Tag: anz premiership results

Pulse send off coach in style to claim back-to-back premierships

CENTRAL Pulse have made it back-to-back premierships defeating the Mainland Tactix in a dominant performance from start to finish (43-31). In coach Yvette McCausland-Durie’s final game and captain Katrina Rore’s 150th match the Pulse stepped it up a gear the minute they took the court ,forcing the Tactix to play catch-up netball credit to their strong structures and star power across the court.

The reigning premiers came out with a real fire in the belly in the opening minutes of the quarter with Kelly Jury making her intentions clear, claiming front position up against Ellie Bird to notch up the first intercept of the game and most importantly score off the Tactix centre pass. The Pulse opened up a handy two goal lead with Aliyah Dunn nailing the first for the evening before Ameliaranne Ekenasio hit the scoreboard moments later. After missing the last round of the home and away season Maddy Gordon was determined to leave nothing to chance, showcasing her defensive attributes to set the tone early and reel in an intercept off the Tactix centre pass. Ekenasio dominated at the post and set up a wealth of play in the attacking third to create a four goal to zero lead.

The first goal for the Tactix came through the hands of Te Paea Selby-Rickit at the eight minute mark of the quarter as the side in red started to find their rhythm sinking consecutive goals. Jury continued to toil away doing a wealth of work in defence especially over Bird’s shot while through the midcourt Kimiora Poi highlighted her defensive prowess and read of the play to regain possession and disrupt passages of play from the Pulse. It was blow for blow once both sides settled into the rhythm of the game and got the nerves out of their system but the Pulse were not content with that, increasing their full court defensive pressure and capitalising off turnovers. Gordon was having a blinder getting hands to ball and using her speed to burn down the court and hurt the Tactix in transition as they pulled away in the final minutes of the term to hold a six goal buffer.

Pulse picked up where they left off with an early win through an errant pass in which they capitalised on through the hands of Ekenasio. Gordon continued to impress, playing out of her skin, collecting yet another intercept off the Tactix centre pass thanks to her hunting style of play. The Pulse kept the Tactix to their lowest quarter time score in the season and were intent in keeping it that way as they skipped out to a 15-6 lead. Jury led the way in defence with another intercept, using her feet to cleanly get hands to ball and stop Mainland in their tracks. Both Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau struggled to contain Ekenasio and Dunn as the two were having a field day under the post unfazed by the physicality of the Tactix defenders and lean over the shot.

It was a bit of a stalemate midway through the quarter with neither side able to easily hit the scoreboard, as the ball travelled up and down the court to no real avail. Ekenasio continued to prove just how influential she is not only in the goal circle but in general play linking up exceptionally well with Gordon around circle edge. The Pulse pushed out to a nine goal lead despite a scrappy couple of minutes as the intensity lifted a notch. Back to back goals from the Tactix allowed them to cut the deficit to seven goals before Pulse centre Claire Kersten showcased her experience and vision to deliver ball into the shooters with precision and create a 10 goal lead.

After starring in the opening half, Gordon found herself on the bench as Tiana Metuarau entered the court in wing attack. A missed shot from the Tactix allowed the Pulse to pounce and score the first goal of the half with Dunn dominating to post. Charlotte Elley plied her trade through the midcourt to dice through the Pulse defence and re-offer at the transverse line while Poi worked exceptionally hard to win ball back and create timely tips. Wing defence, Karin Burger dominated Erikana Pedersen to nullify her influence around the circle, credit to her three-foot marking and quick footwork to constantly get hands to ball. Her defensive efforts worked hand in hand with Jury as the goal keeper endeavoured to make life hard for Bird in the goal circle to contest every single pass.

The change in attack seemed to hinder the Pulse’s second phase play as the physicality stepped it up a notch in the goal circle with Fakahokotau and Watson wearing both Dunn and Ekenasio like a glove to limit them to eight goals for the term. Up the other end, Selby-Rickit and Bird connected well finding each other on the hold as they rallied across the court. Elley picked up ball in defence as the Tactix cut the margin back to eight goals despite the lead being as much as 11 goals. They were not done with yet reducing the deficit to six goals to give them a fighting chance.

With the game on the line Gordon re-entered the match at wing attack as Ekenasio slotted the first of the term. Gordon did not skip a beat, immediately having an influence across the court, however the Tactix were mounting an admirable fightback to get within five goals as their strong defensive zone cut off the Pulse’s options in attack. But the Pulse flicked a switch with Gordon lighting up the court with her speed and Burger inserting herself into the action with a big intercept. With the clock ticking down Pulse ran rampant as their connections across court and silky ball movement enabled them to enhance the lead to 12 goals and gift them back-to-back premierships.

It was a battle of the towering goal shooters with Dunn leading the way under the post for Pulse with 28 goals from 30 attempts while up the other end Bird was the mainstay with 19 goals of her own at 83 per cent. The input from the goal attacks was where the game was won and lost with Ekenasio converting 15 goals and Selby-Rickit managing 12 goals.

It was a defensive masterclass from both sides as Jury proved to be a menace with two intercepts and two gains while Rore and Burger combined for three intercepts and four deflections. Watson led the way for the Tactix with three intercepts and two goal assists, an usual stat for a goal defence. But it was the work of Gordon that stood head and shoulders above the rest and despite only playing three quarters secured player of the match honours thanks to her 13 goal assists and three intercepts to cap off a sensational season for the youngster.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE
>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL GAME STATS

Central Pulse 12 | 11 | 8 | 12 (43)
Mainland Tactix 6 | 7 | 11 | 7 (31)

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse:

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

Mainland Tactix:

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

Tactix secure ANZ Premiership Grand Final spot by defeating depleted Pulse

THE Mainland Tactix have defied the odds to earn themselves a spot in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final for the first time with a week to spare, after defeating Central Pulse – their opponents in the fortnight’s decider. Pulse rested two key starting players in Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maddy Gordon, due to illness and injury respectively, and this meant the Tactix were able to expose some holes in the usually clinical Pulse attack end. It was a low scoring game for both sides with plenty of intercepts as the defensive ends showed off their athleticism and skill. The Tactix will be pleased to come away with a 39-32 win and put themselves in a good position to take on the Pulse again in two weeks.

Tactix were looking strong from the outset coming off their confidence-boosting win against the Mystics. They have been consistently producing top-quality performances in recent rounds and seem to have peaked at the perfect time this season. The vision of Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen into the Tactix shooters was exceptional and they were also providing defensive backup when the ball was turned over. Long feeds and looking in early to Ellie Bird was preventing the Pulse defenders from setting up their structures and caught Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury off guard. The Pulse defence warmed into the game after the opening few minutes, with their tight marking forcing the Tactix to recycle the ball to the transverse line on many occasions. 

The Pulse were struggling to perform with their usual composure and uncharacteristically failed to convert most of their hard-earned turnovers. The Tactix raced out to an early 9-5 lead, however Pulse dug their heels in and started to build their connections. Tiana Metuarau was doing a good job at providing a link in the attack end, but slightly lacks the experience of Ekenasio, something which stands out against the likes of Silver Fern, Jane Watson. Temalisi Fakahokotau was putting Aliyah Dunn under immense defensive pressure and the Tactix managed to keep Pulse to a score of just seven by the first break. 

In the second quarter, the Tactix continued their good form defensively and were able to disrupt the Pulse, resulting in some missed shots from Dunn and Metuarau. Claire Kersten was doing a solid job in wing attack, with the youngster Renee Savai’inaea relishing her first start and a full game in centre. Both teams were turning the ball over more often than usual, and through some excellent aerial anticipation from Jury, the Pulse started to claw their way back into the game. They went on a four-goal run and started to put the Tactix under pressure. The game was lacking some of the finesse we expect to see from these top teams, but the Tactix managed to maintain their grip on the match and went into half time leading by 23 goals to 16. 

After half-time the Pulse came out of the blocks with renewed energy, spurred on by the handiwork of Karin Burger. Burger had racked up three deflections and one intercept and was proving to be a thorn in the side of Pedersen. The Tactix held their ground and the two sides battled for control in the quarter. The Southern side extended their lead to nine goals, but the Pulse fought back by finding their rhythm in attack, notching up three in a row to finish the quarter trailing by just five goals. 

Tactix came onto court for the fourth quarter with a glimpse of the final in their sights. Pulse were putting up a good fight but Tactix had momentum in their favour. Despite both sides showing small signs of fatigue they kept persevering and putting their bodies on the line. Charlotte Elley, in particular, was a workhorse, setting up defensive opportunities until the final whistle. With five minutes to go, the Tactix were up by five and the Pulse ran out of time to catch up. This was a laboured game in the final term for the Tactix, and there was a sense of relief when the final whistle blew. Despite a good effort from the Pulse, their shooting percentage was just 78 per cent, not up to their usual standard, and this ultimately cost them the game. Though the Tactix came away with the win in this Grand Final preview, Pulse were without two of their typical starting lineup will no doubt be ready to fight for the trophy in two weeks time.

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Mainland Tactix 13 | 10 | 7 | 9 (39)
Central Pulse 7 | 9 | 9 | 7 (32)

STARTING SEVEN:

TACTIX:

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

PULSE:

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Tiana Metuarau
WA: Claire Kersten
C: Renee Savai’inaea
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Kelly Jury

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Stars fight back to steal one-goal win over Magic

IN their sole game for the round the contest between the bottom placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and fourth placed Northern Stars went right down to the wire with the Stars coming back from three goals down at three quarter time to snatch a one-goal win (45-46). Both sides went toe-to-toe but were forced to a halt with two milliseconds left on the court as Holly Fowler went down clutching her knee in a shattering performance for the Magic.

The quarter started with plenty of intensity as Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Stars tried to claim the early ascendancy. Kelsey McPhee landed the first blow for the evening before the Stars applied some scoreboard pressure to push out to a two goal lead. But the Magic were desperate to get back into the contest working in overdrive to shut down the Stars and cover each option driving to the ball to force held balls and errant passes. With five minutes left on the clock, the Magic levelled the scores thanks to their increased pressure and speed of Whitney Souness in wing attack.

As the Magic finding their feet in attack and winning ball back in defence the Stars kicked it up a notch with Maia Wilson injecting herself into the contest and holding the space well to command the ball and deliver to post. Goal attack Jamie Hume showcased her playmaking abilities thanks to her crafty passes into Wilson and ability to drive into space and while she did not worry the scoreboard too much she drew the attention of Erena Mikaere. Georgia Tong plied her trade in goal keeper getting hands to ball but a couple of wayward passes saw the Magic unable to capitalise on their opportunities and allow the Stars to hold onto their three goal lead. The Magic mounted the pressure in the dying seconds of the game scoring back to back goals to reduce the margin to a goal and take some momentum into the second term.

Down by a couple of goals Abigail Latu-Meafou entered the game in goal attack and was composed from the get go. She showcased her confidence and willingness to go to post whether it be from circle edge or under the post and connected with McPhee easily. Stars wing defence Lisa Mather proved her worth down back after a clever intercept and was rewarded with Wilson goaling up the other end to send the Stars on a goal scoring spree. The influence of Latu-Meafou was unquestionable injecting speed into the Magic attack line driving hard into the goal circle to keep Kate Burley and Storm Purvis on their toes.

Up the other end the long arms of Mikaere paid dividends for the Magic as the goal defence picking up a rebound and displaying her speed to transition the ball down the court. However Wilson continued her merry way having a field day under the post and shaking up her game play to get on the move. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was electric across the court proving to be a real menace in defence picking up a wealth of loose ball and then flying down court to catch the Magic off-guard and isolate Wilson one-on-one against Tong under the post. After getting out to four goals the Magic fought their way back into the contest in the final couple of minutes with the attacking unit finding space aplenty.

Scores were all tied up at 25 goals apiece as the combination of McPhee and Latu-Meafou worked wonders. Three consecutive goals form the Magic gifted the home side the lead, the first time since the opening term but the Stars were not about to lie down with Wilson reliable as ever under the post. A turnover from the Magic enabled the Stars to reclaim further control and push out to a four goal lead. Relatively quiet by her standards in the opening half Grace Kara worked her way into the match credit to her clever positioning around circle edge and impressive timing to release the ball into Wilson on the hold.

The back-up work on the transverse line from the Stars enabled them to re-set the play time and time again to edge themselves closer to the post. Struggling to force turnover ball Mikaere shuffled back to goal keeper while Jenna O’Sullivan joined the fold in hope to upset the attack. The change seemed to pay dividends as the Magic nailing five goals in a row to snatch the lead in what was a seesawing affair. Captain Sam Winders did not leave any stone unturned throwing her body at every single pass to collect deflections and went flying down the court to deliver the ball on a silver platter to McPhee. The momentum completely shifted as the Magic flipped the tables and established a three goal lead.

As the game was on the line, both sides showed a real hunger and intensity, and the Stars made a host of changes through the midcourt. Fa’amu Ioane entered the game in wing defence and made an immediate impact picking up an intercept credit to her nippy footwork and speed as the Stars looked to cut the margin to two goals. The Magic refused to give in working hard across the court to treasure possession and make the most of their opportunities with ball in hand. Ioane oozed confidence as the wing defence letting ball go with ease into the goal circle as the teams went goal for goal after levelling the scores once more. A missed shot from Latu-Meafou saw Hume deliver the final blow and the Stars runout victors  in what was a tight tussle.

Towering goal shooter Wilson once again led the way under the post nailing 37 goals from 41 attempts. Hume also managed to hit the scoreboard with nine goals and a team high 11 goal assists. McPhee had a commanding influence under the post sinking 27 goals at 84 per cent accuracy, while youngster Williams also made a short cameo, shooting three goals at 100 per cent. Latu-Meafou impressed with 15 goals but was costly at times when it came to turnovers. Defensively Mikaere was key with six gains and two rebounds.

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE 

>>> FULL GAME STATS

WBOP Magic 12 | 13 | 10 | 11 (46)
Northern Stars 11 | 12 | 15 | 7 (45)

STARTING SEVEN:

 Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Khiarna Williams
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Tactix defeat Mystics en route to finals

A SEASON defining matchup between the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix opened Sunday’s proceedings of ANZ Premiership action, with both teams fighting to the finish and the Tactix running away with a thrilling one-goal win (43-42). The Tactix extended their consecutive winning record, with the tally now at five on the trot as the side edges closer to a top two finish and finals berth.

A strong start from the Tactix proved the side was well and truly ready for a huge match, with a couple quick deflections forcing errors from the Mystics. Patience down the court was critical with Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick in an arm wrestle with Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit early, not forcing any ball into the circle, where the Mystics’ ball speed into the circle was the complete opposite. 

The Tactix extended an early lead, with cleanliness paying off for a 9-4 start, just over five minutes on the clock in the first term. Charlotte Elley was all over Peta Toeava, and while Toeava was able to free herself with her burst of speed, Elley’s take off and height was paying dividends to force Toeava away from the circle. But brilliant work and a splash of momentum proved the Mystics would not be shot out of the match early, with the lead closing to three goals – though the hunt of Temalisi Fakahokotau was just warming up. 

Bird continued her strong form, while Mystics’ Filda Vui got the start in at goal attack with her cleverness with ball in hand paying off at the other end and influential feeding the ball to Grace Nweke at the post. The mismatch in height between Nweke and Fakahokotau was evident though the goal keeper was doing a great job forcing Nweke to the front space rather than her preferred goal line, allowing Jane Watson to speed into the circle and attempt the block. While Watson did not manage a heap of that ball early, if Nweke couldn’t hold her ground and find the goal line the Tactix were well and truly in with a chance on that long ball into the circle. The Mystics’ comeback saw just a one goal lead at the first change, with Tactix leading 12-11 at quarter time.

Where the circles had much of the action early, through the midcourt was where a huge amount of the battle was fought with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi evenly matched and all but cancelling each other out on the drive. Selby-Rickit’s playmaking ability was huge, opening up a heap of space though her direct opposition in Mystics captain, Karaka was huge early with her drive down the court off the turnover and ability to create the loose ball. Karaka switched on with the home crowd behind her, with exceptional timing to flick the ball back onto the court from behind the post, seeing the Mystics take a two goal lead. Fitzpatrick did a lot of the backup work, partnering well with her hands over pressure.

Up the other end, a few handy rebounds from the Tactix saw a heap of turnover ball drive back down the other end, with Watson’s anticipation and timing on the leap paying dividends as the Tactix turned the tides to take back the lead. Emily Burgess took the court in wing defence for the Mystics to block some of Erikana Pedersen’s vision into the circle with the wing attack’s feeds vital for Selby-Rickit. Meanwhile, Saviour Tui joined the fray with her zippy movement and height adding a different element to the Mystics attack and take some attention off Nweke. Every player on the court was hunting for the turnover and pouncing on any loose ball, though it was the Tactix that headed into the second half with a three goal advantage, 24-21.

A tough second half commenced with no changed from either side to start, with the tough contest continuing and neither side letting off. The Tactix’ versatility through the midcourt continued to pay off, able to zone where required but the one-on-one defence huge too, confusing the space well. The rebound and tap from Fakahokotau and Watson was during once more, with the defensive duo impeccable on the timing to deny ball to Nweke. But the Mystics’ defensive pressure outside the circle was great to limit access to circle edge where the Tactix typically prefer to feed from, with Earle and Burgess’ ability to control the space hard to contend with and allowing Karaka and Fitzpatrick to go out hunting. 

Toeava’s pinpoint feeds continued to shine with Fakahokotau just missing the ball at times and the penalties racking up as the Mystics edged ever closer. Courtney Elliott joined the fray in wing defence with just under five left in the quarter, with the Mystics defender able to adapt well to the contest and her hunt limiting options in attack for the Tactix. That being said, the Tactix continued to fire and maintained the lead, despite the Mystics marching them goal for goal as the treasured Tactix ball limited chances for turnovers in attack. A turnover, resulting goal and next centre pass saw the Mystics close to just two goals once more with less than a minute on the clock, seeing the Tactix head into the final change 34-32 but the Mystics ready to fight to the very end. 

The Mystics’ three-goal run at the end of the third saw them take the first centre pass but the Tactix turned it over immediately to make the Mystics work for a win. The Mystics were still struggling to generate that turnover ball, and while defensively Fitzpatrick had a great intercept the attacking unit was failing to really have that significant defensive impact through the midcourt. The change was made defensively with under five minutes on the clock, with Elliott replacing Karaka in goal defence and Dani Gray back into wing defence. It failed to have a huge impact though, with the Tactix maintaining all the momentum and connections firing all the way down the court. The tightness of the contest saw cautions aplenty handed out in the final term, and while a huge last few minutes from Toeava saw the Mystics come close to victory, the Tactix had the final centre pass and kept the ball safe for a huge one goal victory, 43-42.

Nweke was huge as ever with 37 goals at 88 per cent accuracy, winning the battle against Fakahokotau who racked up just three gains – two deflections and on rebound – while Watson was clinical as ever (four gains from six deflections) limiting attempts from both Tui and Vui with the two goal attacks combining for five goals from nine attempts. At the other end, Bird finished with 30 goals at 91 per cent, while Selby-Rickit plied her trade out the front with 13 goals,13 assists and an intercept to her name – the only Tactix intercept for the match. Karaka was huge with three gains (two intercepts) while Fitzpatrick was quiet compared to her usual form. Toeava led the assists tally with 19 and an intercept, while Tactix’ Pedersen and player of the match, Poi racked up 13 and 15 apiece to go with Selby-Rickit’s haul.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Northern Mystics 12 | 9 | 11 | 10 (42)
Mainland Tactix 13 | 11 | 10 | 9 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Filda Vui
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Dani Gray
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

TACTIX

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Pulse claim emphatic win over Steel

COMING off their first loss in the ANZ Premiership last round, Central Pulse were determined to get back in the winning books against the Southern Steel, running out 15-goal victors (34-49). It was a clinical performance by the Pulse who led at every single break and steadily increase their margin by shutting down the Steel’s options in attack and forcing them wide. The Steel struggled to generate any type of easy ball movement through their attacking and centre third forcing them to work in overdrive.

Pulse got off to a flyer nailing the first goal of the quarter and capitalising on the missed shot from the Steel to assert their dominance straight away and create an early buffer. It was clear the Pulse were out for redemption with their second phase play incredibly strong thanks to the speed and timing of wing attack Maddy Gordon. The nippy mid quarter seemed to have the ball on a string in the opening minutes of the quarter using her quick release and vision into the circle to create a wealth of opportunities for the Pulse under the post. Her partnership with fellow centre Claire Kersten was also strong with the two creating consistent movement through the attacking third to keep the Steel defenders guessing.

It was a strong and physical start to the contest by Steel goal keeper Taneisha Fifita with the youngster leaving no stone unturned to make the Pulse shooters work for every single pass. While she hunted each and every ball that came her way Fifita drew a lot of attention from the umpires ultimately giving Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio easy passage to goal something they well and truly capitalised on. The physicality seemed to be contagious with Kersten spending a fair bit of time on the floorboards thanks to some heavy hits from the Steel defensive unit but that did not seem to disrupt the Pulse who opened up a handy buffer heading into the break.

Down by nine goals the Southern Steel looked to the bench with Kendall Corkery entering the game to replace Kate Heffernan who struggled to quell the influence of Gordon around the circle edge. The influence of Ellen Halpenny was evident throughout the second term with the goal shooter picking up where she left off in the first to open their account and get the team rolling. The Steel were rewarded with an early held ball call against the Pulse thanks to their increased pressure but the Pulse proved anything you can do I can do better with Karin Burger forcing a turnover of her own thanks to her long arms and reach. The physicality continued throughout the term with bodies flying across the court while the scrappiness started to come into play for the Pulse throwing ball away and not capitalising on their chances.

The Pulse quickly regained their composure with their silky ball movement down the court and use of width on the pass to catch the catch the Steel off guard and bypass the mess. The hands over pressure from the Pulse was immense blocking the vision of the Steel with Gina Crampton falling to have her usual impact around circle edge thanks to Burger. Up the other end Gordon continued to wow with her dynamic footwork and speed off the mark to pounce on any loose ball that came her way. Steel started to settle and win ball back stringing together three goals in a row to cut the deficit from 10 goals to seven but Burger refused to give in proving to be a real menace around the circle edge picking up a clever intercept.  The home team managed to stop the bleeding and reclaim some momentum to steady across the court but the defensive pressure from Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore was simply undeniable gobbling up every rebound and applying hands over pressure on the shot to force missed chances. Pulse put their foot down in the final two minutes of the quarter to push the lead out and gain full control.

Unable to replicate their performance from the night before the Steel brought on Abby Erwood in goal defence forcing Te Huinga Selby-Rickit back into goal keeper. Although Halpenny got to work straight away with an early goal it was the shooter to shooter interplay from the Pulse that caused the Steel headaches with the two finding a wealth of space to dish off pin point passes. Steel gave away a wealth of penalties  in the defensive third and subsequently gifted the Pulse easy avenue to goal on multiple occasions.

Halpenny continued to be the key target under the post showcasing her experience and leadership while Kalifa McCollin floated in and out of the match thanks to the close marking from Rore. Looking for a spark Selby-Rickit delivered with a clever intercept to send the ball streaming back down court and was rewarded for her efforts as the Steel rallied. But the constant movement from the Pulse attack did not allow the Steel to set-up. after a stunning half of netball Gordon went to the bench as Tiana Metuarau entered the game in wing attack and did not skip a beat as her side put the foot down. Dunn seemed to have the ball on a string and steadily growing with confidence throughout the quarter and backing herself from range as the Pulse extended the lead to a whopping 15 goals.

With 12 minutes to play, the Pulse continued their merry way making full use of their strong connections across the court to move the ball with ease. The trust in the Pulse line-up was evident with Elle Temu stepping up to the plate and delivering with her pressure over the shot and three foot marking while Gordon re-entered the game in at centre. However that was short lived with Gordon forced from the court with an ankle injury allowing Renee Savai’inaea to enter the game but that did not seem to stop the steam train that was the Pulse.

Halpenny was solid  for the Steel with the goal shooter taking everything in her stride and piling on the pressure with 13 goals from 18 attempts. McCollin also continued to impress with her dynamic movement and accuracy to post with 19 goals at 86 per cent. For the Pulse, Dunn returned to her usual prolific and accurate ways nailing 30 goals from 32 attempts, while Ekenasio also recovered from a poor showing last round with 19 goals at 95 per cent and 11 goal assists credit to her impressive vision. The defensive prowess of Jury and Rore was on show throughout the game collecting a combined six gains.

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Southern Steel 7 | 9 | 7 | 11 (34)
Central Pulse 16 | 10 | 12 | 11 (49)

STARTING SEVEN:

 Southern Steel:

GS: Ellen Halpenny
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

Central Pulse:

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

 

2020 ANZ Premiership – Round 8: Emotional Magic clench thrilling one-goal win

TEARS of elation graced the face of the Magic players as they notched up their second win of the season, the first since their return from the COVID-19 enforced break (37-36). It was as seesawing affair with the lead chopping and changing throughout the match and going right down to the wire. Fronting up to their second game of the round the contest between Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel was fierce and lived up to the hype.  With both sides taking a while to find their feet it was the Magic that prevailed in the dying stages settled first and made the most of their opportunities.

Boasting a new look frontline with Khiarna Williams out in goal attack, the Magic looked settled in the goal circle finding plenty of rhythm and space in the front half thanks to her constant movement and vision into the circle. Williams combined seamlessly with Kelsey McPhee as the Magic goal shooter opened their account and set the tone backing herself from range and following her shot in. However it was an extremely physical under the post for the Magic with Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita ploughing through the goalers and drawing the attention of the umpires recording a warning and caution respectively.

Conversely the Magic showcased their defensive prowess through wing defence Holly Fowler who highlighted her tenacity and speed off the mark by throwing herself into the contest to win ball back. Her hunt for the ball enabled her to fire the ball back down the court and into attack to convert and take the lead with the centre pass to follow. With Fowler dictating the play out in wing defence the pressure from circle defenders Georgia Tong and Erena Mikaere was palpable forcing the Steel to throw the ball around and into the corner of the court to allow the Magic defenders more opportunities to collect turnover ball. The Steel struggled for accuracy due to the pressure over the shot while Magic put the foot down to stretch out to a five goal lead at the first change.

It was an even start to the term as both teams treasured the ball and looked to capitalise on their centre pass. Williams seemed to relish the extra court space out in goal attack taking everything in her stride and proving not to be afraid to take the shot. She made full use of her speed and composure to go to post and keep the Steel guessing in defence. Up the other end the connection between Kalifa McCollin and Ellen Halpenny developed throughout the term with the two rotating through the circle well and slotting them with ease. Steel continued to find more space to reduce the margin to two goals and played with a renewed sense of composure. But that did not last long as the back up work on the transverse line from the Magic.  paid dividends

With turnovers coming hard and fast for the Steel the Magic went on a scoring spree establishing a six goal lead before the Steel opted for a couple of changes in defence to upset the Magic. Abby Erwood entered the game in at goal defence while Selby-Rickit slotted back into keeper with the changes having an immediate impact.  But the Magic proved anything you can do we can do better as Mikaere and Tong put in a mountain load of work to cause hesitation on the shot for the Steel goalers. The momentum ebbed and flowed as both sides went on mini runs before the Steel wrestled some control in attack as the wheels started to fall off for the Magic.

After starring in the opening half the Magic made an unexpected change to the shooting combination with Abigail Latu-Meafou injected into the game at goal attack and Williams shifting back to shooter. Despite scoring the first goal for the Magic for the half the connection between Latu-Meafou and Souness was off, unable to find each other in attack and gifting the Steel with a wealth of chances to capitalise on the turnover and open up a two goal lead. The battle between Sam Winders and Shannon Saunders was never ending as the two contested every single ball that came their way. Winders showcased her aerial presence and defensive mindset to get hands to ball time and time again.

The Magic refused to give in fighting their way back to draw level again thanks to their defensive pressure and hands over marking to regather possession and attack. But the Steel lifted in the latter half of the term moving the ball with more freedom and speed in attack. After an accurate half, McCollin moved to the bench as Kiana Pelasio made her way on in goal attack adding a different element for the Magic defence to think about. Although Souness had all the momentum in the opening half youngster Kate Heffernan upped the ante in the third with her quick footwork and insistent pressure around circle edge as the Steel clung onto a narrow lead.

Looking to rekindle their early form McPhee made her way back onto the court while Latu-Meafou maintained her role out at goal attack. Both sides struggled for continuity in the opening stages of the quarter with ball flying left right and centre and missed shots aplenty. With a win on the line the Magic kicked it up a gear fighting hard for every loose ball and confusing the space to create turnovers with captain Winders leading the way and desperation. With a wealth of opportunities coming their way it was inaccuracy that plagued the Magic but that did not stop them as they pushed on to draw level once more. Going goal for goal in the final two minutes a hero was needed and Souness proved to the one with the Magic wing attack taking a huge intercept on the transverse line and Latu-Meafou delivering the match winning goal.

The goal circle combination of McCollin and Halpenny was accurate as ever with McCollin nailing 20 goals from 22 attempts and Halpenny doing just as much damage with 15 goals. Youngster Williams had a commanding influence despite playing out of position in goal attack with 14 goals for the night while McPhee was strong under the post converting 14 goals from 16 attempts. The introduction of Latu-Meafou was influential with the goal attack hitting the winning shot. Souness was a ball magnet with 19 goal assists while the efforts of Crampton for the Steel were unmatched with the wing attack amassing 13 goal assists.

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

WBOP MAGIC 13 | 8 | 7 | 9 (37)
SOUTHERN STEEL 9 | 11 | 12 | 4 (36)

STARTING SEVEN

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Khiarna Williams
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

Southern Steel:

GS: Ellen Halpenny
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

ANZ Premiership: Round 8 – Deadly opening quarter gives Stars the edge

COMING off a difficult loss against the Mainland Tactix, the Northern Stars had no issue dominating the Southern Steel with a convincing 50-43 win. Uncertainty and a lack of connection in the Steel attack end, due to a string of unfortunate injuries, meant that a tenacious Stars defence were able to come out on top thanks to a strong first term. Despite their big win over the Mystics in Round 7, there were too many holes in the Steel game in this match, and they lacked their usual intensity against a clean and ferocious Stars outfit. The Stars broke a four-game losing streak and will secure themselves in fourth position on the ANZ Premiership ladder.

Kalifa McCollin was given the start at goal shooter for the Steel, with Kiana Pelasio slotting into McCollin’s typical goal attack role. McCollin had suffered an ankle injury in the previous round and the effect of this may have contributed to this position switch, giving her a little less running around to do. Due to these changes in their shooting end, Steel were relying heavily on Silver Fern Gina Crampton to have an outstanding game, to give them a chance at taking a win. The Steel got off to a shaky start and were not able to find each other easily or balance the space on the court. In contrast, the Stars came out of the blocks with plenty of punch in attack and set the tone for the game early. Grace Kara was combining well with Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume grew into the game in her supporting role. After a few soft turnovers from both teams, Kate Burley stepped up a gear notching up a rebound and then an interception within a few minutes. The Stars defence were getting the measure of the Steel attack, with Pelasio unable to convincingly draw the defenders away from McCollin under the post. Another gain from the Stars, this time from Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and they made no mistake at the post, sneaking out to 10-6 midway through the first quarter.

An early change saw Kendall Corkery replace Georgia Heffernan at wing defence, but the Steel were not managing to convert their turnovers and were wasting ball in attack. Another four-goal run for the Stars saw them extend their lead to 16-7 at the first break. Stars were totally in control, creating plenty of opportunities for themselves and forcing the Steel into making silly errors, then capitalising at the post. Steel had eight turnovers in the first quarter and felt compelled to make a change at quarter time. Heffernan was matching up well against Stars captain Kara but ended up replacing Shannon Saunders at centre, a switch-up we have not seen much of at all this season. Ellen Halpenny also slotted into goal shooter with McCollin moving out to goal attack where she seemed more comfortable. These changes had a good impact for the Steel and they managed three in a row to start the second quarter. The Stars were able to regroup and regain control as the quarter progressed, and flooding the middle channel to force a long ball was proving very effective for them. Another gain from Burley took her total to three intercepts and the Stars restored their healthy seven-goal lead.

The midcourt battles were shaping up nicely, with both teams evenly matched in the centre third. Corkery was scrappy; squaring up to Kara and doing her best to keep her away from circle edge, while Heffernan’s defensive prowess was earning the Steel some much-needed turnover ball. With more minutes in centre at this level, her feeding confidence and ball release will improve and she could be a very handy option for the Steel midcourt. Lisa Mather was working hard on Crampton, but the experienced wing attack had the measure of her opposition and was growing into the combination with McCollin and Halpenny. After a much improved quarter from the Southern side, the teams headed into the break with the Stars leading 26-19.

With the defensive end on fire, and Maia Wilson shooting at 100 per cent, it is no surprise that the Stars were still holding onto a solid lead. They were playing like a team that backed themselves to win, and the Steel just were not creating enough opportunities for their attackers. In terms of penalties, Steel were on 29 by half-time, with over 15 of these given to Taneisha Fifita. This released all the Steel defensive pressure, giving Wilson numerous free shots to the post. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was not managing to have her usual impact on the game, and the Steel really needed someone to lift them and provide an energy boost. The Stars kept grinding away, with the speed and slick movement through their midcourt leaving the Steel defenders behind them. In a much-needed switch up, which possibly could have come a little earlier in the game, Fifita went to the bench with Selby-Rickit taking on Wilson in the goal keeper position and Abby Erwood providing a new look at goal defence. Crampton pulled off a fantastic interception at the transverse line and this seemed to be the spark the Steel needed. They went on a three-goal run with Halpenny continuing to demonstrate her reliability and experience at the post. However, the attempted comeback came too late and Stars were able to maintain an eight-goal advantage going into the final term.

With the final quarter underway, the Steel looked as though they would be happy to settle for a bonus point. They lacked speed and anticipation in their defensive end and were struggling to keep up with Wilson and Hume. They were showing patches of good play, with Mather doing a heap of work transitioning the ball down court and the attack end finding some rhythm, but they still have a lot of work to do going forwards. Through the midcourt, the Steel were able to disrupt play, but their circle defence was far too flat and quiet against the likes of the prolific Maia Wilson. Despite a late run of goals from the Steel, the Stars kept them at bay with a seven-goal win, denying Steel a bonus point once again.

Standouts from the game have got to be Kate Burley and Kate Heffernan, each claiming three intercepts and Heffernan coming into her own at centre. It is also hard to look past Maia Wilson shooting at 100 per cent, who earned herself a well-deserved MVP award. Both the Steel and the Stars will take on the Magic in their next game, giving them the chance to consolidate the good patches from today’s game and strengthen connections as the regular season draws to a close.

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN STARS 16 | 10 | 12 | 12 (50)
SOUTHERN STEEL 7 | 12 | 11 | 13 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

Southern Steel:

GS: Kalifa McCollin
GA: Kiana Pelasio
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

ANZ Premiership – Round 8: Tactix too good in front of sellout home crowd

A SELLOUT crowd headlined the opening match of ANZ Premiership Round 8, with Mainland Tactix hosting their first match of the season and taking on the Northern Stars for the second time in just five days. With Tactix getting the win last round the Stars were back with a vengeance but with second position on the ladder up for grabs the Tactix were just too good, winning 52-42 in an exciting and high-energy contest.

The matchup between Maia Wilson and Temalisi Fakahokotau was huge from the get-go, with an ANZ Premiership record 5500 strong crowd behind their Tactix keeper from the get-go. The match saw a mostly even start, with both teams taking advantage of a couple of early deflections as the opposition settled in. The Stars’ quickfire passes were quickly made apparent, speeding down the side channels of the court and zipping around for a couple easy goals.

Jane Watson was quick to take advantage of the predictable movement however, taking a fantastic cross-court intercept to disrupt the flow and extend the Tactix to a lead, coming up with another clever goal not long after and soon the home side had extended to a three goal margin. Wilson continued to be a focal point for the Stars, with Jamie Hume assisting well to begin with credit to her speed and improved accuracy.

Where the Stars defenders were at a loss of how to combat Ellie Bird last round, they came out fighting and making Bird work hard to find the ball, forcing the tall timber to use her footwork to move for the netball. Speed into the goal circle was crucial for the Stars, with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Grace Kara serving the ball on a platter to Wilson but needing to do it quick to evade Fakahokotau on the leap and saying toe-to-toe with the Tactix, trailing 13-11 at the first change.

An interesting change was made to start the second, with Daystar Swift bringing a physical element to the Stars defence line, with the Trinidad and Tobago product matching Bird for height and hoping to have more of an impact than her last outing which only saw her on court for five minutes. After a couple slow matches, Te Paea Selby-Rickit proved crucial once more in attack with her ability to not only go to post but also spot Bird at the post, though that was something that the Stars were able to exploit plucking a couple balls out of the air.

Erikana Pedersen was on fire in the first and backed it up in the second, with her reliability on the drive and wealth of speed allowing the Tactix to make use of a couple crucial intercepts to extend their lead. The Stars were error-ridden in the second quarter, wasting a couple opportunities going cross-court, with Watson able to get hands to turnover ball with ease thanks to her clear vision and long reach.

While Swift was playing a physical game and attracting a fair bit of attention from the umpires, Fakahokotau was doing everything she could to get hands to ball and put off Wilson who had missed just one shot by the main change. A huge couple of minutes by the Tactix saw the home side extend to an eight-goal lead at half time, 28-20.

The Stars made another change heading into the third, with Swift leaving the court for the regular combination of Kate Burley and Storm Purvis once more, while the injection of Fa’amu Ioane helped to shut down an element of the Tactix midcourt, doing a heap of work to shut down Pedersen and limit the Tactix’ speed in attack. Ioane’s work on the transverse paid dividends, allowing more of a split around the circle from Reuelu-Buchanan and Kara.

Watson continued to star in the third, with the formidable defender far too good on Hume and running the young player ragged through the midcourt to exploit Stars’ holes in attack. While Wilson continued to impact, Fakahokotau’s pressure and physicality was constant, blocking vision with her long reach and footwork to get around the body.

The Tactix had to do a heap of work to get ball into the circle, and while they were still ahead by a wide margin the Stars were working hard to limit avenues to post and force continuous feeds around circle edge. Soon the margin had closed to just three goals, with the combination of Ioane and Reuelu-Buchanan impressing defensively to stem the flow of attack, with Pedersen and Poi unable to zip around as per usual to control the space.

With the scoreline reduced early in the quarter the Tactix stole back some momentum, seeing the intense contest continue with no easy avenues to goal for either team but the Tactix taking advantage of any holes in the plan they could find, with the Tactix back to a six-goal lead at the final change, 37-31. Within touching distance of the Tactix, the Stars started the last quarter well but just could not get hands to enough turnover ball, with their only intercept still a mishap pass straight to Swift in the second. With no secure ball taken to turn over possession, the Stars were relying too much on getting a deflection but the Tactix were more than capable of getting to the loose ball first. 

Fakahokotau really switched on in the last quarter, upping her physicality – if possible – and reaping the rewards with her ability to find the ball paying dividends for the Tactix. Charlotte Elley was hungry for the ball in wing defence, though so was a mid-quarter Stars change in Oceane Maihi who entered the fray in time for a 10-goal margin in the way of the Tactix. The height difference was immediately apparent, and while Maihi’s different take on the goal keeper position paid off with a couple of plays forcing Bird to the goal line it was not enough to really reduce that margin with Bird’s confidence seeing her shoot from range with ease where required. A huge last few minutes saw the Tactix finish with their best score for the season, building off the impressive crowd for an excellent 52-42 victory. 

Player of the match Pedersen was influential with 23 goal assists, able to spot Bird at the post from a mile away, with the shooter racking up 37 goals for a second match straight at 88 per cent accuracy. Selby-Rickit was solid with 15 goals and an intercept to her name, while Watson and Fakahokotau were outstanding, with Watson starring in the first half and Fakahokotau a force to be reckoned with in the second half. The defensive duo racked up 11 gains (six intercepts) between them, with three of Fakahokotau’s intercepts coming in the final quarter as the pressure mounted.

For the Stars, Wilson was consistent as ever carrying the load with 35 goals from 41 attempts at 85 per cent, while Hume shot seven goals and collected a handful of assists and centre pass receives to play her role out the front alongside Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan. Burley racked up just the two gains from her six deflections but was solid against two taller attackers while Purvis collected four pickups.

Both teams play again this round though will be glad to have a few days off after the physical matchup, with the Stars back on the court on Saturday evening to face the Southern Steel while Tactix travel to take on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Sunday.

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

MAINLAND TACTIX 13 | 15 | 9 | 15 (52)
NORTHERN STARS 11 | 9 | 11 | 11 (42)

STARTING SEVEN

Tactix

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

Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

 

ANZ Premiership – Round 7: Mystics bounce back to deliver Magic an eighth straight loss

WITH both the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Mystics coming into the last match of ANZ Premiership Round 7 off the back of frustrating losses, both teams came out with a fire in the belly in a must-win for the Mystics. The fading Magic are still yet to get a win on the board since the return of the season, with the Mystics bouncing back well to defeat Magic 45-39.

The Mystics may have put out a disappointing performance on Sunday night but had a fire in the belly and were ready to fight for a win from the get-go. A lack of communication across the court for both sides led to a mostly untidy start from both teams, with the Magic benefiting off uncharacteristic Mystics errors and with some indication now of how to shut down Grace Nweke and Peta Toeava aiding in winning ball back.

Magic’s defence was on from the first whistle, forcing errors from the usually confident Mystics. With Asher Grapes getting the start in goal attack but thus far in 2020 not having a huge impact on the scoreboard, the likes of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong put the pressure on Nweke to limit options at goal. With defenders all over Nweke, hesitance on the feed saw the Magic pick away air ball, with Mikaere starting strong at one end and youngster Khiarna Williams holding up well at the other.

Making her first ANZ Premiership start, 17-year-old Williams impressed early and held up well in attack, with her shorter height and speed seeing a solid combination between her and Abigail Latu-Meafou with a moving circle paying dividends early. While both sides were applying a wealth of defensive pressure, the lack of offensive pressure from both sides saw a low scoring and relatively even first quarter. Both were inaccurate for the most part in the beginning, though the two teams settled into the game well for 11 goals apiece at quarter time.

But the Mystics switched on the defensive gears in the second, with Sulu Fitzpatrick out hunting and forcing slower ball movement and resets from the Magic to limit avenues to circle edge. A held ball call and a couple of timely deflections from Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka saw the Mystics gain the upper hand, though their frequent errors and lack of support from Grapes in goal attack kept the Magic within touching distance. 

A couple of confident feeds from Toeava kept the Mystics ahead but with plenty of drive the Magic were still in it, attacking every ball and doing their bit across the court to force errors from the Mystics. Nweke began to gain the upper hand towards the end of the quarter, finding much better control of the space against Tong and benefiting off Grapes drawing Mikaere out of the circle. Ahead by three goals at half-time (24-21), the Mystics could not afford to take the foot off the accelerator in the second half.

The second half saw huge circle changes from both teams, with Magic tall timber Kelsey McPhee sitting at the post and the unafraid Filda Vui assisting Nweke in goal attack for the Mystics. The changes made by both teams saw immediate benefits, with both teams having a bit more freedom across their attack units and fresh connections seeing the see-sawing affair continue. While both teams took some time to work into the new connections, the Mystics began to take control midway through the quarter, applying a wealth of defensive pressure to extend to a six-goal lead. 

A plethora of defensive changes for the Magic midway through the term saw the Magic steal back some of the lead, with Mikaere switching into goal keeper and immediately forcing a missed shot from Nweke. While still playing a moving circle, the Magic attack opened up a fraction with McPhee adding a crucial tall option but still seeing plenty of rotation as Latu-Meafou worked the circle around the creative movement of Whitney Souness and Sam Winders. An unexpected switch up in attack by the Mystics saw Vui leave the court for Saviour Tui with just a few minutes left on the clock, adding another layer in attack as the Mystics well and truly ran away with an eight goal margin at the final change.

Fitzpatrick continued to have a flyer, dominating and not allowing McPhee an inch of space, but so did Mikaere who was crucial deflecting shots on goal, with her timing and elevation allowing her to bat away Tui’s attempts at the post. Changes continued to rain on both sides, with a highly physical contest seeing the Magic inch back the margin but unable to really take back control in the dying minutes, leaving their comeback too late and going down by six goals, 45-39.

Player of the match Toeava was a key difference in this one, plying her trade with ease and racking up 23 goal assists from a whopping 43 feeds, using her speed to reposition and open up space in attack. For the Magic, Souness was just as impactful with 21 from 46 and was also a force to be reckoned with at the centre pass with 21 receives. All three Magic goalers were fairly accurate, with Latu-Meafou (17 goals from 21 attempts), McPhee (12 from 14) and Williams (10 from 13) plying their trade but putting up 12 less shots than the Mystics. 

Both Vui and Tui had much more impactful games than their output suggests, putting up four and two goals respectively but drawing attention away from Nweke at the post. Nweke was down on her usual accuracy with 39 goals from 47 attempts at 83 per cent, which was well and truly down to the work rate of Magic’s Mikaere who racked up two intercepts, a pickup and a rebound alongside her four ungathered deflections that put doubt in the Mystics’ minds. Up the other end, Fitzpatrick was consistent as ever with two intercepts and two deflections and was miles cleaner than Mikaere (18 penalties) with just six to her name.

>>>MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 13 | 14 | 7 (45)
WBOP MAGIC 11 | 10 | 9 | 9 (39)

NORTHERN MYSTICS

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

WBOP MAGIC

GS: Khiarna WIlliams
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam WI\inders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

 

ANZ Premiership – Round 7: Threatening Tactix down Stars

COMING off the back of a disappointing loss on Saturday night to the Pulse, Northern Stars were ready for a fight, but the Mainland Tactix were hungry for a win and were far too good, eventually running out seven-goal victors, 47-40 in Round 7 of the ANZ Premiership. It was the Tactix’ first back-to-back win for the season, with the side putting in great strides for a potential finals berth.

There was a heap of pressure on Jamie Hume from the get-go, forcing every ball to go to Maia Wilson but with little chance to do so thanks to an excellent two-on-one, credit to the physicality of Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. The Tactix defensive partnership was switched on from beginning to end, with the duo batting away ball with ease and plying their trade with physicality and tenacity. While it was a very close start, a four-goal lead was extended by the Tactix with just under six on the clock, with wasted opportunities from the Stars seeing the Tactix find far too much loose ball. 

A great battle was forged between Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (13 assists, two pickups) and Kimiora Poi (eight assists, three pickups) throughout the term, with the duo almost evening the other out given their wealth of shutdown work. But where the Tactix had a lot of the early momentum, the Stars were able to work back to a two-goal margin over the last couple of minutes, taking away some of the Tactix’ breathing room. While the Tactix were accurate out in front, the inaccuracy of Hume hurt the Stars, sitting on zero from three by the end of the first and not doing enough to aid Wilson at the post. These wasted chances saw the Stars down by four at quarter time, trailing 14-10.

A change for the second saw Vika Koloto take the court in Hume’s place, with the Stars needing a bit more work in goal attack to assist the ever reliable Wilson. Koloto’s speed seemed to be what the doctor ordered, with the youngster taking on Watson but using the ball well. Koloto well and truly opened up the circle, taking her chances and taking away some of the one-on-one from Wilson. But while the Stars attack seemed to be clicking much better, coming to within one goal, the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird continued to shine at the post, with accuracy, composure and plenty of speed paying off at the post.

Another change with four minutes on the clock saw Lisa Mather head into centre for the Stars, bringing some fresh legs into the centre third against Poi who did not let up down the court. Still chasing, the Stars kept in touch but defensively could not win that ball back off the Tactix’ centre pass, seeing the Tactix maintain the lead 24-22 at half-time. 

Within touching distance of taking a lead, a huge third quarter change saw Daystar Swift take the court in defence for the first time since Round 1, replacing Storm Purvis and injecting a tough physicality and a fraction more height to the one-on-one against Bird. While the change injected a new point of difference to the quarter, both teams seemed to not have a load of control, unable to take advantage of all their opportunities and seeing plenty of see-sawing as both teams re-settled into the match. Within a couple of minutes however the Tactix had punished a number of errors, taking a six goal lead as Reuelu-Buchanan and Purvis returned to the court with the Stars’ connections lacking.

The Tactix defence was stellar, blocking vision and making the most of every ball, seeing Koloto subbed off for Hume as the Tactix lead extended. A lack of communication and movement from Reuelu-Buchanan and Grace Kara was evident with both Poi and Charlotte Elley forcing the Stars into position and holding them there to block circle movement and cause wasted ball in attack. Such was the Tactix defence that even Wilson was rendered inaccurate, shut down by Fakahokotau for the Tactix to hold an eight-goal lead heading into the final quarter, 37-29. 

Tight midcourt defence paid off for the Tactix in the final quarter, holding and waiting for forced passes to create intercepts. But five goals in a row to start the quarter saw the Stars work their way back into the match, hungry for an elusive win. While the Tactix were holding up the midcourt, Stars were blocking up the Tactix attack and forcing patience and constant feeding around the third before reaching the circle. With Bird still on 100 per cent accuracy with under five minutes left on the clock, it was the Tactix’ accuracy and explosiveness that saw them come away with the win, forcing continual issues all across the court for the Stars and applying constant pressure on the feed. 

Both sides continued to provide plenty of speed down the court, but it was the Tactix who used the ball better, able to open up space and create options on the drive with Erikana Pedersen (11 assists, 21 centre pass receives) finding plenty of first phase ball to send into the circle. With a seven-goal margin to finish, the Tactix were not only consistent but just far too strong for the Stars, running out with the 47-40 victory.

Watson (six gains) and Fakahokotau (three gains) were at their best and completely unstoppable, outplaying Kate Burley (four gains) and Purvis (four deflections but no gains) by miles and forcing errors from the Stars attack. While Wilson held up the attack as per usual, she was well held to 32 goals from 36 attempts at 89 per cent accuracy, with both Hume (four from nine) and Koloto (four from six) putting some goals up but not enough to really command the space. Bird was awarded player of the match for her stellar 37 goal effort, shooting at 100 per cent and dominating in goal shooter while Selby-Rickit shot 10 from 12 to go with her 27 goal assists, playing a much larger role in attack than her goal count suggests. Though not having the flashiest game, Reuelu-Buchanan and Kara worked well in tandem, with Kara racking up 12 assists and 25 centre pass receives. 

Sitting out the rest of this round, the two teams will go head-to-head once more on Thursday in Christchurch for the Tactix’ first and only home game for the season, with the Stars heading in off the back of two frustrating losses for the weekend and sure to come in with a fire in the belly.

>>> MAINLAND TACTIX PAGE

>>> NORTHERN STARS PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

MAINLAND TACTIX 14 | 10 | 13 | 10 (47)
NORTHERN STARS 10 | 12 | 7 | 11 (40)

STARTING SEVEN

Mainland Tactix

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

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