Tag: central pulse

ANZ Premiership: Round 4 – Pulse remain unbeaten after topsy-turvy victory over the Steel

COMING into the game with nothing to lose, the Steel put up a good fight over the Pulse but left empty-handed after the fiery Round 4 contest. While the Pulse did not have it all their own way, they were utterly dominant under the post and defensively it is hard to see any teams really coming close. At points, it was a lot closer than expected, with the Steel ahead at three quarter time, but the reigning champions were just too good and do not look likely to be giving up their crown any time soon, getting up with a 14-5 last term to run away with a 47-40 victory.

A held ball on the first centre pass meant the Steel were in chase mode from the very start. Ameliaranne Ekenasio put on an absolute clinic in the goal attack position, moving flawlessly and demonstrating her balanced and effortless shooting technique. She combined fantastically with Maddy Gordon at wing attack to provide plenty of options in the Pulse attack end. Despite a few early turnovers from both sides, Pulse started off in control, whilst the Steel seemed tense and took a while to find their feet. Through some smooth playmaking from Kalifa McCollin, the Steel pulled it back to within one, but the opening quarter was the Ekenasio show.

The Silver Ferns captain provides so much inspiration for her team, and they were contesting every ball and making transition play very difficult for the Steel. There were moments of fluency in the Steel attack but a couple of misplaced feeds were eaten alive by Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore. For the Steel, Kate Heffernan’s work rate was impressive, and they managed to claw their way back in through a timely intercept from Shannon Saunders. The Pulse demonstrated strong drives and plenty of punch while the Steel were struggling to get the ball over the transverse line and their feeding accuracy let them down. Towards the end of the first quarter, the Pulse took their foot off the pedal to finish the quarter with a slim three-goal lead.

In the second quarter, Jury’s height was causing all sorts of problems, and the Steel ended up giving away the ball several times by taking too many passes before going to post. The Pulse were lethal on their transitions, and though the Steel were clinging on there was a sense that the game may turn into a total washout. But Te Huinga Selby-Rickit had other ideas and was ready to take on the challenge of Ekenasio. She came to life in the second quarter and the Steel notched up five in a row with the chance to take the lead heading into the break.

Gina Crampton was finding great feeding position, letting the ball go easily and seemed to have the measure of Karin Burger. As the Pulse started to lose their connections and tense up, the Steel made it seven on the trot and forced Pulse to make a change in the defensive end. Elle Temu came on to offer another look but Jennifer O’Connell was confident and really firing, so Temu struggled to have the desired impact.

The experienced pair of Saunders and Claire Kersten were having a good tussle in the midcourt, but this quarter was all about the wing attacks. When Crampton started to lift, Gordon did the same and the vision and pinpoint feeds helped keep shooting percentages very high for both teams. Through pure willpower, and with help from a couple of Pulse errors, the Steel steamed on ahead with a defiant display and the score was 24-23 at half-time.

The Steel attack combination of Crampton, O’Connell and McCollin really started to sing in the second and third quarters. Steel came out of the blocks very strong defensively in the third, with Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita getting hands everywhere. The Pulse defence, in contrast, seemed flat. Changes for the Pulse saw Jury return to the court and Tiana Metuarau come into wing attack, replacing Gordon. Fifita was doing a lot of work at the back keeping Aliyah Dunn busy, she had actually shot fewer goals than Ekenasio in the first half. In a total switch from the first quarter, it was now the Pulse clinging on to the game, trailing by two when the whistle blew for three-quarter time.

In a game that was expected to be a blowout, it was now danger time for the Pulse and they knew they needed a big effort for the final quarter. Gordon replaced Kersten at centre and the talented youngster Metuarau stayed on in wing attack. Pulse equalised and started the quarter all guns blazing, playing with power and presence. In a complete turnaround from the third quarter, Pulse began to dominate defensively and really punish the Steel.

After scoring eight in a row, the Pulse finally let the Steel score their first goal of the final quarter with six minutes remaining – the score was now 42-36 to the Pulse. Steel had lost their fluency in attack and the Pulse were taking advantage of the slower ball speed and miscommunication. The champions were ruthless in the final quarter, pushing the score out to 47-40 and denying the Steel a much-needed bonus point. Too many errors for Steel and their final quarter let them down, it was a shame they could not come away with something after such a strong opening three quarters.

The Pulse finished the game on 100 per cent shooting accuracy, and it is hard to know what teams can really do to stop them. The Magic will take on this challenge next, while the Steel will need to maintain a full performance when they take on the Pulse for the second time next week.

>>>PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>>STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 14 | 9 | 10 | 14 (47)
SOUTHERN STEEL 11 | 13 | 5 (40)

STARTING SEVEN:

PULSE:

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

STEEL:

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

ANZ Premiership Round 2 midpoint update: Mystics and Tactix secure seven-goal wins

AT the midpoint of the ANZ Premiership’s Round 2, the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix have secured early wins to kick-start their seasons again, whilst Northern Stars prepare to go back-to-back over the next two days, including a grand final rematch tonight.

COMPLETED MATCHES:

Northern Mystics (47) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (40)

THE first match back of the ANZ Premiership since the COVID-19 lockdown did not disappoint, as the Northern Mystics came out with a point to prove and blew the Waikato Bay of Plenty (WBOP) Magic out of the water as they did so. While Magic may have had a more expansive and experienced midcourt, it was Mystics’ young attack line and experienced defence that held down the fort, battering the Magic with their accuracy and impressing with the wealth of talent they possessed on their way to a 47-40 win. [ … CONTINUE READING … ]

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

Mainland Tactix (43) defeated Southern Steel (36)

AS the rest of the netball world looked on in envy, the ANZ Premiership once again displayed why their domestic league has produced some of the best talent on the planet. Much like the first game back after the break, the matchup between Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel lived up to the hype. It was a smothering defensive display from the Tactix and they certainly laid out their intentions for the season ahead thanks to a 43-36 triumph. [ … CONTINUE READING … ]

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

UPCOMING MATCHES:

Northern Stars vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, 7pm

Sunday marks the grand final rematch between the Northern Stars and Central Pulse with the latter hoping to repeat their earlier triumphs. With a win already under their belt for season 2020 the Pulse will be out replicate their hot form of 2019 while the Stars on the other hand will be keen to put a stop to it and notch up their first victory for the season.

Northern Stars v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 7pm

In the final game of the round both the Stars and Tactix play out their second game of the round. With the changed fixture fatigue could be a huge factor for both teams especially the Stars who played the night before. Heading into the round both teams entered with no wins but will hoping to change that story and claim some early ascendancy and bragging rights.

[ … CONTINUE READING PREVIEWS … ]

2020 revised ANZ Premiership fixture announced

IN breaking news, the ANZ Premiership announced it 2020 season fixture today following on from its announcement last week that the ANZ Premiership will resume on Friday, June 19. While the competition will resume under new conditions – adhering to the social distancing regulations – it has given netball fans something to look forward to from mid-June through until late August.

While the season began in March, only the one round was played prior to the competition being put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis. But according to the ANZ Premiership’s statement, the competition will resume from Round 2 onwards, with a 10 weeks season featuring games every Friday through Monday evening.

This may mean some teams play twice in the same round, but will be made easier by the season being entirely restricted to the Auckland Netball Centre to limit exposure to uncontrolled environments and excessive travel. The season will be entirely closed to the public to comply with New Zealand’s health requirements due to the coronavirus.

A revised finals schedule has also been put into play, with a triple header finals series culminating on Sunday, August 23, featuring playoffs between fifth and sixth, and third and fourth before a premier is crowned in the 7pm first versus second match.

“While the situation is not ideal, it has also allowed for ingenuity and innovation around how we continue to present matches as a vibrant spectacle and maintain maximum engagement with fans and viewers,” said Netball New Zealand chief executive, Jennie Wyllie.

The season kicks off with a Friday night match-up between Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Mystics at 7pm. In the other Round 1 games, Southern Steel takes on Mainland Tactix the day after, Northern Stars face Central Pulse in a massive grand final rematch on Sunday, before the Stars front up again a day later to take on the Northern Mystics in those sides second games for the round.

While there will be no crowds allowed at matches, all games will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3.

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN: #1 – Ameliaranne Ekenasio

THE Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) is already home to a number of international stars making it one of the strongest netball competitions in the world. However, we as the Draft Central team are creating a list of top 10 players we would like to see join the competition. Coming in at number one is star goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

An ex-Australian netball and dual citizenship holder, Ekenasio is a talented goaler and current captain of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, making her the ultimate “the one who got away” for the Aussies. With speed, resilience and volume to boot, Ekenasio has really come into her own over the past few years playing alongside Maria Folau for the Ferns and was part of the history making Central Pulse grand final victory in 2019. Another player who has played for an Australian domestic competition throughout her career – albeit during the ANZ Championship which saw Australia and New Zealand compete with and against each other – Ekenasio has shot herself to stardom since settling in New Zealand credit to her cleanliness with ball in hand and ability to provide crucial scoreboard pressure. The ex-Queensland Firebirds product has flourished and played a crucial role in the 2019 Netball World Cup where the Ferns took home gold against the Aussies.

The versatile goaler can ply her trade both beside and away from the post, and is a crucial option with her quick feet and positioning which sees her evade defenders again and again. Her strong work ethic sees her constantly improving and able to impact the play even when she  may not have her eye in, and as a commanding presence on court, she is a constant threat with plenty of tricks up her sleeve. At only 29-years-old, Ekenasio is really in her prime and has made big strides through her career over the past few years and plenty left in the tank for a potential return to the Australian competition. Her excellent vision both on and off the ball has seen her become a massive threat in the goal circle, and with impressive timing and aerial ability she will continue to be that huge threat in the coming years.

Top 10 players we’d like to see in the SSN:

#10 Joice Takaidza (Zimbabwe)
#9 Zanele Vimbela (South Africa)
#8 Joyce Mvula (Malawi)
#7 Razia Quashie (England)
#6 George Fisher (England)
#5 Fran Williams (England)
#4 Maia Wilson (New Zealand)
#3 Jade Clarke (England)
#2 Jane Watson (New Zealand)
#1 Ameliaranne Ekenasio (New Zealand)

Netball fantasy teams: ANZ Premiership All-Stars v. VNSL All-Stars

BOTH the ANZ Premiership and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) play host to a wealth of a-list talent making for some impressive squads. The ANZ Premiership is filled with a multitude of Ferns players while the VNSL also has a couple of Roses featured in the team creating an interesting contest between the two sides.

ANZ Premiership All-Stars:

GK: Jane Watson
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Karin Burger
C: Shannon Saunders
WA: Gina Crampton
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Maia Wilson

BENCH: Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Whitney Souness, Phoenix Karaka

The ANZ Premiership is littered with New Zealand Silver Ferns representatives as shown by this stacked line-up. But their strength really lies in their defensive end with Jane Watson taking out the goal keeper position. Watson is a machine down back with her cleanliness, hunt for the ball and ability to shut down opponents with ease a couple of her key attributes. The goal keeper is not afraid to back herself, often out hunting for an intercept with her quick feet doing all the work while her lean over the shot is highly intimidating. Fellow defender and veteran Katrina Rore is one of a kind. Just like a fine wine she continues to get better with time, able to read the play with ease and disrupt the attacking flow of the opposition with her aerial ability and long arms. Rore is never out of the contest always able to weasel her way back into the play and is strong in transition thanks to her offensive minded style of play. Wing defence and partner-in-crime at the Central Pulse, Karin Burger is another key cog down back. Burger has really come into her own in recent seasons with her tenacity and tagging style of defence often wearing opponents down. Her long arms and height causes havoc in the wing defence position while her deceptive speed gives her another competitive edge around circle edge to swat away any passes into the goal circle. Throw in her ability to move into goal defence or keeper and Burger is one of a kind for the All-Stars line-up. Through the midcourt, the tried and tested duo of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton adds another strong element to the already stacked squad. While Saunders is more defensively minded, she can hit the circle edge and provide an option in attack while teammate, Crampton consistently showcases her impressive vision into the circle with her pinpoint precision passes and good timing. Crampton has good balance around the circle edge and is not often worried by the physicality of the game. Headlining the goal circle is none other than fan favourite Ameliaranne Ekenasio. The highly talented goaler has class to boot able to sink them from just about anywhere in the circle while her impeccable timing is envious. Ekenasio is renowned for her smooth movement in the circle, strong baseline drives, quick ball movement, accuracy and most importantly ability to stand up under pressure. Youngster Maia Wilson takes out the goal shooter position with the towering shooter able to hold strong and provide a commanding target under the post. Unlucky not to make the starting All-Stars squad are Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby Rickit, speedy midcourter Whitney Souness and Northern Mystics defender, Phoenix Karaka.

Vitality Netball Superleague (VNLS) All-Stars:

GK: Razia Quashie
GD: Fran Williams
WD: Nat Panagarry
C: Jade Clarke
WA: Caroline O’Hanlon
GA: Eleanor Cardwell
GS: Rachel Dunn

BENCH: Sigi Burger, Adean Thomas, Eboni Usoro-Brown

Although the VNSL has less Roses players in the competition due to the majority of them joining the Suncorp Super Netball League, there are still plenty of classy players amongst the ranks. When it comes to options in the goal circle there was no shortage of possibilities, however it was veteran and deadeye shooter Rachel Dunn that claimed the starting goal shooter position. Dunn is one of the most experienced shooters in the league with her silky footwork, strong hands and impressive timing consistently on display along with her accuracy. While Eleanor Cardwell is typically suited to the goal shooter position she has proven that she can do just as much damage out in goal attack with her clever ball placement into the circle and strong movement. Through the midcourt Caroline O’Hanlon provides plenty of experience with her gut running and ability to hit the circle edge time and time again. Adding to the experience through the midcourt is Jade Clarke with the Wasps centre consistently able to do the unthinkable. Clarke oozes class, netball understanding and is cautious with ball in hand able to dish off well weighted passes making her an easy pick for the all-stars squad, while also able to move into wing defence given her defensive abilities. Loughborough Lightning’s Nat Pangarry dons the wing defence position thanks to her defensive skills, long arms, speed off the mark and ability to cause havoc down back to propel the ball into the attacking third. She can clog up space with her shadowing movements and can read the play often forcing turnovers. Roses representative Fran Williams takes out the goal defence position. Williams is an excitement machine and works tirelessly down in defence to build pressure and cause confusion with her quick feet and three-footy marking. She is not afraid to go out and hunt the ball and has a good netball nous to sense the moment. Rounding out the starting seven is goal keeper Razia Quashie. The goal keeper is strong, not often outmuscled under the post and uses her long arms to intimidate shooters when going for goal. Making their way onto the bench for the VNSL all-stars is London Pulse and South African goaler Sigi Burger, Jamaican Adean Thomas and former Roses defender Eboni Usoro-Brown.

Who would win?

With plenty of talent amongst both sides it is tricky to decide who would have the edge however given that the ANZ Premiership All-stars team is virtually filled with Silver Ferns players it is fair to say that they should have the upper hand. Their strength clearly lies in the defence end and while the VNSL All-stars line-up has a couple of handy goalers in the mix they would have to be on their a-game to overcome the prowess of the Ferns. The ANZ Premiership squad is strong through the midcourt with their dynamic movement and experience further adding to their competitive edge.

Which All-Stars team would win in this match up?
ANZ Premiership All-Stars
Vitality Netball Superleague All-Stars
Created with Quiz Maker

Draft Central’s Top 25 International Young Guns countdown – #15/#14

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 25 players under 25-years-old across the netball world. Next up are a couple of midcourters with New Zealander Whitney Souness and up and coming GIANTS star Amy Parmenter. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

Coming into the prime of her netball career, Souness has become an integral part of every midcourt whether it be at a national or international level. The speedy wing attack or centre made the switch to Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at the end of last season after winning the premiership with Central Pulse where she had a standout season playing along with the likes of Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Although she has only managed a couple of games this season due to the coronavirus outbreak she has not skipped a beat, finding her groove straight away thanks to her high netball IQ and understanding. She is strong around the top of the goal circle with her quick hands and impressive vision to deliver well-weighted passes into the circle. Throw in her ability to push off and generate speed with either foot and dynamic movement and Souness is a handful in the attacking third along with her spatial awareness. Already having an impact with the Silver Ferns having debuted in 2017 Souness will be hoping to further cement her role in the black dress with her increased endurance, smarts and ability to seamlessly transition the ball down the court.

Claiming number 14 on the countdown is Amy Parmenter with the Australian midcourter well and truly bursting onto the scene in season 2019. The talented centre come wing defence made a lasting impression with her defensive pressure and ability to stand up against any foe. Not overawed by the high stakes and intensity of the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN), Parmenter was a real leader through the midcourt charging at any ball that came her way and locking down opponents with her smothering style of defence. She was not afraid to go out hunting using her quick acceleration to disrupt the oppositions attacking end and propelling the ball back down the court thanks to her attacking mindset. Parmenter is strong at the transverse line consistently providing an option to reset the play and use her quick feet to get around the body of opponents. She can turn a game on its head with her ability to force turnovers or garner deflections making her an exciting prospect for Australian netball for years to come given she is only 22 years old.

Top 25 so far:

25. Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
24. Summer Artman (England)
23. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (England)
22. Matilda Garrett (Australia)
21. Razia Quashie (England)
20. Sophie Garbin (Australia)
19. Imogen Allison (England)
18. Kelly Jury (New Zealand)
17.Tara Hinchliffe (Australia)
16. Aliyah Dunn (New Zealand)
15. Whitney Souness (New Zealand)
14. Amy Parmenter (Australia)

Draft Central’s Top 25 International Young Guns countdown – #17/#16

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 25 players under 25-years-old across the netball world. The countdown continues with New Zealand goaler Aliyah Dunn and young Aussie defender, Tara Hinchliffe. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

In at number 17 is Aussie defender Tara Hinchliffe, a young gun who has had plenty of exposure on the Suncorp Super Netball stage playing with the Queensland Firebirds for the past few seasons. With tenacity, an impressive read of the play and an ability to impact the contest, Hinchliffe has burst onto the scene first learning off one of the best in Laura Geitz before being tasked with holding up the defensive end with fellow young gun Kim Jenner in season 2019. With a solid and relatively consistent season in the books Hinchliffe will hope for more exposure in defence in future seasons, looming as a real talent able to rotate between goal defence, goal keeper and wing defence when required. Hinchliffe’s lean over the shot and timing on the jump is impressive for her youth while her ability to pressure a ball out of court or tip a deflection is credit to her star potential with plenty of room to grow. Her cleanliness last season may have left something to be desired given her penalty count and time it took to adjust to the umpire, but given that’s something that will come with time the future is bright for Hinchliffe.

Number 16 on the countdown is reserved for talented New Zealand youngster, Aliyah Dunn, a star goal shooter in the making with impressive accuracy, volume and room to grow at her disposal. Dunn had a real breakout season in 2018 and has been a permanent and imposing fixture with Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership since then, shooting at an average accuracy of 91 per cent across 2018 and 2019 and well and truly making her an exciting prospect at only 20-years-old. She is fortunate to step out on court with Ferns captain, Ameliaranne Ekenasio by her side, learning and growing from her influence week by week. Dunn was given the top honour of earning some international caps with the New Zealand Silver Ferns across the past few international seasons starting in 2018, and while she has not yet earned a consistent spot in the side she went a long way in proving her skill on the international stage. While she has been hesitant in the limelight at times, her ability to take on the contest and take the step to the next level says a lot about her future with the Ferns and the success of the national team.

Top 25 so far:

25. Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
24. Summer Artman (England)
23. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (England)
22. Matilda Garrett (Australia)
21. Razia Quashie (England)
20. Sophie Garbin (Australia)
19. Imogen Allison (England)
18. Kelly Jury (New Zealand)
17. Tara Hinchliffe (Australia)
16. Aliyah Dunn (New Zealand)

Draft Central’s Top 25 International Young Guns countdown – #19/#18

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 25 players under 25-years-old across the netball world. The countdown continues with Team Bath midcourter Imogen Allison and New Zealand Silver Ferns youngster Kelly Jury. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

After a couple of impressive seasons in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL), Imogen Allison has made herself a household name with her ball winning ability and hands over pressure. Playing with the likes of Serena Guthrie in 2019, the up and coming midcourter has modelled her game play off the highly talented star with her gut running and defensive mindset. Allison has been a key cog for Team Bath throughout the season so far despite there only being three games in which she has already mustered up five intercepts and three deflections. Her ability to treasure possession and quick transition down the court is another key element of her game play. Allison has proven that she is a versatile player able to move between centre and wing defence with ease while her speed across the court to gather loose balls or force turnovers makes her an exciting prospect for future England Roses selection.

Slotting into number 19 is Kelly Jury with the 196cm defender renowned for her long lanky limbs and immense defensive pressure. Although Jury is not the quickest player on the court her ability to read the play and get her body cleanly around her opponent is what makes her so damaging. 2019 was a year of development for Jury with the likes of former Ferns captain Casey Kopua guiding the 23-year-old defender at Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic while her game has come along in leaps and bounds once again since making the switch to the Central Pulse in 2020 with the likes of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger surrounding her. Their influence has had a huge impact on Jury’s game with the goal keeper not afraid to back herself to go out hunting for cross-court balls or under the post. Jury still has plenty to develop with her ability to remain a constant threat for a full quarters an area she will be hoping to improve on in the coming season to become a permanent fixture in the Ferns side. However, Jury has played at the top level notching up 22 caps showcasing that she does have the talent and class to nullify world class shooters while also experiencing World Cup glory in 2017 with the New Zealand Youth Cup team.

Top 25 so far:

25. Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
24. Summer Artman (England)
23. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (England)
22. Matilda Garrett (Australia)
21. Razia Quashie (England)
20. Sophie Garbin (Australia)
19. Imogen Allison (England)

18. Kelly Jury (New Zealand)

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Tactix, Stars and Steel search for first win

ROUND 2 of the ANZ Premiership will see three teams looking for their first win while the others will be hoping to make it two straight.

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 22 March
Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland

The Northern Mystics are coming off a narrow win, while the Tactix on the other hand will be hoping to notch up their first win of the season. The Tactix had a strong quarter and will want to build on that if they are to get over the line against a strong Mystics team that have plenty of firepower. But it will be a very tight battle given just how similar both sides are when it comes to game style and strengths.

The home side have arguably one of the strongest defence units in the competition thanks to the edition of Sulu Fitzpatrick and will be hoping to capitalise against a developing Tactix shooting combination. The battle between Fitzpatrick and goal shooter Ellie Bird will bring plenty of interest with Bird renowned for her holding style of game, something that Fitzpatrick is more than capable of disrupting given her aerial ability and hunt for the ball. Phoenix Karaka has also been in hot form, even if it is only after one round. The goal defence is strong in the air and at ground level able to track the ball and force timely turnovers with her long arms and speed. Her connection with Fitzpatrick will go a long way in stopping Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit who is still finding her feet in her new colours. Through the midcourt the combination of Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan must stand up if the Tactix are any chance to win, as opposing wing attack Peta Toeava is deadly on the feed, able to quickly turn and deliver pin-point precision passes.

Defensively the Tactix are also strong with captain, Jane Watson the real barometer for the side. Watson is in a league of her own able to make something out of nothing with her quick feet and vision. Her partnership with Temalisi Fakahokotau will only develop as time goes on with the two able to cause havoc down back with their ball winning abilities and high netball IQ. However, they will have their work cut out for them up against teenage prodigy Grace Nweke who currently sits first for goals credit to her ability to score from anywhere and do accurately. If they can shut down Nweke the likes of Bailey Mes if available, Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes will have to stand up to help shoulder the load under the post.

In the end, it will be a battle of the defence ends with both sides boasting a plethora of game changers.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 22 March
TSB Bank Arena, Wellington

Coming off a win and their first home game despite it not being in front of a crowd the Central Pulse will be hoping to make it two on the trot and repeat the lengthy undefeated streak of last year. Meanwhile, the Southern Steel will be wanting to right the wrongs of last week and notch up their first win of the year.

With very limited change over the off-season the Pulse have one of the most formidable outfits in the competition headlined by their defensive unit. The trio of Katrina Rore, Karin Burger and Kelly Jury is one simply cannot resist. Both Rore and Burger can swap out to wing defence giving the Pulse that added bit of pressure and defensive prowess across the court making life hard for the likes of Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders who like to zip around the circle edge. While Crampton and Saunders have speed to boot if the Pulse defenders can shut down their avenue to goal and block their vision they will be able to gain the upper hand. Inside the circle, expect Jury to have an impact with her long lean over the shot and ability to contest the high ball especially up against the likes of Jennifer O’Connell. The Steel goal shooter will need further assistance from the likes of recruit Kalifa McCollin and youngster Georgia Heffernan to put up a damaging score and keep their respective defender busy.

The Pulse also boast a tried and tested duo in the goal circle with Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio one of the competitions strongest connections. They know each others game inside out able to dish off perfectly weighted passes and able to back themselves when inside the circle. While Dunn is the more prominent shooter, Ekenasio’s work out the front is what makes them such a dynamic team meaning the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita will have to be on their a-game. If Fifita can win ball back like she did last round and receive support from the likes of Kate Heffernan and Abby Erwood it will go a long way in shutting the Pulse down.

However, given the strength and class across the court the Pulse should get the job done against a rebuilding Steel team.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Monday, 23 March
Trustpower Arena, Tauranga

In a clash of second verse fourth expect plenty of action, with the Stars hoping to topple the Magic and claim their first win of 2020. The Stars underwent a massive change over the off-season and are still searching for that winning combination while the Magic seemed to have found their groove. Both sides have a couple of young, up and coming players that will be hoping to make an impact.

The Magic’s strength lies within their midcourt with newcomer Whitney Souness already lighting the court up with her dynamic movement and impressive vision. Souness has quickly become a key cog in the attacking third, not afraid to release the ball from distance and back herself while her connection with centre Ariana Cable-Dixon is steadily developing. The versatility of Sam Winders able to move between centre and wing defence given her defensive attributes is pivotal to the Magic’s success. But Winders will have to pull out all the stops against experienced campaigner Grace Kara to stop the wing attack from having an influence. Kara is cool, calm and collected able to think her way through scenarios and deliver well executed passes into the circle. Fellow midcourters Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather will also have to be on high alert. Stars, wing defence Fa’amu Ioane will be hoping to continue her ball winning ways after starring last round with a couple of timely intercepts.

With a relatively new defensive line-up with Daystar Swift and Kate Burley at the helm the Magic shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou will be hoping to capitalise. McPhee has shown that she can be explosive under the post able to post high numbers and relatively accurate. On the other hand, Maia Wilson is one of the highest scoring goalers in the competition able to find the net with ease and use her clever body positioning and strong holds to edge herself closer to the post. If she can have a big influence and Jamie Hume can chip in on the scoreboard then it will be hard work for Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler. In only her second game for the club, Mikaere will be wanting to cause mayhem with her reach and speed making the goal circle match-up an exciting one.

The game could really go either way seeing just how evenly poised both teams are but it could be argued that the Magic have a little bit more depth and that could be the edge they need.

ANZ Premiership: Leading stat-toppers from Round 1

WITH Round 1 of the ANZ Premiership done and dusted we look at the leading stat-getters from each side.

Northern Mystics:

The Mystics kicked off Round 1 with a hard-fought win thanks to some strong individual performances from a host of their key players. Shooting sensation Grace Nweke was a pivotal part in her sides win with the talented goaler notching up 40 goals from 43 attempts at an impressive 93 per cent accuracy, ultimately taking out number one spot on the goals and assists ladder. Teammate, Peta Toeava also impressed across the weekend particularly at the transverse line picking up 18 centre pass receives to come in fifth across the competition. While Toeava was strong at the centre pass, it was her impact in the attacking third that left a lasting imprint with the highly touted wing attack taking out the number one spot for feeds with a whopping 44, highlighting the wealth of work she does to feed into the likes of Nweke. Defensively it is hard to look past Phoenix Karaka with the goal defence featuring in the top five for rebounds and intercepts while being eighth for deflections. Karaka had a profound influence down back managing three intercepts in Round 1, gifting her prime position on the intercepts tally while also collecting two rebounds. However, she also recorded third spot for penalties with 13 something she will want to address heading into the next round.

Northern Stars:

Although the Northern Stars did not get the win on the board it was their young players that took the round by storm with five players making it into the top five in their respective areas. Goal shooter Maia Wilson was clinical under the post once again nailing 40 goals from 45 attempts at 89 per cent and locking down second spot behind Nweke. Captain, Grace Kara showcased her influence in attack with 25 centre pass receives and 43 feeds to come in second in both of those areas while defensively Kate Burley kicked it up a notch. The young defender made her presence felt both on the court and in the stats claiming second spot for deflections with seven. Second seemed to be the flavour for the Stars with Fa’amu Ioane following suit for rebounds with three highlighting her strong defensive attributes. However, second place for penalties will not sit so well with Daystar Swift racking up 15 for the game.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

The Magic did not necessarily have one game changer for them, instead it was more of a full team effort as shown by the stats at end of the round with the likes of goal shooter Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou sitting so closely together on the shooting leader board. While McPhee is in the top five with 35 goals from 43 attempts at 81 per cent, Latu-Meafou is not far behind at seventh with 19 goals from 27 attempts displaying their ability to share the ball between them. Even through the midcourt the load was shared with Ariana Cable-Dixon sitting sixth with 30 and Whitney Souness at seventh with 29 for feeds, while Souness also managed third for centre pass receives with 24. Erena Mikaere topped the table for rebounds with two while both Samantha Winders and Holly Fowler managed six deflections apiece to make the top 10. Alarmingly however, three players made their way into the leader board for penalties with midcourt duo Cable-Dixon and Winders taking out fifth and sixth respectively and Fowler coming in at eight.

Central Pulse:

With a relatively shared approach across the board, the Pulse did not have a heap of players top the tables with Aliyah Dunn the highest ranked player at third. Dunn was instrumental once again under the post with her volume and accuracy on show with 35 goals from 38 attempts at 92 per cent. Teammate Ameliaranne Ekenasio also made her way into the top 10 but at the lower end of the scale at eighth credit to her 18 goals from 22 shots. Youngster Maddy Gordon was also amongst the mix for centre pass receives with 19 earning herself fourth spot after an impressive effort in Round 1 while veteran and key cog in attack Claire Kersten also made her presence felt with 33 feeds in their win over the Tactix to finish fourth as well. With so many options in defence and the ability to rotate players the Pulse had no real standout however, Katrina Rore did manage a rebound to claim fifth, while newcomer Kelly Jury’s two intercepts also earnt herself fifth placed honours.

Mainland Tactix:

It is fair to say that Tactix dominated from a defensive point of view despite losing. Both Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau featured highly in the deflections and intercepts columns thanks to their tenacity. Watson took out third pace thanks to her seven deflections while also recorded seventh for intercepts credit to her two. Despite also collecting two intercepts Fakahokotau was slightly ahead on the leader board at fourth but did not feature on the deflections tally. In the goal circle, Ellie Bird took out the honours for the Tactix coming in at sixth across the competition with her 26 goals from 29 attempts at 90 per cent.

Southern Steel:

Although they did not win their Round 1 match the Steel had a wealth of players start their season with a bang and claim early bragging rights high up on the table. Gun midcourter, Gina Crampton currently sits first for centre pass receives with 28 while also has third spot tied up for feeds with 42. In the goal circle Jennifer O’Connell just made the cut inside the top five with 35 goals from 50 attempts. Defensively is where the Steel shine with Te Huinga Selby-Rickit earning second spot after pulling down five rebounds and fourth spot for deflections with six. Youngster, Taneisha Fifita snatched dibs on top of the table for deflections with eight while Kate Heffernan also made the top 10 for intercepts with two to her name.