top of the circle. the Pulse really started to motor cutting the margin to just one goal with Lokotui doing a solid job on Tiana Metuarau. This goal for goal rhythm once again came to the fore with neither side able to break that one goal buffer given their respective conversions off the centre pass.

It was turning into a spectacle of the centres with Heffernan and Claire Kersten leading the charge. Kersten provided a calming head for the Pulse while Heffernan was sending fans into overdrive with her closing speed and sheer athleticism. A costly turnover allowed the Steel to rally as they extended the margin back out to four goals. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble stepped up to the plate for the Pulse with her workload and crafty court play allowing her to carve up the court and hit the scoreboard. Another three goal run in favour of the Pulse enabled them to cull the deficit back to one, as the Steel remained cool, calm and collected to keep their noses in front. Looking for fresh legs in defence Sarahpheinna Woulf came on in goal defence to provide some type of spark and point of difference.

It did not take long for the Steel to add to the scoreboard as they increased the lead back out to a four-goal margin. Gordon made the switch into centre as Kersten slotted back into wing defence to provide a bit of extra defensive coverage against Saunders who was having a field day out on court. Lokotui showcased her class and vision to go back with the flight to send the ball flying back down the court. Fisher hit back with a steadier to re-establish the handy lead they created. It was a tight tussle throughout the third term with Taneisha Fifita coming to life for the Steel, out hunting and picking up a nice intercept as Renee Savai’inaea continued to grind out the game. An offensive contact call against Fisher gave the Pulse a chance to capitalise but Heffernan had other plans as she pickpocketed the ball to keep the Steel in front. Things got a bit willing as the clock ticked down in the third term with cautions handed out as the Steel went into the final break up by two goals.

The Pulse ate into the margin almost instantly in the final term with a quick goal off the hands of Dunn but that was short lived as Fisher answered the call for the Steel. A huge intercept from Jury set the wheels in motion for the Pulse as they levelled the scores but Selby-Rickit showcased her class coming through for her own clean intercept. It was a see-sawing affair as the Pulse won ball back but just as quickly threw it away with the Steel digging deep to grind their way through the physicality and pressure. Abby Erwood was injected into the match momentarily but it did not impact the flow for the Steel as they put the foot down to run out two goal victors.

Fisher was in fine form for the Steel finishing with 42 goals to her name at 93 per cent accuracy. Metuarau was also imperative for the Steel notching up 17 goals along with 19 goal assists. Saunders was electric through the midcourt recording 25 goal assists, as Heffernan racked up three intercepts in the win.  Fifita impressed down in defence with three intercepts deflections as Jury proved to be a game changer for the Pulse with her three intercepts. Dunn was a commanding presence under the ring with her 36 goals from 39 attempts, as Amaru-Tibble starred sitting at 100 per cent thanks to her 21 goals. Souness was crafty with ball in hand leading the way with 22 goal assists.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 15

THE final round of the ANZ Premiership is set to have some ladder implications, although the Northern Mystics have already locked up top spot. The Stars and Magic will be battling it out for respect while the Pulse will be hoping to end their season on a high after not making finals for the first time since the competitions inception.

Southern Steel vs. Central Pulse
Saturday, July 24 @5:15pm

The Pulse will be hoping to farewell outgoing coach Gail Parata in style with a huge upset win over the Southern Steel who will be riding a wave of success of their own after toppling the Stars last round and securing a finals berth. It has been a disappointing season for the Pulse who have struggled to hit their straps but will be eager to cause an upset and finish their season on a high, while the Steel will be hoping to gain even more momentum.

The battle between George Fisher and Kelera Nawai will once again be the focal point as the two sides rely heavily on the influence of the aforementioned players. Fisher has well and truly asserted herself on the ANZ Premiership competition with her clever holds and fancy footwork enabling her to dictate the play meaning Nawai will have to be on her toes to stop the ball from entering the circle with any fluidity. The real barometer and concern for the Pulse however is, Tiana Metuarau with the Steel goal attack able to control proceedings credit to her crafty court work and pinpoint ball placement. With speed to burn she is going to be a tough task for Kelly Jury who well and truly has her height but no so much for court coverage. The contest between Shannon Saunders and Maddy Gordon is set to be a good one with the pair at different stages in their career but unrelenting when it comes to their pressure and desperation to impact the play for their respective sides.

It will all come down to whether or not Aliyah Dunn is able to withstand the physical nature of Taneisha Fifita for a full 60 minutes with the goal keeper coming off a dominant performance last round. Dunn does not take well to a bit of argy-bargy under the post meaning Te Amo Amaru-Tibble will have to up the ante inside the circle if the Pulse are any chance of causing an upset. The goal attack has showcased moments of magic but will need a consistent four quarter performance against the experienced head of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit. Speedster Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten will need to be on their a-game in attack if they are to bypass the hands over pressure from Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea to get easy passage into the circle.

Mainland Tactix vs. Northern Mystics
Sunday, July 25 @4:15pm

In what could be a potential grand final preview the contest between the Mainland Tactix and Northern Mystics is set to be an eye catching one to say the least. Both sides are coming in off narrow wins and with the Mystics securing a spot in the grand final it will all come down to bragging rights and confidence as the two sides battle it out in the last game of the home and away season.

It is going to be a battle of the goal shooters with Ellie Bird up one end of the court and Grace Nweke up the other. Bird is a lynchpin for the Tactix in attack with her strong holds and extra centimetres set to be the real kicker when up against the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley who are likely to double-team the goal shooter. The Tactix will need the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit to be at her damaging best if they are to detract from Bird with the goal attack able to shoot from anywhere inside the circle when given enough time and space. For the Mystics, Nweke is the most prolific goaler in the league and for good reason with her dominance in the air and overall athleticism setting her apart from the rest. She will have wits tested though against Jane Watson and Karin Burger who are both renowned for their constant hustle and tenacity with the latter in career best form. Expect the Mystics to rely on the experience of Bailey Mes to combat the Tactix defensive pressure while Filda Vui is more than capable of holding her own in the circle.

The midcourt is littered with speed as Kimiora Poi headlines the Tactix in attack and defence while Tayla Earle is incredibly dynamic for the Mystics. But it will all come down to the battle between Peta Toeava and Charlotte Elley. Toeava can turn a game on its head within a heartbeat with her pinpoint precision passes into Nweke likely to set the tone for the game. therefore it will be up to Elley to stop the wing attack from finding any freedom and implement some strong hands over pressure to block her vision. For the Tactix if Samon Nathan can break free early then it will go a long way in setting things up for the home side.

Northern Stars vs Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, July 26 @7:15pm

It is going to be a matter of respectability for both sides as the Stars have fallen out of finals contention and the Magic looking to end their year on a high after only securing the one win way back in Round 1. It has been a very different journey for both sides but that will not stop them from putting out a blockbuster clash with the Magic really hitting their stride the last couple of rounds but just falling short.

Maia Wilson has well and truly been off her game the past couple of weeks with her accuracy and volume both down. But she is a true competitor and will be hoping to return back to her dominant ways under the post. If not the Stars will take full confidence in the number of bench options they have with the likes of Monica Falkner and Amorangi Malesala both able to come on and have an impact. Jamie Hume has been in career best form but will have her work cut out for her against the long arms of Erena Mikaere who is likely to be joined by the likes of Temalisi Fakahokotau down in defence. Holly Fowler has not skipped a beat since her return and will need to negate the influence of Gina Crampton if the Magic are to cause an upset.

The midcourt worked wonders last week with the connections between Grace Kara and Sam Winders firing on all cylinders. The duo will need to replicate this form if they are to sight Caitlin Bassett and Khiarna Williams under the post and bypass the pressure from Anna Harrison and Elle Temu. The Magic play their best netball when they release the ball with confidence and accuracy into the circle to allow Bassett to set up nicely inside the circle something they will be aiming to continue from last round. Harrison is a real threat in defence with her closing speed and athleticism as is Temu while throw in the likes of Oceane Maihi and the Stars have choices aplenty.

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 11 and ANZ Premiership Round 14

ROUND 14 in the ANZ Premiership and 11 in the Suncorp Super Netball rolled around and it did not disappoint with a number of players racking up the stats. We take a look at some of the top performers across both leagues.

Goals:

Southern Steel goal shooter, George Fisher was accurate to post nailing 33 goals from 34 attempts, at an impressive 97 per cent accuracy. In fact it was the round of goal shooters as Caitlin Bassett impressed under the post with her 40 goals from 42 attempts, and Ellie Bird did enough to get the Tactix over the line with her 38 from 42 attempts at 91 per cent. Grace Nweke continued to top the table with a round high 52 goals from 61 attempts albeit at a slightly lower conversion rate than she would like at 85 per cent. It was a rough day at the office for Maia Wilson with the Stars captain only managing a mere 11 goals from 21 attempts at a lowly 52 per cent. But that did not stop Jamie Hume from stepping up to the plate nailing 30 from 38. Speaking of goal attacks Tiana Metuarau was as dominant ever for the Steel finishing with 13 goals and 14 goal assists. After a shaky start Te Amo Amaru-Tibble worked herself back into the contest with her 18 goals from 26 attempts as Te Paea Selby-Rickit finished with 10 from 17.

Accuracy proved to be no issue for Shimona Nelson with the Magpies goal shooter sitting at 100 per cent with 37 goals straight. Lenize Potgieter also shot at 100 per cent for the Thunderbirds nailing 26 goals while Jhaniele Fowler was hot on her tail with her 98 per cent accuracy but much higher volume thanks to her 57 goals from 58 attempts. Cara Koenen impressed playing out in goal attack managing 31 goals from 36 attempts as Peace Proscovia held her own in goal shooter with her 17 goals. Romelda Aiken shook off the yips early to nail 40 from 48, as Gretel Bueta imposed herself inside the circle with her 18 from 20 at 90 per cent, while also amassing 12 goal assists. The combination between Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer was on song once again as they shot 33 and 21 respectively with the latter converting at 91 per cent. They also combined for five super shots. For the Swifts, Sam Wallace was down on her accuracy sitting at 81 per cent but still managed to hit the scoreboard in a big way with her 39 goals. Mwai Kumwenda was once again the most dominant shooter for the Vixens scoring 33 from 37 at 89 per cent.

Midcourt:

Peta Toeava was up to her usual tricks for the Mystics amassing 24 goal assists and 17 centre pass receives in her sides win. Whitney Souness was also a commanding force for the Pulse with 24 goal assists and 27 centre pass receives of her own. Teammate Claire Kersten was her reliable self through the centre for the Pulse with her 18 goal assists as Maddy Gordon proved to be a ball magnet in wing defence with her three intercepts and two deflections. Sam Winders was a real maestro for the Magic racking up 19 goal assists as Grace Kara chimed in with 13. Erikana Pedersen found her groove for the Tactix coming on at quarter time with her 13 goal assists. For the Stars it was Gina Crampton that led the charge with her 22 goal assists as Shannon Saunders got busy for the Steel with her 17 goal assists.

West Coast Fever midcourter Verity Charles led all comers with her 27 goal assists as teammate Jess Anstiss chimed in with 15 of her own. The feeding was shared around in the Firebirds camp as Kim Ravaillion topped the table with 17 goal assists as Lara Dunkley managed 10. Paige Hadley was a commanding presence through the centre third racking up 17 goal assists while Maddy Proud found her groove in attack and defence with 11 goal assists and one intercept. Maddie Hay and Jamie-Lee Price were unstoppable for the GIANTS with the former amassing 19 goal assists. Teammate, Amy Parmenter fired on all cylinders in wing defence with eight deflections and two intercepts. Kelsey Browne was an energiser bunny for the Pies in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 17 goal assists, two deflections and an intercept as Molly Jovic also plied her trade in the Collingwood frontend with her 15 goal assists. Hannah Mundy continued to consolidate her form leading the way for the Vixens with 16 goal assists.

Defence:

Defensively Karin Burger starred for the Tactix as she racked up five intercepts, three deflections and two rebounds in what was an all-round stellar performance from the goal defence. Jane Watson showcased her read of the play racking up four deflections, while former teammate and current Magic goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau was amongst the thick of things with her six gains. Erena Mikaere utilised her long arms to rack up three deflections. Kelly Jury and Kelera Nawai combined for four gains and six deflections as Sulu Fitzpatrick impressed for the Mystics with her three gains. Goal keepers Taneisha Fifita and Anna Harrison imposed themselves racking up eight and seven gains apiece with the latter reeling in five intercepts credit to her go-go gadget arms.

Jodi-Ann Ward was once again at her best for the Magpies collecting nine gains, eight deflections and a couple of intercepts while Geva Mentor also showcased her class in goal keeper registering seven gains. The combination of Jo Weston and Emily Mannix was on full display as they combined for eight gains. Sarah Klau was a pillar of consistency for the Swifts recording four gains and six deflections as crosstown rival Sam Poolman was just as damaging for the GIANTS with her eight gains and four deflections. Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling impressed with her six deflections, two intercepts as Matilda Garrett got busy with her four deflections. Courtney Bruce got plenty of hands to ball finishing with four intercepts and two deflections as Sunday Aryang took advantage of her long limbs and closing speed to pick up five deflections and four gains. Kim Jenner and Rudi Ellis imposed themselves with a combined 10 deflections.

Photo credit: AAP

2021 ANZ Premiership: Team of the Week – Round 14

THE penultimate round of ANZ Premiership brought plenty of blockbuster results and huge individual efforts to get their respective sides over the line. The Southern Steel collected a huge win and with that had two players make the squad, and while the Pulse and Magic fell short in their matches, they still had a number of key contributors.

GS: Caitlin Bassett (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)
GA: Jamie Hume (Northern Stars)
WA: Whitney Souness (Central Pulse)
C: Kate Heffernan (Southern Steel)
WD: Maddy Gordon (Central Pulse)
GD: Karin Burger (Mainland Tactix)
GK: Anna Harrison (Northern Stars)

BENCH: George Fisher (Southern Steel), Peta Toeava (Northern Mystics), Taneisha Fifita (Southern Steel)

It was arguably Caitlin Bassett‘s best game to-date since joining the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and the goal shooter did not disappoint. She was an absolute nuisance under the post with her commanding presence, smarts and overall body positioning under the ring allowing her to dictate the flow in attack. The goal shooter was on song from the opening minutes of the quarter and did not relent with her accuracy to post and confidence. Bassett only missed one goal for the entire game and stood up to the continuous physicality, highlighting just how imperative she is to the Magic. Elsewhere, Jamie Hume had a game to remember for the Stars with the goal attack backing herself in from just about anywhere in the circle. Her classy movement and impressive timing was on full show throughout the clash while she also increased her volume to post nailing 30 goals from 38 attempts.

Speedster Whitney Souness found her groove this round hitting circle edge with great conviction and speed. She was a real barometer for the Pulse frontend, setting up the attacking forays and dictating the pace of the game with her nice timing and deft passes. Getting the nod in centre is Kate Heffernan with the Southern Steel midcourter proving to be a crucial cog in both attack and defence. Her two-way running and sheer athleticism consistently sets her apart from the opposition while her long limbs enable her to employ a strong three-foot guard. She is quick on her feet despite her height and has good spatial awareness to deliver the ball into the circle with great precision and timing. Wing defence Maddy Gordon threw herself at absolutely everything that came her way and used her closing speed to shut down the space in a heartbeat. She was a real livewire for the Pulse, able to build pressure with her constant hustle around circle edge and sheer desperation to win ball back. Her tenacity and attacking nous enabled her to cut off drives and get hands to ball to create crucial turnovers.

It was another blistering performance from Karin Burger as the goal defence continued her ball-winning ways for the Mainland Tactix. Burger showcased nothing but class and timing to continuously turn her body inside out and create deflections aplenty. Her cleanliness and attack on the ball gifted the opportunity for the Tactix to win back possession as she continued to stand up in the big moments. Not only did Burger star in defence but so too in transition as she put on an absolutely stellar performance. Joining Burger in the defensive circle is the one and only Anna Harrison with the Stars goal keeper proving to be a real thorn in her opponents’ side. She was never far from the contest, with her long arms and physicality wreaking all sorts of havoc. Harrison continues to prove that age is just a number with her impressive elevation and netball smarts on full show throughout the entire four quarters. Her hunt and tenacity was undeniable earning herself another spot in our Team of the Week.

George Fisher was unlucky not to get the starting goal shooter position given her accuracy to post and volume for the Steel in their win. Also unlucky not to make the starting seven was teammate Taneisha Fifita as the goal keeper proved to be a real menace with her constant niggle and tenacity while the final bench spot goes to Peta Toeava who was once again crafty with ball in hand for the Mystics.

2021 ANZ Player of the Week: Round 14 – Caitlin Bassett

IN a new series, Draft Central casts an eye over the top performer from the round taking into account not only their individual stats, but their overall impact on the game. Round 14 of the ANZ Premiership saw a number of key players lead the way for their respective teams and put their best foot forward, with Australian goal shooter and Magic lynchpin Caitlin Bassett the next player to get the nod for Player of the Week.

The goal shooter was in fine form using her body and clever holds to keep the likes of Jane Watson at bay time and time again. Watson is renowned for her prying arms and constant movement but the class and smarts of Bassett shone through as she dipped into her bag of tricks to dominate inside the circle. Bassett made her presence felt nice and early bodying up against Watson to drop back into the space along the goal line, a method which proved extremely beneficial for the Magic throughout their contest.

Although Waikato Bay of Plenty did not get over the line, Bassett’s performance is what kept her side in it as she consistently reoffered inside the circle and most importantly was accurate to post. The Australian goal shooter managed an impressive 40 goals from 42 attempts at 95 per cent, one of her highest outputs in the ANZ Premiership to-date and reminding everyone just how potent she can be. Bassett highlighted her ability to hold Watson at the top of the circle and then drop into the back space, but also proved that she could flick around and demand the front space with her strong positioning. Her footwork was also on song throughout the match as she worked all areas of the circle to open up space, but clearly did her best work when planted directly under the post as is her specialty.

Bassett has been steadily building all season with the Magic feeders taking a while to forge those really strong connections and confidence to deliver into her. But this round those connections well and truly came to fruition with the likes of Sam Winders and Grace Kara firing off well-executed passes into the goal shooter. The midcourt pair allowed Bassett to command the ball inside the circle and by cleverly directing passes into her, Bassett could and did impose herself for the full 60 minutes. This newfound confidence to release the ball in almost instantaneously paid dividends for Bassett as she was able to set up quickly, playing right into the hands of the tried and tested Australian captain. There was a real aura of confidence around Bassett which rubbed off on youngster Khiarna Williams inside the circle as the pair continue to develop a damaging partnership.

This was by far one of the best games this season from Bassett as her leadership kept her side within striking distance of the top two side in the Tactix. She utilised her voice out on court to help dictate the play inside attack and was a constant threat with her quick hands and footwork allowing her to reposition to ensure she could get into damaging places within the attacking third. Bassett took advantage of her extra centimetres to reel in the rebounds while her ability to draw the penalties also gave her a few easy shots under the post.

ANZ Premiership Young Guns: Round 14

ROUND 14 of the ANZ Premiership is done and dusted and with that came some scintillating performances from the next generation of players. This series will cast an eye over a host of under 21s players that made their way out on court and the impact they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

The goal shooter continues to grow with confidence week after week and this performance was no different. Able to twist herself inside out and reel in the high looping ball Nweke was once again a great target inside the circle. Although she was down on her usual accuracy her volume did not waver, still managing 52 goals. She was unfazed by the changes thrown at her with both Bailey Mes and Filda Vui spending time out the front as she remained a focal point. Nweke highlighted her ability to just about hold anywhere inside the circle and still somehow remain directly under the post such is her classy footwork and innate timing to get off the hold and pop into the space. Renowned for commanding back space, she also showed her capacity to hold the front space and command the ball adding another bit of diversity to her game. There is no denying that Nweke is just about unstoppable when able to get her arms free and cleanly contest the ball in the air which she did time and time again against the Pulse. She used her improved balance and composure to think her way through the tight one-on-one marking to stand up and lead the way for the Mystics.

Tayla Earle

It was a relatively quiet performance by Earle as the centre dug in and did the one percenters well. She flew under the radar and just plugged away for the Mystics with her cautious approach down the court and smarts to flick the ball around and wait for an opening to present itself. Earle played a clever role in defence to block the middle channel for the Pulse with her quick footwork and hands over pressure while she also helped out in attack to drive through the middle of the court and open things up. combine her turn of speed and excellent spatial awareness and Earle was a key cog in the Mystics’ engine room.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams

Although her shooting accuracy and volume was down, Williams was still a force to be reckoned with for the Magic. Her composure and smarts reaches beyond her years, able to cleverly dance around the circle and present strongly. Not only is she a threat inside the circle but so too with ball in hand, consistently dishing off clever passes into Caitlin Bassett to keep the Magic scoreboard ticking over. The goal attack was in fine form using her split inside the circle to edge closer to the post while her confidence to back herself from anywhere in the circle was also on full display. The youngster presented nicely at the centre pass, coming over the line with some great pace but it did not stop there as she was constantly on the move and did the basics well to open up the circle. Her clever triangle work kept the defenders on her back and while Karin Burger proved to be a tough challenge she continued to find ways to remain in the game and utilised her turn of speed to have an influence on the game.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

It was another solid performance from Gordon who was tasked with the challenging job of combatting Peta Toeava. Gordon took advantage of her speed and quick change of direction to consistently block the drive of Toeava and wreak havoc in the defensive third. She threw her body on the line time and time again in an attempt to win ball back for the Pulse and was a real catalyst in the final term with her energy and desperation. Not only was Gordon strong in defence, contesting each and every pass around circle edge, but she was also influential in attack, sitting nice and high on the transverse line and providing a helping hand.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

The goal attack had a real pep in her step from the opening minute of the game, asserting herself on the contest and using her clever body positioning to command the ball. Her work at the centre pass was impressive as was her endurance to get involved in the second phase in attack to edge the ball closer to circle edge. Metuarau showcased her impressive timing to enter the circle and take the ball at full speed and then stop on a dime. She was never far from the play and proved to be a real barometer for the side. Her strength took centre stage throughout the battle as she wore the physicality stemming from both Anna Harrison and Elle Temu and continued her merry way in the goal circle. It was a complete performance from Metuarau as the goal attack also imposed herself in defence, working hard to slow down the transition and keep the ball trapped in the goal third for the Steel credit to her three-foot marking.

Taneisha Fifita

Fifita refused to give an inch all game to Maia Wilson working the goal shooter in overdrive. Her constant footwork and movement confused the space for both the feeders and Wilson as she imposed herself from the get-go. Fifita pushed Wilson up nice and high and used her body to apply some physical pressure but not too much that she would draw the eye of the umpire. The goal keeper wasted no time defending the shot with her three-foot marking and well-timed jump to get in the head of her opponents. Fifita was not afraid to go out hunting and backed her speed to cut off any cross court ball coming her way. She also showcased her class to read both the high ball and the ground ball to disrupt the flow in attack and win clean possession for her side.

Kate Heffernan

It was a consistent performance from the centre who just flew under the radar for the Steel. She was cool, calm and collected with ball in hand able to work it around and lower the eyes when needed to deliver into the circle. Heffernan had an influence up both ends of the court with her work rate undeniable and overall netball smarts coming to the fore. She consistently re-offered around circle edge and in the attacking third to allow the likes of Metuarau and George Fisher to reset and inch closer to the post. She often held sway at the top of the goal circle and highlighted her ability to swing the ball from one corner of the court to the other.

Renee Savai’inaea

She did not have an overwhelming presence in defence but Savai’inaea definitely left her mark through transition. She worked hard to be an attacking option for the Steel using her speed to slice through the defence and open up the midcourt. She offered plenty of support on the transverse line with her smarts to reset the play coming to the fore time and time again.

Steel survive gutsy Stars comeback to secure finals berth

THE Southern Steel have knocked the Northern Stars out of the ANZ Premiership finals race with a desperate one-goal win last night despite still having one round left (46-45). It was a heart in your mouth game that went right down to the wire with neither side willing to relent on the pressure nor give up due to the high stakes of the contest.

Tiana Metuarau wasted no time opening her account nailing a goal within the first 20 seconds of the game. The ball was moving up and down the court with great speed as Jamie Hume looked to land the first goal of the game for the Stars but missed gifting a chance for the Steel to capitalise and that they did. Holding a handy two goal lead the Northern Stars defence got to work as they won ball back and Maia Wilson rewarded them for their efforts. With the centre pass to follow the Stars started to build some momentum stringing back-to-back goals together and before you knew it the home side had the upper hand – up by a goal. This goal for goal motion continued but it was Metuarau that was doing damage at the post as George Fisher did not get a look in until four and a half minutes had gone by credit to the work of Anna Harrison under the post.

Each time one side would pull ahead marginally the other would find a way to sneak back in and nail consecutive goals to keep things interesting. Gina Crampton was up and about early for the Stars with the wing attack finding good space and using her crafty passes to sight both Wilson and Hume inside the circle. Shannon Saunders was inflicting the same level of pain up the other end of the court with the Steel wing attack confident to release the ball into her shooters. It was turning somewhat into a shootout between the two goal attacks as Hume and Metuarau led the charge for their respective sides with the two holding shooters nullified by their goal keepers. Harrison was proving to be a real nuisance, going out hunting nice and early and cleanly getting hands to ball to create doubt in the feeders mind. But it was not enough to give her side the upper hand, heading into quarter time with 13 goals apiece.

Wilson was struggling to find her momentum under the post missing her first three attempts of the quarter before Hume pounced to mop things up and create a one-goal advantage. Things were going along swimmingly for the Steel as Fisher used her split and smarts to negate the influence of Harrison. The goal for goal battle continued as both sides looked to treasure possession and cleverly work the ball down the court rather than force it. Taneisha Fifita upped the ante down in goal keeper for the Steel using her footwork and body work to contest and force Wilson out of her comfort zone. She was combining seamlessly with Te Huinga Sebly-Rickit to create a strong wall in defence and get in the head of Wilson who simply could not buy a goal.

The midcourt battle between Kate Heffernan and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan intensified as the quarter went on with the pair refusing to give an inch. Saunders and Metuarau were guilty of coughing up a couple of turnovers but their overall work rate was keeping the Steel in contention as the duo dictated the rhythm in attack. Elle Temu upped the ante to try and nullify Metuarau with the goal defence going out hunting to stop the ball from entering the circle and using her long arms over the shot to try and win ball back. A couple of consecutive goals to Hume gave the Stars the lead but Metuarau was not about to be outdone by her fellow goal attack crafting a clever play to gift Fisher with a chance to level the scores at half-time.

Looking for a spark at half time Lisa Mather was injected into the game for Greer Sinclair in hope to stop the dynamic movement of Saunders in attack. But the third term started with a bang as Metuarau and Fisher quickly added to the scoreboard to establish a handy four goal lead. In fact it was not until the three minute mark that the Stars were able to hit the scoreboard as Hume landed a much needed settler. The early flurry of goals proved to be hard for the Stars to comeback from as the Steel continued to plug away. Wilson was virtually rendered ineffective only slotting one goal for the entire term as Hume did the heavy lifting out the front credit to the work of Fifita. Renee Savai’inaea was playing her role around circle edge employing some strong hands over pressure to limit any easy transition into the ring for the Stars as they went into the break down by two goals.

With the game and a finals berth on the line the Steel picked up where they left off piling on the first three goals of the game to create a five goal lead. Monica Falkner was injected into the thick of things and her presence was immediately felt as her and Hume managed three goals to reduce the margin back to three. Crampton upped the ante to give the Stars some hope while the Steel just relied on their strong connections to grind out the game. Harrison and Temu threw themselves at everything that came their way as another string of three goals from Hume cut the margin to one goal. But inaccuracy came back to bite the Stars as Hume was gifted two chances but could not make them sink as they went down by a goal.

It was another strong performance to post for Fisher as the goal shooter managed 33 goals from 34 attempts at 97 per cent. Metuarau was equally as impressive with her 13 goals at 77 per cent accuracy, while also amassing 14 goal assists. Saunders was dynamic racking up a team high 17 goal assists as Fifita proved to be a commanding presence down back with her three intercepts, three deflections and four gains. Wilson’s shooting woes continued only managing a mere 11 from 21 at 52 per cent but that did not stop Hume from leading the charge nailing 30 from 38 at 79 per cent. Falkner also made a handy cameo appearance with four from five. Crampton was crafty recording 22 goal assists but it was Harrison that kept her side in it with her five intercepts, four deflections and two gains.

Mystics secure grand final position with narrow two-goal win

NORTHERN Mystics secured their standings atop of the table with a hard-fought win over reigning premiers Central Pulse, 56-54. It was a history-making performance by the Mystics who for the first time in their 14 years made it straight through to the grand final thanks to a topsy turvy win to say the least.

The Mystics raced out to a handy lead in the opening term as their blistering speed exploited the Pulse almost immediately. Grace Nweke was her ever reliable self under the post while Kate Burley starred with her sheer athleticism to get hands to ball straight away. The visitors piled on the first three goals of the game with their defensive pressure all but stifling the Pulse’s attack. Aliyah Dunn landed the first goal of the game for the home side with just a tick over two minutes played. Thing settled down for both sides as the game turned into a goal for goal rhythm. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble had a bit of a shaky start missing her first attempt of the game but Dunn was there to mop up as they remained in touching distance despite the three-goal buffer.

It was incredibly tight inside the circle for the Pulse with both Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick fighting for every inch of space and making Dunn and Amaru-Tibble work for every pass. Fitzpatrick dazzled with her fancy footwork as the Mystics fired down the court. Bailey Mes was up and about early nailing her first goal of the game with a tick over five minutes played. Whitney Souness showcased her speed and smarts to steal an intercept as the Pulse managed two consecutive goals to reduce the margin to two goals. A couple of missed shots from Dunn handed possession back to the Mystics as the party tricks started to come out between Peta Toeava and Nweke. All of a sudden a two goal margin blew out to a five goal buffer with the Mystics firing on all cylinders. But the Pulse refused to give in nailing three goals in a row eat into the deficit. Maddy Gordon turned herself inside out to win ball back for the Pulse with the wing defence using her speed and timing to full advantage but the Pulse continued to cough up cheap ball as the Mystics piled on the pressure to head into the break up by seven goals.

The Mystics continued to glide down the court with great ease and accuracy to post converting off a turnover instantaneously. Tayla Earle injected herself into the thick of things as the Mystics nailed two goals in under 30 seconds. In attack the Pulse made a change with Ivana Rowland brought on in goal attack and making an impact with her movement. Claire Kersten was working in overdrive around circle edge as Rowland utilised her support to reposition around circle edge. Nweke was having the rub of the green against Kelera Nawai who was struggling to nullify the influence of the young goal shooter as Kelly Jury was rendered ineffective up against Mes who was carving up the court with her movement.

Rowland was being forced to take the shots and do the heavy lifting in attack with the Mystics defenders double-teaming Dunn. That allowed Fa’amu Ioane and Earle to get hands to ball and propel it down the other end of the court within a heartbeat. Gordon was finding both plenty of the ball and the floorboards as she refused to take a backwards step and inspired the Pulse to contest every ball. It got a bit scrappy from both sides midway through the term as bodies flew across the court and missed shots started to come into play. The Mystics once again restored their nine goal buffer proving to have an answer for everything the Pulse threw at them. The Pulse managed to hit their straps in the final minute of the quarter with Kersten coming through for a huge intercept as they pegged margin back.

It was goal for goal to start the third as both sides quickly settled into their rhythm. Nawai inserted herself into the game a bit more getting hands to ball as the Pulse started to generate some real momentum. Claire O’Brien made her way onto the court for Earle and she did not skip a beat. The Mystics went on a three-goal run as the lead ballooned out to 11 goals. The changes came left, right and centre for the Pulse as Amaru-Tibble was re-introduced into the contest, Jury pushed into goal keeper and Paris Lokotui made her way onto the court in goal defence. The alterations slowly started to work for the Pulse as they managed three goals in a row to cut the margin back down to nine goals. Ama Agbeze entered the fray in goal defence for the Mystics as the home side continued to surge.

The Mystics continued to tinker with their line-up as Filda Vui came on to replace Mes, as Pulse came in with a point to prove in the final term as Amaru-Tibble came to life. But the real magic came when Gordon came screaming through for an intercept as the Pulse got back within six goals. The wing defence was throwing herself at absolutely everything that came her way as the tables started to turn. The passes into the Mystics circle started to waver while up the other end the Pulse were going more direct to the post nailing three goals in a row. The lead dwindled down to five goals and then two within a matter of minutes, but the Mystics managed to hold strong and grind out the game to win by two goals.

Dunn finished with 31 goals from 36 attempts at 86 per cent while Amaru-Tibble managed 18 from 26 but really rallied in the final term to keep her side within striking distance. Souness collected 24 goal assists as Gordon recorded three intercepts and two deflections. Nweke was relatively accurate shooting at 85 per cent with her 52 goals from 61 attempts as Toeava seemed to have the ball on a string with her 24 goal assists. Both Fitzpatrick and Burley combined for five gains in the win.