Category: Central Pulse

2020 ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 4

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

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Friday, 3 July

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 4 July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 ANZ Premiership stats wrap: Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MORE MATCH STATS:

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

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

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

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

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 ANZ Premiership – Team of the Week: Round 3

ROUND 3 brought plenty of action and close encounters with the Steel notching up their first win of the season and Tactix getting back on the winning board. A strong performance from the Northern Mystics and Central Pulse saw a couple of players catapult into the Team of the Week while the Magic failed to have anyone in the team for the second week in a row. 

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick 

BENCH: Jennifer O’Connell, Claire Kersten, Temalisi Fakahokotau 

Mystics shooting sensation Grace Nweke earned herself the goal shooter position off the back of two impressive performances over Round 3. The young shooter could do no wrong bringing the ball down with ease, holding strong and commanding the ball 24/7. Her accuracy to post and high volume was unstoppable finishing the round with 63 goals from 73 attempts at 86 per cent. Back for her second week, Pulse captain and Silver Ferns star, Ameliaranne Ekenasio takes out the goal attack position with the talented goaler once again controlling the attacking third and dominating. Despite a challenging match-up Ekenasio rose to the occasion on Monday night displaying her high netball IQ to think her way through the pressure and letting her impressive circle movement do all the talking. She only missed three goals for the game sitting at 21 from 24 at 88 per cent. 

The midcourt is filled with young energetic stars that can run all day and every day. Wing attack Peta Toeava was deadly from circle edge for the Mystics supplying plenty of crucial ball into the goalers and making it look easy. Her dynamic change of speed wreaked havoc for opposition sides while Toeava also seemed to have the ball on a string throughout each game racking up 39 goal assists, a testament to her high quality output. Although her side failed to win, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan impressed for the Northern Stars up against some talented opposition. Her gut running, class with ball in hand and pin point precision allowed her to be a threat from anywhere in the attacking third. She registered the highest amount of goal assists and feeds and for her side with 20 from 26 showcasing just how accurate she was with ball in hand. Taking out the wing defence position, is Karin Burger who despite having a slow start to the match steadily built into the game and was a key cog in defence finishing with three gains and three intercepts. 

Coming off the back of a quiet performance, Tactix defender and captain Jane Watson delivered in the Round 3 clash. The goal defence put on a show and put any doubts about her knee complaint to bed with a convincing outing notching up five gains, two intercepts, two deflections and two rebounds while being a commanding force through the midcourt with 14 centre pass receives the second highest of anyone on her team. Watson left many fans in awe with the defender only registering the one penalty for the entire game in what was a stellar performance by the star defender. Joining her in defence is Mystics goal keeper Sulu Fitzpatrick who also put on a masterclass down back with her ball winning ways especially in her opening clash where she amassed nine gains and four intercepts. Fitzpatrick was involved in just about, using her physicality and hands over pressure to get hands to ball and deny any easy avenue to goal.

Unlucky not to make the starting seven, Jennifer O’Connell starred for the Steel across the weekend with her heightened volume and accuracy to post slotting 60 goals from 68 at 88 per cent. Through the midcourt Claire Kersten was dominant once again for the Pulse with 18 goal assists and two deflections while down back Temalisi Fakahokotau took out the final spot after showcasing her tenacity with six gains, three intercepts, four deflections and two rebounds.

2020 ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Player of the Week

EACH week Draft Central will analyse player performances from across the round in the ANZ Premiership and determine a “Player of the Week” based on game day performances. A player can be nominated as many times as deemed necessary given their individual performance across the round. 

The good times keep on rolling for Sulu Fitzpatrick with the Mystics defender putting on a spectacle in Round 3 of the ANZ Premiership and claiming Draft Central’s “Player of the Week.” The talented defender did not leave any stone unturned in her match against the Steel quickly asserting her dominance with her ball winning ways and imposing presence. A constant threat in the circle with her read of the play, physicality and strength Fitzpatrick was on song throughout the full four quarters racking up a wealth of intercepts and doing so cleanly. While she can be costly at times when it comes to penalties the 27-year-old showed plenty of restraint only registering 10 penalties.

Her ability to stay in play throughout the match allowed her to win back a wealth of ball with a whopping nine gains a clear testament to her skill to read the play and slot into the right place at the right time. It was a stats stuffing performance from the goal keeper who also starred when it came to intercepts amassing four for the game proving to be a real force down back for the Steel attackers to try and overcome. Fitzpatrick’s positioning under the post was equally as impressive gobbling up five rebounds showcasing her strength and skill to block out the likes of towering goaler Jennifer O’Connell and speedster Kalifa McCollin. Fitzpatrick’s lean over the shot and intimidating style of play got in the head of O’Connell with the Steel goal shooter down on her usual output slotting 28 goals from 32 attempts. Not only was Fitzpatrick dominant under the post but so too outside the circle forcing deflections and constantly getting hands to ball to disrupt the flow in attack for the Steel. 

The connection between Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka is developing at a rate of knots with the two able to balance the circle with great ease and apply a wealth of pressure not only on the goalers but so too the ball carrier. Their physical presence and aerial skill puts doubt in the feeders minds with both players never out of the contest. Fitzpatrick is deceptively quick and while she is not the tallest goal keeper uses her leap to get up to high balls and compete in the air such is her talent. 

Up against a formidable opponent in Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio in her second match of the round, Fitzpatrick continued her dominance, forcing Dunn to the bench. She was explosive throughout the match inflicting a wealth of pressure on both goalers and using her long arms to create timely deflections. Her pressure was suffocating, clogging up every inch of space in the Pulse’s attacking third and winning ball back with two gains, four deflections, two rebounds and two pick ups. Her clever anticipation allowed her to take advantage of even the smallest chance of a deflection, using her body to state a claim on the space and create turnovers for the Mystics.

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Pulse hold off a determined Mystics outfit

IN a battle of the undefeated teams it was the reigning premiers that came out on top in what was an intense and highly defensive battle to finish the third round of the ANZ Premiership. Neither the Pulse or Mystics were willing to give an inch and despite it being their second game of the round the Mystics did not seem fazed coming out strong and sticking to their structures but ultimately the Pulse had all the answers able to combat everything thrown at them. The lead chopped and changed throughout the game before the Pulse pulled away in the final term to run away with a seven goal victory (42-35) and keep their perfect record intact. 

The opening term started with a bang with both sides feeling each other out. With the centre pass in hand, the Pulse hit the scoreboard first and converted off a turnover to nail two goals in a row despite the immense pressure from the Mystics. The Mystics made it hard in defence for the Pulse, clogging up the space and making Pulse flick the ball around. It was a scrappy couple of minutes from both teams with a lot of turnover ball before the Pulse started to settle in. Youngster Maddy Gordon continued her hot form from last round, lighting up the court with her speed and deceptive pressure while Aliyah Dunn showcased her strength with her solid positioning on the rebound and ability to find good space in the circle. The Mystics were costly in attack giving away a couple of offensive penalties allowing the Pulse to go on a mini goal scoring spree and open up a four goal buffer with seven minutes left in the quarter. Kelly Jury made Grace Nweke work for every ball before the Mystics goal shooter started to find her groove in attack and hold more of a commanding position. Pulse, goal defence Katrina Rore showcased her class taking a screaming intercept through the midcourt followed with a quick transition down the court and easy conversion under the post. The Pulse kept the pressure up going on another three goal run at the four minute mark while Nweke kept getting caught on the body and getting pinned for penalties. But she quickly changed up her game play sparking the Mystics in attack and prompting a flurry of goals to reduce the margin to two heading into the break. 

Much like the first, the second was filled with intensity and excitement, however it was the Mystics that seemed to have the upper hand. Peta Toeava found Nweke with ease under the post, constantly delivering the ball to her on a silver platter. Disregarding the height difference between Toeava and Karin Burger, the wing attack had a field day, turning Burger inside out with her speed off the mark and unstoppable connection with Nweke. In defence the Mystics applied a wealth of pressure with Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka shutting down every single option making the Pulse work for absolutely everything. With nine minutes remaining in the quarter, scores were tied up with the Mystics looking much more composed with ball in hand so much so they went on a three goal running spree to snatch the lead for the first time this match. Nweke was doing all the damage for the Mystics with Asher Grapes only managing the one goal for the game while the Pulse goalers struggled for accuracy. Sloppiness continued for the Pulse with Gordon breaking the centre pass and the Mystics applying a wealth of pressure only limiting the reigning premiers to two goals up until the 5 minute mark. With less than two minutes to go the Pulse kicked it up a gear inspired by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dunn stringing four goals together and clenching a one goal lead. 

The half time break did not slow either side down but brought plenty of changes. A slow start from Grapes saw Saviour Tui come on at goal attack for the Mystics while moments later Tiana Metuarau pulled on the wing attack bib for the Pulse. It was goal for goal for most of the quarter with neither side willing to give up possession before the Mystics defence prevailed forcing a turnover. It did not take long for the Pulse to return serve with Jury and Rore working in overdrive to claim a huge rebound. Toeava seemed to have the ball on a string able to deliver to Nweke with ease while for the Pulse Claire Kersten kicked it up a gear, linking well with Ekenasio in the attacking third. After being level pegging for the opening couple of minutes the Mystics took the lead capitalizing off the back of a turnover sparked by Fitzpatrick while Jury kept getting pinned for contact thanks to Nweke being so strong on the hold. With the Pulse struggling to generate turnover ball in defence and hit the scoreboard, Dunn went to the bench pushing Ekenasio to goal shooter while Metuarau moved into her preferred position of goal attack. The change up seemed to be the spark the Pulse needed with Ekenasio upping the ante in attack and Metuarau good on the shot. After a quiet start, Burger leapt into action taking an important intercept to swing momentum back to Pulse, helping her side to three consecutive goals with Metuarau nailing a shot on the buzzer. 

With the final 12 minutes of the game underway the Pulse unleashed, proving why they are still the team to beat. A turnover from the Mystics gifted the Pulse with an opportunity to bounce and that they did. Pulse were not afraid to go back and reset the play instead working the ball around to find an opening. The Mystics lost their way with Nweke giving away another offensive penalty while the Pulse kicked it up a gear to really pull away and cement their spot as top dog. It was a physical encounter with bodies flying everywhere, Gordon hit the deck midway through the quarter but immediately bounced back up. Ekenasio was as cool as they come under the post for the Pulse, dictating the play and sinking them from here, there and everywhere to push her side out to a solid lead. 

It was an accurate display of shooting with Dunn finishing the game with 12 from 14 before heading to the bench while Nweke also flexed her muscles under the post sitting at 85 per cent thanks to her 28 from 33 attempts. The real difference came from the goal attack output with Ekenasio a strong target under the post and converting 21 from 24 while Mystics youngster Tui struggled to generate a lot of scoring opportunities with six from seven. Fitzpatrick was key in defence with two gains, four deflections and two rebounds while Burger managed three intercepts and three gains.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 8 | 12 | 12 (42)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 8 | 9 | 11 | 7 (35)

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse:

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

Northern Mystics:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 3

AFTER an action packed return of netball, teams will be eager to prove that it was not a one off with strong showings in Round 3. The Steel and Magic will both play two games this round with the remainder only taking part in the one game. Arguably the game of the round will be between the two unbeaten teams on Monday with Pulse and Mystics set to go to head to head. 

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Friday, 26 June

Sitting on a win apiece heading into the round both teams will be searching for some consistency and more importantly their second win of the season. The Tactix had an up and down performance last round, struck down by a tummy bug in their second game which well and truly showed while the Magic simply could not generate enough accuracy to post to worry their opposition. 

With a stacked defensive end the Tactix will be hoping to use their physicality and ball winning abilities to stop the Magic from getting close to post. Copping a knock on her knee early in the last game, all eyes will turn to Jane Watson with the captain a real lynchpin for the Tactix as she can take huge game changing intercepts. After a hot start Temalisi Fakahokotau faded out of the game last round but will be wanting to showcase her prowess once again with her intercepting skills, leap and pressure over the shot to ruffle the feathers of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou. The Magic shooters while they had plenty of opportunities struggled to convert and will have their work cut out for them again this round given the immense pressure Fakahokotau and Watson are renowned for.  

The midcourt battle will be another point of interest given the depth and speed that the Tactix have. Kimiora Poi is lightning quick in at centre, able to dart around the court and facilitate that second phase play for her side while also getting back and applying defensive pressure. Wing attack Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen also pose a threat for the Magic with their ability to come on and have an immediate impact with their quick ball movement, strength around circle edge and pin point precision passes into the circle. It will be up to Magic captain Sam Winders to really lead the midcourt with her defensive pressure, skill to clog up space and ability to keep her opposition off circle edge. In attack it will be up to Whitney Souness and Ariana Cable-Dixon to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Latu-Meafou and McPhee. 

It will be a tight battle between both sides but if the Tactix are at full strength they should be able to get the job done given the extra experience they have across the court both in attack and defence. 

Northern Mystics v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 27 June

Yet to register a win this season the Steel will be hoping to unlock something in their match-up against the Mystics and get their first “W” on the board. Meanwhile the Mystics will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact and notch up their third victory for the season after another impressive outing in Round 2.

With a developing attacking unit the Steel will have to be on their a-game if they are any chance to topple the Mystics. Kalifa McCollin proved to be a real pocket last round and has speed to boot, zipping around the attacking third and creating plays with her flair. The Trinidad and Tobago recruit is not afraid to go to post backing herself from anywhere in the circle and can adapt her game style to suit her fellow goalers. Youngster Georgia Heffernan is still working on her craft but has the potential to come on and have an impact with her athletic style of play and accuracy. While goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell is renowned for her holding shooter role and ability to score quickly and easily, something she will be hoping to capitalise on up against the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka. The Mystics defenders are a formidable unit that can pick off passes with ease and use their quick footwork to maneuver around the body of their opponents and create timely deflections. Fitzpatrick is a strong driving force down back with her hands over pressure and aerial ability while Karaka is key through the midcourt. 

After starring in Round with her pace, strength and ball delivery Peta Toeava will be one to watch for the Steel. The Mystics wing attack is a key cog using her balance, impressive vision and variety of passes to seamlessly deliver the ball into the goal circle. Toeava is quick on her feet and strong around the circle edge to demand the ball and dish off well-weighted passes. Fellow midcourter and centre Tayla Earle also starred last week and will be hoping to replicate that form with her defensive pressure to force turnovers and pick off intercepts for the Mystics. Her battle with Shannon Saunders will generate plenty of interest given just how damaging Saunders can be with ball in hand. Her experience, speed and vision is second to none while her connection with Gina Crampton is exceptional. The two know each others game inside out making them extremely difficult to combat given their read of the play and space, stamina and general netball nous. 

Vying for their first win of the season, expect the Steel to throw everything they have at the Mystics in hope of securing that elusive victory. However the Mystics have proven that they have the firepower to withstand challenges and can use their defensive pressure to win ball back and create scoring opportunities. 

Northern Stars v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 28 June

In Steel’s second game of the round the element of fatigue could play a huge factor up against a developing Stars unit who will be still riding that winning wave after downing the Tactix in Round 2. It will be the first time these two sides have met since the final last year where the Stars bundled the Steel out of grand final contention, so expect plenty of feeling in this game. With young players on both sides it will be up to the experienced heads to lead the way and forge a way forward for their team to win. 

The tussle in the goal circle for the Stars will be exciting with Maia Wilson a commanding presence under the post as her strong holds and accuracy to post is hard to combat. Wilson is able to read the play with ease and use her feet to move to the ball or create space in the circle. Still developing her partnership with Jamie Hume and Vika Koloto it will be up to Wilson to shoulder a lot of the scoring load but will have her work cut out for her against Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, Taneisha Fifita and Abby Erwood. Fifita is a real livewire down in defence renowned for her spring in her step and skill to cause confusion with her quick footwork while both Selby-Rickit and Erwood ooze consistency.

Coming off a relatively disappointing outing expect O’Connell to come back with a vengeance and assert herself with her scoring ability. O’Connell can hit the scoreboard quickly and easily given her height and clever body positioning to ward off defenders. Partner in crime, McCollin is the playmaker for the Steel in the goal circle using her turn of speed and spatial awareness to full effect. But Stars defenders Storm Purvis and Kate Burley are no easy beats with the two strong in the air and able to swat away their fair share of ball. Burley impressed last round with her smothering style of play and skill to switch into transition with ease while Storm showcased her skillset to seamlessly push out to goal defence. Another prominent threat for the Stars is the inclusion of Oceane Maihi who is a serious competitor in the air given her leap and strong hands. 

Potentially still on the hunt for their first win the Steel will be eager to secure a win but come up against a strong unit, in the Stars who will be raring to go. With key players across the Stars are in the box seat heading into the contest having already notched up a win. 

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Monday, 29 June

In what could be a battle of the two undefeated teams the clash between the Pulse and Mystics will be one of youth and experience. There is no denying that the Pulse are the team to beat, once again announcing themselves as a powerhouse of the competition last round while the Mystics continue to showcase their composure and pressure each time they step out on court. There will be all-star match ups across the court with both teams littered with Silver Ferns stars making for an intriguing contest.

Young talent Grace Nweke has continued to take the competition by storm, letting her goal scoring do all the talking. Hardly ever out positioned, Nweke is a staple hold for the Mystics under the post with her commanding figure, aerial strength, read of the play and sheer dominance, but could meet her match in fellow youngster Kelly Jury. The Pulse goal keeper really hit her straps last round with her quick footwork, long limbs, lean over the shot and skill to get hands to ball. Throw in defensive comrades in Katrina Rore and Karin Burger and the Pulse are incredibly difficult to match-up on given their ability to shut down space, hunt the ball and suffocate attacking forays. While Nweke is the go to girl for the Mystics the likes of Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui will have to up their output if they are to draw away the defence from Nweke and apply some serious scoreboard pressure. 

Moving down into the defensive end for the Mystics and they too have no shortage of fire power with Fitzpatrick and Karaka. Up against her old side, Fitzpatrick will be desperate to have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure, physicality under the post and intercepting ability. Directly opposed to Pulse goal shooter Aliyah Dunn, Fitzpatrick will have to be on her a-game to stop the high ball release into her with Dunn renowned for her height, ability to reel ball in and nifty footwork along the baseline to hold space. Goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another huge obstacle for the Mystics defensive unit to conquer with the Silver Ferns goaler in impressive form. Her vision is exceptional, able to see two passes ahead, while her ball placement, turn of speed and strong drives into the circle is second to none. Throw in the fact Ekenasio can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle and is cool, calm and composed with ball in hand and the Pulse are in a commanding position.

With star power across the court and tried and tested combinations the Pulse should reign supreme but the Mystics definitely have the players to cause an upset given their defensive pressure.

2020 ANZ Premiership Young Gun Focus: Round 3

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week the player in focus is Northern Stars defender Kate Burley who starred last round with her read of the play and efforts across the court to win ball back. 

Age: 23
Height: 181cm
Position: GD, GK,WD

After a stellar outing in Round 2 for the Northern Stars the young defender will be keen to back up her performance in Round 3 against some quality opposition in the Southern Steel. Faced with unknown quantity and Trinidad and Tobago speedster Kalifa McCollin, Burley will once again have her work cut out for her but has the speed and nous to match her opponent. 

In testing conditions in the first game of the round up against Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Burley plied her trade and made the goal attack work for every pass and while she tired as the game went on still managed to apply strong hands over pressure. Still honing her craft Burley displayed her attacking mindset with her strong drives through the middle of the court and willingness to fly at the cross court ball. Despite not playing the entire match she managed to collect one intercept, one gain and three deflections. 

But it was the second game where Burley really shone. Starting in at goal defence before slotting into the goal keeper position to close out the game, Burley’s hunger and intensity was up from the opening whistle. Her read of the play and aerial ability given her shorter stature compared to some defenders was highly impressive racking up four gains, three intercepts and four deflections. She was a real energiser bunny down back, able to create turnovers with her immense pressure and skill to double back on the shooter when needed.  Burley, along with partner in crime Storm Purvis, forced the Tactix to make wholesale changes in the attacking unit with Ellie Bird, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jess Prosser all trying to combat and break through the defensive wall they had set up. 

Burley proved that she has the stamina and skillset to last an entire game and have a profound impact on the game with her willingness to get to contests and help out in transition. While still not at the peak of her powers, her Round 2 performance showed plenty of promise for the games to come with the young defender growing in confidence and backing herself more regularly whether it be to go for an intercept or block her opposition goaler from entering the circle with her strong movement. Her versatility is another element to keep an eye out for with Burley as she can not only switch between in-circle defence but so too wing defence given her read of the play and deceptive speed.

2020 ANZ Premiership Head to Head: Round 3

IN each round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. The return to netball sees two Silver Ferns at different stages in their netball career up against each other.

CENTRAL PULSE v. NORTHERN MYSTICS
Aliyah Dunn (GS) v. Sulu Fitzpatrick (GK)

Both fresh off a win expect the battle in the goal circle to be heated with both players vying for every inch of space. In her first season back at the Mystics Sulu Fitzpatrick will be eager to enforce herself on her old side while youngster Aliyah Dunn has already announced herself as a commanding presence under the post for the Pulse. 

It did not take Fitzpatrick long to work her way into the game and solidify her defensive connection with Phoenix Karaka last round. The duo’s physicality and hunting mentality is what makes them so ominous, able to back themselves and rotate through the defensive third to cause confusion. Up against her old side and the reigning premiers Fitzpatrick knows what it takes to get inside the head of Dunn and can use her experience to win plenty of ball back. The tenacious goal keeper is not afraid to throw her body on the line and go out to apply pressure on the ball carrier such is her attacking mentality. A strong competitor in the goal circle, Fitzpatrick relies on her nimble movement and quick footwork to get around the body of her opponent and force turnovers. Her read of the play and ability to dictate space enables her to set up defensive blocks and reduce the speed of ball movement in the attacking third, a key element for her side’s success. Pairing well with Karaka, expect Fitzpatrick to really challenge the high ball in the air and get a hand to a couple of balls to put doubt in the feeders minds. 

After a strong showing in Round 2, Dunn will be hoping to continue that hot form against her old teammate. The soon to be 21-year-old is cool, composed and collected under the post not often frazzled by the defensive pressure heaped on her. Dunn’s ability to detect space and command the ball is second to none, allowing for the likes of Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon to deliver the ball on a silver platter to her. She is quick on her feet and uses her height to full advantage to reel in high balls time and time again. When it comes to applying scoreboard pressure Dunn is a menace with her high volume of shots and accuracy to post causing all sorts of headaches for opposition defence units. Her connection with teammate and Silver Ferns goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another concern for the Mystics given the Pulse shooters know each other’s game inside out, able to clear out and make space in the circle for one of them to drive in. While Dunn is typically a holding shooter she can vary her game style and use her netball smarts to exploit her opposition. 

With plenty of history between the two players expect an enthralling battle with neither of them willing to take a backwards step given what is at stake. If Fitzpatrick can push Dunn out from under the post and force her to take the long bomb it will favour the Mystics, but it will have to be a full court defensive effort as Ekenasio can do just as much damage if Dunn is well held. On the other hand if Dunn can keep Fitzpatrick at bay with her strong holds, clever body positioning and control in the air then the Pulse should be able to generate enough scoring opportunities to win.