Tag: erikana pedersen

Mainland Tactix put out a record-breaking performance

A RECORD-breaking performance from the Mainland Tactix gifted them a commanding 17-goal win over Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (68-51). It was the largest winning margin the club has secured in its 14 years, in what was a comprehensive display of netball across the four quarters.

It was goal for goal to start the term with Ellie Bird back in the side after missing last round with a concussion, while Chiara Semple got busy down in the goal circle for the Magic. The Tactix started to open up a handy lead with the Magic producing three turnovers in the first five minutes of play. Kimiora Poi was finding good space through the midcourt using her speed and drive to hit circle edge to dish the ball off to Bird under the post. Te Paea Selby-Rickit was showcasing her impressive ball skills to release the ball with great speed and set-up the attacking forays for the home side. the Magic refused to lie down though with Erena Mikaere coming up for a huge block but they simply could not capitalise. The defensive pressure from the Tactix was immense as Karin Burger snatched a huge intercept up against Caitlin Bassett and within a blink of an eye the Tactix were out to six goals.

A three goal spree to the Tactix was ended by Bassett as the confidence to release into the circle started to grow. The speed of play from the Tactix was catching the Magic defenders off guard as Samon Nathan was having free reign at the top of the circle to feed into Bird and Selby-Rickit. There was simply no stopping the Tactix as they exploited the space with Selby-Rickit running riot against Georgia Tong and blowing out to a whopping 11-goal lead.

Mikaere came out with a point to prove in the first minute of the game with a well-timed intercept. The goal keeper was rewarded for her efforts with Bassett landing the goal and then answering the call moments later to reduce the margin to nine. The tussle under the post between Jane Watson and Bassett was intensifying with the former swatting ball away with ease and using her aerial ability to wreak havoc. She was proving to be a real menace not only against Bassett but so too Semple while up the other end Bird was finding plenty of space against Mikaere. It was a clinical performance from the Tactix with only two turnovers to their name five minutes into the second while the Magic were proving to be costly with eight.

Tori Kolose steadily worked her way into the game with the wing attack not afraid to dish off a long bomb into the circle. tong was throwing herself at everything down in defence while Burger proved anything you do, I can do better reeling in consecutive intercepts. Looking for a spark in attack Khiarna Williams entered the game in goal attack but a sloppy pass from the youngster handed ball straight back to the opposition. Charlotte Elley was a real driving force in wing defence bursting through the midcourt to spear the ball into attack while Burger continued to put on a show in goal defence with her aerial ability. The Taxtic made a couple of changes inside the circle with Kate Grant pulling on the goal attack bib and Selby-Rickit pushing back into goal shooter to close out the term ahead by 13 goals.

Georgie Edgecombe got the nod at wing defence replacing Holly Fowler but that did not seem to slow the Tactix down as Nathan utilised her fancy footwork to dance around her opponent. There was a little bit more fight in the Magic line-up, nailing three goals in a row to get back to 12 but the Tactix had a steadiness about them to maintain their buffer. Sam Winders upped the ante through the centre holding strong around circle edge to try and shoulder the load given Kolose was being worn like a glove by Elley.

Every time Waikato Bay of Plenty got back into contention the Tactix managed to find a way to forge ahead with their midcourt craft a real standout. The lead blew out to 15 goals with a tick under seven minutes to play with the Magic defence really suffering from the absence of Temalisi Fakahokotau who sustained an ankle injury last round. Wholesale changes were made by the Tactix as Sophia Fenwick pulled on the wing defence bib and Erikana Pedersen swung into wing attack to provide some fresh legs for the home side.

A turnover off the centre pass gifted the Tactix with a chance to propel the ball forward and score as they extended the three quarter time buffer to 12 goals and followed it up with another goal immediately after. Momentum once again started to favour the Tactix before Bassett steadied the ship with a much needed goal. Some Watson magic stunned the Magic attack end as she rocketed the ball down the court with Poi helping to lead the charge before once more the lead ballooned out to 15 goals. Bassett sent a huge injury scare through the Magic camp with the goal shooter forced from the court after landing awkwardly on her heavily strapped knee forcing a re-shuffle in the circle. Incredible defensive work from the Tactix kept them ticking along as they flew home with a scintillating win.

Bird was in fine form in her return game slotting 47 goals from 58 attempts while Selby-Rickit showcased her class sinking 19 goals at 83 per cent along with 24 goal assists. Nathan had a hot hand on the feed racking up 14 goal assists while defensively Burger had a night out amassing a whopping six intercepts and nine gains with Watson also finishing with five gains to her name. Prior to her injury Bassett was a pillar of consistency shooting 32 goals from 33 attempts while Williams also showcased her accuracy nailing 12 goals from 13. Winders was a real driving force thanks to her 21 goal assists as Mikaere and Tong combined for 11 gains.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 5 preview

NORTHERN Stars will be on the prowl for their fifth straight win for the ANZ Premiership season while Central Pulse will be eager to bounce back after a slow start to their title defence in this week’s action.

Central Pulse vs. Southern Steel
Sunday, May 16 @ 4:15pm

There is no shortage of youth and talent in both sides with the Steel boasting five players under the age of 21 and the Pulse with three. That being said, the Steel are in better shape heading into the clash having won two of their four games and most importantly their Round 3 clash against the Pulse. The reigning premiers will be hoping to get one back here and restore their season after a disappointing campaign so far.

Crossing to the Steel in 2021, Tiana Metuarau knows the game plan of the Central Pulse like the back of her hand. She is a crafty player that can turn the game upside down with her quick feeds into the circle and confidence to go herself. Her ever-evolving partnership with George Fisher will be something to watch with Fisher a commanding force inside the goal circle. Plenty of intrigue will circulate around whether or not Kelly Jury gets the start in goal keeper in hope to nullify the influence of Fisher under the post with the two standing at similar heights and Jury more than capable of competing in the air. If she does not get start expect Kelera Nawai to ply her trade and use her physicality to offset Fisher early. Another niggle to Maddy Gordon will influence how the midcourt shapes up with Paris Lokotui a potential to slot into wing defence with her hands over pressure and closing speed. Either Lokotui or Gordon will have their work cut out for them against experienced campaigner Shannon Saunders who is a real calming presence in an otherwise frenetic Southern Steel attack.

Missing Ameliaranne Ekenasio, the Pulse have been strapped for scoring options especially when Aliyah Dunn is well held meaning Te Amo Amaru-Tibble will have to be on her A-game against the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita. Do not be surprised if Whitney Souness is also thrown into the goal circle to provide a bit of punch with her cuts and drives for the Pulse. The Steel have plenty of ball winners with Fifita headlining the defensive unit alongside Renee Savai’inaea and fancy-footed midcourter Kate Heffernan.

Mainland Tactix vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, May 17 @6:15pm

The Tactix and the Mystics will face off again with the Tactix hoping to flip the script and score a win this time round. Playing in front of a home crowd expect the Tactix to thrive off the energy and build off their win last week while the Mystics are shaping up as real finals contenders. Last time they met only one goal separated the two and if that is any indication of how this match will go it is sure to be a cracker contest once again.

It will be a battle of the goal shooters with Grace Nweke down one end of the court and Ellie Bird up the other. Both play that typical strong holding goal shooter role, able to pile on the scoreboard pressure and do so at a fast rate meaning their respective defenders will need support from their midcourt to shut down the ball movement. Nweke has no problem adapting to whoever she plays with whether it be Bailey Mes, Filda Vui or Saviour Tui such is her class. The real issue lies with stopping Peta Toeava with the wing attack a magician with ball in hand. She is constantly able to make something out of nothing with her play-on style of netball enabling her to bypass the defenders. The decision then falls to the Tactix on whether to play Charlotte Elley or get creative and push Karin Burger back out to wing defence despite her combination with Jane Watson developing at a rate of knots. The pair are able to read each other and the play to cherry-pick intercepts and create havoc down back, gifting the Tactix with a wealth of additional scoring chances.

Bird had a game to remember last round, and looks much more comfortable and confident with Te Paea Selby-Rickit out the front. The Silver Ferns goal attack is a real playmaker and was the catalyst in her side’s resurgence in Round 3 so except Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick to pay her plenty of attention. The teammates around her also thrive off her experience and smarts with Kimiora Poi, Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan all crafty with ball in hand and capable of threading the needle into the goal circle.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Stars
Monday, May 17 @8:15pm

The final game of the round sees Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic take on Northern Stars. The Stars are looking to keep their unblemished record intact with a win here while the Magic are hoping to secure their next win after getting close in patches but falling away in the dying stages. Playing a similar game style given the inclusion of prominent goal shooters, it will come down to the defensive efforts from both sides to see which way the game goes.

Maia Wilson has been in scintillating form under the post for the Stars with her versatility and range causing all sorts of headaches for opposition defenders. However, the Magic are brimming with talent in that back-end department with the likes of Temalisi Fakahokotau, Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong all viable options in the circle. The trio are renowned for their aerial presence meaning the likes of Jamie Hume and Gina Crampton will have to get crafty with ball in hand to deliver to Wilson. Hume has really upped the ante in 2021 not only dictating play out the front but getting busy on the scoring front, while it is still unknown when Monica Falkner will return to the mix.

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan somewhat flies under the radar for the Stars but the battle between her and Magic captain Sam Winders is sure to be an eye catcher. Neither player are willing to take a backwards step and are real barometers for their respective sides with their closing speed and hard drives a couple of key attributes. It is hard to go past lynchpin goal shooter, Caitlin Bassett with the Australian more than capable of scoring quickly and accurately. Her combination with Khiarna Williams is constantly evolving with Williams bringing a sense of pizzazz to the attacking unit. Chiara Semple is also another option, able to shoot from distance and position herself well inside the circle to benefit both her own game and her goal shooter’s. But it will be a challenging contest inside the circle with the long arms of Anna Harrison and the in-form Elle Temu making the duo game changers; throw Oceane Maihi in the mix and the Stars have no shortage ball winners.

2021 ANZ Player of the Week: Round 4 – Ellie Bird

In a new series, Draft Central casts an eye over the top performer from the round, taking into account not only their individual stats, but their overall impact on the game. Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership saw a number of key players lead the way for their respective teams and put their best foot forward. However, this week the title goes to Ellie Bird.

After a few inconsistent weeks where she struggled to find her feet, Mainland Tactix’s goal shooter Ellie Bird put out a stellar performance on the weekend, only missing one of her 55 shots against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in a 63-59 victory. Shooting at 98 per cent, Bird seemed to have the ball on a string inside the goal circle and was having a field day as shown through her composure and smarts to withstand the physicality and step up to the challenge. She was influential under the post, able to control proceedings with her movement and slick footwork along the baseline allowing the Tactix feeders to find her with great ease. 

Bird displayed her impressive holding skills throughout the match. At 196cm tall, she has the height behind to hold back in the ring and wait for the lob over the head of her opponents, which was being cleverly delivered to her by Player of the Match, Tactix centre Kimiora Poi, and wing attack Erikana Pedersen. The midcourt duo utilised their speed and dynamic movement to perfect the pass into Bird who was taking full advantage of her shorter defender. 

Bird was able to set herself up comfortably under the ring for the hold because of the work being done out the front by goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit, who returned for her second game with the Tactix this week after being sidelined with an ankle injury. She made sure to create the space under the post, keeping herself clear and managing 25 goal assists from 26 feeds. With Selby-Rickit out the front, Bird looked a lot more confident to go to post and was relishing her excellent delivery into the circle. In fact Bird was a key reason for the Tactix securing their first win of the season as the goal shooter piled on the scoreboard pressure thanks to her high volume and accuracy to post.

Bird’s dominance in converting goals unsettled Magic from the start, and caused them to make an early change in the defence to try and keep on top of her, swapping Temalisi Fakahokotau out and bringing Georgia Tong into goal keeper before Erena Mikaere tried her hand in hope to quell the goal shooter’s dominance. 

The Tactix’s were desperate for this win, losing their first three games of the season despite going in as potential favourites and will be hoping to build off this win. 

Mainland Tactix rally to produce first win of 2021

THE home crowd seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mainland Tactix as they registered their first win of the season defeating Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by four goals (63-59). It was a heart in your mouth finish to the game as the Tactix pulled out all the stops in the final term to sneak home.

The Tactix got off to an absolute flyer as they nailed three goals in the opening minute. With speed to burn the Tactix sliced through the Magic defence with Ellie Bird standing steadfast inside the circle as Karin Burger plied her defensive trade to win the ball off Waikato Bay of Plenty’s centre pass. Despite bursting out of the gates, the Tactix lead dwindled away with Caitlin Bassett commanding the ball under the post and taking advantage of the backspace against the aerial Jane Watson. It went goal for goal throughout the middle stage of the term before Watson pounced on a loose ball in defence to send her side into attack. momentum started to lean towards the home side as their quick transition down court caught the Magic defenders off guard.

Nailing five goals in a row enabled the Tactix to claim the ascendancy with the presence of Te Paea Selby-Rickit undeniable. Her workrate out the front was impressive as she helped to dictate the flow in attack with her deft passes causing all sorts of havoc for Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere. The attacking unit as a whole was humming for the Tactix with Georgia Tong injected into the game for the Magic in hope to get some hands to ball and cause the chance for a turnover – and that she did. Her energy filtered down the court as the Magic went on a goal scoring spree of their own to cull the margin back to four goals at quarter time.

Looking for a change of pace in attack, youngster Khiarna Williams came on in goal attack and had an immediate impact with her drive at the centre pass and smooth movement inside the circle helping to reduce the deficit. The Magic came out with a real pep in their step in the second quarter with their defensive connections solidifying as Tong got plenty of hands to ball. After a fast start from Erikana Pedersen the wing attack headed to the bench as Samon Nathan entered the match. Sam Winders started to come into the game for the Magic with the centre using her turn of speed to hit the top of the goal circle while her perfectly weighted passes into Bassett kept Burger and Watson on their toes.

The Tactix were forced to throw the ball around in attack as the Magic defence upped the ante as Georgie Edgecombe covered Nathan’s every move. But the composure of Selby-Rickit in the attacking third was exactly what the home side needed as she used her peripheral vision to  set-up plays. Only one goal separated the two sides for majority of the term as accuracy from all four shooters out on court did not falter. The Tactix converted off a Magic turnover and that gifted them the opportunity to skip ahead as Bird steadied the ship and got her side out to a four goal lead.  With the clock ticking down the Magic mounted another comeback with Tong and Mikaere winning ball back. The swing in momentum saw the Tactix ring in the defensive changes as Burger pushed out to wing defence and Sophia Fenwick pulled on the goal defence bib as the Magic piled on five goals straight to steal the lead.

Kimiora Poi looked to get things underway in the second half, but the Magic quashed that thought, immediately scoring off the Tactix centre pass and then delivering off their own as they established a handy two goal buffer. Still without Grace Kara, youngster Tori Kolose imposed herself around circle edge with her nifty footwork and ball placement encouraging signs for the Magic attacking unit. The vision into the circle for the Tactix was key as they bombed it long to bypass the defensive mess. Things really started to tighten up for both sides while a bit of scrappiness also entered the game as the quarter wound down.

The term was well and truly dictated by the Magic with their connections in attack tracking along nicely. Up the other end it was incredibly laboured for the Tactix as they had to work double as hard as their opponents to weave the ball into the circle and build any form of scoring momentum. But all of a sudden a flick switched for the home side as they piled on five goals straight and subsequently stole the lead.

A big defensive win to start the term played into the hands of the Tactix but their inability to capitalise gifted the Magic with a chance to stay in the hunt. The ball flew up and down the court in the first few minutes of the quarter as both sides continued this blow for blow style of netball. The Tactix skipped out to a three goal lead with a tick over six minutes to play and while Selby-Rickit left the court and Jess Prosser entered the fray the Tactix had their tails up and could sense a win and that they did, largely in part to some strong defensive plays from Watson and Burger.

Bird had a game to remember for the Tactix only missing the one shot to nail 54 of her 55 attempts. Selby-Rickit was influential with her nine goals, 25 goal assists and 23 centre pass receives as Poi found her groove around circle edge with 18 goal assists. Burger picked up two crucial intercepts as Watson recorded eight gains and two pickups. Bassett had arguably her best game for the Magic posting 45 goals from 48 attempts while the injection of Williams paid dividends as the 18-year-old finished with nine goal and 20 goal assists. Tong starred collecting five intercepts and four deflections as Mikaere also got busy with her four gains.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview – Round 4

NORTHERN Stars will be looking to keep their undefeated record intact heading into Round 4 while all eyes will turn to the winless Mainland Tactix who despite putting in a strong effort last round fell agonisingly short.

Northern Stars vs. Southern Steel
Sunday, May 9 @4:15pm

It is going to be an enthralling clash between the Stars and Southern Steel as both sides are coming in off wins. The Stars are in scintillating form, yet to drop a game with their experience and class causing all sorts of havoc for opposition teams, while the youth throughout the Steel unit has provided the side with an element of unpredictability to give them a winning edge.

With Maia Wilson at the helm, the Southern Steel are going to have their hands full down in defence. The Northern Stars captain has only grown with confidence throughout the season with her accuracy and range a couple of notable features in her game play. She will once again need support from Jamie Hume who has proven to be a key playmaker out the front with Monica Falkner missing in action due to her niggling knee injury. Youngster Taneisha Fifita will have to be on her A-game if she is to limit Wilson under the post and will need the experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit to provide additional support in the circle to nullify any easy ball movement. The midcourt battle will also be one to watch as Stars’ midcourter Gina Crampton comes up against her old side and will be hoping to exploit the inexperience of Renee Savai’inaea and Kate Heffernan around circle edge.

But the Steel have an ace of their own up their sleeve boasting the services of George Fisher. The English international has been a rock in attack with her volume and willingness to go to post key. Up against the long arm brigade in Oceane Maihi, Elle Temu and of course Anna Harrison the Steel will have to be crafty with their delivery into the circle to ensure that they are not predictable and do not provide too many opportunities for the Stars defensive unit to gobble up free ball. Expect Tiana Metuarau to shoulder a lot of the load in attack given her attacking nous alongside seasoned campaigner Shannon Saunders.

Mainland Tactix vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, May 9 @6:15pm

After making the grand final last year, it has been an incredibly disappointing start to the 2021 season for the Tactix who have been kept winless from three games so far meaning their clash against the Magic could be season-defining. For the Magic, it has been an inconsistent season notching up a win in Round 1 but unable to recapture those highs in their past two outings. With pride on the line expect both teams to throw everything they have at each other in order to keep their seasons alive.

It is fair to say that the Tactix look like a much better team when Te Paea Selby-Rickit is out on court and that is exactly what we saw last week. Returning from a broken foot and still on limited minutes it will be interesting to see much court time the goal attack gets this round. Her presence provides great confidence to Ellie Bird under the post while her impressive workload also alleviates the pressure on Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi through the midcourt. If the Magic midcourt in Sam Winders and Georgie Edgecombe can get on top early it will go a long way in shutting down the Tactix, while their versatility and depth in the defensive circle is another trump card they hold with Temalisi Fakahoktau knowing both Bird and Selby-Rickit’s game inside out given she was a former Tactix player, while Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong are capable of putting on an aerial masterclass.

Speaking of versatility, the Magic goal circle has a number of options which allows them to switch from a holding circle to a moving one very quickly. With the likes of Caitlin Bassett, Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple at the helm, Waikato Bay of Plenty are bursting at the seams with talent but just need to finesse the entry into the circle. If Grace Kara gets out on court this round it will go a long way in setting up a win, but the Magic will have to combat a developing defensive combination in Jane Watson and Karin Burger to get there. The two are still fine-tuning their connections but have proven their ability to disrupt attacking forays with their tenacity and hands over pressure something that will need to be front and centre in this clash if they are to notch up their first win of the season.

Central Pulse vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, May 10 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Central Pulse play host to the Northern Mystics in what is set to be an exciting battle. The Pulse have been dealt a couple of blows of late with a suspected ankle injury to dynamic midcourter Maddy Gordon and are still trying to fill the void left by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio. However in saying that they have shown glimpses of brilliance but will have to pull out all the stops against a confident Mystics side who are coming off a narrow one-goal win.

The Mystics midcourt will look to exploit Pulse’s developing connections if Gordon is out of action with youngster Paris Lokotui likely to get the nod in wing defence. With Peta Toeava in devastating form with ball in hand and Tayla Earle a real workhorse through the midcourt, their partnership with shooting sensation Grace Nweke is the real concern for the Pulse given their tendencies to deliver no-look bullet like passes into the circle and release the ball with great precision to allow Nweke free reign in the circle. Throw in the experience of Bailey Mes and the other viable options in Filda Vui and Saviour Tui – yet to take the court in 2021- and the Mystics have plenty of explosive shooting power. However, all eyes will turn to the starting position of Kelly Jury with the Pulse defender spending majority of the season in goal defence but does her best work in goal keeper and will need to shut down Nweke. Kelera Nawai has been strong down back but often draws the attention of the umpire which Pulse cannot afford if they want to win, while she also gives away some centimetres to the tall timber in Nweke.

With no Ekenasio – now effectively for the rest of the season following the goal attack’s pregnancy announcement – Aliyah Dunn has picked up the slack in the front-end commanding the ball and controlling proceedings with her strong holds and accuracy to post. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is steadily finding her feet in the attacking unit but will have to combat the niggling style of defence from Kate Burley while Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick is a menace with her court coverage, deceptive closing speed and fancy footwork. It will be up to Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten to bypass the Mystics defenders with their pinpoint passes into the circle.

Nweke seals the deal for Mystics

IT was a frantic finish to the final game of Round 3 in the ANZ Premiership but that did not seem to faze Northern Mystics goaler Grace Nweke who slotted the match-winning goal against Mainland Tactix. The lead ebbed and flowed throughout the game but it was not until the final seconds that the winner was decided highlighting the intensity of the match.

Both sides took some time to settle into the game with a couple of errant shots dictating the rhythm of play as Nweke missed her first shot and Jess Prosser did the same down the other end of the court. The attacking unit seemed somewhat disjointed for the Tactix as a wealth of passes went astray and held ball calls gifted the Mystics a chance to capitalise. The Mystics were playing with complete freedom across the court, threading the needle with great ease and establishing a handy three goal lead to open proceedings. Costly turnovers plagued the Tactix especially through transition and in attack as both Jane Watson and Karin Burger worked in overdrive down back to nullify the ball speed and provide opportunities for their side to win ball.

There was no love lost between Ellie Bird and Sulu Fitzpatrick with the duo battling for each and every pass. Fitzpatrick managed to push Bird out of position with her fancy footwork and bodywork to make Bird somewhat uncomfortable under the post which was a major hindrance for the Tactix as they laboured in attack. The Mystics seemed to do no wrong with Peta Toeava running amok both in attack and defence, getting hands to ball on the transverse line to force a turnover and then stream down the court and into attack. Pushing out to a six goal lead, Mystics wing defence Fa’amu Ioane imposed herself with her defensive craft around circle edge to get a hand in and force a turnover. With their tails up the Mystics put their foot down in the final minute of the game with their speed through the midcourt causing headaches aplenty.

The shaky start to the game continued into the second quarter with both sides throwing ball away and unable to travel down the court with any sort of fluidity. But the Tactix had an ace up their sleeve with Te Paea Selby-Rickit making her highly anticipated return from a foot injury. Although she missed her first shot of the game, her rebounding ability came to the fore as she gobbled it up and slotted her next attempt. The Tactix attacking unit looked more composed with Selby-Rickit out the front despite their accuracy faltering. The increased workload from Charlotte Elley was integral in slowing Toeava down in the Mystics frontend while the double team defence from Watson and Burger on Nweke enabled them to win ball back.

Momentum started to swing in favour of the Tactix as they got back within three goals as Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi took charge through the midcourt, getting on top of Tayla Earle and Ioane. It was an incredibly scrappy quarter but that provided a chance for the Tactix to build confidence as they sliced the lead to one goal. With Selby-Rickit impressing in goal attack for the Tactix, Bailey Mes showcased her class down the other end with a bullet like pass into Nweke to keep their noses in front. After levelling the scores at the two minute mark, Mystics hit back converting off a turnover thanks to their zippy ball movement but it then turned into a good old fashioned shootout with both sides going goal for goal.

The Mystics established a two goal lead in the dying seconds of the second quarter but the Tactix came out with a point to prove in the third nailing the first two goals of the quarter to level the scores once more. This goal for goal dance continued throughout the term as neither side could get much separation both on court and on the scoreboard. Nweke’s presence seemed to be the real gamechanger under the post for the Mystics while Kate Burley got involved in the action spurring her side on to create a four goal lead once again.

With play getting a little bit scrappy once again, the umpire took an unconventional approach to tidy things up, calling over both captains in Watson and Fitzpatrick to address their troops in relation to reducing the number of obstruction and contact calls. Both sides came out of the chat with a renewed sense of calmness but that did not take the heat out of the game with defensive plays from Watson and Earle dictating the final minutes.

With the game on the line the Mystics rung in the defensive changes as Ama Agbeze pulled on the goal keeper bib and Fitzpatrick went out into goal defence. The Mystics once again snuck out a five goal lead as the frontend opened up thanks to their precise ball movement and placement into the circle. A huge intercept from Elley propelled the ball into attack for the Tactix as Bird nailed a couple of consecutive goals. But the fancy footwork and strength of Nweke took centre stage as she slotted the match winning goal off balance and falling out of court with a second on the clock.

Bird managed 39 goals from 45 attempts at 87 per cent and while Selby-Rickit was less than accurate at 56 per cent her 10 goals and nine goal assists played an integral role. Poi led the charge with 17 goal assists while both Burger and Watson picked up two and three gains respectively. Nweke was the go-to girl with 49 goals at 88 per cent while Toeava proved to have the ball on a string with 21 goal assists and 13 centre pass receives. Fitzpatrick was a menace in defence amassing six gains and three intercepts.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 2

ROUND 2 of the ANZ Premiership is set to bring plenty of excitement and unpredictability after a blockbuster opening round of action. Central Pulse are looking for their first win of the season as are the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix, making for an enthralling round of action.

Northern Mystics vs. Southern Steel
Saturday, April 24 @5:15pm

The Southern Steel blew Mainland Tactix out of the water last round and will be eager to bring that level of intensity and hunger in this clash against Northern Mystics. With fresh faces across the court and a number of young, inexperienced players the Steel will be hoping to use their speed and dynamism to catch the Mystics off guard. On the flip side, the Mystics will be hoping to bounce back after a loss and really solidify their connections across the court.

It will be a battle of the goal shooters with both George Fisher and Grace Nweke bookends for their respective sides. Fisher made her intentions clear last round with her strong holds and accuracy to post but will have her work cut out for her up against the tenacious Sulu Fitzpatrick. The goal keeper is a real barometer for her side able to snap up intercepts and pile on the pressure but will need assistance from partner in crime, Kate Burley to quell the influence of Fisher under the post. Up the other end, Nweke is a force to be reckoned with thanks to her aerial strength and overall netball nous. However if the Steel defenders in Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita can pile on the physical pressure and push her up high it could spell danger for the Mystics. While the goal shooters are both staples they have plenty of support in the form of their respective goal attacks with the Mystics boasting the services of Silver Fern Bailey Mes, under 21s star Saviour Tui and the unassuming Filda Vui. Tiana Metuarau is a real livewire for the Steel, able to float into the circle and draw the attention of her defender and is not afraid to do the hard yards out the front making for an enthralling contest.

The midcourt battle will be another element of contention as the Steel have the capacity to rotate a number of players through the centre third with Kate Heffernan relishing the extra court space in centre to reel in those intercepts. If the partnership between Heffernan, Shannon Saunders and Renee Savai’inaea is able to continue as it did last week, it could cause headaches for the Mystics who struggled to penetrate through the defence and hit circle edge last round. In saying that, Peta Toeava is a real game changer in wing attack for the Mystics with her silky ball movement, change of pace and evasiveness.

Northern Stars vs. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, April 25 @4:15pm

The Northern Stars showed that they are a real force to be reckoned with this season but will have to back up their performance against a tough opponent in the Mainland Tactix who lacked a bit of oomph last round. The Stars showcased their defensive and offensive depth while the Tactix struggled to stem the bleeding as the absence of Te Paea Selby-Rickit was felt across the court, something they will be hoping to rectify this round.

Maia Wilson is in ripping form at the moment but will have to maintain that high level output against a quality defensive unit in Jane Watson and Karin Burger. The two defenders are still developing their craft and while they showed glimpses of brilliance will need to up the ante for a full 60 minutes in this clash if they are a chance to nullify Wilson and both Monica Falkner and Jamie Hume out the front who are excellent playmakers. Continuing on the theme of defensive pressure, and wing defence Charlotte Elley will need to put out a solid performance to combat the class and experience of Gina Crampton. The new recruit ran rampant last round, taking advantage of the extra space she was afforded and cannot be gifted the same luxury this round if the Tactix want to get their first win on the board.

Without Selby-Rickit it will be up to Kimiora Poi, Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen to do the heavy lifting in attack to feed the ball into Ellie Bird in the goal circle. Bird has proven she is a rock under the post but needs silver service to be able to really generate scoring prowess for the Tactix. It will not be easy though given the form Anna Harrison and Oceane Maihi, plus Elle Temu if she has recovered from an ankle niggle sustained last round. All three defenders are aerial specialists meaning the Tactix will have to get crafty with ball in hand to ensure they are not predictable in attack.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, April 25 @6:15

The final game of the round sees the Magic take on the reigning premiers as the Pulse search for their first win. It is unprecedented territory for the Pulse who for the past two seasons have gone through almost undefeated and certainly secured that opening round win, meaning they will come out with a real sense of urgency in this clash. That being said, the Magic will be riding high given the impressing showing of versatility and belief to grind out their opening round win.

The attacking unit for the Magic is humming along nicely and with further court time could prove a handful with Grace Kara perfecting those feeds into the circle. Caitlin Bassett will be the one to stop in this clash given her proficiency and overall nous, while both Chiara Semple and Khiarna Williams are no slouches. The shooting duo are more than capable of holding down the fort themselves meaning the Pulse defence cannot afford to focus solely on Bassett. The Pulse will need to combat the Magic’s attacking prowess early and have the calibre of players to do so with Kelly Jury, Kelera Nawai and Parris Mason all capable hands. If Jury gets the nod in her traditional position of goal keeper it will go a long way in setting up a Pulse victory.

Maddy Gordon is still finding her feet in wing defence this season so will have her work cut out for her against the experienced Kara, and will need support from the likes of Claire Kersten out in centre to nullify her output. The absence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio will continue to linger however, although the Pulse have proven that Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is more than willing to stand on her own two feet and slot the goals. Her connection with Aliyah Dunn is still developing, an area the Magic defence spearheaded by Temalisi Fakahokotau will be hoping to exploit. The versatility down back for the Magic is going to be key with Fakahokotau, Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong all serious ball winners and like to cut off the supply heading into the circle, meaning the Pulse will have to be cautious with ball in hand.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young gun watch – Round 1

THE opening round of the ANZ Premiership is done and dusted and with that came some scintillating performances from the next generation of players. This series will cast an eye over a host of under 21s players that made their way out on court and the impact in which they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke
It was another strong showing from Nweke who was solid under the post using her fancy footwork to edge closer. However in saying that, she did look quite flustered at times and cramped for space credit to the impressive defensive work put into stopping her. Nweke managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over but was made to work for her goals by showcasing her athleticism and sheer aerial presence to rip the ball out of mid-air multiple times.

Tayla Earle
The highly talented centre was once again amongst the thick of things using her signature give and go around circle edge to dish off precise feeds and open up the court. Her spatial awareness came to the fore throughout the game while her defensive instincts also did not go unnoticed thanks to her three-foot marking and shadowing style of play to pressure her opponent. Her speed on the drive and lightning fast hands also provided opportunities for multiple attacking forays.

Mainland Tactix: 

Hannah Glen
With the absence of Te Paea Selby-Rickit well and truly felt across the court, Glen grabbed this opportunity with both hands to step up in that goal attack position. Her classy movement and seamless connection with Ellie Bird under the post paid dividends while her overall confidence to back herself from range made a huge difference. Strong on the drive, Glen opened the circle up with her consistent movement and netball smarts to draw the attention of the defender and put her body on the line.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams
Williams only continues to get better with time, adapting to the goal attack position and not skipping a beat. With an innate sense of timing and an all-round sense of composure, Williams dominated both out the front and under the post. She was not afraid to go for the long-bomb and was relatively accurate while out on court. Her injection into the game opened it up given her ability to use the angles while her aerial presence was undeniable despite her small stature.

Georgie Edgecombe
The wing defence played a real shut down role on Peta Toeava. Although she did not feature highly on the stats sheet her ability to niggle away at her opponent and contest every ball is what made her such a force to be reckoned with. Her level of consistency and high output enabled her to get hands to ball and most importantly enabled her to clog up space to reduce the chance of opposition teams weaving the ball onto circle edge.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon
Playing out of the position we all know and love in wing attack, Gordon injected herself into the action only seconds into the game in wing defence. Her speed off the mark and read of the play continuously allowed her to cause turnovers while her space marking style of defence enabled Gordon to get hands to ball. Her work through transition was impressive, working hard to hit the transverse line and provide that backup support for her attackers.

Parris Mason
The youngster made her debut and was welcomed by quite a lot of heat from Northern Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson. But that did not deter her from plying her trade and doing some of her best work out in goal defence to close down the space and shut down her opponent. Her body work was strong given her slim but yet developing physique while her footwork provided her with opportunities to get tips and deflections to propel back down the court. Mason impressed with her all round pressure and tenacity to go out hunting and back herself in.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau
We had all seen glimpses of what Metuarau was capable of but this game was a complete performance by the Southern Steel recruit. Her timing was on song while her connection with George Fisher was something to behold given their limited court time together. Her awareness in attack and nous to get back defensively was second to none reading the play to create a really clever deflection and subsequent gain. She seemed to have the ball on a string in attack and although her accuracy wavered her effort and netball smarts were impressive.

Ali Wilshier
The youngster made her long awaited debut and wasted no time delivering the ball on a silver platter to both Metuarau and Fisher time and time again. Her timing at the centre pass and silky hands came to the fore as did her fancy footwork to manoeuvre around her opponent and claim prime position on circle edge.

Taneisha Fifita
Up against some tough opposition, Fifita used her physicality to offset Bird and push her high. Her constant footwork and game awareness enabled her to go out hunting for the ball and put doubt into the feeders mind. Her aerial strength was another key component in her game plan while her ability to limit the umpires influence was also crucial. Fifita got a hand in absolutely everything, contesting both from behind and in front while her three-foot marking was solid.

Kate Heffernan
Playing out in centre for majority of the game, Heffernan showcased both her endurance and high netball IQ to persistently get herself into damaging positions. A typical wing defence, Heffernan used her extra centimetres to full effect producing a number of turnovers and deflections. she is deceptively quick on her feet given her height while her impressive ball tracking abilities enabled her to reel in a couple of intercepts and make her a force to be reckoned with. Her defensive efforts were not to be overshadowed by her attacking skills working hard to hit circle edge and deliver precise passes into the circle.

Renee Savai’inaea
Fellow newcomer, Savai’inaea was a real livewire in wing defence using her body to push around her opponent and dictate the space. A former circle defender, Savai’inaea used her defensive tactics to keep the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan away from circle edge. Her closing speed was on show while her ability to read the play and get hands to ball was also important. She put up a strong wall in defence, denying any quick or easy ball movement into the circle.

Fisher-inspired Southern Steel shock Tactix with 18-goal win

SOUTHERN Steel stamped their authority on the competition with a resounding win over grand finalists Mainland Tactix (54-36). Sporting new recruit George Fisher from the get-go, the Steel flexed their muscles in attack and dominated play right across the court while the Tactix looked lacklustre without the services of injured star Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

It was blow for blow in the opening quarter with Ellie Bird and Fisher carrying the load for their respective sides. The Steel defence made the Tactix work in overdrive with Taneisha Fifita pushing Bird up high and forcing her to shoot from outside of her comfort zone. The Steel crept out to an early three-goal lead with their defensive pressure enabling them to win ball back and fly down the court to add to their tally. Some crafty feeds from Samon Nathan allowed the Tactix to eat back into the margin but the steady head of Fisher continued to shine through, with the goal shooter controlling the tempo of the goal circle.

Kate Heffernan did not look out of place through the centre, using her long limbs to take a huge intercept in the midcourt and propel the ball into attack as the Steel mounted pressure in attack and defence. Errant passes in the Tactix frontend caused them headaches as they continuously threw ball away, gifting the Steel opportunities to go forward and score. The speed and connection of Tiana Metuarau and Fisher was impressive as the two created a wealth of space. A Karin Burger-inspired intercept sparked the Tactix into action as the attacking plays started to flow to level the scores. With the clock ticking down the Tactix and Steel traded goals to head into the first break at 11 goals apiece.

Both teams came out with a real defensive pep in their step as Burger picked up where she left off with another intercept. The ball continued to ebb and flow across the court with neither side able to build any real momentum before the Steel started to kick into gear. The attacking unit started to hum as Metuarau seemed to have the ball on a string while Fisher found space aplenty inside the circle. Heffernan made her presence felt in defence snatching up another intercept and then using her speed to hustle the ball down the court.

With the lead getting away from them, the Tactix rung in the changes with Erikana Pedersen pulling on the wing attack bib and Hannah Glen making her way on in goal attack. it took a while for the changes to make an impact as the Steel piled on the pressure going on a five goal scoring spree to establish a seven goal lead midway through the second. The wheels well and truly started to fall off in attack for the Tactix with wayward passes dictating the term. Kimiora Poi was well held with the physicality of Renee Savai’inaea getting to her around circle edge to rush the feed into Bird and Glen. The Steel were rewarded for their efforts throughout the term, boasting a six-goal lead at the main change.

A lack of cohesion for the Tactix seemed to be the main issue as they struggled to create space for one another. Fifita built with confidence as the game went on with her three-foot marking and all-round defensive pressure putting Bird under the pump. The cool, calm and collected head of Shannon Saunders became even more impressive against Charlotte Elley who struggled to combat her 1-2 punch around circle edge and precision passes into the circle. The Steel proved they were not afraid to use the width of the court to bypass the zone defence while delivering long balls into the attacking third to give Fisher first access. Jane Watson failed to quell the influence of Fisher who had only missed one goal midway through the third while Burger continued to toil hard using her outside arm to create deflections aplenty.

Scoring proved to be no issue for the Steel with Fisher presenting exceptionally well as they established a 10-goal lead. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was somewhat of an understated star, working in overdrive to shut down the space and double-team Bird inside the circle as the Steel’s overall space-marking cause havoc for the Tactix frontend. With the game on their terms the Steel looked to the bench with Ali Wilshier earning her debut in wing attack as Saunders shuffled into her more traditional role of centre.

The final quarter continued much of the same as with the Southern Steel keeping their foot down and putting in the hard yards down back to render the Tactix inaccurate. The 2020 grand finalists simply could not maintain possession and were denied access into the goal circle. Looking for a spark in defence they pushed Burger out to wing as Sophia Fenwick entered the game in goal defence but it was to no avail as the Steel attackers continued on their merry way, running away with an 18-goal victory.

It was a dominant performance from Fisher who led the way under the post with 46 goals from 49 attempts at 94 per cent and while Metuarau was not overly accurate sitting at 57 per cent her playmaking abilities came to the fore with 20 goal assists. Saunders was influential around circle edge with 16 goal assists, while defensively the efforts of Fifita did not go unnoticed recording eight gains as Savai’inaea also reeled in two intercepts. Bird was the go-to girl for the Tactix nailing 22 goals at 82 per cent with both Glen and Jess Prosser slotting seven goals apiece. Burger was a key cog in defence and through the midcourt recording 11 centre pass receives to accompany her three intercepts and three deflections.

SOUTHERN STEEL 11| 14 | 13 | 16 (54)
MAINLAND TACTIX 11 | 8 | 11 | 6 (36)

STARTING SEVEN:

Steel:

GS: George Fisher
GA: Tiana Metuarau
WA: Shannon Saunders
C: Kate Heffernan
WD: Renee Savai’inaea
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

Tactix:

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Jess Prosser
WA: Samon Nathan
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Karin Burger
GK: Jane Watson

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 1

THE long-awaited return of the ANZ Premiership kicks off on Sunday with Round 1 set to be a blockbuster. A number of new combinations will take centre stage for each of the six sides which will be hoping to show off their star recruits and get an early win on the board. Reigning two-time premiers Central Pulse are the team to beat, however have lost some crucial cogs, while the Tactix impressed in the pre-season tournament.

Central Pulse vs. Northern Stars
Sunday, April 18 @4:15pm

Back-to-back premiers, Central Pulse will be keen to open their account with a win but will have their work cut out for them in Round 1 up against the highly talented Northern Stars side. The Pulse have lost a number of crucial cogs with Katrina Rore announcing her pregnancy and Karin Burger moving to the Tactix, ultimately leaving a gaping hole in the defensive unit, while news just broke about Ameliaranne Ekenasio missing the season with fatigue. On the other hand, the Stars well and truly bolstered their stocks, picking up former New Zealand Ferns defender Anna Harrison and welcoming Monica Falkner back from injury.

All eyes will turn to the battle between an in-form Maia Wilson for the Northern Stars and Pulse defender Kelly Jury. The typical goal keeper has the height to match Wilson and can read the play exceptionally well making for an enticing battle under the post. However with a new look defensive unit, Jury could spend some time out of position in goal defence with newbie Kelera Nawai an unknown prospect alongside fellow youngster Paris Lokotui and Parris Mason. Harrison is the real game changer for the Stars with her go-go gadget arms, silky movement across the court, speed off the mark and overall class to leap into action. Her partnership with Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi will need to be on song if the Stars are of any chance to limit the easy ball movement of Pulse lynchpin Aliyah Dunn with the goal shooter proving to be damaging and accurate to post when she gets going.

Through the midcourt, Claire Kersten will be the real general for the Pulse using her netball nous, endurance and work around the circle edge to feed the ball into the shooters. But that is not to say that the Northern Stars are not without their own key cogs picking up former Southern Steel livewire wing attack Gina Crampton to pair alongside Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather.

Southern Steel vs. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, April 18 @6:15pm

The Tactix will be out for vengeance having gone down in the grand final last year and looking to go one better in season 2021. Bolstering their stocks this season with the acquisition of Burger, the Tactix will be more than eager to get their first win on the board against the Southern Steel on Sunday, although the Steel are boasting an incredibly different line-up to their 2020 side with multiple fresh faces joining the fray. With this in mind it could take some time for the side to gel as they look to solidify connections across the court and breakdown the Tactix strong core.

Captain Jane Watson is a real general down back for the Tactix, able to patrol the airwaves with great ease and reel in the intercepts for her side. She will most likely be up against England import, George Fisher who is set to make her ANZ Premiership debut. The goaler is cool, calm and collected under the post, able to utilise her height, deceptive movement and long arms to reel in the high ball and dominate under the post. With the partnership between Watson and Burger already developed given their Ferns experience, expect the duo to cause real headaches down in defence as Fisher and fellow newcomer Tiana Metuarau work to find their groove in attack. It will be up to co-captain Shannon Saunders to lead the charge through the midcourt for the Steel with her two-way running and ball deliver key for her sides success. She will have her work cut out for her against a well-polished Tactix outfit boasting the likes of Kimiora Poi, Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen.

The other key cog for the Tactix is goal shooter Ellie Bird who developed at a rate of knots throughout last season with her strong holds and clean hands at the contest, and will be eager to bring her A-game in this clash against the highly physical Taneisha Fifita and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit. There will be plenty of intrigue around Te Paea Selby-Rickit with the Tactix goaler forced to the sidelines with an injury in the preseason.

Northern Mystics vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, April 19 @7:15pm

The final game of the round could easily be one of the most highly anticipated contests of the round with Australian Diamonds goaler, Caitlin Bassett set to make her debut for the Magic. It was a challenging season for Waikato Bay of Plenty last year but some strong off-season recruiting sees them in good stead for their match-up with the Northern Mystics, who fell just short of a grand final berth in 2020. The Mystics will be chomping at the bit as they welcome back some important figures and look to go one better, as both sides will be hoping to get their season off to a flyer.

Looking inside the circle the obvious target for the Magic is going to be Bassett with the goaler a lynchpin in any side she plays for given her long reach, accuracy to post and the speed with which she can score. It will all come down to her partnership with up and coming star Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple as to whether or not the Magic can score prolifically and bypass the defensive unit of the Mystics, which boasts new recruit Ama Agbeze, captain Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley. The battle through the midcourt will be another point of interest with Grace Kara and Sam Winders real livewires for the Magic with their strength – ball placement – as opposed to Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle who are renowned for their speed and dynamic movement.

Another new recruit for the Magic is Temalisi Fakahokotau with the goal keeper eager to make an impact in her debut appearance for the side. In fact, the Magic are brimming with versatile defensive options given Georgia Tong and Erena Mikaere can rotate through a host of positions. However, they will have their work well and truly cut out for them up against an incredibly versatile and multi-pronged attack that can swing from a holding circle to a moving one in the blink of an eye. Grace Nweke is a force to be reckoned with under the post while the return of Bailey Mes adds another string to the Mystics’ bow. Throw in the likes of Saviour Tui and Filda Vui and the Mystics are nicely poised in attack, able to pick from a number of stars if things are not going their way.