Tag: aliyah dunn

Steel star in narrow win over Pulse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mystics secure grand final position with narrow two-goal win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 14 preview

THE penultimate round of ANZ Premiership action kicks off on Sunday with the top three given a huge shake-up over the past week of netball. The Mystics will be eager to bounce back from their shock loss while the Northern Stars are in desperate need of a win if they are any chance of making finals now.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, July 18 @4:15pm

It has been a disappointing season for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic who have only secured one win for the season and that was right back in Round 1. On the other hand the Mainland Tactix have found their winning ways with a thumping victory last week and will be eager to continue that level of dominance in this match up.

The combination between Karin Burger and Jane Watson has been on fire with the pair just creating absolute mayhem down in defence with their constant hassle, tenacity and cleanliness to attack the ball no matter where it is in the defensive circle. But they will come up against an a-class shooter in Caitlin Bassett who has really hit her straps in the past few games with her connection with Khiarna Williams starting to come to the fore. Williams can play both a shooting and a feeding role making her an all-round threat and meaning that Watson and Burger will not be able to just isolate Bassett under the post. The Magic play their best netball when Grace Kara is out on court and they will be hoping that she is once again able to stand up to the pressure but will have to combat Charlotte Elley who is an unsung hero in the defensive unit for the tactics.

Looking into the shooting circle for the Tactix and Ellie Bird has been in scintillating form with the goal shooter using every inch of her height to dominate at the post. Even if Te Paea Selby-Rickit is not putting up the goals and shooting at a high accuracy it is her playmaking skills out the front that sets the Tactix up for the win time and time again meaning the constant rotation from the Magic defensive unit will have to be on song. The Tactix will be hoping that Temalisi Fakahokotau is able to return to the court and play a full 60 minutes while they will be needing the likes of Erena Mikaere, Georgia Tong and Holly Fowler to be able to chip in an work in overdrive to stop that ball getting to circle edge. They will also need the likes of Sam Winders to really up her ante through the midcourt to take on Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan who have been in strong form for the Tactix.

Central Pulse vs. Northern Mystics
Sunday, July 18 @6:15pm

The Pulse snapped a five-game losing streak last round and will be eager to continue that winning way while the Northern Mystics registered their first loss in as many weeks and will be hoping to flip the script in this match up. The Mystics still hold on to top spot on the ladder and with finals insight will be hoping to iron out any kinks in their armour in this clash, while the Pulse will be hoping to add some more respectability to their ladder position.

It will all come down to whether or not Peta Toeava is back to her menacing ways with the wing attack able to carve up the court with her speed while her pinpoint passes into Grace Nweke is what will have the Pulse defence in all sorts of trouble. It will be up to either Maddy Gordon or Claire Kersten to stop Toeava with the Pulse midcourters having to pay her a wealth of attention to keep her away from circle edge. Both Kelly Jury and Kelera Nawai are building a strong partnership in the defensive circle for the Pulse but the Mystics could have the upper hand given how quickly and easily Nweke is able to score. Although Bailey Mes has not been the most reliable to post she is incredibly clever and crafty with ball in hand while the injection of Filda Vui is also highly likely with the goal attack able to go to post or play that additional feeding role.

The Pulse will need Aliyah Dunn to be firing on all cylinders if they are any chance to topple the Mystics who will be raring to go after an uncharacteristic loss. If Dunn is able to find room in the circle and the likes of Kersten and Whitney Souness are up and about early it could spell danger for the Mystics. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is another one in the Pulse attacking unit that can impose herself with her high accuracy to post meaning the likes of Kate Burley, Sulu Fitzpatrick, Ama Agbeze and now Phoenix Karaka who made her long awaited return after giving birth will have to be on their toes.

Northern Stars vs. Southern Steel
Monday, July 19 @7:15pm

The final game of the round is set to be an absolute cracker and has huge ladder implications as the Stars look for their way back into the top three and the Steel hope to solidify their spot in the finals. The Stars have been in free fall the past couple of weeks dropping three games straight while the Steel will be riding high after knocking off the ladder leaders.

Maia Wilson has not been herself lately but will need to turn it around if she is to drag her side over the line. Only managing a condensed amount of court time last round and only shooting at 50 per cent accuracy, Wilson will be hoping to up the ante while Jamie Hume has been a solid contributor. The Stars have a plethora of shooters to choose from with Monica Falkner back in the mix and Amorangi Malesala a viable option given her accuracy to post. But the Steel have an incredibly strong defence with Taneisha Fifita growing each and every time she steps out on court with Te Huinga Selby-Rickit providing a calming presence out the front. Throw in the likes of Sarahpheinna Woulf and the defensive pressure from Renee Savai’inaea out the front in wing defence and it could be a tough day at the office for the Stars. However both Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan have been in fine form and will need to lead the charge if Wilson is nullified.

Goal shooter, George Fisher has been a revelation since joining the Steel and will have to be at her damaging best against the ball hungry duo in Anna Harrison and Elle Temu. The Stars pair have caused all sorts of havoc but just have not been rewarded for their hard work. Tiana Metuarau has developed at a rate of knots this season with her playmaking skills allowing her to find Fisher with ease while her combination with Shannon Saunders and Kate Heffernan will provide plenty of headaches for the Stars.

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 10 and ANZ Premiership Round 13

IT was another action packed round of Suncorp Super Netball and ANZ Premiership with both competitions playing host to a number of surprise upsets with lower placed teams toppling their higher ranked opponents. We delve into the individual statistical performance of a couple of key cogs across the two leagues.

GOALS

It was dominant shooting display from Ellie Bird with the Mainland Tactix goal shooter slotting an impressive 44 goals from 45 attempts, with her only miss coming in the early stages of the first term. Grace Nweke was another tall timber that fired on all cylinders in Round 13 putting up a round high 50 goals from 57 attempts at 88 per cent accuracy. In terms of accuracy and volume, Aliyah Dunn skyrocketed up the rankings with her 41 goals from 44 attempts in the Pulse’s first win in five games, while George Fisher was back to her best slotting 39 goals from 41 attempts. Partner in crime Tiana Metuarau was also strong to post credit to her 22 goals at 85 per cent, as Magic shooter Khiarna Williams slotted 20 goals from 23 attempts at 87 per cent. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble was in fine form for the Pulse nailing 14 goals while Jamie Hume was consistent for the Stars with her 15 goals from 20 attempts. Although it was not the most accurate shooting performance from Te Paea Selby-Rickit only converting at 57 per cent it was her goal assists that shone recording 30 for the game.

There were a couple of shooters in the SSN that managed to get through the round with an unblemished record as Sam Wallace slotted 33 from 33 and West Coast Fever star Jhaniele Fowler managed 45 straight. Lenize Potgieter was almost a member of the 100 per cent group finishing with 37 goals from 38 attempts at 97 per cent while Gretel Bueta only missed the solitary shot with her 13 from 14 goal performance. Cara Koenen was also in scintillating form for the Lightning slotting 43 from 48 at 90 per cent as Steph Wood also stepped up to the plate nailing 19 goals from 21 attempts while also registering 18 goal assists. Mwai Kumwenda was once again the go to girl for the Melbourne Vixens recording 31 goal with a whopping eight super shots to her name. Firebirds pair Romelda Aiken was high on volume but down on accuracy managing 42 goals at 79 per cent as Shimona Nelson put up 37 goals from 44 attempts. The combination of Sophie Dwyer and Jo Harten was on full display as the pair managed 31 and 24 goals piece.

MIDCOURT

Through the midcourt it was Whitney Souness that led the charge with her 23 goal assists and work at the centre pass to rack up 26 centre pass receives. Peta Toeava was somewhat down on her lofty standards but still managed to record 22 goal assists while also picking up an intercept while Steel stalwart Shannon Saunders also impressed with her 22 goal assists and two intercepts. Renee Savai’inaea was in fine form collecting three gains, two of which were intercepts along with two deflections. Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan shared the load in attack for the Stars with 16 and 15 goal assists respectively. Sam Winders was crafty with ball in hand for the Magic racking up 16 goal assists and collecting an intercept while Tayla Earle was influential credit to her 17 goal assists and intercept.

Maddie Hay was a real livewire out in wing attack for the GIANTS with her 23 goal assists, two intercepts and two deflections. Fellow GIANTS representative Amy Parmenter had a real pep in her step racking up four deflections and two intercepts. Kim Ravaillion continued her hot form with 19 goal assists, three intercepts and two deflections to keep the Firebirds motoring along while in her 50th game Hannah Petty upped the ante with her 20 goal assists and three deflections. Verity Charles controlled proceedings for the Fever with her 24 goal assists and intercept while in the Lightning camp it was speedster Laura Scherian that seemed to have the ball on a string racking up 11 goal assists and two deflections. teammate Mahalia Cassidy also hit her straps in the win amassing 10 goal assists, two intercepts and deflection. Maddy Proud’s season only continues to get better as the NSW Swifts centre recorded 19 goal assists and an intercept as Tayla Fraser plied her trade in wing defence collecting two deflections. Hannah Mundy led the charge for the Vixens topping the table with her 10 goal assists.

DEFENCE

It is hard to go past the performances of Jane Watson and Karin Burger with the two defenders working in overdrive and gathering the stats to prove it. Watson amassed 10 gains in her outing on the weekend including two intercepts along with three deflections. burger took things up another notch with her 12 gains including five intercepts, five rebounds and four deflections. Anna Harrison was a ball magnet in defence collecting eight gains, four intercepts and six deflections as teammate Elle Temu chimed in with five gains and four intercepts. Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick was a force to be reckoned with down back with her four gains and two intercepts as Kate Burley recorded one intercept and four deflections. Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury combined for six gains and six deflections in the Pulse’s win.

Defensively it is hard to go past the services of Sarah Klau who had a hand in just about everything with her 11 gains and 11 deflections. Fellow goal keeper Courtney Bruce collecting three intercepts and six deflections as Lightning defender Phumza Maweni was on fire with her two intercepts and two deflections. Partner in crime Karla Pretorius was also influential with her four deflections and two gains. Firebirds power duo Kim Jenner and Tara Hinchliffe were back to their usual tricks with a combined six gains and nine deflections highlighting their defensive nous. Shamera Sterling was down on her lofty standards but still managed three intercepts and six deflections as fellow Jamaican Jodi-Ann Ward had a standout performance for the Magpies with her 10 gains including a staggering six intercepts and four deflections.

Photo credit: Paul Kane/Getty images

2021 ANZ Player of the Week: Round 13 – Whitney Souness

IN a new series, Draft Central casts an eye over the top performer from the round taking into account not only their individual stats, but their overall impact on the game. Round 13 of the ANZ Premiership saw a number of key players lead the way for their respective teams and put their best foot forward.  The next player to receive the Player of the Week is Whitney Souness.

The Central Pulse snapped a five-game losing streak with their win over Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, and that was largely in part due to the influence of Souness in attack. The wing attack was a real livewire with her speed and change of direction allowing her to hit circle edge time and time again. She was a real bundle of energy in attack, darting into the pocket to receive ball and then dishing off with pin point precision accuracy. She was unfazed by the hands over pressure she received instead backing herself to time her drives perfectly and craft her way down the court.

Souness increased her work rate throughout this performance constantly getting on the move and showcased a willingness to re-set the play when things were not working in favour of the Pulse. Meanwhile her balance and composure to assess all options even while standing on one foot was something special to watch as she did not seem overcome by the moment but instead used her instincts and skills to pull off clever passes.

Souness did a wealth of work at the centre pass, sprinting over the line to alleviate the pressure and create some attacking momentum. She was a constant threat in the attacking third with her netball nous and overall confidence to deliver ball into both Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble with great ease. It did not matter if Souness was right on circle edge or patrolling around in the attacking third, if she was able to sight the goalers she dished off the ball such was her accuracy. Every time Souness got anywhere near the ball something exciting happened as she combined her speed and strong hands to reel in passes despite being put under a wealth of pressure. The wing attack was really crafty and linked up nicely with both Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon to balance out the circle and provide a back-up for the shooters. Souness impressed with her fancy footwork around the perimeter to be a constant option to help re-set the play for the Pulse shooters.

She possessed the right amount of patience to work the ball into the circle while she also used her speed and dare to fire off passes that no one else would consider. Souness received just about every second pass inside attack, highlighting just how influential she was in setting up the goals for the Pulse. The wing attack was more than happy to engage the physicality and attention of her opposition whether it be Sam Winders or Holly Fowler. In fact she thrived on it as it gave her an extra edge to go out and attack the ball. She finished with 23 goal assists, 26 centre pass receives and three pickups to her name in what was a standout performance by the zippy midcourter.

2021 ANZ Premiership – Team of the Week: Round 13

ROUND 13 of the ANZ Premiership saw a number of upsets with the Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel securing wins over their higher ranked opponents. This resulted in a number of players from both the Steel and Tactix staring in Draft Central’s Team of the Week.

GS: Ellie Bird (Mainland Tactix)
GA: Khiarna Williams (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)
WA: Whitney Souness (Central Pulse)
C: Kate Heffernan (Southern Steel)
WD: Renee Savai’inaea (Southern Steel)
GD: Karin Burger (Mainland Tactix)
GK: Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix)

BENCH: Aliyah Dunn (Central Pulse), Shannon Saunders (Southern Steel), Anna Harrison (Northern Stars)

The goal circle consists of a couple of sharp shooters with Ellie Bird getting the nod in at goal shooter for her efforts. There was no stopping her with her only miss coming midway through the first quarter as Bird strung together 44 goals from 45 attempts. Her strong holds, aerial smarts and footwork enabled her to dictate the space well. Joining her in the circle is youngster Khiarna Williams who impressed despite playing in a losing side. Williams showcased her versatility to play both a shooting and feeding role as she nailed 20 from 23 while also dishing off 12 goal assists. Her ability to play a moving and holding shooter also came to the fore throughout her Round 13 outing as she used her timing and speed to dart into the circle.

Speedster Whitney Souness was in fine form for the Central Pulse on the weekend with the wing attack carving up the court with her dynamic movement and quick hands. She has proven to be deadly when her eye is in and this performance was a testament to that as she racked up 23 goal assists and set the court alight with her crafty movement and silky drives. Steel centre Kate Heffernan was in fine form through the middle with her composure and smarts enabling her to weave the ball down court and into attack. She utilised her quick hands and overall netball smarts to hit circle edge while also impressed with her defensive capabilities to get hands to ball and cause turnovers. It was arguably one of the best games to-date for Renee Savai’inaea with the wing defence putting in the hard yards and using her netball nous to constantly get in clever positions around circle edge. She played a very crucial role in the Steel’s win, with her hands over pressure and read of the play allowing her to rack up the intercepts and deflections. Savai’inaea finished with three gains to her name and was also influential through attack with her 11 centre pass receives.

Defensively there is no way to ignore the star duo of Karin Burger and Jane Watson with the pair combining for a staggering 22 gains in Round 13, therefore it is no surprise they take out the goal defence and goal keeper bibs respectively. Burger put on an absolute clinic down back with her fancy footwork, timing and elevation to consistently get hands to ball and be a real nuisance for the opposition. She alone finished with 12 gains including five intercepts, five rebounds and four deflections. Watson was also in scintillating form with the goal keeper picking up 10 gains, two of which were intercepts, plus three rebounds and three deflections in an all-round dominant performance.

Aliyah Dunn returned to her best but just fell short of a starting spot despite her 41 goals from 44 attempts. Joining her on the bench is Shannon Saunders with the Steel wing attack finding a wealth of space around circle edge and using her precision passing to keep heads turning while the final spot fell to Anna Harrison who racked up four intercepts, three pickups and six deflections.

Pulse claim narrow win over rallying Magic

A HARD-FOUGHT clash between the Central Pulse and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic went down to the wire during Round 13 of the ANZ Premiership, with a huge second half from the Magic almost handing them the win but a late flurry from the Pulse ensuring they held onto a 55-51 victory.

The matchup started out relatively evenly, with neither side really able to find momentum as both teams starred defensively and boasted plenty of accuracy. All four goalers were quick to get on the board having no issue finding the post, with the reliable combination of Te Amo Amaru-Tibble and Aliyah Dunn heading up one end, and Khiarna Williams and Caitlin Bassett firing at the other. But while both Pulse and Magic were able to find patches of form to put a couple goals on the board at a time, defensively they canceled one another out as both sides worked hard to generate turnover ball. The midcourt battles were fascinating with Claire Kersten and Sam Winders wreaking havoc on one another, while the matchup between Whitney Souness and Holly Fowler created plenty of intrigue as to who would earn the upper hand, with Souness finding circle edge fairly well but Fowler winning ball back. A couple of late opportunities for the Magic to lead at the first change went missing with a couple of errant attempts not paying off, as a late Dunn goal on the whistle saw scores levelled at 15-apiece at quarter time.

While it appeared the Magic may have a chance following a tight first quarter, it all fell apart in the second as the Pulse stepped up their game massively. While two huge runs of seven goals and five goals respectively, it did not take long for the Pulse to showcase what they are made of and really flip the switch, with an 11-goal lead extending by the 10-minute mark of the second. With Kelera Nawai reading the feeds into Bassett like a book and blocking the goal shooter’s movement, the Magic struggled for an answer with Georgia TongErena Mikaere and Fowler failing to find turnover ball credit to the smooth movement of Souness and Kersten, who were having a field day out the front. Volume was the main issue for the Magic, shooting accurately with ball in hand but not receiving ample feeds off the likes of Grace Kara and Winders of circle edge, as the defensive prowess of both Maddy Gordon and Kersten came to the fore along with a seven-goal buffer (31-24) credit to a huge 16-9 quarter.

But despite their struggles in the second, the Magic came out with a point to prove as the second half began, controlling the airways defensively and finding a couple of runs throughout the quarter. Consistency proved crucial as Williams and Bassett continued to fire in goals with accuracy on their side, while the turnover rate lowered as the side began to treasure possession more. Better placement of feeds off the hand of Winders paid off as Georgie Edgecombe worked hard to block Souness’ speed and ability to find circle edge, taking away that easy access to Dunn and Amaru-Tibble. With evenly matched one-on-ones across the court and all four circle defenders forcing inaccuracy and hesitance on the feed, there was not much between the two sides as the Pulse retained the lead at the final break, albeit by a reduced six-goal margin, 44-38.

Despite winning the final quarter, it was one of missed opportunities for the Magic who had plenty of chances to pile on the scoreboard pressure but had the yips going to post. While the Pulse was still in the lead they did not quite have control, as Dunn and Amaru-Tibble worked hard out the front to tick over the scoreboard. The two goal shooters controlled proceedings missing just one apiece, while it was the Pulse midcourt that took advantage of errant passes as Souness and Kersten gathered pickups and generated momentum out the front. Kara’s ability to find Bassett and Williams inside the circle paid dividends as the margin lessened, however a late flurry from the Pulse attack proved crucial as they ran away with a tense four-goal victory.

For the Pulse, it was Dunn who led all-comers with 41 goals from 44 attempts, as Amaru-Tibble was kept to a lower total than usual with 14 goals to her name. Souness finished with 23 assists while it was hard to come by clean intercepts, with Jury and Nawai registering one and three gains apiece. For the Magic, Bassett (31 from 36) and Williams (20 from 23) shared the load well, with Winders (16 assists) leading her side, registering one of the Magic’s three intercepts in the process.

Tactix overcome half-time deficit to steal pulsating win

THE Mainland Tactix claimed their second consecutive win against the Central Pulse with a narrow three-goal win (52-49). Kelly Jury was back in the mix for the Pulse after missing last week with a calf strain, and while it reduced the deficit, it did not change the outcome.

After only playing a quarter of netball last week Te Amo Amaru-Tibble showcased her star power sinking the first two goals of the game for the Central Pulse. Moments later Aliyah Dunn opened her account to slot another goal for the home side keeping the Mainland Tactix goalless in the first two and a half minutes of play. it was not until Ellie Bird found some space inside the ring that she was able to score for the Tactix. A goal for goal pattern ensued with both sides unable to break each other’s centre pass credit to the lift in intensity and desire to be clean with ball in hand. However it was the Pulse that still held a handy three-goal lead. Defensively Kelera Nawai looked more at home with Jury out the front as she got hands to ball with a couple of intercepts to her name early to stamp her foot down on Bird in the circle.

A flurry of goals midway through the term from Dunn was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Pulse as they steadily extended their lead. Dunn was finding good space against the likes of Jane Watson while the likes of Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten were finding good space around circle edge to feed in. Up by five goals, the Pulse seemed to be in control of the game with their silky smooth transition down court causing all sorts of headaches. But the Tactix were not about to give up as Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit rallied in the final three minutes of the game to sink three straight to reduce the lead to just two at quarter time.

The tables started to slowly turn in favour of the Tactix as the visitors looked to up the ante. They went on another three-goal shooting spree to not only level the score early on in the piece but steal the lead. Samon Nathan had a hot hand around circle edge with her innate timing, drive and spatial awareness allowing her to wreak havoc up against Maddy Gordon. The game was going in spurts of scoring as Dunn answered the call to slot three straight as the lead changed hands once again as the Pulse went up by four goals midway through the term. Karin Burger tried to spark something for the Tactix as she got hands to ball and propelled it up the other end of the court for Bird to finish.

The Pulse tinkered with their line-up in the latter stage of the quarter with Souness forced to the bench and Gordon swinging into wing attack. this move allowed youngster Paris Lokotui to gain some extra valuable court time. The Pulse were not the only ones making changes as Charlotte Elley moved to the bench with Sophia Fenwick springing into action. The alterations seemed to favour the Pulse as they went into half-time up by a goal.

The ball ebbed and flowed up and down the court with neither side able to capitalise on their chances. In fact it took just a tick under two minutes for the Pulse to land the first goal of the quarter with Dunn missing her first attempt and then getting a chance later on to redeem herself which she did. Two goals in a row from Selby-Rickit and one from Bird gave the Tactix the upper hand as Kimiora Poi shared the role with Nathan around circle edge. The Tactix started to find more fluidity in attack with Nawai and Jury caught on the backfoot unable to stop the ease in which the ball was entering the circle.

Scoring became hard for the Pulse as they only slotted four in the final five minutes of the quarter as the Tactix had things their own way,  With Burger continuing to play a lockdown role of Amaru-Tibble the Pulse were forced to make a change as Ivana Rowland made her way out onto the court but did not have an overwhelming impact.

Down by two goals at three quarter time, the Tactix continued to push their case as Bird wasted no time extending the lead to three. intensity rose in the final term with Souness leading the charge in attack for the Pulse as Selby-Rickit impressed with her court craft. A surge from the Pulse with just over seven minutes played in the quarter sent the Tactix into panic stations as Dunn and Amaru-Tibble went on a goal shooting spree. The Pulse pair piled on five goals straight to tie things up with 11 and a half minutes left to play. but the Tactix showed their composure and class to ride through the wave and dig deep with Bird holding strong inside the circle.

Dunn returned to her accurate ways slotting 35 goals from 38 attempts at 92 per cent accuracy, while Amaru-Tibble managed 12 goals from 18 attempts. Bird was reliable to post with her 41 goals at 93 per cent as Selby-Rickit played a handy supplementary role with her 11 goals from 14 attempts. Nathan was influential with ball in hand registering 20 goal assists as Souness topped the table for the Pulse. Defensively Burger was a commanding force with her three intercepts and three deflections with Nawai also amassing three intercepts.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 13 preview

IT is going to be a huge round of ANZ Premiership action with the rescheduled contest between Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix set to open proceedings tonight. Both sides will take the court twice this round with the Tactix hoping to stay in touch with the top three.

Central Pulse vs. Mainland Tactix
Friday, July 9 @7:15pm

Having only played last week the two sides will be familiar with what to expect and ready to put their best foot forward.  The Pulse will be hoping to increase their output especially in the front-end after being kept to 34 goals while all eyes will turn to Kelly Jury and whether she is fit to return after her calf strain. Meanwhile, the Tactix will be eager to continue their winning ways and generate some real momentum.

Jury was a huge out for the Pulse last round given she is the most experienced defender in the side and plays an integral role not only in the defensive circle but so too in transition. They will be hoping to have her services at their disposal once again to accompany the likes of Kelera Nawai down in goal keeper. Nawai stepped up her game last round while the likes of Abby Erwood, Parris Mason and Paris Lokotui have all proven to be impact players out in that goal defence role. But their job is not made easy when having to combat the likes of Silver Ferns shooter, Te Paea Selby-Rickit who, even when not firing under the post, is incredibly crafty out the front with her direct passes into Ellie Bird. The goal shooter can score within a matter of seconds making her a key cog in the Tactix frontend and a huge problem for the Pulse who lack the height to compete with her in the air.

The shooting end seemed to be the real issue for the Pulse with Aliyah Dunn unable to get hands to ball. The goal shooter was accurate to post but lacked volume, an area the Pulse as a whole will need to work on if they are to worry the Tactix defence. The combination of both Jane Watson and Karin Burger is just about unstoppable when up and running given the two are able to get hands to ball so easily and create absolute havoc down in that defensive third which they will be hoping to do once again this game. Their life is made somewhat easier by the work of Charlotte Elley out the front who has proven to be a real unsung hero in the Tactix defensive unit. But if the Pulse are to get the win over the Tactix here they will need the likes of Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten to up the ante with their drives and speed to create options in attack.

Central Pulse vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, July 11 @4:15pm

The Pulse will be the first cab off the rank to play their second game in two days taking on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. The Magic have had moments of brilliance pushing the Steel last round but just falling short and will be hoping to put out a full four quarter performance to get the win. On the other hand the pulse will be eager to climb up the ladder and really solidify their connections across the court.

Caitlin Bassett has been a great addition to the side and showcased just how potent she can be to post last round playing the full 60 minutes. Bassett alongside Khiarna Williams are creating a damaging combination with Williams able to create a number of attacking forays with her pinpoint passes or her composure and confidence to go to post from long range. If that partnership is up and running early it could spell danger signs for the Pulse, especially if Jury is still out of action. The Magic also had the luxury of bringing on Chiara Semple out in goal attack or goal shooter to add to their versatility in the front end while they also have a wealth of depth through the midcourt. Grace Kara is arguably the most reliable and consistent wing attack for the Magic with her speed and spatial awareness coming to the fore while Tori Kolose has also proven to be a real spark. All eyes will turn to the battle between Sam Winders and Kersten while Maddy Gordon is another one to keep an eye on for the Pulse.

Te Amo Amaru-Tibble only had limited court time last round and will be raring to go against the Magic while Ivana Rowland proved she is more than capable of stepping up to the plate with her accuracy to post. She will need to bring her calm composure into this clash given the long arms of Erena Mikaere, the athleticism of Georgia Tong and physicality of Temalisi Fakahokotau, if she takes the court.

Southern Steel vs. Northern Mystics
Sunday, July 11 @6:15pm

Expect an enticing battle between two of the top sides with the Mystics looking to extend their lead atop of the ladder and the Steel aiming to leapfrog the Stars. Both sides are coming in off wins with the Mystics on a five game winning streak while the Steel are looking for their third straight victory but will have the confidence knowing they can beat the Mystics.

George Fisher returned to the court for a quarter and a bit last round after missing the previous game with concussion and will be hoping to increase her efforts in this match up against some very physical defence in the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley. The defensive options do not stop there for the Mystics with Ama Agbeze more than capable of coming on and causing a stir with her defensive prowess. Fisher is cool, calm and collected under the post with her connection with Tiana Metuarau the real game changer for the Steel. Metuarau is able to sight Fisher with great ease and can do the same thing with Grace Namana meaning the Steel have plenty of options in attack.

Through the midcourt the Steel have some real livewires with Kate Heffernan likely to come up against fellow youngster Tayla Earle. This battle will be one to cast an eye on as the pair are not known for their willingness to take a backwards step. The attack end for the Mystics is the real concern for the Steel defence in Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and potentially Sarahpheinna Woulf given just how quickly they can score. Grace Nweke has magnets in her hands able to grab anything that comes her way and shoot truly while both Bailey Mes and Filda Vui have proven to be viable options under the post. But the power Peta Toeava holds is what makes the Mystics tick as the wing attack controls the tempo in attack credit to her pinpoint passes from literally anywhere on the court.

Mainland Tactix vs. Northern Stars
Sunday, July 11 @7:15pm

The final game of the round is set to be a cracker as the race for the finals continues to heat up. The Stars have dropped down the ladder off the back of consecutive losses to the Mystics and will be out for vengeance while the Tactix will be fronting up for their second game of the round.

Maia Wilson will need to be on her A-game if she is to worry the Tactix defence in Watson and Burger. Jamie Hume has been a revelation this season with her increased workload and accuracy to post while the return of Monica Falkner could give the Stars the upper hand, even if she has limited court time. It will all come down to the amount of time and space Elley affords to Gina Crampton with the Stars wing attack able to carve up the court, renowned for her ability to receive just about every second pass to weave her magic in attack. If Crampton is able to break free early it will allow the Stars to generate some fluidity inside the goal circle with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan often lifting based on the workload of her midcourt partner.

One thing is for sure; Anna Harrison does not have two quiet games in a row – meaning that both Selby-Rickit and Bird will have to be on high alert. Harrison is a real ball winner for the Stars with her go-go gadget arms while both Oceane Maihi and Elle Temu are more than capable of causing a ruckus with their defensive nous and tenacity. Expect them to wear the Tactix shooters down and create some real momentum with their drives. Lisa Mather will have her work cut out for her against Kimiora Poi, Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen around circle edge with all three Tactix midcourters boasting blistering speed.