Tag: elle temu

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 7: Pulse dominate Magic in attacking masterclass

IT was a masterclass both in attack and defence from reigning premiers, Central Pulse leading from start to finish and romping home a 23-goal win against the Magic (52-29). Pulse burst out of the blocks with their dynamic movement and impressive ball speed causing all sorts of headaches for the Magic. Their full court pressure proved difficult for Waikato Bay of Plenty with the fifth placed side unable to combat the Pulse’s relentless forays in attack and wall in defence.

Scoring three goals in 90 seconds, it was clear the Pulse were on from the get-go, with Aliyah Dunn landing the first blow of the evening and making the most of her opportunities under the post. However it was a different tale up the other end of the court, as Magic goal attack Abigail Latu-Meafou missed the first and provided the Pulse with a chance to inflict early scoreboard pain. With the game being played at a frantic pace the ball darted up and down the court but it was the connections of the Pulse that stood strong and steadied the ship.

The physical pressure from Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong was undeniable, as the Magic defenders contested every ball refusing to give an inch under the post. With Mikaere and Tong mounting pressure, Pulse goal keeper Kelly Jury proved her worth up against her old side collecting an intercept credit to her clever footwork and body positioning. But Tong proved anything her opposition counterpart can do she can do better, answering the call with an intercept of her own. Seeming to have the upper hand the Magic were determined to fight applying a wealth of pressure at the centre pass and clogging up the transverse line to make life difficult for the Pulse through attack. A Pulse turnover allowed the Magic to capitalise and draw back within a goal, but an unlikely intercept from Dunn gave the Pulse the spark they needed. With less than two minutes left in the term, the Magic rallied once more going on a mini scoring spree thanks to Kelsey McPhee, stringing three goals together and slicing the margin to three at the first break.

The second term was a carbon copy of the first quarter, as Claire Kertsen started with ball in hand while Dunn delivered her sixth goal of the game to steadily extend the margin. The connection between Tong and Mikaere generated plenty of excitement with the two getting hands to a wealth of ball but it was simply not enough to upset the Pulse. Jury picked up where she left off wreaking havoc down back with her long arms with teammate and wing defence Karin Burger joining in on the action with an intercept of her own. Captain Katrina Rore also had a field down back with the goal defence nullifying Latu-Meafou while her presence inside the circle was extreme working in tandem with Jury to apply a wealth of pressure on the shot to make McPhee shoot from distance. With the defence humming and opening up a 10-goal lead Rore moved to the bench allowing Elle Temu to come on and ply her trade.

In attack Maddy Gordon was tearing up the court burning Holly Fowler on the drive to the top of the circle and dishing off bullet like passes into Dunn and Ameliranne Ekenasio. The Pulse goal attack upped the intensity in the second term, gliding into the circle with ease and showcasing her ability to change direction in a heartbeat to keep Tong and Mikaere guessing. The overall ball speed from the Pulse was exceptional, keeping the Magic players head on a swivel but the real damage lay with their accuracy sitting at 89 per cent accuracy compared to the Magics lowly 65 per cent. The 14 goals to six quarter gifted the Pulse an 11-goal lead heading into the main break.

Struggling to generate any scoreboard influence, the injection of Khiarna Williams paid dividends for the Magic, forcing Jury to approach the matchup differently. After missing her first shot of the evening the young goal shooter settled into the line-up well, finding her rhythm and connecting with Whitney Souness out in wing attack. But the Pulse continued their merry way showcasing good patience to work the ball down the court and not force anything, instead relying on their sound structures to deliver.

Gordon wowed with her speed off the mark and skill to chase down every loose ball while the move of Ekenasio into goal shooter and Tiana Metuarau into goal attack worked wonders with the Pulse sitting at 100 per cent from the term. Unfortunately the wheels started to fall off for the Magic with Tong and Mikaere not getting rewarded for their efforts down back as Ekenasio dominated under the post with her timing, accuracy, footwork and spatial awareness. The Pulse surpassed last week’s total of 33 goals by three quarter time with a 41-22 lead.

With victory out of their reach the Magic shuffled the defence around with Mikaere slotting back into the goal keeper position while Tong pushed out to goal defence in hope to quell the Pulse attack. The changes did not seem to trouble the Pulse however with Temu taking a strong rebound to push out to the biggest margin of the game 20 goals. Renee Savai’inaea entered the game at centre while moments later Grace McLean replaced Ekenasio at the post. The Pulse seemed to have a ball on a string in the final term, putting on a show in each third while the Magic looked to Harley Smith to come on in the final minutes but it was little too late.

The Pulse were faultless throughout the four quarter with each other their players coming on and starring. The influence and accuracy of Dunn with 19 goals from 20 attempts (95 per cent), Ekenasio with 28 goals from 29 (97 per cent) was key while Jury dominated defensively with a whopping eight gains, four intercepts, two deflections and four rebounds. For the Magic Williams was the leading goalscorer with 12 goals from 17 attempts while McPhee managed nine and Latu-Meafou slotted six at 60 per cent. Tong proved to be the real playmaker for the Magic amassing four gains, two intercepts and five deflections.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 14 | 17 | 11 (52)
WBOP MAGIC 7 | 6 | 9 | 7 (29)

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse:

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

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 6: Pulse survive close shave with tough Tactix

A HEARTBREAKINGLY close loss opened up proceedings on a big evening of ANZ Premiership netball action on Sunday, with the Central Pulse staying true to form once more with a sixth straight win and unbeaten record intact, defeating the Mainland Tactix by just one goal after Te Paea Selby-Rickit’s goal to level was denied. While the Tactix led all comers at the final change, Pulse would not go down so easily, running out 33-32 victors in a low-scoring affair.

A quick start from the Pulse saw the side hold up the Tactix well early, racking up a couple easy turnovers in the opening five to really assert themselves in the game and force errors. Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore well and truly had the number on Ellie Bird early, though the Tactix were on the hunt too making the Pulse work hard to send ball into the circle. The battle between Claire Kersten and Kimiora Poi was fascinating with both players key cogs through the midcourt, though Kersten seemed to have the upper hand early and working in tandem with Maddy Gordon the pair seemed unstoppable. With high pressure down the court from both teams, relentless in their pursuit for possession, there were no easy feeds into the circle making for a constant contest to get to post. Karin Burger was all over Erikana Pedersen in the first, seeing the Pulse lead the Tactix 10-8 at the first change. 

Plenty of argy bargy at both ends kept all 14 players on their toes, but while the Tactix led the shot tally to post, inaccuracy was their own worst enemy with both Bird and Selby-Rickit missing easy attempts credit to Rore and Jury’s impeccable hands over pressure. It was credit to the Pulse defence and accuracy that kept the ladder leading side ahead despite their lesser attempts, with Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio shooting at 100 per cent. Both sides did a wealth of work to confuse the space, though neither team was really able to convincingly take a lead and stay ahead of the other. Where Ekenasio is usually the focal point of the Pulse attack, she was kept relatively quiet by an unrelenting Jane Watson who, true to form, was consistent as ever and did not let a single easy pass get by her. Temalisi Fakahokotau was similarly as dominant, owning plenty of turnover ball herself and putting doubt in the minds of the feeders.

While Jury had dominated Bird earlier, the tall Tactix timber found her form in the second quarter, creating better options at the post. While she wasn’t at her most accurate credit to Pulse’s hands over pressure, the Tactix had more chances to ply their trade at the post and certainly made use of it. The seesawing matchup kept on going, with little patches of momentum going both teams’ way and seeing Pulse only lead by one goal at half time, 19-18. 100 per cent accuracy from the Pulse paid dividends, with the Tactix only at 75 per cent but with five more shots at goal by half time proving that the Tactix were just not making the most of their chances at the post.

A great intercept from Watson to start the third quarter set the tone, with the Tactix quickly putting another one on the board to take the lead, although a couple more unforced errors allowed the Pulse to hold the Tactix up and steal back the centre. While patience on the feed allowed Tactix to work around the ball in attack, the Pulse continued to do an impressive job defensively and create turnovers with long arms over the ball. Hesitance on the hunt saw little change from either side, both playing consistently but without as much high-intensity intercepting as we usually see from the two sides. 

Watson continued to ply her trade with ease and eventually forced a mid-quarter change from the Pulse with Tiana Metuarau taking the court in place of Ekenasio to inject a bit more movement into attack with Ekenasio potentially not moving as well as usual with a slight ankle niggle against the Mystics the previous evening. Ekenasio returned to the court not long after however, donning the goal shooter bib and sending Dunn (13 goals at 100 per cent) to the bench. While the change worked in patches, the confidence of the Tactix defence continued to dominate and tell the story of the match, extending to a three goal lead with under 30 second on the clock. Patience down court saw the side held up but still went into the final quarter leading 28-25.

Jury started the last quarter on the bench, with the Pulse rattled and Elle Temu starting the quarter and doing her job well from the get-go, and matching up well on Bird who dominated the third quarter with her great positioning. It took almost two minutes for the first goal of the quarter to be scored, credit to the defensive pressure of both teams’ midcourt units working hard to recover possession and relatively evenly matched. A lack of movement in the Pulse circle saw the side have issues getting to post, though the Tactix continued to pull out all the stops down court. Poi switched on, using her speed to not only evade Kersten but also create stoppages down the court. 

While the Tactix seemed to have the momentum early in the quarter, the Pulse are not the ladder-leaders for nothing and proved it with a couple goals on the trot allowing them to come back within a couple of goals and really put the Tactix on the defensive. A caution to Poi could have changed the game, but with just under four minutes on the clock the Tactix were still ahead by two goals and seemed in control despite not putting up many shots. While it was the Tactix’s game for the taking, the side could not find any easy avenues to goal, and two goals from Metuarau leveled the score with two minutes on the clock. At 32 goals apiece with under a minute on the clock, Pulse played the possession game to whittle down the clock, shooting a goal with seven seconds left on the clock and little chance for the Tactix to turn and shoot. It did the job, with Selby-Rickit’s goal on the siren not counting.

It was Pulse’s bench depth that paid off in the end, with both Temu and Metuarau having an impact on the game and proving crucial cogs off the bench. While Metuarau was not at her most accurate, the goal attack picked up two of her own rebounds and shot seven goals at 64 per cent accuracy to aid Ekenasio who finished with 13 from 16. Gordon was solid with 15 assists, and while Tactix’s patient play did not allow a wealth of turnover ball for the Pulse, Jury, Burger and Kersten all collected an intercept apiece. For the Tactix, Fakahokotau was instrumental with her three intercepts, while Watson forced indecision from the Pulse to rack up six deflections, though only one resulted in a gain. Despite the slow start, Bird held up well against the onslaught of Rore, Jury and Temu, shooting 24 from 28 to topscore for the match, while Selby-Rickit aided with 16 assists but otherwise just could not get into the game, finishing with just eight goals at 73 per cent. 

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 9 | 6 | 8 (33)
MAINLAND TACTIX 8 | 10 | 10 | 4 (32)

STARTING SEVEN

Pulse 

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

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 6

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

Northern Mystics v. Northern Stars
Friday, 17 July

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Saturday, 18 July

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 19 July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southern Steel v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 20 July

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

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

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

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 4 – Second quarter blitz gifts Pulse fifth straight win

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>>PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse

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

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 4

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

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Friday, 3 July

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 4 July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Pulse reign supreme in grand final rematch

A LOT has changed between the two ANZ Premiership sides since they last met in the grand final with the likes of Temepara Bailey, Leana de Bruin and Ellen Halpenny both retiring while Kayla Cullen announced her move to the Swifts. Meanwhile, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Whitney Souness both left the Pulse. But that did not seem to matter with both sides leaving no stone unturned and putting on a show in the grand final rematch. The Pulse did not skip a beat in their first game back since the COVID-19 enforced break, trouncing the Stars by 24 goals in what was an impressive all-round performance (63-39).  

The opening quarter lived up to anticipation with the Pulse racing out to a hefty lead before the Stars reeled them back in. Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio got off to a hot start slotting the first four goals of the game before partner in crime Aliyah Dunn got involved in the action. Ekenasio showcased her slick ball movement and demanding presence both in the goal circle and attacking third, receiving what seemed like every second pass and creating attacking forays. Defensively the Pulse were up and about with the Stars unable to penetrate the zone pressure only sinking their first goal three minutes into the match after both Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson missed their opening shots. Newbie Kelly Jury was impressive for the Pulse, using her lean over the shot to get in the head of Wilson, before the talented goaler got things back on her terms, using her strong holds to claim prime position under the post. The Stars worked hard defensively to shut down options and then propel the ball back down court to reduce the margin to two goals but they did not stop there with Hume sinking a long bomb on the buzzer to be within one goal at quarter time. 

With things all tied up in the opening minutes of the second quarter the Pulse quickly put an end to the goal for goal rhythm thanks to Dunn and Ekenasio going on a scoring spree. Dunn showcased her versatility leading outside of the goal circle and driving back hard to goal while youngster Maddy Gordon had a field day in attack with her speed, impressive vision and balance around circle edge. With the ball trapped in Pulse’s attacking third, Stars wing defence Fa’amu Ioane put her hand up using her footwork to try and block Gordon but it was to no real avail while the likes of Kate Burley also imposed herself with her timely tips. The combination of Wilson and Hume in the goal circle was tested but the goal shooter stood up to the pressure, finding the front space with ease. But the Stars simply could not combat the intense pressure from the Pulse who capitalised on every turnover and opportunity that swung their way with a whopping 21 to eight goal quarter. Jury led the defensive end with an impressive intercept credit to her long arms and quick footwork to cover the court. Meanwhile the combination between Dunn and  Ekenasio continued with the two simply undeniable under the post sitting at 100 per cent, testament to their skillset. Dunn found her rhythm under the post, gobbling up everything that came her way, making it look easy.

Renowned as the premiership quarter, the third term lived up to its name with the Pulse applying a wealth of pressure both on the scoreboard and defensively. Once again Jury was straight into the action with an intercept and denying any type of easy ball movement for the Stars. In hope to change things up down back Storm Purvis pushed out to goal defence with Oceane Maihi coming on in goal keeper. Maihi offered plenty of height and aerial ability to challenge the prominent Dunn in the air. Purvis and Maihi made life hard for the first few minutes before the Pulse once again pulled away with Gordon and Claire Kersten leading the way through the middle with their effortless feeds and ridiculous ball speed. The quick transition down court was simply unstoppable with the Pulse linking up with ease and causing all sorts of havoc for the Stars forcing them to chop and change players in centre with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather rotating through. In terms of defence Katrina Rore wore Hume like a glove, going with her every step of the way and only allowing the goaler to manage three goals for the quarter while Jury maintained her hunger for the ball, using her spatial awareness and balance to reel ball in and propel it down court with a whopping five intercepts and seven gains in the term alone. 

The fourth quarter followed suit with the Pulse doing everything right and not allowing the Stars any space. There were changes galore for both teams with Tiana Metuarau coming on in wing attack to replace speedster, Gordon. Defensively the Pulse brought on some fresh legs with Renee Savai’inaea and Elle Temu both making their presence felt with the latter notching up an intercept and gain in her 12 minutes on court. Stars youngster Vika Koloto was not overwhelmed by her opponent instead coming on and showcasing her skillset with an early goal and delivering well weighted passes into Wilson. But the changes were simply not enough to quell the steam train that was the Pulse who were slick from start to finish only missing four goals for the entire game. 

Wilson finished with 30 goals from 36 attempts at 83 per cent while Hume managed eight from 11 at 73 per cent. Dunn was a commanding figure with 44 from 46 at 96 per cent while Ekenasio slotted 19 from 21. The defensive efforts of Jury were unmatched with the young goal keeper amassing nine gains and six intercepts with Rore hot on her heels with five gains and an intercept. 

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

STARTING SEVENS:

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

CENTRAL PULSE:

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

ANZ Premiership preview: Round 2 – Netball returns along with a grand final rematch

THE highly anticipated return of the ANZ Premiership kicks off on Friday. After an interrupted start to the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent two month hiatus expect all six teams to come out firing, with a grand final rematch headlining the return to netball. 

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Mystics
Friday, 19 June 

The first cab off the ranks sees the Magic and Mystics face off with both teams hoping to make it two on the trot and maintain their unbeaten start to 2020. Magic showcased their defensive ability in Round 1 while also proving to have the answers in attack while the Northern Mystics also proved that they had plenty of depth and talent across the court to mix it with the best. Both teams only play one game this round so expect them to leave nothing to chance and put on a spectacle. 

The battle under the post is where all the excitement lies for the Mystics both defensively and offensively. With Silver Ferns goaler Bailey Mes ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a patella injury, the load falls to the three teenage shooting prodigies in Grace Nweke, Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui. Nweke took the competition by storm last year and will once again have her work cut out for her given her commanding style of play. She is accurate to post and can shoulder the load under the post while Tui played a starring role in their Round 1 outing. New to the attack end is Grapes with the youngster looking to have an impact with her drive to post and silky movement. But it will be no easy feat for the Mystics who are still working out their connections. Led by Erena Mikaere, the Magic will be hoping to exploit those connections and create plenty of turnover ball. Alongside Mikaere expect the likes of Holly Fowler and Jennifer O’Sullivan to be on the prowl, searching for an intercept or deflection of some type. Magic captain Sam Winders will have to put her defensively minded game play to work in order to stop the explosiveness of Peta Toeava who is a strong asset around circle edge given her experience. 

Defensively the Mystics also have some firepower with both Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick. The two are known for their defensive prowess, ability to read the play, quick footwork and speed off the mark. Although only in their second game together expect the duo to try and get in the heads of the Magic shooters and put them off their game with their lean over the shot and physical style. The shooting end for the Magic may look slightly different with Georgia Marshall stuck in Australia due to the COVID-19 restrictions meaning it will fall to Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee to stand up under pressure and deliver once again with their growing connection, ability to read the space and confidence all on display in Round 1. 

Despite having a young shooting end, the Mystics have a strong defensive unit that can win ball back and propel it down the court, giving them that edge against the Magic.

Southern Steel v. Mainland Tactix
Saturday, 20 June 

In both teams’ first game of the round expect the Steel and Tactix to leave nothing to chance in order to claim their inaugural win for 2020. With aspirations to rise up the ladder the Tactix will be hoping to seriously announce themselves as a competitor this season credit to some handy pick-ups. 

The inexperienced shooting end could be a real focal point for the Steel with the Tactix boasting an impressive defensive combination in captain, Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. The pair are renowned for their tenacity, desire to force turnovers and immense pressure. Watson is one of the cleanest defenders able to get around the body with ease and create tips and deflections while Fakahokotau’s more physical style often upsets the attackers providing her with chances to intercept the ball or force held balls. Throw in developing defender Sophia Fenwick and the Tactix have a wealth of options down back. The expected starting duo of McCollin and O’Sullivan will have their work cut out for them in the goal circle when it comes to creating space and putting up a high volume of shots given the intensity of the Tactix and their zone style of play. McCollin has plenty of flair and creativity with ball in hand something she will be hoping to make the most out of when delivering to O’Sullivan.

In her first game up against her old club, expect Te Paea Selby-Rickit to come out with plenty of fire in the belly. The Silver Ferns goaler and now Tactix shooter is a smooth mover, glides across the court and can hit the scoreboard with ease such is her netball smarts. Still developing her connection with goal shooter Ellie Bird who is recognised for her consistency to post, the two could prove a lot to handle for Steel duo Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood. Standing at 196cm, Bird is no easy beat in the goal circle with her long arms, strong holds and height making her a clear obstacle for the Steel to conquer inside the circle if they are any chance to win. 

With plenty of options in defence, speed through the midcourt and high quality shooters the Tactix should have the competitive edge heading into the game. 

Northern Stars v. Central Pulse
Sunday, 21 June

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

The Stars lost quite a couple of key players over the off-season but managed to retain the services of star goal shooter Maia Wilson. The young goaler will be their main port of call when it comes to scoring with the shooter able to slot them from anywhere and post a high number of goals. She is strong on her holds, quick on her feet and able to read the play with ease. In only their second game together the chemistry between Wilson and Jamie Hume in the goal circle will play a huge role given the depth and wealth of talent the Pulse have when it comes to defence. Boasting a defensive unit littered with stars such as Katrina Rore, Kelly Jury, versatile defender Karin Burger and youngster Elle Temu the Pulse have no shortage of options with each of them able to come on to the court and have a damaging impact. Rore and Burger are equally as impressive in the goal circle as they are out in wing defence, a clear testament to their skill and netball understanding.

Up the shooting end for the Pulse, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn are arguably one of the league’s most damaging combinations. Ekenasio has an uncanny knack to read the play and glide across the court while her ability to shoot from long range makes her incredibly hard to stop. Her connection with Dunn is second to none, with the two able to rotate through the space with ease and consistently apply scoreboard pressure. Dunn is cool, calm and composed, often using her height to her advantage and capitalising on her scoring opportunities meaning the defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Daystar Swift and Kate Burley will have to be on their a-game. Expect Swift to rely on her height to match up against Dunn and try and put doubt in the feeders mind. 

If the Stars cannot get on top of the Pulse early it will be hard for them to reel them back in given their cleanliness with ball in hand and how quickly they can score. The Pulse treasure possession and are renowned for their ability to win ball back thanks to their strong defence unit. 

Northern Stars v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 22 June

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

With a strong defence, the Tactix also have plenty of talent throughout the midcourt with a host of nippy attackers that can interchange between positions. Kimiora Poi is one of those midcourters with the 168cm player able to dart around the court, hit the circle edge with speed and great balance while also displaying her impressive vision. The likes of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury returnee Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan are also handy options in either centre or wing attack. For the Stars, they too have a young midcourt core with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather however their ace lies with captain Grace Kara. In her second game back since giving birth expect the captain to provide that calming head through the midcourt and create a wealth of attacking forays for the Stars. 

In terms of wing defence both the Stars and Tactix have developing players in Fa’amu Ioane and Charlotte Elley meaning it will depend on which wing attack can get off the leash first and cause the most damage. The likes of Swift, Purvis and Burley will have to be firing on all cylinders in their clash in order to stop the flow into the goal circle for the Tactix. The shooting unit for Mainland  is quite strong with Bird and Selby-Rickit headlining the attack  while youngster Jess Prosser is also a viable option given her forged connection with Bird from last season and ability to go to post. 

Considering it is their second game in as many days expect factors such as experience, strong connections and structures to play a huge role in this game with the Tactix possibly more poised for a win given the number of international players on their list.

Pulse pick up where they left off with strong win over Tactix

WITH a new look line-up, the Tactix showed that they meant business racing out of the blocks before reigning premiers, Central Pulse highlighted why they should be considered a threat once again in 2020 taking out a 12-goal win, 53-41. Central regained control after the first quarter relying on their strong connections and signature ball movement to dice through their opposition while the Tactix tinkered with their starting seven to find the winning combination.

The Mainland Tactix got out to a slim lead in the opening quarter with the new combination of Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit seeming to work wonders under the post. Bird was unfazed by the Pulse’s defensive pressure rising to the occasion time and time again and using her height to full effect. The goal shooter led the way in the goal circle with seven goals from eight attempts while Selby-Rickit was also accurate to post only missing the one goal for the quarter. Their movement in the circle was impressive with the two opening up space and using their varying styles to keep the defenders busy. The midcourt service from the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi was key to their early success with the latter taking full control in the centre. Poi found plenty of space and hit the circle edge with precision to feed into both Bird and Selby-Rickit with a team-high five goal assists for the term. While she impressed, her opposing centre Claire Kersten shone bright for the Pulse using her drive and strength to receive the ball and have an impact across the court with the two going toe-to-toe throughout the term.

The one goal difference quickly evaporated by the end of the second quarter with both sides heading into half time with 22 goals apiece credit to the high intensity game. Central Pulse only made one change in the second with Elle Temu coming on in goal keeper. Temu had an immediate impact down back with her ball winning ability and physicality picking up one gain and three deflections. Up the other end, Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio increased their load and accuracy to get back to level pegging’s. Dunn was solid as ever under the post using her quick feet, spatial awareness and strong holding ability to make the most of her opportunities shooting at 100 per cent with eight goals. Although Ekenasio was not as damaging under the post her playmaking abilities out the front once again proved to be the key with three goal assists.

The third term was the real turning point for the reigning premiers with Pulse well and truly putting their foot down. The 16 goals to nine quarter showcased just how explosive they can be working their way down the court with ease and most importantly finding their groove in defence. The defensive trio of Karin Burger, Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury seemed to be the wall down back they needed simply repelling any ball that came their way. Rore’s drive through the midcourt was impressive receiving her fair share of centre passes and creating a wealth of forward thrusts to spur her side on. The experienced captain also showcased her defensive tendencies with a gain and rebound while Burger impressed in wing defence using her long arms and deceptive speed to record a gain and an intercept in that term alone. While the Pulse defensive unit upped their ante, so did the Tactix with Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau combining to win a wealth of ball back with three gains, two intercepts and five deflections however it was not enough to quell the influence of Dunn and Ekenasio under the post.

With one quarter left to play, the Pulse did not muck around making light work of their opponents with a 15 goals to 10 quarter. Mainland worked tirelessly to wear down the visiting side but they simply could not stop the Pulse who looked in control in every aspect across the court. Wing attack Maddy Gordon continued her strong form in the attacking third while Kersten kicked it up a gear with a timely intercept and a gain. With Gordon having such a strong influence Charlotte Elley struggled to prevent her from hitting the circle edge. In hope to find a spark inside the attacking third for the Tactix Samon Nathan played a full quarter using her speed and quick hands to work the ball around but it was little too late with the game all but won.

Dunn was the most prolific shooter on the day walking away with 35 goals from 38 attempts at 92 per cent accuracy while her partner in crime, Ekenasio managed 18 goals from 22 shots. On the other hand, Bird inflicted the most scoreboard pain with 26 goals from 29 attempts with recruit Selby-Rickit struggling for accuracy sitting at 68 per cent thanks to her 15 goals from 22.

ANZ Premiership: 2020 team preview – Central Pulse

WITH the ANZ Premiership season just around the corner we take a look at each teams chances heading into the year and a key player to keep an eye on. Reigning premiers, Central Pulse are next on the list.

Coach: Yvette McCausland-Durie
Captain: Katrina Rore
2019 finish: 1st

It was a fairytale finish for the Central Pulse who won their first premiership in 21 years last season and will be hoping to replicate that form in 2020. They went on a 10-game winning spree all but setting them up for grand final glory, and were simply too good with star players in each third able to punish their opposition and capitalise on their opportunities. The Pulse were in a league of their own, able to rotate players through different positions and build consistency across four quarters.

2020 predictions/expectations:

The Central Pulse will be looking to take home back-to-back premierships in 2020 credit to their stacked squad. Defensively they have one of the strongest units in the competition headlined by the likes of Katrina Rore while Karin Burger has made the wing defence role her own. Burger is one of the most versatile players in the team able to turn a game on its head so expect big things once again from the tenacious defender. It is hard to go past the shooting combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn with the two looking to get even better this season. The partnership is already formidable so with another pre-season under their belt it could spell danger for opposition clubs given their range and accuracy. Throw in the likes of Tiana Metuarau and the Pulse are in an enviable position. Considering the high-class talent, they have the Pulse should once again challenge for the title if not win.

Key pick up:

Lanky defender, Kelly Jury made the switch from Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and will be a handy inclusion for the Pulse. The goal keeper offers plenty of excitement and skill with her lean over the shot a key aspect of her game. Jury provides yet another element to the already strong defensive end with the keeper able to read the play and get hands to ball. Expect her to have a big year with the likes of Burger and Rore around her to guide and direct her on the court.

Team list:

Karin Burger
Aliyah Dunn
Ameliaranne Ekenasio
Maddy Gordon
Kelly Jury
Claire Kersten
Tiana Metuarau
Katrina Rore
Renee Savai’inaea
Elle Temu