Category: Central Pulse

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 11 preview

ROUND 11 of the ANZ Premiership kicks off this weekend with a top of the table clash headlining the round. The clash between Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix has been rescheduled to Tuesday due to the raised COVID-19 Alert Level in Wellington and could be subject to further change depending on government requirements.

Northern Stars vs. Northern Mystics
Sunday, June 27 @6:15pm

A top of the table battle between Northern Stars and Northern Mystics is set to bring plenty of excitement. Both sides are yet to fully unleash but will have to be on song for a full four quarters if they are to claim the upper hand with the Stars hoping to create some ladder separation while the Mystics will be eager to close the gap.

The last time these two sides met the Stars were shown up as the Mystics got the job done by a couple of goals. it will be interesting to see if this time around the Stars opt to shake up their defensive structure like they did in their Round 8 clash with Anna Harrison getting the nod out in wing defence to try and combat Peta Toeava while Oceane Maihi and Elle Temu pulled on the goal keeper and goal defence bib respectively. Harrison showcased her class in goal keeper last round and arguably does some of her best work when able to run freely in the circle, and also matches Grace Nweke better for height. Nweke and Toeava have a damaging combination with the latter able to sight Nweke with great ease under the post however there are plenty of questions around Toeava’s fitness given she came from the court in the dying minutes of the game with a niggle. The Mystics are blessed with depth in the attacking third with the likes of Bailey Mes and Filda Vui able to take on the wing attack role if Toeava is unable to take the court, despite their preferred position being under the post.

Defensively Sulu Fitzpatrick only continues to get better and the goal keeper will have to have her wits about her when she takes on Maia Wilson. The Stars goaler has been down on her lofty standards and will be keen to get back to her damaging ways with a big performance here. Jamie Hume has been a solid contributor out in goal attack while Amorangi Malesala has proven to be an impact player for the ladder leading side with her accuracy to post and crafty court play. With Fitzpatrick down in keeper, Kate Burley has plied her trade in goal defence and has not skipped a beat with her closing speed and dynamism on full display. Fa’amu Ioane returned to the court last round but left prematurely after landing awkwardly so it will be interesting to see if she is out on court on Sunday, as someone will have to try and wrangle Gina Crampton who has been in scintillating form for the Stars with her drive to circle edge.

Southern Steel vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, June 28 @7:15pm

Both sides come into this match with injury concerns with the Southern Steel missing English international George Fisher who is out with concussion, while it is uncertain whether or not Caitlin Bassett will get out on court for the Magic after buckling her knee last round. The Steel are currently tied for points on the ladder with the Tactix and are in desperate need of a win to edge ahead.

Without Fisher the load will fall to Tiana Metuarau with the goaler an experienced head despite still being young. She will likely be joined by Kiana Pelasio who got her first run out on court last round when Fisher went down. With Metuarau likely to play back in goal shooter it will be up to the likes of Shannon Saunders and Kate Heffernan to bring the ball down and allow her to post up strongly inside the circle if the Steel are to generate any real scoring momentum. But it will not be easy given the Magic boast a ridiculous amount of defensive talent with the long arms of Erena Mikaere sure to have an impact both over the shot and out on the hunt. Throw in the aerial capacity of Georgia Tong, Holly Fowler’s defensive nous and the potential return of Temalisi Fakahokotau and the Magic could quite easily have the upper hand here.

The Magic were without Grace Kara last week and will be hoping the former Silver Fern will be available for selection this week with her crafty play around circle imperative especially if Bassett is out of action. Tori Kolose has been a consistent figure for the Magic but they might need some extra experience if the shooting load is left to youngster Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple. Both goalers in Williams and Semple have gotten frequent court time in the past couple of weeks and are able to shoot from distance or directly under the post. Neither of them play a holding role meaning that the Magic could have a different look with a moving circle to keep the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita on their toes.

Central Pulse vs. Mainland Tactix
Tuesday, June 29 @7:15pm

The final game of the round is do or die for both teams. They have already had to jump through a few hoops with the game pushed back to Tuesday which will provide the teams with a little bit longer to recover from their respective Round 10 clashes. It has been a disappointing season for the Pulse while the Tactix are coming off a history making win and will be eager to keep that momentum going in this clash.

Ellie Bird came back with a point to prove after missing Round 9 with concussion and will be hoping to replicate her dominance against some quality defence. Bird is a commanding presence with her strong holds and height to control proceedings while her combination with Te Paea Selby-Rickit is crucial. If Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury are unable to shut down the shooter to shooter interplay between Selby-Rickit and Bird it could spell real trouble for the reigning premiers. Samon Nathan and Kimiora Poi are also in scintillating form with the pair able to use their speed and change of direction to open up the court. But they will have their work cut out for them up against Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon with the Pulse midcourters able to lockdown their opponents and Gordon in particular able to use her speed to shut down the space.

In attack, Aliyah Dunn will have to up the ante alongside Te Amo Amaru-Tibble to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The two shooters will have to share the load to ensure that Dunn is not lumped with all the responsibility in the circle given that Jane Watson and Karin Burger are in ripping form. Dunn does her best work when able to hold in the circle which plays into the hands of both Watson and Burger credit to their one-on-one physicality and ability to hunt any cross court ball and use their elevation to create turnovers aplenty. Whitney Souness will have to be crafty in attack for the Pulse to bypass the prying arms of the Tactix with Charlotte Elley another explosive defensive option.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 10

ROUND 10 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 in which they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

The goal shooter only continues to get better and this game was no different. Although she was pushed out of court early and gave up a couple of turnovers, her ability to build her way into the game was second to none. Her skill and smarts to stand upright and hold her space enabled her to be a clear option inside the circle while her connection with Peta Toeava was also imperative as the duo sliced through the opposition defence. Nweke was her dominant self, using the angles to keep the defenders at bay while also putting on an aerial masterclass. She competed incredibly strongly to reel in the high ball and was never far from the action using her long split to inch closer to the post. She shouldered the load in attack and adapted quickly with the changing goal attacks as Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui all got court time. Nweke offered a sense of composure and calmness for the Mystics and while the entry into the circle was predictable – a long loopy pass – her form was unstoppable.

Tayla Earle

The centre wasted no time having an impact both in defence and attack. Earle was a key cog, linking up attack and defence for the Mystics time and time again. She was never out of the contest and applied strong back-up around circle edge especially in defence to pick up any stray deflections. The centre was never far from the contest with her two-way running making her hard to compete with. She was often first to the scraps and never allowed an easy pass credit to her three foot marking while her ability to hedge her bets around circle. Earle got good depth on the second phase to sneak into the pockets or top of the circle to deliver ball into the likes of Nweke or Mes.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams

Williams played more of a feeding role when she was injected into the game out in goal attack using her nicely executed passes to feed into Caitlin Bassett. She showcased her impressive vision and work on the second phase to drive into the space and allow the feeders to do their job around circle edge. As the game went on Williams worked her way into the contest especially inside the ring to engage in a couple of 1-2 plays to inch closer the post and score. She was once again incredibly accurate, able to convert whether it be directly under the post or on the outskirts to have an impact for the Magic. Her footwork was also impressive throughout her time on court, as was her balance to steady herself despite being on one foot with an ability release crafty passes.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

Getting the nod in centre for the second week in a row, Gordon displayed her tenacity and smarts to work the ball down to circle edge in attack. Her ability to control her own speed and the speed of the entire Pulse front half was also on show especially when combining with Whitney Souness. Gordon got her time to shine in all three midcourt positions playing in wing defence, centre and wing attack and not skipping a beat in either spot credit to her netball nous and high level of endurance. The speedster contested hard for each and every pass with her ability to read both the space and the play a crucial aspect in her game. When in defence Gordon took advantage of her quick feet around circle edge to disrupt play with frequent deflections while in attack her well-timed drives enabled her to open up space.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

It was another crafty performance from the goal attack who had the ball on a string in the attacking third. Although Metuarau did not have a profound impact on the scoreboard it was her court craft that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Her ability to see 10 steps ahead in play allowed her to be a commanding figure in attack with the shooter to shooter interplay between her and George Fisher impressive. Her footwork also took centre stage as she created space with clever little half steps and negated the long arms of the defence to have an impact. Despite being one of the shortest in the circle, Metuarau competed hard for the rebound to try and snatch it out of the air and got into damaging positions in the circle whether it be from down town or under the post.

Taneisha Fifita

It was an impressive performance from Fifita with the goal keeper competing cleanly and holding her own against Maia Wilson. She constantly shifted her body and footwork around Wilson to confuse the space and shut down any easy access into the circle. Fifita was not afraid to go out hunting backing her closing speed and read of the play to cherry pick passes. She worked hard to earn front spot and went up strong for the rebound thanks to her springy style of defence. The goal keeper also used her smarts to block out Wilson on the shot to give herself room to regain possession.

Kate Heffernan

The centre was in ripping form throughout the entire game with Heffernan showcasing her defensive nous. Using her long arms to full effect, Heffernan reeled in an impressive four intercepts thanks to her ball tracking ability and read of the play. she had a real give and go mentality hitting circle edge and trying to dispose of the ball all in one action. Heffernan kept the defenders guessing and went into her bag of tricks to deliver a variety of passes into the circle whether it be overhead bombs, shoulder passes or nifty bounce passes. Her athleticism was on display throughout the entire contest, twisting her body inside out to keep the ball moving forward and in-play.

Renee Savai’inaea

Savai’inaea was strong through the midcourt providing that drive to open up the court while also sitting up nice and high on the transverse line to be that outlet pass. She was a constant nag around circle edge, niggling at her opponent and while she did not notch up a heap of stats it was her ability to grind out games that impressed. She often played more of a space marking game rather than a hard one-on-one which allowed her fellow defenders to sag off and go out hunting down back.

Mystics make light work of reigning premiers

NORTHERN Mystics remained in touch with the top of the table Northern Stars thanks to an imposing 13-goal win over Central Pulse, 64-51. They won every single quarter and emptied their bench with a couple of fresh faces getting some valuable court time.

A misplaced ball in the opening passage of play for the Mystics allowed the Pulse a chance to capitalise and that is exactly what they did, flying down the court to open proceedings as Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness used their speed to open up Aliyah Dunn at the post. With the centre pass to follow, Souness found Dunn under the post once again and the Pulse were away. But the Mystics quickly caught up as Grace Nweke found her way to post to level the scores. There were turnovers aplenty for both sides to start the game as they settled into the match and found their rhythm in attack. The battle under the post between Sulu Fitzpatrick and Dunn was enticing as Fitzpatrick started to wear Dunn like a glove forcing Te Amo Amaru-Tibble to shoulder the shooting load, which she did with great ease.

Kelera Nawai was off to a hot start with the goal keeper using her leap and niggle to contest everything that came her way. Pulse were winning their fair share of ball back with Gordon snatching the ball in transition and Nawai a lynchpin down back, and the lead continued to chop and change as neither side was able to steady off their own centre pass with a wealth of uncharacteristic turnovers such as breaks and offensive contacts. A one-goal lead turned into three the way of the Mystics as the Pulse were riddled with bad passes. Kate Burley was having a field day down back, consistently getting hands to ball and creating opportunities for her side to punish as they extended out to a five-goal lead.

The Pulse ate into the margin to cut it back to three goals but the Mystics continued to find a way to score. Peta Toeava was crafty as ever around circle edge with her strength to outmuscle Claire Kersten while her pinpoint feeds into the circle were causing all sorts of chaos. Up the other end, Fa’amu Ioane was getting hands to ball and using her outside arm to cleanly regain possession. The Mystics really put the foot down pushing out to a whopping eight-goal margin with the ball continuing to fall their way despite the constant pressure from the Pulse.

A bit of magic from Dunn falling out of court was somewhat of a spark while Abby Erwood came on for all of a minute in wing defence before Gordon and Kersten switched bibs. Kersten provided plenty of composure in attack to feed the ball in with precision. The aerial dynamos started to come into play for both sides but it was the Mystics, in particular Fitzpatrick, that were running riot. The goal keeper was gobbling up every cross-court ball that came her way and sending the ball rocketing up the other end. Fortunately for the Pulse, Bailey Mes was well and truly off the boil and was unable to hit the scoreboard.

Up by nine goals at half time the Mystics extended that buffer to 10 nice and early in the third quarter converting off a Pulse centre pass. Filda Vui came on to replace Mes out in goal attack with the speedster using her playmaking skills to open up Nweke under the post. Gordon was trying her hardest out in wing defence while it was Fitzpatrick that was proving to be a thorn in the Pulse’s side stopping the ball from entering the circle. Things were not going to plan for the Pulse at all while the Mystics proved to be unstoppable with Ioane having an impressive game upon return while Tayla Earle was an unsung hero through the centre.

Nawai had her work cut out for her down in defence with the ball constantly flying over her head but using her leap to try and have an impact, while at the other end Dunn was struggling in goal shooter only converting at 68 per cent. The ball ping-ponged up and down the court with missed shots from both sides allowing the defenders to impose themselves. With the lead swinging out to a whopping 13 goals the Pulse made wholesale changes as Erwood re-entered the contest in at wing defence as Gordon pushed into wing attack and Souness into goal attack. But it took a while for the cogs to click into gear in the attacking third going into three quarter time down by 11 goals.

The final quarter saw much of the same from the Mystics as their silky transition down court continued to catch the Pulse off-guard. There was simply nothing the Pulse could do as the Mystics treasured possession and mounted pressure with their strong hands-over marking. Toeava was in a bit of discomfort with the wing attack leaving the court prompting Mes to pull on the bib instead, while with the game well and truly out of their reach Parris Mason came on in wing defence for the Pulse with the youngster contesting hard. With a tick under seven minutes on the clock Saviour Tui made her debut for the season while Ama Agbeze slotted into goal keeper shifting the defensive unit forward as the home side continued to purr along nicely.

Nweke was unstoppable once again nailing 54 goals from 63 attempts at 86 per cent as Vui played a strong accompanying role with her six from seven. Tui and Mes both managed two goals apiece with the latter racking up seven goal assists. But the main port of call was Toeava with the wing attack racking up 29 goal assists as Fitzpatrick had a game to remember in defence with five intercepts and a rebound. Dunn finished with 31 goals at 80 per cent as Amaru-Tibble registered 16 goals from 20 attempts. Gordon led the way with 12 goal assists as Jury and Nawai combined for seven gains.

2021 ANZ Premiership – Round 10 preview

WE have passed the midpoint of the ANZ Premiership season with Round 10 approaching and only five games of the home and away season remaining. With this in mind every game counts as the Stars look to maintain top spot and the mid-table logjam continues to intensify.

Southern Steel vs. Northern Stars
Saturday, June 19 @5:15pm

The opening game of the round sees a top three battle as the third placed Southern Steel hosts top of the table Northern Stars. It is set to be an enthralling battle with the least experienced team going up against one of the most experienced sides in the competition.

Steel goal shooter, George Fisher holds the mantle as the most accurate shooter in the competition and will need to be at her damaging best if she is to assert herself against an incredibly strong Stars defensive unit. Fisher’s combination with the crafty Tiana Metuarau is what keeps them ticking along and makes them hard to stop as the two have an innate connection that allows them to release the ball and time their movements with great ease and precision. However, the Stars are littered with versatility as Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi can all seamlessly rotate through the back court and win ball back. Harrison is a real aerial threat as is Maihi with the two likely to attack the high ball coming into Fisher.

The midcourt contest will draw plenty of attention with Kate Heffernan in ripping form for the Steel and Mila Reuelu-Buchnan a real livewire for the Stars with her constant give and go. The two have incredibly different styles with Heffernan more defensive-minded given her wing defence background while Reuelu-Buchanan boasts a real attacking and hunting mindset. Heffernan will be hoping to help out the likes of Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and even Sarahpheinna Woulf if she gets injected into the game to slow down the pace of the ball coming into Maia Wilson. The Stars goal shooter has been down on her volume to post in recent weeks but is still a force to be reckoned with while Jamie Hume has showcased her ability to kick it up a gear thanks to her long range shooting and silky movement.

Northern Mystics vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, June 20 @4:15pm

It has been a disappointing season for the Central Pulse while on the other hand the Northern Mystics are chugging along quite nicely and will be hoping to create some further ladder separation currently holding down second spot. It will all come down to whether or not the Pulse will be able to stop playmaker Peta Toeava with her sharp drives and speed.

In recent weeks, Claire Kersten has slotted back into the wing defence position which could be a good potential match for strength against Toeava however the Mystics wing attack also boasts exceptional take-off speed similar to that of Maddy Gordon meaning the Pulse have a big decision to make. Gordona and Kersten can play all three positions whether it be wing defence, centre or wing attack, making the midcourt highly versatile – something they will need to use in overdrive to eliminate the influence of Toeava who is renowned for her pinpoint feeds into Grace Nweke. The Mystics goal shooter is arguably one of the most consistent and prolific shooters in the business and it will take a team effort to stop her from single-handedly dominating the contest. Bailey Mes has proven to be a crucial cog with her crafty feeds while Filda Vui has also been a great addition with her ability and confidence to both dish off the pass or go to post. The Pulse have steadied into their new defensive look with Kelera Nawai down back and Kelly Jury out in goal defence and the two will be hoping to combine strongly and get a few early tips to put some real pressure on the Mystics.

Up the other end, speedster Whitney Souness is the main playmaker with her drive and dynamic movement to the top of the circle allowing her to feed into both Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. Dunn has increased her range this season while Amaru-Tibble has come along in leaps and bounds, knowing when to back herself to post or when to find a closer option to the ring. Sulu Fitzpatrick has been in hot form this season with the goal keeper able to gobble up anything that comes her way, while partner in crime Kate Burley also has a tendency to go out hunting for the cross court ball making the two hard to stop when they are up and about early.

Mainland Tactix vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, June 21 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Mainland Tactix take on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic who have shown glimpses of brilliance but have been marred with an inability to put out a consistent four quarter effort. Both sides are coming off narrow losses once again and will be keen to put their best foot forward here to keep their slim finals chance alive.

Caitlin Bassett has really stepped up her intensity and control in the past few appearances, with the Magic finally looking confident to feed into her especially when Grace Kara has ball in hand. Bassett’s strong holds and clever footwork inside the circle enable her to edge closer to the post and complements the style of her fellow shooters who are both able to shoot from distance. Both goal attacks in Chiara Semple and Khiarna Williams offer different things inside the circle with Semple more of a smooth mover and Williams fast-footed and aerially creative. But they will not have it easy under the post with Karin Burger in scintillating form out in goal defence to create deflections aplenty while Jane Watson is a tough competitor down in goal keeper. Watson and Bassett are well known to each other and are both real warriors so expect the contest to be fierce and exciting.

The Tactix were without Ellie Bird last round and will be hoping the towering goal shooter is raring to go this round given her ability to score quickly. However, if she is unable to take the court the Tactix’s Round 9 debutants showed some real promise with Kate Grant bursting out of the blocks with her crafty court play and youngster Amelia Walmsley making a name for herself at the fresh age of 17. It will all come down to the output of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit and whether or not she can craft enough goals and clever plays to keep her side in the hunt. The Magic are boasting an exceptionally strong defensive core with the return of Holly Fowler alongside reliable duo Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong. However, all eyes will turn to whether or not Temalisi Fakahokotau takes the court after rolling her ankle last week and being sidelined.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 9

ROUND 9 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 in which they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

The goal shooter was well held in the first few minutes of the game double-teamed by Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere. But once she adjusted to the physicality and the tight marking, Nweke was able to dictate the terms. Her ability to leap directly up and grab the ball strongly with two hands is second to none. She steadily built into the game using her split to edge closer to the post. As her confidence grew so did the speed in which she scored which enabled the Mystics to slowly pull ahead. Her ability to clearly hold space and use her body positioning to drop into the backspace was crucial to keep the defenders hands away from the drop of the ball. Nweke was not afraid to shake things up sometimes popping out at the top of the circle to receive the ball or using the baseline to hold ground and score. The combination between Peta Toeava and Nweke was almost impossible to stop with the wing attack threading the needle to Nweke time after time.

Tayla Earle

In her return game after a head knock, Earle was in the thick of things. Playing in centre the dynamic midcourter wasted no time getting play underway with her quick thinking and hands allowing her to fire off passes. She competed hard around circle edge to create tips aplenty and used her drive in attack to complement Toeava. Earle was confident to release the ball from distance executing her passes with great ease and had great awareness to balance the circle. She impressed with a creative intercept around circle edge, managing to stay onside in the third quarter and then sprinting down the other end to push the Mystics into attack. She was a real menace in defence, constantly niggling away to win ball back. Her leap and strength on the take also shone through as Earle made a lasting imprint on the game.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams

After missing the past couple of weeks, Williams had a solid return out in goal attack. Coming on at half-time she used her smooth movement and clever footwork to inch closer to the post and keep the Magic in it. Williams played an excellent feeding role with her second phase work allowing her to deliver the ball with great precision into Caitlin Bassett. She was not afraid to play the ball around and most importantly was incredibly confident to post, backing herself from either under the post or from range. She brought a very different look to the Magic frontend with Williams able to use her turn of speed and aerial presence to have a profound impact. She was composed with ball in hand and did not look to panic, instead assessed the options and dished off clever passes accordingly. Her skill to execute the front-cut and use her patience was also prominent as Williams ticked away accurately on the scoreboard.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

Gordon does some of her best work when she is able to run freely and play a role in attack and that is what she got the opportunity to do this round. Playing through the centre Gordon combined her speed and attacking nous to hit circle edge and deliver clever passes into both Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. Her vision was highly impressive as she crafted her way down the court and showcased her versatility to either release bullet like passes or high floating ones depending on the attacking structure. Gordon displayed her two-way running ability to impact the play both in attack and defence. Her energy lifted in the second and that was when the Pulse became resurgent as she got hands to ball with a couple of impressive intercepts to get up nice and high and snatch the ball out of opposition hands.

Mainland Tactix:

Amelia Walmsley

In her debut game, the 17-year-old made no mistake stepping onto the court in the second quarter and having an impact with an immediate goal. Walmsley had great elevation and while it took a while for the Tactix to confidently deliver into the circle once they did she started to build. Her strong front holds made it obvious where she wanted the ball to be placed but her soft hands cost her the ball sometimes. Impressed with her classy footwork and ability to absorb the physicality piled onto her by Fifita. Not always confident to attack the ball, Walmsley steadily worked her way into the game especially when afforded a one-on-one directly under the post.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

It was another consistent performance from Metuarau as the goal attack imposed her crafty court play to steer the ship in attack. quiet in patches, Metuarau used her smarts to weave the ball through the defence and deliver ball into George Fisher time and time again. Her footspeed paired with her quick hands was hard to stop and although she only managed nine goals albeit at 100 per cent her work out the front was imperative. The shooter to shooter interplay could not be stopped and that was because Metuarau continued to shake things up on the pass. Her second phase play was strong and received just about every second pass to really generate that attacking momentum.

Taneisha Fifita

The goal keeper took a while to build into the game but her mobility and agility enabled her to have an impact. Fifita never stopped trying, consistently using her change of direction and hands over pressure to get in the head of her opposition shooters. she was strong in transition moving the ball from down back with great haste despite being confined to one third of the court. Her back-up support also enabled her to be an outlet pass when the Steel were stuck. Fifita adjusted quickly to her different goal shooters but one thing that remained the same was her hunt and intensity to win ball. Her closing speed in the dying seconds and springy style of play created doubt in the feeders mind while her smarts to use the outside arm enabled her to win back a wealth of ball.

Kate Heffernan

Heffernan continues to impress with the centre imposing herself from the opening minutes. her three-foot marking allowed her to swat the ball out of the air and then transition it down court before doing it all again only moments later. Heffernan’s drive through the midcourt and to circle edge enabled her to slice through the Tactix defence time and time again. She was a real driving force with her strong movement and vision in attack while also showcased her defensive craft to combine with Savai’inaea. Her sheer athleticism was on display throughout the entire game, turning herself inside out and then steadying to release pinpoint passes.

Renee Savai’inaea

Although she did not feature highly on the stats sheet, Savai’inaea showed her class off the ball to cover the space and clog the opposition together. Her fast footwork and read of the play constantly enabled her to drop into the space and block the move of Samon Nathan especially around circle edge. The wing defence worked hard in transition to bring the ball through the centre third and split the Tactix defence.

2021 ANZ Premiership vs. VNSL Team of the Week: Round 9&19

VITALITY Netball Superleague returned this week with the finals race front and centre while Round 19 of the ANZ Premiership rolled around. There were plenty of impressive performances from players across both leagues as Draft Central compiles two teams of the week from the respective leagues.

ANZ Premiership

GS: Grace Nweke (Northern Mystics)
GA: Jamie Hume (Northern Stars)
WA: Peta Toeava (Northern Mystics)
C: Maddy Gordon (Central Pulse)
WD: Renee Savai’inaea (Southern Steel)
GD: Karin Burger (Mainland Tactix)
GK: Taneisha Fifita (Southern Steel)

BENCH: George Fisher (Southern Steel), Sam Winders (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic), Elle Temu (Northern Stars)

There is no denying that Grace Nweke has all but solidified her role as the starting goal shooter in our Team of the Week with the Northern Mystics representative a pillar of consistency. Her ability to hold strong under the post and use her footwork to claim prime position is second to none, not to mention her accuracy and volume finishing the game with 57 goals from 61 attempts. Alongside her in the goal circle is Northern Stars goal attack Jamie Hume who well and truly stepped up to the plate in Round 9 of the ANZ Premiership. The quick footed sharp shooter made her presence felt from the opening minute and shouldered the load. She backed herself from range and boasted a confident aura throughout the clash with her clever drives and hot hand coming to the fore to finish with 18 goals at 86 per cent.

There is speed to burn through the midcourt with Peta Toeava starring in wing attack with her quick give and go and vision. The Mystics midcourter set the court alight with her drive and positioning around circle edge to fire off pinpoint passes racking up a whopping 38 goal assists. Speaking of speedsters, Maddy Gordon had her time to shine in at centre for the Pulse with her tenacity speaking volumes. A real competitor with a high endurance base, Gordon plied her trade effectively up both ends of the court to feed the ball into the shooters and also rack up the intercepts herself. She could transition down court in a heartbeat such is her speed while her quick hands were also prominent. The wing defence position falls to Renee Savai’inaea and while she did not register a wealth of stats her work off the ball was tremendous, keeping her opponent off circle edge.

Down back it is hard to go past Karin Burger with the goal defence continuing to impress. In her first year with the Tactix, Burger has well and truly found her place using her closing speed and deceptively long arms to create deflections aplenty and disrupt the attacking rhythm for opposition teams. Her read of the play was also at the forefront of her performance collecting four intercepts for her efforts. Youngster Taneisha Fifita secured the goal keeper position with her ability to compete in the air and at ground level. The Southern Steel defender got hands to ball and used her body work to out-manoeuvre her opponent and reel in wayward passes.

Elle Temu was unlucky not to get the nod down back after putting out a stellar performance. The defender was in just about everything using her aerial capacity and quick feet to win ball back time after time. Also on the bench is George Fisher with the goal shooter a rock under the post while the final spot goes to Sam Winders with the Magic captain a real driving force in both attack and defence.

VNSL

GS: Ine-Mari Venter (Saracen Mavericks)
GA: Eleanor Cardwell (Manchester Thunder)
WA: Caroline O’Hanlon (Manchester Thunder)
C: Gia Abernethy (Strathclyde Sirens)
WD: Beth Cobden (Loughborough Lightning)
GD: Funmi Fadoju (London Pulse)
GK: Towera Vinkhumbo (Strathclyde Sirens)

BENCH: Mary Cholhok (Loughborough Lightning), Serena Guthrie (Team Bath), Razia Quashie (Saracens Mavericks)

Goal shooter, Ine-Mari Venter was in dominant form and was a key reason for the Mavs win using her strength to hold off her opponent. Able to read the play and position accordingly, Venter was able to go score with ease posting 31 goals. It was a strong performance by Eleanor Cardwell with the goal attack controlling the tempo in attack for Manchester Thunder and subsequently earning the starting position. Her ability to weave her magic down the court, hit the scoreboard at an accurate rate only missing three of her 26 attempts and create attacking forays was second to none.

Caroline O’Hanlon secured the wing attack position with the Manchester Thunder midcourter using her knowledge and experience to have a profound impact around circle edge. Not the quickest player out on court, one thing you can rely on is O’Hanlon’s ability to deliver well-weighted passes and nous to find space in the attacking third. Strathclyde Sirens captain and centre, Gia Abernethy was on song throughout her outing using her gut-running and slick hands to have an influence at both ends of the court. Abernethy had a hand in just about everything picking up a number of intercepts and deflections to lead the way for the Sirens. Beth Cobden takes out the wing defence position with the Lightning stalwart able to ply her trade and use her closing speed to clog up space.

London Pulse goal defence, Funmi Fadoju was in scintillating form in both games across Round 19 of the VNSL and while she got her fair share of whistle she made up for it with her ball winning capabilities. She was a real energiser bunny down in defence, throwing herself at everything that came her way and most importantly winning ball back whether it be through intercepts or deflections. Towera Vinkhumbo was at her damaging best for the Sirens getting hands to ball and staying away from the whistle. Her skill to stay in play and mount pressure was imperative in her side’s win as was her tenacity to win ball back and make life hard for opposition teams trying to enter the defensive circle.

There are a number of key players on the bench with Mary Cholhok a commanding force once again under the post for the Lightning with her height and prolific nature to post putting her in good stead. Razia Quashie also impressed with her defensive pressure and tenacity before she was struck down with injury, while the final spot goes to Serena Guthrie with the centre imposing herself in defence and attack credit to her hunt and sheer athleticism.

Stars shine in final quarter comeback

NORTHERN Stars revered their fortunes against Central Pulse sneaking home with a narrow two-goal win to get back on the winners list (55-53). It was heartbreak for the Pulse who held the lead at three quarter time but were simply overpowered by the Stars who found that extra gear to kick into.

After a quiet performance last week, Jamie Hume made her mark nice and early with a long bomb. Playing against her former side, Elle Temu came out with a real point to prove as the goal defence got hands to ball and sent it rocketing back into the attacking third instantly. The Stars controlled the momentum with their slick movement down the court and Maia Wilson’s composure to the post giving them a four goal lead. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble landed the first two goals of the game for the Pulse before Aliyah Dunn got involved in the action to eat back into the buffer and reduce it to two goals. Hume was shouldering the load in attack unfazed by the long arms of Kelly Jury and backing herself from range. The Pulse increased their intensity in attack with the ball starting to drop their way but every time they rallied Temu found a way to get hands to ball whether it be an intercept or deflection to stop them in their tracks.

It was a different looking midcourt for the Pulse with Whitney Souness and Maddy Gordon taking out the wing attack and centre positions respectively.  Within a blink of an eye scores were level at nine goals apiece credit to the Pulse’s ability to fight their way back into the contest. But as soon as they did that the wheels started to fall off as Amaru-Tibble coughed up possession with a breaking call allowing the Stars to go on a three goal shooting spree of their own. Anna Harrison used her long arms to full effect with her impressive three-foot marking allowing her to pick-up a deflection as the Stars continued to keep their noses in front. Their clinical ball work and speed through the centre was causing all sorts of headaches for the Pulse who went into the break down by four goals.

It was goal for goal to start the second term before a wayward pass in the Stars attacking end gifting the Pulse a chance to capitalise in transition. Amaru-Tibble worked her way into the game as did Gina Crampton for the Stars with the dynamic wing attack finding circle edge with great ease. Crampton was a real general in attack opening up the space and releasing the ball with precision and timing into Hume and Wilson to keep the likes of Jury and Kelera Nawai on the backfoot. Hume was having an absolute field day sitting at 100 per cent midway through the second term.

Souness gave something for Pulse fans to cheer about bursting out of the blocks to steal a huge intercept before moments later Gordon sparked up to chase down the scraps and all of a sudden there was only one goal in it. The Pulse went on a rally nailing three goals straight with Dunn finding more space and levelling the scores. The intensity amplified as Nawai came up with a stellar intercept to send the Pulse into attack as Gordon once again showcased her athleticism to pinch the ball out of mid-air. The tables completely turned with the Pulse now holding a two goal lead taking the wind right out of the Stars’ sails. The Pulse seemed rejuvenated taking a two goal lead into half time.

A couple of positional changes from the Stars looked to shake things up as Temu pushed back into goal keeper and Harrison came out to goal defence. A costly footwork call from Amaru-Tibble allowed the Stars back in it as the scores were tied once again. The momentum continued to ebb and flow as the Pulse would push out to a two goal lead before the Stars would once again find a way to sneak back in. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was in strong form throughout the third term using her strong drives and breakout speed to hit circle edge. With Dunn finding good rhythm and space the Stars looked to the bench with Oceane Maihi making her way onto the court in goal keeper. Her injection of height and overall aerial presence was undeniable as she immediately got hands to ball and caused doubts on the feed.

Claire Kersten was working her magic out in wing defence, continuously niggling and picking up a timely deflection to help the Pulse maintain their slim buffer. A three-goal lead to the visitors handed them the ascendancy once again as the frontend continued to motor and the defensive unit picked up ball. But Harrison was not about to be outdone with a huge rejection on the pass to keep the Stars in contention.

Three goals split the two sides at three quarter time with neither side able to break that mould. Lisa Mather was putting up a good fight in wing defence as the temperature inside the arena started to increase with bodies flying everywhere and the game on the line. The Stars started to rally especially in defence with Dunn falling victim to the long arm brigade of Harrison and Maihi. A goal from Wilson at the eight and a half minute mark levelled the scores and from then on the Stars wrestled back control, slotting four goals straight to stop the Pulse in their tracks and eventually win the match.

Wilson finished with 37 goals from 45 attempts, while Hume was accurate shooting at 86 per cent thanks to her 18 goals. Crampton was unstoppable with ball in hand registering 30 goal assists as Temu was instrumental in her half of netball with three gains and two intercepts as Harrison also starred thanks to her three intercepts. Dunn nailed 39 goals while Amaru-Tibble sunk 14 from 17. Souness and Gordon were real livewires amassing 15 and 17 goal assists.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 9

ROUND 9 of the ANZ Premiership rolls around with the ladder continuing to chop and change given the unpredictable season so far. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic will be eager to get another win on the board after falling agonisingly short last round.

Northern Stars vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, June 13 @6:15pm

The Northern Stars will be hoping to reverse their fortunes against Central Pulse and get one back here. Last time these two sides met the Pulse handed the Stars their first loss for the season and it was a hefty one at that going down by 13 goals. But it has not been smooth sailings for the Pulse who have struggled to find a level of consistency, so this is sure to be an enthralling match-up with the Stars and Pulse both coming in off narrow losses.

Maia Wilson was well held last round but the goal shooter never has two down games meaning she will be looking to punish in this clash. Wilson has added more strings to her bow this season, backing herself from range and getting on the move more often making her a prominent threat. But if she is not firing Amorangi Malesala has proven to be the Stars’ secret weapon with her ability to explode out of the blocks and play either goal shooter or goal attack. Jamie Hume is also highly dynamic and will be hoping to bounce back from a quiet performance last week. But the Stars shooters will have their work cut out for them with Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury developing a really sturdy relationship. Nawai is a strong physical competitor but will need the long arms of Jury to really get in the head of Wilson and reduce the amount of ball that comes flying into the circle, while the key for the Pulse will also lie with stopping Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan with the wing attack and centre wreaking havoc in attack thanks to their deft passes and impressive vision.

The Pulse will be hoping that Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is back in the fold this round with the goal attack severely missed under the post last week. Although Whitney Souness worked in overdrive to be an option with her scintillating speed, her lack of confidence to go to post mounted unnecessary pressure on Aliyah Dunn – and if double teamed by the Stars defence consisting of Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi, could spark trouble. The Stars defenders are in ripping form with their ability to compete especially when it comes to the aerial ball meaning Claire Kersten, Maddy Gordon, depending where she plays through the midcourt, and Souness will have to get crafty with their ball delivery.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, June 14 @6:15pm

It was heartbreak for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic while it was triumph for the Mystics who knocked off the top of the table Stars last round. Looking ahead to this game and expect it to be a good-old fashion arm wrestle. The Magic have proven they have the players and structures to compete with the best and just need to do so over a full four quarters while the Mystics will be riding a wave of success.

The Magic have no shortage of defensive options with Temalisi Fakahokotau, Georgia Tong, Erena Mikaere at their disposal plus the return of Holly Fowler only adding to their stocks. All four are capable of playing circle defence with their leap and long arms a couple of key characteristics. Fakahokotau will be hoping to redeem herself after receiving some unwanted attention from the umpire last round and will have to be on her A-game to combat Grace Nweke who continues to dominate at the post. Although Bailey Mes does not have a huge influence on the scoreboard the Magic defence will need to put some time into her out the front to reduce her impact on the feed. The Mystics also have the options of Filda Vui and Saviour Tui, with the latter yet to receive any court time this season. All eyes will turn to the midcourt with questions remaining about whether or not Tayla Earle will return to the mix of if Claire O’Brien will continue her run in at centre combining nicely with powerhouse wing attack Peta Toeava.

Caitlin Bassett was at her damaging best last round and the goal shooter will be hoping to keep that trajectory going as her partnership continues to blossom with Chiara Semple. The two proved they can shoot at an incredibly high accuracy with Grace Kara and Sam Winders real driving forces in the attacking third with their well-executed passes taking centre stage. With this in mind the Mystics combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley will need to be in full-flight to shut down the easy passage into the circle.

Mainland Tactix vs. Southern Steel
Monday, June 14 @8:15pm

The final game of the round sees the Mainland Tactix play host to the Southern Steel who just notched up their first consecutive wins for the 2021 season. It took a while for the Tactix to find their groove but have played some good netball in the past couple of rounds while the Steel have been the underdogs this season and frequently stepped up to the plate. Both teams head into this clash coming off a win so expect a high-octane match.

Boasting two dominant goal shooters in Ellie Bird for the Tactix and George Fisher for the Steel it will be up to the workload of the goal attack as to who gets their respective side over the line. Te Paea Selby-Rickit is yet to hit her straps this season while Tiana Metuarau has proven to be a real playmaker but is at her best when she can balance that role with her shooting load. Through the midcourt there is speed to burn with Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan leading the charge for the Tactix and the highly versatile and interchangeable Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea able to assert control for the Steel. The real contest will come down to whether or not Charlotte Elley can keep tabs on Shannon Saunders with the wing attack a real pillar of consistency and composure for the Steel in attack.

It is a contrast of youth and experience when looking at the two sides in particular down in defence with Jane Watson and Karin Burger a formidable unit with Silver Ferns experience. If the two defenders are able to replicate their form from last week it will go a long way in shutting down Fisher to post given both Watson and Burger are renowned for their ball-winning abilities. Conversely, the Steel defence consisting of Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Sarahpheinna Woulf is quite young with Selby-Rickit the exception. Fifita is a physical competitor that does not take a backwards step which will be interesting to see how Bird shapes up against her with the Tactix goaler not a fan of the body-on-body style of defence.

2021 Stats Wrap: SSN Round 6 and ANZ Premiership Round 8

IT was a big week in both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership with a couple of unexpected results and nail-biters dictating the round. Round 6 of the SSN saw Queensland Firebirds get back on the winners list while Mainland Tactix upped the ante over in New Zealand to topple an undermanned Central Pulse outfit. Let’s check out some of the top performers in each respective league.

GOALS:

Grace Nweke continues to be a thorn in opposition sides with the goal shooter topscoring in the ANZ Premiership thanks to her jaw dropping 60-goal performance from 64 attempts in Round 8. She was a lynchpin in attack for the Mystics, dragging her side over the line with her cool, calm collected manner to post. Next best was George Fisher with the Steel goaler nailing not only 50 goals but so too the winning shot, scoring at 93 per cent accuracy. Aliyah Dunn was a commanding force for the Pulse sinking 47 goals from 54 attempts, while Ellie Bird also made her presence felt on the scoreboard thanks to her 46 goals but at a lower 81 per cent. It was a strong and accurate showing from Caitlin Bassett with the Magic goal shooter only missing two goals while out on court to sit at 95 per cent. Tiana Metuarau, Chiara Semple and Amorangi Malesala upped the ante out in goal attack with each goaler only missing one goal. Semple was the highest scorer with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

It is no surprised that Jhaniele Fowler was one of the top goalers for Round 6 of the SSN with the West Coast Fever representative nailing 59 goals from 60 attempts at an impressive 98 per cent. Hot on her heels was Sam Wallace with the NSW Swifts goal shooter starring under the post going at 100 per cent credit to her 58 goals straight as Shimona Nelson showcased her scoring prowess with 39 goals at 95 per cent. Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer shared the load for the GIANTS with 23 and 22 goals respectively and a combined six super shots with four coming off the hand of Dwyer. Speaking of shared shooting loads look no further than Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta with the two recapturing their signature form with the Jamaican leading the way with three super shots at 100 per cent and 34 regular goals. Cara Koenen was the go-to-girl for the Lightning posting 36 goals from 42 attempts while Lenize Potgieter did the heavy lifting for the Thunderbirds with her 29 goals at 91 per cent.

MIDCOURT:

Gina Crampton was electric through the midcourt racking up 32 goal assists and an intercept while Peta Toeava was not far off the pace with 29 goal assists and an intercept of her own. Grace Kara impressed with her pinpoint feeds into the circle to finish with 25 goal assists to her name with a late move into the goal circle assisting with this number. Teammate Sam Winders was also a commanding force with her 15 goal assists, one intercept and five pickups as Shannon Saunders picked up 14 goal assists for the Steel. Samon Nathan was the driving force for the Tactix in attack amassing 21 goal assists as Charlotte Elley impressed in wing defence with her three gains and two intercepts. Maddy Gordon and Claire Kersten shared the load in attack for the Pulse with 13 and 12 goal assists respectively.

Collingwood speedster Kelsey Browne had the ball on a string racking up 26 goal assists while former teammate and current Queensland Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was equally as impressive with ball in hand registering 20 goal assists and an intercept. Verity Charles and Jess Anstiss were crucial for the Fever managing 20 and 19 goal assists apiece with the latter also reeling in an intercept. Stacey Francis-Bayman made her presence felt in wing defence thanks to her three deflections and two intercepts with Ash Brazill also impressing with her three intercepts. Jamie-Lee Price was exciting through the midcourt racking up 18 goal assists and four intercepts as teammate Maddie Hay also found her groove with 15 goal assists of her own. Maddy Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite were influential for the Swifts with 18 and 14 goal assists while Maisie Nankivell showed some real attacking nous for Adelaide with her 15 goal assists.

DEFENCE:

It is hard to go past the performance of Oceane Maihi, who despite taking a while to warm into the game found her hops to really disrupt the play picking up six gains, four intercepts and only received six penalties showcasing her cleanliness. Another goal keeper that had a standout performance was Jane Watson with the Tactix captain registering five deflections, two intercepts and two rebounds. Partner in crime, Karin Burger was also amongst the thick of things with three gains and an intercept. Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury combined for eight gains as Taneisha Fifita was also a commanding force down back for the Steel thanks to her three intercepts and six deflections. Erena Mikaere was the other top performer in defence collecting six deflections in her 60 minutes out on court.

Shamera Sterling was a nuisance down back for the Thunderbirds picking up six gains and four intercepts for her efforts. Partner in crime Matilda Garrett also had a day out with her four deflections and three gains as Queensland Firebirds goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe impressed with her ball winning capabilities to finish with six gains and four intercepts. Lightning goal keeper Phumza Maweni was in the thick of things with her four gains and three intercepts as the combination between Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner was at its damaging best with a combined nine gains. Courtney Bruce had a field day for the Fever with a staggering 11 gains five of which were intercepts along with 10 deflections as Melbourne Vixens goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney relished her time out on court registering seven gains and three  intercepts.

Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris

2021 ANZ Premiership – Team of the Week: Round 8

THERE was no Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) action this week meanwhile Round 8 of the ANZ Premiership rolled around. There were plenty of close shaves in the ANZ Premiership and with that a couple of impressive performances as the Mystics toppled the top of the table Stars and Tactix reigned supreme over the Pulse.

GS: Grace Nweke (Northern Mystics)
GA: Chiara Semple (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)
WA: Gina Crampton (Northern Stars)
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Northern Stars)
WD: Charlotte Elley (Mainland Tactix)
GD: Kelly Jury (Central Pulse)
GK: Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix)

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

Grace Nweke finds herself named in our Team of the Week once again with the talented goal shooter plying her trade for the Northern Mystics. A force to be reckoned with inside the circle, Nweke was able to position cleverly and use her strength to dictate the flow inside the circle putting up a whopping 60 goals from 64 attempts at 94 per cent. Joining her inside the circle for the first time this season is Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic goal attack, Chiara Semple. The smooth-moving shooter might have only played three quarters this round but impressed with her classy movement, accuracy to post and confidence to back herself from range. Semple only missed one goal nailing 19 of her 20 attempts while also racking up 10 goal assists in a strong and consistent showing.

It is no surprise to see Gina Crampton once again getting the nod in at wing attack with the fancy-footed midcourter controlling the tempo for the Stars. With impressive vision into the circle, composure and cleanliness, Crampton was a real staple for the Stars and while they did not get the win she was a driving force in attack. Speedster, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan earned the start for another week with her clever drives, pinpoint passes and timing enabling her to control proceedings for the Stars. She balanced the circle alongside teammate Crampton to give the shooters the best chance to score while her vision into the circle was also impressive. Looking at the wing defence position and it is hard to go past Charlotte Elley. Somewhat of an unsung hero in the defensive third for the Tactix, Elley was on top of her game using her speed and long arms to wreak havoc. With deceptive closing speed and an undeniable tenacity the wing defence picked up three gains and two intercepts for her efforts.

Still finding her feet out in goal defence, Kelly Jury had a strong performance for the Pulse with her hands over pressure and lean over the shot. Although she did not feature highly on the stats sheet with three gains and two intercepts it was the work off the ball from Jury that set her apart, putting in the hard yards to shut down her opponent and double back into the goal circle to get hands to ball. Mainland Tactix goal keeper Jane Watson had a point to prove in her Round 8 clash, striking in the opening minutes of play to win ball back for her side. Her long arms, lean over the shot and read of the play enabled her to get hands to ball and cause plenty of disruptions down back while her cleanliness was another key element.

Unlucky not to get the nod in the starting goal shooter role, George Fisher takes out the bench position credit to her composure to landing the winning goal and all-round class throughout the match. Alongside her on the bench is Northern Mystics wing attack, Peta Toeava who continued her dominant form with ball in hand racking up 29 goal assists and an intercept. The final spot goes to Taneisha Fifita, with the goal keeper plying her trade up against a classy opposition to get hands to ball and keep her side ahead, stepping up at crucial moments.