Tag: charlotte elley

Tactix secure ANZ Premiership Grand Final spot by defeating depleted Pulse

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

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

STARTING SEVEN:

TACTIX:

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

PULSE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

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

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

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

TACTIX

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

2020 ANZ Premiership- Preview: Round 9

TWO weeks out from ANZ Premiership finals, it is do or die for the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix who are battling for second spot on the ladder while the Central Pulse have first spot all but sewn up. Conversely, up the other end of the ladder the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel are keen to avoid the wooden spoon and progress up the rankings with a strong finish to the season.

Southern Steel v. Northern Mystics
Friday, 7 August

The round starts with a clash between fifth and third on the ladder with the Steel hosting the Mystics. The Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing downing the Mystics by six goals in Round 7 and while they cannot make finals will be eager to influence how the rest of the season pans out.

The injuries for the Steel have come hard and fast especially in the goal circle but with a couple of games under their belts the connection between Ellen Halpenny and Kalifa McCollin is starting to blossom. Halpenny provides that calming element to the goal circle with her precise movements and impeccable timing to pop out right on cue while McCollin has plenty of flair and dynamism to keep the Mystics defenders busy. The two share the shooting load between them meaning the Mystics will have to focus their energy on both goalers if they are to shut down any easy avenue to post. Sulu Fitzpatrick is a seasoned campaigner able to hold her own in the goal circle and win back ball with her long arms and quick feet to get around the body of her opponent. Partner in crime Phoenix Karaka is just as damaging down back able to shut down her opponent with her smothering pressure and three-foot marking. Although the combination with McCollin and Halpenny is developing, Karaka and Fitzpatrick have proven to be a formidable force meaning the Steel will have to be on their a-game.

Wing defence Kate Heffernan has been in ripping form lately with the young midcourter taking everything in her stride and working hard to own that defensive position. She is a constant threat around circle edge with her long arms but will take on speedster Peta Toeava who not only oozes pace but is renowned for her quick release into the circle. The Steel have options if Heffernan is unable to shut down powerhouse wing attack with Kendall Corkery a more physical and niggly style of player, able to get under the skin of Toeava and reduce her efficiency in attack.

With second spot still up for grabs expect the Mystics to throw everything they have at the Steel and exploit their new connections across the court.

 

Southern Steel v. Central Pulse
Saturday, 8 August

Dropping their first game for this season last round expect the Central Pulse to come out with a real fire in the belly and get the job done early against the Southern Steel. Renowned for their full court pressure and ability to treasure ball the Pulse will be keen to rectify last week’s shortcomings but the Steel will take in a sense of belief after pushing the reigning premiers to their limits in their last meeting.

The midcourt battle will be ferocious with a couple of Silver Ferns lining up against each other. After somewhat of a quiet performance last week Karin Burger will be hoping to assert herself against the Steel and shut down Gina Crampton‘s drive to the top of the circle. Burger is recognised for her three foot marking and long arms to block vision into the goal circle, something that she will be hoping to bring against the Steel in order to limit the influence of Crampton in attack. Partner in crime Shannon Saunders is a real workhorse through the midcourt for the Steel able to have an influence both in an attack in attack and in defence. She will have the job on Pulse centre Claire Kersten making for an intriguing battle between the two given their similarities in game style. Kersten is the key for the Pulse through the midcourt able to provide that consistency and link between attack and defence.

Down on their usual accuracy last week the Central Pulse will be hoping that Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn deliver to post. Ekenasio is a real player maker through the attacking third with her impeccable timing and clever touch to deliver ball on a silver platter to Dunn. They have one of the strongest connections in the competition with the two able to light up the court with their flair and clever ability to create space time and time again. Dunn is a strong holding shooter that is able to post up and command the ball no matter the defensive pressure. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit is the most experienced defender in the Steel defensive unit and will have to lead by example if they are to win ball back. Goal keeper Taneisha Fifita has struggled in the past couple of weeks drawing a lot of attention from the umpires, something she will have to address this game if she is to mount pressure on the Pulse and not give them free attempts at goal. The introduction of Abby Erwood could provide that extra element of composure in defence.

Coming off a loss expect the Pulse to bounce back and showcase why they are the reigning premiers with a strong performance across all four quarters against the Steel.

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 9 August

In their second game of the round the Mystics will want to leave nothing to chance against the second placed Tactix in hope to progress up the ladder and get one step closer to securing a finals berth. In arguably the game of the round both teams will be hoping to prove their worth and showcase why they deserve a spot in the finals. These two teams have a decorated history and are evenly poised heading into the match.

It will all come down to the battle in the goal circle with teenage shooting prodigy Grace Nweke the key to Mystics success given her impressive holds, high volume and accuracy the post. Nweke is a commanding figure under the post and can change the course of a game in an instant given the speed with which she can score and her strength in the air to reel in errant passes time and time again. However their weakness lies within the goal attack position with the likes of Saviour Tui and Filda Vui exciting young prospects but unable to consistently deliver the output required. Tui and Vui are clever with ball in hand but sometimes lack the confidence to go to post piling a wealth of pressure on Nweke to deliver and steer the ship for the Mystics. On the other hand, the Tactix have one of the best defensive units in the competition with Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson ball magnets down back. Watson is exceptionally clean in defence, able to pick up ball without getting penalised and making her a constant threat for any team, while her drive through the midcourt provides an added boost to the Tactix transition. Impressive individually, the connection between the two defenders is what really puts them ahead of the pack given Fakahokotau can read the play with ease and dictate Watson’s position according to what is unfolding in front of her. It will be up to Vui and Tui to draw the attention of Watson to isolate Fakahokotau and Nweke under the post.

With speed to burn through the midcourt it will be an exciting battle between Tayla Earle and Tactix centre Kimiora Poi as the two possess very similar attributes in the way they hunt the ball and then seamlessly switch into attack. They will match each other for speed and vision into the circle making for a tight tussle. Toeava is another key cog for the Mystics in attack while for the Tactix Erikana Pedersen has proven to be the link into the goalers with her dynamic footwork, quick hands and confidence on the pass to bypass the defenders and look long.

The last time these two sides met the Tactix clinched the narrowest of victories and will be hoping to build on that momentum to edge further ahead on the ladder.

 

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Sunday, 9 August

In their sole game of the round expect both the Magic and Stars to go toe-to-toe throughout the four quarters. With a renewed sense of confidence and a win under their belt the Magic will be keen to keep the good times rolling and secure their second win in as many days. Plagued by inconsistency this season the Stars will be hoping to rectify their issues and record their fifth win.

There is no denying that Maia Wilson is the lynchpin in attack for the Stars with the goal shooter a commanding target under the post with her strong holds and high scoring nature. Wilson is incredibly accurate shooting at a combined 94 per cent last round, a feat she will be hoping to replicate once again this week to lead her side to victory. Although Wilson is the go to girl the Stars do their most damage when goal attack Jamie Hume goes to post and troubles the scoreboard. If she can draw the attention of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong it will alleviate the pressure on Wilson under the post and help split the circle to create more one on ones at the post. While Tong is not the tallest defender in the league she makes up for it with her aerial presence and impressive leap to get hands to ball and disrupt the flow in attack, something the Magic will be relying on throughout the contest.

Khiarna Williams has been a revelation for the Magic in attack proving she can play both goal shooter and goal attack with the 17-year-old taking like a duck to water each time she steps out on court. Her growing connection with Kelsey McPhee under the post and Abigail Latu-Meafou is something to behold as the trio are getting stronger and stronger each week. McPhee is an easy target under the post for the Magic meaning the Stars defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Kate Burley and Daystar Swift will have to put in the hard yards out the front to limit her influence to post. The high ball into the circle is often the go to passage of play for the Magic which plays into the tenacious and ball hungry Stars defence.

With relatively even match ups across the court it will come down to the midcourt battle with captain Sam Winders the barometer for the Magic and Grace Kara the playmaker for the Stars. If Winders can dictate the flow through the middle and win ball back the Magic could register another victory.

 

Central Pulse v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 10 August

The final game of the round sees a battle of the top two teams with the Central Pulse hoping to make it three straight wins against the Mainland Tactix. Falling agonisingly short in Round 6 the Tactix will be hoping to go one better and upset the Pulse to prove that they are a real finals contender. Playing in their second game of the round it could come down to the depth on the bench and who can withstand the high intensity battle.

Ellie Bird has really hit her strides in the past couple of weeks with the goal shooter dictating the space and using her height to full advantage to reel in passes and shoot truly. Bird is an exciting prospect when she is on song able to nullify the influence of her defender and use her clever footwork to move around the body of her defender and allow the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit to come through and have an influence in the goal circle. Selby-Rickit, while she might not put up a wealth of shots, does a plethora of work out the front to deliver the ball into Bird and create attacking forays. In saying that, the Pulse have their own star power down in defence with Kelly Jury having a breakout season, showcasing her exceptional lean over the shot and read of the play to create constant disruption down back. Her ever developing connection with Katrina Rore causes plenty of headaches for opposition teams with the two able to hunt the ball while Elle Temu is a solid option off the bench, able to come on and have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure.

The Pulse have speed to burn through the centre court with Maddy Gordon a real excitement machine and energiser bunny able to hit the circle edge with great speed and tenacity. Impressive in attack it is Gordon’s work through the centre third and defensive pressure to try and win ball back that makes her such a dominant threat. Able to play both goal and wing attack Tiana Metuarau is another player to keep an eye on for the Pulse with her spatial awareness and pinpoint passes into the circle. It will be up to wing defence Charlotte Elley to really shut down the influence of Gordon and Metuarau to ensure that the Pulse have limited opportunity to go forward and score. In recent weeks the inclusion of Samon Nathan into wing defence has provided a different element for the Tactix down back.

Expect this game to go down to the wire with neither side willing to give an inch and fighting not only for the win but momentum heading into finals.

ANZ Premiership – Round 8: Tactix star notching up seventh win of the season

IN their second game of the round it was the Mainland Tactix that notched up their seventh win of the season, getting the job done comfortably against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (44-35). The Tactix held control from start to finish despite a couple of flourishes from the Magic to solidify second spot on the ladder.

It was a relatively even start to the game before the Tactix kicked into gear and really found their rhythm in attack. Their dazzling speed in transition caught the Magic defence off guard multiple times with Waikato Bay of Plenty struggling to keep up with their quick ball movement. Goal shooter Ellie Bird picked up where she left off, finding the front space with ease time and time again and not missing a single shot in the first quarter of play. With Bird firing on all cylinders early, the efforts of her goaling counterpart Te Paea Selby-Rickit did not go unnoticed as she plied her trade to post with six straight goals and her clever ball placement into the goal circle. Her ability to outrun Erena Mikaere at every turn and force the Magic defenders into one-on-ones in the circle gave the Tactix the upper hand under the post.

Up the other end the Tactix defence wowed, nullifying the Magic shooters at the post with Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau applying a wealth of pressure to force the goalers off balance and into turnovers. Their constant attack and ability to convert off turnovers gifted the Tactix with a three goal lead, steadily building on it as the game went on. Their smooth transition down court was aided by Watson’s drive through the midcourt providing an additional option to bolster the Tactix attack. Nailing three goals in a row the Tactix enhanced their lead to five as they maintained full control across the court heading into the quarter time break.

Sam Winders kickstarted the action in the second quarter with Abigail Latu-Meafou landing the first goal to get back within four goals. Increased defensive pressure from the Magic shut down Tactix movement at the centre pass, making them work for every single pass. But it was Mainland Tactix centre Kimiora Poi who inserted herself into the action in defence picking up an impressive intercept, capitalising on the stagnant Magic attack. With Bird and Selby-Rickit continuing their scintillating form Georgia Tong stamped her authority on the game with the goal keeper providing a spark in defence to hunt the ball and create timely tips.

Wing defence Charlotte Elley upped the ante in defence to reduce the impact of Whitney Souness around circle edge, using her three foot marking to block her vision into the goalers. Elley combined seamlessly with Poi through the middle as the centre had a field day using her speed to hit the circle edge with precision and accuracy to deliver into the goalers. The connections across the court for the Tactix were impressive as Erikana Pedersen and Selby-Rickit appeared to have the ball on a string, receiving every second pass. With the lead out to as much as eight goals the Magic rallied in the final couple of minutes nailing three consecutive goals as Holly Fowler sparked her side into action with her tenacity and rangy arms. Their increased intensity across the court saw the Magic steal the momentum from the Tactix and reduce the margin to five goals at half time.

It was goal for goal in the opening couple of minutes as both sides wrestled for continuity and momentum to start the third term. After going at 100 per cent in the opening half playmaker and Tactix goal attack, Selby-Rickit missed her first shot of the game however the Magic failed to capitalise on their opportunities and make them pay as Watson proved to be a real menace in the goal circle. The shaky start to the term continued as the ball ping ponged up and down the court thanks to errant passes and sloppy hands. Relatively well held for the first two quarters, Souness came out with a real fire in the belly and intensity using her speed to dart around the attacking third and sight Kelsey McPhee under the post. The towering goaler came into the game more as Souness and Latu-Meafou lifted around her to deliver the ball on a silver platter. With the three working in tandem the Magic cut the deficit to three goals and looked to be a real threat.

With McPhee finding her mojo under the post, Tong showcased her class and excitement up the other end as the defender gobbled up a huge intercept. Tong’s increased aerial presence allowed her to shut down Bird at the post stifling the Tactix movement in attack and creating headaches for the second placed team. But Magic were not done yet, piling on the pressure through the midcourt and hitting the circle edge with great precision. A breaking call from Selby-Rickit at the Tactix centre pass gave the Magic a chance to level scores, something they had not been able to do since the opening stages of the game. Ruing her mistake, Selby-Rickit got to work in the last minute of the game to nail back to back goals and re-establish a two goal lead.

Only separated by two goals the Tactix were eager to hold onto their lead and notch up another win as Elley backed up the efforts of Watson and Fakahokotau around circle edge before moving to the bench. Samon Nathan provided a different element in defence as the Tactix looked to put the foot down despite the best efforts of Magic captain Winders. A scrappy couple of minutes of play from both sides saw them struggled to convert and cleanly transition the ball down the court but in the end it was the Tacitx that showed their class to run away with a nine goal win.

Bird was a strong force at the post for the Tactix sinking 26 goals from 30 attempts while Selby-Rickit plied her trade both out the front with 15 goal assists and on the scoreboard with 16 goals. For the Magic, Latu-Meafou imposed herself at the post nailing 18 goals while McPhee had a commanding influence with 17 goals from 22 attempts. Through the midcourt Pedersen was unbeatable with the wing attack registering 15 feeds while Souness collected 16 for the Magic. But it was once again the defensive combination of Fakahokotau and Watson that caused chaos with the duo amassing 16 deflections and three gains.

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC 10 | 10 | 12 | 3 (35)
MAINLAND TACTIX 15 | 10 | 9 | 10 (44)

STARTING SEVEN

Magic

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

Tactix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

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

STARTING SEVEN

Tactix

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

Stars

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

 

2020 ANZ Premiership- Round 8 preview: Tactix v. Stars

WITH ANZ Premiership finals just around the corner both the Mainland Tactix and Northern Stars are eager to make a final play for second spot and face off for a chance at the grand final in the sole Thursday evening fixture for the season. Playing on their home court for the first time since the season restart expect the Tactix fans to be boisterous, cheering on their side at every turn while the Stars will be hoping to generate their signature ball movement to get on top of their opponents early. Having only played last round the Stars will be keen to make amends and get one back while the Tactix will be wanting to show that their seven goal victory was just the beginning and look to build on their form heading into the backend of the season.

There are key match-ups across the court, none bigger than in the goal circle with Maia Wilson set to combat defensive duo Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson. Wilson is one of the most reliable goalers in the competition, willing to sink them from range and shake up her game plan accordingly to provide a spark for the Stars. Her constant movement, strong holds and impressive balance is a focal point for the Stars. However as Wilson is the dominant shooter and main avenue to goal it will be up to Jamie Hume and Vika Koloto to absorb some of the pressure and go to post regularly if they are to keep the Tactix defenders busy. Both Watson and Fakahokotau are in ripping form able to gobble up everything that comes their way, creating a wall in defence making it incredibly difficult for the Stars to penetrate. Coming off an impressive performance last week with Watson only racking up three penalties and nullifying the influence of Hume and Koloto at the post expect the Tactix captain to be keen to replicate her hot form. Similarly, Fakahokotau is no easy beat with her insistent pressure, aerial ability and read of the play.

Tactix goal shooter Ellie Bird showcased her star power last round against the Stars going on a tear with 37 goals at 100 per cent while the efforts of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit did not go unnoticed aiding the towering shooter at the post and delivering the ball on a silver platter for her. Their strong connection could prove the thorn in the Stars side again this week if Storm Purvis and Kate Burley are not able to nullify one of them. Burley is strong in the air, consistently able to disrupt the flow in attack with her timely tips and hands over pressure while Purvis applies a wealth of physical pressure. The Stars also have options on the bench with Daystar Swift taking the court for the first time last week since returning from injury while Oceane Maihi has an impressive aerial presence.

It will bea battle of the young guns through the midcourt with Kimiora Poi and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan likely to go head to head. Poi has speed to burn able to dart around the court, hit the circle edge with precision and most importantly help out defensively to pick up loose ball while Reuelu-Buchanan dons a more attacking style of play. Poi’s connection with Bird and Selby-Rickit has steadily throughout the season with the centre willing to dish off from distance and look long into circle. she works well with fellow speedster Erikana Pedersen with the two able to rotate the ball around the circle edge with ease and create attacking forays. The Stars have their own trump card, with experienced wing attack Grace Kara often leading the way and setting the tempo in attack. She is clever with ball in hand and will be hoping to exploit Tactix wing defence Charlotte Elley with her netball smarts.

Sitting just outside of second spot on the ladder the Tactix will be desperate to claim the win and edge closer to a grand final appearance. Coming off a strong showing last round and oozing confidence given their impressive connections across the court the Tactix could be hard to stop but the Stars have nothing to lose making for an intriguing battle.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 7

ROUND 7 of the ANZ Premiership saw some blowout performances and some surprise wins with the Steel toppling the second placed Mystics in a strong showing. The Tactix took their game to the next level while the Pulse kept their winning run intact.

Pulse are the team to beat
The reigning premiers continue to go from strength to strength with Round 7 no exception, going on a rampage against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to record a 23 goal win. They dominated from start to finish with their clean ball movement and accuracy to post framing up to the favourites for the premiership. Goalers Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio led the way with a combined 47 goals from 49 attempts highlighting their prowess in the goal circle. The Pulse simply outclassed the Magic at every turn with their full court press and ability to bring on bench players to inflict the same pain. Their dominance did not stop there with the Pulse also downing the Stars by 10 goals showcasing their competitive edge and winning ways. Kelly Jury starred in her side’s victory over the Stars racking up a whopping four gains from one intercept, six deflections and two rebounds while Katrina Rore’s influence did not go unnoticed with the goal defence collecting three gains, one intercept, two deflections and three pickups.

Super-sub Ellen Halpenny
No matter the time or situation, the injection of Ellen Halpenny pays dividends for the Steel with the cool, calm and collected goaler owning the circle. Halpenny once again proved to be the difference for the Steel, taking ownership and demanding the ball while also showcasing her array of tricks to drag and drop and receive the ball along the baseline. Her effortless movement in the circle makes it easy for Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders to spot her and subsequently feed into her. Up against both Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka, Halpenny held her own and led from the front converting 15 goals from 20 and while she was not overly accurate sitting at 75 per cent it was her work and adaptability in the attacking third that allowed her side to settle when the pressure was on.

Khiarna Williams is an exciting prospect for the Magic
Although only 17, Magic goal shooter Khiarna Williams really announced herself as a serious competitor taking everything in her stride and coming out with a real presence. Not the tallest of shooters, Williams got to work with her nimble footwork and spatial awareness to glide in and out of the circle. Working her way into the match after being injected in the third quarter against the Pulse, Williams took a while to find her feet and while not overly accurate showed plenty of promise with 12 goals from 17 attempts at 71 per cent. She got the start for the first time this season against the Mystics with the youngster taking it up to Fitzpatrick and giving the experienced goal keeper something to think about with her strong hands and willingness to go to post, slotting 10 goals from 13. Her connection with Abigail Latu-Meafou and midcourters Whitney Souness and Sam Winders steadily improved throughout the match giving the Magic plenty of hope for future games.

Accuracy masterclass in the circle
Round 7 proved to be a field day for the goal shooters with Mainland Tactix goaler Ellie Bird sitting at 100 per cent nailing an impressive 37 goals to lead her side to victory. Although no other player managed to record an unblemished shooting record Grace Nweke came close in her match against the Steel with 32 goals from 33 attempts while Dunn also only missed the one goal in her first outing with 19 from 20 attempts. For the Northern Stars the output of Maia Wilson at the post was impressive with the goaler carrying the load in both matches with a combined 61 goals from 71 attempts.

Mainland Tactix should not be underestimated
The Tactix showed exactly what they can do when all of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and the attack, midcourt and defensive units firing on all cylinders. With the likes of Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau renowned for their ability to turn over possession, the attack kicked it up a gear going at 96 per cent shooting accuracy thanks to Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit. The two combined seamlessly able to rotate around the circle edge and shoot from range while Watson and Fakahokotau continued their merry way with a collective nine gains made up of 10 deflections, six pickups and five rebounds. The youthful midcourt of Kimiora Poi, Erikana Pedersen and Charlotte Elley all stood up using their speed and class ball movement to keep their opposition at bay.

ANZ Premiership – Round 7: Threatening Tactix down Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> MAINLAND TACTIX PAGE

>>> NORTHERN STARS PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

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

STARTING SEVEN

Mainland Tactix

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

Northern Stars

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

2020 ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 7

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. After lifting her intensity over the past few rounds the player in focus for this week is Mainland Tactix midcourter, Kimiora Poi

Age: 22
Height: 168cm
Position: C/WA

Already a well known name in the ANZ Premiership for her pressure play and drive down the court, Poi is a tough nut to crack with an ability to continuously use her explosive speed to change the game. While not the most offensive heavy centre in attack, Poi uses it to her advantage and is able to detract attention and still ply her trade out in front where required. With a small build and only 168cm, Poi is a pocket rocket with stellar footwork to expose defensive holes thanks to her innate ability to not only exploit the free space but also weasel her way into space to create a timely deflection.

A real playmaker down the court, Poi and her speed are rarely far from the action. Her quick thinking and hands to match allow her to be a threatening key cog, removing herself from congestion and readying herself for the loose ball at all times. She is able to spot a pickup from a mile off, or open the space for a teammate to take it instead thanks to clever vision down the court, always a couple passes ahead. 

Poi is a crucial link-up between defence and attack for the Tactix, working in tandem with the likes of Jane Watson and Charlotte Elley defensively to propel ball back up the court, with the trio working seamlessly alongside Temalisi Fakahokotau to create turnovers. While the Tactix attack unit of Erikana Pedersen and Te Paea Selby-Rickit take on majority of the load up forward, Poi has the endurance to zip around the circle to plant herself on the edge or adjust for Pedersen to setup. The trio work well in attack with Poi able to spot viable space to reposition and open drives for her fellow attackers.

So far this season Poi has had a couple bumpy patches but has visibly improved on her consistency as the season has gone on, now for the most part able to maintain intensity not just across four quarters but also across back-to-back games. While her penalty count typically rises in the final quarter of close matches, the young gun has improved her cleanliness across games and is averaging three less penalties per match than she did last season (8.2 average compared to 5.2). 

With 20 deflections to her name from nine matches she has certainly asserted herself on the competition this season, while her feed count has also risen given her ability to position on the circle to the advantage of her goalers and move the ball around with ease. An energiser bunny with an ability to not just create space but also drive into it well, Poi continues to improve game-on-game and constantly surprises her opposition with her ability to turn on her heel and deliver a pinpoint pass through congestion. 

Tactix have just the one game this round, taking on Northern Stars on Sunday evening.

2020 ANZ Premiership: Round 6 – Player of the week

EACH week Draft Central will analyse player performances from across the round in the ANZ Premiership and determine a “Player of the Week” based on gameday performances. A player can be nominated as many times as deemed necessary given their individual performance across the round.

Playing two high intensity games for the round, Mainland Tactix captain Jane Watson showed no sign of fatigue with the goal defence putting on a clinic in defence and taking out “Player of the Week” honours for Round 6. Watson read the play with ease, creating chaos down back with her hands over pressure and silky movement to pick off passes. She was constantly on the lookout for an intercept or a deflection while her work rate was another glaringly obvious element of her game, able to cover the court with ease and contest every single pass.

Up against some tough opposition in Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Watson was composed and most importantly clean throughout the four quarters. Her ability to stay away from the body of Ekenasio and only collect five penalties throughout the game was hugely impressive and a clear testament of her class. Watson was a constant thorn in Ekenasio’s side, shadowing her every movement and forcing her to work for every pass. Ekenasio was down on her usual output and accuracy with 13 goals from 16 attempts with the influence of Watson unquestionable. Watson also displayed her smarts to double down on Aliyah Dunn and limit her influence under the post while she also put in the hard yards against the fresh legs of Tiana Metuarau to make it hard for the Pulse goalers. Watson collected three gains, one intercept and six deflections for her efforts.

Her connection with Temalisi Fakahokotau is simply unstoppable with the two oozing nothing but athleticism and class. Their defensive prowess and understanding is next level able to read the play off each other and get into damaging positions whether it be in the circle or in the defensive circle. Watson’s combination with wing defence Charlotte Elley is also strong with the two able to transition the ball down court with ease. Centre, Kimiora Poi also feeds off the defensive energy of Watson as shown throughout the game on Monday night with the nippy centre thriving off Watson’s energy.

Strong in defence, Watson is integral through the centre third able to bring the ball down with conviction and precision while her back-up work on the transverse line is also imperative to the Tactix attack. Her leadership on court often sparked the Tactix into action with Watson throwing herself at every cross court ball in hope to create an opportunity for her side capitalise on the turnover ball. Although they fell agonisingly short against the top of the table Pulse, her intensity did not fade in the second game, instead kicking it up a notch to blow the Steel’s attack out of the water.

Her strong hands enabled her to reel in passes and force turnovers while her deceptively long arms have proven a challenge time and time again for her opposition. Spending majority of her time out in goal defence, Watson slotted into goal keeper in the second and third quarter of the clash against the Southern Steel and proved to be a menace. Her seamless transition between the two positions is a testament to her high netball IQ and adaptability. She nullified the influence of Kiana Pelasio with the young goal attack not registering a score credit to her lean over the shot and skill to box her out of the circle. Opposed to the likes of experienced Ellen Halpenny and Kalifa McCollin Watson did not let up, applying a wealth of pressure to collect an impressive six gains, two intercepts, four deflections, one rebound and five pickups.