Tag: khiarna williams

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: Stars fight back to steal one-goal win over Magic

IN their sole game for the round the contest between the bottom placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and fourth placed Northern Stars went right down to the wire with the Stars coming back from three goals down at three quarter time to snatch a one-goal win (45-46). Both sides went toe-to-toe but were forced to a halt with two milliseconds left on the court as Holly Fowler went down clutching her knee in a shattering performance for the Magic.

The quarter started with plenty of intensity as Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Stars tried to claim the early ascendancy. Kelsey McPhee landed the first blow for the evening before the Stars applied some scoreboard pressure to push out to a two goal lead. But the Magic were desperate to get back into the contest working in overdrive to shut down the Stars and cover each option driving to the ball to force held balls and errant passes. With five minutes left on the clock, the Magic levelled the scores thanks to their increased pressure and speed of Whitney Souness in wing attack.

As the Magic finding their feet in attack and winning ball back in defence the Stars kicked it up a notch with Maia Wilson injecting herself into the contest and holding the space well to command the ball and deliver to post. Goal attack Jamie Hume showcased her playmaking abilities thanks to her crafty passes into Wilson and ability to drive into space and while she did not worry the scoreboard too much she drew the attention of Erena Mikaere. Georgia Tong plied her trade in goal keeper getting hands to ball but a couple of wayward passes saw the Magic unable to capitalise on their opportunities and allow the Stars to hold onto their three goal lead. The Magic mounted the pressure in the dying seconds of the game scoring back to back goals to reduce the margin to a goal and take some momentum into the second term.

Down by a couple of goals Abigail Latu-Meafou entered the game in goal attack and was composed from the get go. She showcased her confidence and willingness to go to post whether it be from circle edge or under the post and connected with McPhee easily. Stars wing defence Lisa Mather proved her worth down back after a clever intercept and was rewarded with Wilson goaling up the other end to send the Stars on a goal scoring spree. The influence of Latu-Meafou was unquestionable injecting speed into the Magic attack line driving hard into the goal circle to keep Kate Burley and Storm Purvis on their toes.

Up the other end the long arms of Mikaere paid dividends for the Magic as the goal defence picking up a rebound and displaying her speed to transition the ball down the court. However Wilson continued her merry way having a field day under the post and shaking up her game play to get on the move. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was electric across the court proving to be a real menace in defence picking up a wealth of loose ball and then flying down court to catch the Magic off-guard and isolate Wilson one-on-one against Tong under the post. After getting out to four goals the Magic fought their way back into the contest in the final couple of minutes with the attacking unit finding space aplenty.

Scores were all tied up at 25 goals apiece as the combination of McPhee and Latu-Meafou worked wonders. Three consecutive goals form the Magic gifted the home side the lead, the first time since the opening term but the Stars were not about to lie down with Wilson reliable as ever under the post. A turnover from the Magic enabled the Stars to reclaim further control and push out to a four goal lead. Relatively quiet by her standards in the opening half Grace Kara worked her way into the match credit to her clever positioning around circle edge and impressive timing to release the ball into Wilson on the hold.

The back-up work on the transverse line from the Stars enabled them to re-set the play time and time again to edge themselves closer to the post. Struggling to force turnover ball Mikaere shuffled back to goal keeper while Jenna O’Sullivan joined the fold in hope to upset the attack. The change seemed to pay dividends as the Magic nailing five goals in a row to snatch the lead in what was a seesawing affair. Captain Sam Winders did not leave any stone unturned throwing her body at every single pass to collect deflections and went flying down the court to deliver the ball on a silver platter to McPhee. The momentum completely shifted as the Magic flipped the tables and established a three goal lead.

As the game was on the line, both sides showed a real hunger and intensity, and the Stars made a host of changes through the midcourt. Fa’amu Ioane entered the game in wing defence and made an immediate impact picking up an intercept credit to her nippy footwork and speed as the Stars looked to cut the margin to two goals. The Magic refused to give in working hard across the court to treasure possession and make the most of their opportunities with ball in hand. Ioane oozed confidence as the wing defence letting ball go with ease into the goal circle as the teams went goal for goal after levelling the scores once more. A missed shot from Latu-Meafou saw Hume deliver the final blow and the Stars runout victors  in what was a tight tussle.

Towering goal shooter Wilson once again led the way under the post nailing 37 goals from 41 attempts. Hume also managed to hit the scoreboard with nine goals and a team high 11 goal assists. McPhee had a commanding influence under the post sinking 27 goals at 84 per cent accuracy, while youngster Williams also made a short cameo, shooting three goals at 100 per cent. Latu-Meafou impressed with 15 goals but was costly at times when it came to turnovers. Defensively Mikaere was key with six gains and two rebounds.

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE 

>>> FULL GAME STATS

WBOP Magic 12 | 13 | 10 | 11 (46)
Northern Stars 11 | 12 | 15 | 7 (45)

STARTING SEVEN:

 Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Khiarna Williams
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 9

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week the player in focus is Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic goaler Khiarna Williams who starred in their victory over the Southern Steel last round.

Age: 17
Height: 183cm
Position: GS/GA

Out of position, 17-year-old Williams burst onto the scene in goal attack with her exquisite timing and impeccable vision into the circle. Although typically playing in goal shooter Williams found her range from the opening minute and showcased her silky movement out the front gliding across the court.

Williams showcased her array of talents holding strong in the circle while also highlighting her aerial ability to sneak out the back and take the ball at full flight. Her deceptive speed and long arms allowed her to reel in a wealth of ball while her composed nature wowed many fans. Although she did not take the court against the Tactix and not play a full 60 minutes against the Steel, Williams proved to be a force to be reckoned with inside the goal circle. She was a key playmaker in the attacking third for the Magic with her drive and second phase play opening up space and allowing her teammates to get to work.

Getting the start paid dividends for the Magic with the Steel caught off guard and taking a while to adjust to William’s presence on court something she made the most of. Her connection with Kelsey McPhee was on song early able to sight the towering goal shooter and delivering the ball with confidence into the circle. The shooter to shooter interplay was solid with the two bouncing off each other, setting screens and rotating through the space to keep the likes of Taneisha Fifita and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit guessing.

It was a physical contest but it did not seem to faze Williams with the teenager absorbing the hits and delivering time and time again to finish with 14 goals from 19 attempts at 74 per cent accuracy. She set the tone early with her desire to go to post and impose herself both in the goal circle and as a key cog through the centre third to bring the ball down the court. Still developing her connection with Sam Winders and Whitney Souness, Williams managed to connect seamlessly with them especially in the goal circle to weave her way into space and command the ball.

Standing at 183cm she is not the tallest shooter but still managed to hold front space thanks to her strength, high netball IQ and fancy footwork to dance around her opponent. Up against Selby-Rickit, the youngster used her tenacity and speed to zip around the court something she will be hoping to replicate this round against the Northern Stars who are renowned for their aerial presence thanks to Storm Purvis and Kate Burley.

Further court time will only allow Williams to continue to flourish and deliver on the big stage given her raw potential and shooting prowess. Her ability to hold her own against quality and experienced defenders is a promising sign for the Magic despite only having a couple of games left in the season.

2020 ANZ Premiership- Preview: Round 9

TWO weeks out from ANZ Premiership finals, it is do or die for the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix who are battling for second spot on the ladder while the Central Pulse have first spot all but sewn up. Conversely, up the other end of the ladder the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel are keen to avoid the wooden spoon and progress up the rankings with a strong finish to the season.

Southern Steel v. Northern Mystics
Friday, 7 August

The round starts with a clash between fifth and third on the ladder with the Steel hosting the Mystics. The Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing downing the Mystics by six goals in Round 7 and while they cannot make finals will be eager to influence how the rest of the season pans out.

The injuries for the Steel have come hard and fast especially in the goal circle but with a couple of games under their belts the connection between Ellen Halpenny and Kalifa McCollin is starting to blossom. Halpenny provides that calming element to the goal circle with her precise movements and impeccable timing to pop out right on cue while McCollin has plenty of flair and dynamism to keep the Mystics defenders busy. The two share the shooting load between them meaning the Mystics will have to focus their energy on both goalers if they are to shut down any easy avenue to post. Sulu Fitzpatrick is a seasoned campaigner able to hold her own in the goal circle and win back ball with her long arms and quick feet to get around the body of her opponent. Partner in crime Phoenix Karaka is just as damaging down back able to shut down her opponent with her smothering pressure and three-foot marking. Although the combination with McCollin and Halpenny is developing, Karaka and Fitzpatrick have proven to be a formidable force meaning the Steel will have to be on their a-game.

Wing defence Kate Heffernan has been in ripping form lately with the young midcourter taking everything in her stride and working hard to own that defensive position. She is a constant threat around circle edge with her long arms but will take on speedster Peta Toeava who not only oozes pace but is renowned for her quick release into the circle. The Steel have options if Heffernan is unable to shut down powerhouse wing attack with Kendall Corkery a more physical and niggly style of player, able to get under the skin of Toeava and reduce her efficiency in attack.

With second spot still up for grabs expect the Mystics to throw everything they have at the Steel and exploit their new connections across the court.

 

Southern Steel v. Central Pulse
Saturday, 8 August

Dropping their first game for this season last round expect the Central Pulse to come out with a real fire in the belly and get the job done early against the Southern Steel. Renowned for their full court pressure and ability to treasure ball the Pulse will be keen to rectify last week’s shortcomings but the Steel will take in a sense of belief after pushing the reigning premiers to their limits in their last meeting.

The midcourt battle will be ferocious with a couple of Silver Ferns lining up against each other. After somewhat of a quiet performance last week Karin Burger will be hoping to assert herself against the Steel and shut down Gina Crampton‘s drive to the top of the circle. Burger is recognised for her three foot marking and long arms to block vision into the goal circle, something that she will be hoping to bring against the Steel in order to limit the influence of Crampton in attack. Partner in crime Shannon Saunders is a real workhorse through the midcourt for the Steel able to have an influence both in an attack in attack and in defence. She will have the job on Pulse centre Claire Kersten making for an intriguing battle between the two given their similarities in game style. Kersten is the key for the Pulse through the midcourt able to provide that consistency and link between attack and defence.

Down on their usual accuracy last week the Central Pulse will be hoping that Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn deliver to post. Ekenasio is a real player maker through the attacking third with her impeccable timing and clever touch to deliver ball on a silver platter to Dunn. They have one of the strongest connections in the competition with the two able to light up the court with their flair and clever ability to create space time and time again. Dunn is a strong holding shooter that is able to post up and command the ball no matter the defensive pressure. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit is the most experienced defender in the Steel defensive unit and will have to lead by example if they are to win ball back. Goal keeper Taneisha Fifita has struggled in the past couple of weeks drawing a lot of attention from the umpires, something she will have to address this game if she is to mount pressure on the Pulse and not give them free attempts at goal. The introduction of Abby Erwood could provide that extra element of composure in defence.

Coming off a loss expect the Pulse to bounce back and showcase why they are the reigning premiers with a strong performance across all four quarters against the Steel.

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 9 August

In their second game of the round the Mystics will want to leave nothing to chance against the second placed Tactix in hope to progress up the ladder and get one step closer to securing a finals berth. In arguably the game of the round both teams will be hoping to prove their worth and showcase why they deserve a spot in the finals. These two teams have a decorated history and are evenly poised heading into the match.

It will all come down to the battle in the goal circle with teenage shooting prodigy Grace Nweke the key to Mystics success given her impressive holds, high volume and accuracy the post. Nweke is a commanding figure under the post and can change the course of a game in an instant given the speed with which she can score and her strength in the air to reel in errant passes time and time again. However their weakness lies within the goal attack position with the likes of Saviour Tui and Filda Vui exciting young prospects but unable to consistently deliver the output required. Tui and Vui are clever with ball in hand but sometimes lack the confidence to go to post piling a wealth of pressure on Nweke to deliver and steer the ship for the Mystics. On the other hand, the Tactix have one of the best defensive units in the competition with Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson ball magnets down back. Watson is exceptionally clean in defence, able to pick up ball without getting penalised and making her a constant threat for any team, while her drive through the midcourt provides an added boost to the Tactix transition. Impressive individually, the connection between the two defenders is what really puts them ahead of the pack given Fakahokotau can read the play with ease and dictate Watson’s position according to what is unfolding in front of her. It will be up to Vui and Tui to draw the attention of Watson to isolate Fakahokotau and Nweke under the post.

With speed to burn through the midcourt it will be an exciting battle between Tayla Earle and Tactix centre Kimiora Poi as the two possess very similar attributes in the way they hunt the ball and then seamlessly switch into attack. They will match each other for speed and vision into the circle making for a tight tussle. Toeava is another key cog for the Mystics in attack while for the Tactix Erikana Pedersen has proven to be the link into the goalers with her dynamic footwork, quick hands and confidence on the pass to bypass the defenders and look long.

The last time these two sides met the Tactix clinched the narrowest of victories and will be hoping to build on that momentum to edge further ahead on the ladder.

 

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Sunday, 9 August

In their sole game of the round expect both the Magic and Stars to go toe-to-toe throughout the four quarters. With a renewed sense of confidence and a win under their belt the Magic will be keen to keep the good times rolling and secure their second win in as many days. Plagued by inconsistency this season the Stars will be hoping to rectify their issues and record their fifth win.

There is no denying that Maia Wilson is the lynchpin in attack for the Stars with the goal shooter a commanding target under the post with her strong holds and high scoring nature. Wilson is incredibly accurate shooting at a combined 94 per cent last round, a feat she will be hoping to replicate once again this week to lead her side to victory. Although Wilson is the go to girl the Stars do their most damage when goal attack Jamie Hume goes to post and troubles the scoreboard. If she can draw the attention of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong it will alleviate the pressure on Wilson under the post and help split the circle to create more one on ones at the post. While Tong is not the tallest defender in the league she makes up for it with her aerial presence and impressive leap to get hands to ball and disrupt the flow in attack, something the Magic will be relying on throughout the contest.

Khiarna Williams has been a revelation for the Magic in attack proving she can play both goal shooter and goal attack with the 17-year-old taking like a duck to water each time she steps out on court. Her growing connection with Kelsey McPhee under the post and Abigail Latu-Meafou is something to behold as the trio are getting stronger and stronger each week. McPhee is an easy target under the post for the Magic meaning the Stars defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Kate Burley and Daystar Swift will have to put in the hard yards out the front to limit her influence to post. The high ball into the circle is often the go to passage of play for the Magic which plays into the tenacious and ball hungry Stars defence.

With relatively even match ups across the court it will come down to the midcourt battle with captain Sam Winders the barometer for the Magic and Grace Kara the playmaker for the Stars. If Winders can dictate the flow through the middle and win ball back the Magic could register another victory.

 

Central Pulse v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 10 August

The final game of the round sees a battle of the top two teams with the Central Pulse hoping to make it three straight wins against the Mainland Tactix. Falling agonisingly short in Round 6 the Tactix will be hoping to go one better and upset the Pulse to prove that they are a real finals contender. Playing in their second game of the round it could come down to the depth on the bench and who can withstand the high intensity battle.

Ellie Bird has really hit her strides in the past couple of weeks with the goal shooter dictating the space and using her height to full advantage to reel in passes and shoot truly. Bird is an exciting prospect when she is on song able to nullify the influence of her defender and use her clever footwork to move around the body of her defender and allow the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit to come through and have an influence in the goal circle. Selby-Rickit, while she might not put up a wealth of shots, does a plethora of work out the front to deliver the ball into Bird and create attacking forays. In saying that, the Pulse have their own star power down in defence with Kelly Jury having a breakout season, showcasing her exceptional lean over the shot and read of the play to create constant disruption down back. Her ever developing connection with Katrina Rore causes plenty of headaches for opposition teams with the two able to hunt the ball while Elle Temu is a solid option off the bench, able to come on and have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure.

The Pulse have speed to burn through the centre court with Maddy Gordon a real excitement machine and energiser bunny able to hit the circle edge with great speed and tenacity. Impressive in attack it is Gordon’s work through the centre third and defensive pressure to try and win ball back that makes her such a dominant threat. Able to play both goal and wing attack Tiana Metuarau is another player to keep an eye on for the Pulse with her spatial awareness and pinpoint passes into the circle. It will be up to wing defence Charlotte Elley to really shut down the influence of Gordon and Metuarau to ensure that the Pulse have limited opportunity to go forward and score. In recent weeks the inclusion of Samon Nathan into wing defence has provided a different element for the Tactix down back.

Expect this game to go down to the wire with neither side willing to give an inch and fighting not only for the win but momentum heading into finals.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Round 8: Emotional Magic clench thrilling one-goal win

TEARS of elation graced the face of the Magic players as they notched up their second win of the season, the first since their return from the COVID-19 enforced break (37-36). It was as seesawing affair with the lead chopping and changing throughout the match and going right down to the wire. Fronting up to their second game of the round the contest between Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel was fierce and lived up to the hype.  With both sides taking a while to find their feet it was the Magic that prevailed in the dying stages settled first and made the most of their opportunities.

Boasting a new look frontline with Khiarna Williams out in goal attack, the Magic looked settled in the goal circle finding plenty of rhythm and space in the front half thanks to her constant movement and vision into the circle. Williams combined seamlessly with Kelsey McPhee as the Magic goal shooter opened their account and set the tone backing herself from range and following her shot in. However it was an extremely physical under the post for the Magic with Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita ploughing through the goalers and drawing the attention of the umpires recording a warning and caution respectively.

Conversely the Magic showcased their defensive prowess through wing defence Holly Fowler who highlighted her tenacity and speed off the mark by throwing herself into the contest to win ball back. Her hunt for the ball enabled her to fire the ball back down the court and into attack to convert and take the lead with the centre pass to follow. With Fowler dictating the play out in wing defence the pressure from circle defenders Georgia Tong and Erena Mikaere was palpable forcing the Steel to throw the ball around and into the corner of the court to allow the Magic defenders more opportunities to collect turnover ball. The Steel struggled for accuracy due to the pressure over the shot while Magic put the foot down to stretch out to a five goal lead at the first change.

It was an even start to the term as both teams treasured the ball and looked to capitalise on their centre pass. Williams seemed to relish the extra court space out in goal attack taking everything in her stride and proving not to be afraid to take the shot. She made full use of her speed and composure to go to post and keep the Steel guessing in defence. Up the other end the connection between Kalifa McCollin and Ellen Halpenny developed throughout the term with the two rotating through the circle well and slotting them with ease. Steel continued to find more space to reduce the margin to two goals and played with a renewed sense of composure. But that did not last long as the back up work on the transverse line from the Magic.  paid dividends

With turnovers coming hard and fast for the Steel the Magic went on a scoring spree establishing a six goal lead before the Steel opted for a couple of changes in defence to upset the Magic. Abby Erwood entered the game in at goal defence while Selby-Rickit slotted back into keeper with the changes having an immediate impact.  But the Magic proved anything you can do we can do better as Mikaere and Tong put in a mountain load of work to cause hesitation on the shot for the Steel goalers. The momentum ebbed and flowed as both sides went on mini runs before the Steel wrestled some control in attack as the wheels started to fall off for the Magic.

After starring in the opening half the Magic made an unexpected change to the shooting combination with Abigail Latu-Meafou injected into the game at goal attack and Williams shifting back to shooter. Despite scoring the first goal for the Magic for the half the connection between Latu-Meafou and Souness was off, unable to find each other in attack and gifting the Steel with a wealth of chances to capitalise on the turnover and open up a two goal lead. The battle between Sam Winders and Shannon Saunders was never ending as the two contested every single ball that came their way. Winders showcased her aerial presence and defensive mindset to get hands to ball time and time again.

The Magic refused to give in fighting their way back to draw level again thanks to their defensive pressure and hands over marking to regather possession and attack. But the Steel lifted in the latter half of the term moving the ball with more freedom and speed in attack. After an accurate half, McCollin moved to the bench as Kiana Pelasio made her way on in goal attack adding a different element for the Magic defence to think about. Although Souness had all the momentum in the opening half youngster Kate Heffernan upped the ante in the third with her quick footwork and insistent pressure around circle edge as the Steel clung onto a narrow lead.

Looking to rekindle their early form McPhee made her way back onto the court while Latu-Meafou maintained her role out at goal attack. Both sides struggled for continuity in the opening stages of the quarter with ball flying left right and centre and missed shots aplenty. With a win on the line the Magic kicked it up a gear fighting hard for every loose ball and confusing the space to create turnovers with captain Winders leading the way and desperation. With a wealth of opportunities coming their way it was inaccuracy that plagued the Magic but that did not stop them as they pushed on to draw level once more. Going goal for goal in the final two minutes a hero was needed and Souness proved to the one with the Magic wing attack taking a huge intercept on the transverse line and Latu-Meafou delivering the match winning goal.

The goal circle combination of McCollin and Halpenny was accurate as ever with McCollin nailing 20 goals from 22 attempts and Halpenny doing just as much damage with 15 goals. Youngster Williams had a commanding influence despite playing out of position in goal attack with 14 goals for the night while McPhee was strong under the post converting 14 goals from 16 attempts. The introduction of Latu-Meafou was influential with the goal attack hitting the winning shot. Souness was a ball magnet with 19 goal assists while the efforts of Crampton for the Steel were unmatched with the wing attack amassing 13 goal assists.

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

WBOP MAGIC 13 | 8 | 7 | 9 (37)
SOUTHERN STEEL 9 | 11 | 12 | 4 (36)

STARTING SEVEN

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Khiarna Williams
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong

Southern Steel:

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

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.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to head: Round 8

IN each round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This week sees a couple of talented centres and Silver Ferns pitted against each other.

WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC v. SOUTHERN STEEL
Sam Winders (C) v. Shannon Saunders

There is no denying that both Sam Winders and Shannon Saunders are barometers for their respective sides, able to dictate the play and turn a game on its head. Both with Silver Ferns experience and a never say die attitude, the contest through the middle will be interesting to say the least.

Renowned for her role normally in at wing defence, Winders has relished the extra court space in recent weeks able to help out in attack and supply key ball into the shooters. Her patience around circle edge and ability to turn on the afterburners in transition is exciting to watch. Throw in her tenacity and high intensity, Winders is a real livewire for the Magic constantly imploring her team to follow her lead and win turnover ball. She is clever with ball in hand, able to read the play and slot into the holes to gobble up passes or swat them away depending on what she sees fit. Winders is a real general through the centre court able to dictate the tempo of the game with her speed or calming notion. Her connections with the likes of Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler in defence are strong while her combination with goalers Kelsey McPhee, Abigail Latu-Meafou and Khiarna Williams is developing at a rate of knots. Winders is not afraid to lay her body on the line and contest every pass. Her spatial awareness is another key attribute of her game play able to deliver pin point feeds into the circle while her rotation with speedster Whitney Souness is also prominent. She really sets the tone for the Magic, leading from the front and hustling for every loose ball.

Fellow centre, Saunders is also instrumental both in attack and defence for the Steel with her turn of speed and undeniable defensive pressure. Her three foot marking is strong, evident in her ability to win ball back and create timely deflections to disrupt her oppositions flow in attack. her experience is paramount to the Steel’s attack given the number of injuries with Kalifa McCollin, Jennifer O’Connell and Georgia Heffernan all sustaining injuries with the latter two ruled out for the season. Saunders has take like a duck to water with all the changes in attack, finding her rhythm to deliver ball into the goal circle and using her quick footwork and precise ball movement to bypass the defenders. There is no denying that her connection with teammate Gina Crampton is also critical to the Steel’s success with the two able to rotate the ball around inside the attacking third and create space when there isn’t any. Still solidifying her combination with Ellen Halpenny, Saunders has led the way with her ability to look long into the circle and deliver the ball with confidence.

Expect a tight tussle in the centre third with neither player willing to give an inch even though both sides are out of the race for finals. Saunders and Winders are renowned for their high endurance and skill with Winders doing most of her damage in the defensive third with her ability to pick up ball and propel it down court. If the Steel can get on top of Winders early it will shut down their midcourt and ultimately give them the upper hand to potentially claim their fourth win of the season.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 7

ROUND 7 of the ANZ Premiership saw some blowout performances and some surprise wins with the Steel toppling the second placed Mystics in a strong showing. The Tactix took their game to the next level while the Pulse kept their winning run intact.

Pulse are the team to beat
The reigning premiers continue to go from strength to strength with Round 7 no exception, going on a rampage against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to record a 23 goal win. They dominated from start to finish with their clean ball movement and accuracy to post framing up to the favourites for the premiership. Goalers Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio led the way with a combined 47 goals from 49 attempts highlighting their prowess in the goal circle. The Pulse simply outclassed the Magic at every turn with their full court press and ability to bring on bench players to inflict the same pain. Their dominance did not stop there with the Pulse also downing the Stars by 10 goals showcasing their competitive edge and winning ways. Kelly Jury starred in her side’s victory over the Stars racking up a whopping four gains from one intercept, six deflections and two rebounds while Katrina Rore’s influence did not go unnoticed with the goal defence collecting three gains, one intercept, two deflections and three pickups.

Super-sub Ellen Halpenny
No matter the time or situation, the injection of Ellen Halpenny pays dividends for the Steel with the cool, calm and collected goaler owning the circle. Halpenny once again proved to be the difference for the Steel, taking ownership and demanding the ball while also showcasing her array of tricks to drag and drop and receive the ball along the baseline. Her effortless movement in the circle makes it easy for Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders to spot her and subsequently feed into her. Up against both Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka, Halpenny held her own and led from the front converting 15 goals from 20 and while she was not overly accurate sitting at 75 per cent it was her work and adaptability in the attacking third that allowed her side to settle when the pressure was on.

Khiarna Williams is an exciting prospect for the Magic
Although only 17, Magic goal shooter Khiarna Williams really announced herself as a serious competitor taking everything in her stride and coming out with a real presence. Not the tallest of shooters, Williams got to work with her nimble footwork and spatial awareness to glide in and out of the circle. Working her way into the match after being injected in the third quarter against the Pulse, Williams took a while to find her feet and while not overly accurate showed plenty of promise with 12 goals from 17 attempts at 71 per cent. She got the start for the first time this season against the Mystics with the youngster taking it up to Fitzpatrick and giving the experienced goal keeper something to think about with her strong hands and willingness to go to post, slotting 10 goals from 13. Her connection with Abigail Latu-Meafou and midcourters Whitney Souness and Sam Winders steadily improved throughout the match giving the Magic plenty of hope for future games.

Accuracy masterclass in the circle
Round 7 proved to be a field day for the goal shooters with Mainland Tactix goaler Ellie Bird sitting at 100 per cent nailing an impressive 37 goals to lead her side to victory. Although no other player managed to record an unblemished shooting record Grace Nweke came close in her match against the Steel with 32 goals from 33 attempts while Dunn also only missed the one goal in her first outing with 19 from 20 attempts. For the Northern Stars the output of Maia Wilson at the post was impressive with the goaler carrying the load in both matches with a combined 61 goals from 71 attempts.

Mainland Tactix should not be underestimated
The Tactix showed exactly what they can do when all of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and the attack, midcourt and defensive units firing on all cylinders. With the likes of Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau renowned for their ability to turn over possession, the attack kicked it up a gear going at 96 per cent shooting accuracy thanks to Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit. The two combined seamlessly able to rotate around the circle edge and shoot from range while Watson and Fakahokotau continued their merry way with a collective nine gains made up of 10 deflections, six pickups and five rebounds. The youthful midcourt of Kimiora Poi, Erikana Pedersen and Charlotte Elley all stood up using their speed and class ball movement to keep their opposition at bay.

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: Pulse dominate Magic in attacking masterclass

IT was a masterclass both in attack and defence from reigning premiers, Central Pulse leading from start to finish and romping home a 23-goal win against the Magic (52-29). Pulse burst out of the blocks with their dynamic movement and impressive ball speed causing all sorts of headaches for the Magic. Their full court pressure proved difficult for Waikato Bay of Plenty with the fifth placed side unable to combat the Pulse’s relentless forays in attack and wall in defence.

Scoring three goals in 90 seconds, it was clear the Pulse were on from the get-go, with Aliyah Dunn landing the first blow of the evening and making the most of her opportunities under the post. However it was a different tale up the other end of the court, as Magic goal attack Abigail Latu-Meafou missed the first and provided the Pulse with a chance to inflict early scoreboard pain. With the game being played at a frantic pace the ball darted up and down the court but it was the connections of the Pulse that stood strong and steadied the ship.

The physical pressure from Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong was undeniable, as the Magic defenders contested every ball refusing to give an inch under the post. With Mikaere and Tong mounting pressure, Pulse goal keeper Kelly Jury proved her worth up against her old side collecting an intercept credit to her clever footwork and body positioning. But Tong proved anything her opposition counterpart can do she can do better, answering the call with an intercept of her own. Seeming to have the upper hand the Magic were determined to fight applying a wealth of pressure at the centre pass and clogging up the transverse line to make life difficult for the Pulse through attack. A Pulse turnover allowed the Magic to capitalise and draw back within a goal, but an unlikely intercept from Dunn gave the Pulse the spark they needed. With less than two minutes left in the term, the Magic rallied once more going on a mini scoring spree thanks to Kelsey McPhee, stringing three goals together and slicing the margin to three at the first break.

The second term was a carbon copy of the first quarter, as Claire Kertsen started with ball in hand while Dunn delivered her sixth goal of the game to steadily extend the margin. The connection between Tong and Mikaere generated plenty of excitement with the two getting hands to a wealth of ball but it was simply not enough to upset the Pulse. Jury picked up where she left off wreaking havoc down back with her long arms with teammate and wing defence Karin Burger joining in on the action with an intercept of her own. Captain Katrina Rore also had a field down back with the goal defence nullifying Latu-Meafou while her presence inside the circle was extreme working in tandem with Jury to apply a wealth of pressure on the shot to make McPhee shoot from distance. With the defence humming and opening up a 10-goal lead Rore moved to the bench allowing Elle Temu to come on and ply her trade.

In attack Maddy Gordon was tearing up the court burning Holly Fowler on the drive to the top of the circle and dishing off bullet like passes into Dunn and Ameliranne Ekenasio. The Pulse goal attack upped the intensity in the second term, gliding into the circle with ease and showcasing her ability to change direction in a heartbeat to keep Tong and Mikaere guessing. The overall ball speed from the Pulse was exceptional, keeping the Magic players head on a swivel but the real damage lay with their accuracy sitting at 89 per cent accuracy compared to the Magics lowly 65 per cent. The 14 goals to six quarter gifted the Pulse an 11-goal lead heading into the main break.

Struggling to generate any scoreboard influence, the injection of Khiarna Williams paid dividends for the Magic, forcing Jury to approach the matchup differently. After missing her first shot of the evening the young goal shooter settled into the line-up well, finding her rhythm and connecting with Whitney Souness out in wing attack. But the Pulse continued their merry way showcasing good patience to work the ball down the court and not force anything, instead relying on their sound structures to deliver.

Gordon wowed with her speed off the mark and skill to chase down every loose ball while the move of Ekenasio into goal shooter and Tiana Metuarau into goal attack worked wonders with the Pulse sitting at 100 per cent from the term. Unfortunately the wheels started to fall off for the Magic with Tong and Mikaere not getting rewarded for their efforts down back as Ekenasio dominated under the post with her timing, accuracy, footwork and spatial awareness. The Pulse surpassed last week’s total of 33 goals by three quarter time with a 41-22 lead.

With victory out of their reach the Magic shuffled the defence around with Mikaere slotting back into the goal keeper position while Tong pushed out to goal defence in hope to quell the Pulse attack. The changes did not seem to trouble the Pulse however with Temu taking a strong rebound to push out to the biggest margin of the game 20 goals. Renee Savai’inaea entered the game at centre while moments later Grace McLean replaced Ekenasio at the post. The Pulse seemed to have a ball on a string in the final term, putting on a show in each third while the Magic looked to Harley Smith to come on in the final minutes but it was little too late.

The Pulse were faultless throughout the four quarter with each other their players coming on and starring. The influence and accuracy of Dunn with 19 goals from 20 attempts (95 per cent), Ekenasio with 28 goals from 29 (97 per cent) was key while Jury dominated defensively with a whopping eight gains, four intercepts, two deflections and four rebounds. For the Magic Williams was the leading goalscorer with 12 goals from 17 attempts while McPhee managed nine and Latu-Meafou slotted six at 60 per cent. Tong proved to be the real playmaker for the Magic amassing four gains, two intercepts and five deflections.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 14 | 17 | 11 (52)
WBOP MAGIC 7 | 6 | 9 | 7 (29)

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse:

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

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Sam Winders
WD: Holly Fowler
GD: Erena Mikaere
GK: Georgia Tong