Tag: filda vui

2020 ANZ Premiership: Most developed players

WITH Round 10 of the ANZ Premiership season cancelled due to a change in COVID-19 restrictions, Draft Central casts an eye over each side’s most developed players for 2020 ahead of the finals. It has been an unconventional season to say the least with the ANZ Premiership season brought to a halt back March due to the pandemic and teams forced to fly in and out of Auckland to comply with the restrictions in place. But that did not stop each team from performing on the big stage, with the development of a couple of key youngsters front and centre.

NORTHERN MYSTICS – Grace Nweke

Without Silver Ferns goal attack Bailey Mes, the load landed on Grace Nweke and the teenager did not disappoint. The goal shooter was formidable under the post and constantly double teamed in the goal circle thanks to her prowess and ability to score with such ease. She leads all comers when it comes to goals with a whopping 471 at an impressive 89 per cent showcasing her complete and utter dominance. Nweke was the lynchpin for the Mystics in attack, using her height, read of the play, long arms and physicality to win majority of the passes that came her way. Her ability to work within the confined space and strong connection with Peta Toeava were simply unstoppable with the two able to sync up and score within seconds. Starring last season, there were plenty of questions about whether or not she would be able to back up this season, but it is fair to say that the 18-year-old went above and beyond. Her confidence grew throughout the season and allowed Saviour Tui, Asher Grapes and Filda Vui to ply their trade out the front.

NORTHERN STARS – Mila Reuelu-Buchanan

Northern Stars centre, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan has really come into her own in 2020 earning herself back-to-back appearances in Draft Central’s Team of the Week thanks to her dynamic movement. Her vision has developed tenfold in the latter half of the year, able to sight Maia Wilson with ease under the post and become a commanding figure in attack. Reuelu-Buchanan has been key for the Stars through the centre court, often organising traffic with her well-directed passes and applying strong hands over pressure to try and slow down her opposition. The 22-year-old stepped up in the absence of Temepara Bailey who retired last year, getting down to business each and every time she takes the court. She consistently showcases her high endurance to run out full games in the centre position and not tire while combining well with Grace Kara and Jamie Hume on the front line. Her adaptability to cater for the frequent changes in wing defence with Lisa Mather and Fa’amu Ioane rotating through was also on show.

WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC – Kelsey McPhee

Although it was a challenging season for the Magic, Kelsey McPhee proved to be a shining light for Waikato Bay of Plenty with the goal shooter increasing her accuracy and volume to post. Shaky on the shot at times, McPhee displayed her strength to reel in the rebound and block out defenders to give her side a second chance on the shot. Carrying a knee injury later in the season the shooter rose above highlighting her grit and determination. Her ability to shake up her game play was also crucial for the Magic as she got on the move more frequently to drive out of the circle and allow either Abigail Latu-Meafou or Khiarna Williams to float in while her strong holds also allowed the Magic to score quickly. Her 1-2 connection with Whitney Souness was also solid as the two combined on circle edge and from distance credit to her aerial presence.

CENTRAL PULSE – Maddy Gordon

It became apparent in the Pulse’s Round 9 loss to the Tactix just how influential Maddy Gordon is with the pocket rocket able to set the court alight with her turn of pace and slick hands. Relishing the extra court time in 2020 Gordon has taken everything in her stride, hitting the circle edge with speed and precision to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. She is crafty with ball in hand and at times can fly under the radar given the amount of big names across the court but has made a name for herself this season with her constant give and go. Strong in attack her defensive pressure is also a key asset of her game able to win back through the centre third with her three-foot marking and deceptive leap. Her connection with Claire Kersten has developed at a rate of knots throughout the season allowing the two to swing the ball across the court with ease to create space and keep the defenders head on a swivel.

MAINLAND TACTIX – Kimiora Poi

Kimiora Poi is another centre court player who has been in ripping form throughout 2020 and put her hand up for Silver Ferns contention thanks to her strong drives and endurance. She has been a key cog through the midcourt for the Tactix, using her zippy speed to cut through the defence and claim possession. She is quick off the mark and is patient with ball in hand, not afraid to work the ball to circle edge or deliver from distance into the goalers. Her high release on the pass allows Ellie Bird to grab the ball at its peak and keep defenders at bay while her short and sharp interactions with Te Paea Selby-Rickit is a testament to her ability to read the play and play accordingly. Poi is constantly on the move, rotating around the circle edge and setting up clever triangle plays with the goalers and Erikana Pedersen to keep the defenders guessing.

SOUTHERN STEEL – Kate Heffernan

A relatively unknown quantity heading into the season, Kate Heffernan took the competition by storm in 2020 and all but cemented her spot as the starting wing defence for the Steel. She is electric across the court credit to her impressive closing speed to create doubt in the receivers mind and force turnovers. her long wingspan is a crucial to the Steel in defence able to apply strong hands over pressure to block her oppositions vision into the circle and make life hard for them around circle edge. Heffernan is also strong in transition constantly reoffering on the transverse line to reset play or drive through the centre third to punch through and open up space. Her connection with the experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and youngster Taneisha Fifita in defence and combine with Shannon Saunders through the midcourt allows her to play with confidence and back herself to go out hunting for an intercept.

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Tactix defeat Mystics en route to finals

A SEASON defining matchup between the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix opened Sunday’s proceedings of ANZ Premiership action, with both teams fighting to the finish and the Tactix running away with a thrilling one-goal win (43-42). The Tactix extended their consecutive winning record, with the tally now at five on the trot as the side edges closer to a top two finish and finals berth.

A strong start from the Tactix proved the side was well and truly ready for a huge match, with a couple quick deflections forcing errors from the Mystics. Patience down the court was critical with Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick in an arm wrestle with Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit early, not forcing any ball into the circle, where the Mystics’ ball speed into the circle was the complete opposite. 

The Tactix extended an early lead, with cleanliness paying off for a 9-4 start, just over five minutes on the clock in the first term. Charlotte Elley was all over Peta Toeava, and while Toeava was able to free herself with her burst of speed, Elley’s take off and height was paying dividends to force Toeava away from the circle. But brilliant work and a splash of momentum proved the Mystics would not be shot out of the match early, with the lead closing to three goals – though the hunt of Temalisi Fakahokotau was just warming up. 

Bird continued her strong form, while Mystics’ Filda Vui got the start in at goal attack with her cleverness with ball in hand paying off at the other end and influential feeding the ball to Grace Nweke at the post. The mismatch in height between Nweke and Fakahokotau was evident though the goal keeper was doing a great job forcing Nweke to the front space rather than her preferred goal line, allowing Jane Watson to speed into the circle and attempt the block. While Watson did not manage a heap of that ball early, if Nweke couldn’t hold her ground and find the goal line the Tactix were well and truly in with a chance on that long ball into the circle. The Mystics’ comeback saw just a one goal lead at the first change, with Tactix leading 12-11 at quarter time.

Where the circles had much of the action early, through the midcourt was where a huge amount of the battle was fought with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi evenly matched and all but cancelling each other out on the drive. Selby-Rickit’s playmaking ability was huge, opening up a heap of space though her direct opposition in Mystics captain, Karaka was huge early with her drive down the court off the turnover and ability to create the loose ball. Karaka switched on with the home crowd behind her, with exceptional timing to flick the ball back onto the court from behind the post, seeing the Mystics take a two goal lead. Fitzpatrick did a lot of the backup work, partnering well with her hands over pressure.

Up the other end, a few handy rebounds from the Tactix saw a heap of turnover ball drive back down the other end, with Watson’s anticipation and timing on the leap paying dividends as the Tactix turned the tides to take back the lead. Emily Burgess took the court in wing defence for the Mystics to block some of Erikana Pedersen’s vision into the circle with the wing attack’s feeds vital for Selby-Rickit. Meanwhile, Saviour Tui joined the fray with her zippy movement and height adding a different element to the Mystics attack and take some attention off Nweke. Every player on the court was hunting for the turnover and pouncing on any loose ball, though it was the Tactix that headed into the second half with a three goal advantage, 24-21.

A tough second half commenced with no changed from either side to start, with the tough contest continuing and neither side letting off. The Tactix’ versatility through the midcourt continued to pay off, able to zone where required but the one-on-one defence huge too, confusing the space well. The rebound and tap from Fakahokotau and Watson was during once more, with the defensive duo impeccable on the timing to deny ball to Nweke. But the Mystics’ defensive pressure outside the circle was great to limit access to circle edge where the Tactix typically prefer to feed from, with Earle and Burgess’ ability to control the space hard to contend with and allowing Karaka and Fitzpatrick to go out hunting. 

Toeava’s pinpoint feeds continued to shine with Fakahokotau just missing the ball at times and the penalties racking up as the Mystics edged ever closer. Courtney Elliott joined the fray in wing defence with just under five left in the quarter, with the Mystics defender able to adapt well to the contest and her hunt limiting options in attack for the Tactix. That being said, the Tactix continued to fire and maintained the lead, despite the Mystics marching them goal for goal as the treasured Tactix ball limited chances for turnovers in attack. A turnover, resulting goal and next centre pass saw the Mystics close to just two goals once more with less than a minute on the clock, seeing the Tactix head into the final change 34-32 but the Mystics ready to fight to the very end. 

The Mystics’ three-goal run at the end of the third saw them take the first centre pass but the Tactix turned it over immediately to make the Mystics work for a win. The Mystics were still struggling to generate that turnover ball, and while defensively Fitzpatrick had a great intercept the attacking unit was failing to really have that significant defensive impact through the midcourt. The change was made defensively with under five minutes on the clock, with Elliott replacing Karaka in goal defence and Dani Gray back into wing defence. It failed to have a huge impact though, with the Tactix maintaining all the momentum and connections firing all the way down the court. The tightness of the contest saw cautions aplenty handed out in the final term, and while a huge last few minutes from Toeava saw the Mystics come close to victory, the Tactix had the final centre pass and kept the ball safe for a huge one goal victory, 43-42.

Nweke was huge as ever with 37 goals at 88 per cent accuracy, winning the battle against Fakahokotau who racked up just three gains – two deflections and on rebound – while Watson was clinical as ever (four gains from six deflections) limiting attempts from both Tui and Vui with the two goal attacks combining for five goals from nine attempts. At the other end, Bird finished with 30 goals at 91 per cent, while Selby-Rickit plied her trade out the front with 13 goals,13 assists and an intercept to her name – the only Tactix intercept for the match. Karaka was huge with three gains (two intercepts) while Fitzpatrick was quiet compared to her usual form. Toeava led the assists tally with 19 and an intercept, while Tactix’ Pedersen and player of the match, Poi racked up 13 and 15 apiece to go with Selby-Rickit’s haul.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Northern Mystics 12 | 9 | 11 | 10 (42)
Mainland Tactix 13 | 11 | 10 | 9 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Filda Vui
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Dani Gray
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

TACTIX

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: First quarter flurry gifts Steel huge win

AN energetic and highly contested match opened Round 9 of ANZ Premiership action, with the penultimate round seeing Southern Steel host the Northern Mystics. The Steel may not be in with a chance at a grand final berth, but they played like it against the Mystics and burst out of the blocks for a huge four-goal win (51-47).

A nice start from both sides saw predictable end to end play early, with clean hands and patience around the court not seeing a heap of turnover ball. That being said, Taneisha Fifita’s early physicality earned a turnover and early 4-1 lead, using her body-on-body and movement to pressure a feed into Grace Nweke and creating a turnover from the off-balance goaler.

The quick release feed into Nweke proved crucial early, with both Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle not hesitating in the slightest and paying off. While the Steel had the early lead, the Mystics held up well defensively, blocking easy avenues into the goal circle. Kalifa McCollin’s early form impressed, and a couple of uncharacteristic errors from the Mystics allowed the Steel to extend an early lead, knocking away crucial ball. Where each team’s start was clean, they both seemed to lose confidence in the feed, with defence from both sides finding a wealth of loose ball.

An early change towards the end of the quarter saw Filda Vui take the court, and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit immediately stepped up a gear to negate any easy ball in attack. At the other end, McCollin continued to star, putting up 11 goals at 100 per cent accuracy and really putting that offensive pressure on the Mystics who seemed out of sorts. The Steel’s impressive start saw them run away with a 17 goals to eight first quarter lead, with McCollin and Ellen Halpenny keeping the Mystics’ heads on a swivel.

An even start to the second quarter saw the Mystics’ impressive feeds continue, though Kate Heffernan’s ability to limit Toeava’s influence paid dividends with the Steel able to stay ahead of the pack. Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton were dominant with ball in hand, with their constant movement and drives around the circle seeing the duo rocket ball into the circle. While the Mystics were getting plenty of hands to ball, they were unable to collect the loose pickup and win the possession back to drive down court. 

The Steel could not compete with the transition down court off the Mystics centre pass but made up for it in droves with their constant midcourt defence, forcing the Mystics into the corners of the centre third and blocking vision with their zone defence. With both teams adopting a patient approach to the circle feed, the continuous passing caused plenty of opportunity for turnovers in a much more even quarter. The combination of Halpenny and McCollin continues to grow with every match and it shone in this encounter, with the duo rotating better than ever and sharing the load well, forcing a one-on-one defensive approach from the Mystics. But despite that, finicky errors from the Steel say the Mystics claw back the margin, trailing by seven goals at the main break.

The second half saw another change to the Mystics, with Saviour Tui taking the court and using her smooth moving to form a better connection into the circle, able to assist both in and around circle edge. That being said, the side lost the vision and speed of Vui, which stagnated the attack and allowed the Steel to work the lead out once more. Crampton was unstoppable on both the first and second phase, constantly freeing herself from her opposition in Courtney Elliott and able to spot Halpenny’s clever use of space to speed ball into the circle. 

Vision into the circle was spot on by the Steel, with Crampton and Saunders connecting with ease while the patience getting ball inside the circle allowed the Steel attack to continue moving and rotating accordingly. With so much riding on the lob into Nweke, the height difference between Toeava and Heffernan became very apparent as the Mystics wing attack became hesitant on the feed, with Tui’s injection into the game not quite as impactful as expected. Another stellar quarter from the Steel saw the home side extend their lead once more, always a few steps ahead of the entire Mystics unit.

With 58 circle edge feeds to 14 with just a minute left on the clock before three quarter time, it was clear that the defensive pressure from the Steel – and particularly Heffernan and Saunders out the front – was negating any easy feeds into the circle, consistently blocking drives and taking pressure off Fifita and Selby-Rickit inside the circle. With a nine-goal lead heading into the final quarter, the Steel had all the momentum and looked the goods on their way to a fourth win.

The final quarter saw a huge change with Elliott transitioning from wing into goal defence and captain Phoenix Karaka to the bench, and while Elliott added another element to the defensive circle the Mystics lost some of that great run and carry from Karaka driving through the midcourt. Before long the Mystics had drawn back the margin though, shooting the first four of the quarter and Elliott having an instant impact with her energy and hunt for the ball. The battle between Elliott and McCollin was immense, with the duo well matched in the contest and ultimately balancing each other out through the centre. 

While the Mystics were hungry for the ball, the Steel managed to remain ahead with the workrate of Crampton and Saunders continuing to pay dividends. A huge turnover from Dani Gray with under five on the clock saw the Mystics get back a few in a row but patience out the front from the Steel denied a late comeback despite a three-goal margin seeing Mystics well within their chances in the last few minutes. The eventual four goal win (51-47) saw the Steel potentially taking away a huge chance at finals for the Mystics who did not look like a winning team from the get-go.

While McCollin looked ginger in the final few minutes after a couple heavy landings, she continued to star at the post and finished well with a whopping 32 goals from 36 attempts, while Halpenny aided well with 19 goals of her own. Saunders (17 assists) and Crampton (26 assists, one intercept) impressed with their constant pressure paying dividends, while Heffernan was huge with four intercepts. For the Mystics, Nweke racked up 41 goals at 93 per cent, while Toeava racked up 26 assists but five turnovers in the process. Defensively, Karaka, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Elliott combined for seven gains between them, but it was not enough after an excellent start from the Steel set everything in motion.

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

SOUTHERN STEEL 17 | 12 | 14 | 8 (51)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 8 | 14 | 12 | 18 (47)

Steel

GS: Ellen Halpenny
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

 

Mystics

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 8: Mystics end Pulse’s 10-match winning streak

FIGHTING for a potential second spot on the ladder the Northern Mystics knew they had to play hard for a win against Central Pulse, and fight they did, in a season-defining match in Round 8 of the ANZ Premiership. The Mystics stood tall for their greatest win of the season so far, defeating Pulse by two goals (44-42) with a phenomenal final quarter effort doing the job after trailing at every change.

With Karin Burger having the upper hand in their last contest everything needed to go Peta Toeava’s way in the first quarter, with the quick feed into Grace Nweke critical if the Mystics were to get a win. Tayla Earle stepped up to take on some of the pressure on the assist, with the centre-wing attack interplay and speed on the feed crucial to ensure Claire Kersten and Burger were not able to set up. But where the Pulse had confidence shutting down the Mystics attack they had a bumpy start in their own offence, with the pressure from Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka impactful from the get-go. The duo forced uncharacteristic misses at the post from Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio, though the amount of ball turned over by the Mystics was getting the job done and forcing messiness through the midcourt, seeing the Pulse maintain much of the upper hand.

The one on one between Nweke and Kelly Jury saw Nweke have much of the early control, pulling in a couple of tough lobs with Jury’s elevation on the leap giving her a great chance at turning over that ball but to no avail with sticky fingers from Nweke. Pulse’s ability to crowd the play was clear early, bunching up the Mystics to the corners of each third but Fitzpatrick’s phenomenal start ensured the Mystics were always on the case, winning ball back. With the crucial cog still Toeava, ball placement in attack was shaky early as the zippy wing attack gave away a couple easy penalties, allowing Burger to get a hand to a couple of loose balls and seeing the Pulse ahead by two at the first change.

The second quarter started with much the same intensity, with Asher Grapes rotated off for Filda Vui who was quick to have an impact dragging Katrina Rore away from the circle and forcing a one-on-one contest for Nweke. While the Pulse had the speed in attack the Mystics were able to work through a couple messy patches and turn over ball defensively to draw level.

Pulse were able to extend their lead with a couple impressive turnovers and impressive spots into the circle, though Karaka and Fitzpatrick fought back to create errors and inaccuracy within the circle. Ekenasio and Dunn still had control but were a bit shaky, with the Mystics defenders doing a wealth of work to confuse the space and trick the feeders. While ahead by three goals at half time, the Mystics were well and truly in with a chance, having challenged the Pulse and been in the contest for much of the first half.

Tiana Metuarau joined the fray in the third, with the super sub injected to bring some speed and doing just that in attack for the Pulse. The score extended for the Pulse with little movement happening in attack for the Mystics credit to Burger and Kersten keeping the attackers quiet and their hands over pressure paying dividends. With more space in attack and plenty of speed down court the Pulse were able to keep on top of any turnovers, working their way back and causing havoc through the midcourt.

Ekenasio was removed from the court briefly for the blood rule, with the Mystics immediately having an impact and taking advantage of the star player being off the court, though Metuarau was more than capable of holding up out the front too and allowed the Pulse to create a five goal buffer at the final change, leading 35-30.

While the Pulse still had much of the control they could not afford to take the foot off the accelerator in the last quarter, with the Mystics well and truly still in the contest and willing to fight down to the nitty-gritty. With a one-goal margin and under 10 on the clock the Pulse needed to put the foot down, but it was the Mystics that took control, forcing a change and Burger leaving the court, getting plenty of hand to ball but unable to consistently limit the efforts of Toeava.

With Nweke winning the battle inside the goal circle frustration was plain on Jury’s face, while Rore’s cleanliness reduced as the Mystics had nothing to lose and played like it. Clogging up the Pulse centre pass at every chance, the Mystics caused the ball to go across the goal line when aimed for Dunn, then able to transition well with speed down the court to draw even with just over five minutes on the clock. 

Needing to play the safe options down court, the work ethic from the Mystics was second to none with the side in an unprecedented position leading with minutes on the clock and unwilling to hand off a crucial lead after trailing early. With plenty of hustle and cautions flying around the court, a three goal lead was taken by the Mystics who were playing with confidence and building off the Pulse home crowd.

With 30 seconds on the clock the Mystics were still ahead but needed to maintain possession, running away with an excellent and critical two-goal victory, ending the Pulse’s 10 game winning streak in the 44-42 win.

Player of the match Nweke was influential as ever with ball in hand, shooting 38 goals at 86 per cent in a phenomenal outing, while Saviour Tui (four from four) and Vui (two from two) assisted around the circle. Toeava and Earle shared the feeding load with 19 and 17 assists respectively, while Karaka (five gains) and Fitzpatrick (three) both racked up two intercepts and just the 10 penalties apiece. Jury picked up two intercepts while both Rore and Dunn picked up one apiece, with Dunn shooting 21 goals from 23 attempts in a solid performance. Both Kersten and Burger tallied three deflections but none to advantage, while Ekenasio was down on her regular accuracy with 20 from 28 at an uncharacteristic 71 per cent. 

It was both teams’ sole outing for the round, with both taking the court twice next round against the same opposition on alternate days. Mystics are next up on Friday against Southern Steel before taking on Mainland Tactix on Sunday, while Pulse face the Steel on Saturday and Tactix on Monday in a blockbuster penultimate round.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 13 | 12 | 7 (42)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 8 | 12 | 10 | 14 (44)

STARTING SEVEN

Pulse

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

Mystics 

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

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 8

WITH one game already down, Round 8 of the ANZ Premiership will bring plenty of excitement and intense battles with a couple of ladder defining clashes. The top two match-up between the Central Pulse and Northern Mystics headlines the round while up the other end of the ladder the Magic and Steel do battle.

Northern Stars v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 1 August

Coming off a game the night before the Northern Stars might suffer from a bit of fatigue while the Southern Steel will be fresh and raring to go. Likely to be without goal attack Kalifa McCollin with the Trinidad and Tobago shooter going down with a rolled ankle last round, the Stars will be eager to expose their understrength shooting circle.

Maia Wilson is the key cog for the Stars in attack with the goal shooter able to command the ball time and time again and most importantly score freely. She consistently absorbs pressure in the circle to stand strong and back herself posting high tallies every week. Although Wilson is a formidable option it will be up to the likes of Jamie Hume and Vika Koloto to step up to the challenge and showcase their scoring prowess and clever ball movement to draw the attention of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita. Selby-Rickit is one of the most experienced members in the Steel squad and will be in charge of leading the defensive end with her ball winning ways and persistence while Fifita can do the unthinkable thanks to her raw talent and athleticism.

With a weakened shooting unit with McCollin likely to not take the court the load falls to Ellen Halpenny to steer the ship in attack and apply scoreboard pressure. Commonly coming on after half time, Halpenny could be forced to play an entire game which might spark questions of endurance. However Halpenny is a smart netballer that can make shooting look easy with her dynamic footwork and spatial awareness. Expect Kiana Pelasio to get a run out in goal attack with the young shooter able to create a wealth of space and not afraid to go to post. The Stars defence has come along in leaps and bounds in 2020 with Storm Purvis and Kate Burley working exceptionally well together to create a wall in defence and win ball back. They are both strong in the air able to swat away passes and force turnovers to propel the ball back down the court while the chance of Daystar Swift and Oceane Maihi entering the contest also gives them another option if things are not going to plan.

With the Stars hoping to work their way up the ladder and Steel plagued by injury the Stars should have the upper hand in this contest.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 2 August

In their second game of the round the Mainland Tactix will be searching for a win and edge closer to top two contention. Despite putting up competitive performances the Magic have failed to register a win since the season restart and will once again have their work cut out for them against a gallant Tactix outfit.

The Magic have a wealth of options in defence with Georgia Tong and Erena Mikaere both able to rotate through the goal keeper position while Holly Fowler can interchange between circle and wing defence. Tong has an impressive leap able to get hands to ball and disrupt any easy avenue into goal while Mikaere uses her height to apply pressure over the shot. But Ellie Bird has been in hot form recently able to hold strong and use her clever footwork to position herself closer to the post making her a real threat for the Tactix. While Bird is a commanding presence under the post the Magic cannot afford to leave Te Paea Selby-Rickit unattended to roam free both in the goal circle and attacking third as she is often the key to unlocking the Tactix rhythm in attack. Selby-Rickit is a real playmaker in attack for the Tactix, able to create plays with her pinpoint precision passes into the goal circle while pairing that with her ability to go to post especially from long range.

With Kelsey McPhee dealing with a knee complaint it will be up to the likes of Khiarna Williams and Abigail Latu-Meafou to take the court and showcase their dominance. Williams showcased her brilliance and raw talent last week with her ability to hold strong and move cleverly around the circle to create space for her to receive the ball under the post. However she is still young, something that the Tactix defenders will be hoping to exploit given their experience and dominance in the air to swat away balls and simply shut down any sort of movement inside the goal circle. The combination between Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson is incredibly strong with the two able to rotate through the circle with ease and read the play off one another to gobble up loose ball. Watson’s ability to stay away from the whistle and remain in play is what makes her such a commanding figure for the Tactix in defence while she can also ply her trade through the midcourt with her drive and clever ball movement.

The Tactix have a strong core group across the court with their connections able to link up and cause havoc for the Magic who at times have struggled with consistency and often fall off the boil when the pressure is on.

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 2 August

Sitting undefeated at the top of the ladder the Central Pulse will be hoping to leave no stone unturned in their soul game of the round against the second place Northern Mystics. These two sides played back in Round 6 with the Pulse dominating from start to finish and showcasing their ability to keep teams at bay with their suffocating pressure across the court something the Mystics will be hoping to rectify this round.

Struggling to find her mojo and form in recent weeks it will be up to Peta Toeava to really lead the attacking unit and deliver clean and clever ball into Grace Nweke under the post. Toeava has speed to burn while her vision into the circle is second to none meaning the likes of Central Pulse wing defence Karin Burger will have to go with her every step of the way to ensure that the Mystics frontend is shut down. Nweke is a real powerhouse under the post with her aerial ability ball control an impressive balance to stay in play time and time again. However it is the goal attack position that often causes issues for the Mystics with Asher Grapes, Saviour Tui and Filda Vui all rotating through that position in hope to find some type of continuity and alleviate the pressure on Nweke. With a somewhat unsettled shooting combination it allows the likes of Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore to get to work and wreak havoc with their hunting mentality and ability to read the play. Jury has been in ripping form, causing tips and turnovers while Rore has simply gotten better with age shutting down every goal attack that comes her way meaning the Mystics will have their work cut out for them.

Similar to the Pulse, the Mystics boast an impressive defensive line-up with Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka a damaging duo down back. Their tenacity and physicality can often offset opponents with the duo fighting for every inch of space and clogging up the circle credit to their fancy footwork. But they will have to bring their a-game if they are to rattle the Pulse with Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio hardly ever fazed by the intensity. Dunn is a thorn in the side for many teams with her accuracy to post and skill to edge closer to the post while Ekenasio often seems to have the ball on a string both inside and outside the goal circle. Both are incredibly accurate not giving the Mystics a chance to win ball back while Tiana Metuarau is also a force to be reckoned with given her injection of speed and high netball IQ.

Looking to make it 11 wins straight expect the Pulse to come out firing but if the Mystics can pull off an upset here it will do a wealth of good to their confidence only weeks out from the finals.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Southern Steel
Monday, 3 August

Having only played two rounds ago the Magic will be keen to exact revenge on the Southern Steel and claim that all elusive win that they have been searching for. On the other hand the Steel will be keen to showcase that they are not easy beats and continue to climb their way up the ladder.

The midcourt battle is where it will all unfold with Sam Winders a key cog for the Magic in attack and in defence given her ball winning abilities and skill to change the course of a game within an instant. Winders is a real workhorse across the court constantly plying her trade and encouraging her teammates to follow suit with her tenacity on court. The revelation of Fowler out in wing defence has worked wonders for the Magic, applying strong hands over pressure and creating havoc for opposition teams. However the Southern Steel are littered with key players through the mid court with Silver Ferns duo Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton both renowned for their ability to deliver the ball on a silver platter to their shooters. Crampton can hit the circle edge with great pace and precision to ensure that she keeps the defenders at bay and has easy vision into the goal circle.

In attack Whitney Souness will be key for the Magic if they are to get over the line. She is a real energiser bunny in the front half of the court given her speed off the mark and quick hands. If Souness is not shut down she will be able to link up with Latu-Meafou, McPhee and Williams with ease and give them plenty of opportunity to apply scoreboard pressure. Therefore it will be up to Kate Heffernan to nullify her influence through the centre and attacking third. Heffernan often flies under the radar but is crucial to the Steel defence with her three foot marking and intercepting ability.

There is plenty at stake for both sides with the Magic hoping to work their way off the bottom of the ladder and Steel keen to continue on their merry way and rectify their lacklustre start to the season.

ANZ Premiership – Round 7: Mystics bounce back to deliver Magic an eighth straight loss

WITH both the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Mystics coming into the last match of ANZ Premiership Round 7 off the back of frustrating losses, both teams came out with a fire in the belly in a must-win for the Mystics. The fading Magic are still yet to get a win on the board since the return of the season, with the Mystics bouncing back well to defeat Magic 45-39.

The Mystics may have put out a disappointing performance on Sunday night but had a fire in the belly and were ready to fight for a win from the get-go. A lack of communication across the court for both sides led to a mostly untidy start from both teams, with the Magic benefiting off uncharacteristic Mystics errors and with some indication now of how to shut down Grace Nweke and Peta Toeava aiding in winning ball back.

Magic’s defence was on from the first whistle, forcing errors from the usually confident Mystics. With Asher Grapes getting the start in goal attack but thus far in 2020 not having a huge impact on the scoreboard, the likes of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong put the pressure on Nweke to limit options at goal. With defenders all over Nweke, hesitance on the feed saw the Magic pick away air ball, with Mikaere starting strong at one end and youngster Khiarna Williams holding up well at the other.

Making her first ANZ Premiership start, 17-year-old Williams impressed early and held up well in attack, with her shorter height and speed seeing a solid combination between her and Abigail Latu-Meafou with a moving circle paying dividends early. While both sides were applying a wealth of defensive pressure, the lack of offensive pressure from both sides saw a low scoring and relatively even first quarter. Both were inaccurate for the most part in the beginning, though the two teams settled into the game well for 11 goals apiece at quarter time.

But the Mystics switched on the defensive gears in the second, with Sulu Fitzpatrick out hunting and forcing slower ball movement and resets from the Magic to limit avenues to circle edge. A held ball call and a couple of timely deflections from Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka saw the Mystics gain the upper hand, though their frequent errors and lack of support from Grapes in goal attack kept the Magic within touching distance. 

A couple of confident feeds from Toeava kept the Mystics ahead but with plenty of drive the Magic were still in it, attacking every ball and doing their bit across the court to force errors from the Mystics. Nweke began to gain the upper hand towards the end of the quarter, finding much better control of the space against Tong and benefiting off Grapes drawing Mikaere out of the circle. Ahead by three goals at half-time (24-21), the Mystics could not afford to take the foot off the accelerator in the second half.

The second half saw huge circle changes from both teams, with Magic tall timber Kelsey McPhee sitting at the post and the unafraid Filda Vui assisting Nweke in goal attack for the Mystics. The changes made by both teams saw immediate benefits, with both teams having a bit more freedom across their attack units and fresh connections seeing the see-sawing affair continue. While both teams took some time to work into the new connections, the Mystics began to take control midway through the quarter, applying a wealth of defensive pressure to extend to a six-goal lead. 

A plethora of defensive changes for the Magic midway through the term saw the Magic steal back some of the lead, with Mikaere switching into goal keeper and immediately forcing a missed shot from Nweke. While still playing a moving circle, the Magic attack opened up a fraction with McPhee adding a crucial tall option but still seeing plenty of rotation as Latu-Meafou worked the circle around the creative movement of Whitney Souness and Sam Winders. An unexpected switch up in attack by the Mystics saw Vui leave the court for Saviour Tui with just a few minutes left on the clock, adding another layer in attack as the Mystics well and truly ran away with an eight goal margin at the final change.

Fitzpatrick continued to have a flyer, dominating and not allowing McPhee an inch of space, but so did Mikaere who was crucial deflecting shots on goal, with her timing and elevation allowing her to bat away Tui’s attempts at the post. Changes continued to rain on both sides, with a highly physical contest seeing the Magic inch back the margin but unable to really take back control in the dying minutes, leaving their comeback too late and going down by six goals, 45-39.

Player of the match Toeava was a key difference in this one, plying her trade with ease and racking up 23 goal assists from a whopping 43 feeds, using her speed to reposition and open up space in attack. For the Magic, Souness was just as impactful with 21 from 46 and was also a force to be reckoned with at the centre pass with 21 receives. All three Magic goalers were fairly accurate, with Latu-Meafou (17 goals from 21 attempts), McPhee (12 from 14) and Williams (10 from 13) plying their trade but putting up 12 less shots than the Mystics. 

Both Vui and Tui had much more impactful games than their output suggests, putting up four and two goals respectively but drawing attention away from Nweke at the post. Nweke was down on her usual accuracy with 39 goals from 47 attempts at 83 per cent, which was well and truly down to the work rate of Magic’s Mikaere who racked up two intercepts, a pickup and a rebound alongside her four ungathered deflections that put doubt in the Mystics’ minds. Up the other end, Fitzpatrick was consistent as ever with two intercepts and two deflections and was miles cleaner than Mikaere (18 penalties) with just six to her name.

>>>MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 13 | 14 | 7 (45)
WBOP MAGIC 11 | 10 | 9 | 9 (39)

NORTHERN MYSTICS

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

WBOP MAGIC

GS: Khiarna WIlliams
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam WI\inders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

 

ANZ Premiership – Round 7: Steel stun Mystics to jump off the bottom of the ladder

IN their sole game of the round, the Southern Steel stunned the Northern Mystics in a complete four quarter performance, downing them by six goals (47-41). The Steel came out with a real fire in the belly, connecting well across the court and applying a wealth of pressure both in attack and defence to force the Mystics into uncharacteristic errors. It was an unusual outing for the Mystics, unable to sync up in attack while defensively they struggled to generate their normal intensity and ball winning ways with the Steel capitalising on each opportunity that came their way.

The first quarter was played with great intensity as the Steel looked to punish early and repeatedly hit the scoreboard to worry the Mystics out of the contest. Although not the most accurate start to the game, Kalifa McCollin showcased her impressive goal nous and skill inside the goal circle to create a constant option under the post and use her speed to expose Sulu Fitzpatrick, despite the goal keeper getting her hands to a wealth of ball. Goal attack, Kiana Pelasio imposed herself on the contest for the Steel with the youngster using her agility and netball smarts to keep the circle moving. It was a different tale for the Mystics in the goal circle with both Grace Nweke and Saviour Tui going at 100 per cent accuracy but simply struggling from a lack of supply.

Holding a narrow lead, the Steel came out with a wealth of confidence with McCollin taking everything in her stride and owning the goal circle with her innate timing along the baseline. But the Mystics were not about to lie down with the defensive unit winning ball back but unable to capitalise with a held ball call going against them in the centre third gifting the Steel with another opportunity to push forward. Phoenix Karaka stood up to the challenge with an intercept of her own as the ball ping-ponged up and down the court with neither side able to maintain any form of momentum.

With the pressure mounting the Mystics kicked it up a gear working hard both in attack and defence to even the scores with Nweke doing the damage at the post with consecutive goals. However the Steel were desperate to make an impact and cause an upset pushing back midway through the term, going on a mini four-goal scoring spree to establish a solid lead. The influence of Gina Crampton through the attacking third was profound with the wing attack carving up the Mystics defence and using her quick hands to deliver bullet-like passes into McCollin. Struggling to find rhythm in attack, Peta Toeava made her way to the bench with the Mystics wing attack unable to link up with Nweke and inflict her normal amount of attacking pressure. The injection of Emma Iversen seemed to do the trick with the experienced midcourter able to spot the space and deliver, however that was short lived with the Steel making changes of their own in attack with Ellen Halpenny entering the game and providing a calming presence. The pressure from the Steel was next level with the Mystics notching up 14 turnovers for the half and forced to one side of the court with the Steel stifling their ball movement to create a five goal lead.

The half-time break seemed to pay dividends for the Mystics, scoring the first goal of the half and playing with more intensity as the connection between Iversen and Nweke blossomed. But the combination of McCollin and Halpenny was equally as impressive up the other end with the two having a field day, keeping Fitzpatrick and Karaka’s heads on a swivel. The Steel played with confidence and freedom in attack relishing the movement and experience of Halpenny in the goal circle while McCollin got busy out the front with her drive and flair to link up with Shannon Saunders time and time again.

Chugging along nicely in attack the defence took it up a notch with Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita impressing with their aerial ability and skill to shut down Nweke at the post and clog up every inch of space to keep her off balance. The wheels slowly started to fall off for the Mystics with the Steel pushing out to a seven goal lead thanks to the party tricks of the Trinidad and Tobago product in the goal circle. As the Steel midcourt continued to cause havoc, Emily Burgess made her way to the bench with Courtney Elliott replacing the Aussie in hope to shut down their drive in attack and win ball back, something they had been struggling to do all game. Unable to generate any form of movement in the goal circle, the introduction of Filda Vui was key with the goal attack providing a spark with her speed and willingness to go to post. Pushing out to as much as six goals the Mystics managed to slice the margin back to four with a quarter to play.

Only minutes away from their third win of the season, the Steel did not leave anything to chance with Fifita and Selby-Rickit hunting every ball that came their way while in attack the goalers made the most of their chances at the post. Vui landed the first blow hitting the scoreboard early and injecting some excitement and speed in the goal circle. But the Steel stayed strong, not willing to give up their lead despite the Mystics making some wholesale changes in the dying minutes. Fans waited with bated breath as McCollin left the court with a suspected ankle injury but that did not stop the flow in attack for the Steel as Halpenny controlled the goal circle and showcased her experience to take the game by the scruff of the neck and romp home their third win to move off the bottom of the ladder.

Nweke was on fire throughout the game with her strong holds and accuracy to post on full display, sinking 32 goals from 33 attempts at 97 per cent. Tui struggled to trouble the scoreboard with five goals while Vui’s cameo appearance did not go unnoticed with four goals from six attempts. Once again McCollin was the star for the Steel with 23 goals while Halpenny showcased her class under the post with 15 goals from 20 attempts. Defensively Fitzpatrick impressed with eight gains (one intercept, six deflections and three rebounds) while Selby-Rickit led from the back with five gains, two intercepts and three deflections.

>>> STEEL PAGE

>>> MYSTICS PAGE

>>> FULL STATS

SOUTHERN STEEL 13 | 10 | 13 | 11 (47)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 8 | 13 | 9 (41)

STARTING SEVEN

Southern Steel:

GS: Kalifa McCollin
GA: Kiana Pelasio
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taniesha Fifita

Northern Mystics:

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 6: Mystics flex muscle in final minutes of quarter against Stars

IN a Battle of the North contest between the Northern Mystics and Northern Stars lived up to the hype with neither side willing to give an inch. Headlined with two towering goal shooters, the game was dictated by their potency with the Mystics coming out on top thanks to a last quarter flurry (51-47). There was a lot on the line for both teams with the Mystics keen to hold onto second spot while the Stars were hoping to jump up the ladder from third.

The Stars seemed to have the ball on a string in the first couple of minutes of the quarter despite a lot of turnover ball from both teams. Wing attack Grace Kara had an immediate impact with a handy deflection along the transverse line while the Stars defenders worked hard to clog up the space in attack for the Mystics goalers. Getting the start in at goal shooter, Grace Nweke did not muck around with the shooting sensation coming out to play despite her sides relatively slow start to the game. The Stars capitalised in the early stages of the match establishing a three-goal lead with Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume showcasing their strong connection with the latter delivering pinpoint precision passes into the goal shooter.

Then something clicked for the Mystics, with Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka finding their rhythm in the defensive circle and winning back ball to fire it down court and eat into the deficit. With seven minutes left in the quarter the Mystics managed to peg it back to one goal before going one better and evening the scores. A loose ball get from the Mystics allowed them to capitalise and take the lead for the first time in the game with Saviour Tui having a profound influence under the post with her strength. But a heavy bump to the goal attack midway through the quarter forced her to the bench with youngster Filda Vui making her debut. Her connection with Nweke was on song from the minute she took the court with the two spending time together in the Beko League and rotating through the circle with ease. Increased defensive pressure from the Mystics at the top of the circle shut down any avenue into goal for the Stars as they skipped out to a four goal lead at the break.

Starting with the centre pass the Stars worked their way back into the contest with Hume impressing with a clever deflection to then stream down the court. Up and about in attack the Stars nailed five consecutive goals in the early stages of the quarter while the Mystics were wasteful with ball in hand unable to capitalise on their chances. Hume continued to grow with confidence, sinking them from range while the efforts of Kara and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan around circle edge were key to the Stars fightback. Reuelu-Buchanan all but shut down fellow centre Tayla Earle, smothering her in defence and then sprinting down the court to have an impact in the Stars attacking third.

At 17 goals apiece Wilson took control, finding good space on the baseline as Hume kept the Mystics defenders busy with her clever rolls. Despite a scrappy couple of minutes neither side could be torn apart going goal for goal before the Mystics pounced with a huge rebound and centre pass to follow, opening up a two goal lead. Their defensive heroics were quickly answered by Stars goal defence, Kate Burley who used her speed to fly through the midcourt and collect an intercept to once again level the scores. With balls flying over the baseline in attack it was up to the defence to stand up to the challenge with the Mystics making the most of the turnover ball to take a one goal lead into halftime.

In hope to find a spark and give themselves a competitive edge the Mystics threw the bibs around with Fitzpatrick and Karaka switching between goal keeper and goal defence while Tui re-entered the game after her knock. With Kara having an influence for the Stars the injection of Emily Burgess paid dividends with the wing defence shadowing Kara’s every step and causing chaos. The changes seemed to pay off as the Mystics opened up a three goal lead while Peta Toeava came alive in the third swinging the ball across the court with great accuracy and delivering into Nweke with ease.

A big win for the Stars defence prompted them to go on a three goal shooting spree to once again draw level. The Stars increased their pressure across the court while the Mystics needed more defensive pressure from their attackers to win ball back. Hume continued to star having a huge influence in the goal circle and sneaking closer to the post at every occasion. A call against Earle gifted the Stars a chance to propel down the court with Wilson showcasing all her attributes to take the lead. The shooter to shooter interplay for the Stars paid dividends with the two flicking the ball around with confidence. The Mystics were doing their most damage when they were quick in attack not giving Storm Purvis or Burley a chance to get ball to hands. But the Stars held onto a one goal buffer to head into three quarter time up.

The Mystics reverted to their original defensive combo with the two looking more composed in their usual positions. The game continued as goal for goal with both teams oozing intensity across the court. Purvis looked to push the Stars ahead with a clever intercept sending the ball streaming down court. Suddenly they were out to a three goal lead but it did not last long with Mystics pressing hard thanks to Nweke under the post and a huge intercept from Fitzpatrick. With Burgess nullifying Kara around circle edge the Stars struggled to get ball into Wilson allowing the Mystics to claim ascendancy in defence and provide opportunities for their goalers to eventually take out a four goal victory.

Nweke was solid under the post once again but down on her accuracy sitting at 80 per cent with 36 goals from 45 attempts. The increased workload from Tui with 10 goals from 11 attempts and Vui slotting five goals from six gave them the upper hand. For the Stars Wilson carried the load once again nailing 36 goals from 40 attempts while Hume plied her trade with 11 goals from 15 attempts. Fitzpatrick was strong in defence with seven gains, one intercept and five deflections. Her efforts were rivalled by Burley who amassed five gains, three intercepts and five deflections. Reuelu-Buchanan impressed for the Stars with 21 goal assists from 41 feeds while Toeava was the main avenue to goal for the Mystics with 22 of her own.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN

Northern Mystics:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Saviour Tui
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Courtney Elliott
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis