IT was an unprecedented season as the ANZ Premiership came to a halt after Round 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but later returned in June to round out the remainder of the season, bar Round 10. The season saw plenty of intriguing battles as teams plied their trade across the court in hope to work their way up the ladder. Draft Central takes a look back at the year that was, with Northern Stars the next in the instalment.
Ladder position: 4th
Captain: Grace Kara
Overall season review:
With a couple of key players retiring at seasons end in 2019, the Northern Stars unfortunately could not replicate the dominance of last year falling to fourth spot on the ladder in 2020. They showed glimpses of brilliance but simply could not maintain a full four quarter performance week in, week out to make it into finals. The return of captain Grace Kara added some grunt and finesse to the attacking end with the wing attack showcasing her cleanliness and precise ball movement, while centre, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan took the next step up with her skill to slice through the defence and hit circle edge. Jamie Hume played a solid role in goal attack and while she did not hit the scoreboard as regularly as she would have liked, it was the work out the front that shone. Fa’amu Ioane was another player that had moments of magic, but had a tendency to fade in and out of contests much like the rest of the Stars, while Lisa Mather also displayed her intent able to swing between attack and defence with relative ease.
Goal shooter, Maia Wilson was a mainstay under the post for the Stars consistently performing, showcasing just how damaging she can be with ball in hand. Her increased endurance and movement in the circle paid dividends with the goaler able to shake up her game play when the defenders got on top of her. Wilson went from strength to strength throughout the season, carrying majority of the scoring load to register 461 goals for the season. Prolific at the post, another key feature was the accuracy in which she attacked the scoreboard at, hardly missing a goal, or on the rare occasion it was off target, the towering goaler managed to collect the rebound such was her strength. Her footwork and sheer netball smarts enabled her to claim prime position in the goal circle and while known for her close range shooting, she proved she was just as valuable from further out.
It was a relatively up and down season for the Stars however, Kate Burley remained a constant with the goal defence oozing athleticism and excitement in the defensive third. She was able to read the play with great ease and get into damaging positions to collect intercepts or force tips and turnovers. Her combination with Storm Purvis strengthened as the season went on with the two rotating through the circle seamlessly to keep the opposition attackers guessing. Not only was Burley a force in defence but was also a key cog through the centre third to drive the ball into attack and provide support on the transverse line. Her ability to change up her game depending on who she was partnered with in defence was also a prominent aspect in her game play as the defensive circle frequently changed with Oceane Maihi coming on and Daystar Swift entering the game in the latter half of the season.
Picture credit: Michael Bradley