Tag: ellie bird

2020 ANZ Premiership: Final quarter flurry sees the Tactix and Magic play out second draw

WITH both the Mainland Tactix and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic playing their second game of the round and coming off tough battles there was plenty of feeling in their Round 5 clash, as the Magic pushed to secure their second win of the season. The game went right down to the wire with the lead swinging back and forth in what was another defensive masterpiece from both sides with intercepts and deflections aplenty. But in the end neither side could be separated with 46 goals apiece as the Magic claimed their second draw in as many weeks.

The Tactix took a while to settle into the game with the Magic capitalising on an early turnover from Te Paea Selby-Rickit  in her 100th national league game, sparking a goal scoring spree for the Magic. They slotted three goals straight thanks to both Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou dominating under the post while the Tactix looked rattled in attack, unable to create any type of space in the attacking third and forced to throw the ball around before Ellie Bird rose to the challenge sinking the first of the term.

Opting for a different starting line-up the Magic seemed to have all the answer with Georgia Tong having a day out against her 196cm opponent, owning the front space and using her aerial ability to win back plenty of possession and send the ball flying back into attack. Tong’s constant pressure and physicality forced the Tactix to shoot from range with Bird and Selby-Rickit looking shaky on the shot. Holding a two goal lead midway through the term thanks to Latu-Meafou backing herself from distance and McPhee plying her trade under the post the Tactix needed a spark and winning the ball off the centre pass did just that. With a renewed sense of confidence the Tactix fought their way back in to hit the front, allowing their ball speed and quick transition play to catch the Magic defenders off guard and establish a three goal lead heading into the break.

The Magic attacked the second quarter with plenty of intensity and hunger as captain Sam Winders relished the extra court space out in centre. It took no time for Waikato Bay of Plenty to eat into the margin, scoring the first goal of the quarter within 20 seconds. Their increased pressure at the centre pass was also evident, with the defensive unit looking to clog the transverse line however the Tactix remained calm and composed with ball in hand. With the Magic pushing in attack, goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau inserted herself into the contest getting plenty of hands to ball and disrupting any type of rhythm in attack while Jane Watson was kept relatively busy by Latu-Meafou.

The battle between Tactix wing defence Charlotte Elley and Magic’s Whitney Souness continued with the wing attack well and truly dialling it up in the second term with her speed and ball placement into the goalers. A clumsy breaking call from the Tactix shifted the momentum in the game, with the Magic capitalising and scoring back to back goals off their centre pass to sit at 18 goals apiece five minutes into the second. With their tails up the Magic pounced on everything as Tong gobbled up a loose ball down in defence to send the ball screaming back down court but Fakahokotau replied with anything you can do I can do better, taking a huge rebound credit to her impressive balance, footwork and spatial awareness. It was a scrappy couple of minutes with the ball flying out of court the more times than not and Tactix opening up a three goal lead for it only to be cut back down at half time thanks to the desperation and grit of the Tactix unit.

Even at half time the Tactix made a couple of changes with Jess Prosser entering the game at goal attack for the Tactix, pushing Selby-Rickit into goal shooter. The changes worked immediately with Prosser providing a point of difference with her movement in the circle, while Selby-Rickit absorbed the pressure under the post. For the Magic a back twinge to Tong forced a bib swap with Erena Mikaere back into goal keeper while in her 50th game Holly Fowler moved from wing defence into goal defence. It did not stop there with Winders pushed back into wing defence and Ariana Cable-Dixon pulling on the centre bib. It took a while for both sides to settle into their new line-ups and find their connections with the Tactix relatively stagnant and unable to punch through the Magic defence as Mikaere and Fowler worked as a unit to smother the goalers.

Through the midcourt, Elley impressed picking up a crucial loose ball and providing plenty of chances for her side to capitalise while the contest between Winders and Kimiora Poi continued to deliver despite not being directly opposes to each other with the Magic captain throwing everything she had at Poi. The third quarter was marred by a lot of whistle with both sides combining for 28 penalties. The scrappiness continued throughout the quarter with neither team able find any continuity given the host of changes with Samon Nathan entering the game at wing defence for the Tactix and Khiarna Williams closing out the quarter in goal shooter for the Magic. No one could buy a goal in the final minutes of the quarter with five consecutive missed shots sending the ball ping ponging up and down the court. However with changes aplenty it was the Magic that wrestled back the lead to hold a narrow two goal buffer after what was an incredible defensive grind.

The Tactix reverted to their original shooting combination while Winders pulled the centre bib back on and Cable-Dixon moved to wing defence. With 12 minutes to play the game certainly lived up to the hype as the Magic and Tactic went toe-to-toe. Fakahokotau stood up to the pressure creating a timely deflection prompting her side to rally and get back within a goal. Bird started to play with more freedom under the post as Erikana Pedersen delivered long bomb after long bomb into the goal shooter. Up the other end the Magic played with patience, not afraid to work the angles and deliver into McPhee. With the game on a knifes edge Fakahokotau took a crucial intercept as the Tactix went on a three goal run to hit the front. But with less than five left the Magic answered serve to even scores once more. They went goal for goal as the seconds ticked down but neither side could edge ahead.

After starring last night with her improved accuracy and drive to the post Selby-Rickit had a quieter game converting 14 goals from 17 attempts to finish at 82 per cent. Goal shooter Bird also impressed doing a bulk of the shooting with 30 from 36. Up the other end, McPhee stood tall despite the barrage of pressure recording 23 goals for the game at 79 per cent while Latu-Meafou also delivered for the Magic with 23 goals from 27 attempts. Defensively it was hard to go past the efforts of Fakahokotau with the goal keeper amassing seven gains, four deflections and two intercepts while Tong managed two gains, five deflections and one intercept in her half of netball.

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN: 

Mainland Tactix

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

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 5: Tactix clench nail-biting one goal win over Mystics

HAVING only played nine days ago in Round 4, this clash went down to the wire, with the Mainland Tactix taking home a narrow one goal win over the Northern Mystics (40-41). The Mystics starred last round, but the Tactix were determined to ensure history did not repeat itself putting on a stunning defensive performance. Scoring the last five goals of the game, the Mystics almost pulled off one of the greatest comebacks but fell agonisingly short with Saviour Tui’s goal on the whistle not counting.

Mystics set tongues wagging in the opening quarter, with Grace Nweke starting on the bench allowing Tui and Asher Grapes to headline the shooting end. The first term started with plenty of intensity, despite the different starting seven for the Mystics, with neither side willing to give an inch. It was a defensive masterclass from Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson with the duo applying a wealth of pressure over the shot and simply denying any easy access into the circle. Watson collected an intercept within the first minute of the quarter ultimately setting the tone for what would be a defensive grind. It was a scrappy start to the game with neither side able to maintain clean possession, but it was the Tactix that settled first thanks to the efforts of Watson and Fakahokotau. Their impressive space marking shut down the Mystics in attack and allowed them to gobble up everything that came their way, causing a real ruckus down in defence. Despite the amount of defensive ball the Tactix were getting they simply could not blow the Mystics out of the water and really make them pay instead they were plagued by inaccuracy missing three goals for the term. Up the other end, Tui impressed for the Mystics with the young goal shooter displaying her strength on the hold and accuracy to post converting all six goals at 100 per cent. However it was Fakahokotau that starred throughout the term amassing a whopping four deflections, one pickup and one intercept while Watson managed two intercepts for the term to gift the Tactix a two goal lead.

Struggling to find their rhythm in attack it was no surprise that dominant goal shooter Nweke entered the game, replacing Tui under the post. Nweke imposed herself from the get-go with her commanding frame, leap and strength to snatch the ball out of the air. With Nweke on, the Tactix upped the ante in defence with wing defence Charlotte Elley showcasing her three-foot marking with an impressive block on Peta Toeava. Clogging up the centre pass the Tactix continued to impress down back while the effort from Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka did not go unnoticed for the Mystics. The defensive duo nullified Ellie Bird under the post forcing Te Paea Selby-Rickit to inject herself into the game with her clever front cuts and drive to the post to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Tactix. She grew with confidence as the quarter progressed, sinking them from range to extend her sides lead to four goals at the eight minute mark of the term. For the Mystics, the connection between Toeava, Tayla Earle and Nweke developed with the midcourters able to find her with ease and deliver the ball with confidence. However Grapes struggled to find her mojo in attack only sinking one goal from her two attempts for the quarter. The momentum well and truly swung into the Mystics’ favour as they started to rally both in offence and defence to worry the Tactix and draw back within one goal at half time.

After entering the contest in the dying stages of the second quarter both Courtney Elliott and Sophia Fenwick retained their wing defence position for their respective side heading into the second term, while Tui re-entered the game at goal attack for the Mystics. Her movement and ability to go to post paid dividends with the Tactix defenders having to account for both goalers. With the centre pass the Tactix surged forward but Fitzpatrick and Karaka were up to the challenge with the defenders blocking out Bird and Selby-Rickit to collect the timely rebound and send the ball streaming down court to even the scores once more. With a tick over 10 minutes left in the quarter the Mystics hit the front for the first time thanks to Nweke. Finding their rhythm in attack with Toeava, Nweke and Earle all combining effortlessly it was Kimiora Poi for the Tactix that stood up to the challenge with the speedy centre receiving what felt like every second pass and imposing herself both in attack and defence with her pace, quick hands, vision and strong second phase work. She sparked a lift from Selby-Rickit and wing attack Erikana Pedersen with the latter delivering an impressive seven goal assist for the term. Scores were level as the timer hit the seven minute mark before Fakahokotau once again delivered for the Tactix creating a crucial deflection coming around the body of Tui. It was turnover central throughout the third with both sides combining for 13 as neither team could gain any real continuity, however the Tactix held onto their narrow lead heading into the final change.

With centre pass in hand the Mystics attacked hard and lifted their intensity while the Tactix were content to be patient with ball in hand and watch the clock tick down. A costly turnover from Bird in the goal circle gifted the Mystics a chance to cut down the deficit further before Poi answered with a pick-up of her own. Nweke continued to be the rock in the goal circle for the Mystics with the midcourters hoisting the ball up to her and showcasing her extreme athleticism on every single take. The Tactix went on a three goal spree to extend their lead, with Fenwick putting in the hard yards to shut down Toeava in attack and limit the quick release into the goal circle. Another Fakahokotau intercept seemed to have a Tactix win in the bag with her side pushing out to five goals. But the Mystics refused to lie down rallying in the final three minutes of the quarter to go a five goal run and draw with a final shot on the whistle that ultimately did not count.

It was a huge performance from Fakahokotau with the goal keeper amassing a staggering four gains, one intercept, six deflections and one pick-up. partner in crime Watson collected two gains, two intercepts, six deflections and four pick-ups, a key reason why their side won. Nweke proved a menace under the post finishing with 29 goals from 31 attempts for the game while Tui also had an influence in the goal circle with 10 from 11 at 91 per cent. For the Mainland Tactix, Bird was stronger under the post sinking 20 goals from 25 attempts. Up on her accuracy and volume Selby-Rickit also showcased her range converting 21 goals at 88 per cent.

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

_

MAINLAND TACTIX 8 | 12 | 12 | 9 (41)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 6 | 13 | 11 | 10 (40)

STARTING SEVEN: 

Mainland Tactix:

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

Northern Mystics:

GS: Saviour Tui
GA: Asher Grapes
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Emily Burgess
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to Head: Round 5

IN each ANZ Premiership round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This match-up sees two current Silver Ferns go head to head for the second time this season.

MAINLAND TACTIX v. NORTHERN MYSTICS

Te Paea Selby-Rickit (GA) v. Phoenix Karaka (GD)

Two impressive players with a wealth of experience on both the domestic and international stages, the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Phoenix Karaka will go head-to-head for the second time in as many matches on Sunday, with Karaka ultimately having the last word in Round 4. But the real question in this matchup is whether she can hold down Selby-Rickit once more, with Selby-Rickit fading out last round but unlikely to make the same mistake again. Second and third on the ladder, neither the Mystics nor Tactix can afford a loss with the closeness of the shortened season at hand, with potential to stray further from ladder-leading Central Pulse who sit undefeated in first.

A formidable opponent in attack, Selby-Rickit is one of those threatening goalers who can provide a quality option regardless of whether she is in-form or not. Providing a consistent option at the centre pass, Selby-Rickit uses her break-out speed to burst out from the transverse line to start that first faze, before jetting down to the goal circle to not only put up shots from just about anywhere in the circle, but also use her quick footwork to rotate the circle and open up space for her goaling partner in crime in Ellie Bird. With strength, speed and versatility, Selby-Rickit can also provide a barrier with her long arms to block play and win back ball, proving a solid all-rounder in attack with her constant work-rate rarely letting up. Unafraid of the long bomb, Selby-Rickit is a force to be reckoned with in the goal circle and uses her solid build to assert herself on the play, while her quick hands allow her to dish off speedy passes to Bird under the post with ease. She also pairs well in attack with the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi, with Poi’s defensive outset allowing Selby-Rickit to be a major playmaker alongside Pedersen. While she does provide a consistent threat, Selby-Rickit has had a rough few weeks on the court and currently ranks eighth for goals scored, and also has the lowest accuracy at 73 per cent. 

Karaka is a constant threat defensively, using her vision and read of the play to prey on any loose ball and pounce on opportunities to propel the ball forward. When it comes to her positioning, Karaka is a consistent follower of the play, never far from the action with her speed and aerial ability. Able to adapt to the play and ply her trade depending on her oppositions’ movement, Karaka uses her lithe build to form a defensive barricade both in and outside the goal circle. Karaka is one of the cleanest defenders going around, which makes her an imposing impact player given her ability to disrupt momentum even without being a physical threat, having impressively only racked up 40 penalties from five matches this season. Karaka’s aerial game is phenomenal and threateningly consistent, sitting top of the table for intercepts with 11 to her name, able to use her long arms to command possession of the ball and pull it in. Her three-foot marking and leap is also impressive, and while she is not the tallest defender can find plenty of purchase on the airball to take possession with ease. Joining forces with Sulu Fitzpatrick this season, the duo work seamlessly to reduce the impact of their opposition goalers and will hope to provide the same buffer again this weekend.

With both players highly impressive with an ability to seamlessly perform time and time again, it is more a question of consistency that will find a winner in this scenario. If Karaka can hold Selby-Rickit accountable and force errors the Mystics should go back-to-back, however if Selby-Rickit can take advantage of Karaka’s hunt on the ball and find space in attack, the Tactix could be in with a chance. There was plenty of argy-bargy between the two players last round, so look for another enticing matchup this time around with plenty on the line.

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 5

ROUND 5 of the ANZ Premiership sees five matches over the course of the weekend with the Magic, Stars and Tactix all taking the court twice. There are a couple of identical clashes from Round 4 with some teams hoping history does not repeat itself. The Pulse will be eager to maintain their unblemished start to 2020 while the Magic will be wanting to go one step better than last round and collect their second win to climb up the ladder.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Friday, 10 July

A fourth quarter demolition gifted Central Pulse the win over the Steel last round, however the Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing, going toe-to-toe with their opponents for three quarters. Shooting at 100 per cent for the match, the Pulse goalers were on song sinking them from everywhere – something the Steel will really have to double down on this round if they are any chance to knock the Pulse off their perch.

It is fair to say that the battle in the goal circle was won by Ameliaranne Ekenasio with the star goal attack taking ownership and dominating with 25 goals from 25 attempts. Last round, Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita gave all their attention to Aliyah Dunn under the post and while the towering goal shooter was down on her usual volume sitting at 21 goals at 100 per cent, it allowed for Ekenasio to dictate the terms out the front. Fifita and Selby-Rickit are both strong prospects in the defensive circle with their physicality, hands over pressure and quick footwork but Abby Erwood should not be forgotten about and could be another option to come on for the Steel and upset the Pulse attacking duo with her tagging style of play. Heading into their second clash in less than seven days the Steel will be keen to rectify those issues in defence and shut down Ekenasio more effectively if they are to come out on top. While the combination between Ekenasio and Dunn is commanding to say the least youngster Tiana Metuarau is also proving to be a handful for the opposition whether it be in goal attack or wing attach with her silky movement, precise ball placement and netball nous.

Defensively the Pulse are stacked with Kelly Jury having the time of her life down back. The goal keeper has starred in recent weeks with her hunt for the ball, long arms and skill to contest the aerial ball. She really shut down Jennifer O’Connell in Round 4 with the goal shooter only managing 27 goals from 32 attempts at 84 per cent and denied any easy access into the goal circle. The influence of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger is also a key aspect to the Pulse defence with Rore putting in a wealth of work out the front to shut down the goal attack entering the goal circle and Burger nullifying the wing attack with her with arms over pressure and commanding height. Goal attack Kalifa McCollin will have to get busy for the Steel if she is to occupy Rore while Gina Crampton had Burger’s number for the majority of their last encounter using her speed and strength to tussle for prime position around circle edge.

It could be a case of history repeating itself with the Pulse in ripping form with their impressive ball movement, strong connections and ability to withstand the waves of pressure.

Southern Steel v. Northern Stars
Saturday, 11 July

In their second game of the round the Steel will be hoping to keep the winning streak against the Stars alive, getting the wood over them earlier in the season, albeit by just two goals. Both teams are evenly poised and match-up similarly headlined by a tall holding goal shooter and experienced midcourt.

The contest between the Northern Stars captain, Grace Kara and youngster Kate Heffernan will draw plenty of attention. Kara is a real lynchpin for the Stars in attack, providing that link into the goal circle with her effortless and perfectly weighted passes. She also does a wealth of work at the centre pass to ease the pressure on her shooters, meaning it will up to Heffernan to get in her head and stop her. Although still developing her craft, Heffernan is quick on her feet and can apply strong hands over pressure to block Kara’s vision into the circle. Another option in wing defence for the Stars is Kendall Corkery with the midcourter renowned for her niggly, physical style which can get under the skin of opponents. Expect veteran, Shannon Saunders to lead the midcourt cohort for the Steel especially up against 22-year-old Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. Saunders can run all day in centre and use her smarts to outwit Reuelu-Buchanan who is still honing her craft.

If the Stars are to register another win for the season, Maia Wilson will have to be on her game from the opening whistle. The goal shooter is a commanding presence under the post and has increased her range throughout 2020, looking more comfortable from further out. Her high volume of shots however puts a target on her back with the likes of Fifita, Selby-Rickit and Erwood likely to work in overdrive to smother her, meaning it will be up to Jamie Hume to take the load off Wilson. Hume will be hoping to put out a consistent four quarter performance against the Steel to really assert herself on the competition and take the heat off Wilson under the post, with her cleverly timed drives, long range shooting and play making abilities.

If the Steel can shut down the likes of Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan around circle edge and limit their chance to feed into Wilson it will put them in good stead to collect another win.

Northern Stars v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 12 July

After playing out the first draw in ANZ Premiership history the Stars will be eager to put that to bed and claim the “W”. The Magic came from seven goals behind last round to finish strongly and clench a draw and will be keen to go one better this round.

The Stars will be hoping to make amends for their fourth quarter slump and run out a consistent performance this round with the defensive duo renowned for their balling winning abilities. One of the more experienced defenders in the group, Storm Purvis can change the course of a game in an instance with her leap and deceptive speed to dart around the court and force turnovers. Teammate Kate Burley has blossomed into a commanding prospect in the goal circle with her tenacity, often throwing herself at every contest and creating doubt in the feeders minds while Oceane Maihi is able to inject plenty of height and aerial presence, something the Stars might need in order to contend with Kelsey McPhee at the post. The goal shooter can suffer from the yips at times under the post, but when she is on song she is hard to stop credit to her strong hands, quick footwork and clever body positioning. The influence of Abigail Latu-Meafou will be crucial if the Magic are to replicate their Round 4 performance or notch up a win with the goal attack showcasing her accuracy to post, smooth movement and skill to slot them from range. A cameo appearance from youngster Khiarna Williams could also work wonders for the Magic in order to offset the Stars defence.

Through the midcourt the Stars boast some exciting players with Fa’amu Ioane one of the most electric wing defences in the competition, with her speed off the mark and quick hands. Her presence around circle edge and in the defensive third allows her to gobble up turnover ball and spring into transition. The versatility of Lisa Mather is another key for the Stars able to swing from wing defence into centre when needed. For the Magic, Whitney Souness is a real powerhouse able to deliver the ball with great pace and precision to catch defenders off guard while Ariana Cable-Dixon is reliable through centre.

This game could once again go down to the wire but expect the Stars to have learnt from their mistakes last round and impose themselves for a full four quarters.

Mainland Tactix v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 12 July

Playing only nine days earlier both sides would have taken plenty out of their match-up when it comes to one-on-ones and overall team strategy. A quick start from the Tactix gave them the early ascendancy before the Mystics rallied and wrestled back the momentum to win the next three quarters. With this in mind expect the Tactix to come out with a real fire in the belly and increased intensity.

Shooting prodigy Grace Nweke is relishing every single minute of court time with the 18-year-old dominating in all facets such as volume and accuracy. She is simply unstoppable under the post using her 193cm frame to ward off defenders and dictate the space. Her aerial presence is second to none while her balance is equally impressive. Goal attack Saviour Tui is growing with confidence, not afraid to look to the post while Asher Grapes is constantly able to find space and create attacking forays. Up against some stiff opposition in Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson the Mystics goalers will once again have to be on their A-game. Fakahokotau impressed last week with her hunt for the ball, vision and quick footwork while Watson is renowned for her cleanliness and lean over the shot. If both defenders can work in tandem to minimise the influence of Nweke and win ball back it will be a huge bonus for the Tactix.

Wing attack Peta Toeava is the real barometer for the Mystics with her turn of speed and sheer ball placement. Toeava only needs a second to look into the goal circle and deliver a pinpoint pass into Nweke under the post such is her vision, understanding and connection with the goaler. It will be up to Charlotte Elley to limit her influence around circle edge and apply strong hands over pressure given Toeava’s shorter stature. The battle in centre will also be interesting with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi donning very similar styles. Earle has been really dominating for the Mystics with her high level of endurance and energetic style of play, helping out both in offence and defence. Poi plays a more defensive role with her strong hands over pressure and three foot marking, allowing her wing attacks to do the heavy lifting in attack.

It will ultimately come down to whether or not the Tactix can generate enough turnover ball and restrict Nweke under the post or if Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka can shut down the Tactix shooting end once more.

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 13 July

In the final game of the round, fatigue could be a key element for both sides as they enter their second game. The last time these two sides met it was the Tactix that got the win by nine goals but the Magic have come along in leaps and bounds since Round 3 with their on court connections strengthening.

Boasting an impressive shooting combination in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird the Tactix will be hoping to take advantage of the tall goaler and apply some real scoreboard pressure. Down on their accuracy last round expect both shooters to come out with a real intensity. It is unlikely for Selby-Rickit to have two quiet games in a row given her class and ability to spark back into action. The goal attack is a key cog in attack with her play making abilities often bringing Bird into the game with her well executed passes. However the tussle in the goal circle will be extremely physical as Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere is not afraid to contest every ball that comes her way. Mikaere’s aerial presence is impressive and so too is Georgia Tong, with the two able to swat away balls with ease. Holly Fowler is another one to keep an eye out for in the Magic defence unit with her ability to read the play and take a key intercept at any given moment.

With a game saving intercept under her belt, Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders is a real barometer for her side. she is able to spark the Magic into action with her constant effort around the court to create a tip and then transition into attack. Her ability to seamlessly switch from wing defence to centre is second to none able to shake up the course of a game. Winders will have to be on her game from the opening whistle with Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan both clever in their movement and strong around circle edge for the Tactix in attack.

To stay in touch with the top of the pack, the Tactix have to win this clash so expect them to pull out all the stops and assert themselves from the get-go against an inconsistent Magic side.

2020 ANZ Premiership stats wrap: Round 4

ANOTHER high-powered round of ANZ Premiership action is done and dusted, with some interesting scorelines and stats telling the story of Round 4. We take a look at the numbers of the round that was.

When it came to circle edge this round, there were none more impressive than Peta Toeava who continued her impressive run of form to run home with 25 goal assists, 32 feeds and 18 centre pass receives to her name against the Tactix on Friday night. Joining Toeava in the 30-plus feeding club is Tactix’ Erikana Pedersen (18 assists from 32 feeds, 20 receives), Steel’s Gina Crampton (16 assists from 30 feeds, 28 receives) and Stars’ Grace Kara (17 assists from 32 feeds, 24 receives), while Magic’s Whitney Souness racked up 49 centre pass receives and 31 assists from 52 feeds across her two games.

The circle defenders pulled out all the stops once more but did not necessarily have the same flair as usual with intercept stats down across the board. Temalisi Fakahokotau was impressive as ever and had a much more well-rounded game than usual, racking up five gains to top the leaderboard this round and was joined on that number by her opposition keeper in Sulu Fitzpatrick who was much cleaner in comparison. Sitting on four gains apiece were Storm Purvis and Phoenix Karaka (both two intercepts) and Holly Fowler (one intercept), joined by Kelly Jury and Erena Mikaere who both played two games, though Jury certainly got the better stats with another three gains to her name. Karin Burger and Georgia Tong also had solid games, racking up two intercepts apiece.

Heading down the other end, there is no surprise who topped the goaling tally once again with the same names performing well consistently week in and week out. Grace Nweke was influential as always with 38 goals from 40, while Maia Wilson was the only other individual performer who put in close to a similar tally with 34 from 37. The real impressive performance this week was from the Pulse however, with both Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio going at 100 per cent accuracy in the first match before backing it up with a high accuracy tally again the next day, shooting a combined 45 and 46 goals respectively across the two matches. Kelsey McPhee had an up-and-down round, shooting 19 from 26 on Sunday and 28 from 37 on Monday, clearly improving her volume though her combined accuracy of 75 per cent leaves something to be desired in the Magic camp. Meanwhile, Te Paea Selby-Rickit (16 from 24) was also down on accuracy but made up for it in the midcourt with 18 centre pass receives, teaming well with Ellie Bird who was on song at 90 per cent accuracy. Kalifa McCollin and Jennifer O’Connell were much more robust in attack this week, combining for 87 per cent accuracy.

MORE MATCH STATS:

>> Northern Mystics (47) defeated Mainland Tactix (42)

>> Central Pulse (47) defeated Southern Steel (40)

>> Central Pulse (51) defeated WBOP Magic (30)

>> WBOP Magic (46) drew with Northern Stars (46)

 

ANZ Premiership: Round 4 – Mystics bounce back for stellar come-from-behind win

IT was a quality game from the get-go with highly touted matchups across the court when the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix went head-to-head on Friday night. Coming off their first loss last round, the Mystics were hoping to bounce back well and so they did, winning 47-42 in a tightly contested match.

The Tactix were not to be discouraged by the Mystics’ form, and with the first centre pass in hand the side proved solid from the get-go. It was a tantalising and unpredictable affair, with the two sides unable to be split for much of the match. While the Tactix has the early ascendancy scoring four of the first five goals, it did not take long for the Mystics to even up the ledger once more, clogging up space in the Tactix attack again and again, and keeping the ball out of Ellie Bird’s hands. Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit impressed early with her ability to apply scoreboard pressure from anywhere in the circle, using her threatening footwork to find plenty of space.

It was a frantic first quarter, and neither side was really able to find that momentum, But the Tactix would not let the Mystics’ form faze them, leading 14-11 at the first change credit to stellar defensive work from Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson. The height mismatch between Fakahokotau and Grace Nweke was evident immediately, with the circle pair going head to head and both finding patches of strength for an even contest. While she did not put up a wealth of shots, speedy goal attack Asher Grapes provided a quality feeding option in and around the circle, forming a crucial cog in the Mystics’ slow start, though her unwillingness to go to post saw Nweke under a lot of pressure.

The second quarter started with a bang, with a couple of changes to the Mystics lineup and Fakahokotau getting up and about early with another couple of great saves to keep the Tactix a step ahead. Saviour Tui joined the fray and in doing that took some of the pressure off Nweke, with the tall timber applying a wealth of scoreboard pressure but well and truly being double teamed by the Tactix defence. Up the other end, Erikana Pedersen was having a field day out the front in wing attack, though Selby-Rickit had a slower patch meaning Bird had to step up if the side was to maintain control.

With both sides taking plenty of risks, Tactix were taking better advantage of their opportunities, with the likes of Fakahokotau and Watson doing wonders in defence, though Nweke’s clean hands continued to pay dividends. But while Peta Toeava had a slow first quarter, her vision to Nweke at the post was second to none and even when Charlotte Elley continued to block her vision and path to the ball, Toeava’s work rate allowed the Mystics to draw even to 24-apiece at half time.

A great start to the third from the Mystics saw the side take their first consistent lead of the match, scoring the first three goals of the term to stake a claim on the match, after trailing for most of the first half. Toeava really brought the flair in the third, switching on to be a constant threat and using her speedy hands to propel constant ball to Nweke – who was still at 100% accuracy until midway through the third. Fakahokotau worked her way back into the game to even the ledger before a speedy finish saw Mystics take a late 35-33 lead to end the quarter.

A long bomb from Selby-Rickit started the final term, with the Tactix hoping it was a sign of another strong quarter given the first started the same way. But the Tactix’ patience in attack could not compete with the Mystics’ hunt, with the defensive unit of Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick picking off any loose ball they could muster up. Improved speed and connection through the midcourt paid dividends for the Mystics, and while the Tactix were still fighting for every chance at the ball, it seemed like the Mystics were pulling away and rattling the usually composed Tactix outfit.

With the game hanging in the balance, it was the Mystics’ consistency that got the job done, making good use of turnover ball and, while relying on Nweke’s hands, also worked Tui into the fray, though the young attacker was forced off the court with less than two minutes for the blood rule – before returning less than a minute later with plenty of confusion ensuing. While the Tactix had provided a constant threat down court, their inconsistency failed them and with a final score of 47-42, the Mystics came away with one of their better wins for the season.

In a game of high powered matchups, an interesting one was that between Tayla Earle (14 assists, one intercept) and Kimiora Poi (11 goal assists), with the young defensive-minded centres almost canceling each other out. Toeava was impressive as ever, racking up 25 goal assists and taking the lead out the front, serving the ball on a silver platter to Nweke (38 goals at 95 per cent accuracy) and Tui who finished with a solid eight goals from 12 attempts. Pedersen led the way in the Tactix camp, heading up assists with 18 from 32 feeds and a gain, while Bird and Selby-Rickit shared the load to combine for 79 per cent accuracy (26 and 16 goals respectively). In defence, both Fakahokotau and Fitzpatrick finished with five gains, though Fitzpatrick was far cleaner in her pursuit with just five penalties to her name and awarded the player of the match award for her efforts. Karaka (four gains) and Watson (two gains) were similarly impressive.

Neither side plays again this weekend, but will have another go of it next round when they go head-to-head once more next Sunday evening.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 13 | 11 | 12 (47)
MAINLAND TACTIX 14 | 10 | 9 | 9 (42)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Asher Grapes
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Emily Burgess
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

TACTIX:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 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.

2020 ANZ Premiership stats wrap: Round 3

WITH Round 3 of the ANZ Premiership done and dusted, it’s time to take a look at the best stats of the week. Both Northern Mystics and Southern Steel took the court twice, making for some interesting numbers to finish the round.

In a round that seemed a lot more defensively focused than last week, a couple of defenders stood out with Sulu Fitzpatrick leading the way with four intercepts and nine gains in a winning Mystics outfit on Saturday, before adding two more gains to her tally against the Pulse on Monday. Fitzpatrick’s partner in crime Phoenix Karaka had a similar output, pulling off three intercepts in the first match while Emily Burgess combined for three intercepts across the two games. Also impressive was the explosive defensive unit of the Tactix, with the side running out victors thanks to the efforts of Temalisi Fakahokotau (three intercepts, six gains), Jane Watson (two intercepts from five gains) and Charlotte Elley (two intercepts).

Magic’s Holly Fowler racked up five gains and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was also solid with six evenly spread across her two matches, while Taneisha Fifita well and truly led the penalty tally this round with 32 and four gains across the two games.

Down the other end, Maia Wilson led the way in singular games thanks to a phenomenal 37-goal output at 88 per cent accuracy, while Grace Nweke was similarly dominant across her two matches, shooting 63 goals from 73 attempts. Jennifer O’Connell had a much better week, scoring 60 goals at 88 per cent accuracy in her back-to-back matches, while Ellie Bird was solid once more with 33 goals.

For Magic, Kelsey McPhee (21 from 26) and Abigail Latu-Meafou (15 from 21) shared the load while Ameliaranne Ekenasio led the tally for goal attacks, shooting 21 from 24 and spending some time in goal shooter towards the end of the match, while Kalifa McCollin was slightly down on her output and accuracy this week but across her two games still managed 26 goals from her 35 attempts. Te Paea Selby-Rickit was not quite as dominant to post with 12 from 19 but made up for it with her 17 centre pass receives, doing a wealth of work out the front.

Through the midcourt, dual match players in Peta Toeava (39 assists across both games) and Steel’s Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders (33 assists apiece) dominated the stats sheet, while Mila Reuelu Buchanan stepped up to dominate the individual match stats with 20 assists against the Steel. Reuelu Buchanan was closely followed by Claire Kersten (18 assists) and Erikana Pedersen (17 assists) while Whitney Souness put out an impressive well-rounded performance with 17 goal assists and two intercepts.

 

MORE MATCH STATS:

>> Mainland Tactix (45) defeated WBOP Magic (36) 

>> Northern Mystics (46) defeated Southern Steel (42)

>> Northern Stars (47) defeated by Southern Steel (49)

>> Central Pulse (42) defeated Northern Mystics (35)

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Tactix defence stands up to conquer Magic win

MAINLAND Tactix have temporarily bounced back into third after putting their stomach bug loss to Northern Stars last week behind them to defeat Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by nine goals last night (45-36). In what was a remarkable defensive performance – the three defenders picked up a combined seven intercepts and four rebounds – the Tactix were able to restrict their opposition to just 36 goals, the equal lowest of the season thus far.

The Tactix were not their regular selves in the Round 2 loss to the Stars, and having played an extra game than the Magic heading into last night’s match, were keen to bounce back with a strong win. It was promising start from the side as Ellie Bird burst out of the blocks with 10 goals from 15 attempts in the opening term, outscoring the Magic side, whilst Te Paea Selby-Rickit played the role of facilitator with four goal assists from five feeds.

Erikana Pedersen had a team-high five goal assists, the same as her opposition wing attack, Whitney Souness. The Magic still managed the nine goals, making the most of their 12 opportunities, but the Tactix attempts were stacking up with a massive 17 in the first term.

The second term was the complete reverse of fortunes for the sides, with Ariana Cable-Dixon taking control of the midcourt alongside Souness as the pair combined for eight goals assists from 14 feeds. Young gun Kimiora Poi was overshadowed in the centre, but Pedersen was doing all she could to feed through to the goalers. Bird put up a more accurate six goals from eight attempts for the quarter, but it was the shared load between Magic goalers Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou that got their side back on top.

The Magic looked like a different team to the first term with just four general play turnovers – half of their total from the first term – and having 11 goal assists to five. The change in play turned the result around with the Magic heading into the break with a three-goal lead. The inconsistency of the midcourt feeding through to the goalers for the Tactix was one noticeable area to still improve on for next match.

Neither team opted to make a change to its starting line-up heading into the third term, and surprisingly, momentum flowed with the Tactix again as Bird found her range and could hardly miss, sinking nine of 10 chances and even setting up a couple of goals for Selby-Rickit. But it was Selby-Rickit who proved to be a huge influence on the term, nailing all five of her chances, and getting more active with six centre pass receives – almost as many as the entire first half – as well as three goal assists. Pedersen continued her terrific form with another five goals assists, while Poi got back on level terms with Cable-Dixon again.

Holly Fowler had been able to restrict Selby-Rickit up to that point from causing too much damage, but with 19 feeds into the circle, it was coming in fast and furious causing headaches for Fowler and Erena Mikaere. Needless to say, the Magic managed just seven goals with Latu-Meafou shooting the four and McPhee the three as Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau were able to get more active on defence thanks to the pressure up the court.

The final term saw the good times rolling on for the Tactix who then picked up where they left off in the third, thanks to a 12-7 term. The Tactix had tried to make a few changes with Cable-Dixon coming off after Poi’s big third term, as captain Sam Winders slid into centre. Fowler moved up to wing defence and Jenna O’Sullivan went on into goal defence. Unfortunately, it did not help with O’Sullivan giving up three penalties and one turnover in seven minutes of action to be replaced by Georgia Tong in the final few minutes.

The Tactix did not need to make a change, and it was easy to see why with Watson continuing her attacking approach, whilst Fakahokotau’s work with reading the ball in flight was impressive. Bird sank another eight goals from 11 attempts, with Selby-Rickit having four from eight and four goal assists. Pedersen and Poi continued their good form aiding the transition down the court, whilst for the Magic, McPhee was a lone hand close to the post with six goals from eight attempts.

Bird ended the match with an impressive 33 goals from 44 attempts, but it was the work of Pedersen (17 goal assists from 34 feeds) and Selby-Rickit (12 from 19 on both goals and assists) who worked actively to keep the ball moving. In defence, Fakahokotau and Watson combined for five intercepts and two rebounds. In true Watson style, she only conceded one penalty for the entire match, while Fakahokotau won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for her work.

For the Magic, it was Souness who was the main source of transition ball with 17 assists from 31 feeds, and getting active off the centre pass with 19 receives. McPhee shot 21 goals from 26 assists, while her partner-in-crime Latu-Meafou sank 15 from 21. Aside from a terrific second quarter, the Magic faded away and it cost them in the end.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

MAINLAND TACTIX 11 | 8 | 14 | 12 (45)
WBOP MAGIC 9 | 13 | 7 | 7 (36)

STARTING SEVENS:

TACTIX:

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

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 Young Gun Focus: Round 3

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week the player in focus is Northern Stars defender Kate Burley who starred last round with her read of the play and efforts across the court to win ball back. 

Age: 23
Height: 181cm
Position: GD, GK,WD

After a stellar outing in Round 2 for the Northern Stars the young defender will be keen to back up her performance in Round 3 against some quality opposition in the Southern Steel. Faced with unknown quantity and Trinidad and Tobago speedster Kalifa McCollin, Burley will once again have her work cut out for her but has the speed and nous to match her opponent. 

In testing conditions in the first game of the round up against Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Burley plied her trade and made the goal attack work for every pass and while she tired as the game went on still managed to apply strong hands over pressure. Still honing her craft Burley displayed her attacking mindset with her strong drives through the middle of the court and willingness to fly at the cross court ball. Despite not playing the entire match she managed to collect one intercept, one gain and three deflections. 

But it was the second game where Burley really shone. Starting in at goal defence before slotting into the goal keeper position to close out the game, Burley’s hunger and intensity was up from the opening whistle. Her read of the play and aerial ability given her shorter stature compared to some defenders was highly impressive racking up four gains, three intercepts and four deflections. She was a real energiser bunny down back, able to create turnovers with her immense pressure and skill to double back on the shooter when needed.  Burley, along with partner in crime Storm Purvis, forced the Tactix to make wholesale changes in the attacking unit with Ellie Bird, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jess Prosser all trying to combat and break through the defensive wall they had set up. 

Burley proved that she has the stamina and skillset to last an entire game and have a profound impact on the game with her willingness to get to contests and help out in transition. While still not at the peak of her powers, her Round 2 performance showed plenty of promise for the games to come with the young defender growing in confidence and backing herself more regularly whether it be to go for an intercept or block her opposition goaler from entering the circle with her strong movement. Her versatility is another element to keep an eye out for with Burley as she can not only switch between in-circle defence but so too wing defence given her read of the play and deceptive speed.