Tag: Ariana Cable-Dixon

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 7

WITH the ANZ Premiership finals quickly approaching and the battle for third spot in hot dispute expect each team to come out firing and with a real intensity in Round 7. There are a number of key games across the round that will have a huge influence on ladder positioning, while the Magic and Steel will be fighting to keep their seasons alive.

Central Pulse v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Friday, 24 July

In the first of two games for both teams the Pulse will be hoping to make it nine in a row and impose themselves on the Magic given their prowess across the court and strong connections. Coming off a disappointing loss last round and yet to register a win since the season restart, the Magic will be eager to finally secure a win and prove they have the skill and grit to match it with the best.

The goal circle is one of the most inconsistent areas for the Magic with Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou still finding their feet and rhythm in attack. Carrying some form of a knee injury throughout last round, McPhee did not have her usual impact on the scoreboard and will be hoping to up the ante in their clash against the Pulse. Latu-Meafou will have to bring her a-game given the form Katrina Rore is in with the Pulse captain showcasing her dominance to nullify her opponent and render them inefficient in the circle with her immense pressure. Her combination with Kelly Jury has steadily developed over the course of the season with the two able to double down on the shooter or roam freely depending on the scenario. With McPhee known for her aerial strength, Jury will have to apply a wealth of pressure in the air to create tips and deflections to upset the flow in attack, something she is known to do.

Around circle edge and through the midcourt, Whitney Souness is the go-to girl for the Magic with the wing attack lightning quick and able to carve up the defence with her fancy footwork. Coming up against her old team, Souness will be eager to put her best foot forward and hit the circle edge with precision and purpose. Standing at 184cm Karin Burger is a challenging prospect for the smaller-sized Souness, with Burger renowned for her three-foot marking and hands over pressure to block the vision of her opponent. It will be up to Ariana Cable-Dixon to help out through the midcourt to alleviate the pressure on Souness and supply ball into the Magic frontline.

With the Central Pulse humming both in attack and defence it will be difficult for the Magic to rattle them and cause an upset, but given the closeness of the competition never say never.

Central Pulse v. Northern Stars
Saturday, 25 July

Looking to keep their winning record intact the Pulse will be keen to get the jump on the Stars with a strong showing. Dropping to fourth on the ladder after losing to the Mystics last round the Stars know how important it is to collect a win to stay in touch with the top of the table with finals closing in. The Stars have key players across the court but will have their work cut out for them against a cohesive and strong Pulse unit.

Down on their accuracy and output at times last week the shooting combination of Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio will be out to make amends. There is no denying that the two have an impressive connection able to tear up the goal circle with their movement and sheer volume to post. Well held against the Tactix last round, Dunn will be keen to showcase her movement and be a commanding figure with her accuracy to post and strength in the air while Ekenasio is a real playmaker in attack. The Stars have no shortage of options in defence with Storm Purvis a real menace with her ability to get hands to ball while goal defence Kate Burley is an excitement machine, able to generate an intercept or turnover out of nothing. The injection of Oceane Maihi is another positive for the Stars with the goal keeper able to come on and impress with her aerial presence and tenacity to go out and hunt the ball, meaning the Pulse will have to be aware of their oppositions whereabouts at all times.

It is a real mix of youth and experience through the midcourt for the Pulse with centre Claire Kersten a key cog with her drive and netball smarts on constant display. She is a real leader both in attack and defence given her ability to run both ways and have a profound impact. The excitement however lies with speedster Maddy Gordon with the young wing attack full of potential and rawness. She is not afraid to take the game on, is strong at the centre pass and has impressive vision to see into the circle time and time again while her athleticism is equally as impressive. The battle between Gordon and Fa’amu Ioane will bring plenty of excitement with Ioane a constant threat with her speed off the mark and read of the play. Centre Mila Reuelu-Buchanan will also need to have a big game if she is to nullify or match the output of Kersten through the middle.

Although in their second game in less than 24 hours the Pulse have a wealth of talent and a number of star bench players such as Tiana Metuarau that can come onto the court and have an influence something they will be counting on to get over the line against a strong Stars side.

Mainland Tactix v. Northern Stars
Sunday, 26 July

Fighting for a spot in the top three both sides know how much this game means and will be hoping to leave nothing to chance. Fatigue could be a factor for the Stars coming off a game the night before while the Tactix will be hoping to use their fresh legs and outrun the Stars to clench the victory and create some separation on the ladder.

Goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau is in ripping form with the defender a constant threat both in the air and at ground level using her speed to gobble up any loose ball. Fakahokotau while not the tallest defender in the league makes up for it with her aerial presence and impressive leap to consistently attack the high ball coming in. Her partnership with Jane Watson allows the Tactix to create a wall in defence and repel the ball each time it comes down the court. Watson boasts both class and netball smarts able to sense when to focus her attention on the goal shooter or tag the goal attack out of the game a method they will have to adapt against the Stars with Maia Wilson the focal point in the goal circle. The towering shooter is the main avenue to goal for the Stars with her prolific nature and accuracy. Wilson will have her work cut out for her against the defensive pairing of Fakahokotau and Watson meaning goal attack Jamie Hume will have to up the ante both in the goal circle and attacking third to hit the scoreboard and draw the attention of the defenders

Through the midcourt the Tactix have a plethora of options that can zip through the middle and cause chaos. Centre Kimiora Poi has taken her game to another level in 2020 with her ball movement, defensive pressure and vision into the circle a couple of key attributes. Since returning from injury, Erikana Pedersen has starred using her dynamic footwork and speed to light up the court and hit the circle edge with precision time and time again. Her ability to create space and thread the needle is second to none connecting with Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit under the post. Although Samon Nathan is more accustomed to the wing attack position she has found herself in wing defence in recent times making for an interesting potential match-up between the experienced Grace Kara. The Stars captain is a real general in attack with her nous to control the flow and deliver well-weighted passes into the circle.

With the Stars having a quick turnover from the game the night before and up against a strong defensive unit, the Mainland Tactix should have the upper hand. It will ultimately come down to whether or not the Tactix can quell Wilson and then capitalise up the other end.

Southern Steel v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 26 July

Coming off a topsy turvy round the Steel will be searching for some type of continuity in their game and rhythm in attack. On the other hand the Mystics will be keen to get back on the winners list and rectify their issues from last week with a convincing victory over the Steel.

Still working on their connections in the goal circle with Ellen Halpenny coming in as a replacement for Jennifer O’Connell the Steel are adjusting to her game play and finding what works in attack. The former Silver Ferns shooter is cool, calm and collected under the post able to post a wealth of shots and go at a high accuracy adding plenty of value to the Steel line-up. Most importantly though, she allows Kalifa McCollin to play out in goal attack and ply her trade through the middle third to create that flair and unpredictability. However they will be in for a tough battle as the Northern Mystics boast a high calibre defence. Sulu Fitzpatrick is no mean feat with the goal keeper able to adapt to anything thrown her way thanks to her high netball IQ and impressive skillset to read the unfolding play and take a big intercept. Partner in crime, Phoenix Karaka is also an ominous threat for the Steel with her tenacity and deceptive speed to get to contests and create turnovers. Expect Karaka and Fitzpatrick to exploit the new Steel combinations connection with their intense pressure and skill to isolate goalers.

The Steel have one of the most experienced midcourts in the competition with Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton providing that link between attack and defence. Saunders has impressed with her defensive pressure in recent outings collecting intercepts and deflections aplenty while Crampton has kicked it up a gear in the attacking third with her ball placement and drive to the top of the circle. Conversely the Mystics have a young and inexperienced midcourt with centre Tayla Earle still developing but proving to be a star of the future while the wing defence position often rotates between Australian Emily Burgess and Courtney Elliott.

Given the strong connections across the court the Mystics will be hoping to capitalise and cement second spot on the ladder however the Steel have proven they are no easy beats and have plenty of fight left in them.

Northern Mystics v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 27 July

Both in the second game of the round expect both teams to come out firing and desperate to claim another win. Last time the Mystics and Magic went head to head it was the Mystics that came away with a seven goal win a feat they will be hoping to repeat once again and assert themselves as premiership contenders.

The two barometers for their respective sides go head to head with Magic captain Sam Winders likely to match-up against Mystics wing attack Peta Toeava. Winders is a tough competitor, never willing to give an inch and using her turn of speed to cover her opponents every move, something the Mystics will have to be wary of coming into the game. Toeava seems to have the ball on a string and can drag her side back into the contest with her quick release into the circle and nifty footwork both at the transverse line and circle edge. If Winders can shut down and limit Toeava’s influence in attack by blocking her vision and clogging up the space it will set the tone for the Magic and go a long way in rattling the Mystics front end.

Powerhouse Grace Nweke is a thorn in the side of many opposition teams with the 193cm shooter able to dictate the space with her strong holds, clever body positioning and sheer volume to post. Throw in her impressive accuracy and athleticism and the Magic have their hands full in stopping the young goaler at the post. Nweke is the main source to goal with Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes all making cameo appearances but not really troubling the scoreboard. Defensively the Magic have a multitude of options with Georgia Tong oozing athleticism to compete with Nweke in the air while Erena Mikaere has the height, long arms and experience to get in the head of Nweke and offset her game. Holly Fowler is another solid choice inside the defensive circle with her speed off the mark and skill to swat away ball but the Magic will have to work together as a unit if they are to shut down the Mystics.

The Mystics are a complete unit across the court that can explode out of the blocks and apply both attacking and defensive pressure making it hard for the Magic to generate any ball movement.

ANZ Premiership – Round 6: Steel secure second win for the season

LOOKING for their first win since the ANZ Premiership season restart, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic were on song from the get-go but it was Southern Steel that starred clinching a one goal win (41-40). Their increased intensity and hunger for the ball was evident maintaining a full four quarter effort to overrun the Magic and secure their second win of the season. Without goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell the Steel took a while to click in attack, but once they did they proved hard to stop with the Magic struggling to generate turnover ball.

The opening quarter was filled with plenty of pressure with the Magic bursting out of the blocks thanks to none other than Sam Winders. The Magic captain got the nod at centre and did not disappoint, immediately into the action with a deflection and pick-up to give her side the first shot at goal but Te Huinga Selby-Rickit answered the call with an intercept of her own. Youngster Kiana Pelasio found her rhythm in the goal circle, sinking the first of the afternoon before the Magic piled on the pressure to open up a four goal lead. The shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou worked wonders with the latter working in overdrive to create scoring opportunities whether it be at the hands of McPhee or herself.

Up the other end, Pelasio was forced to do the heavy lifting for the Steel with Kalifa McCollin well covered by the Magic defensive unit. But the Steel fought their way back into the contest cutting the margin to one goal, as the accuracy of Latu-Meafou and McPhee started to waver thanks to the increased pressure. As the quarter progressed the Steel grew with confidence not afraid to look long into the circle and bypass the mess through the midcourt to provide McCollin with first use of the ball. The influence of Shannon Saunders was undeniable with the centre getting hands to ball and imposing herself with her three foot marking to collect two gains and an intercept. With turnovers galore for both teams the Magic managed to steal a one goal lead heading into the break.

Kickstarting the second quarter with the centre pass the Steel made the most of their chances to draw even and then hit the front thanks to their increased defensive pressure. They started to find their rhythm in the goal circle with McCollin and Pelasio rotating the circle well and keeping Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong busy at the post with their constant movement. Kate Heffernan impressed for the Steel nullifying Whitney Souness with her three foot marking to block her view into the goal circle. With the Steel maintaining some control Latu-Meafou did all the heavy lifting for the Magic in attack nailing 10 goals from 12 attempts. A big rebound from Mikaere allowed McPhee to level the scores once again as the long bomb into the circle paid dividends for the Magic but a huge shuffle in positions saw Tong move to the bench and movement down the court too with Ariana Cable-Dixon coming on in wing attack. With just over a minute left in the term scores were level showcasing just how intense the game was.

After throwing the bibs around in the second quarter, the Magic reverted to some normality with Cable-Dixon finding herself back in centre. Latu-Meafou continued to do damage in the goal circle cutting along the baseline while Souness struggled to find her mojo, over-cooking a couple of passes into McPhee. The Magic goal shooter looked uncomfortable throughout the game with her heavily strapped knee seeming to cause discomfort each time she landed. Struggling in attack the Magic defence increased their intensity pushing the shooters high and forcing them to play the ball around but that did not seem to worry the Steel, going on a three goal run midway through the term and opening up a handy lead.

But it was the injection of Ellen Halpenny that really sparked the Steel with the goal shooter composed under the post allowing McCollin to roam free out in her preferred position of goal attack. Halpenny slotted in seamlessly, taking like a duck to water and combining with Gina Crampton in the attacking third to hit the scoreboard time and time again. With the attacking unit humming the Steel held onto their three goal buffer while the Magic attempted to find some rhythm in the goal circle with youngster Khiarna Williams replacing McPhee in goal shooter. She had an immediate impact finding the net straight away but it was not enough to quell the Steel who opened up a four goal lead.

With time ticking down the Magic made inroads scoring the first goal of the final quarter and then capitalised on a turnover with a goal to slice the margin to two goals. Williams led the way in attack as the Magic got back within one goal with the teenager oozing confidence and netball smarts. A costly footwork call from Cable-Dixon allowed the Steel to extend their lead to four goals and reclaim some composure but the Magic were not done yet cutting it down to one goal again, but fell agonisingly short.

McCollin was the main target for the Steel throughout the game with the Trinidad and Tobago product nailing 24 goals from 30 attempts at 80 per cent while the ever reliable Halpenny was potent in her quarter and a half of netball with nine goals straight. McPhee struggled to have her usual impact only slotting 10 goals from 14 attempts at 71 per cent while Latu-Meafou showcased her range to finish with 22 goals at an impressive 92 per cent. Defensively Mikaere was strong collecting 7 gains while for the Steel the efforts of Selby-Rickit did not go unnoticed picking up two gains and one intercept.

>>> STEEL PAGE

>>> MAGIC PAGE

>>> FULL STATS

 

STARTING SEVEN:

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

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

2020 ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 6

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. After stunning in Round 5 the player in focus for this week is Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic goaler Abigail Latu-Meafou.

Age: 23
Height: 181cm
Position: GA/GS

It has been a trying season for the Magic, having not won a game since Round 1 before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the ANZ Premiership. But Waikato Bay of Plenty seemed to unlock a new lease on life in Round 5 with Latu-Meafou a key reason for that spark in attack with her vision and playmaking skills on show. Although still working on their connections across the court and finding their stride in the shooting circle Latu-Meafou upped the ante in Round 5 proving she is a real threat to be reckoned with when she gets going. Not typically renowned for her high volume of shots, Latu-Meafou increased both her accuracy and volume across the two games to average at 84 per cent, something she will be hoping to replicate once again this week.

Although she did not contribute majorly on the scoreboard in the first game of the round with 14 goals from 17 attempts, her movement and spatial awareness paid dividends for the Magic attack end. Growing her understanding with Kelsey McPhee under the post, Latu-Meafou drew the attention of Northern Stars defenders Oceane Maihi, Storm Purvis and Kate Burley to try and isolate McPhee under the post. The shooter to shooter interplay was clever from the Magic duo, with Latu-Meafou controlling the tempo of the circle with her quick footwork and ball speed and while they did not win they showed strong signs which she built on in the next game.

Up against Silver Ferns defender and Tactix goal defence, Jane Watson the young goal attack did not take a backwards step driving hard into the circle and commanding the ball. The most impressive part of her game however was her confidence on the shot, backing herself from range time and time again despite the wealth of attention she was receiving from Watson converting 23 goals from 27 attempts at 85 per cent. It was a tough battle in the goal circle with Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau throwing their weight around, clogging up space and contesting every pass, but Latu-Meafou remained cool, calm and collected to keep her head in the game and withstand the mounting pressure. Her composure to think her way through the body-on-body defence and zone style defence was a testament to her netball nous and skill to read the play which she will be hoping to do this round against the Southern Steel.

Her silky movement in the attacking third pairs exceptionally well with dynamic wing attack Whitney Souness with the two able to create space with the ball placement and cleverly executed passes. Fellow midcourter Ariana Cable-Dixon also combines well with Latu-Meafou while the drive and calming presence of Sam Winders allows Latu-Meafou to play with more freedom in attack.

Still honing in her craft there is plenty of upside for Latu-Meafou with the goal attack a true workhorse across the court and able to mount defensive pressure with her three-foot marking. However she can be costly when it comes to penalties racking up a combined 16 which is considerably high given her position on court and something she will be hoping to address in future games. The 23-year-old can sometimes fade in and out of games but will be hoping to build on her impressive form and become more of a commanding force in the goal circle given she has the skillset and smarts to cause havoc and keep the defenders guessing.

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 6

PASSING the midpoint of the season, expect Round 6 of the ANZ Premiership to deliver plenty of excitement and close games once again. The Central Pulse sit pretty atop of the ladder with six wins straight while the Northern Mystics, Northern Stars and Mainland Tactix continue to battle it out for a position in the top three.

Northern Mystics v. Northern Stars
Friday, 17 July

The top three clash between the second placed Mystics and third placed Stars will draw plenty of attention as they both hope to edge closer to the top of the table Pulse. The Stars have started to hit their straps in recent weeks finding their rhythm in attack while the Mystics have proved they have the explosivity to change the course of a game instantly.

Boasting one of the strongest defensive units in the league Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka will have their work cut out for them. The duo combine seamlessly in the goal circle to confuse the space, apply physical pressure and gobble up any errant pass that comes their way but will have to be on song from the opening minute of the quarter to upset the Stars shooting combo. Northern Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson has grown with confidence throughout season 2020 and will have to ensure That she is on her a game against both Karaka and Fitzpatrick. Wilson can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle given her range, accuracy and she dominance under the post. But in order for the Stars to get on top in this contest it will be up to Jamie Hume to stand up and deliver and take some of the pressure off Wilson under the post. If Hume can break free and provide an option whether it be in the circle or in the attacking third she will force Karaka and Fitzpatrick to come out and pay attention to her, leaving Wilson alone one on one under the post where she is most damaging.

Through the mid court the Mystics have one of the strongest and quickest players in the league with Peta Toeava able to slice through the defence credit to her impressive vision and spatial awareness. Her work at the transverse line is just as is just as impressive able to burst out at the centre pass and turn and deliver into the goal circle within seconds. Her connection with Tayla Earle in centre is another key element for the Mystics as the two are able to create space in the attacking third to keep the defenders guessing. Up the other end wing attack Grace Kara is one of the most experienced players in the stars line-up for the Stars. It will be up to Kara to lead the attacking third with her quick ball movement, strength around the circle edge and clever ball placement while Mila Reuelu-Buchanan is another key cog in centre with her drive and defensive tenacity.

With a host of key players across the court for both sides it will ultimately come down to whether or not the northern Mystics defensive unit can shut down the attacking prowess of Wilson under the post.

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Saturday, 18 July

With an undefeated record still intact the Central Pulse will be keen to ensure that they make it seven wins in a row in a battle of one versus two. In their second game of the round and the Northern Mystics will be hoping to prove that they have developed since the last time these two sides met and claim the first victory against the Pulse in 2020.

After not starting Grace Nweke last week expect the Northern Mystics to pull out all the stops and start the 18-year-old goal shooter given her shooting prowess, accuracy under the post and high volume of shots. Nweke is in a league of her own able to reel in a wealth of passes and dictate the space with her clever body positioning, angles and fancy footwork to maintain front position. However if the Mystics are to get the wood over the Pulse they will need both Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes to stand up to the Pulse defensive unit and give them something to think about. Grapes has struggled for accuracy and volume in the past couple of weeks while Tui has shown that she is more than capable of sinking them from range and delivering when the pressure is on. For the Pulse they have no shortage of options when it comes to defence with Kelly Jury having one of her best seasons to date and Katrina Rore proving why she is considered a world class athlete. Jury is a menace in the air able to create timely tips and turnovers with her long reach and quick footwork to manoeuvre around the body of her opponent. Similarly Rore is able to detect when to double down on the gold shooter or when to focus on the goal attack something that the Pulse will have to be aware of throughout the contest against the Mystics.

The shooting combination between Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio is one of the most damaging connections in ANZ competition with the two able to slice through the defence with ease while their accuracy hardly ever falters. Dunn is prolific under the post, holding her space with ease and commanding the ball while Ekenasio is not afraid of the contest constantly throwing her body on the line and absorbing the hits. Ekenasio is a real playmaker for the Pulse able to dish the ball off to Dunn on a silver platter or go to post herself such is her dominance. Up against the tried and tested duo of Fitzpatrick and Karaka the Pulse will have to be smart with how they deliver the ball into the circle with both defenders renowned for their aerial presence. In recent weeks the injection of Tiana Metuarau has worked wonders for the Pulse with the youngster bringing a sense of vibrancy and enthusiasm into the goal circle, something they might look at implementing again this round to break through the pressure of Fitzpatrick and Karaka.

Fatigue could be a huge factor for the Mystics playing back to back games and up against quality opposition that is well oiled in both attack and defence.

Central Pulse v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 19 July

Fronting up from a big clash the night before the Mainland Tactix will be hoping to capitalise on the Pulse and exploit any potential fatigue they might have. Expect the Pulse to look to the bench to inject some speed and stability while the Tactix will be hoping to get on top early against the Pulse and keep their foot on the throat, something they have struggled to do the last couple of games. The last time these two sides met the Pulse racked up a convincing 12-goal victory but the Tactix have come a long way since Round 1.

With speed to burn through the midcourt the Pulse will be hoping that Maddy Gordon imposes herself from the opening minutes of the quarter with her lightning fast hands, nifty footwork, strength around circle edge and dynamic change of pace to open up space in the attacking third for the Pulse. Partner-in-crime and centre Claire Kirsten will also have to be on her a-game if she is to nullified the influence of Tactix speedster Kimiora Poi throughout the game. It will be an intriguing battle between Kersten and Poi as the two are renowned for their gut running and more defensive minded play. In recent weeks Charlotte Elley has proven that she has the skill and stamina to stick with the likes of Gordon throughout the four quarters making for an exciting contest between the youngsters. If Elley can get on top early and shut down Gordon’s leads in attack it will go a long way in giving the Tactix the upper hand.

For the Tactix to get on top both Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird will have to share the load in the gold circle to keep the Pulse constantly guessing. When Bird is covered at the post the Tactix have struggled to find their rhythm in attack and are forced to play the ball around which plays right into the hands of the Pulse given their tenacity and impressive vision to snatch up intercepts. Bird is strong at the post and will want to assert herself from the get-go while Selby-Rickit has a tendency to fade in and out of games and relies on confidence to have an impact. If Rore, Jury and the likes of Karin Burger out in wing defence and Elle Temu can get in her head early and offset her rhythm it will go a long way for the Pulse.

There is no denying that both teams have a plethora of players that can change the game instantaneously however it is the strength on the bench for the Pulse that gives them that edge, able to bring on a player at any given moment and know they will have a profound impact.

Southern Steel v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 19 July

In their only game of the round Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic will be keen to secure that elusive win after falling victim to two draws in the past two rounds. The Southern Steel have been hit by injury and will have their work cut out for them against a hungry Magic side, determined to get reward for their effort.

The Magic frontline starred last week with Kelsey McPhee upping the ante under the post and growing with confidence as the round went on. Her clever movement in the goal circle and fancy footwork allowed her to dictate the space while partner in crime Abigail Latu-Meafou stepped up to the plate with her hard drives into the circle and impressive timing. The two combined seamlessly and put up a high volume of shots something they will have to emulate again this round against the Steel. One of the most experienced players on the court, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit will have to impose herself early, to throw the Magic off in attack and win back possession. It will also be up to Taneisha Fifita to ensure she stays in play and can apply pressure over the shot while Abby Erwood is a solid option in defence with her tagging style of play to wear opponents down.

The midcourt battle will generate plenty of excitement with Silver Ferns aplenty running through the centre third. Sam Winders impressed in centre last week, relishing the extra court space and providing a real spark for the Magic in attack with her slick hands and excellent delivery into the circle. Her match-up whether it be against Shannon Saunders in centre or Gina Crampton in wing attack will be enthralling with neither midcourt player willing to take a backwards step. It will be up to Crampton and Saunders to lead the Steel in attack given the injuries and fresh faces. Fellow Magic midcourters Ariana Cable-Dixon and Whitney Souness are also key cogs in the frontline able to inject speed and create headaches for the opposition.

Given the fight and determination in recent weeks the Magic should have the upper hand but do not discount the Steel with ball winners across the court.

Southern Steel v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 20 July

In the final game of the round and second match for both teams the Mainland Tactix will be fighting to keep in touch with the top three while the Steel will be hoping to notch up their second win of the season.

The new Steel shooting combination will be well and truly tested coming up against one of the competitions biggest powerhouses in Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. The Tactix defenders have been in ripping form with their profound aerial presence and ability to spring into action within the blink of an eye. The two combine seamlessly and know each other’s game inside out to read the play and gather the loose ball time and time again. Their pressure over the shot is second to none meaning the likes of Kalifa McCollin, youngster Kiana Pelasio and potentially Grace Namana will have their work cut out for them. Although Namana showed plenty of promise with her strong holds in the few minutes she was on court it will ultimately be up to McCollin to stand up and deliver to the post.

The Tactix have a stacked midcourt with Poi leading the way but it is the influence of Erikana Pedersen that has caused headaches for the opposition. Coming off an MVP performance the wing attack is silky smooth around circle edge with her quick hands and good vision to feed into the likes of Bird and Selby-Rickit. Samon Nathan is another solid option through the midcourt for the Tactix with her speed and spatial awareness. Boasting plenty of experience the developing Kate Heffernan will have to be on her a-game to nullify Pedersen or Nathan while Kendall Corkery is known for her niggle in defence, something the Steel might need to limit the ease in attack for the Tactix.

With a weakened shooting combination the Steel might find it difficult to pass through the defensive barrier of the Mainland Tactix given just how strong their defence is.

ANZ Premiership – Round 6: Final quarter flurry sees the Tactix and Magic play out second draw

WITH both the Mainland Tactix and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic playing their second game of the round and coming off tough battles there was plenty of feeling in their Round 5 clash, as the Magic pushed to secure their second win of the season. The game went right down to the wire with the lead swinging back and forth in what was another defensive masterpiece from both sides with intercepts and deflections aplenty. But in the end neither side could be separated with 46 goals apiece as the Magic claimed their second draw in as many weeks.

The Tactix took a while to settle into the game with the Magic capitalising on an early turnover from Te Paea Selby-Rickit  in her 100th national league game, sparking a goal scoring spree for the Magic. They slotted three goals straight thanks to both Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou dominating under the post while the Tactix looked rattled in attack, unable to create any type of space in the attacking third and forced to throw the ball around before Ellie Bird rose to the challenge sinking the first of the term.

Opting for a different starting line-up the Magic seemed to have all the answer with Georgia Tong having a day out against her 196cm opponent, owning the front space and using her aerial ability to win back plenty of possession and send the ball flying back into attack. Tong’s constant pressure and physicality forced the Tactix to shoot from range with Bird and Selby-Rickit looking shaky on the shot. Holding a two goal lead midway through the term thanks to Latu-Meafou backing herself from distance and McPhee plying her trade under the post the Tactix needed a spark and winning the ball off the centre pass did just that. With a renewed sense of confidence the Tactix fought their way back in to hit the front, allowing their ball speed and quick transition play to catch the Magic defenders off guard and establish a three goal lead heading into the break.

The Magic attacked the second quarter with plenty of intensity and hunger as captain Sam Winders relished the extra court space out in centre. It took no time for Waikato Bay of Plenty to eat into the margin, scoring the first goal of the quarter within 20 seconds. Their increased pressure at the centre pass was also evident, with the defensive unit looking to clog the transverse line however the Tactix remained calm and composed with ball in hand. With the Magic pushing in attack, goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau inserted herself into the contest getting plenty of hands to ball and disrupting any type of rhythm in attack while Jane Watson was kept relatively busy by Latu-Meafou.

The battle between Tactix wing defence Charlotte Elley and Magic’s Whitney Souness continued with the wing attack well and truly dialling it up in the second term with her speed and ball placement into the goalers. A clumsy breaking call from the Tactix shifted the momentum in the game, with the Magic capitalising and scoring back to back goals off their centre pass to sit at 18 goals apiece five minutes into the second. With their tails up the Magic pounced on everything as Tong gobbled up a loose ball down in defence to send the ball screaming back down court but Fakahokotau replied with anything you can do I can do better, taking a huge rebound credit to her impressive balance, footwork and spatial awareness. It was a scrappy couple of minutes with the ball flying out of court the more times than not and Tactix opening up a three goal lead for it only to be cut back down at half time thanks to the desperation and grit of the Tactix unit.

Even at half time the Tactix made a couple of changes with Jess Prosser entering the game at goal attack for the Tactix, pushing Selby-Rickit into goal shooter. The changes worked immediately with Prosser providing a point of difference with her movement in the circle, while Selby-Rickit absorbed the pressure under the post. For the Magic a back twinge to Tong forced a bib swap with Erena Mikaere back into goal keeper while in her 50th game Holly Fowler moved from wing defence into goal defence. It did not stop there with Winders pushed back into wing defence and Ariana Cable-Dixon pulling on the centre bib. It took a while for both sides to settle into their new line-ups and find their connections with the Tactix relatively stagnant and unable to punch through the Magic defence as Mikaere and Fowler worked as a unit to smother the goalers.

Through the midcourt, Elley impressed picking up a crucial loose ball and providing plenty of chances for her side to capitalise while the contest between Winders and Kimiora Poi continued to deliver despite not being directly opposes to each other with the Magic captain throwing everything she had at Poi. The third quarter was marred by a lot of whistle with both sides combining for 28 penalties. The scrappiness continued throughout the quarter with neither team able find any continuity given the host of changes with Samon Nathan entering the game at wing defence for the Tactix and Khiarna Williams closing out the quarter in goal shooter for the Magic. No one could buy a goal in the final minutes of the quarter with five consecutive missed shots sending the ball ping ponging up and down the court. However with changes aplenty it was the Magic that wrestled back the lead to hold a narrow two goal buffer after what was an incredible defensive grind.

The Tactix reverted to their original shooting combination while Winders pulled the centre bib back on and Cable-Dixon moved to wing defence. With 12 minutes to play the game certainly lived up to the hype as the Magic and Tactic went toe-to-toe. Fakahokotau stood up to the pressure creating a timely deflection prompting her side to rally and get back within a goal. Bird started to play with more freedom under the post as Erikana Pedersen delivered long bomb after long bomb into the goal shooter. Up the other end the Magic played with patience, not afraid to work the angles and deliver into McPhee. With the game on a knifes edge Fakahokotau took a crucial intercept as the Tactix went on a three goal run to hit the front. But with less than five left the Magic answered serve to even scores once more. They went goal for goal as the seconds ticked down but neither side could edge ahead.

After starring last night with her improved accuracy and drive to the post Selby-Rickit had a quieter game converting 14 goals from 17 attempts to finish at 82 per cent. Goal shooter Bird also impressed doing a bulk of the shooting with 30 from 36. Up the other end, McPhee stood tall despite the barrage of pressure recording 23 goals for the game at 79 per cent while Latu-Meafou also delivered for the Magic with 23 goals from 27 attempts. Defensively it was hard to go past the efforts of Fakahokotau with the goal keeper amassing seven gains, four deflections and two intercepts while Tong managed two gains, five deflections and one intercept in her half of netball.

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

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

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Stars fight hard for first back-to-back win

WITH a massive match culminating in a draw last week for the first time in ANZ Premiership history, the Northern Stars and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic went head to head once more in Round 5 with the Stars coming away with a come-from-behind two goal win, 45-43.

Coming off a win on Saturday night, the Stars were looking to build off that victory while the Magic hoped to turn the match on its head, with the first centre pass and score for the game giving them the start they needed. But great aerial work from Kate Burley saw an early turnover for the Stars, seeing the side win back an early centre pass to take out the early lead. Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson started well, with the offensive pair rotating and finding plenty of space and access to ball in the circle early. Despite some minor errors to start, the Magic were composed for the most part, turning over valuable ball down the court but not providing the accuracy the side needed to really take control. With both Magic and Stars playing with plenty of intensity, a lot of play centred around the middle third with a wealth of defensive work both on and off the body.

While the Stars still maintained control, the Magic did not allow any easy passes and consistently provided hands over pressure in the attacking third, putting a lot of pressure on the likes of Grace Kara and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan to position well to send the ball into the circle. The speed of Burley saw the Stars continue to hold ground well, with the young defender cherry picking multiple lobs and setting up some solid drives up through the midcourt. Three goals on the trot to the Magic saw the side draw closer to finish the quarter, trailing 13-10 at the first change.

With control heading into the second, the Stars looked to maintain that same intensity, though a couple of early issues and solid confusion of the space by Sam Winders and Holly Fowler to turn over the ball saw the Magic win a couple goals back to limit access to the Stars goal third. Miscommunication seemed to plague both teams leading to frantic passes across the court, the closeness of the contest was palpable. Jenna O’Sullivan joined the fray to take on Kara midway through the quarter, adding another element in wing defence and the added bonus and experience of Winders from wing defence to centre saw the Magic continue to clog up space well, though Wilson provided a much better target at the post able to draw errors from Erena Mikaere with her quick footwork and keep the Magic at arms length. 

Despite some impressive feeds and effort on the circle from Stars’ Kara and Magic’s Whitney Souness, it was a much more defensive quarter, seeing not as many goals scored and turnovers aplenty. Wasted opportunities and missed connections by the Magic did not see them out of the match however, with Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou far more accurate to post and applying some impressive pressure on the turnover to limit the Stars’ opportunities to drive down court. But a lack of continuous attacking movement in the Magic goal circle saw some wasted opportunities to finish the quarter, trailing by five at half time, 23-18.

Ariana Cable-Dixon returned in centre to start the second half, injecting a bit more of that attacking pressure up forward for the Magic and an immediate three goals on the trot proved how crucial the 50-gamer can be. Some better movement and stronger holds in the Magic attack also saw better flow in offence, allowing the side to draw back the margin a fraction, consistently keeping the Stars on their toes. Despite having a tough time limiting Wilson’s impact, Mikaere and Fowler won back some crucial ball to see the Stars really take control early to draw level just five minutes into the quarter. Keeping the Stars on the back foot saw the Magic gain some handy confidence, especially in attack. McPhee’s movement improved tenfold, while Latu-Meafou put a bit more pressure on the scoreboard to draw some of the double team away from McPhee at the post. 

The Stars seemed out of sorts, unable to easily stay ahead with a change in defence critical, with Storm Purvis subbed off for Oceane Maihi who immediately caused a turnover. While Hume started well at the post, the goal attack drifted in and out of the game forcing much of the defensive pressure onto Wilson. Meanwhile, fantastic timing on the deflection from Mikaere saw the Magic take the lead for the first time and the side well and truly took advantage of being on the front foot with the next centre, turning the tables to take a three goal lead into the final quarter, 33-36.

The see-sawing affair saw a massive final quarter, with Burley switched out of goal defence for the experience of Purvis once more, though an early turnover from the Magic saw the side get another strong start to extend their lead by two in the opening minutes. Better vision into Wilson and speed in attack saw the Stars regain some control, with Hume’s speed on the assist to Wilson doing wonders though her lack of confidence to post proved tough for the Stars attack to contend with. Meanwhile, patient play in attack from Magic saw McPhee continue to fire on all cylinders, putting on one of her better performances for the season and finding plenty of purchase in attack with her sticky fingers to reel in the ball. 

Wilson’s work rate continued, with Kara continuing to ply her trade out in front. At the other end, Maihi provided some quality effort in defence to see the Stars draw even once more, with a very similar final quarter to last round starting to ensue with five minutes on the clock. Small errors began to plague the Magic, who had maintained much of the control but could not seem to keep it on in the final quarter with a Wilson goal seeing the Stars take the lead, though a timely couple of deflections from Mikaere and goal from Latu-Meafou kept the Magic a step ahead.

But when the score seemed almost sorted, a massive intercept from Maihi saw the Stars take a one goal lead and an intense last 40 seconds saw the see-saw continue, with the Magic regaining possession with a chance to level for another draw before the Stars stole away for another goal to win 45-43.

Opposition tall timbers Wilson and McPhee starred, shooting at 91 and 88 per cent respectively. Wilson was phenomenal as ever with 39 goals from 43 attempts, while McPhee had less volume but was just as impactful with 29 goals to her name. Latu-Meafou’s workrate saw her rack up 14 goals, while Souness and Cable-Dixon shared the load well with 17 and 13 assists respectively on circle edge. In attack for Stars, Hume only shot at 55 per cent but racked up 19 assists, joining forces with the ever impressive Kara who racked up 15 assists and 31 centre pass receives. Defensively, Burley came up with four gains leading to a player of the match award, while Maihi’s two intercepts in her 16 minutes on court were crucial for the side’s victory. Fowler and Mikaere were impressive with five and four gains apiece and fairly consistent at that, while Winders’ two gains did wonders down the midcourt but were ultimately not enough for a winning score. 

Stars play again on Monday evening, taking on Mainland Tactix, while Magic’s next match will be next round when they play both Central Pulse and Southern Steel.

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN STARS 13 | 10 | 10 | 12 (45)
WBOP MAGIC 10 | 8 | 18 | 7 (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

WBOP Magic

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 5

ROUND 5 of the ANZ Premiership sees five matches over the course of the weekend with the Magic, Stars and Tactix all taking the court twice. There are a couple of identical clashes from Round 4 with some teams hoping history does not repeat itself. The Pulse will be eager to maintain their unblemished start to 2020 while the Magic will be wanting to go one step better than last round and collect their second win to climb up the ladder.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Friday, 10 July

A fourth quarter demolition gifted Central Pulse the win over the Steel last round, however the Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing, going toe-to-toe with their opponents for three quarters. Shooting at 100 per cent for the match, the Pulse goalers were on song sinking them from everywhere – something the Steel will really have to double down on this round if they are any chance to knock the Pulse off their perch.

It is fair to say that the battle in the goal circle was won by Ameliaranne Ekenasio with the star goal attack taking ownership and dominating with 25 goals from 25 attempts. Last round, Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita gave all their attention to Aliyah Dunn under the post and while the towering goal shooter was down on her usual volume sitting at 21 goals at 100 per cent, it allowed for Ekenasio to dictate the terms out the front. Fifita and Selby-Rickit are both strong prospects in the defensive circle with their physicality, hands over pressure and quick footwork but Abby Erwood should not be forgotten about and could be another option to come on for the Steel and upset the Pulse attacking duo with her tagging style of play. Heading into their second clash in less than seven days the Steel will be keen to rectify those issues in defence and shut down Ekenasio more effectively if they are to come out on top. While the combination between Ekenasio and Dunn is commanding to say the least youngster Tiana Metuarau is also proving to be a handful for the opposition whether it be in goal attack or wing attach with her silky movement, precise ball placement and netball nous.

Defensively the Pulse are stacked with Kelly Jury having the time of her life down back. The goal keeper has starred in recent weeks with her hunt for the ball, long arms and skill to contest the aerial ball. She really shut down Jennifer O’Connell in Round 4 with the goal shooter only managing 27 goals from 32 attempts at 84 per cent and denied any easy access into the goal circle. The influence of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger is also a key aspect to the Pulse defence with Rore putting in a wealth of work out the front to shut down the goal attack entering the goal circle and Burger nullifying the wing attack with her with arms over pressure and commanding height. Goal attack Kalifa McCollin will have to get busy for the Steel if she is to occupy Rore while Gina Crampton had Burger’s number for the majority of their last encounter using her speed and strength to tussle for prime position around circle edge.

It could be a case of history repeating itself with the Pulse in ripping form with their impressive ball movement, strong connections and ability to withstand the waves of pressure.

Southern Steel v. Northern Stars
Saturday, 11 July

In their second game of the round the Steel will be hoping to keep the winning streak against the Stars alive, getting the wood over them earlier in the season, albeit by just two goals. Both teams are evenly poised and match-up similarly headlined by a tall holding goal shooter and experienced midcourt.

The contest between the Northern Stars captain, Grace Kara and youngster Kate Heffernan will draw plenty of attention. Kara is a real lynchpin for the Stars in attack, providing that link into the goal circle with her effortless and perfectly weighted passes. She also does a wealth of work at the centre pass to ease the pressure on her shooters, meaning it will up to Heffernan to get in her head and stop her. Although still developing her craft, Heffernan is quick on her feet and can apply strong hands over pressure to block Kara’s vision into the circle. Another option in wing defence for the Stars is Kendall Corkery with the midcourter renowned for her niggly, physical style which can get under the skin of opponents. Expect veteran, Shannon Saunders to lead the midcourt cohort for the Steel especially up against 22-year-old Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. Saunders can run all day in centre and use her smarts to outwit Reuelu-Buchanan who is still honing her craft.

If the Stars are to register another win for the season, Maia Wilson will have to be on her game from the opening whistle. The goal shooter is a commanding presence under the post and has increased her range throughout 2020, looking more comfortable from further out. Her high volume of shots however puts a target on her back with the likes of Fifita, Selby-Rickit and Erwood likely to work in overdrive to smother her, meaning it will be up to Jamie Hume to take the load off Wilson. Hume will be hoping to put out a consistent four quarter performance against the Steel to really assert herself on the competition and take the heat off Wilson under the post, with her cleverly timed drives, long range shooting and play making abilities.

If the Steel can shut down the likes of Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan around circle edge and limit their chance to feed into Wilson it will put them in good stead to collect another win.

Northern Stars v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 12 July

After playing out the first draw in ANZ Premiership history the Stars will be eager to put that to bed and claim the “W”. The Magic came from seven goals behind last round to finish strongly and clench a draw and will be keen to go one better this round.

The Stars will be hoping to make amends for their fourth quarter slump and run out a consistent performance this round with the defensive duo renowned for their balling winning abilities. One of the more experienced defenders in the group, Storm Purvis can change the course of a game in an instance with her leap and deceptive speed to dart around the court and force turnovers. Teammate Kate Burley has blossomed into a commanding prospect in the goal circle with her tenacity, often throwing herself at every contest and creating doubt in the feeders minds while Oceane Maihi is able to inject plenty of height and aerial presence, something the Stars might need in order to contend with Kelsey McPhee at the post. The goal shooter can suffer from the yips at times under the post, but when she is on song she is hard to stop credit to her strong hands, quick footwork and clever body positioning. The influence of Abigail Latu-Meafou will be crucial if the Magic are to replicate their Round 4 performance or notch up a win with the goal attack showcasing her accuracy to post, smooth movement and skill to slot them from range. A cameo appearance from youngster Khiarna Williams could also work wonders for the Magic in order to offset the Stars defence.

Through the midcourt the Stars boast some exciting players with Fa’amu Ioane one of the most electric wing defences in the competition, with her speed off the mark and quick hands. Her presence around circle edge and in the defensive third allows her to gobble up turnover ball and spring into transition. The versatility of Lisa Mather is another key for the Stars able to swing from wing defence into centre when needed. For the Magic, Whitney Souness is a real powerhouse able to deliver the ball with great pace and precision to catch defenders off guard while Ariana Cable-Dixon is reliable through centre.

This game could once again go down to the wire but expect the Stars to have learnt from their mistakes last round and impose themselves for a full four quarters.

Mainland Tactix v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 12 July

Playing only nine days earlier both sides would have taken plenty out of their match-up when it comes to one-on-ones and overall team strategy. A quick start from the Tactix gave them the early ascendancy before the Mystics rallied and wrestled back the momentum to win the next three quarters. With this in mind expect the Tactix to come out with a real fire in the belly and increased intensity.

Shooting prodigy Grace Nweke is relishing every single minute of court time with the 18-year-old dominating in all facets such as volume and accuracy. She is simply unstoppable under the post using her 193cm frame to ward off defenders and dictate the space. Her aerial presence is second to none while her balance is equally impressive. Goal attack Saviour Tui is growing with confidence, not afraid to look to the post while Asher Grapes is constantly able to find space and create attacking forays. Up against some stiff opposition in Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson the Mystics goalers will once again have to be on their A-game. Fakahokotau impressed last week with her hunt for the ball, vision and quick footwork while Watson is renowned for her cleanliness and lean over the shot. If both defenders can work in tandem to minimise the influence of Nweke and win ball back it will be a huge bonus for the Tactix.

Wing attack Peta Toeava is the real barometer for the Mystics with her turn of speed and sheer ball placement. Toeava only needs a second to look into the goal circle and deliver a pinpoint pass into Nweke under the post such is her vision, understanding and connection with the goaler. It will be up to Charlotte Elley to limit her influence around circle edge and apply strong hands over pressure given Toeava’s shorter stature. The battle in centre will also be interesting with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi donning very similar styles. Earle has been really dominating for the Mystics with her high level of endurance and energetic style of play, helping out both in offence and defence. Poi plays a more defensive role with her strong hands over pressure and three foot marking, allowing her wing attacks to do the heavy lifting in attack.

It will ultimately come down to whether or not the Tactix can generate enough turnover ball and restrict Nweke under the post or if Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka can shut down the Tactix shooting end once more.

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 13 July

In the final game of the round, fatigue could be a key element for both sides as they enter their second game. The last time these two sides met it was the Tactix that got the win by nine goals but the Magic have come along in leaps and bounds since Round 3 with their on court connections strengthening.

Boasting an impressive shooting combination in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird the Tactix will be hoping to take advantage of the tall goaler and apply some real scoreboard pressure. Down on their accuracy last round expect both shooters to come out with a real intensity. It is unlikely for Selby-Rickit to have two quiet games in a row given her class and ability to spark back into action. The goal attack is a key cog in attack with her play making abilities often bringing Bird into the game with her well executed passes. However the tussle in the goal circle will be extremely physical as Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere is not afraid to contest every ball that comes her way. Mikaere’s aerial presence is impressive and so too is Georgia Tong, with the two able to swat away balls with ease. Holly Fowler is another one to keep an eye out for in the Magic defence unit with her ability to read the play and take a key intercept at any given moment.

With a game saving intercept under her belt, Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders is a real barometer for her side. she is able to spark the Magic into action with her constant effort around the court to create a tip and then transition into attack. Her ability to seamlessly switch from wing defence to centre is second to none able to shake up the course of a game. Winders will have to be on her game from the opening whistle with Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan both clever in their movement and strong around circle edge for the Tactix in attack.

To stay in touch with the top of the pack, the Tactix have to win this clash so expect them to pull out all the stops and assert themselves from the get-go against an inconsistent Magic side.

2020 ANZ Premiership: Stars and Magic play out dramatic draw

A WINNER could not be decided between the Northern Stars and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic with the game resulting in the first draw of the season, 46 goals apiece. Playing their second game of the round, the Magic came out with a real fire in the belly, contesting every ball and taking an early commanding lead. Their ability to fight back in the dying stages of the last quarter was inspired by their captain, Sam Winders with the wing defence pulling out all the stops but it was not enough to get her side over the line and claim their second win of the season. 

With the centre pass in hand it did not take long for the Magic to open their account at the hands of Abigail Latu-Meafou. Despite a disappointing output last night Latu-Meafou came out firing, using her precision with ball in hand and deceptive speed to insert herself on the contest from the get-go. Her confidence filtered across the court with the defensive unit of Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler creating an early turnover ball from the Stars and propelling the ball back down court with plenty of haste. The defensive combo shut down Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson under the post, blocking her every move and forcing her into early turnovers. The Stars finally hit the scoreboard three and a half minutes into the quarter but it was not without plenty of hard work with the Magic holding a 5-1 lead. With Wilson well held, goal attack Jamie Hume upped the ante delivering a bullet pass into the goal shooter but it was not enough with the Magic returning serve up the other end and pushing out to a seven goal buffer. Much like Latu-Meafou, Kelsey McPhee stepped up to the plate with the goal shooter dominating under the post only missing one goal for the term and showcasing her fancy footwork on the baseline to score despite falling out of court. As the Magic motored on the Stars struggled as Wilson was forced to come out of the circle on the second phase to try and open up the attacking end. 

With a handy five goal lead, Storm Purvis upped the ante in defence for the Stars winning an early turnover but her efforts were not rewarded with the ball lost in transition. An increased hunger for the ball across the court saw the Stars intensity lift and most importantly find better rhythm in attack, using their ball speed to pierce through the Magic defensive unit. With the Stars growing with confidence, McPhee and Latu-Meafou continued on their merry way but were denied the same easy access they were given in the first term. But it seemed to be all one-way traffic for the Stars in the second quarter with each player rallying to try and win ball back to reduce the deficit. In hope to quell the influence of Hume and Wilson under the post, dynamic defender Georgia Tong entered the court, replacing Fowler in goal defence. Going goal for goal through the mid part of the term, neither side was willing to give an inch however, Wilson upped the ante playing with more freedom and space while Magic wing attack Whitney Souness built into the game providing silver service to McPhee and Latu-Meafou with her skill to draw defenders. But a big intercept from Purvis gifted the Stars a chance to level scores and hit the front with the centre pass to come. The Magic quickly responded to go into half time at 24 goals apiece. 

Known as the premiership quarter the Stars did all the running piling on 14 goals to seven. The introduction of Fa’amu Ioane in wing defence provided an extra layer of defensive pressure for the Stars with the tenacious midcourter taking Souness out of the game, covering her drives and using her physicality to offset Souness’ vision into the circle. The Stars struck first nailing the first goal of the second half before going on a mini goal spree and opening up a three goal lead. McPhee struggled to impose herself, shaky on the shot and allowing the Stars to capitalise in defence with clever rebounds. The quarter was plagued with patches of inconsistency, unable to find any real continuity with the likes of Mikaere constantly disrupting play for the Stars in attack thanks to her long limbs. Tong racked up the penalties forcing the Magic to look to the bench and bring Fowler back on while Khiarna Williams came on to replace McPhee and was quickly into the action missing the shot but then getting back and helping to defend. With the Magic throwing ball away Stars continued to push ahead, with Purvis taking another strong intercept and showcasing her read of the play and aerial presence to open up a seven a goal lead. 

With the game on the line the Magic came out with a renewed sense of purpose and intensity, fighting hard from the opening minute of the quarter. Souness collected an early turnover with a crucial intercept in the midcourt to reduce the margin to six sparking her side to go on a two goal run. Souness continued to up the ante showcasing her impressive vision to release the ball from range into McPhee. The tables continued to turn with Magic taking a huge rebound with the centre pass to follow and cut the margin down to three goals. With pressure mounting, Wilson remained confident on the shot, shouldering the load of Hume who seemed to have gone off the boil. Goal defence, Kate Burley delivered for the Stars with a big tip and Ioane backing her up across the court. The Stars pushed the lead back out to six goals but the Magic were not done with yet cutting the lead to four goals with less than three minutes to play. The experienced Mikaere took with a huge rebound, dwindling the lead to two goals before McPhee impressed with a strong offensive rebound. But it was Winders who stole the show with a huge intercept in the attacking third to level the scores before the whistle blew. 

Wilson was huge for the Stars sitting at 34 goals from 37 attempts at 92 per cent while Hume slotted 12 from 17 at 71 per cent. McPhee also struggled for accuracy only converting 28 of her 37 attempts at 76 per cent while Latu-Meafou managed 17 from 20. Defensively Mikaere starred racking up four gains, seven deflections and two rebounds.

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN:

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

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 4 – Second quarter blitz gifts Pulse fifth straight win

DESPITE a slow start to their Round 4 ANZ Premiership match on Sunday, the Pulse proved why they are the team to beat, putting the foot down in the second quarter and asserting themselves on the last placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic running out convincing victors (51-30). The 21 goal thumping was off the back of some impressive defensive efforts from the Pulse not allowing the Magic to generate enough scoring opportunities to trouble the Pulse.

It was an arm wrestle in the opening term with the Pulse looking a little worse for wear in their second game in less than 24 hours. Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders quickly inserted herself in the game with a clever intercept on the circle edge to catch the Pulse off-guard. Her constant pressure caused a wealth of headaches for the Pulse attacking end forcing them to throw the ball around to open up space while the likes of defensive duo Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler also impressed. Mikaere and Fowler shut down Aliyah Dunn at the post with the two double teaming the Pulse goal shooter and forcing her out of the contest. They simply shut down all of the space and contested every high ball coming into the circle. But that did not stop the likes of Ameliaranne Ekenasio from dominating with the goal attack coming off an MVP performance the night before. Ekenasio shouldered the load in attack, using her speed, spatial awareness and accuracy to post to keep her side within touch. With seven minutes left in the term the Magic hit the front as Kelsey McPhee started to really find her feet despite the constant pressure from Kelly Jury. The Pulse struggled to find momentum in attack with the Magic continuing to apply smothering defence with Winders really leading the way with her hands over pressure. But testament to the Pulse they withstood the waves to draw level with less than two minutes in the quarter and hit the front in the dying minutes.  

Holding a one goal lead the Magic kickstarted things in the second term with the centre pass and subsequent conversion to tie things up once again. But unfortunately it went downhill from there with the Pulse going on a goal scoring spree with Ekenasio leading the charge under the post. They really started to generate some better movement in the circle allowing both goalers to find space and create timely screens. The Magic simply had no answers for the Pulse who upped the ante both in attack and defence with Dunn finding a wealth of space under the ring, holding strong and commanding the ball. Defensively Karin Burger stepped up with the wing defence making the most of her three-foot marking and long arms to disrupt the flow of Whitney Souness and win ball back for the Pulse. The combination of Katrina Rore and Jury also stood up with the duo working more cohesively and backing each other up across the court. Jury racked up an impressive three gains throughout the term while wing attack Maddy Gordon also showcased her defensive traits, hustling hard at the transverse line to win the ball back for the Pulse and quickly transition back into attack. With the Magic defensive end up in arms, Georgia Tong entered the game replacing Mikaere but that did not stop the Pulse who continued their merry way with Burger running amok down back picking up another impressive intercept. It was all one way traffic with the Pulse notching up a whopping 17 goals to five despite the ball ping ponging around in the final minutes of the quarter. 

Struggling to generate any sort of momentum across the court the Magic made a couple of changes with Khiarna Williams coming on to replace Abigail Latu-Meafou in goal attack. Williams had her work cut out for her against Rore but proved that she was all class slotting four goals while teammate and goal shooter McPhee could not shake Jury in defence. The Magic were unable to convert on opportunities throwing the ball away on multiple occasions while the Pulse defence proved just how elite they are with each player able to stand up and play their role effectively. Holding a commanding lead the Pulse started to empty their bench with Elle Temu coming on in goal defence while Tiana Metuarau pulled on the goal attack bib pushing Ekenasio into goal shooter and Dunn to the bench. In her 50th game Metuarau impressed once again with her clever movement, attacking prowess and confidence to post. With the connection missing through the midcourt the Magic pulled the pin with Souness moving to the bench, Ariana Cable-Dixon swapping into wing attack, Winders into centre and Jenna O’Sullivan into wing defence in hope to stop the bleeding when it came to scoreboard pressure. Unfazed by the changes Central Pulse kept their foot on the throat extending the lead heading into the final change. 

With the game all but won the Pulse took the time to work on some developing connections across the court bringing on Renee Savai’inaea in wing defence. Her tenacity was on show throughout the term working hard to get hands to ball while centre Claire Kersten showcased her impressive endurance and stamina to run out the whole game and finish with 17 goal assists. Although it was a sloppy final term from both sides, unable to get any real consistency it was the Pulse that once again proved too strong for the Magic with their increased defensive pressure and quick ball speed causing all sorts of havoc. This marked the Pulse’s fifth consecutive win while the Magic are yet to register a win since the return to netball. 

Dunn found her form after a slow start with 23 goals from 27 attempts, Ekenasio was not far behind with 21 goals from 24 attempts while Metuarau managed seven from 11. Inaccuracy and lack of opportunity plagued the Magic front line with McPhee only managing 19 goals from 26 attempts at 73 per cent and Williams slotting eight from 11.

>>>PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

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

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 4

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

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Friday, 3 July

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 4 July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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