Tag: kiana pelasio

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 8 – Deadly opening quarter gives Stars the edge

COMING off a difficult loss against the Mainland Tactix, the Northern Stars had no issue dominating the Southern Steel with a convincing 50-43 win. Uncertainty and a lack of connection in the Steel attack end, due to a string of unfortunate injuries, meant that a tenacious Stars defence were able to come out on top thanks to a strong first term. Despite their big win over the Mystics in Round 7, there were too many holes in the Steel game in this match, and they lacked their usual intensity against a clean and ferocious Stars outfit. The Stars broke a four-game losing streak and will secure themselves in fourth position on the ANZ Premiership ladder.

Kalifa McCollin was given the start at goal shooter for the Steel, with Kiana Pelasio slotting into McCollin’s typical goal attack role. McCollin had suffered an ankle injury in the previous round and the effect of this may have contributed to this position switch, giving her a little less running around to do. Due to these changes in their shooting end, Steel were relying heavily on Silver Fern Gina Crampton to have an outstanding game, to give them a chance at taking a win. The Steel got off to a shaky start and were not able to find each other easily or balance the space on the court. In contrast, the Stars came out of the blocks with plenty of punch in attack and set the tone for the game early. Grace Kara was combining well with Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume grew into the game in her supporting role. After a few soft turnovers from both teams, Kate Burley stepped up a gear notching up a rebound and then an interception within a few minutes. The Stars defence were getting the measure of the Steel attack, with Pelasio unable to convincingly draw the defenders away from McCollin under the post. Another gain from the Stars, this time from Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and they made no mistake at the post, sneaking out to 10-6 midway through the first quarter.

An early change saw Kendall Corkery replace Georgia Heffernan at wing defence, but the Steel were not managing to convert their turnovers and were wasting ball in attack. Another four-goal run for the Stars saw them extend their lead to 16-7 at the first break. Stars were totally in control, creating plenty of opportunities for themselves and forcing the Steel into making silly errors, then capitalising at the post. Steel had eight turnovers in the first quarter and felt compelled to make a change at quarter time. Heffernan was matching up well against Stars captain Kara but ended up replacing Shannon Saunders at centre, a switch-up we have not seen much of at all this season. Ellen Halpenny also slotted into goal shooter with McCollin moving out to goal attack where she seemed more comfortable. These changes had a good impact for the Steel and they managed three in a row to start the second quarter. The Stars were able to regroup and regain control as the quarter progressed, and flooding the middle channel to force a long ball was proving very effective for them. Another gain from Burley took her total to three intercepts and the Stars restored their healthy seven-goal lead.

The midcourt battles were shaping up nicely, with both teams evenly matched in the centre third. Corkery was scrappy; squaring up to Kara and doing her best to keep her away from circle edge, while Heffernan’s defensive prowess was earning the Steel some much-needed turnover ball. With more minutes in centre at this level, her feeding confidence and ball release will improve and she could be a very handy option for the Steel midcourt. Lisa Mather was working hard on Crampton, but the experienced wing attack had the measure of her opposition and was growing into the combination with McCollin and Halpenny. After a much improved quarter from the Southern side, the teams headed into the break with the Stars leading 26-19.

With the defensive end on fire, and Maia Wilson shooting at 100 per cent, it is no surprise that the Stars were still holding onto a solid lead. They were playing like a team that backed themselves to win, and the Steel just were not creating enough opportunities for their attackers. In terms of penalties, Steel were on 29 by half-time, with over 15 of these given to Taneisha Fifita. This released all the Steel defensive pressure, giving Wilson numerous free shots to the post. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was not managing to have her usual impact on the game, and the Steel really needed someone to lift them and provide an energy boost. The Stars kept grinding away, with the speed and slick movement through their midcourt leaving the Steel defenders behind them. In a much-needed switch up, which possibly could have come a little earlier in the game, Fifita went to the bench with Selby-Rickit taking on Wilson in the goal keeper position and Abby Erwood providing a new look at goal defence. Crampton pulled off a fantastic interception at the transverse line and this seemed to be the spark the Steel needed. They went on a three-goal run with Halpenny continuing to demonstrate her reliability and experience at the post. However, the attempted comeback came too late and Stars were able to maintain an eight-goal advantage going into the final term.

With the final quarter underway, the Steel looked as though they would be happy to settle for a bonus point. They lacked speed and anticipation in their defensive end and were struggling to keep up with Wilson and Hume. They were showing patches of good play, with Mather doing a heap of work transitioning the ball down court and the attack end finding some rhythm, but they still have a lot of work to do going forwards. Through the midcourt, the Steel were able to disrupt play, but their circle defence was far too flat and quiet against the likes of the prolific Maia Wilson. Despite a late run of goals from the Steel, the Stars kept them at bay with a seven-goal win, denying Steel a bonus point once again.

Standouts from the game have got to be Kate Burley and Kate Heffernan, each claiming three intercepts and Heffernan coming into her own at centre. It is also hard to look past Maia Wilson shooting at 100 per cent, who earned herself a well-deserved MVP award. Both the Steel and the Stars will take on the Magic in their next game, giving them the chance to consolidate the good patches from today’s game and strengthen connections as the regular season draws to a close.

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN STARS 16 | 10 | 12 | 12 (50)
SOUTHERN STEEL 7 | 12 | 11 | 13 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

Northern Stars:

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

Southern Steel:

GS: Kalifa McCollin
GA: Kiana Pelasio
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.

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

2020 ANZ Premiership: Round 6 – Player of the week

EACH week Draft Central will analyse player performances from across the round in the ANZ Premiership and determine a “Player of the Week” based on gameday performances. A player can be nominated as many times as deemed necessary given their individual performance across the round.

Playing two high intensity games for the round, Mainland Tactix captain Jane Watson showed no sign of fatigue with the goal defence putting on a clinic in defence and taking out “Player of the Week” honours for Round 6. Watson read the play with ease, creating chaos down back with her hands over pressure and silky movement to pick off passes. She was constantly on the lookout for an intercept or a deflection while her work rate was another glaringly obvious element of her game, able to cover the court with ease and contest every single pass.

Up against some tough opposition in Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Watson was composed and most importantly clean throughout the four quarters. Her ability to stay away from the body of Ekenasio and only collect five penalties throughout the game was hugely impressive and a clear testament of her class. Watson was a constant thorn in Ekenasio’s side, shadowing her every movement and forcing her to work for every pass. Ekenasio was down on her usual output and accuracy with 13 goals from 16 attempts with the influence of Watson unquestionable. Watson also displayed her smarts to double down on Aliyah Dunn and limit her influence under the post while she also put in the hard yards against the fresh legs of Tiana Metuarau to make it hard for the Pulse goalers. Watson collected three gains, one intercept and six deflections for her efforts.

Her connection with Temalisi Fakahokotau is simply unstoppable with the two oozing nothing but athleticism and class. Their defensive prowess and understanding is next level able to read the play off each other and get into damaging positions whether it be in the circle or in the defensive circle. Watson’s combination with wing defence Charlotte Elley is also strong with the two able to transition the ball down court with ease. Centre, Kimiora Poi also feeds off the defensive energy of Watson as shown throughout the game on Monday night with the nippy centre thriving off Watson’s energy.

Strong in defence, Watson is integral through the centre third able to bring the ball down with conviction and precision while her back-up work on the transverse line is also imperative to the Tactix attack. Her leadership on court often sparked the Tactix into action with Watson throwing herself at every cross court ball in hope to create an opportunity for her side capitalise on the turnover ball. Although they fell agonisingly short against the top of the table Pulse, her intensity did not fade in the second game, instead kicking it up a notch to blow the Steel’s attack out of the water.

Her strong hands enabled her to reel in passes and force turnovers while her deceptively long arms have proven a challenge time and time again for her opposition. Spending majority of her time out in goal defence, Watson slotted into goal keeper in the second and third quarter of the clash against the Southern Steel and proved to be a menace. Her seamless transition between the two positions is a testament to her high netball IQ and adaptability. She nullified the influence of Kiana Pelasio with the young goal attack not registering a score credit to her lean over the shot and skill to box her out of the circle. Opposed to the likes of experienced Ellen Halpenny and Kalifa McCollin Watson did not let up, applying a wealth of pressure to collect an impressive six gains, two intercepts, four deflections, one rebound and five pickups.

ANZ Premiership – Round 6: Steel secure second win for the season

LOOKING for their first win since the ANZ Premiership season restart, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic were on song from the get-go but it was Southern Steel that starred clinching a one goal win (41-40). Their increased intensity and hunger for the ball was evident maintaining a full four quarter effort to overrun the Magic and secure their second win of the season. Without goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell the Steel took a while to click in attack, but once they did they proved hard to stop with the Magic struggling to generate turnover ball.

The opening quarter was filled with plenty of pressure with the Magic bursting out of the blocks thanks to none other than Sam Winders. The Magic captain got the nod at centre and did not disappoint, immediately into the action with a deflection and pick-up to give her side the first shot at goal but Te Huinga Selby-Rickit answered the call with an intercept of her own. Youngster Kiana Pelasio found her rhythm in the goal circle, sinking the first of the afternoon before the Magic piled on the pressure to open up a four goal lead. The shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou worked wonders with the latter working in overdrive to create scoring opportunities whether it be at the hands of McPhee or herself.

Up the other end, Pelasio was forced to do the heavy lifting for the Steel with Kalifa McCollin well covered by the Magic defensive unit. But the Steel fought their way back into the contest cutting the margin to one goal, as the accuracy of Latu-Meafou and McPhee started to waver thanks to the increased pressure. As the quarter progressed the Steel grew with confidence not afraid to look long into the circle and bypass the mess through the midcourt to provide McCollin with first use of the ball. The influence of Shannon Saunders was undeniable with the centre getting hands to ball and imposing herself with her three foot marking to collect two gains and an intercept. With turnovers galore for both teams the Magic managed to steal a one goal lead heading into the break.

Kickstarting the second quarter with the centre pass the Steel made the most of their chances to draw even and then hit the front thanks to their increased defensive pressure. They started to find their rhythm in the goal circle with McCollin and Pelasio rotating the circle well and keeping Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong busy at the post with their constant movement. Kate Heffernan impressed for the Steel nullifying Whitney Souness with her three foot marking to block her view into the goal circle. With the Steel maintaining some control Latu-Meafou did all the heavy lifting for the Magic in attack nailing 10 goals from 12 attempts. A big rebound from Mikaere allowed McPhee to level the scores once again as the long bomb into the circle paid dividends for the Magic but a huge shuffle in positions saw Tong move to the bench and movement down the court too with Ariana Cable-Dixon coming on in wing attack. With just over a minute left in the term scores were level showcasing just how intense the game was.

After throwing the bibs around in the second quarter, the Magic reverted to some normality with Cable-Dixon finding herself back in centre. Latu-Meafou continued to do damage in the goal circle cutting along the baseline while Souness struggled to find her mojo, over-cooking a couple of passes into McPhee. The Magic goal shooter looked uncomfortable throughout the game with her heavily strapped knee seeming to cause discomfort each time she landed. Struggling in attack the Magic defence increased their intensity pushing the shooters high and forcing them to play the ball around but that did not seem to worry the Steel, going on a three goal run midway through the term and opening up a handy lead.

But it was the injection of Ellen Halpenny that really sparked the Steel with the goal shooter composed under the post allowing McCollin to roam free out in her preferred position of goal attack. Halpenny slotted in seamlessly, taking like a duck to water and combining with Gina Crampton in the attacking third to hit the scoreboard time and time again. With the attacking unit humming the Steel held onto their three goal buffer while the Magic attempted to find some rhythm in the goal circle with youngster Khiarna Williams replacing McPhee in goal shooter. She had an immediate impact finding the net straight away but it was not enough to quell the Steel who opened up a four goal lead.

With time ticking down the Magic made inroads scoring the first goal of the final quarter and then capitalised on a turnover with a goal to slice the margin to two goals. Williams led the way in attack as the Magic got back within one goal with the teenager oozing confidence and netball smarts. A costly footwork call from Cable-Dixon allowed the Steel to extend their lead to four goals and reclaim some composure but the Magic were not done yet cutting it down to one goal again, but fell agonisingly short.

McCollin was the main target for the Steel throughout the game with the Trinidad and Tobago product nailing 24 goals from 30 attempts at 80 per cent while the ever reliable Halpenny was potent in her quarter and a half of netball with nine goals straight. McPhee struggled to have her usual impact only slotting 10 goals from 14 attempts at 71 per cent while Latu-Meafou showcased her range to finish with 22 goals at an impressive 92 per cent. Defensively Mikaere was strong collecting 7 gains while for the Steel the efforts of Selby-Rickit did not go unnoticed picking up two gains and one intercept.

>>> STEEL PAGE

>>> MAGIC PAGE

>>> FULL STATS

 

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: Taneisha Fifita

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

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 5

HITTING the midway point of the competition, the league could not get any tighter with four of the five games in Round 5 of the ANZ Premiership decided by less than three goals. It was a fantastic display of netball across the weekend with each team pulling out all the stops in hope to claim some ascendancy heading into the backend of the season.

Another shooter down for Steel
With scans confirming Georgia Heffernan ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and sustained damage to her meniscus, the Steel were already running thin on goalers heading into their Friday night clash. But in the dying minutes of the game injury struck again with Jennifer O’Connell going down with a potential season-ending knee injury. The Steel were in the middle of a fightback against the top of the table Pulse with O’Connell leading the way with her accuracy to post and strong holds causing all sorts of havoc for the Pulse defenders. But the injury stopped them in their tracks. The Steel then had to front up again on Saturday with Grace Namana making the trek to the Auckland Netball Centre to replace the injured shooter forcing while Kalifa McCollin got the nod at goal shooter with Kiana Pelasio getting a run in goal attack. While still unsure of the extent of O’Connell’s injury, her presence will be sorely missed at the Steel if she is unable to play the rest of the season.

Sam Winders in centre is the answer for Magic winning games
Magic captain Sam Winders relished the extra court space against the Mainland Tactix with the wing defence come centre imposing herself in every facet of the game. Her ability to drive to the top of the circle and cut through the defensive pressure of the Tactix was on full display with the 24-year-old dictating the space with her speed, caution with ball in hand and silky ball movement to create a wealth of attacking forays. Her influence through the centre and attacking third was profound and most importantly freed up Whitney Souness around the circle edge, with the wing attack able to get to work and use her nifty footwork to wreak havoc. Winders had a blinder in centre, generating play both in attack and chasing every single loose ball in defence to finish the game with 13 goal assists from 17 feeds along with five pick-ups and an intercept. She was a key reason why the Magic got within striking distance and ultimately drew with the Tactix.

Central Pulse keeping winning streak intact
Challenged by the Southern Steel in the opening game of the round, the Pulse rallied in the second and third quarter to sneak away with the a three goal win and make it six consecutive victories for 2020. Boasting a stacked line-up filled with game winners across the court it was the ability of Tiana Metuarau to come on and have an immediate impact that impressed. Her spatial awareness and skill to be two passes ahead makes her hard to match-up on in attack. Defensively the combination of Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury was exceptional with the two putting doubt into the mind of McCollin on the shot with their long reach and dynamic footwork in the circle to clog up the space. The duo collected 11 gains, two intercepts, 13 deflections and four rebounds between them showcasing their dominance.

Battle of defence
Having played each other last round, there was no love lost between the Mainland Tactix and Northern Mystics Sunday afternoon with the Tactix managing to peg one back on their opponents. In what was a scrappy affair it was the defensive ends that stood up for both sides, generating a wealth of turnover ball and constantly getting hands to ball to disrupt the attacking flow. Temalisi Fakahokotau starred from the opening minute of the game and maintained her immense pressure throughout the match, amassing four gains, one intercept and six deflections and while normally renowned for her physicality only managed eight penalties. Teammate Jane Watson also impressed with two gains, two intercepts, six deflections and five pick-ups. For the Mystics Phoenix Karaka put on a masterclass with seven gains, two intercepts, six deflections and two rebounds while Sulu Fitzpatrick registered three gains, an intercept and six deflections.

Tall shooters dominate once again
Spearheading the Northern Stars attack, Maia Wilson continued her imposing form in the goal circle with her accuracy and volume to post. Not only did Wilson star in her first outing sinking 36 goals from 39 attempts at 92 per cent she kicked it up a gear in her next game converting 39 goals from 43 attempts at 91 per cent. Her ability to score from range, get on the move or hold makes her incredibly hard to stop. Similarly Kelsey McPhee played a similar role for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic acting as the main scorer with 29 goals from 33 at an improved accuracy of 88 per cent in her first game, while Tactix goal shooter Ellie Bird also increased her load with 30 goals from 35 attempts at 86 per cent.

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Mighty finish seals the deal for Stars

NORTHERN Stars have capitalised against a determined but understrength Southern Steel team that had to shuffle the magnets in the wake of key shooter, Jennifer O’Connell‘s injury. Despite the Steel coming close and giving the Stars a scare, the fourth quarter again proved to be the Steel’s downfall. The Stars, on the other hand, looked composed, fluent in attack, dogged in defense and are showing great form in Round 5, eventually getting the points in a 48-39 victory.

The Stars opened the game with determination and seemed to relish the opportunity to get their revenge for their Round 3 loss. Steel were working with a new shooting partnership of Kalifa McCollin at goal shooter and the youngster Kiana Pelasio getting the start at goal attack. This combination took a while to settle in which heaped pressure on Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton to dictate play and keep creating opportunities. There was hesitance in the Steel’s attacking end, and Storm Purvis and the Stars punished the Steel’s nervous start by getting out to an early lead. The contrast between the shooting partnerships was clear: Stars were well oiled, presenting holding and moving options, and Maia Wilson was backing herself at the post. A timely surge from the Steel midcourt towards the end of the first quarter brought the score back to within one, and the Stars kept a narrow lead of 12-11 going into the break. 

Both teams started the second quarter with intensity, and there was a sense that the game was very much up for grabs. A fierce battle was developing between plucky Georgia Heffernan and Stars’ captain Grace Kara, who was having to work hard to shake the tenacious wing defence. Miscommunication hampered the Steel’s attacking efforts and the Stars made no mistake at the post. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita were struggling to have an impact against dominant Wilson, supported by Jamie Hume. As the score crept out to 19-15, there was a sense that the game may start to unravel for Steel. A textbook interception from Kate Burley was answered by a gain from Selby-Rickit and the defence for both teams started to make their presence felt. Coming in at goal keeper for Steel Oceane Maihi had an immediate impact, allowing Purvis to roam and create more turnover ball at goal defense. With seconds remaining, the Steel failed to convert an attacking opportunity and went into half-time trailing by four goals. 

After the break, Abby Erwood came into goal defense for Steel with Selby-Rickit slotting into goal keeper, in an attempt to shut down the threat of Wilson who was shooting at 95 per cent. Maihi picked off a poor feed from Crampton and the Stars extended their lead. Steel were still struggling to find their timing in attack, and the midcourt were being effectively held up by Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Fa’amu Ioane playing at full strength. A change was inevitable for the Steel, resulting in McCollin switching out to goal attack (where she is most comfortable) and Grace Namana making her ANZ debut. As the third quarter progressed, both teams took things up a gear, and it started to get interesting. Steel clawed their way back in and narrowed the gap to just two goals at three quarter time. They were not about to let this game go without a fight.

Unfortunately Steel could not sustain this momentum in the final quarter. In a striking parallel to the previous game against the Pulse, errors in the fourth quarter proved to be the Steel’s downfall. Erwood had a standout quarter at goal defense, and although the partnership between McCollin and Namara was blossoming, it will need a little more time to click. The Steel fought tirelessly to cling on to the scoreline but the impressive hops and dynamism of the Stars defense end proved too much. Reuelu-Buchanan and Iowane were relentless, exploiting the Steel mistakes and really pushing for the win. After a ruthless final quarter, the Stars proved their worth in the competition and ended the game 48-39. 

Following an emotional and tiring few games for the Steel, they will be glad of a rest and chance to rebuild. Both teams will take a lot away from this game, and can be proud of the low overall turnover rate – 11 and 10 for Steel and Stars respectively – combined with impressive shooting stats from Wilson and McCollin in particular. Stars are certainly on the rise and will go into their next game against Magic with heaps of confidence following this strong performance.

>>>STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

SOUTHERN STEEL 11 | 9 | 11 | 8 (39)
NORTHERN STARS 12 | 12 | 9 | 15 (48)

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: Taneisha Fifita

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 – Round 5: Pulse survive nailbiter against error-ridden Steel

SOUTHERN Steel pushed the Central Pulse in Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership, and while they backed it up a week on, the Pulse treasured ball and maintained accuracy for a close 40-37 victory. It was the Pulse’s continuous drive that propelled them to a sixth straight victory, with the close finish for the Steel soured by a late injury.

Pulse started strong as ever, pinning down the attacking third well in the beginning to limit Steel’s speed in attack. A couple handy loose ball-gets early on saw the Steel take an early three goal lead, before Pulse switched into once more to steal back some momentum. But the midpoint of the term saw the Pulse draw level, with the side slow to start but quicker to get into their regular rhythm. 

A couple of pickups from Shannon Saunders early proved that the Steel had come to play, putting pressure on through the midcourt but where Saunders did it the entire Pulse side went one better on the defence, forcing Steel into short, sharp passes in attack. While the Steel maintained patience and did not try to take risks, Trinidad and Tobago product Kalifa McCollin still injected her usual flair, finding clever avenues to Jennifer O’Connell at the post. 

But where the Steel were solid up forward, sloppiness down back from Taneisha Fifita allowed too many easy attempts at goal for the highly accurate Pulse goalers in Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn. Defensively, the Steel were on fire early putting a wealth of pressure on the Pulse attack unit but threw away just as much as they gained, only coming away with a one goal lead at the first change.

The match continued virtually goal for goal, with Maddy Gordon finding plenty of purchase on circle edge, but small errors back-to-back from Dunn handed the Steel a couple of crucial opportunities. However, inaccuracy plagued O’Connell and McCollin, sitting on 65 per cent accuracy in the second thanks to impressive defensive pressure and box-outs from Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury. While Steel appeared to have much of the momentum early, critical errors saw Pulse take the lead with under five minutes left in the term, seeing Steel in real danger of fazing out of the match heading into half-time. 

While the patient approach by the Steel early on seemed to work, pressure from the Pulse saw movement stagnate in the second which allowed the top side to gain some precious ball. Though Saunders continued to have her way finding plenty of turnover ball through the centre, matched well by Claire Kersten who gave Saunders a run for her money on the deflection tally. But the Steel managed to retain a two-goal buffer throughout a frantic last minute, seeing Pulse just ahead but the Steel within touching distance. With persistent contact calls plaguing Fifita, the young goal keeper was handed a caution late in the second, having tallied eight contact penalties by half-time. 

With just two goals in it coming into the second half, one side had to give. The Steel injected some better speed in the third, finding faster options to post but wasted opportunities from McCollin and O’Connell saw Pulse maintain the lead, with Jury getting into O’Connell’s head. It was a better third quarter from the Pulse, finding a bit more purchase in attack though the Steel continued to keep them on their toes and forcing some uncharacteristic errors from the usually composed attack. 

Kate Heffernan was solid, applying constant pressure on Gordon and seeing the pair almost cancel each other out with their consistent shadowing. McCollin’s speed saw the goal attack continue to evade Rore, though the Pulse defensive unit did a solid job limiting Steel’s ability to drive toward the ball in attack. The Pulse began to pull away toward the end of the third, maintaining momentum and holding ground against the tenacious and ball hungry Steel side.

Tiana Metuarau joined the fray out in wing attack to start the final quarter, with the speedster injecting a bit of flair into the Pulse attack. Continued errors and hesitance in front of goal from the Steel saw the Pulse begin to pull away, with accuracy on the shot proving crucial. Where the match may have seemed sealed up early in the final quarter, the Steel had a much more composed second half of the term and really began to push back, absorbing the pressure in attack and winning back critical ball in defence before the ball could reach the circle. 

With the match on the line, the Steel were on a roll and looked to be in with a real chance, until the worst case scenario played out with O’Connell going down with a suspected knee injury and less than a minute on the clock. Two goals down with 55 seconds on the clock Steel’s Kiana Pelasio entered the court in goal attack, but it was not enough with the Pulse happy to ferret away the time and finish with a sombre 40-37 victory.

The Pulse may have had another scare with a potential loss on their hands this week but were too good with quality names bookending the court. Player of the match Jury was silent but deadly in defence, racking up seven gains while Kersten was solid with three intercepts. Despite just playing the three quarters, Gordon led the Pulse assists tally with 13 from 17 feeds, joined by Ekenasio with nine assists and 17 goals from 20 attempts. Dunn finished well with 23 goals at 92 per cent to lead on accuracy. Rore had a quiet match when it came to her usual flair, but was consistent as ever with the four gains and only five penalties to her name.

While the Steel had more attempts on goal for the second match running, it was their inaccuracy at the post that was the real kicker. O’Connell was sturdy at the post but came away with 25 goals at 73 per cent, while McCollin was electric out the front with 12 goals from 17 attempts and eight assists. Saunders racked up three intercepts, while Gina Crampton did much of the heavy lifting in wing attack with 15 assists, 19 centre pass receives and a potentially game saving intercept in the final term to really put the pressure on. Defensively, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Fifita were consistent but did not do enough to put off the Pulse, seeing the pair only combine for two intercepts. 

Steel are unlucky coming out of this loss and injury scare with a back-to-back match on Saturday night against Northern Stars – the only team they have beaten thus far – and will now need to work a different goaler into their game plan. Meanwhile the Pulse have a week off, not back on the court until Round 6.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

CENTRAL PULSE 11 | 11 | 11 | 7 (40)
SOUTHERN STEEL 12 | 8 | 9 | 8 (37)

STARTING SEVEN:

PULSE:

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

STEEL:

GS: Jennifer O’Connell
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita