Tag: Fa’amu Ioane

Mystics secure grand final position with narrow two-goal win

NORTHERN Mystics secured their standings atop of the table with a hard-fought win over reigning premiers Central Pulse, 56-54. It was a history-making performance by the Mystics who for the first time in their 14 years made it straight through to the grand final thanks to a topsy turvy win to say the least.

The Mystics raced out to a handy lead in the opening term as their blistering speed exploited the Pulse almost immediately. Grace Nweke was her ever reliable self under the post while Kate Burley starred with her sheer athleticism to get hands to ball straight away. The visitors piled on the first three goals of the game with their defensive pressure all but stifling the Pulse’s attack. Aliyah Dunn landed the first goal of the game for the home side with just a tick over two minutes played. Thing settled down for both sides as the game turned into a goal for goal rhythm. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble had a bit of a shaky start missing her first attempt of the game but Dunn was there to mop up as they remained in touching distance despite the three-goal buffer.

It was incredibly tight inside the circle for the Pulse with both Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick fighting for every inch of space and making Dunn and Amaru-Tibble work for every pass. Fitzpatrick dazzled with her fancy footwork as the Mystics fired down the court. Bailey Mes was up and about early nailing her first goal of the game with a tick over five minutes played. Whitney Souness showcased her speed and smarts to steal an intercept as the Pulse managed two consecutive goals to reduce the margin to two goals. A couple of missed shots from Dunn handed possession back to the Mystics as the party tricks started to come out between Peta Toeava and Nweke. All of a sudden a two goal margin blew out to a five goal buffer with the Mystics firing on all cylinders. But the Pulse refused to give in nailing three goals in a row eat into the deficit. Maddy Gordon turned herself inside out to win ball back for the Pulse with the wing defence using her speed and timing to full advantage but the Pulse continued to cough up cheap ball as the Mystics piled on the pressure to head into the break up by seven goals.

The Mystics continued to glide down the court with great ease and accuracy to post converting off a turnover instantaneously. Tayla Earle injected herself into the thick of things as the Mystics nailed two goals in under 30 seconds. In attack the Pulse made a change with Ivana Rowland brought on in goal attack and making an impact with her movement. Claire Kersten was working in overdrive around circle edge as Rowland utilised her support to reposition around circle edge. Nweke was having the rub of the green against Kelera Nawai who was struggling to nullify the influence of the young goal shooter as Kelly Jury was rendered ineffective up against Mes who was carving up the court with her movement.

Rowland was being forced to take the shots and do the heavy lifting in attack with the Mystics defenders double-teaming Dunn. That allowed Fa’amu Ioane and Earle to get hands to ball and propel it down the other end of the court within a heartbeat. Gordon was finding both plenty of the ball and the floorboards as she refused to take a backwards step and inspired the Pulse to contest every ball. It got a bit scrappy from both sides midway through the term as bodies flew across the court and missed shots started to come into play. The Mystics once again restored their nine goal buffer proving to have an answer for everything the Pulse threw at them. The Pulse managed to hit their straps in the final minute of the quarter with Kersten coming through for a huge intercept as they pegged margin back.

It was goal for goal to start the third as both sides quickly settled into their rhythm. Nawai inserted herself into the game a bit more getting hands to ball as the Pulse started to generate some real momentum. Claire O’Brien made her way onto the court for Earle and she did not skip a beat. The Mystics went on a three-goal run as the lead ballooned out to 11 goals. The changes came left, right and centre for the Pulse as Amaru-Tibble was re-introduced into the contest, Jury pushed into goal keeper and Paris Lokotui made her way onto the court in goal defence. The alterations slowly started to work for the Pulse as they managed three goals in a row to cut the margin back down to nine goals. Ama Agbeze entered the fray in goal defence for the Mystics as the home side continued to surge.

The Mystics continued to tinker with their line-up as Filda Vui came on to replace Mes, as Pulse came in with a point to prove in the final term as Amaru-Tibble came to life. But the real magic came when Gordon came screaming through for an intercept as the Pulse got back within six goals. The wing defence was throwing herself at absolutely everything that came her way as the tables started to turn. The passes into the Mystics circle started to waver while up the other end the Pulse were going more direct to the post nailing three goals in a row. The lead dwindled down to five goals and then two within a matter of minutes, but the Mystics managed to hold strong and grind out the game to win by two goals.

Dunn finished with 31 goals from 36 attempts at 86 per cent while Amaru-Tibble managed 18 from 26 but really rallied in the final term to keep her side within striking distance. Souness collected 24 goal assists as Gordon recorded three intercepts and two deflections. Nweke was relatively accurate shooting at 85 per cent with her 52 goals from 61 attempts as Toeava seemed to have the ball on a string with her 24 goal assists. Both Fitzpatrick and Burley combined for five gains in the win.

Steel cause huge upset with a three goal win over top-of-the-table Mystics

SOUTHERN Steel claimed a huge upset win over the top-of-the-table Northern Mystics in the ANZ Premiership by three points last night (61-58). In front of a home crowd, the Steel managed to muster up something special to hand the Mystics their first loss in five games, credit to their full court defensive pressure.

It was the two goal shooters that were dominating early, with George Fisher and Grace Nweke doing the heavy lifting for their respective sides. Kate Heffernan was finding good space in attack for the Steel, hitting circle edge with great conviction to slice through the Mystics’ defence. Both sides had a sense of composure and calmness about them out on court, as they looked to throw the ball around and wait for an opening inside the circle. The Steel went on a mini run with a handy pickup from Tiana Metuarau in the centre third kickstarting a flurry of goals. Despite the Steel going up by three goals, the Mystics found a way to peg the margin back and get onto level pegging highlighting the intensity of the match.

The Steel managed three goals in a row to once again hit the lead but the connection between Nweke and Peta Toeava shone through for the Mystics. The defensive structure from the Mystics increases as they forced a held ball credit to their smothering defence. There were tips and intercepts aplenty of Fa’amu Ioane came to life in defence for the Mystics, while Kate Burley also starred with her fancy footwork to read the play and cleanly intercept the ball. Nweke continued her merry way under the post for the Mystics, rewarding her defenders for their efforts. Costly and uncharacteristic errors from both sides dictated the final few minutes of the term but it was the Steel that still managed to keep their noses in front.

The lead crept out to the highest margin of the night with the Steel establishing a four-goal buffer which quickly pushed out to five-goal lead. The Mystics looked somewhat frazzled out on court, unable to penetrate the defensive unit of the Steel and lacked their usual timing. Shannon Saunders was proving to be a maestro in attack, receiving just about every second pass to create a wealth of attacking forays for her side. the two goal keepers in Sulu Fitzpatrick and Taneisha Fifita that were doing the heavy lifting for their sides as they worked in overdrive to win back possession. The Steel were keen on holding onto their five goal lead constantly hunting for turnover ball to punish in attack.

Another three-goal run for the Steel allowed them to extend the buffer out to six goals, as the Mystics struggled to find answers for Metuarau and Fisher inside the circle. The pair were finding a wealth of space while they also impressed with their accuracy. After a quiet start, Bailey Mes was forced to the bench as Filda Vui came on in goal attack. the Mystics were not the only ones to make a change  as Sarahpheinna Woulf also sprung into action out in goal defence. It was a chaotic final minute of play as Fitzpatrick starred with her athleticism before Heffernan answered the call with her own bit of fancy footwork. Ioane was insistent on not missing out on the party coming through with some real speed to cherry pick a pass as Nweke capped things off with a much needed goal.

Only two goals separated the two sides at half time but that was short lived as the Mystics managed consecutive goals to level the scores. Vui made a good impact since coming onto the court while held ball calls seemed to be the flavour of the match as the ball changed hands time and time again. But every time the Mystics got back within striking distance, the Steel managed to find another gear to kick into going up by three goals.

It was a topsy turvy match as momentum swung back and forth with neither side able to really leave a lasting impact. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was influential through transition, helping out the transverse line to allow the Steel to reset as the home side once again extended out to a three goal lead after being even. Looking for a spark the Mystics headed to the bench as Ama Agbeze entered the fray in at goal keeper as Fitzpatrick pushed out to goal defence. Ioane was proving to be a real nuisance but a lack of discipline from the visitors continued to cost them important ball.

The final quarter lived up to the hype as Nweke delivered back to back goals to draw level once again. The intensity rose in the arena as the clock ticked down with neither team willing to relent on their pressure given what was at stake. Metuarau stood up for the Steel with Fisher well covered by the Mystics defenders. Despite all the best efforts of the Mystics they simply could not do enough to eat into the two goal buffer. Phoenix Karaka made her long awaited return after giving birth and it did not take long for the goal keeper to make an impact down back. But in the end it was the Steel that walked away with a very important win when it comes to ladder standings.

Fisher was remarkable to post once again finishing with 39 goals from 41 attempts at 95 per cent accuracy, while Metuarau was also in hot form shooting 22 goals at 85 per cent to accompany her 21 goal assists. Speaking of goal assists, Saunders also found her groove for the Steel recording 24 for the game along with two intercepts. Savai’inaea impressed out in wing defence with her two intercepts as Fifita amassed two intercepts. Nweke was down on her accuracy sitting at 88 per cent but still managed 50 goals while Vui shot at 100 per cent for her six goals. Toeava racked up 22 goal assists while Fitzpatrick managed four gains as Burley amassed two deflections.

Mystics steal top spot from Stars in battle of Northern sides

A DOMINANT second half saw Northern Mystics overrun Northern Stars in a top of the table ANZ Premiership clash, 65-57. It took a while for the Mystics to warm up but once they did they proved hard to stop with their attack end firing on all cylinders.

It only took a matter of seconds for the Northern Mystics to hit the scoreboard with some silky transitional play allowing Grace Nweke to finish the job. Earning her first start for the season, Stars’ Amorangi Malesala made no mistake with the goal attack using her silky drives to nail the first three goals of the game. A held ball call from Bailey Mes gifted the Stars with the first turnover of the game but they were unable to capitalise as the two sides went goal for goal. The combination between Peta Toeava and Nweke was something to behold with the duo able to make something out of nothing time and time again. A rushed shot from Mes gave the Stars a chance to gobble up the rebound but quick hands from Tayla Earle around circle edge saw the centre regain possession for the Mystics as they continued to hold onto that one-goal buffer.

The Mystics got on a run with two goals in a row before Nweke coughed up the ball and within the blink of an eye the Stars had transitioned the ball down the court. Malesala and Maia Wilson started to weave their magic with Anna Harrison also coming to life. The Stars went on a scoring spree of their own with four goals straight as they swung the momentum back in their favour to open up a two-goal lead. It was an incredibly tight contest with both sides working in overdrive to claim the upper hand as the clock ticked down.

After a quiet opening quarter Kate Burley came to life with a huge intercept to kickstart the second term with Mes rewarding her for her effort up the other end. Both sides were heavily congested in attack unable to find any space and forced to play the ball around allowing the defenders to impact the game. Malesala and Wilson missed their first shots of the quarter but that did not stop them from creeping out to their highest margin of the game. Holding a three-goal lead the Stars upped the ante with Elle Temu coming up with the goods as the lead ballooned out to five goals.

The Stars shook up their defensive structure and play with Harrison coming out to apply hands over pressure on Toeava but the Mystics were not about to be outdone. Burley continued her hot start to the quarter winning ball back once again as the Mystics mounted a comeback. Despite forcing Nweke to turn herself inside out the goal shooter was proving to be cool, calm and collected levelling the scores with six minutes to play in the term. A frantic couple of minutes ensued as turnovers came thick and fast with the ball travelling up and down the court with lightning speed. Mes left the court after copping a knock with Filda Vui injected into the thick of things while up the other end the Stars went about their business slotting four goals in a row. But each time the Stars snuck ahead the Mystics found a way through the defensive combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Burley to win ball back.

Only one goal separated the two sides at half time with the top of the table Stars looking to peg one back. Temu brought fans to their feet with a huge intercept to propel her side into attack while Malesala was relishing her time out on court with back-to-back goals. Gina Crampton reignited her dynamism around circle edge as the physicality cranked up a notch for both sides. After getting out to a three-goal lead the Stars took their foot off the pedal with a couple of costly turnovers allowing the Mystics to rally in attack. Mes was back in the action and nailed a much needed goal – her third of the game – as the Mystics pushed out to a three-goal margin of their own.

The Stars were cramped for space in attack as the Mystics defence shut down all the movement, with Fa’amu Ioane applying a wealth of hands over pressure. The pendulum continued to swing back and forth with the Stars struggling to score with any ease while the Mystics utilised the high long bomb into Nweke to create a four goal lead. Burley took a tumble and prompted a couple of defensive changes with Ama Agbeze entering the game in goal keeper as Fitzpatrick pushed out to goal defence. The cogs were really starting to tick along for the Mystics despite Harrison throwing everything, including herself, at the contest. Lisa Mather was doing a mountain-load of work in transition for the Stars helping to alleviate the pressure on Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan.

Some direct attacking plays from the Stars kept them in the game however slowly but surely the Mystics pulled away. After piling on four goals in a row the lead snuck out to seven with the court-play from Toeava and Nweke causing all sorts of trouble. Oceane Maihi came on in hope to find a spark but her presence did not seem to worry the Mystics frontend in the slightest as they cruised along. There were glimpses of magic but an eight-goal deficit was always going to be tricky for the Stars to overcome, as the Mystics not only won the game but stole top spot in the process.

Wilson upped the ante under the post shooting 35 goals from 41 attempts while Malesala showcased both her volume and accuracy to post with 22 goals at 81 per cent. Crampton and Reuelu-Buchanan were strong in attack notching up 26 and 25 goal assists apiece. Defensively Temu and Harrison were down on their lofty standards but still managed six gains. Nweke set the court alight with her 55 goals from 59 attempts while Vui was next best with her seven goals at 88 per cent from her 19 minutes out on court. Toeava was electric around circle edge thanks to her 27 goal assists while Earle was both a defensive and attacking presence credit to her 15 goal assists and two intercepts.

2021 ANZ Premiership vs. VNSL Team of the Week: Round 10&20

THE final round of Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) action commenced over the weekend with a number of surprise results dictating this week’s Team of the Week. Meanwhile big wins to the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix sees those two sides dominate their Team of the Week.

ANZ Premiership:

GS: Ellie Bird (Mainland Tactix)
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Mainland Tactix)
WA: Peta Toeava (Northern Mystics)
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Northern Stars)
WD: Fa’amu Ioane (Northern Mystics)
GD: Karin Burger (Mainland Tactix)
GK: Anna Harrison (Northern Stars)

BENCH: Grace Nweke (Northern Mystics), Sam Winders (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic), Sulu Fitzpatrick (Northern Mystics)

Returning from injury Ellie Bird made no mistake under the post with the goal shooter using her height to carve up the court. Her strong holds and silky footwork to edge closer to the post made her a constant threat for the Tatix and was a key reason for her sides record breaking win in Round 10. Bird commanded the ball from the opening minutes of play and did not let up despite her brief time on the bench slotting 47 goals. Joining her in the goal circle is teammate Te Paea Selby-Rickit with the goal attack using her nous to play the ball around both inside the circle and out the front. The crafty goal attack was a real maestro using her deft touches to hit up Bird under the post while also backing herself to got to post finishing with 19 goals from 23 attempts at 83 per cent.

It was another stellar performance from Peta Toeava who seemed to have the ball on a string out in wing attack for the Northern Mystics. She was involved in just about every single passage of play, crafting the ball down the court and doing damage both from the top of the circle or in the pocket to deliver pinpoint passes into the circle. Northern Stars centre, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan is back in the side after another strong showing through the centre with her impressive timing and defensive work to win ball back. She was a real menace thanks to her three-foot marking and ability to contest around circle edge while her take-off speed allowed her to fly down the court racking up 20 goal assists. Another player returning from injury but this time for the Northern Mystics was Fa’amu Ioane. The wing defence well and truly left her mark on the match with her athleticism coming to the fore in the defensive third while her closing speed also brought plenty of excitement. Ioane was in the thick of things from the get-go and did not relent on her pressure, staying tight throughout the game and niggling away to finish the match with four deflections and a gain.

Karin Burger only continues to get better for the Mainland Tactix with the goal defence showcasing her impressive read of the play and aerial ability to wreak havoc down back. She was in just about everything, constantly hustling for front position and using her closing speed to shut down the space and win ball back. Burger was not only picking up intercepts and deflections recording six apiece but was also imperative through transition slicing through the opposition defence. Alongside her in defence is none other than Anna Harrison with the goal keeper having a field day out on court with her long arms doing a wealth of damage. It was a phenomenal effort from Harrison who like a cat continuously landed on her feet to spring into action recording a whopping 10 gains four of which were intercepts.

On the bench is Grace Nweke with the goal shooter once again prolific while Sam Winders was a real workhorse for the Magic for the entire 60 minutes. Unlucky not to get the nod in goal keeper, Sulu Fitzpatrick slots into the bench with the goal keeper getting plenty of hands to ball.


GS: Joyce Mvula (Manchester Thunder)
GA: Paige Reed (Severn Stars)
WA: Amy Carter (Manchester Thunder)
C: Beth Ecuyer-Dale (Saracens Mavericks)
WD: Beth Cobden (Loughborough Lightning)
GD: Emma Dovey (Manchester Thunder)
GK: Felisitus Kwangwa (Surrey Storm)

BENCH: Mary Cholhok (Loughborough Lightning), Serena Guthrie (Team Bath), Kerry Almond (Manchester Thunder)

There is no denying that Joyce Mvula was in ripping form as she guided Manchester Thunder to victory. Her 40-goal performance under the post was impressive as she used her heights and body positioning to withstand her direct opponent and shoot freely. Earning the nod out in goal attack for the first time this season is Paige Reed with the Severn Stars goaler utilising her timing and clever court play to her advantage. She was not afraid to back herself on the shot nailing 23 goals from her 25 attempts highlighting her prolific nature and ability to command the ball.

Through the midcourt, Amy Carter proved her wares out in wing attack. She impressed with her ability to open space up while her drive through the attacking third also did not go unnoticed. Her continuous give and go was crucial for Manchester Thunder as she threaded the needle into the goalers time and time again while also picking up a wealth of defensive ball with four intercepts and two deflections. Beth Ecuyer-Dale was a staple through the midcourt providing a sense of composure and calmness for the Saracens Mavericks. Her two-way running and overall netball smarts allowed her to have an impact at both ends of the court. It is no surprise that Beth Cobden secured the wing defence role with the Loughborough Lightning midcourter using her three-foot marking, foot speed and body work to impose herself particularly around circle edge. Her hunt and tenacity was undeniable as she collected nine deflections in what was yet another strong showing.

Emma Dovey was on song down in defence for the Thunder with the goal defence wreaking havoc with her hands over pressure and tenacity. She finished with an impressive five intercepts and five deflections to her name showcasing her ability to cleanly contest for the ball and be a real commanding presence down back. A stellar win from the Surrey Storm sees Felisitus Kwangwa make her way into the Team of the Week with the zippy defender using her read of the play and quick movement to disrupt the play. Her ability to force turnovers and confuse the space was on show throughout the match as she worked in overdrive to win ball back for her side.

The bench consists of a couple familiar names with Mary Cholhok and Kerry Almond who were both solid performers for their respective sides. The final spot goes to Serena Guthrie with the Team Bath centre imposing herself with her two intercepts and two deflections.

Mystics make light work of reigning premiers

NORTHERN Mystics remained in touch with the top of the table Northern Stars thanks to an imposing 13-goal win over Central Pulse, 64-51. They won every single quarter and emptied their bench with a couple of fresh faces getting some valuable court time.

A misplaced ball in the opening passage of play for the Mystics allowed the Pulse a chance to capitalise and that is exactly what they did, flying down the court to open proceedings as Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness used their speed to open up Aliyah Dunn at the post. With the centre pass to follow, Souness found Dunn under the post once again and the Pulse were away. But the Mystics quickly caught up as Grace Nweke found her way to post to level the scores. There were turnovers aplenty for both sides to start the game as they settled into the match and found their rhythm in attack. The battle under the post between Sulu Fitzpatrick and Dunn was enticing as Fitzpatrick started to wear Dunn like a glove forcing Te Amo Amaru-Tibble to shoulder the shooting load, which she did with great ease.

Kelera Nawai was off to a hot start with the goal keeper using her leap and niggle to contest everything that came her way. Pulse were winning their fair share of ball back with Gordon snatching the ball in transition and Nawai a lynchpin down back, and the lead continued to chop and change as neither side was able to steady off their own centre pass with a wealth of uncharacteristic turnovers such as breaks and offensive contacts. A one-goal lead turned into three the way of the Mystics as the Pulse were riddled with bad passes. Kate Burley was having a field day down back, consistently getting hands to ball and creating opportunities for her side to punish as they extended out to a five-goal lead.

The Pulse ate into the margin to cut it back to three goals but the Mystics continued to find a way to score. Peta Toeava was crafty as ever around circle edge with her strength to outmuscle Claire Kersten while her pinpoint feeds into the circle were causing all sorts of chaos. Up the other end, Fa’amu Ioane was getting hands to ball and using her outside arm to cleanly regain possession. The Mystics really put the foot down pushing out to a whopping eight-goal margin with the ball continuing to fall their way despite the constant pressure from the Pulse.

A bit of magic from Dunn falling out of court was somewhat of a spark while Abby Erwood came on for all of a minute in wing defence before Gordon and Kersten switched bibs. Kersten provided plenty of composure in attack to feed the ball in with precision. The aerial dynamos started to come into play for both sides but it was the Mystics, in particular Fitzpatrick, that were running riot. The goal keeper was gobbling up every cross-court ball that came her way and sending the ball rocketing up the other end. Fortunately for the Pulse, Bailey Mes was well and truly off the boil and was unable to hit the scoreboard.

Up by nine goals at half time the Mystics extended that buffer to 10 nice and early in the third quarter converting off a Pulse centre pass. Filda Vui came on to replace Mes out in goal attack with the speedster using her playmaking skills to open up Nweke under the post. Gordon was trying her hardest out in wing defence while it was Fitzpatrick that was proving to be a thorn in the Pulse’s side stopping the ball from entering the circle. Things were not going to plan for the Pulse at all while the Mystics proved to be unstoppable with Ioane having an impressive game upon return while Tayla Earle was an unsung hero through the centre.

Nawai had her work cut out for her down in defence with the ball constantly flying over her head but using her leap to try and have an impact, while at the other end Dunn was struggling in goal shooter only converting at 68 per cent. The ball ping-ponged up and down the court with missed shots from both sides allowing the defenders to impose themselves. With the lead swinging out to a whopping 13 goals the Pulse made wholesale changes as Erwood re-entered the contest in at wing defence as Gordon pushed into wing attack and Souness into goal attack. But it took a while for the cogs to click into gear in the attacking third going into three quarter time down by 11 goals.

The final quarter saw much of the same from the Mystics as their silky transition down court continued to catch the Pulse off-guard. There was simply nothing the Pulse could do as the Mystics treasured possession and mounted pressure with their strong hands-over marking. Toeava was in a bit of discomfort with the wing attack leaving the court prompting Mes to pull on the bib instead, while with the game well and truly out of their reach Parris Mason came on in wing defence for the Pulse with the youngster contesting hard. With a tick under seven minutes on the clock Saviour Tui made her debut for the season while Ama Agbeze slotted into goal keeper shifting the defensive unit forward as the home side continued to purr along nicely.

Nweke was unstoppable once again nailing 54 goals from 63 attempts at 86 per cent as Vui played a strong accompanying role with her six from seven. Tui and Mes both managed two goals apiece with the latter racking up seven goal assists. But the main port of call was Toeava with the wing attack racking up 29 goal assists as Fitzpatrick had a game to remember in defence with five intercepts and a rebound. Dunn finished with 31 goals at 80 per cent as Amaru-Tibble registered 16 goals from 20 attempts. Gordon led the way with 12 goal assists as Jury and Nawai combined for seven gains.

Tactix pip Mystics at the post in overtime thriller

A NAIL-biting finish saw Mainland Tactix pip the Northern Mystics at the post in an overtime thriller last night, 64-63. It was a tight contest throughout, with neither side willing to give an inch and both teams relying heavily on the accuracy and volume of their goal shooter under the post. But in the end it was the composure of Silver Ferns and Tactix goaler Te Paea Selby-Rickit that came to the fore sinking the winning shot for the home side.

Back in front of their home crowd for the second consecutive week, the Tactix came out with a point to prove as Ellie Bird immediately opened proceedings with a strong take under the post and a quick conversion. It was not long until rival goal shooter, Grace Nweke levelled the scores equally impressing with her aerial capacity and strength to reel in the high looping passes. The game went goal for goal for majority of the term as neither side could pull away and gain any sort of momentum credit to the immense defensive pressure all the way down the court. Samon Nathan had her eye well and truly in, delivering pinpoint passes into both Bird and Selby-Rickit as she hit circle edge with pace and kept Fa’amu Ioane guessing.

A costly turnover midway through the term from the Mystics provided the Tactix with an opportunity to switch into attack and score to open up a handy buffer. The Tactix piled on four goals straight, creating some much needed scoreboard separation which they held onto throughout the remainder of the term as the front-end really started to hum and kept the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley on the backfoot. The duo could not afford to leave Bird unattended at the post but at the same time had to put in a wealth of work to limit the impact of Selby-Rickit out the front as the Tactix shooting pair were on song early.

Down by three goals at quarter time the Mystics came out with a real fire in the belly as Nweke levelled the scores nailing three goals in just over a minute. Peta Toeava came to life, threading the ball into Nweke as their connection started to warmup forcing the likes of Charlotte Elley out in wing defence to up the ante. With scores all tied up it was once again Selby-Rickit that stepped up to the plate converting off the centre pass to steady the ship. But the Mystics would not be denied going on another mini three goal run, but this time Bailey Mes injected herself into the contest landing her first goal of the game, after an inaccurate opening term.

The Mystics really started to motor, finding their momentum across the court and using their signature speed to slice through the Tactix defence and keep Jane Watson and Karin Burger off the scent down back. Toeava’s precision passing was undeniable and forced Watson and Burger to constantly reposition and double-team Nweke under the post. the visitors snuck out to a four goal lead midway through the term before the Tactix put a halt to their attacking momentum. Bird and Selby-Rickit fell off the boil with consecutive misses before the latter found her groove once more. In fact, Selby-Rickit nailed four of the last five goals of the quarter to overtake the Mystics who had dominated the entire quarter.

After an enthralling opening half of netball, players and fans alike were gearing up for a bumper second half. Nweke was unstoppable under the post, not missing a single one of her 17 shots while Mes increased her workload out the front for the Mystics. Tayla Earle was her usual dynamic self, impressing with her two-way running and hot hand to dish off cleverly and well-weighted passes into Nweke who was simply on fire. Burger and Watson had no answers for the young goal shooter who was beating them in the air credit to her strength and leap.

The Mystics really turned the screws as the Tactix’s fluidity in attack dried up with Selby-Rickit rendered incredibly inaccurate forcing Bird to shoulder the load inside the goal circle. Just as Earle kicked it up a gear, so too did Kimiora Poi as their battle intensified through the centre, working in overdrive to give their respective side a much needed edge. But in the end it was the Mystics that had the last laugh as they strung together as they nailed six of the last 10 goals of the quarter to take a four-goal lead into the final break.

Having been so close for so long the Tactix were not prepared to let this slide through their fingers. Both sides opted to stay with their same lineup for the final 15 minutes of the game with the Tactix digging deep to steadily eat into the margin. The home side shut down the connection between Toeava and Nweke and looked to attack as Watson came up with a highly important gain to gift possession back to the Tactix. Sinking three consecutive goals saw the Tactix back within striking distance and they did not stop there, tying things up with less than two seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime for the first time this season.

With three minutes of overtime to be played, Nweke struck first to give the Mystics plenty of belief before Selby-Rickit once again levelled the scores. The atmosphere was palpable as both sides looked to treasure possession and capitalise off their centre pass. A game-changing error from Mes all but gifted the Tactix with the win as the Mystics goal attack broke at the centre pass and the Tactix flew down the court to seal the deal.

Bird finished with 44 goals from 53 attempts at 83 per cent while partner in crime Selby-Rickit had a more profound impact to post sinking 20 goals but at a lowly 69 per cent. Nathan led the way with goal assists racking up a team-high 23 while Selby-Rickit and Poi were hot on her heels with 15 apiece. Nweke was her usual dominant self for the Mystics posting 59 goals from 63 attempts as Mes failed to fire under the post with a mere four goals. Toeava once again was the connection between the midcourt and goal circle racking up 23 goal assists while down in defence Fitzpatrick worked relentlessly to finish with five deflections, three gains and two rebounds.

2021 ANZ Premiership vs. VNSL Team of the Week: Round 3/13/14

OUR new Draft Central Team of the Week series continues, composing two teams with one side each hailing from the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) and the other from the ANZ Premiership.

ANZ Premiership:

GS: George Fisher (Southern Steel)
GA: Khiarna Williams (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)
WA: Gina Crampton (Northern Stars)
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Northern Stars)
WD: Fa’amu Ioane (Northern Mystics)
GD: Kelly Jury (Central Pulse)
GK: Elle Temu (Northern Stars)

BENCH: Maia Wilson (Northern Stars), Peta Toeava (Northern Mystics), Temalisi Fakahokotau (Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)

George Fisher continues to get better with each and every game and this contest was no different. The goal shooter stood tall inside the circle with her commanding nature enabling her to dictate the play and pile on the scoreboard pressure at a high accuracy to finish with 48 goals at 92 per cent. Youngster, Khiarna Williams put in a dominant performance in goal attack credit to her innate timing and slick hands to slice through the opposition defence time and time again. Her leap and baseline drive were main features of her game, making her an easy selection given her 20 goals at 95 per cent.

Continuing to relish her time in new colours, Gina Crampton starred for the Northern Stars with her give and go around circle edge. She seemed to have the ball on a string able to setup the play with her change of pace and precision passing doing all the talking. Joining her through the midcourt is Northern Stars teammate Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. The centre showcased her timing and high workrate to thread the needle in attack, running away with 20 goal assists while also plying her trade in defence with her three-foot marking. The wing defence bib falls to Fa’amu Ioane with the Northern Mystics midcourter letting her fancy footwork do all the talking causing trouble with her aerial presence and closing speed as she racked up four deflections and four pickups.

Playing out of position, Kelly Jury impressed for the Central Pulse using her long limbs to swat balls away and implement a strong three-foot guard. Not the quickest player out on court, it was her ability to cherry pick passes and mount pressure inside the circle that saw her earn a spot in the starting seven. It was a convincing performance from Elle Temu down in defence with the goal keeper controlling the airwaves and using her fancy footwork to dictate the space. With a strong aerial presence and clever body positioning at her disposal, Temu had a field day down back picking up three intercepts and seven gains.

Off the bench, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic defender Temalisi Fakahokotau was in just about everything, contesting hard in her outing against the Stars and using her deceptive closing speed to reel in the intercepts. Peta Toeava was her damaging best with ball in hand while the final bench position went to Maia Wilson with the Stars captain flexing her muscles under the post with her 42 goals.


GS: Donnell Wallam (Leeds Rhinos)
GA: Paige Reed (Severn Stars)
WA: Caroline O’Hanlon (Manchester Thunder)
C: Serena Guthrie (Team Bath)
WD: Beth Cobden (Loughborough Lightning)
GD: Layla Guscoth (Team Bath)
GK: Tuaine Keenan (Leeds Rhinos)

BENCH: Rebekah Robinson (Celtic Dragons), Amy Flanagan (Wasps Netball), Vicki Oyesola (Leeds Rhinos)

It was once again hard to go past Leeds Rhinos goaler Donnell Wallam who proved to have a hot hand under the post. Her ability to hold the space and withstand the physicality was paramount as she slotted a whopping 62 goals in her first outing and kept up the pace in her second game of the round. Out in goal attack is Paige Reed who made her presence well and truly felt in her sole outing for the round for the Severn Stars. Her capacity to read the play and slot into the right position was evident as was her range and accuracy nailing 24 goals from 28 attempts.

The experience of Caroline O’Hanlon was on full show as the midcourter plied her trade out in wing attack to weave her magic and hit circle edge for Manchester Thunder. Her impressive timing and precision on the pass enabled her to sight the goaler with ease and most importantly got her hands dirty in defence with three deflections and two intercepts. Serena Guthrie was up to her usual tricks throughout Round 13/14  plying her trade and helping her side get over the line on both occasions. Her ability to read the play and get busy both in offence and defence was crucial and earned her the nod as starting centre. Joining her through the centre is ever-reliable Loughborough Lightning midcourter, Beth Cobden. The wing defence effectively plied her trade through the centre and backline to pressure her opponent and come up big herself with a couple of handy intercepts and deflections to act as a real wall in defence.

Layla Guscoth once again put up a strong effort out in goal defence for Team Bath with her unassuming nature allowing her to win ball back and create attacking opportunities for her side. Guscoth’s read of the play was imperative, as was her footwork, enabling her to cleanly contest passes and earning her the starting position. Back in goal keeper is Leeds Rhinos defender Tuaine Keenan who impressed credit to her hands over pressure, deceptive closing speed to slot into damaging positions and all-round hustle to rack up the intercepts and deflections across both her two appearances.

Amy Flanagan was a pillar of consistency through the centre for the Wasps picking up five intercepts and five deflections while Vicki Oyesola was a ball winning machine for the Rhinos in both her clashes. Winning their first game for the season saw Celtic Dragons secure their first player in the Team of the Week for the season, with Rebekah Robinson impressing under the post with her accuracy and athleticism.

Who would win?

Both sides have a good mix of youth and experience however it is fair to say that the defensive end in the ANZ Premiership side holds the upper hand. Boasting the likes of Jury out in goal defence and up and coming youngster Temu, the side has plenty of X-factor. They also show great depth on the bench with Wilson a commanding presence and unlucky not to get the nod in the starting position. Conversely, the VNSL side do not have the same level of depth in the shooting circle, however would match the midcourt for skill and classy.

2021 Stats wrap: ANZ Round 2 & VNSL Round 12

THE 2021 ANZ Premiership has started with a bang last week and has not stopped producing excellent performances, whilst the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season has not skipped a beat in one of its most exciting seasons yet. This new-look stats wrap will also include Suncorp Super Netball stats with the season starting this week. We run through the notable stats of the round across both competitions.


At the end of the second round of ANZ Premiership, some intriguing stats have come to the fore – namely in the goals column, with the leading goalscorer thus far Northern Mystics’ Grace Nweke, who put up another impressive haul this round to lead all comers with 105 goals from two outings, while Southern Steel newcomer George Fisher and Northern Stars captain Maia Wilson are hot on her tail with 88 and 84 goals apiece. Fisher leads the pack for accuracy at 97 per cent and is yet to really be troubled at the post, whilst Central Pulse’s Aliyah Dunn is also tracking well after an impressive Round 2 performance, coming in at 91 per cent accuracy with 77 goals from 85 attempts, while Nweke’s volume has not outweighed her accuracy, only missing 13 goals from her two matches at 89 per cent.

Round 12 of the VNSL produced plenty of huge results on the scoreboard, with Loughborough Lightning’s Mary Cholhok continuing to dominate under the post with a whopping 482 goals to her name, effectively averaging 40 goals each time she takes the court. Malawian and Manchester Thunder goaler Joyce Mvula is next in line with 342 goals from 11 matches, whilst Team Bath’s Australian sharpshooter Kim Borger comes in at 324 goals. When it come to accuracy it is Leeds Rhinos’ Donnell Wallam who still takes the cake sitting on a 94.31 per cent accuracy from her seven matches, not skipping a beat since returning from injury, while Severn Stars’ Georgia Rowe is close on her tail with 256 goals from 272 attempts at 94.12 per cent. Borger and Mvula are not far behind on 93.91 and 92.68 per cent respectively.


With two ANZ games down and sides still fighting to prove themselves down back, there is not yet a significant difference between intercept and deflection counts across the six teams. That being said, Mainland Tactix goal keeper Jane Watson has taken the early ascendancy with 13 deflections as Stars returnee Anna Harrison sits on 10, while Steel’s Taneisha Fifita, Pulse’s Kelly Jury and Magic’s Georgia Tong round out the top with nine apiece. Jury leads the intercepts alongside Tactix’s Karin Burger with five each, while Fifita, Mila Reuelu-BuchananFa’amu Ioane and Elle Temu remain in close contention after all registering three thus far.

In the VNSL, Towera Vinkhumbo continues to dominate the stats sheet with a whopping 40 intercepts to her name – an average of 3.3 per game – and realistically in no danger of losing that mantle. Layla Guscoth (29 intercepts), Razia Quashie (27), Halimat Adio (25) and Alice Harvey (24) round out the top five. When it comes to deflections, Manchester Thunder veteran Kerry Almond leads the charge with 48 to her name, whilst London Pulse youngster Funmi Fadoju has racked up 42 to sit even with Vinkhumbo. Leeds’ Vicki Oyesola (39 deflections) and Adio (38) have also made their mark down back.


In the ANZ Premiership, there is no denying the impressive work-rate of Mystics attacker Peta Toeava, proving critical with her 94 feeds for the season so far and clearly finding access to the goal circle with ease. Magic’s Sam Winders is not far behind with 89 feeds whilst Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton sit on 71 apiece, whilst Reuelu-Buchanan rounds out the top five and sit on 69 from her two matches, 10 ahead of the next in line in Claire Kersten on 59.

The VNSL does not provide feed/assist statistics.


When it comes to penalties, Jury has found plenty of whistle so far with 36 to her name, while Magic youngster Georgie Edgecombe has registered 30 penalties. Harrison (25), Fifita (23) and Jess Prosser (23) round out the top five, with warning bells ringing for Prosser as the only goaler in the mix to make the top 10 for penalties – something that is a direct correlation with her side’s low standings on the ladder.

In the VNSL, Vinkhumbo leads the pack once more, averaging 12 penalties per game with 144 to her name so far, while three of the bottom sides in Storm, Pulse and Stars feature amongst the five with Leah Middleton (135), Adio (134) and Lucy Herdman (119) all high on the penalty count. Wasps’ Josie Huckle rounds out the list with 125 penalties to her name.

Picture credit: Fiona Goodall/Michael Bradley Photography

Mystics secure strong win over young Steel side

NORTHERN Mystics notched up their first win of the season defeating the Southern Steel by six goals 64-58 thanks to a much more composed and measured approach across the court. It was a fast start from the Mystics and they looked to keep their foot on the pedal throughout the contest, nullifying the quick ball movement the Steel played with in Round 1 to run away with the win.

Steel goaler, George Fisher wasted no time getting involved in the action sinking the first two goals for her side with the precision passing around circle edge paying dividends. The opening few minutes turned into somewhat of a battle of the goal shooters with Fisher steering the ship for the Steel and Grace Nweke commanding the ball under the post for the Mystics. The work of Peta Toeava early was evident with the wing attack using her classy footwork and speed to slice through the oppositions defence. A goal for goal battle ensued with neither side able to break away in the first five minutes of play.

The end to end work from both the Steel and Mystics was impressive as both sides executed at a relatively high rate before the latter turned the afterburners well and truly on. A bullet pass from Toeava into Nweke sent tongues wagging with the duos partnership starting to spark concerns for the young Steel defensive unit. As the quarter went on Bailey Mes got more involved in the action, commanding the ball both in and out of the circle to set up multiple attacking forays. The Mystics really started to rally across the court going on a five-goal run thanks to a Kate Burley inspired intercept and a conversion off the centre pass as they pushed out to a six-goal lead. The fluidity in attack for the Mystics was causing real headaches for the Steel with both Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita unable to quell the pace and dynamism of the opposition goalers, despite the latter getting hands to ball on a couple of crucial rebounds.

The second quarter continued much of the same with the precise ball movement inside the circle allowing the Steel with plenty of opportunities to add to the scoreboard. The Mystics once again went on a mini goal scoring spree with three in a row as Tayla Earle upped the ante in both attack and defence. The Steel were forced wide with Kate Heffernan and Shannon Saunders pushed to the pockets and unable to have their usual impact around circle edge. Fisher continued to be the staple inside the goal circle with Tiana Metuarau leaving a bit to be desired. The breakaway speed from the Mystics was wreaking havoc as they exploded out of the blocks on the turnover and kept their foot on the throat throughout the term as they suffocated the Steel’s movement.

Holding a handy nine goal lead the Mystics maintained their level of composure to keep pushing. Their defensive pressure was key as Fa’amu Ioane got busy with her hands over pressure and aerial capacity to challenge the high ball into the attacking third. She provided good support to Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick in the goal circle as the Mystics looked to retain their buffer. But the overall attacking intensity from the Steel increased in the third quarter as Metuarau injected herself into the game with her dynamic movement and accuracy to post. the angles really started to open up for the Steel with Saunders and Heffernan finding more space and steadily eating into the margin to dwindle it down to seven after getting out to as much as 10 in the early stages of the term.

It got willing between Heffernan and Toeava despite the two not being directly opposed to one another as they traded blows to clog up space and stop the attacking drive to the top of the circle. the transitional play from the Mystics was something to behold as they sped down the court in three passes but the grit and determination of the young Steel side came to the fore as they contested each and every pass. With the Steel starting to mount pressure in attack the Mystics rung in the defensive changes with Ama Agbeze making her way onto the court and shuffling Fitzpatrick out into goal defence to nullify the playmaking skills of Metuarau.

Sensing their first win of the season the Mystics continued to capitalise on their opportunities. their innate connections across the court and ability to withstand the pressure stemming from the Steel was impressive. With the lead getting back out to seven goals it was the Steel’s turn to make the changes as Heffernan slotted into wing defence, Saunders into centre and Ali Wilshier came on in wing attack in hope to provide that spark while Sarahpheinna Woulf pulled on the goal keeper bib. But the tried and tested combinations of the Mystics did not falter as they ran out comfortable winners.

It was a shooting masterclass from Fisher who walked away with an unblemished record, nailing 42 goals straight as Metuarau lent a helping hand with 16 goals from 21 attempts at 76 per cent. Nweke was a strong presence under the post for Mystics with 56 from 60 at 93 per cent as she shouldered the load given Mes only slotted eight goals. Toeava was a master with ball in hand racking up 31 feeds while Heffernan topped the table for goal assists with 17 for the Steel while also picking up three deflections. In defence, Fitzpatrick was strong with three deflections.

NORTHERN MYSTICS 19 | 17 | 12 | 16 (64)
SOUTHERN STEEL 11 | 16 | 14 | 17 (58)


GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Bailey Mes
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick


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

Magic hold off fast-finishing Mystics to claim Round 1 win

WAIKATO Bay of Plenty Magic survived a late scare from the Northern Mystics to secure their first win on the board, claiming a six-goal victory (64-60) to complete the opening round of ANZ Premiership action. Some last minute changes from the Magic seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered to withstand the onslaught and keep the Mystics at bay after leading majority of the match.

The Magic came out hungry with their attacking unit combining seamlessly to create a handy buffer. In her debut outing for new side Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Caitlin Bassett wasted no time asserting her authority under the post to open the account while Chiara Semple adopted the anything you can do, I can do better mantra lighting up the court with deceptively quick footwork and scoring accuracy. A couple of wayward passes marred the first few minutes of the game from the Mystics, missing the hold of Grace Nweke under the post while the overall defensive intensity from the Magic was palpable. Temalisi Fakahokotau took like a duck to water in her new colours, controlling proceedings down back with her aerial presence causing all sorts of headaches.

Bassett continued to toil hard inside the goal circle for the Magic using her body and overall netball smarts to withstand the physical onslaught from the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick. Some fancy footwork from Peta Toeava and long range shooting from Bailey Mes kept the Northern Mystics in the contest as they ate into the five-goal buffer. The issue however still lay with the delivery into Nweke with Toeava and Tayla Earle putting too much heat on the pass and forcing the young goal shooter to twist and turn along the baseline. Some running repairs on the goal post took centre stage with five minutes left on the clock in the opening term as both sides attempted to rectify the issue and event staff also getting involved.

Magic’s stifling defensive pressure continued in the second term as Erena Mikaere took advantage of her long limbs to swat the ball away and contest on the rebound against Nweke. The partnership between Toeava and Mes built with the duo playing with speed and precision to edge the ball closer to the post but the Magic retained their handy six-goal lead. The Mystics went on a five-goal spree sparked by an intercept from Fa’amu Ioane and a turnover from Fitzpatrick allowing them to get back within one goal. A sense of confidence started to spread across the court for the Mystics as their sure-fire connections came to the fore and quick ball movement started to cause headaches in defence for the Magic.

It boiled down to a battle of experience in the latter half of the term with Mes putting on a show both in the circle and out in the midcourt, picking up a huge intercept to once again reel the margin back to a goal. Down the other end it was the precision passing and spatial awareness from Grace Kara that came into play as she attempted to settle the Magic’s attacking unit. Searching for answers and the next gear to kick into, Khiarna Williams came onto the court in goal attack, replacing Semple and automatically inserting herself in the action. The game was played at a frantic pace with a wealth of ball being thrown over the sidelines and both sides struggling to find a consistent rhythm. A connection issue inside the circle for the Mystics saw Filda Vui enter the game at goal attack, immediately combining with Nweke to try and edge closer on the scoreboard.

The Magic proved they were not afraid to make a change despite holding the upper hand at half time with Georgia Tong pulling on the goal defence bib and pushing Mikaere back into goal keeper. An early turnover off Bassett gifted the Mystics a chance to capitalise and that they did with Nweke levelling the scores with just over 13 minutes left to play in the quarter. Toeava was relishing the extra space, particularly around circle edge with Georgie Edgecombe struggling to combat her strength and innate timing, not to mention her silky feeds into Nweke. This goal for goal style of play ensued for a couple of minutes but once again it was the Magic that broke away with Williams taking the reins in attack.

With the Magic getting away from them once again, the Mystics looked to the bench with Danni Gray attempting to shut down Kara in wing attack. The errors were coming quick and fast from both teams given the high intensity and pace of the game. But the wholesale changes kept coming for the Mystics with a reshuffle in the attack end hoping to provide them with more opportunities to score. A five-goal run to the Magic capped off the third terms as they simply could not be denied.

Sam Winders led the troops both in attack and defence with her hunt and tenacity especially around circle edge. Kate Burley started to work her way into the game for the Mystics getting timely tips back in goal keeper as they generated some handy momentum to pressure their opponents and force turnovers aplenty. The home crowd came into play, spurring the Mystics on every step of the way levelling the scores with 11 minutes to play. But the Magic showcased their class, able to settle and calm the flow of play to chip the ball around while also proving their confidence to make the appropriate changes as Semple and Fakahokotau re-entered the match with the latter taking a game changing intercept.

Nweke was down on her accuracy but still topscored nailing 49 goals from 58 attempts at 85 per cent, and while Mes did not have a huge impact on the scoreboard with six goals it was her playmaking abilities out the front that impressed, finishing with eight goal assists. Toeava had the ball on a string with a whopping 32 goal assists from 51 feeds, while Fitzpatrick was a rock in defence amassing five gains, two of which were intercepts. For the Magic, Bassett controlled proceedings with 36 goals at 88 per cent while both Williams and Semple contributed with 12 and 16 goals respectively.


NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 17 | 15 | 17 (60)
WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC 14 | 17 | 18 | 15 (64)



GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Bailey Mes
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick


GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Chiara Semple
WA: Grace Kara
C: Sam Winders
WD: Georgie Edgecombe
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau