Category: New Zealand

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Pulse survive nailbiter against error-ridden Steel

SOUTHERN Steel pushed the Central Pulse in Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership, and while they backed it up a week on, the Pulse treasured ball and maintained accuracy for a close 40-37 victory. It was the Pulse’s continuous drive that propelled them to a sixth straight victory, with the close finish for the Steel soured by a late injury.

Pulse started strong as ever, pinning down the attacking third well in the beginning to limit Steel’s speed in attack. A couple handy loose ball-gets early on saw the Steel take an early three goal lead, before Pulse switched into once more to steal back some momentum. But the midpoint of the term saw the Pulse draw level, with the side slow to start but quicker to get into their regular rhythm. 

A couple of pickups from Shannon Saunders early proved that the Steel had come to play, putting pressure on through the midcourt but where Saunders did it the entire Pulse side went one better on the defence, forcing Steel into short, sharp passes in attack. While the Steel maintained patience and did not try to take risks, Trinidad and Tobago product Kalifa McCollin still injected her usual flair, finding clever avenues to Jennifer O’Connell at the post. 

But where the Steel were solid up forward, sloppiness down back from Taneisha Fifita allowed too many easy attempts at goal for the highly accurate Pulse goalers in Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn. Defensively, the Steel were on fire early putting a wealth of pressure on the Pulse attack unit but threw away just as much as they gained, only coming away with a one goal lead at the first change.

The match continued virtually goal for goal, with Maddy Gordon finding plenty of purchase on circle edge, but small errors back-to-back from Dunn handed the Steel a couple of crucial opportunities. However, inaccuracy plagued O’Connell and McCollin, sitting on 65 per cent accuracy in the second thanks to impressive defensive pressure and box-outs from Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury. While Steel appeared to have much of the momentum early, critical errors saw Pulse take the lead with under five minutes left in the term, seeing Steel in real danger of fazing out of the match heading into half-time. 

While the patient approach by the Steel early on seemed to work, pressure from the Pulse saw movement stagnate in the second which allowed the top side to gain some precious ball. Though Saunders continued to have her way finding plenty of turnover ball through the centre, matched well by Claire Kersten who gave Saunders a run for her money on the deflection tally. But the Steel managed to retain a two-goal buffer throughout a frantic last minute, seeing Pulse just ahead but the Steel within touching distance. With persistent contact calls plaguing Fifita, the young goal keeper was handed a caution late in the second, having tallied eight contact penalties by half-time. 

With just two goals in it coming into the second half, one side had to give. The Steel injected some better speed in the third, finding faster options to post but wasted opportunities from McCollin and O’Connell saw Pulse maintain the lead, with Jury getting into O’Connell’s head. It was a better third quarter from the Pulse, finding a bit more purchase in attack though the Steel continued to keep them on their toes and forcing some uncharacteristic errors from the usually composed attack. 

Kate Heffernan was solid, applying constant pressure on Gordon and seeing the pair almost cancel each other out with their consistent shadowing. McCollin’s speed saw the goal attack continue to evade Rore, though the Pulse defensive unit did a solid job limiting Steel’s ability to drive toward the ball in attack. The Pulse began to pull away toward the end of the third, maintaining momentum and holding ground against the tenacious and ball hungry Steel side.

Tiana Metuarau joined the fray out in wing attack to start the final quarter, with the speedster injecting a bit of flair into the Pulse attack. Continued errors and hesitance in front of goal from the Steel saw the Pulse begin to pull away, with accuracy on the shot proving crucial. Where the match may have seemed sealed up early in the final quarter, the Steel had a much more composed second half of the term and really began to push back, absorbing the pressure in attack and winning back critical ball in defence before the ball could reach the circle. 

With the match on the line, the Steel were on a roll and looked to be in with a real chance, until the worst case scenario played out with O’Connell going down with a suspected knee injury and less than a minute on the clock. Two goals down with 55 seconds on the clock Steel’s Kiana Pelasio entered the court in goal attack, but it was not enough with the Pulse happy to ferret away the time and finish with a sombre 40-37 victory.

The Pulse may have had another scare with a potential loss on their hands this week but were too good with quality names bookending the court. Player of the match Jury was silent but deadly in defence, racking up seven gains while Kersten was solid with three intercepts. Despite just playing the three quarters, Gordon led the Pulse assists tally with 13 from 17 feeds, joined by Ekenasio with nine assists and 17 goals from 20 attempts. Dunn finished well with 23 goals at 92 per cent to lead on accuracy. Rore had a quiet match when it came to her usual flair, but was consistent as ever with the four gains and only five penalties to her name.

While the Steel had more attempts on goal for the second match running, it was their inaccuracy at the post that was the real kicker. O’Connell was sturdy at the post but came away with 25 goals at 73 per cent, while McCollin was electric out the front with 12 goals from 17 attempts and eight assists. Saunders racked up three intercepts, while Gina Crampton did much of the heavy lifting in wing attack with 15 assists, 19 centre pass receives and a potentially game saving intercept in the final term to really put the pressure on. Defensively, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Fifita were consistent but did not do enough to put off the Pulse, seeing the pair only combine for two intercepts. 

Steel are unlucky coming out of this loss and injury scare with a back-to-back match on Saturday night against Northern Stars – the only team they have beaten thus far – and will now need to work a different goaler into their game plan. Meanwhile the Pulse have a week off, not back on the court until Round 6.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 11 | 11 | 11 | 7 (40)
SOUTHERN STEEL 12 | 8 | 9 | 8 (37)

STARTING SEVEN:

PULSE:

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

STEEL:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to Head: Round 5

IN each ANZ Premiership round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This match-up sees two current Silver Ferns go head to head for the second time this season.

MAINLAND TACTIX v. NORTHERN MYSTICS

Te Paea Selby-Rickit (GA) v. Phoenix Karaka (GD)

Two impressive players with a wealth of experience on both the domestic and international stages, the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Phoenix Karaka will go head-to-head for the second time in as many matches on Sunday, with Karaka ultimately having the last word in Round 4. But the real question in this matchup is whether she can hold down Selby-Rickit once more, with Selby-Rickit fading out last round but unlikely to make the same mistake again. Second and third on the ladder, neither the Mystics nor Tactix can afford a loss with the closeness of the shortened season at hand, with potential to stray further from ladder-leading Central Pulse who sit undefeated in first.

A formidable opponent in attack, Selby-Rickit is one of those threatening goalers who can provide a quality option regardless of whether she is in-form or not. Providing a consistent option at the centre pass, Selby-Rickit uses her break-out speed to burst out from the transverse line to start that first faze, before jetting down to the goal circle to not only put up shots from just about anywhere in the circle, but also use her quick footwork to rotate the circle and open up space for her goaling partner in crime in Ellie Bird. With strength, speed and versatility, Selby-Rickit can also provide a barrier with her long arms to block play and win back ball, proving a solid all-rounder in attack with her constant work-rate rarely letting up. Unafraid of the long bomb, Selby-Rickit is a force to be reckoned with in the goal circle and uses her solid build to assert herself on the play, while her quick hands allow her to dish off speedy passes to Bird under the post with ease. She also pairs well in attack with the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi, with Poi’s defensive outset allowing Selby-Rickit to be a major playmaker alongside Pedersen. While she does provide a consistent threat, Selby-Rickit has had a rough few weeks on the court and currently ranks eighth for goals scored, and also has the lowest accuracy at 73 per cent. 

Karaka is a constant threat defensively, using her vision and read of the play to prey on any loose ball and pounce on opportunities to propel the ball forward. When it comes to her positioning, Karaka is a consistent follower of the play, never far from the action with her speed and aerial ability. Able to adapt to the play and ply her trade depending on her oppositions’ movement, Karaka uses her lithe build to form a defensive barricade both in and outside the goal circle. Karaka is one of the cleanest defenders going around, which makes her an imposing impact player given her ability to disrupt momentum even without being a physical threat, having impressively only racked up 40 penalties from five matches this season. Karaka’s aerial game is phenomenal and threateningly consistent, sitting top of the table for intercepts with 11 to her name, able to use her long arms to command possession of the ball and pull it in. Her three-foot marking and leap is also impressive, and while she is not the tallest defender can find plenty of purchase on the airball to take possession with ease. Joining forces with Sulu Fitzpatrick this season, the duo work seamlessly to reduce the impact of their opposition goalers and will hope to provide the same buffer again this weekend.

With both players highly impressive with an ability to seamlessly perform time and time again, it is more a question of consistency that will find a winner in this scenario. If Karaka can hold Selby-Rickit accountable and force errors the Mystics should go back-to-back, however if Selby-Rickit can take advantage of Karaka’s hunt on the ball and find space in attack, the Tactix could be in with a chance. There was plenty of argy-bargy between the two players last round, so look for another enticing matchup this time around with plenty on the line.

Compare the Pair: Kelsey Browne and Peta Toeava

THE next instalment in the Draft Central’s Compare the Pair series will aim to analyse two fan favourites from different competitions, with the next showcasing midcourt attackers, Australia’s Kelsey Browne and New Zealand’s Peta Toeava

With plenty of breakout speed, class and feeding expertise, the likes of dynamic attackers Browne and Toeava are a force to be reckoned with on court. While both on the shorter side, their respective ability to find not only the space but the ball too makes them crucial players on court, able to change a game in a split second. Meanwhile, the pair also provide handy cogs at the transverse line, taking on that first faze of the play and continually backing up their respective efforts with speed and vision. With plenty of strength, consistency and a workrate to match, both Browne and Toeava have plenty of quality attributes any team would want to have on their side.

An energiser bunny with quick thinking on the pass and an ability to serve the ball on a silver platter to her attackers, Browne is one of those players who cannot be left alone for a moment. Her innate ability to find space through the midcourt and attack the play allow her to be a consistent and threatening option across the court, using her game smarts to switch on and provide a quality option on circle edge. Her vision is second to none and gives her plenty of opportunity to propel ball into the goal circle, using her dynamic movement and quick feet to dart around her defender to apply pressure in attack. While Browne was expected to miss much of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last year, fans will hope the Magpies will benefit off the delayed start to the season with potential for Browne to return earlier than expected.

With little hesitance and plenty of confidence on the assist, there is no doubt Toeava has been a quality midcourter for the Mystics this season, proving crucial with her quick hands and evasive footwork to find the ball with ease. Her ability to open up space for her teammates sees her play a critical role in every match, using her vision well to spot the way the play will head and provide a handy link through the midcourt. With impressive vision in attack, Toeava can ply her trade to feed into the circle from virtually anywhere in the goal third, using her evasive play to zip around her defender and propel ball straight to the post. Toeava is able to hold her ground well and while she is not the most defensively minded player, she is also consistently clean, able to apply pressure on the ball handler and attack the loose ball without finding too much of the whistle.

Kelsey Browne
18 caps, 2018-present

Peta Toeava
1 cap, 2018-present

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

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

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

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

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

Te Paea Selby-Rickit

46 caps, 2016-present

Kiera Austin

2020 ANZ Premiership stats wrap: Round 2

ROUND 2 of the 2020 ANZ Premiership season saw matches produce some stellar scorelines and showcase some impressive talent on the return of netball. In such a massive round of action, Draft Central delves into the best stats of the week.

Topping the goaling tally for the week was Maia Wilson, and while the talented goal shooter played two matches this round her combined 67 goals were a testament to her ability to find the ball and apply scoreboard pressure. Also with two matches behind her, Ellie Bird racked up 49 goals though her accuracy left something to be desired, shooting at 79 per cent. 

Hot on Bird’s tail was towering Mystics teenager, Grace Nweke who was impeccable at the post with 41 goals from 45 attempts in her single outing. Pulse’s Aliyah Dunn was similarly impressive, shooting 44 goals at the highest accuracy of that volume and teamed up impeccably with Silver Ferns captain, Ameliaranne Ekenasio who scored 19 goals of her own out in goal attack. Joining Ekenasio in second place for goal attacks this week was Te Paea Selby-Rickit who shot 31 goals across two matches, while Kalifa McCollin impressed in her second outing with the Southern Steel, racking up 20 goals to topscore for her position.

When it came to feeding the goalers from circle edge, Peta Toeava (27 assists from 33 feeds) and Grace Kara (35 assists from 68 feeds across two matches) in her 150th game while Claire Kersten had pinpoint accuracy with 20 assists from 24 circle feeds. Meanwhile, Tayla Earle dominated through the midcourt racking up four intercepts to propel the ball back up the court, allowing Toeava to do the heavy lifting in attack for Mystics.

Defensively, players put on a show with their anticipation and read of the play, with Kelly Jury and Erena Mikaere leading the charge for the round. Jury racked up six intercepts and three gains while Mikaere was hot on her tail with four intercepts to her name. Jane Watson also collected four intercepts across two games, with her stellar first game effort (nine gains) unmatched by her second (one gain) though she did seem to be proppy after a knee knock. 

Kate Burley, Temalisi Fakahokotau and Phoenix Karaka all racked up three intercepts, with Burley managing four gains and Fakahokotau eight – across two matches – while Katrina Rore aided Jury with five gains and Karaka put in an even effort with Sulu Fitzpatrick to combine for 11 gains.

MORE MATCH STATS

>> WBOP Magic (40) defeated by Northern Mystics (47) 

>> Southern Steel (36) defeated by Mainland Tactix (43)

>> Northern Stars (39) defeated by Central Pulse (63)

>> Northern Stars (49) defeated Mainland Tactix (43)

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Stars fire back in dual milestone match

FRESH off a loss on Sunday, the Northern Stars were keen to make amends and were faced with potential grand final challengers, Mainland Tactix to finish round two. But while the Tactix seemed to have much of the momentum early, it was the Stars who led all changes, with plenty of players stepping up to prove that Sunday’s result was not going to be repeated and defeating the Tactix 49-43.

With a fire in the belly, Tactix showed no mercy down in defence, blocking any easy avenue to goal and moving the ball with confidence through the midcourt. With two domestic milestones in the mix, the Stars were raring to go to get their first 2020 win on the board for captain, Grace Kara who hit 150 games and Silver Ferns goaler, Maia Wilson who reached 50.

The first quarter saw the Stars strike the first blow, getting out to an early lead though the Tactix were hot on their tail testament to the accuracy and connection between Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird on song early. However where the Stars seemed to struggle defensively in the beginning – not communicating well in defence – Storm Purvis and Kate Burley quickly caught on to the predictable and risky high ball to Bird, limiting the tall timber’s impact on the shot and putting doubt in the head of Selby-Rickit who did not seem her usual confident self on the long bomb.

While the Stars defence had a slow start and brought the heat throughout, it seemed to be another story for the Tactix. Temalisi Fakahokotau had a blinding start, racking up two of her three intercepts in the first quarter while Jane Watson asserted herself on the contest, playing a real attacking game out of goal defence. But while Tactix’ defence was on early, the Stars did not hold back as the likes of Wilson and Jamie Hume shook off any glimpses of fading out as they did on Sunday, making for a tense contest. Aiding on circle edge, Kara put out a spectacular show with her pinpoint passes and efficient play through attack, almost unstoppable. Where kara dominated for the Stars, as did Tactix midcourter Kimiora Poi who used her impressive speed to be a constant pest on the Stars’ tail. 

With the connection between Wilson and Hume growing as confidence joined the mix, it seemed as though Fakahokotau and Watson gradually faded out with Watson somewhat succumbing to injury – returning to the court, but not showcasing her typical tenacity or athleticism. Though the Tactix showed glimpses of brilliance, they simply could not maintain that high level of intensity – though with rumours of a stomach bug in their midst – with the team struggling to maintain that efficiency that saw them steam ahead on Saturday against the Steel. 

A one goal Stars lead at the first change turned into a seven goal lead by half-time, with a stellar seven goal run contributing to the effort and Tactix’ messiness certainly playing a part while their ball placement also seemed to improve, keeping the ball away from the athletic Fakahokotau. But while the tenacious goal keeper seemed like the one to watch heading into the match, it was Burley and Purvis that put on a show as the duo racked up four and three gains respectively.

While a switch for speedster Erikana Pedersen in wing attack seemed to open things back up for the Tactix in the third and ultimately a much better final quarter to finish, it was not enough with the side lacking confidence and ultimately making a lot of gambles as they fought to control an ounce of the match. Constant changes and a lack of confidence was the pressure point for the Tactix, and it was Wilson with the layup that put the nail in the coffin thanks to an offensive turnover, telling a real tale of the Tactix’ comedy of errors to finish the match.

Wilson was once again strong under the post for the Stars with the 22-year-old goal shooter doing much of the heavy lifting and finishing with 37 goals from 40 attempts, though was supported better by Hume this time around who, despite only shooting 12 goals at 63 per cent, provided a much tougher contest at the post, opening up space for the 50-gamer. For the Tactix, it was a much more even total between Selby-Rickit (19 goals) and Bird (18), while up-and-coming talent Jess Prosser made her mark in the latter stages, aiding Selby-Rickit well and shooting six from six. Player of the match, Burley racked up three intercepts while it was her constant pressure that saw her dominate the contest, combining effortlessly with Purvis to be a threatening pairing down back. Through the midcourt, Kara racked up 20 assists from 33 feeds to lead all comers, while it was a far more even spread of feeding for the Tactix, with six players putting the stat to their name.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

NORTHERN STARS 13 | 13 | 11 | 12 (49)
MAINLAND TACTIX 12 | 7 | 10 | 14 (43)

STARTING SEVENS:

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

Mainland Tactix:

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Pulse reign supreme in grand final rematch

A LOT has changed between the two ANZ Premiership sides since they last met in the grand final with the likes of Temepara Bailey, Leana de Bruin and Ellen Halpenny both retiring while Kayla Cullen announced her move to the Swifts. Meanwhile, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Whitney Souness both left the Pulse. But that did not seem to matter with both sides leaving no stone unturned and putting on a show in the grand final rematch. The Pulse did not skip a beat in their first game back since the COVID-19 enforced break, trouncing the Stars by 24 goals in what was an impressive all-round performance (63-39).  

The opening quarter lived up to anticipation with the Pulse racing out to a hefty lead before the Stars reeled them back in. Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio got off to a hot start slotting the first four goals of the game before partner in crime Aliyah Dunn got involved in the action. Ekenasio showcased her slick ball movement and demanding presence both in the goal circle and attacking third, receiving what seemed like every second pass and creating attacking forays. Defensively the Pulse were up and about with the Stars unable to penetrate the zone pressure only sinking their first goal three minutes into the match after both Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson missed their opening shots. Newbie Kelly Jury was impressive for the Pulse, using her lean over the shot to get in the head of Wilson, before the talented goaler got things back on her terms, using her strong holds to claim prime position under the post. The Stars worked hard defensively to shut down options and then propel the ball back down court to reduce the margin to two goals but they did not stop there with Hume sinking a long bomb on the buzzer to be within one goal at quarter time. 

With things all tied up in the opening minutes of the second quarter the Pulse quickly put an end to the goal for goal rhythm thanks to Dunn and Ekenasio going on a scoring spree. Dunn showcased her versatility leading outside of the goal circle and driving back hard to goal while youngster Maddy Gordon had a field day in attack with her speed, impressive vision and balance around circle edge. With the ball trapped in Pulse’s attacking third, Stars wing defence Fa’amu Ioane put her hand up using her footwork to try and block Gordon but it was to no real avail while the likes of Kate Burley also imposed herself with her timely tips. The combination of Wilson and Hume in the goal circle was tested but the goal shooter stood up to the pressure, finding the front space with ease. But the Stars simply could not combat the intense pressure from the Pulse who capitalised on every turnover and opportunity that swung their way with a whopping 21 to eight goal quarter. Jury led the defensive end with an impressive intercept credit to her long arms and quick footwork to cover the court. Meanwhile the combination between Dunn and  Ekenasio continued with the two simply undeniable under the post sitting at 100 per cent, testament to their skillset. Dunn found her rhythm under the post, gobbling up everything that came her way, making it look easy.

Renowned as the premiership quarter, the third term lived up to its name with the Pulse applying a wealth of pressure both on the scoreboard and defensively. Once again Jury was straight into the action with an intercept and denying any type of easy ball movement for the Stars. In hope to change things up down back Storm Purvis pushed out to goal defence with Oceane Maihi coming on in goal keeper. Maihi offered plenty of height and aerial ability to challenge the prominent Dunn in the air. Purvis and Maihi made life hard for the first few minutes before the Pulse once again pulled away with Gordon and Claire Kersten leading the way through the middle with their effortless feeds and ridiculous ball speed. The quick transition down court was simply unstoppable with the Pulse linking up with ease and causing all sorts of havoc for the Stars forcing them to chop and change players in centre with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather rotating through. In terms of defence Katrina Rore wore Hume like a glove, going with her every step of the way and only allowing the goaler to manage three goals for the quarter while Jury maintained her hunger for the ball, using her spatial awareness and balance to reel ball in and propel it down court with a whopping five intercepts and seven gains in the term alone. 

The fourth quarter followed suit with the Pulse doing everything right and not allowing the Stars any space. There were changes galore for both teams with Tiana Metuarau coming on in wing attack to replace speedster, Gordon. Defensively the Pulse brought on some fresh legs with Renee Savai’inaea and Elle Temu both making their presence felt with the latter notching up an intercept and gain in her 12 minutes on court. Stars youngster Vika Koloto was not overwhelmed by her opponent instead coming on and showcasing her skillset with an early goal and delivering well weighted passes into Wilson. But the changes were simply not enough to quell the steam train that was the Pulse who were slick from start to finish only missing four goals for the entire game. 

Wilson finished with 30 goals from 36 attempts at 83 per cent while Hume managed eight from 11 at 73 per cent. Dunn was a commanding figure with 44 from 46 at 96 per cent while Ekenasio slotted 19 from 21. The defensive efforts of Jury were unmatched with the young goal keeper amassing nine gains and six intercepts with Rore hot on her heels with five gains and an intercept. 

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

STARTING SEVENS:

NORTHERN STARS:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

CENTRAL PULSE:

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

What if … the Constellation Cup is cancelled?

THE Constellation Cup has become a permanent fixture in the international netball calendar with Australia and New Zealand putting themselves to the test and often trying out new combinations to discover some type of competitive edge. With dates for Constellation Cup confirmed for mid October international netball is in sight, giving fans plenty to be excited about. It will be the first time that Australia and New Zealand have gone head to head since last year where the Diamonds restored their winning ways claiming their seventh Constellation Cup. In that time both countries have seen some key players retire with the likes of Maria Folau for the Ferns and Caitlin Thwaites for Australia both hanging up the dress, leaving some big holes in the respective squads. While the thought of international netball looms it is all dependent on the spread and safety precautions which must be taken given the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

So what if the Constellation Cup was cancelled? 

With Australia in the middle of somewhat of a rebuild after two heartbreaking one goal losses in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 Netball World Cup, a lack of international netball could have a severe impact on the development of their next generation players. With Thwaites, retiring the opportunity for a new goaler is in the mix with a host of young talent such as Cara Koenen and Sophie Garbin both putting their hand up as viable options last year with their accuracy to post and clever movement. The midcourt could also have a different look for the Diamonds with Ash Brazill unlikely to pull on the green and gold due to a devastating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at the start of the year leaving a chance for the likes of Kate Moloney or Gabi Simpson. Similarly the same goes for New Zealand with the Ferns on the search for Folau’s replacement whether it be shooting prodigy Grace Nweke, Maia Wilson or Aliyah Dunn. The Ferns could also be without Bailey Mes who was ruled out of the ANZ Premiership season with a patella injury, creating another possibility for a young player to take the court. With key players missing from both sides respectively the Constellation Cup would be an ideal platform for both teams to test out new combinations and allow up and comers to join the ranks. However if both nations are unable to get on court in an international setting the next time they step out on court could be in the Nations Cup when they will be faced with the likes of England, Jamaica or South Africa. 

The ramifications do not stop there though, with Australia still on the hunt for a coach with Lisa Alexander no longer in charge of the Diamonds. With no coach at the helm the Diamonds future is still relatively up in the air, something they will be hoping to get on top of in the coming months and test out at the Constellation Cup. The tournament will provide the Diamonds with a chance to test out new combinations, coaching styles and ultimately act as a trial run for the upcoming Nations Cup. 

If cancelled due to travel restrictions it also throws up the possibility of not seeing some household netball names take the court again. Both teams have a couple of players heading towards the latter stage of their career in particular New Zealand with the likes of Laura Langman and Katrina Rore. While in no means are we hoping for them to retire from international netball given their undeniable explosiveness, skill and sheer presence, retirement is inevitable in every netballers career. Langman is 34 while Rore hit the 33 mark this year and if international netball comes to a halt in 2020 there is a slight chance netball fans may have already seen the back of them. 

Travel is a key part of the Constellation Cup with games played both in Australia and New Zealand, however if restrictions remain in place the competition will not be able to go ahead and subsequently have a huge impact on the world of international netball.

Memorable Matches: Sunshine Girls defeat Silver Ferns – 2018 Comm Games

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look at memorable matches in world netball history. Next up is Jamaica’s bronze medal win over New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, after missing out on the gold medal match by the slimmest of margins. 

It was a period of rebuilding for New Zealand, and this loss almost felt like the tail on the end of years of frustration for the nation, which had never failed to make a final before, let alone miss out on a medal overall. But for Jamaica, this was the culmination of years of edging closer to the title, and while it was the nation’s third bronze medal it was the first Commonwealth Games win against the Ferns, proving the Sunshine Girls could push any team to its limit on their day.

The two sides battled mercilessly throughout, with neither really able to snatch onto momentum for the full match. There was arguably a scoring end with majority of both teams’ scoreboard impact hitting in alternating quarters, with Jamaica dominating the first and third, drawing out a strong lead on both occasions, while New Zealand fought back during the second and fourth quarters to no avail. With quality shooting targets up opposing ends with the likes of Maria Folau, Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken finding plenty of the ball, the Jamaicans were a fraction cleaner. Khadijah Williams (20 assists from 31 feeds) zipped around as she does best, with the wing attack using her quick footwork to out-position the likes of Sam Winders and Claire Kersten and open up space for both Shanice Beckford (15 goals, 16 assists) and Adean Thomas. While Ferns goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau was more than up for the challenge lining up on Fowler and Aiken respectively, it was her penalty count that got the Ferns in trouble, racking up 24 penalties (18 contacts) in her 49 minutes on court. Katrina Rore’s respective cleanliness could not make up the numbers, with the usually tenacious defender failing to have her usual impact.

It was inaccuracy that plagued the Ferns throughout, unable to be their typical cool, calm and collected selves under the post thanks to the phenomenal defensive effort from the Sunshine girls. While Jamaica’s shooting was not at 100 per cent either, the side was far cleaner with the ball in the attack and more careful with the shot where New Zealand wasted attempts from further out than they wanted. Young gun Shamera Sterling was well up to the task in defence for the Sunshine Girls, and was still really an unknown quantity, able to cherry pick the ball with ease and slow down the Ferns’ speedy frontline. Despite Sterling’s dominance, Folau still managed to rack up 34 goals but ultimately was unable to hold up the attack end on her own as both Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio failed to make a real threatening impact on the match, both sitting in the 60s for goal accuracy. Grace Kara was electric around the circle, and while she only assisted 24 goals from her 40 feeds into the circle, she provided a consistent effort on the edge to keep Jodi-Ann Ward busy and cause some confusion for defenders. Meanwhile Vangelee Williams started out in wing defence but rotated back to goal defence after the first, adding another element to the defensive circle and certainly a more robust defender at the post. Williams and Sterling combined for 14 gains between them and while five of those were rebounds, it was their positioning and constant pressure that allowed the duo to find that front space to find the loose ball.

While the Ferns sported a high class team, their experience was outweighed by Jamaica’s tried and true connections down the court, firing on all cylinders and using their flair to rack up the deflections and intercepts. While both teams had highly talented defensive attributes, Jamaica collected more gains (21 versus 17) and 13 more deflections than the Ferns. While not all the deflections resulted in gains, every time the Sunshine Girls got hands to ball they put more doubt in the Ferns’ minds, not looking back as they dominated defensively. With two highly strung teams pushing to prove something, all signs of cleanliness went out the window. Both teams racked up over 70 penalties apiece, something almost unheard of especially on the international stage, combining for a whopping 147 penalties throughout.

NEW ZEALAND 11 | 16 | 12 | 16 (55)
JAMAICA 15 | 14 | 17 | 14 (60)

New Zealand

GS: Bailey Mes
GA: Maria Folau
WA: Grace Kara
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau

BENCH: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Kelly Jury, Claire Kersten, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson
COACH: Janine Southby

Jamaica

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Shanice Beckford
WA: Khadijah Williams
C: Adean Thomas
WD: Vangelee Williams
GD: Stacian Facey
GK: Shamera Sterling

BENCH: Romelda Aiken, Nicole Dixon, Rebekah Robinson, Paula Thompson, Jodi-Ann Ward
COACH: Sasher Henry

SHOOTING STATS

NEW ZEALAND

Maria Folau 34/44
Bailey Mes 12/20
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 9/13

JAMAICA

Romelda Aiken 24/31
Jhaniele Fowler 21/22
Shanice Beckford 15/18

Top 20 players over 30: #1 Laura Langman

THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Taking out the number one spot on the countdown is none other than Silver Ferns veteran, Laura Langman.

It is no surprise that the 34-year-old comes in at number one with her sheer ability to turn a game on its head with her high-level endurance and netball understanding. A crucial cog in each and every team she plays for whether it be the Silver Ferns or Sunshine Coast Lightning, Langman oozes nothing but class. Her hard-working nature and never say die attitude is what makes her such an inspiration to all and ensures her continued success at all levels.

After making her debut against the Roses in 2005 the talented midcourter has notched up a whopping 163 international caps, a testament to her dominance on the netball court. Her career has been littered with a wealth of success the most recent coming at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool where she played a significant role in ending New Zealand’s gold medal drought. Her experience is undeniable, with the centre able to guide her team to success time and time again and pull her side out of trouble such is her read of the play and netball smarts.

Her defensive capabilities are second to none, able to throw herself at every contest and take a screamer of an intercept. Her hands over pressure and impressive footwork allows her to block her opponents every move and clog up space. Langman is hardly ever out-positioned around the circle edge using her long arms and read of the play to create timely tips and apply suffocating defence. Her defensive connection with the likes of Katrina Rore and Jane Watson at an international level allows her to play with freedom and to hunt the cross-court ball. The centre is renowned for her two-way running able to seamlessly transition from defence into attack in a heartbeat.

Langman is a real workhorse across the court and hits the circle edge with great precision and speed. Her ability to feed the ball into the goalers is second to none, able to sight a player in space and hit the target every time. She is constantly two steps ahead of her opponent, constantly on the lookout for the next attacking foray. The Silver Ferns star is in a class of her own able to use her dynamic footwork and speed off the mark to create space in the attacking third and exploit her opponent’s weakness. Her variety of passes into the circle also makes her hard to stop when on song, able to link up with the attackers. Meanwhile her balance to take the ball at full speed and full stretch is equally impressive, able to stop on a dime and dish off the ball with ease.

Standing at 173cm, the skilful midcourter is renowned for her ability to change the course of a game, often standing up under the pressure and prevailing. Although heading towards the twilight of her career, Langman has shown that age is just a number able to compete with the best in the world and using her experience to outsmart her younger opponents.

TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:

#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)

#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)

#11 Mwai Kumwenda (Melbourne Vixens/Malawi)
#10 Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens/Australia)
#9 Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball/England)

#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)
#7 Caitlin Bassett (GIANTS Netball/Australia)
#6 Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever/Jamaica)
#5 Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies/England)
#4 Katrina Rore (Central Pulse/New Zealand)
#3 Serena Guthrie (Team Bath/England)
#2 Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#1 Laura Langman (Sunshine Coast Lightning/New Zealand)