Tag: claire kersten

2021 ANZ Premiership – Round 10 preview

WE have passed the midpoint of the ANZ Premiership season with Round 10 approaching and only five games of the home and away season remaining. With this in mind every game counts as the Stars look to maintain top spot and the mid-table logjam continues to intensify.

Southern Steel vs. Northern Stars
Saturday, June 19 @5:15pm

The opening game of the round sees a top three battle as the third placed Southern Steel hosts top of the table Northern Stars. It is set to be an enthralling battle with the least experienced team going up against one of the most experienced sides in the competition.

Steel goal shooter, George Fisher holds the mantle as the most accurate shooter in the competition and will need to be at her damaging best if she is to assert herself against an incredibly strong Stars defensive unit. Fisher’s combination with the crafty Tiana Metuarau is what keeps them ticking along and makes them hard to stop as the two have an innate connection that allows them to release the ball and time their movements with great ease and precision. However, the Stars are littered with versatility as Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi can all seamlessly rotate through the back court and win ball back. Harrison is a real aerial threat as is Maihi with the two likely to attack the high ball coming into Fisher.

The midcourt contest will draw plenty of attention with Kate Heffernan in ripping form for the Steel and Mila Reuelu-Buchnan a real livewire for the Stars with her constant give and go. The two have incredibly different styles with Heffernan more defensive-minded given her wing defence background while Reuelu-Buchanan boasts a real attacking and hunting mindset. Heffernan will be hoping to help out the likes of Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and even Sarahpheinna Woulf if she gets injected into the game to slow down the pace of the ball coming into Maia Wilson. The Stars goal shooter has been down on her volume to post in recent weeks but is still a force to be reckoned with while Jamie Hume has showcased her ability to kick it up a gear thanks to her long range shooting and silky movement.

Northern Mystics vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, June 20 @4:15pm

It has been a disappointing season for the Central Pulse while on the other hand the Northern Mystics are chugging along quite nicely and will be hoping to create some further ladder separation currently holding down second spot. It will all come down to whether or not the Pulse will be able to stop playmaker Peta Toeava with her sharp drives and speed.

In recent weeks, Claire Kersten has slotted back into the wing defence position which could be a good potential match for strength against Toeava however the Mystics wing attack also boasts exceptional take-off speed similar to that of Maddy Gordon meaning the Pulse have a big decision to make. Gordona and Kersten can play all three positions whether it be wing defence, centre or wing attack, making the midcourt highly versatile – something they will need to use in overdrive to eliminate the influence of Toeava who is renowned for her pinpoint feeds into Grace Nweke. The Mystics goal shooter is arguably one of the most consistent and prolific shooters in the business and it will take a team effort to stop her from single-handedly dominating the contest. Bailey Mes has proven to be a crucial cog with her crafty feeds while Filda Vui has also been a great addition with her ability and confidence to both dish off the pass or go to post. The Pulse have steadied into their new defensive look with Kelera Nawai down back and Kelly Jury out in goal defence and the two will be hoping to combine strongly and get a few early tips to put some real pressure on the Mystics.

Up the other end, speedster Whitney Souness is the main playmaker with her drive and dynamic movement to the top of the circle allowing her to feed into both Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. Dunn has increased her range this season while Amaru-Tibble has come along in leaps and bounds, knowing when to back herself to post or when to find a closer option to the ring. Sulu Fitzpatrick has been in hot form this season with the goal keeper able to gobble up anything that comes her way, while partner in crime Kate Burley also has a tendency to go out hunting for the cross court ball making the two hard to stop when they are up and about early.

Mainland Tactix vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, June 21 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Mainland Tactix take on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic who have shown glimpses of brilliance but have been marred with an inability to put out a consistent four quarter effort. Both sides are coming off narrow losses once again and will be keen to put their best foot forward here to keep their slim finals chance alive.

Caitlin Bassett has really stepped up her intensity and control in the past few appearances, with the Magic finally looking confident to feed into her especially when Grace Kara has ball in hand. Bassett’s strong holds and clever footwork inside the circle enable her to edge closer to the post and complements the style of her fellow shooters who are both able to shoot from distance. Both goal attacks in Chiara Semple and Khiarna Williams offer different things inside the circle with Semple more of a smooth mover and Williams fast-footed and aerially creative. But they will not have it easy under the post with Karin Burger in scintillating form out in goal defence to create deflections aplenty while Jane Watson is a tough competitor down in goal keeper. Watson and Bassett are well known to each other and are both real warriors so expect the contest to be fierce and exciting.

The Tactix were without Ellie Bird last round and will be hoping the towering goal shooter is raring to go this round given her ability to score quickly. However, if she is unable to take the court the Tactix’s Round 9 debutants showed some real promise with Kate Grant bursting out of the blocks with her crafty court play and youngster Amelia Walmsley making a name for herself at the fresh age of 17. It will all come down to the output of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit and whether or not she can craft enough goals and clever plays to keep her side in the hunt. The Magic are boasting an exceptionally strong defensive core with the return of Holly Fowler alongside reliable duo Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong. However, all eyes will turn to whether or not Temalisi Fakahokotau takes the court after rolling her ankle last week and being sidelined.

Stars shine in final quarter comeback

NORTHERN Stars revered their fortunes against Central Pulse sneaking home with a narrow two-goal win to get back on the winners list (55-53). It was heartbreak for the Pulse who held the lead at three quarter time but were simply overpowered by the Stars who found that extra gear to kick into.

After a quiet performance last week, Jamie Hume made her mark nice and early with a long bomb. Playing against her former side, Elle Temu came out with a real point to prove as the goal defence got hands to ball and sent it rocketing back into the attacking third instantly. The Stars controlled the momentum with their slick movement down the court and Maia Wilson’s composure to the post giving them a four goal lead. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble landed the first two goals of the game for the Pulse before Aliyah Dunn got involved in the action to eat back into the buffer and reduce it to two goals. Hume was shouldering the load in attack unfazed by the long arms of Kelly Jury and backing herself from range. The Pulse increased their intensity in attack with the ball starting to drop their way but every time they rallied Temu found a way to get hands to ball whether it be an intercept or deflection to stop them in their tracks.

It was a different looking midcourt for the Pulse with Whitney Souness and Maddy Gordon taking out the wing attack and centre positions respectively.  Within a blink of an eye scores were level at nine goals apiece credit to the Pulse’s ability to fight their way back into the contest. But as soon as they did that the wheels started to fall off as Amaru-Tibble coughed up possession with a breaking call allowing the Stars to go on a three goal shooting spree of their own. Anna Harrison used her long arms to full effect with her impressive three-foot marking allowing her to pick-up a deflection as the Stars continued to keep their noses in front. Their clinical ball work and speed through the centre was causing all sorts of headaches for the Pulse who went into the break down by four goals.

It was goal for goal to start the second term before a wayward pass in the Stars attacking end gifting the Pulse a chance to capitalise in transition. Amaru-Tibble worked her way into the game as did Gina Crampton for the Stars with the dynamic wing attack finding circle edge with great ease. Crampton was a real general in attack opening up the space and releasing the ball with precision and timing into Hume and Wilson to keep the likes of Jury and Kelera Nawai on the backfoot. Hume was having an absolute field day sitting at 100 per cent midway through the second term.

Souness gave something for Pulse fans to cheer about bursting out of the blocks to steal a huge intercept before moments later Gordon sparked up to chase down the scraps and all of a sudden there was only one goal in it. The Pulse went on a rally nailing three goals straight with Dunn finding more space and levelling the scores. The intensity amplified as Nawai came up with a stellar intercept to send the Pulse into attack as Gordon once again showcased her athleticism to pinch the ball out of mid-air. The tables completely turned with the Pulse now holding a two goal lead taking the wind right out of the Stars’ sails. The Pulse seemed rejuvenated taking a two goal lead into half time.

A couple of positional changes from the Stars looked to shake things up as Temu pushed back into goal keeper and Harrison came out to goal defence. A costly footwork call from Amaru-Tibble allowed the Stars back in it as the scores were tied once again. The momentum continued to ebb and flow as the Pulse would push out to a two goal lead before the Stars would once again find a way to sneak back in. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was in strong form throughout the third term using her strong drives and breakout speed to hit circle edge. With Dunn finding good rhythm and space the Stars looked to the bench with Oceane Maihi making her way onto the court in goal keeper. Her injection of height and overall aerial presence was undeniable as she immediately got hands to ball and caused doubts on the feed.

Claire Kersten was working her magic out in wing defence, continuously niggling and picking up a timely deflection to help the Pulse maintain their slim buffer. A three-goal lead to the visitors handed them the ascendancy once again as the frontend continued to motor and the defensive unit picked up ball. But Harrison was not about to be outdone with a huge rejection on the pass to keep the Stars in contention.

Three goals split the two sides at three quarter time with neither side able to break that mould. Lisa Mather was putting up a good fight in wing defence as the temperature inside the arena started to increase with bodies flying everywhere and the game on the line. The Stars started to rally especially in defence with Dunn falling victim to the long arm brigade of Harrison and Maihi. A goal from Wilson at the eight and a half minute mark levelled the scores and from then on the Stars wrestled back control, slotting four goals straight to stop the Pulse in their tracks and eventually win the match.

Wilson finished with 37 goals from 45 attempts, while Hume was accurate shooting at 86 per cent thanks to her 18 goals. Crampton was unstoppable with ball in hand registering 30 goal assists as Temu was instrumental in her half of netball with three gains and two intercepts as Harrison also starred thanks to her three intercepts. Dunn nailed 39 goals while Amaru-Tibble sunk 14 from 17. Souness and Gordon were real livewires amassing 15 and 17 goal assists.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 9

ROUND 9 of the ANZ Premiership rolls around with the ladder continuing to chop and change given the unpredictable season so far. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic will be eager to get another win on the board after falling agonisingly short last round.

Northern Stars vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, June 13 @6:15pm

The Northern Stars will be hoping to reverse their fortunes against Central Pulse and get one back here. Last time these two sides met the Pulse handed the Stars their first loss for the season and it was a hefty one at that going down by 13 goals. But it has not been smooth sailings for the Pulse who have struggled to find a level of consistency, so this is sure to be an enthralling match-up with the Stars and Pulse both coming in off narrow losses.

Maia Wilson was well held last round but the goal shooter never has two down games meaning she will be looking to punish in this clash. Wilson has added more strings to her bow this season, backing herself from range and getting on the move more often making her a prominent threat. But if she is not firing Amorangi Malesala has proven to be the Stars’ secret weapon with her ability to explode out of the blocks and play either goal shooter or goal attack. Jamie Hume is also highly dynamic and will be hoping to bounce back from a quiet performance last week. But the Stars shooters will have their work cut out for them with Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury developing a really sturdy relationship. Nawai is a strong physical competitor but will need the long arms of Jury to really get in the head of Wilson and reduce the amount of ball that comes flying into the circle, while the key for the Pulse will also lie with stopping Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan with the wing attack and centre wreaking havoc in attack thanks to their deft passes and impressive vision.

The Pulse will be hoping that Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is back in the fold this round with the goal attack severely missed under the post last week. Although Whitney Souness worked in overdrive to be an option with her scintillating speed, her lack of confidence to go to post mounted unnecessary pressure on Aliyah Dunn – and if double teamed by the Stars defence consisting of Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi, could spark trouble. The Stars defenders are in ripping form with their ability to compete especially when it comes to the aerial ball meaning Claire Kersten, Maddy Gordon, depending where she plays through the midcourt, and Souness will have to get crafty with their ball delivery.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, June 14 @6:15pm

It was heartbreak for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic while it was triumph for the Mystics who knocked off the top of the table Stars last round. Looking ahead to this game and expect it to be a good-old fashion arm wrestle. The Magic have proven they have the players and structures to compete with the best and just need to do so over a full four quarters while the Mystics will be riding a wave of success.

The Magic have no shortage of defensive options with Temalisi Fakahokotau, Georgia Tong, Erena Mikaere at their disposal plus the return of Holly Fowler only adding to their stocks. All four are capable of playing circle defence with their leap and long arms a couple of key characteristics. Fakahokotau will be hoping to redeem herself after receiving some unwanted attention from the umpire last round and will have to be on her A-game to combat Grace Nweke who continues to dominate at the post. Although Bailey Mes does not have a huge influence on the scoreboard the Magic defence will need to put some time into her out the front to reduce her impact on the feed. The Mystics also have the options of Filda Vui and Saviour Tui, with the latter yet to receive any court time this season. All eyes will turn to the midcourt with questions remaining about whether or not Tayla Earle will return to the mix of if Claire O’Brien will continue her run in at centre combining nicely with powerhouse wing attack Peta Toeava.

Caitlin Bassett was at her damaging best last round and the goal shooter will be hoping to keep that trajectory going as her partnership continues to blossom with Chiara Semple. The two proved they can shoot at an incredibly high accuracy with Grace Kara and Sam Winders real driving forces in the attacking third with their well-executed passes taking centre stage. With this in mind the Mystics combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley will need to be in full-flight to shut down the easy passage into the circle.

Mainland Tactix vs. Southern Steel
Monday, June 14 @8:15pm

The final game of the round sees the Mainland Tactix play host to the Southern Steel who just notched up their first consecutive wins for the 2021 season. It took a while for the Tactix to find their groove but have played some good netball in the past couple of rounds while the Steel have been the underdogs this season and frequently stepped up to the plate. Both teams head into this clash coming off a win so expect a high-octane match.

Boasting two dominant goal shooters in Ellie Bird for the Tactix and George Fisher for the Steel it will be up to the workload of the goal attack as to who gets their respective side over the line. Te Paea Selby-Rickit is yet to hit her straps this season while Tiana Metuarau has proven to be a real playmaker but is at her best when she can balance that role with her shooting load. Through the midcourt there is speed to burn with Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan leading the charge for the Tactix and the highly versatile and interchangeable Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea able to assert control for the Steel. The real contest will come down to whether or not Charlotte Elley can keep tabs on Shannon Saunders with the wing attack a real pillar of consistency and composure for the Steel in attack.

It is a contrast of youth and experience when looking at the two sides in particular down in defence with Jane Watson and Karin Burger a formidable unit with Silver Ferns experience. If the two defenders are able to replicate their form from last week it will go a long way in shutting down Fisher to post given both Watson and Burger are renowned for their ball-winning abilities. Conversely, the Steel defence consisting of Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Sarahpheinna Woulf is quite young with Selby-Rickit the exception. Fifita is a physical competitor that does not take a backwards step which will be interesting to see how Bird shapes up against her with the Tactix goaler not a fan of the body-on-body style of defence.

2021 Stats Wrap: SSN Round 6 and ANZ Premiership Round 8

IT was a big week in both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership with a couple of unexpected results and nail-biters dictating the round. Round 6 of the SSN saw Queensland Firebirds get back on the winners list while Mainland Tactix upped the ante over in New Zealand to topple an undermanned Central Pulse outfit. Let’s check out some of the top performers in each respective league.

GOALS:

Grace Nweke continues to be a thorn in opposition sides with the goal shooter topscoring in the ANZ Premiership thanks to her jaw dropping 60-goal performance from 64 attempts in Round 8. She was a lynchpin in attack for the Mystics, dragging her side over the line with her cool, calm collected manner to post. Next best was George Fisher with the Steel goaler nailing not only 50 goals but so too the winning shot, scoring at 93 per cent accuracy. Aliyah Dunn was a commanding force for the Pulse sinking 47 goals from 54 attempts, while Ellie Bird also made her presence felt on the scoreboard thanks to her 46 goals but at a lower 81 per cent. It was a strong and accurate showing from Caitlin Bassett with the Magic goal shooter only missing two goals while out on court to sit at 95 per cent. Tiana Metuarau, Chiara Semple and Amorangi Malesala upped the ante out in goal attack with each goaler only missing one goal. Semple was the highest scorer with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

It is no surprised that Jhaniele Fowler was one of the top goalers for Round 6 of the SSN with the West Coast Fever representative nailing 59 goals from 60 attempts at an impressive 98 per cent. Hot on her heels was Sam Wallace with the NSW Swifts goal shooter starring under the post going at 100 per cent credit to her 58 goals straight as Shimona Nelson showcased her scoring prowess with 39 goals at 95 per cent. Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer shared the load for the GIANTS with 23 and 22 goals respectively and a combined six super shots with four coming off the hand of Dwyer. Speaking of shared shooting loads look no further than Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta with the two recapturing their signature form with the Jamaican leading the way with three super shots at 100 per cent and 34 regular goals. Cara Koenen was the go-to-girl for the Lightning posting 36 goals from 42 attempts while Lenize Potgieter did the heavy lifting for the Thunderbirds with her 29 goals at 91 per cent.

MIDCOURT:

Gina Crampton was electric through the midcourt racking up 32 goal assists and an intercept while Peta Toeava was not far off the pace with 29 goal assists and an intercept of her own. Grace Kara impressed with her pinpoint feeds into the circle to finish with 25 goal assists to her name with a late move into the goal circle assisting with this number. Teammate Sam Winders was also a commanding force with her 15 goal assists, one intercept and five pickups as Shannon Saunders picked up 14 goal assists for the Steel. Samon Nathan was the driving force for the Tactix in attack amassing 21 goal assists as Charlotte Elley impressed in wing defence with her three gains and two intercepts. Maddy Gordon and Claire Kersten shared the load in attack for the Pulse with 13 and 12 goal assists respectively.

Collingwood speedster Kelsey Browne had the ball on a string racking up 26 goal assists while former teammate and current Queensland Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was equally as impressive with ball in hand registering 20 goal assists and an intercept. Verity Charles and Jess Anstiss were crucial for the Fever managing 20 and 19 goal assists apiece with the latter also reeling in an intercept. Stacey Francis-Bayman made her presence felt in wing defence thanks to her three deflections and two intercepts with Ash Brazill also impressing with her three intercepts. Jamie-Lee Price was exciting through the midcourt racking up 18 goal assists and four intercepts as teammate Maddie Hay also found her groove with 15 goal assists of her own. Maddy Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite were influential for the Swifts with 18 and 14 goal assists while Maisie Nankivell showed some real attacking nous for Adelaide with her 15 goal assists.

DEFENCE:

It is hard to go past the performance of Oceane Maihi, who despite taking a while to warm into the game found her hops to really disrupt the play picking up six gains, four intercepts and only received six penalties showcasing her cleanliness. Another goal keeper that had a standout performance was Jane Watson with the Tactix captain registering five deflections, two intercepts and two rebounds. Partner in crime, Karin Burger was also amongst the thick of things with three gains and an intercept. Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury combined for eight gains as Taneisha Fifita was also a commanding force down back for the Steel thanks to her three intercepts and six deflections. Erena Mikaere was the other top performer in defence collecting six deflections in her 60 minutes out on court.

Shamera Sterling was a nuisance down back for the Thunderbirds picking up six gains and four intercepts for her efforts. Partner in crime Matilda Garrett also had a day out with her four deflections and three gains as Queensland Firebirds goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe impressed with her ball winning capabilities to finish with six gains and four intercepts. Lightning goal keeper Phumza Maweni was in the thick of things with her four gains and three intercepts as the combination between Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner was at its damaging best with a combined nine gains. Courtney Bruce had a field day for the Fever with a staggering 11 gains five of which were intercepts along with 10 deflections as Melbourne Vixens goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney relished her time out on court registering seven gains and three  intercepts.

Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris

Tactix hold off reigning premiers to secure their fourth win of the season

MAINLAND Tactix held onto victory against Central Pulse securing a three goal win (55-52). The Pulse were heavily undermanned heading into the clash with Te Amo Amaru-Tibble sidelined with illness, forcing the side to shuffle some players around. It was a game of two halves as the Tactix held sway for the first two terms before the visitors found their groove in the second half.

It did not take long for the Tactix to get their first goal on the board with the home side ruing their misfortunes from last week. Moments later, captain Jane Watson injected herself into the play with a nicely timed intercept across the top of the goal circle, propelling the Tactix forward once again. Within a blink of an eye, the Tactix were out to a three-goal lead. Whitney Souness opened the account for the Pulse, getting the start in goal attack as opposed to wing attack and she made her presence felt early. The game was being played at a speed of knots with the ball ping ponging up and down the court but the Tactix defence were running rampant. Watson was in just about everything with the goal keeper racking up two deflections and two intercepts in the first six minutes of the game. but up the other end, Kelly Jury was proving anything you can do, I can do better with the goal defence using her long limbs and quick footwork to win ball back and keep her side in the hunt.

The Pulse started to find their rhythm in attack, nailing four goals in a row midway through the term to level the scores. Maddy Gordon was electric around circle edge while Aliyah Dunn worked her way into the game with the two connecting seamlessly. Ellie Bird was a real workhorse for the Tactix under the post, constantly riding the bumps and physicality to hold up under the pressure. With Watson firing, Karin Burger decided it was her time to shine with an intercept of her own along the baseline with the Tactix rewarding her for her efforts to sneak out to two goal buffer. Sloppy passes in attack cost the Pulse with Charlotte Elley impressing with her lightning quick footwork to snatch an intercept as the Tactix snuck out to a four goal lead at quarter time.

It was goal for goal to start the second quarter with neither side making a change and sticking to their starting sevens. Claire Kersten was a driving force for the Pulse through the midcourt while youngster Paris Lokotui was making life hard for Samon Nathan around circle edge for the Tactix. Bird was starting to find some more freedom inside the circle against Kelera Nawai with the goal keeper often caught on the back foot. The lead extended out to five goals before the Pulse reeled it back in with some big defensive moments falling their way. But Burger was proving to be a thorn in her former teams’ side streaming through the midcourt for an intercept.

Silly errors from the Tactix were keeping the Pulse in the game with Kimiora Poi turning herself inside out but unable to keep the ball in play. each time the Tactix snuck out to a five goal lead the Pulse found a way to dwindle it down to three with Dunn proving to be a lynchpin in the goal circle. Souness was carving up the court with her speed and decision making keeping Burger and Watson guessing while up the other end Te Paea Selby-Rickit was steadily going about her business. Although Souness was struggling to convert on her opportunities she was calling the shots but it did not seem to faze the Tactix who pushed out to an eight goal buffer, the highest lead of the game.

Kersten came to life sprinting through the midcourt to reel in an intercept with Dunn capitalising on the opportunity before moments later Abby Erwood reaped the rewards with an intercept of her own. The increased defensive pressure from the Pulse was providing them with chances to go forward and score as Jury came up with a classy intercept of her own. The wheels started to fall off for the Tactix as Nathan bombed the ball over the sideline with the lead reduced to six goals midway through the third term. The shooter to shooter interplay between Dunn and Souness was causing headaches for Watson and Burger who were kept on the backfoot. The Pulse were releasing the ball with confidence and speed as they continued to peg the margin back stringing together three consecutive goals.

The intensity was up for both sides with both attacking ends firing on all cylinders. Poi was using her speed to control the flow for the Tactix while Kersten was using her steady head to weave her magic for the Pulse. It was turning into a goal for goal slog before once again the Tactix found a way to pull ahead and put a top to the Pulse’s good work.

It was a hot start to the final term with the Tactix landing the first blow off the hands of Bird with the home side more than happy to play the ball around. The ball speed from the Tactix was catching the Pulse off-guard while Souness’ inaccuracy was starting to take a toll as the home side blew back out to a 10 goal lead. The Tactix piled on the first five goals of the game with Dunn scoring the first goal of the quarter at the 11 minute mark. The Pulse rung in the changes with Jury pushing back to goal keeper and Parris Mason pulling on the goal defence bib as thing started to swing their way. The Pulse nailed seven goals in a row to round out the game but it was too little, too late as the Tactix got the job done.

It was a battle of the goal shooters with Bird sinking 46 goals at 81 per cent while Dunn was impressive with her 47 goals from 54 attempts. Although Souness was not accurate with five goals her quick hands enabled her to rack up 18 goal assists as Gordon also chimed in with a handy a 13 goal assists of her own. Samon was a key cog with her 21 goal assists for the Tactix. Jury was influential in defence with her three gains and two intercepts as Watson, Burger and Elley combined for 13 gains and five intercepts in a strong defensive showing.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 8

ANOTHER round of ANZ Premiership action rolls around with Round 8 set to be an exciting one with the Northern Stars looking to maintain their spot on top of the ladder and Central Pulse hoping to extend their winning streak to three games.

Mainland Tactix vs. Central Pulse

The Tactix will be ruing their missed opportunities from last round and will be hoping to come out with a real pep in their step when they take on the reigning premiers who are just starting to find their groove having strung together consecutive wins. The Pulse have leapfrogged the Tactix on the ladder and will be eager to maintain that position with a potential third straight win here.

The combination between Karin Burger and Jane Watson is finally starting to gel and the duo are becoming incredibly damaging with their ability to go out and hunt the cross court ball and apply hands over pressure on the shot meaning Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble will have to be weary. The Pulse are at their best when Amaru-Tibble is able to find the post and use her quick hands to create plays in attack while Dunn is most damaging when able to hold strong under the post. Whitney Souness has been in hot form with her speed and pinpoint passes into the circle while Claire Kersten has also been a driving force for the Pulse meaning Charlotte Elley will have to up the ante if she is to keep Souness busy and reduce her impact.

Kelera Nawai has well and truly found her feet in goal keeper using her long arms and read of the play to force turnovers aplenty. Nawai will have to use all of her aerial skill against Ellie Bird with the Mainland Tactix goal shooter using her height to full advantage to command the ball and put up a high volume of shots. Her confidence has grown since Te Paea Selby-Rickit came back into the fold with the goal attack not only shouldering the load in the goal circle but so too in attack. Selby-Rickit brings both Samon Nathan and Kimiora Poi into the game something the Pulse and in particular Kelly Jury will need to be aware of if they are any chance to secure the win. Expect Jury to implement some strong hands over pressure and fancy footwork to keep Selby-Rickit from finding Bird under the post while Maddy Gordon will be hoping to use her closing speed to shut down Nathan.

Southern Steel vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

The Southern Steel have been in damaging form throughout 2021 and while they have lacked consistency at times to win back-to-back games they definitely have the calibre to do so. Conversely the Magic have only registered the one win this season and will be hoping to put out a dominant performance and really ruffle some feathers.

Many fans were left confused when Grace Kara got the nod in at goal attack as opposed to shooting dynamo Khiarna Williams or Chiara Semple last round. Although Kara is a great playmaker it is fair to say that the accuracy and volume needed to put up a competitive total was lacking thus it will be interesting to see whether or not the Magic opt for this same dynamic against the Steel who are renowned for their physical and ball winning defence. Speaking of the Steel defence, goal keeper Taneisha Fifita has been in ripping form but will have work cut out for against the highly-experienced and classy Caitlin Bassett who had her best game to date last round. Fifita will need support from Te Huinga Selby-Rickit while Sarahpheinna Woulf has also proven to be an explosive option in defence for the Steel with her tenacity and  hunt for the ball key.

The Magic welcomed back defensive midcourter Holly Fowler adding another string to their bow through the centre third to compliment the likes of Sam Winders, Erena Mikaere, Georgia Tong and Temalisi Fakahokotua. In fact, Waikato Bay of Plenty are brimming with defensive talent and will be hoping that their aerial ability and pressure is enough to offset the fast growing connection between George Fisher and Tiana Metuarau. The Steel shooting duo are slick, able to rotate the circle with ease and are not afraid to back themselves range making them a handful for the Magic defence. The other interesting contest will be through the midcourt with Kate Heffernan showcasing her versatility to effectively ply her trade in centre or wing defence much like Winders while Shannon Saunders is a real driving force in attack and someone the Magic will need to shut down if they are to secure their second win of the season.

Northern Mystics vs. Northern Stars

A top two battle is set to round out the action as the Northern Mystics host the Northern Stars. The Stars have been unstoppable despite their blip against the Pulse while the Mystics have also strung together some convincing performances and will be hoping to put out a strong performance in this clash.

It will be a battle of the dominant goal shooters with Grace Nweke up one end and Maia Wilson down the other end. Nweke is a lynchpin for the Mystics and has proven time and time again to be an aerial threat but will have to take the ball strongly up against Elle Temu and Anna Harrison. The Stars defensive duo have developed at a rate of knots able to seamlessly switch between goal keeper and goal defence with their ball winning capabilities and read of the play second to none to swat ball away. Nweke will need the likes of Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and even Savior Tui who has seen little court time so far in season 2021 to draw some attention off her if the Mystics are to put up a competitive score. Jamie Hume has really come into her own for the Stars, partnering with Wilson to drain the long bombs and use her silky movement to keep defenders busy and will have to be on her a-game against Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick with the latter a great physical matchup for Wilson.

Missing Tayla Earle last week the Mystics will be hoping to have the dynamic midcourter back to allow Peta Toeava to get down to business around circle edge. But the Stars have key cogs of their own through the midcourt with Lisa Mather able to grind out the game in wing defence and a real unsung hero for the defensive unit while Mila Reuelu-Buchanan is a livewire through the midcourt with her run and gun style. Speaking of midcourters all eyes will turn to the influence in which Gina Crampton can have for the stars with her connection between Wilson steadily growing. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Stars are able to weave their magic against a slick defensive combination.

Pulse win back-to-back matches for first time in 2021

CENTRAL Pulse secured back-to-back wins for the first time in season 2021 defeating Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and keeping their four-year winning streak against the Magic alive (64-53). It was a scrappy game to say the least, with neither side playing end to end netball but the Pulse showcased their finesse to execute game plays in time of need and win.

Returning from her second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, it took no time at all for Holly Fowler to spark into action with the wing defence pouncing on a cross court ball and gobbling it up. Both sides took a bit of time to warm up as turnover balls flew left, right and centre but it was the Pulse that landed the first blow of the game. the notable changes did not stop there for the Magic with Grace Kara pulling on the goal attack bib instead of her usual wing attack bib to join Caitlin Bassett under the post. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble was doing the heavy lifting inside the circle nailing the first two goals before some magic from Whitney Souness to bang it long into Aliyah Dunn got the goal shooter into the game. but it still remained goal for goal as both sides worked in overdrive to steal the ascendancy. Kelera Nawai picked up where she left off with the goal keeper taking advantage of her long limbs to contest for the high ball and then get a hand in on the bounce pass to win back possession. The Pulse were not afraid to re-set the play, happy to go back to the transverse line and reassess their options as they skipped out to a three-goal lead.

Despite playing out of position, Kara made her presence felt inside the circle landing her first goal at the nine minute mark. Within a blink of an eye the Magic were back in the contest credit to some strong defensive plays. A costly turnover gifted the Pulse another opportunity to push forward and capitalise and that they did off the hand of Dunn who was finding good space inside the circle. A three goal run to the Pulse was quickly ended by some quick hands from Kara to Bassett hiding under the post as the lead was once again reduced. It was a comedy of errors to round out the quarter as the ball changed hands multiple times before the Pulse were able to consolidate with a couple of quick goals to hold a four goal lead.

Playing her 100th game, Magic captain, Sam Winders was a consistent threat through the midcourt, making Claire Kersten work for every single pass, while also showcasing her sheer aerial ability and athleticism. Things started to tick over for the Magic as Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere worked their way into the game, using their smarts to clump the Pulse shooters together. The Magic came out with some real heat nailing four goals straight to get back to within a goal. A long outlet pass into the circle relieved that pressure as the Pulse went on a scoring spree of their own to push back out to a three goal buffer. While Kara struggled to convert up the other end, Amaru-Tibble was thriving, using her drive into the circle and hot hand to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Souness was finding a wealth of space as was Kersten as the midcourt pair kept both Fakahokotau and Mikaere guessing. Winders continued her niggle but the ball kept falling the way of the Pulse as the visitors were unable to break that three goal margin.  it was a stalemate for much of the quarter with neither side able to explode out of the blocks and blow their opponent away such was the high intensity of the game. However the main difference lay with the accuracy to post as the Pulse converted each time they had an opportunity.

Only two goals separated the two sides at half-time and with that the Pulse rung in the changes albeit positional. Maddy Gordon swung into centre with the energiser bunny setting the court alight while Kersten slotted back into wing defence. It was a relatively scrappy start to the second half as the ball continued to fly up and down but Gordon’s move into the centre paid dividends with her hot hand and confidence enabling her to find the shooters with ease. Kelly Jury started to come into the game with her long arms on the rebound and read of the play coming to the fore as she streamed through the middle to pick up an intercept.

The cogs started to tick over for the Pulse as a whole with the midcourt combination of Gordon and Souness causing all sorts of headaches with their speed and slick hands keeping the Magic defenders heads on a swivel. Tori Kolose was working gallantly for the Magic as the wing attack hit circle edge to find Bassett under the post. with the game getting away from them the Magic made a couple of defensive changes as Fowler switched into goal defence and Georgie Edgecombe made her first appearance for the match in at wing defence but that did not seem to upset the Pulse who were going along swimmingly.

After a dominant third term the Pulse kept their foot on the pedal, hungry for more. Nawai held her own against Bassett getting up time and time again. Looking for a spark in defence the Magic brought on Georgia Tong but it was too little, too late as the goal defence was unable to really assert herself on the contest and win clean ball. With the game won and done, Paris Lokotui entered the fray in at wing defence using her long arms to mount pressure down back. The Pulse cruised to victory as Souness’ direct passes into the circle gave them the upper hand and allowed the home side to add to the scoreboard with ease.

Bassett was instrumental with her 47 goals from 55 attempts at 86 per cent, while Kara did not have the accuracy she would have liked only converting at 43 per cent thanks to her six goals from 14 attempts it was her shooter to shooter interplay that caught the eye racking up 13 goal assists. Winders was strong with her 17 goal assists as defensively Mikaere collected four deflections. Dunn was unstoppable with ball in hand nailing 42 goals from 46 attempts at 91 per cent, as Amaru-Tibble was also on fire credit to her 22 goals. Souness had the ball on a string amassing 21 goal assists as the combination of Jury and Nawai down back accumulated 12 gains and six intercepts.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 7

THE Northern Stars’ winning streak has ended while Mainland Tactix have found their winning formula with three consecutive wins. ANZ Premiership Round 7 is set to bring some exciting matchups as Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic hunt for their second victory of the season.

Northern Mystics vs. Southern Steel

The contest between the Northern Mystics and Southern Steel is set to be a thriller as both sides boast a prolific goal shooter. The Mystics currently hold onto second spot on the ladder while the Steel have slipped down the ladder and will be eager to work their way back into the mid-table logjam.

With Grace Nweke up one end for the Mystics and George Fisher up the other end for the Steel it will ultimately come down to the output from the goal attacks. The Mystics have a plethora of options such as Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui. Mes has struggled to find her form as of late while Vui proved to add that element of energy and dynamism in attack and could be an option once again in this clash. For the Steel, Tiana Metuarau has been a handy pickup with the youngster starring thanks to her change of direction, classy feeds into the circle and spatial awareness. Nweke is a pillar of strength at the post while Fisher is incredibly versatile in the sense she is willing to venture further out than directly under the ring. The midcourt battle between Tayla Earle and Peta Toeava and the developing Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea will be intriguing with Toeava the real mastermind in the Mystics attack end.

Looking at the defensive units and both sides boast plenty of star power. The combination between Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley is steadily developing as the two look to take advantage of their ball-hunting ability while Ama Agbeze is a handy option off the bench given her class, experience and skillset. The Southern Steel have a mix of youth and experience in their defensive circle in Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita. However one area they will be hoping to address is the number of penalties they rack up week on week as both Fifita and Selby-Rickit have been given warnings in their past two outings with Fifita sent off in Round 5. They will need to be on their A-game if they are to upset the Mystics shooters and most importantly win ball back cleanly to provide the Steel with a chance to capitalise.

Central Pulse vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

The Pulse will be riding high after knocking off the undefeated Northern Stars last round while the Magic will be eager to get back on the winners list after a couple of close shaves. It has been a trying season for both sides who have shown glimpses of what they are capable of but have been unable to unlock that full four quarter performance to consistently win games.

Aliyah Dunn was in scintillating form last round with her strong holds, volume and accuracy. She will be hoping to continue that form in this game as will partner in crime Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. The goal attack is a real barometer for the front end with her timing, strong drives along the baseline and playmaking skills able to allow Dunn to come into the game and alleviate pressure from the midcourters in Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness. The Magic have a multitude of defensive options with Temalisi Fakahokotau, Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong all aerial specialists and able to build a wealth of pressure on the Pulse shooting duo. if they are able to get into their heads early and cut off the shooter to shooter interplay it will go a long way in them collecting their second win of the season.

The influence of Grace Kara is instrumental in the Magic attack with the wing attack oozing confidence, class and execution to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Caitlin Bassett. That was evident last week and the Magic will be hoping she brings that high level output this round to bypass speedster Maddy Gordon. The wing defence was in just about everything last round and will be eager to once again impose herself and slow down the entry into the circle. Bassett, Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple are building a strong connection with Williams growing in confidence every time she steps out on court but potentially up against the long arms of Kelly Jury could have to diversify her game while Kelera Nawai seems to have found her groove for the Pulse.

Northern Stars vs. Mainland Tactix

The final game of the round sees a highly anticipated matchup as the Stars look to bounce back from last week’s loss while the Tactix will be keen to keep their winning form rolling with a fourth straight victory. Last time these two sides met it was the Stars that had the last laugh and exposed the Tactix in all areas of the court, something the Tactix will be hoping to rectify this time round.

Maia Wilson is the lynchpin in the goal circle for the Stars with the goal shooter a clear and commanding target. Her fancy footwork, body positioning and strong holds put her in good stead to take on the defence but she will have to up the ante against the likes of Jane Watson and Karin Burger who know just about every trick of the trade. Burger has really started to settle into the line-up with her closing speed, read of the play and spatial awareness causing all sorts of havoc and if she is able to take her connection with Watson to the next level then it could spell danger signs for the Stars. Goal attack, Jamie Hume has stepped up to the challenge in the absence of Monica Falkner while Amorangi Malesala proved she can be a real impact player thanks to her long bombs and composure. The real difference will come down to whether or not Gina Crampton can get free reign around circle edge to thread the needle into Wilson or if Charlotte Elley will be able to contain her.

Up the other end of the court Ellie Bird has come to life ever since Te Paea Selby-Rickit made her way back from injury. The towering goal shooter has found her rhythm and confidence to demand the ball and most importantly score at a high accuracy and quickly. Meanwhile, Selby-Rickit has alleviated the pressure from Bird under the post and her midcourters in Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan credit to her playmaking skills. Expect the Stars defenders in Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi to look to shut down the drive of Selby-Rickit and wear her like a glove to force the Tactix midcourt to up the ante and shoulder the attacking load.

2021 ANZ Player of the Week: Round 6 – Aliyah Dunn

IN a new series, Draft Central casts an eye over the top performer from the round taking into account now only their individual stats but their overall impact on the game. Round 6 of the ANZ Premiership saw a number of key players, lead the way for their respective teams and put their best foot forward. This week it is Aliyah Dunn that walks away with the honours.

Dunn was a key reason for the Pulse’s resurgent win in Round 6 with the goal shooter commanding the ball under the post. her confidence shone through, able to dictate the space and use her fancy footwork along the goal-line to edge closer to the ring. Dunn was a constant option in attack for the Pulse and partnered well with Te Amo Amaru-Tibble to form a damaging duo. Amaru-Tibble combined seamlessly with Dunn as the pair rotated through the circle with relative ease and used their short sharp passes to bypass the rangy arms of the defenders.

The goal shooter was a clear option and while she is known for her work directly under the post showcased her range to back herself from further out. She was never far from the contest and used her leap to compete strongly in the air. Her accuracy was also key as Dunn only missed four goals for the entire game going at 90 per cent thanks to her 35 goals from 39 attempts. In fact in the third term Dunn showcased her dead eye accuracy to nail 10 goals straight and her increased volume to post was somewhat the catalyst for the Pulse’s takeover on the scoreboard. Her connection with Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten also came to the fore as the midcourt combo got busy around circle edge to fire in pinpoint passes. They also grew in confidence to release the high ball into Dunn which was credit to her clear holds and smarts to body up on her opponent and then drop into the back space when she saw fit.

Dunn’s competitive spirit came to life as she tussled with some of the best in the business in Anna Harrison and former Pulse premiership player Elle Temu. The goal shooter used her knowledge to play to her strengths and outmanoeuvre her opponents while also showcasing her versatility to not always rely on the high looping ball in. Dunn was cool, calm and composed every time the ball hit the goal circle with her strong holds enabling her to hold off the defenders even when Oceane Maihi was injected into the game.

Pulse stun Stars with first loss in 2021 season

CENTRAL Pulse have caused a major upset this week, handing the Northern Stars their first loss of the season, 57-44. It was a tale of two halves with the Stars and Pulse unable to be split in the opening half before the latter turned up the heat in the third and fourth to keep their opponents to a mere 19 goals compared to their 31.

It was an error ridden first term of play but both sides managed to convert off their centre pass. Jamie Hume started with a hot hand for the Stars not only on the shooting front but so too on the feed to deliver it seamlessly into Maia Wilson. The Stars rallied with two goals in a row and were on the hunt for their third straight if it was not for Maddy Gordon’s twinkle toes around circle edge to cleanly intercept the ball and propel her side back into attack. Kelera Nawai found her rhythm nice and early getting some handy tips and deflections to upset the Stars’ attacking flow. The contest between Wilson and Nawai was enthralling to watch as the duo refused to give an inch. A swing in momentum gifted the Pulse a handy goal lead but that was short-lived as the Stars bit back thanks to an Anna Harrison intercept with the goal defence dropping back into the space to pick up the crumbs.

Within a blink of an eye the Stars were back out to a three goal lead. The home side continued to force the Pulse into unforced errors while they did not skip a beat, particularly in the goal circle. Their second-phase play was causing all sorts of headaches for the Pulse as the Stars zipped down the court in the knick of time. The lead ballooned out to five goals, thanks to a flurry of goals but was just as easily culled with Aliyah Dunn leading the troops in attack. Her fancy footwork along the goal line gave her the upper hand against Elle Temu as they went on a three-goal spree of their own. Gordon was coming into her own, showcasing her impressive aerial ability with a strong contest to regain possession and with three passes down the court the ball landed in the hands of Dunn. A late rally from the Pulse saw them edge closer however Dunn landed the final blow of the term for the Stars to hold a one-goal buffer.

Speedster Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was off to a blinder with the centre proving to have the ball on a string in attack. Lisa Mather was making a nuisance of herself around circle edge but infringed a little too heavily and was handed a caution. The Stars were starting to gain some real momentum but Nawai was not about to back down as she danced her way around Wilson to force another turnover. The Pulse’s ability to convert off the turnover was keeping them in the game but Hume was running freely against Kelly Jury and the Stars were once again able to assert their dominance. Neither team could buy a goal at the ball flew up and down the court with no real success.

Harrison copped a late knock which forced her to leave the court making way for Oceane Maihi in goal defence and Temu to shuffle back into keeper. The Pulse were humming in attack as Claire Kersten and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble combined seamlessly to work the ball into Dunn as the visitors opened up a three goal lead. But much like the rest of the game, the Stars hustled their way back into the contest with their quick transition and defensive pressure coming to the fore. Every single pass was contested in the Pulse attacking end as they were clogged to one side of the court and unable to penetrate. The term was dictated by defensive wins as Temu starred with her clean hands while up the other end Jury impressed with her aerial presence to gobble up a rebound.

Up by a mere goal the Pulse looked to extend their lead nailing the first goal of the second half to create a two goal ball-game. Gina Crampton came out with a point to prove in the third with her drive at the centre pass and lightning-quick footwork around circle edge enabling her to control the frontend. Reuelu-Buchanan was having a day to remember, coming flying through for a beautiful intercept but her centre counterpart said anything you can do, I can do better. The ball travelled up and down the court with plenty of speed as both sides struggled to find that level of continuity.

The speed of Whitney Souness was coming to the fore with the wing attack creating a wealth of space and forcing the Stars to make a change in the form of Greer Sinclair. The Pulse’s tails were well and truly up as they piled on six goals straight as Amaru-Tibble appeared to have the ball on a string. The lead blew out to a whopping six goals in favour of the Pulse as the Stars entered unfamiliar territory. Kiri Wills needed an answer, and she needed one now opting to bring Harrison back onto court while Wilson moved to the bench as Amorangi Malesala entered the fray with a long bomb to eat into the margin.

The final quarter intensified as both sides brought out the party tricks. Malesala did not skip a beat for the Stars with the young goal shooter commanding the ball and delivering. Up the other end, Amaru-Tibble was doing much of the same while Gordon was involved in just about everything whether it be defence or transition into attack. With the lead getting out to 10 goals the Pulse were determined not to rest on their laurels, consistently looking for ways to edge ahead. Things got testing for both sides with warnings handed out left, right and centre to close out the game as the Pulse recorded their second victory for the season.

Dunn led the charge with 35 goals from 39 attempts as Amaru-Tibble also starred thanks to her 22 goals at 82 per cent along with her seven goal assists. Speaking of goal assists, Kersten racked up 22 while down in defence Nawai had a breakout game amassing a whopping 12 pickups – five of those intercepts – and only six contacts for the entire match. Gordon was also a livewire for the Pulse recording four gains and two intercepts. Wilson was down on her usual output with 23 goals while Hume was a pillar of consistency nailing 13 goals and 12 goal assists. Crampton had the ball on a string with 20 goal assists while down back Harrison was the barometer credit to her six gains and three intercepts.