IT was an unprecedented season as the ANZ Premiership came to a halt after Round 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but later returned in June to round out the remainder of the season, bar Round 10. The season saw plenty of intriguing battles as teams plied their trade across the court in hope to work their way up the ladder. Draft Central takes a look back at the year that was, with the final team back-to-back premiers, Central Pulse.
Ladder position: 1st
Captain: Katrina Rore
Overall season review:
It is hard to fault the Central Pulse’s season after claiming back-to-back premierships thanks to another dominant year. The Pulse starred from start to finish and despite the enforced break they did not skip a beat, managing to string together 11 consecutive wins led by none other than coach Yvette McCausland-Durie who announced she was leaving the Pulse. The Wellington-based side farewelled their coach in style sending her off with another grand final win under her belt.
Aliyah Dunn was influential under the post once again with the towering goal shooter commanding the ball and delivering to keep the scoreboard consistently ticking over while Tiana Metuarau continued to be a super-sub of sorts to come on and ply her trade. Claire Kersten was a real workhorse for the Pulse running hard both in attack and defence, acting as the link between the two ends. In defence the acquisition of Kelly Jury worked wonders with the goal keeper dominating in the air to rack up the intercepts and stop opposition sides in their tracks thanks to her commanding presence. It did not take long for captain Katrina Rore to adapt to her new defensive partner with the duo wreaking havoc and applying pressure over the shot but it was the work out the front that really benefitted the Pulse. Karin Burger was in scintillating form throughout 2020 with the wing defence contesting every single pass and plying her trade to stop the influence of her opponent while also going out hunting for intercepts. The defensive trio were simply on song and were key cogs in transition, using their speed to get the ball into the shooters within a blink of an eye.
Goal attack, Ameliaranne Ekenasio was a real barometer for the premiers able to dictate the tempo in the attacking third and using her high netball IQ to work her way through the defensive pressure. Ekenasio oozed nothing but class throughout the season, using her strong goal-line drive to catch defenders off-guard while also showcasing her ability to score from the outskirts of the circle. she was never overawed by the physicality of her opponents instead, often rising to the challenge and taking it up to them. she brought Dunn into the game with her impressive spatial awareness and vision into the circle and was pivotal at the centre pass to bring the ball down court. Her ability to turn on the afterburners when needed also gave her that extra competitive edge.
Relishing the extra court time in 2020 speedster Maddy Gordon set tongues wagging with her give and go and sheer dynamism across the court. With Whitney Souness departing the club at the end of 2019, 19-year-old Gordon stepped up to the plate in 2020, often carving up her opposition with her impressive footwork and strong drives. Gordon not only injected speed but plenty of netball smarts into the attacking third, able to weave her way down the court and hit circle edge. Her confidence skyrocketed as the season went on, happy to release the ball from distance into the goalers while her judgement on the pass also increased throughout the season. Gordon’s work at the centre pass was second to none, bursting out of the blocks and then streaming into the attacking third to get involved in the second phase play highlighting her endurance.