Tag: kimiora poi

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Tactix clench nail-biting one goal win over Mystics

HAVING only played nine days ago in Round 4, this clash went down to the wire, with the Mainland Tactix taking home a narrow one goal win over the Northern Mystics (40-41). The Mystics starred last round, but the Tactix were determined to ensure history did not repeat itself putting on a stunning defensive performance. Scoring the last five goals of the game, the Mystics almost pulled off one of the greatest comebacks but fell agonisingly short with Saviour Tui’s goal on the whistle not counting.

Mystics set tongues wagging in the opening quarter, with Grace Nweke starting on the bench allowing Tui and Asher Grapes to headline the shooting end. The first term started with plenty of intensity, despite the different starting seven for the Mystics, with neither side willing to give an inch. It was a defensive masterclass from Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson with the duo applying a wealth of pressure over the shot and simply denying any easy access into the circle. Watson collected an intercept within the first minute of the quarter ultimately setting the tone for what would be a defensive grind. It was a scrappy start to the game with neither side able to maintain clean possession, but it was the Tactix that settled first thanks to the efforts of Watson and Fakahokotau. Their impressive space marking shut down the Mystics in attack and allowed them to gobble up everything that came their way, causing a real ruckus down in defence. Despite the amount of defensive ball the Tactix were getting they simply could not blow the Mystics out of the water and really make them pay instead they were plagued by inaccuracy missing three goals for the term. Up the other end, Tui impressed for the Mystics with the young goal shooter displaying her strength on the hold and accuracy to post converting all six goals at 100 per cent. However it was Fakahokotau that starred throughout the term amassing a whopping four deflections, one pickup and one intercept while Watson managed two intercepts for the term to gift the Tactix a two goal lead.

Struggling to find their rhythm in attack it was no surprise that dominant goal shooter Nweke entered the game, replacing Tui under the post. Nweke imposed herself from the get-go with her commanding frame, leap and strength to snatch the ball out of the air. With Nweke on, the Tactix upped the ante in defence with wing defence Charlotte Elley showcasing her three-foot marking with an impressive block on Peta Toeava. Clogging up the centre pass the Tactix continued to impress down back while the effort from Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka did not go unnoticed for the Mystics. The defensive duo nullified Ellie Bird under the post forcing Te Paea Selby-Rickit to inject herself into the game with her clever front cuts and drive to the post to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Tactix. She grew with confidence as the quarter progressed, sinking them from range to extend her sides lead to four goals at the eight minute mark of the term. For the Mystics, the connection between Toeava, Tayla Earle and Nweke developed with the midcourters able to find her with ease and deliver the ball with confidence. However Grapes struggled to find her mojo in attack only sinking one goal from her two attempts for the quarter. The momentum well and truly swung into the Mystics’ favour as they started to rally both in offence and defence to worry the Tactix and draw back within one goal at half time.

After entering the contest in the dying stages of the second quarter both Courtney Elliott and Sophia Fenwick retained their wing defence position for their respective side heading into the second term, while Tui re-entered the game at goal attack for the Mystics. Her movement and ability to go to post paid dividends with the Tactix defenders having to account for both goalers. With the centre pass the Tactix surged forward but Fitzpatrick and Karaka were up to the challenge with the defenders blocking out Bird and Selby-Rickit to collect the timely rebound and send the ball streaming down court to even the scores once more. With a tick over 10 minutes left in the quarter the Mystics hit the front for the first time thanks to Nweke. Finding their rhythm in attack with Toeava, Nweke and Earle all combining effortlessly it was Kimiora Poi for the Tactix that stood up to the challenge with the speedy centre receiving what felt like every second pass and imposing herself both in attack and defence with her pace, quick hands, vision and strong second phase work. She sparked a lift from Selby-Rickit and wing attack Erikana Pedersen with the latter delivering an impressive seven goal assist for the term. Scores were level as the timer hit the seven minute mark before Fakahokotau once again delivered for the Tactix creating a crucial deflection coming around the body of Tui. It was turnover central throughout the third with both sides combining for 13 as neither team could gain any real continuity, however the Tactix held onto their narrow lead heading into the final change.

With centre pass in hand the Mystics attacked hard and lifted their intensity while the Tactix were content to be patient with ball in hand and watch the clock tick down. A costly turnover from Bird in the goal circle gifted the Mystics a chance to cut down the deficit further before Poi answered with a pick-up of her own. Nweke continued to be the rock in the goal circle for the Mystics with the midcourters hoisting the ball up to her and showcasing her extreme athleticism on every single take. The Tactix went on a three goal spree to extend their lead, with Fenwick putting in the hard yards to shut down Toeava in attack and limit the quick release into the goal circle. Another Fakahokotau intercept seemed to have a Tactix win in the bag with her side pushing out to five goals. But the Mystics refused to lie down rallying in the final three minutes of the quarter to go a five goal run and draw with a final shot on the whistle that ultimately did not count.

It was a huge performance from Fakahokotau with the goal keeper amassing a staggering four gains, one intercept, six deflections and one pick-up. partner in crime Watson collected two gains, two intercepts, six deflections and four pick-ups, a key reason why their side won. Nweke proved a menace under the post finishing with 29 goals from 31 attempts for the game while Tui also had an influence in the goal circle with 10 from 11 at 91 per cent. For the Mainland Tactix, Bird was stronger under the post sinking 20 goals from 25 attempts. Up on her accuracy and volume Selby-Rickit also showcased her range converting 21 goals at 88 per cent.

>>>TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>>MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

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MAINLAND TACTIX 8 | 12 | 12 | 9 (41)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 6 | 13 | 11 | 10 (40)

STARTING SEVEN: 

Mainland Tactix:

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

Northern Mystics:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership – Head to Head: Round 5

IN each ANZ Premiership round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This match-up sees two current Silver Ferns go head to head for the second time this season.

MAINLAND TACTIX v. NORTHERN MYSTICS

Te Paea Selby-Rickit (GA) v. Phoenix Karaka (GD)

Two impressive players with a wealth of experience on both the domestic and international stages, the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Phoenix Karaka will go head-to-head for the second time in as many matches on Sunday, with Karaka ultimately having the last word in Round 4. But the real question in this matchup is whether she can hold down Selby-Rickit once more, with Selby-Rickit fading out last round but unlikely to make the same mistake again. Second and third on the ladder, neither the Mystics nor Tactix can afford a loss with the closeness of the shortened season at hand, with potential to stray further from ladder-leading Central Pulse who sit undefeated in first.

A formidable opponent in attack, Selby-Rickit is one of those threatening goalers who can provide a quality option regardless of whether she is in-form or not. Providing a consistent option at the centre pass, Selby-Rickit uses her break-out speed to burst out from the transverse line to start that first faze, before jetting down to the goal circle to not only put up shots from just about anywhere in the circle, but also use her quick footwork to rotate the circle and open up space for her goaling partner in crime in Ellie Bird. With strength, speed and versatility, Selby-Rickit can also provide a barrier with her long arms to block play and win back ball, proving a solid all-rounder in attack with her constant work-rate rarely letting up. Unafraid of the long bomb, Selby-Rickit is a force to be reckoned with in the goal circle and uses her solid build to assert herself on the play, while her quick hands allow her to dish off speedy passes to Bird under the post with ease. She also pairs well in attack with the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi, with Poi’s defensive outset allowing Selby-Rickit to be a major playmaker alongside Pedersen. While she does provide a consistent threat, Selby-Rickit has had a rough few weeks on the court and currently ranks eighth for goals scored, and also has the lowest accuracy at 73 per cent. 

Karaka is a constant threat defensively, using her vision and read of the play to prey on any loose ball and pounce on opportunities to propel the ball forward. When it comes to her positioning, Karaka is a consistent follower of the play, never far from the action with her speed and aerial ability. Able to adapt to the play and ply her trade depending on her oppositions’ movement, Karaka uses her lithe build to form a defensive barricade both in and outside the goal circle. Karaka is one of the cleanest defenders going around, which makes her an imposing impact player given her ability to disrupt momentum even without being a physical threat, having impressively only racked up 40 penalties from five matches this season. Karaka’s aerial game is phenomenal and threateningly consistent, sitting top of the table for intercepts with 11 to her name, able to use her long arms to command possession of the ball and pull it in. Her three-foot marking and leap is also impressive, and while she is not the tallest defender can find plenty of purchase on the airball to take possession with ease. Joining forces with Sulu Fitzpatrick this season, the duo work seamlessly to reduce the impact of their opposition goalers and will hope to provide the same buffer again this weekend.

With both players highly impressive with an ability to seamlessly perform time and time again, it is more a question of consistency that will find a winner in this scenario. If Karaka can hold Selby-Rickit accountable and force errors the Mystics should go back-to-back, however if Selby-Rickit can take advantage of Karaka’s hunt on the ball and find space in attack, the Tactix could be in with a chance. There was plenty of argy-bargy between the two players last round, so look for another enticing matchup this time around with plenty on the line.

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 5

ROUND 5 of the ANZ Premiership sees five matches over the course of the weekend with the Magic, Stars and Tactix all taking the court twice. There are a couple of identical clashes from Round 4 with some teams hoping history does not repeat itself. The Pulse will be eager to maintain their unblemished start to 2020 while the Magic will be wanting to go one step better than last round and collect their second win to climb up the ladder.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Friday, 10 July

A fourth quarter demolition gifted Central Pulse the win over the Steel last round, however the Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing, going toe-to-toe with their opponents for three quarters. Shooting at 100 per cent for the match, the Pulse goalers were on song sinking them from everywhere – something the Steel will really have to double down on this round if they are any chance to knock the Pulse off their perch.

It is fair to say that the battle in the goal circle was won by Ameliaranne Ekenasio with the star goal attack taking ownership and dominating with 25 goals from 25 attempts. Last round, Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita gave all their attention to Aliyah Dunn under the post and while the towering goal shooter was down on her usual volume sitting at 21 goals at 100 per cent, it allowed for Ekenasio to dictate the terms out the front. Fifita and Selby-Rickit are both strong prospects in the defensive circle with their physicality, hands over pressure and quick footwork but Abby Erwood should not be forgotten about and could be another option to come on for the Steel and upset the Pulse attacking duo with her tagging style of play. Heading into their second clash in less than seven days the Steel will be keen to rectify those issues in defence and shut down Ekenasio more effectively if they are to come out on top. While the combination between Ekenasio and Dunn is commanding to say the least youngster Tiana Metuarau is also proving to be a handful for the opposition whether it be in goal attack or wing attach with her silky movement, precise ball placement and netball nous.

Defensively the Pulse are stacked with Kelly Jury having the time of her life down back. The goal keeper has starred in recent weeks with her hunt for the ball, long arms and skill to contest the aerial ball. She really shut down Jennifer O’Connell in Round 4 with the goal shooter only managing 27 goals from 32 attempts at 84 per cent and denied any easy access into the goal circle. The influence of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger is also a key aspect to the Pulse defence with Rore putting in a wealth of work out the front to shut down the goal attack entering the goal circle and Burger nullifying the wing attack with her with arms over pressure and commanding height. Goal attack Kalifa McCollin will have to get busy for the Steel if she is to occupy Rore while Gina Crampton had Burger’s number for the majority of their last encounter using her speed and strength to tussle for prime position around circle edge.

It could be a case of history repeating itself with the Pulse in ripping form with their impressive ball movement, strong connections and ability to withstand the waves of pressure.

Southern Steel v. Northern Stars
Saturday, 11 July

In their second game of the round the Steel will be hoping to keep the winning streak against the Stars alive, getting the wood over them earlier in the season, albeit by just two goals. Both teams are evenly poised and match-up similarly headlined by a tall holding goal shooter and experienced midcourt.

The contest between the Northern Stars captain, Grace Kara and youngster Kate Heffernan will draw plenty of attention. Kara is a real lynchpin for the Stars in attack, providing that link into the goal circle with her effortless and perfectly weighted passes. She also does a wealth of work at the centre pass to ease the pressure on her shooters, meaning it will up to Heffernan to get in her head and stop her. Although still developing her craft, Heffernan is quick on her feet and can apply strong hands over pressure to block Kara’s vision into the circle. Another option in wing defence for the Stars is Kendall Corkery with the midcourter renowned for her niggly, physical style which can get under the skin of opponents. Expect veteran, Shannon Saunders to lead the midcourt cohort for the Steel especially up against 22-year-old Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. Saunders can run all day in centre and use her smarts to outwit Reuelu-Buchanan who is still honing her craft.

If the Stars are to register another win for the season, Maia Wilson will have to be on her game from the opening whistle. The goal shooter is a commanding presence under the post and has increased her range throughout 2020, looking more comfortable from further out. Her high volume of shots however puts a target on her back with the likes of Fifita, Selby-Rickit and Erwood likely to work in overdrive to smother her, meaning it will be up to Jamie Hume to take the load off Wilson. Hume will be hoping to put out a consistent four quarter performance against the Steel to really assert herself on the competition and take the heat off Wilson under the post, with her cleverly timed drives, long range shooting and play making abilities.

If the Steel can shut down the likes of Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan around circle edge and limit their chance to feed into Wilson it will put them in good stead to collect another win.

Northern Stars v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 12 July

After playing out the first draw in ANZ Premiership history the Stars will be eager to put that to bed and claim the “W”. The Magic came from seven goals behind last round to finish strongly and clench a draw and will be keen to go one better this round.

The Stars will be hoping to make amends for their fourth quarter slump and run out a consistent performance this round with the defensive duo renowned for their balling winning abilities. One of the more experienced defenders in the group, Storm Purvis can change the course of a game in an instance with her leap and deceptive speed to dart around the court and force turnovers. Teammate Kate Burley has blossomed into a commanding prospect in the goal circle with her tenacity, often throwing herself at every contest and creating doubt in the feeders minds while Oceane Maihi is able to inject plenty of height and aerial presence, something the Stars might need in order to contend with Kelsey McPhee at the post. The goal shooter can suffer from the yips at times under the post, but when she is on song she is hard to stop credit to her strong hands, quick footwork and clever body positioning. The influence of Abigail Latu-Meafou will be crucial if the Magic are to replicate their Round 4 performance or notch up a win with the goal attack showcasing her accuracy to post, smooth movement and skill to slot them from range. A cameo appearance from youngster Khiarna Williams could also work wonders for the Magic in order to offset the Stars defence.

Through the midcourt the Stars boast some exciting players with Fa’amu Ioane one of the most electric wing defences in the competition, with her speed off the mark and quick hands. Her presence around circle edge and in the defensive third allows her to gobble up turnover ball and spring into transition. The versatility of Lisa Mather is another key for the Stars able to swing from wing defence into centre when needed. For the Magic, Whitney Souness is a real powerhouse able to deliver the ball with great pace and precision to catch defenders off guard while Ariana Cable-Dixon is reliable through centre.

This game could once again go down to the wire but expect the Stars to have learnt from their mistakes last round and impose themselves for a full four quarters.

Mainland Tactix v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 12 July

Playing only nine days earlier both sides would have taken plenty out of their match-up when it comes to one-on-ones and overall team strategy. A quick start from the Tactix gave them the early ascendancy before the Mystics rallied and wrestled back the momentum to win the next three quarters. With this in mind expect the Tactix to come out with a real fire in the belly and increased intensity.

Shooting prodigy Grace Nweke is relishing every single minute of court time with the 18-year-old dominating in all facets such as volume and accuracy. She is simply unstoppable under the post using her 193cm frame to ward off defenders and dictate the space. Her aerial presence is second to none while her balance is equally impressive. Goal attack Saviour Tui is growing with confidence, not afraid to look to the post while Asher Grapes is constantly able to find space and create attacking forays. Up against some stiff opposition in Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson the Mystics goalers will once again have to be on their A-game. Fakahokotau impressed last week with her hunt for the ball, vision and quick footwork while Watson is renowned for her cleanliness and lean over the shot. If both defenders can work in tandem to minimise the influence of Nweke and win ball back it will be a huge bonus for the Tactix.

Wing attack Peta Toeava is the real barometer for the Mystics with her turn of speed and sheer ball placement. Toeava only needs a second to look into the goal circle and deliver a pinpoint pass into Nweke under the post such is her vision, understanding and connection with the goaler. It will be up to Charlotte Elley to limit her influence around circle edge and apply strong hands over pressure given Toeava’s shorter stature. The battle in centre will also be interesting with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi donning very similar styles. Earle has been really dominating for the Mystics with her high level of endurance and energetic style of play, helping out both in offence and defence. Poi plays a more defensive role with her strong hands over pressure and three foot marking, allowing her wing attacks to do the heavy lifting in attack.

It will ultimately come down to whether or not the Tactix can generate enough turnover ball and restrict Nweke under the post or if Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka can shut down the Tactix shooting end once more.

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 13 July

In the final game of the round, fatigue could be a key element for both sides as they enter their second game. The last time these two sides met it was the Tactix that got the win by nine goals but the Magic have come along in leaps and bounds since Round 3 with their on court connections strengthening.

Boasting an impressive shooting combination in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird the Tactix will be hoping to take advantage of the tall goaler and apply some real scoreboard pressure. Down on their accuracy last round expect both shooters to come out with a real intensity. It is unlikely for Selby-Rickit to have two quiet games in a row given her class and ability to spark back into action. The goal attack is a key cog in attack with her play making abilities often bringing Bird into the game with her well executed passes. However the tussle in the goal circle will be extremely physical as Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere is not afraid to contest every ball that comes her way. Mikaere’s aerial presence is impressive and so too is Georgia Tong, with the two able to swat away balls with ease. Holly Fowler is another one to keep an eye out for in the Magic defence unit with her ability to read the play and take a key intercept at any given moment.

With a game saving intercept under her belt, Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders is a real barometer for her side. she is able to spark the Magic into action with her constant effort around the court to create a tip and then transition into attack. Her ability to seamlessly switch from wing defence to centre is second to none able to shake up the course of a game. Winders will have to be on her game from the opening whistle with Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan both clever in their movement and strong around circle edge for the Tactix in attack.

To stay in touch with the top of the pack, the Tactix have to win this clash so expect them to pull out all the stops and assert themselves from the get-go against an inconsistent Magic side.

ANZ Premiership: Round 4 – Mystics bounce back for stellar come-from-behind win

IT was a quality game from the get-go with highly touted matchups across the court when the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix went head-to-head on Friday night. Coming off their first loss last round, the Mystics were hoping to bounce back well and so they did, winning 47-42 in a tightly contested match.

The Tactix were not to be discouraged by the Mystics’ form, and with the first centre pass in hand the side proved solid from the get-go. It was a tantalising and unpredictable affair, with the two sides unable to be split for much of the match. While the Tactix has the early ascendancy scoring four of the first five goals, it did not take long for the Mystics to even up the ledger once more, clogging up space in the Tactix attack again and again, and keeping the ball out of Ellie Bird’s hands. Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit impressed early with her ability to apply scoreboard pressure from anywhere in the circle, using her threatening footwork to find plenty of space.

It was a frantic first quarter, and neither side was really able to find that momentum, But the Tactix would not let the Mystics’ form faze them, leading 14-11 at the first change credit to stellar defensive work from Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson. The height mismatch between Fakahokotau and Grace Nweke was evident immediately, with the circle pair going head to head and both finding patches of strength for an even contest. While she did not put up a wealth of shots, speedy goal attack Asher Grapes provided a quality feeding option in and around the circle, forming a crucial cog in the Mystics’ slow start, though her unwillingness to go to post saw Nweke under a lot of pressure.

The second quarter started with a bang, with a couple of changes to the Mystics lineup and Fakahokotau getting up and about early with another couple of great saves to keep the Tactix a step ahead. Saviour Tui joined the fray and in doing that took some of the pressure off Nweke, with the tall timber applying a wealth of scoreboard pressure but well and truly being double teamed by the Tactix defence. Up the other end, Erikana Pedersen was having a field day out the front in wing attack, though Selby-Rickit had a slower patch meaning Bird had to step up if the side was to maintain control.

With both sides taking plenty of risks, Tactix were taking better advantage of their opportunities, with the likes of Fakahokotau and Watson doing wonders in defence, though Nweke’s clean hands continued to pay dividends. But while Peta Toeava had a slow first quarter, her vision to Nweke at the post was second to none and even when Charlotte Elley continued to block her vision and path to the ball, Toeava’s work rate allowed the Mystics to draw even to 24-apiece at half time.

A great start to the third from the Mystics saw the side take their first consistent lead of the match, scoring the first three goals of the term to stake a claim on the match, after trailing for most of the first half. Toeava really brought the flair in the third, switching on to be a constant threat and using her speedy hands to propel constant ball to Nweke – who was still at 100% accuracy until midway through the third. Fakahokotau worked her way back into the game to even the ledger before a speedy finish saw Mystics take a late 35-33 lead to end the quarter.

A long bomb from Selby-Rickit started the final term, with the Tactix hoping it was a sign of another strong quarter given the first started the same way. But the Tactix’ patience in attack could not compete with the Mystics’ hunt, with the defensive unit of Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick picking off any loose ball they could muster up. Improved speed and connection through the midcourt paid dividends for the Mystics, and while the Tactix were still fighting for every chance at the ball, it seemed like the Mystics were pulling away and rattling the usually composed Tactix outfit.

With the game hanging in the balance, it was the Mystics’ consistency that got the job done, making good use of turnover ball and, while relying on Nweke’s hands, also worked Tui into the fray, though the young attacker was forced off the court with less than two minutes for the blood rule – before returning less than a minute later with plenty of confusion ensuing. While the Tactix had provided a constant threat down court, their inconsistency failed them and with a final score of 47-42, the Mystics came away with one of their better wins for the season.

In a game of high powered matchups, an interesting one was that between Tayla Earle (14 assists, one intercept) and Kimiora Poi (11 goal assists), with the young defensive-minded centres almost canceling each other out. Toeava was impressive as ever, racking up 25 goal assists and taking the lead out the front, serving the ball on a silver platter to Nweke (38 goals at 95 per cent accuracy) and Tui who finished with a solid eight goals from 12 attempts. Pedersen led the way in the Tactix camp, heading up assists with 18 from 32 feeds and a gain, while Bird and Selby-Rickit shared the load to combine for 79 per cent accuracy (26 and 16 goals respectively). In defence, both Fakahokotau and Fitzpatrick finished with five gains, though Fitzpatrick was far cleaner in her pursuit with just five penalties to her name and awarded the player of the match award for her efforts. Karaka (four gains) and Watson (two gains) were similarly impressive.

Neither side plays again this weekend, but will have another go of it next round when they go head-to-head once more next Sunday evening.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

NORTHERN MYSTICS 11 | 13 | 11 | 12 (47)
MAINLAND TACTIX 14 | 10 | 9 | 9 (42)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

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

TACTIX:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 4

WITH three teams sitting on one win apiece expect Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership to bring plenty of excitement and cause a major shake-up to the ladder. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Central Pulse both play two games in Round 4 with the latter hoping to keep their undefeated record intact. 

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Friday, 3 July

Sitting at two and three respectively on the ladder the clash between the Mystics and Tactix will generate a wealth of excitement. With star power across the court and strong defensive units it will come down to who can deliver under the post on Friday and get their side over the line in what will be a defensive slog. 

There is no denying that the Tactix pose one of the strongest defensive line-ups with Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau running rampant down back. Watson is incredibly damaging in the goal circle with her ability to cleanly manoeuvre around the body of her opponent, hunt for the ball and skill through transition while her partner in crime oozes tenacity and aerial strength. However the duo will have their work cut out for them up against power house goal shooter Grace Nweke. The 18-year-old burst onto the scene last year and has not only grown in confidence but so too firepower, able to reel the ball in time and time again, using her strength and footwork to constantly command the ball. It will be up to fellow Mystics goalers Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes to detract from Nweke under the post and draw either Watson or Fakahokotau to allow the goal shooter to engage in one on one battles in which she is almost impossible to beat. Although Watson and Fakahokotau are formidable in the defensive circle it will be pivotal for the likes of Charlotte Elley to stand up and quell the influence of Peta Toeava in wing attack if they are to reduce the speed and accuracy in which the ball enters the circle for the Mystics. 

Still ironing out their connections in the goal circle Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit seemed to find their rhythm last week and will be eager to replicate that again this round. Selby-Rickit is a real playmaker in the attacking third for the Tactic able to set up a plethora of plays and create space with her pin point passes and ability to glide into space. Her long range shooting allows Bird to do damage under the post and hold strong. Both down on their usual accuracy in their previous outing they will have to sink them against the Mystics given how strong both Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick are when it comes to rebounds. The Mystics pair are extremely tight, constantly applying physical pressure and using their long lean to get in the head of their opponents. Karaka and Fitzpatrick are renowned for their ability to hunt ball and stop any attacking forays meaning the Tactix will have to be on their a-game if they are to get past the Mystics defensive unit.

With Toeava a key through the midcourt for the Mystics, the output of Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen will play a big part in whether or not the Tactix can get over the line and potentially progress up the ladder. 

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 4 July

Looking for their fourth straight win the reigning champs will be eager to stamp their authority against the struggling Steel who only managed their first win last week. It will be no easy feat however, as the Steel will be riding a wave of momentum and seeming to find their rhythm across the court. 

Headlined by a couple of Silver Ferns the midcourt is a real engine room for the Steel but the Pulse also boast a couple of handy players through the centre third. The combination of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton is ultra impressive with the two able to seamlessly link up across the court and deliver bullet passes into the likes of Jennifer O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. Crampton is explosive in the attacking third, able to hit circle edge with ease and precision but will be challenged every step of the way by Karin Burger. Not your typical wing defence, the Pulse midcourter oozes defensive pressure and height, standing at 184cm, a full 10cm taller than her opponent. Her hands over pressure and clever three foot marking is what makes her such a commanding presence able to block Crampton’s vision into the circle. Meanwhile the battle between Saunders and Claire Kersten will also generate plenty of intrigue with the two able to run all day and almost cancel each other out. Having both represented the Ferns the two centres know what it takes to stand up on the big stage and deliver both in attack and defence.

Coming off a strong performance last round O’Connell will be keen to emulate her hot form, with her strong holds, clever circle positioning and increased accuracy. Despite spending some time on the bench last week McCollin was a real playmaker in the attacking third, using her speed and flair to keep defenders on their toes. Without Georgia Heffernan in the mix due to a suspected knee injury, the Steel will have to be on their A-game if they are to combat the extreme defensive pressure of the Pulse given they boast so much experience and skill. Kelly Jury is no easy beat under the post imposing her 192cm frame on opposition attack units with her lean over the shot, long limbs and strength. Partner in crime Katrina Rore is another key element for the Pulse with her ball winning ability, transition through court and sheer netball smarts. 

With both sides coming in with momentum it will come down to whether or not the Steel can deliver under the post and keep the Pulse at bay. 

Central Pulse v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 5 July

In their second game of the round the Pulse will be hoping to keep their undefeated record and inflict more pain on the Magic. It has been a tricky return to netball for Waikato Bay of plenty unable to register a win since Round 1 but will be hoping to exploit any fatigue the Pulse may have in their second outing of the round. 

There is no denying that the Pulse have one of the most dominant attacking units in the competition with the likes of Aliyah Dunn the main culprit under the post. The young goal shooter is a commanding presence, able to score at both a high volume and high accuracy making her incredibly hard to stop. Unfazed by the physical nature of the game Dunn takes everything in her stride and will have to absorb a wealth of physicality from Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere. Renowned for her long limbs and body on body style of play expect Mikaere to be on the hunt for plenty of ball to stop it from coming into Dunn under the post. The calming presence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio for the Pulse adds another string to their bow in the shooting circle meaning Holly Fowler or Georgia Tong will have to try and disrupt the goal attacks flow with their hands over pressure. Ekenasio often has the ball on a string, able to seamlessly set up clever plays and can shoot from range making her a threat to be reckoned with while the inclusion of Tiana Metuarau is exciting for the Pulse as all three goalers can hold their own in the circle. 

Up against the likes of Magic shooter Kelsey McPhee, the likes of Jury, Elle Temu and Rore will be wanting to win back a lot of ball and shut down the aerial path to goal with her read of the play. Dispute not getting a wealth of court time Temu is an exciting prospect for the Pulse in defence with her strong body on body pressure, ability to rotate through the circle and sheer strength to outmuscle her opponents under the post. McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou have struggled for volume over the past couple of games and will be keen to prove their worth under the post. Latu-Meafou oozes flair and creativity with ball in hand, able to create plays and set up McPhee under the post something she will have to do in order to combat the Pulse. 

Given the amount of star-power across the court for the Pulse, they should get the job done comfortably but do not rule out the Magic who will be hungry for a win given their lacklustre start to the 2020 season. 

Waikato Bay Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Monday, 6 July

With the Magic taking the court the night before the Stars will be hoping to capitalise on their opponents and get back in the winners column after an up and down season so far. Sitting at one win apiece heading into the round this game could have a huge impact on both teams ladder position and their chances of potentially making finals. 

Headlined by Maia Wilson in goal shooter the Magic in particular Mikaere, will have to be on song from the get go to limit any easy ball into the towering shooter. Wilson is almost unstoppable from under the post with the goaler able to hold space effortlessly and use her body angles to keep the defenders at arms length. Throw in her ability to score quickly and accurately and the Stars definitely have the upper hand. However, Wilson is renowned for her ability to reel in the high balls much like Mikaere meaning the work from Jamie Hume out the front will be instrumental. If the goal attack can get off the hook early, command the ball and take the attention away from Wilson it will give the Stars a chance to generate some real scoreboard pressure. 

Through the midcourt the battle is just as fierce with a couple of Silver Ferns set to butt heads. In her first season back after giving birth, Grace Kara has not skipped a beat, able to deliver the ball perfectly into Wilson under the post. Kara’s use of speed, clever ball placement and vision is what makes her such a formidable opponent, able to dart in and out of traffic with ease. However she struggles up against niggly styled defenders, cue Magic captain Sam Winders. The talented wing defence is lightning quick, extremely athletic and renowned for her defensive marking, able to keep the attackers away from circle edge largely in part to her high netball nous. After a solid outing last week for the Stars, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan will be hoping to keep that intensity up with the young centre carving up the court. Her speed, ball delivery and skill to read the play is crucial for the Stars while Ariana Cable-Dixon along with Whitney Souness have speed to burn for the Magic in attack. 

With talent through the midcourt it will ultimately come down to whether or not the Magic can nullify the influence of Wilson under the post and if they can it will go a long way in securing their second victory of the season.

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Tactix defence stands up to conquer Magic win

MAINLAND Tactix have temporarily bounced back into third after putting their stomach bug loss to Northern Stars last week behind them to defeat Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by nine goals last night (45-36). In what was a remarkable defensive performance – the three defenders picked up a combined seven intercepts and four rebounds – the Tactix were able to restrict their opposition to just 36 goals, the equal lowest of the season thus far.

The Tactix were not their regular selves in the Round 2 loss to the Stars, and having played an extra game than the Magic heading into last night’s match, were keen to bounce back with a strong win. It was promising start from the side as Ellie Bird burst out of the blocks with 10 goals from 15 attempts in the opening term, outscoring the Magic side, whilst Te Paea Selby-Rickit played the role of facilitator with four goal assists from five feeds.

Erikana Pedersen had a team-high five goal assists, the same as her opposition wing attack, Whitney Souness. The Magic still managed the nine goals, making the most of their 12 opportunities, but the Tactix attempts were stacking up with a massive 17 in the first term.

The second term was the complete reverse of fortunes for the sides, with Ariana Cable-Dixon taking control of the midcourt alongside Souness as the pair combined for eight goals assists from 14 feeds. Young gun Kimiora Poi was overshadowed in the centre, but Pedersen was doing all she could to feed through to the goalers. Bird put up a more accurate six goals from eight attempts for the quarter, but it was the shared load between Magic goalers Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou that got their side back on top.

The Magic looked like a different team to the first term with just four general play turnovers – half of their total from the first term – and having 11 goal assists to five. The change in play turned the result around with the Magic heading into the break with a three-goal lead. The inconsistency of the midcourt feeding through to the goalers for the Tactix was one noticeable area to still improve on for next match.

Neither team opted to make a change to its starting line-up heading into the third term, and surprisingly, momentum flowed with the Tactix again as Bird found her range and could hardly miss, sinking nine of 10 chances and even setting up a couple of goals for Selby-Rickit. But it was Selby-Rickit who proved to be a huge influence on the term, nailing all five of her chances, and getting more active with six centre pass receives – almost as many as the entire first half – as well as three goal assists. Pedersen continued her terrific form with another five goals assists, while Poi got back on level terms with Cable-Dixon again.

Holly Fowler had been able to restrict Selby-Rickit up to that point from causing too much damage, but with 19 feeds into the circle, it was coming in fast and furious causing headaches for Fowler and Erena Mikaere. Needless to say, the Magic managed just seven goals with Latu-Meafou shooting the four and McPhee the three as Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau were able to get more active on defence thanks to the pressure up the court.

The final term saw the good times rolling on for the Tactix who then picked up where they left off in the third, thanks to a 12-7 term. The Tactix had tried to make a few changes with Cable-Dixon coming off after Poi’s big third term, as captain Sam Winders slid into centre. Fowler moved up to wing defence and Jenna O’Sullivan went on into goal defence. Unfortunately, it did not help with O’Sullivan giving up three penalties and one turnover in seven minutes of action to be replaced by Georgia Tong in the final few minutes.

The Tactix did not need to make a change, and it was easy to see why with Watson continuing her attacking approach, whilst Fakahokotau’s work with reading the ball in flight was impressive. Bird sank another eight goals from 11 attempts, with Selby-Rickit having four from eight and four goal assists. Pedersen and Poi continued their good form aiding the transition down the court, whilst for the Magic, McPhee was a lone hand close to the post with six goals from eight attempts.

Bird ended the match with an impressive 33 goals from 44 attempts, but it was the work of Pedersen (17 goal assists from 34 feeds) and Selby-Rickit (12 from 19 on both goals and assists) who worked actively to keep the ball moving. In defence, Fakahokotau and Watson combined for five intercepts and two rebounds. In true Watson style, she only conceded one penalty for the entire match, while Fakahokotau won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for her work.

For the Magic, it was Souness who was the main source of transition ball with 17 assists from 31 feeds, and getting active off the centre pass with 19 receives. McPhee shot 21 goals from 26 assists, while her partner-in-crime Latu-Meafou sank 15 from 21. Aside from a terrific second quarter, the Magic faded away and it cost them in the end.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

MAINLAND TACTIX 11 | 8 | 14 | 12 (45)
WBOP MAGIC 9 | 13 | 7 | 7 (36)

STARTING SEVENS:

TACTIX:

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

MAGIC:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 3

AFTER an action packed return of netball, teams will be eager to prove that it was not a one off with strong showings in Round 3. The Steel and Magic will both play two games this round with the remainder only taking part in the one game. Arguably the game of the round will be between the two unbeaten teams on Monday with Pulse and Mystics set to go to head to head. 

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Friday, 26 June

Sitting on a win apiece heading into the round both teams will be searching for some consistency and more importantly their second win of the season. The Tactix had an up and down performance last round, struck down by a tummy bug in their second game which well and truly showed while the Magic simply could not generate enough accuracy to post to worry their opposition. 

With a stacked defensive end the Tactix will be hoping to use their physicality and ball winning abilities to stop the Magic from getting close to post. Copping a knock on her knee early in the last game, all eyes will turn to Jane Watson with the captain a real lynchpin for the Tactix as she can take huge game changing intercepts. After a hot start Temalisi Fakahokotau faded out of the game last round but will be wanting to showcase her prowess once again with her intercepting skills, leap and pressure over the shot to ruffle the feathers of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou. The Magic shooters while they had plenty of opportunities struggled to convert and will have their work cut out for them again this round given the immense pressure Fakahokotau and Watson are renowned for.  

The midcourt battle will be another point of interest given the depth and speed that the Tactix have. Kimiora Poi is lightning quick in at centre, able to dart around the court and facilitate that second phase play for her side while also getting back and applying defensive pressure. Wing attack Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen also pose a threat for the Magic with their ability to come on and have an immediate impact with their quick ball movement, strength around circle edge and pin point precision passes into the circle. It will be up to Magic captain Sam Winders to really lead the midcourt with her defensive pressure, skill to clog up space and ability to keep her opposition off circle edge. In attack it will be up to Whitney Souness and Ariana Cable-Dixon to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Latu-Meafou and McPhee. 

It will be a tight battle between both sides but if the Tactix are at full strength they should be able to get the job done given the extra experience they have across the court both in attack and defence. 

Northern Mystics v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 27 June

Yet to register a win this season the Steel will be hoping to unlock something in their match-up against the Mystics and get their first “W” on the board. Meanwhile the Mystics will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact and notch up their third victory for the season after another impressive outing in Round 2.

With a developing attacking unit the Steel will have to be on their a-game if they are any chance to topple the Mystics. Kalifa McCollin proved to be a real pocket last round and has speed to boot, zipping around the attacking third and creating plays with her flair. The Trinidad and Tobago recruit is not afraid to go to post backing herself from anywhere in the circle and can adapt her game style to suit her fellow goalers. Youngster Georgia Heffernan is still working on her craft but has the potential to come on and have an impact with her athletic style of play and accuracy. While goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell is renowned for her holding shooter role and ability to score quickly and easily, something she will be hoping to capitalise on up against the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka. The Mystics defenders are a formidable unit that can pick off passes with ease and use their quick footwork to maneuver around the body of their opponents and create timely deflections. Fitzpatrick is a strong driving force down back with her hands over pressure and aerial ability while Karaka is key through the midcourt. 

After starring in Round with her pace, strength and ball delivery Peta Toeava will be one to watch for the Steel. The Mystics wing attack is a key cog using her balance, impressive vision and variety of passes to seamlessly deliver the ball into the goal circle. Toeava is quick on her feet and strong around the circle edge to demand the ball and dish off well-weighted passes. Fellow midcourter and centre Tayla Earle also starred last week and will be hoping to replicate that form with her defensive pressure to force turnovers and pick off intercepts for the Mystics. Her battle with Shannon Saunders will generate plenty of interest given just how damaging Saunders can be with ball in hand. Her experience, speed and vision is second to none while her connection with Gina Crampton is exceptional. The two know each others game inside out making them extremely difficult to combat given their read of the play and space, stamina and general netball nous. 

Vying for their first win of the season, expect the Steel to throw everything they have at the Mystics in hope of securing that elusive victory. However the Mystics have proven that they have the firepower to withstand challenges and can use their defensive pressure to win ball back and create scoring opportunities. 

Northern Stars v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 28 June

In Steel’s second game of the round the element of fatigue could play a huge factor up against a developing Stars unit who will be still riding that winning wave after downing the Tactix in Round 2. It will be the first time these two sides have met since the final last year where the Stars bundled the Steel out of grand final contention, so expect plenty of feeling in this game. With young players on both sides it will be up to the experienced heads to lead the way and forge a way forward for their team to win. 

The tussle in the goal circle for the Stars will be exciting with Maia Wilson a commanding presence under the post as her strong holds and accuracy to post is hard to combat. Wilson is able to read the play with ease and use her feet to move to the ball or create space in the circle. Still developing her partnership with Jamie Hume and Vika Koloto it will be up to Wilson to shoulder a lot of the scoring load but will have her work cut out for her against Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, Taneisha Fifita and Abby Erwood. Fifita is a real livewire down in defence renowned for her spring in her step and skill to cause confusion with her quick footwork while both Selby-Rickit and Erwood ooze consistency.

Coming off a relatively disappointing outing expect O’Connell to come back with a vengeance and assert herself with her scoring ability. O’Connell can hit the scoreboard quickly and easily given her height and clever body positioning to ward off defenders. Partner in crime, McCollin is the playmaker for the Steel in the goal circle using her turn of speed and spatial awareness to full effect. But Stars defenders Storm Purvis and Kate Burley are no easy beats with the two strong in the air and able to swat away their fair share of ball. Burley impressed last round with her smothering style of play and skill to switch into transition with ease while Storm showcased her skillset to seamlessly push out to goal defence. Another prominent threat for the Stars is the inclusion of Oceane Maihi who is a serious competitor in the air given her leap and strong hands. 

Potentially still on the hunt for their first win the Steel will be eager to secure a win but come up against a strong unit, in the Stars who will be raring to go. With key players across the Stars are in the box seat heading into the contest having already notched up a win. 

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Monday, 29 June

In what could be a battle of the two undefeated teams the clash between the Pulse and Mystics will be one of youth and experience. There is no denying that the Pulse are the team to beat, once again announcing themselves as a powerhouse of the competition last round while the Mystics continue to showcase their composure and pressure each time they step out on court. There will be all-star match ups across the court with both teams littered with Silver Ferns stars making for an intriguing contest.

Young talent Grace Nweke has continued to take the competition by storm, letting her goal scoring do all the talking. Hardly ever out positioned, Nweke is a staple hold for the Mystics under the post with her commanding figure, aerial strength, read of the play and sheer dominance, but could meet her match in fellow youngster Kelly Jury. The Pulse goal keeper really hit her straps last round with her quick footwork, long limbs, lean over the shot and skill to get hands to ball. Throw in defensive comrades in Katrina Rore and Karin Burger and the Pulse are incredibly difficult to match-up on given their ability to shut down space, hunt the ball and suffocate attacking forays. While Nweke is the go to girl for the Mystics the likes of Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui will have to up their output if they are to draw away the defence from Nweke and apply some serious scoreboard pressure. 

Moving down into the defensive end for the Mystics and they too have no shortage of fire power with Fitzpatrick and Karaka. Up against her old side, Fitzpatrick will be desperate to have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure, physicality under the post and intercepting ability. Directly opposed to Pulse goal shooter Aliyah Dunn, Fitzpatrick will have to be on her a-game to stop the high ball release into her with Dunn renowned for her height, ability to reel ball in and nifty footwork along the baseline to hold space. Goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another huge obstacle for the Mystics defensive unit to conquer with the Silver Ferns goaler in impressive form. Her vision is exceptional, able to see two passes ahead, while her ball placement, turn of speed and strong drives into the circle is second to none. Throw in the fact Ekenasio can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle and is cool, calm and composed with ball in hand and the Pulse are in a commanding position.

With star power across the court and tried and tested combinations the Pulse should reign supreme but the Mystics definitely have the players to cause an upset given their defensive pressure.

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Stars fire back in dual milestone match

FRESH off a loss on Sunday, the Northern Stars were keen to make amends and were faced with potential grand final challengers, Mainland Tactix to finish round two. But while the Tactix seemed to have much of the momentum early, it was the Stars who led all changes, with plenty of players stepping up to prove that Sunday’s result was not going to be repeated and defeating the Tactix 49-43.

With a fire in the belly, Tactix showed no mercy down in defence, blocking any easy avenue to goal and moving the ball with confidence through the midcourt. With two domestic milestones in the mix, the Stars were raring to go to get their first 2020 win on the board for captain, Grace Kara who hit 150 games and Silver Ferns goaler, Maia Wilson who reached 50.

The first quarter saw the Stars strike the first blow, getting out to an early lead though the Tactix were hot on their tail testament to the accuracy and connection between Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird on song early. However where the Stars seemed to struggle defensively in the beginning – not communicating well in defence – Storm Purvis and Kate Burley quickly caught on to the predictable and risky high ball to Bird, limiting the tall timber’s impact on the shot and putting doubt in the head of Selby-Rickit who did not seem her usual confident self on the long bomb.

While the Stars defence had a slow start and brought the heat throughout, it seemed to be another story for the Tactix. Temalisi Fakahokotau had a blinding start, racking up two of her three intercepts in the first quarter while Jane Watson asserted herself on the contest, playing a real attacking game out of goal defence. But while Tactix’ defence was on early, the Stars did not hold back as the likes of Wilson and Jamie Hume shook off any glimpses of fading out as they did on Sunday, making for a tense contest. Aiding on circle edge, Kara put out a spectacular show with her pinpoint passes and efficient play through attack, almost unstoppable. Where kara dominated for the Stars, as did Tactix midcourter Kimiora Poi who used her impressive speed to be a constant pest on the Stars’ tail. 

With the connection between Wilson and Hume growing as confidence joined the mix, it seemed as though Fakahokotau and Watson gradually faded out with Watson somewhat succumbing to injury – returning to the court, but not showcasing her typical tenacity or athleticism. Though the Tactix showed glimpses of brilliance, they simply could not maintain that high level of intensity – though with rumours of a stomach bug in their midst – with the team struggling to maintain that efficiency that saw them steam ahead on Saturday against the Steel. 

A one goal Stars lead at the first change turned into a seven goal lead by half-time, with a stellar seven goal run contributing to the effort and Tactix’ messiness certainly playing a part while their ball placement also seemed to improve, keeping the ball away from the athletic Fakahokotau. But while the tenacious goal keeper seemed like the one to watch heading into the match, it was Burley and Purvis that put on a show as the duo racked up four and three gains respectively.

While a switch for speedster Erikana Pedersen in wing attack seemed to open things back up for the Tactix in the third and ultimately a much better final quarter to finish, it was not enough with the side lacking confidence and ultimately making a lot of gambles as they fought to control an ounce of the match. Constant changes and a lack of confidence was the pressure point for the Tactix, and it was Wilson with the layup that put the nail in the coffin thanks to an offensive turnover, telling a real tale of the Tactix’ comedy of errors to finish the match.

Wilson was once again strong under the post for the Stars with the 22-year-old goal shooter doing much of the heavy lifting and finishing with 37 goals from 40 attempts, though was supported better by Hume this time around who, despite only shooting 12 goals at 63 per cent, provided a much tougher contest at the post, opening up space for the 50-gamer. For the Tactix, it was a much more even total between Selby-Rickit (19 goals) and Bird (18), while up-and-coming talent Jess Prosser made her mark in the latter stages, aiding Selby-Rickit well and shooting six from six. Player of the match, Burley racked up three intercepts while it was her constant pressure that saw her dominate the contest, combining effortlessly with Purvis to be a threatening pairing down back. Through the midcourt, Kara racked up 20 assists from 33 feeds to lead all comers, while it was a far more even spread of feeding for the Tactix, with six players putting the stat to their name.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

NORTHERN STARS 13 | 13 | 11 | 12 (49)
MAINLAND TACTIX 12 | 7 | 10 | 14 (43)

STARTING SEVENS:

Northern Stars:

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

Mainland Tactix:

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Tactix topple Steel in the Southern Derby

AS the rest of the netball world looked on in envy, the ANZ Premiership once again displayed why their domestic league has produced some of the best talent on the planet. Much like the first game back after the break, the matchup between Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel lived up to the hype. It was a smothering defensive display from the Tactix and they certainly laid out their intentions for the season ahead thanks to a 43-36 triumph. 

Going into the game there were a few key matchups to note. Firstly, the tussle between World Cup Champion Shannon Saunders and zippy youngster Kimiora Poi. These two never gave each other an inch, both of them having a point to prove being at opposite ends of their netball career. Another hotly anticipated contest was the Selby-Rickit sisters, facing off against each other on opposing teams for the first time since 2015. Another Silver Fern with a reputation to uphold was the formidable Jane Watson, and she did just that against Trinidadian import, Kalifa McCollin. Watson has to be by far one of the most infuriating defenders in the game to play against, up there with Karla Pretorious, stealing balls for fun and disrupting play left, right and centre. She plays formidably at goal defence, that extra third giving her even more opportunities to cause chaos.

From the moment the toy car delivered the ball and Steel took the first centre pass, the pressure was on. Watson managed a steal after just one minute of play, and the battle between the Selby-Rickit sisters playing at goal attack and goal defense was very willing. The Tactix managed to exploit the height of their goaling duo in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird, with Selby-Rickit shooting long bombs and oozing confidence from the outset. During the first quarter the Tactix had the opportunity to mount a sizeable lead but the Steel showed their grit and weren’t going down without a fight. Both teams opened the game by playing with real freedom and being totally fearless to let the ball go. After the first quarter the Tactix had their noses in front, leading the Steel by 12 goals to 11.

Southern Steel came out of the blocks with a fire in the belly for the second quarter, with McCollin’s cut and drives carving up the attack end and creating endless options – she actually ended up shooting more goals than Jennifer O’Connell in the first half. They started to really find flow in attack and ended up winning the quarter by one goal. Tactix showed great hustle, and were always first to a loose ball, backing this up with amazing vision into the circle, sometimes even from way back in the centre third. Watson’s “Mr Tickle” arms were causing a real mess for the Steel midcourt, and she combined with Temalisi Fakahokotau to form a ferocious defensive partnership. The sides ended the first half all tied up at 20 goals apiece, with both teams demonstrating real ease and flow in their play. 

Poi and Saunders kept each other busy in the midcourt, with Saunders’ ability to transition swiftly from attack to defense providing a good test for Poi’s speed and agility. Poi appeared determined to keep the ball alive at any cost and displayed some incredible acrobatics to do so. She looked like she was having an absolute day out and relishing the chance to match up against the experienced Saunders.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit silenced any potential critics about her shooting accuracy, remaining on 100 per cent at half-time and only missing two shots in the whole game, despite often shooting from range. With Noeline Taurua as assistant coach, the Tactix probably never really felt they were going to lose. Erikana Pedersen came on at wing attack after half-time and spurred on the Tactix to a deadly championship quarter. While both teams were heavily penalised, the Tactix managed to gain momentum in the third quarter, limiting the Steel to just seven goals. 

Wholesale changes in the fourth quarter for Steel gave them a chance to claw the score back, but the Tactix had their tails up after smashing the third quarter and the Steel ran out of time to make a comeback. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit moved back to goal keeper for the Steel with Abbey Erwood coming on in goal defence. At the other end, McCollin went into goal shooter and Georgia Heffernan slotted into goal attack, meaning there were two pairs of netball sisters on court during the final 12. For the Tactix, Bird’s shooting percentage started to dip, most likely due to the style of the physical Te Huinga Selby-Rickit. A held ball on the centre pass for the Steel added insult to injury and allowed the Tactix to pull away further. Unforced errors started to creep in for both teams, possibly due to fatigue setting in – something we may see a little more of with teams playing two games per weekend. There were also several attacking contacts from both goal shooters and Bird in particular got frustrated by the Steel defenders and ended up with two attacking contacts in a row. 

Tactix were ferocious, however both teams showed amazing vision, athleticism and slick play proving they are no worse for the break. As the Tactix started to relax in the final period, the Steel managed to notch up five in a row in what looked like the beginning of a comeback. However it was too little too late after their disappointing third quarter. After drawing the first half, the second half was 23-16 to the Tactix, meaning the final score was 43-36. The Tactix side were able to get early depth on the centre pass and have multiple options to ball, with Bird on a strong hold in the circle and Selby-Rickit setting up the attack end with ease. Both teams ended up fairly even across the board when it comes to penalties and turnovers, but the Tactix were able to pick up seven intercepts to the Steel’s two, and the large majority of rebounds to boot. 

The Tactix will have to maintain their enthusiasm and tenacity when they come up against the Stars on Monday, and the Steel can have another chance to notch up their first win of the season against the Mystics next weekend.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

STARTING SEVENS:

MAINLAND TACTIX

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

SOUTHERN 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

ANZ Premiership preview: Round 2 – Netball returns along with a grand final rematch

THE highly anticipated return of the ANZ Premiership kicks off on Friday. After an interrupted start to the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent two month hiatus expect all six teams to come out firing, with a grand final rematch headlining the return to netball. 

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Mystics
Friday, 19 June 

The first cab off the ranks sees the Magic and Mystics face off with both teams hoping to make it two on the trot and maintain their unbeaten start to 2020. Magic showcased their defensive ability in Round 1 while also proving to have the answers in attack while the Northern Mystics also proved that they had plenty of depth and talent across the court to mix it with the best. Both teams only play one game this round so expect them to leave nothing to chance and put on a spectacle. 

The battle under the post is where all the excitement lies for the Mystics both defensively and offensively. With Silver Ferns goaler Bailey Mes ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a patella injury, the load falls to the three teenage shooting prodigies in Grace Nweke, Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui. Nweke took the competition by storm last year and will once again have her work cut out for her given her commanding style of play. She is accurate to post and can shoulder the load under the post while Tui played a starring role in their Round 1 outing. New to the attack end is Grapes with the youngster looking to have an impact with her drive to post and silky movement. But it will be no easy feat for the Mystics who are still working out their connections. Led by Erena Mikaere, the Magic will be hoping to exploit those connections and create plenty of turnover ball. Alongside Mikaere expect the likes of Holly Fowler and Jennifer O’Sullivan to be on the prowl, searching for an intercept or deflection of some type. Magic captain Sam Winders will have to put her defensively minded game play to work in order to stop the explosiveness of Peta Toeava who is a strong asset around circle edge given her experience. 

Defensively the Mystics also have some firepower with both Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick. The two are known for their defensive prowess, ability to read the play, quick footwork and speed off the mark. Although only in their second game together expect the duo to try and get in the heads of the Magic shooters and put them off their game with their lean over the shot and physical style. The shooting end for the Magic may look slightly different with Georgia Marshall stuck in Australia due to the COVID-19 restrictions meaning it will fall to Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee to stand up under pressure and deliver once again with their growing connection, ability to read the space and confidence all on display in Round 1. 

Despite having a young shooting end, the Mystics have a strong defensive unit that can win ball back and propel it down the court, giving them that edge against the Magic.

Southern Steel v. Mainland Tactix
Saturday, 20 June 

In both teams’ first game of the round expect the Steel and Tactix to leave nothing to chance in order to claim their inaugural win for 2020. With aspirations to rise up the ladder the Tactix will be hoping to seriously announce themselves as a competitor this season credit to some handy pick-ups. 

The inexperienced shooting end could be a real focal point for the Steel with the Tactix boasting an impressive defensive combination in captain, Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. The pair are renowned for their tenacity, desire to force turnovers and immense pressure. Watson is one of the cleanest defenders able to get around the body with ease and create tips and deflections while Fakahokotau’s more physical style often upsets the attackers providing her with chances to intercept the ball or force held balls. Throw in developing defender Sophia Fenwick and the Tactix have a wealth of options down back. The expected starting duo of McCollin and O’Sullivan will have their work cut out for them in the goal circle when it comes to creating space and putting up a high volume of shots given the intensity of the Tactix and their zone style of play. McCollin has plenty of flair and creativity with ball in hand something she will be hoping to make the most out of when delivering to O’Sullivan.

In her first game up against her old club, expect Te Paea Selby-Rickit to come out with plenty of fire in the belly. The Silver Ferns goaler and now Tactix shooter is a smooth mover, glides across the court and can hit the scoreboard with ease such is her netball smarts. Still developing her connection with goal shooter Ellie Bird who is recognised for her consistency to post, the two could prove a lot to handle for Steel duo Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood. Standing at 196cm, Bird is no easy beat in the goal circle with her long arms, strong holds and height making her a clear obstacle for the Steel to conquer inside the circle if they are any chance to win. 

With plenty of options in defence, speed through the midcourt and high quality shooters the Tactix should have the competitive edge heading into the game. 

Northern Stars v. Central Pulse
Sunday, 21 June

Sunday marks the grand final rematch between the Northern Stars and Central Pulse with the latter hoping to repeat their earlier triumphs. With a win already under their belt for season 2020 the Pulse will be out replicate their hot form of 2019 while the Stars on the other hand will be keen to put a stop to it and notch up their first victory for the season.

The Stars lost quite a couple of key players over the off-season but managed to retain the services of star goal shooter Maia Wilson. The young goaler will be their main port of call when it comes to scoring with the shooter able to slot them from anywhere and post a high number of goals. She is strong on her holds, quick on her feet and able to read the play with ease. In only their second game together the chemistry between Wilson and Jamie Hume in the goal circle will play a huge role given the depth and wealth of talent the Pulse have when it comes to defence. Boasting a defensive unit littered with stars such as Katrina Rore, Kelly Jury, versatile defender Karin Burger and youngster Elle Temu the Pulse have no shortage of options with each of them able to come on to the court and have a damaging impact. Rore and Burger are equally as impressive in the goal circle as they are out in wing defence, a clear testament to their skill and netball understanding.

Up the shooting end for the Pulse, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn are arguably one of the league’s most damaging combinations. Ekenasio has an uncanny knack to read the play and glide across the court while her ability to shoot from long range makes her incredibly hard to stop. Her connection with Dunn is second to none, with the two able to rotate through the space with ease and consistently apply scoreboard pressure. Dunn is cool, calm and composed, often using her height to her advantage and capitalising on her scoring opportunities meaning the defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Daystar Swift and Kate Burley will have to be on their a-game. Expect Swift to rely on her height to match up against Dunn and try and put doubt in the feeders mind. 

If the Stars cannot get on top of the Pulse early it will be hard for them to reel them back in given their cleanliness with ball in hand and how quickly they can score. The Pulse treasure possession and are renowned for their ability to win ball back thanks to their strong defence unit. 

Northern Stars v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 22 June

In the final game of the round both the Stars and Tactix play out their second game of the round. With the changed fixture fatigue could be a huge factor for both teams especially the Stars who played the night before. Heading into the round both teams entered with no wins but will hoping to change that story and claim some early ascendancy and bragging rights.

With a strong defence, the Tactix also have plenty of talent throughout the midcourt with a host of nippy attackers that can interchange between positions. Kimiora Poi is one of those midcourters with the 168cm player able to dart around the court, hit the circle edge with speed and great balance while also displaying her impressive vision. The likes of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury returnee Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan are also handy options in either centre or wing attack. For the Stars, they too have a young midcourt core with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather however their ace lies with captain Grace Kara. In her second game back since giving birth expect the captain to provide that calming head through the midcourt and create a wealth of attacking forays for the Stars. 

In terms of wing defence both the Stars and Tactix have developing players in Fa’amu Ioane and Charlotte Elley meaning it will depend on which wing attack can get off the leash first and cause the most damage. The likes of Swift, Purvis and Burley will have to be firing on all cylinders in their clash in order to stop the flow into the goal circle for the Tactix. The shooting unit for Mainland  is quite strong with Bird and Selby-Rickit headlining the attack  while youngster Jess Prosser is also a viable option given her forged connection with Bird from last season and ability to go to post. 

Considering it is their second game in as many days expect factors such as experience, strong connections and structures to play a huge role in this game with the Tactix possibly more poised for a win given the number of international players on their list.