Tag: Leana De Bruin

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Pulse reign supreme in grand final rematch

A LOT has changed between the two ANZ Premiership sides since they last met in the grand final with the likes of Temepara Bailey, Leana de Bruin and Ellen Halpenny both retiring while Kayla Cullen announced her move to the Swifts. Meanwhile, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Whitney Souness both left the Pulse. But that did not seem to matter with both sides leaving no stone unturned and putting on a show in the grand final rematch. The Pulse did not skip a beat in their first game back since the COVID-19 enforced break, trouncing the Stars by 24 goals in what was an impressive all-round performance (63-39).  

The opening quarter lived up to anticipation with the Pulse racing out to a hefty lead before the Stars reeled them back in. Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio got off to a hot start slotting the first four goals of the game before partner in crime Aliyah Dunn got involved in the action. Ekenasio showcased her slick ball movement and demanding presence both in the goal circle and attacking third, receiving what seemed like every second pass and creating attacking forays. Defensively the Pulse were up and about with the Stars unable to penetrate the zone pressure only sinking their first goal three minutes into the match after both Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson missed their opening shots. Newbie Kelly Jury was impressive for the Pulse, using her lean over the shot to get in the head of Wilson, before the talented goaler got things back on her terms, using her strong holds to claim prime position under the post. The Stars worked hard defensively to shut down options and then propel the ball back down court to reduce the margin to two goals but they did not stop there with Hume sinking a long bomb on the buzzer to be within one goal at quarter time. 

With things all tied up in the opening minutes of the second quarter the Pulse quickly put an end to the goal for goal rhythm thanks to Dunn and Ekenasio going on a scoring spree. Dunn showcased her versatility leading outside of the goal circle and driving back hard to goal while youngster Maddy Gordon had a field day in attack with her speed, impressive vision and balance around circle edge. With the ball trapped in Pulse’s attacking third, Stars wing defence Fa’amu Ioane put her hand up using her footwork to try and block Gordon but it was to no real avail while the likes of Kate Burley also imposed herself with her timely tips. The combination of Wilson and Hume in the goal circle was tested but the goal shooter stood up to the pressure, finding the front space with ease. But the Stars simply could not combat the intense pressure from the Pulse who capitalised on every turnover and opportunity that swung their way with a whopping 21 to eight goal quarter. Jury led the defensive end with an impressive intercept credit to her long arms and quick footwork to cover the court. Meanwhile the combination between Dunn and  Ekenasio continued with the two simply undeniable under the post sitting at 100 per cent, testament to their skillset. Dunn found her rhythm under the post, gobbling up everything that came her way, making it look easy.

Renowned as the premiership quarter, the third term lived up to its name with the Pulse applying a wealth of pressure both on the scoreboard and defensively. Once again Jury was straight into the action with an intercept and denying any type of easy ball movement for the Stars. In hope to change things up down back Storm Purvis pushed out to goal defence with Oceane Maihi coming on in goal keeper. Maihi offered plenty of height and aerial ability to challenge the prominent Dunn in the air. Purvis and Maihi made life hard for the first few minutes before the Pulse once again pulled away with Gordon and Claire Kersten leading the way through the middle with their effortless feeds and ridiculous ball speed. The quick transition down court was simply unstoppable with the Pulse linking up with ease and causing all sorts of havoc for the Stars forcing them to chop and change players in centre with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather rotating through. In terms of defence Katrina Rore wore Hume like a glove, going with her every step of the way and only allowing the goaler to manage three goals for the quarter while Jury maintained her hunger for the ball, using her spatial awareness and balance to reel ball in and propel it down court with a whopping five intercepts and seven gains in the term alone. 

The fourth quarter followed suit with the Pulse doing everything right and not allowing the Stars any space. There were changes galore for both teams with Tiana Metuarau coming on in wing attack to replace speedster, Gordon. Defensively the Pulse brought on some fresh legs with Renee Savai’inaea and Elle Temu both making their presence felt with the latter notching up an intercept and gain in her 12 minutes on court. Stars youngster Vika Koloto was not overwhelmed by her opponent instead coming on and showcasing her skillset with an early goal and delivering well weighted passes into Wilson. But the changes were simply not enough to quell the steam train that was the Pulse who were slick from start to finish only missing four goals for the entire game. 

Wilson finished with 30 goals from 36 attempts at 83 per cent while Hume managed eight from 11 at 73 per cent. Dunn was a commanding figure with 44 from 46 at 96 per cent while Ekenasio slotted 19 from 21. The defensive efforts of Jury were unmatched with the young goal keeper amassing nine gains and six intercepts with Rore hot on her heels with five gains and an intercept. 

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

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

CENTRAL PULSE:

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

Players that got away: Leana de Bruin

THERE are a number of netballers in the world that have pulled on the international dress for more than one country throughout the career. With netball on hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19 Draft Central has decided to take a look at those players and their international careers and what could have been. Next in line is former Silver Ferns and Spar Proteas defender Leana de Bruin.

Starting off her career with South Africa, de Bruin played 34 international caps for the Proteas before transitioning to the Silver Ferns in 2000 where she racked up a whopping 104 international caps in the black dress. She was as consistent as they came for the Spar Proteas acting as a real wall down in defence and using her smothering style of pressure to halt any easy movement into the attacking third. De Bruin was a commanding influence for South Africa throughout her time able to lead her side on court with her impressive vision and ball handling skills.

A member of the New Zealand Silver Ferns, de Bruin was a key cog in the defensive circle with her hands over pressure, speed off the mark and tagging style of defence. She was hardly ever beaten in a one on one given her strength and general netball nous to work around the body of her opponent. Renowned for her physical pressure and aerial ability de Bruin was a constant pain in any goalers side, able to ruffle their feathers and create turnovers.

Her connection with the likes of Katrina Rore and Casey Kopua was electric with the trio able to cause all sorts of havoc down back. Their zone style of defence was what made them such a formidable unit able to transition well and continue that high pressure intensity. She well and truly cemented herself in the squad becoming the fifth player to notch up over 100 tests with her hard-working mentality constantly on display. While her defensive pressure was a clear asset for the Ferns it was her ability to bring the ball down the court and provide attacking options that also made her a force to be reckoned with.

She has had a decorated career, with the highly touted defender lucky enough to feature in five Netball World Cups – one for South Africa in 1999 and the next four in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 with New Zealand. Her dominance did not stop there with de Bruin also playing in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games for the Ferns. Throughout her time, she tasted plenty of success filling the trophy cabinet with gold and silver medals.

After switching to the Silver Ferns, it is fair to say that de Bruin’s services were well and truly missed for the Spar Proteas who at times lacked that X-factor she possessed. Her ability to read the flight of the ball and inject herself into the game was second to none able to make something out of nothing more times than not given her long reaching arms and footwork.

Up and coming players in the ANZ Premiership: Part 1

WITH the ANZ Premiership set to commence on June 19, netball fans around the world are gearing up for another eventful season. With Round 1 wins going to the reigning premiers Central Pulse along with the Northern Mystics and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic expect the likes of Tactix, Stars and Steel to come out with a real fire in the belly. We take a look at one up and coming player from the first three teams and the potential impact they could have throughout the season if given more court time.

Northern Mystics: Grace Nweke

The young goal shooter will be hoping to leave an even bigger mark on the competition and continue her strong form. After gaining some valuable minutes last year, after being elevated from a training partner to a full-time member in Round 6, Nweke did not skip a beat. The soon to be 18-year-old is gearing up for another challenging but exciting year given the profound impact she had last season. Nweke wowed netball fans across the world with the 17-year-old oozing nothing but composure under the post, unfazed by the physicality of the likes of Silver Ferns greats Casey Kopua, Katrina Rore and Jane Watson.

Playing alongside Silver Ferns goaler Bailey Mes and fellow youngster Saviour Tui, Nweke will have to fight hard to keep her spot the court but the goal shooter is smart with ball in hand and can hit the scoreboard with ease. Expect Nweke to continue to blossom and single handily guide the Mystics to victory with her reliability under the post.

Her ability to consistently go to post and sheer athleticism makes her one of the most influential players in the Mystics line-up. After just one round this year, the goal shooter has already proven she is here to stay knocking back 40 goals at 93 per cent displaying her deadeye accuracy and unflappable temperament.

Northern Stars: Kate Burley

Back for another season at the Northern Stars, expect Burley to get some more court time. The talented defender had a relatively inconsistent season last year, struggling to get any real continuity given the presence of both Storm Purvis and Leana de Bruin down back. But with de Bruin retiring it could be time for the defender to step up to the plate and deliver. Her versatility to move between circle defence and wing defence gives her an extra element of class.

Standing at 181cm Burley uses her long limbs to force turnovers and position cleverly under the post to gobble up rebounds. Her netball smarts across the court makes her a valuable asset to the Stars while her clever footwork also sets her apart from fellow defenders.

With Round 1 done and dusted back in March, Burley proved that she has the stamina and commitment to run out a full game and create havoc racking up seven deflections, two pickups and one intercept.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic: Holly Fowler

Fowler made the switch from the Northern Stars to the Magic in hope for some more court time and time to ply her trade on the netball court. Able to play in a variety of roles such as goal defence, wing defence and centre, Fowler is one of the most multi-talented netballers in the ANZ Premiership and will be hoping to prove her worth at her new club. Her go get it attitude and commitment to the contest puts her in good stead while her ability to read the play and force a turnover also makes her a promising prospect for the Magic.

2019 was an up and down year for the Magic, but the inclusion of the 22-year-old will give them that point of difference across the board. She is light on her feet and can hit the circle edge with ease. While in her preferred defensive positions, Fowler is strong over the shot and applies good pressure on the ball-carrier to block their vision.

She will be hoping to tidy up her penalties to ensure she stays in play for longer periods of time, but in her first outing for Waikato Bay the talented defender come centre court player managed two pick ups, one intercept and six deflections for her efforts.

Memorable Matches: Central Pulse finally breaks premiership drought

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is Central Pulse’s 2019 premiership victory over Northern Stars.

While this memorable match only happened last year, it makes the cut thanks to it being Central Pulse’s inaugural grand final victory since the club’s inception in 1998. Factor in it was Pulse’s third grand final appearance in a row, and the victory is all the more sweet for the side which sat top of the ladder all season. Despite a solid second and final quarter, the Stars were unable to capitalise on any momentum, falling 52-48 at the final hurdle.

Pulse were threatening from the get-go, with defence holding strong to thwart options in the circle and deny precious goals on the board, propelling the netball down the court to attack and while Silver Ferns goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio was slow off the ranks with only two goals from six first quarter attempts, youngster Aliyah Dunn stole the show with 10 goals from 12 to ensure a lead at the first break. Whitney Souness was key on circle edge collecting the seven assists from 12 feeds, working well with Ekenasio and Dunn who rotated seamlessly to the post. Souness ran circles around her opposition in Kayla Cullen, finding plenty of space and racking up 20 assists from 38 feeds throughout the match. It was no slow quarter for the Stars however, well and truly in the game thanks to early gains from defenders Leana de Bruin and Storm Purvis, with the duo capitalising off Ekenasio’s slow start and racking up a combined five first quarter gains. 

The second quarter saw neither side able to really capitalise, with Pulse unable to pull away from the Stars who had three more attempts on goal but finished the second with 15 apiece for the quarter, down by two goals at the main change. It was an impressive quarter in attack for Pulse who went 15 from 15 for the quarter, with Dunn shooting up a storm while Tiana Metuarau made her way onto the court to replace Ekenasio, not putting up any shots but teaming up well with Souness and Claire Kersten to serve Dunn the ball on a platter. Defensively, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Katrina Rore may not have been racking up the stats but it was the work they did off the ball that made all the difference, making it tough for Maia Wilson and Charlee Hodges to find clean ball at the post. The pair were far more accurate in the second sitting on 83 per cent thanks to stellar feeds from Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Temepara Bailey who shared the load on circle edge. 

Where de Bruin and Purvis were in control early, the third quarter saw Pulse lift their game with Rore and Fitzpatrick reducing the Stars goalers to just 11 attempts, seeing Wilson being tagged out and Hodges having to lift her game to hold down the fort. Bailey moved into wing attack on circle edge but had a tough time with Karin Burger who did not necessarily open her bag of tricks but dogged every effort of the wing attack, reducing Bailey to just the four assists. Ekenasio returned to the court and was far more accurate, shooting four from five to take some pressure off Dunn, with the youngster continuing to put on a show.

A brave effort from the Stars saw them win the final quarter but it wasn’t enough, going down by four goals after an impressive fourth term effort. Where Wilson had a quiet third quarter, she came out of the blocks well to shoot 12 from 14 in the final term, with Hodges, Reuelu-Buchanan and Bailey plying their trade to get the ball to her at the post. But Pulse were just too good, with Dunn and Ekenasio sharing the load to take the trophy home in the intense matchup.
__

PULSE 12 | 15 | 13 | 12 (52)
STARS 10 | 15 | 9 | 14 (48)

STARTING SEVENS

Central Pulse
GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

BENCH: Elle Temu, Tiana Metuarau, Maddy Gordon
COACH: Yvette McCausland-Durie

Northern Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Charlee Hodges
WA: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
C: Temepara Bailey
WD: Kayla Cullen
GD: Leana de Bruin
GK: Storm Purvis

BENCH: Ellen Halpenny, Holly Fowler, Kate Burley
COACH: Kiri Wills

SHOOTING STATS

PULSE:
Aliyah Dunn 40/43
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 12/19

STARS:
Maia Wilson 34/41
Charlee Hodges 14/20

Fantasy Head 2 Head – Australia vs. New Zealand 1990 to now

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have been locked in their fair share of battles throughout history so Draft Central has combined the ultimate fantasy team combining players from the 1990 era to now. With a host of star players littered across the court it is hard to determine which country has the upper hand given both sides ability to turn a game on its head with their explosiveness and ability to do the unthinkable.

Australia:

GK: Liz Ellis
GD: Laura Geitz
WD: Renae Ingles
C: Natalie Bode (nee Von Bertouch)
WA: Kim Green
GA: Gretel Bueta (nee Tippett)
GS: Sharelle McMahon
BENCH: Claire McMeniman, Catherine Cox, Julie Corletto

Over the years the Diamonds have had a multitude of a-class players take the court none more than the legendary Sharelle McMahon. The Bendigo born shooting prodigy was one of a kind with her smooth movement and strong drives consistently on show while her ability to hit the scoreboard with ease was another feature of her game. Goal attack, Gretel Bueta however, has a very different approach. The unconventional shooter is renowned for her explosive power, speed and towering height. She has developed into arguably one of the Diamonds most important assets given her influence on the court. Classy, wing attack Kim Green is another handy inclusion in the hypothetical side with her bullet like passes and ability to stop on a dime a key feature of her game. Her physicality and hustle sets her apart from other midcourters while the likes of Natalie Bode is a more consistent and tempered centre. Renae Ingles has been one of the Diamonds key contributors with her long arm span causing all sorts of havoc for attackers thanks to her ability to block their vision into the circle. Her deceptive speed, quick reactions and intense defensive pressure creates opportunities for turnovers time and time again. Although she is typically a goal keeper, Laura Geitz was too good to sit on the bench and has spent some time throughout her career out in goal defence. Geitz was one of the most exciting defenders to watch given her tenacity and ability to sense the moment and take a big intercept that would change the court of the game. The former Diamonds captain oozed nothing but class, composure and netball smarts always able to muster up something to disrupt the flow in attack. Fellow defender, Liz Ellis was similar consistently able to get hands to ball and force a turnover. Ellis will go down as one of Australia’s most prominent netball figures leading her country to World Cup glory. Geitz’ partner in crime Claire McMeniman made the bench thanks to her attack on the court and ability to shut players down with her tagging style of defnce while through the midcourt the likes of wing defence Julie Corletto made her way into the team. In the shooting circle, it is hard to go past Cath Cox with the talented shooter able to score from anywhere in the circle and put up a hefty total.

New Zealand

GK: Casey Kopua
GD:  Katrina Rore
WD: Joline Henry
C: Laura Langman
WA: Liana Leota
GA: Maria Folau
GS: Irene Van Dyk
BENCH: Catherine Tuivaiti, Julie Seymour, Leana de Bruin

It is hard to deny that the Silver Ferns had one of the most prominent and damaging shooters that netball has ever seen in Irene Van Dyk. The talented South African come New Zealander guided her side to many famous victories over the Aussies thanks to her cool calm and collected approach to the post plus her ability to hold space directly under the post. In the goal attack position, Maria Folau was renowned as the long bomb shooter able to slot them with her heels flapping on the edge of the circle. Folau was one of a kind, consistently backing herself from range and able to inflict pain with her silky shot and clever movement around the circle. In the centre it is hard to go past the talent which is Laura Langman. The gut running midcourter is in a league of her own able to run all day and night often exhausting opponents and using her high netball IQ to slice through opposition defences. While her attacking is high class so too is her defensive work able to take match winning intercepts thanks to her endurance and class. Joline Henry was part of the furniture down back for the Ferns able to seamlessly rotate between wing defence and circle defence to provide a point of difference for New Zealand. But the combination of Katrina Rore and Casey Kopua has been one for the ages with the two creating a formidable duo time and time again. Just like fine wine, the two got better with age given their understanding and intense pressure to force turnovers or go out hunting for cross court balls. Their arms over pressure in the circle is a key attribute causing hesitation and held balls. On the bench the likes of Catherine Tuivaiti, Julie Seymour and Leana de Bruin were all great servants to the Ferns. Tuivaiti was often brought on as that impact player under the post able to hold her own and shoot accordingly while Seymour was recognised as one of the greatest centres of all time. Defensively de Bruin was a mastermind able to create something out of nothing.

Who would win?

History would suggest that the Aussies should take the honours given that since 1990 the Diamonds have won five World Cup titles against their Trans-Tasman rivals along with three Commonwealth Games gold medals, in which each of the aforementioned players had a monumental impact in. However, the games have been close in each of these encounters with a mere goal separating both countries at times showcasing just how stacked both sides are. Considering Australia’s defensive edge it would be fair to tilt the scales slightly in their favour but the combination of Van Dyk and Folau is one to be enviable of.

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 1 – Tactix to host reigning premiers

THE long awaited ANZ Premiership season is set to commence on Sunday with the reigning premiers traveling to Blenheim Stadium in hope to kick their season off in style while the Northern Stars and Southern Steel will play host to their opponents in the opening round of the season.

Mainland Tactix v. Central Pulse
Sunday, 15 March

The opening game of the round will kick off in style with the new and improved Mainland Tactix hoping to assert their dominance from the first centre pass against the reigning premiers. Pulse have remained pretty much the same bar one major change to the list while the Tactix have welcomed the return of a couple of injured players and recruited players to fill glaringly obvious holes in their line-up.

Through the midcourt Kimiora Poi will cause headaches with her dynamic movement, speed and ability to consistently hit circle edge. Poi along with Samon Nathan proved to be a handy duo while the return of Erikana Pederson will give the Tactix another option in the middle third. But all eyes will turn to the defensive circle with the much awaited return of Temalisi Fakahokotau. The exciting goal keeper is renowned for her defensive pressure, physicality and read of the play. Her partnership with Jane Watson is set to be a force to reckoned with, given Watson’s deceptive speed, long reach and cleanliness to stay in play. But they will be up against some a-grade talent in the goal circle with both Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn looking to pick up where they left off. The two goalers are highly impressive under the post, sharing the load and creating space with their clever movement making them a tough task for the new Tactix combination.

Fresh off a premiership expect the Pulse to continue their hot form and make full use of their pre-existing connections down the court and star power. While Sulu Fitzpatrick has departed the club the inclusion of Kelly Jury could spell struggle street for the Tactix’s shooters. Jury is a commanding figure in the circle and standing at 192cm you can see why. Her ability to rebound with ease and disrupt the attacking flow with her lean is second to none, throw in the likes of Karin Burger and Katrina Rore and the Pulse have one of the most formidable defensive units in the competition, able to stifle opposition attack ends with their immense pressure. But in her first official outing as a Tactix’ player expect goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit to take it to the likes of Rore and Burger and have a huge influence. Her calmness, netball nous and experience will pay dividends down in the attack end but most importantly she will be able to share to the shooting load with Ellie Bird to create a two-pronged attack. Bird was a lone hand at times last season and will once again be a key cog in the goal circle with her commanding height, long reach and accuracy to post.

It will be a high intensity game filled with plenty of skill given the calibre of players taking the court for their respective sides but in the end the Pulse should get the win thanks to their strong connections and firepower.

Northern Stars v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 15 March

After falling short in the big dance the Stars will be looking to make amends in the opening round of the season but will have to do so with a very different line-up compared to last season while the Mystics will be hoping to build on their inconsistent form.

Spearheaded by youngster Grace Nweke the future looks bright for the Mystics. She can quite literally turn a game on its head with her athleticism, silky movement and ability to change up her game style according to her sides’ needs. Nweke came along in leaps and bounds last year with her high volume and strong hands making her one to watch for the Stars. With the likes of both Kayla Cullen and Leana de Bruin no longer at the club for varying reasons expect Storm Purvis to lead the charge. Although she is not the flashiest player it is her consistency and nagging style of defence that gives her an edge something she will have to draw upon to upset Nweke. Given the inexperienced defensive unit with Kate Burley and newcomer Daystar Swift, expect the experience and class of Mystics shooter Bailey Mes to play a significant role.

The midcourt battle will be one of youth with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan impressing last season with her drives and clever timing for the Stars while Peta Toeava will be wanting to have a profound impact. With the inclusion of premiership player, Fitzpatrick her influence down back could be a game changer for the Mystics. Her combination with Phoenix Karaka will create plenty of excitement for fans given their attacking mentality making it hard work for Maia Wilson. The Stars goal shooter will more than likely be the main scoring avenue credit to her strong holds, aerial ability and accuracy while Jamie Hume will have to increase her output if the duo are to worry their opposition.

With key new inclusions and a good mix of young up and coming players along with experienced campaigners the Mystics are favourites heading into the clash despite the Stars convincing tail end of the 2019 season.

Southern Steel v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 16 March

In the final game of the round the Southern Steel and Waikato Bay of Magic face off for their first lot of points. The Steel had a solid season last year finishing second but bundled out in straight sets a feat they will not be hoping to repeat. On the other hand, the Magic found spurts of form but struggled to maintain it to become a real threat throughout the season. But it is a new season and both sides have plenty to play for and despite a couple of personnel changes should make for a hard-fought contest.

With no Te Paea Selby-Rickit the Steel have brought in Trinidad and Tobago goal attack Kalifa McCollin. She is a relatively unknown quantity that will offer a wealth of speed in the attacking third with her precise movement, good vision and most importantly desire to go to post. It may take time for her connection with goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell to develop but if the two can find a way they could be hard to stop. Youngster Georgia Heffernan is also a handy option inside the circle with her height and high netball IQ but is still developing an element Magic defenders in Erena Mikaere, Jenna O’Sullivan and Holly Fowler will be hoping to capitalise. In her first game for her new cub Mikaere will be seeking to shut down the towering goal shooter and impose herself with her intercepting ability.

Although the Magic have a relatively inexperienced shooting end with Abigail Latu-Meafou and Georgia Marshall along with Kelsey McPhee they generate plenty of excitement. Defensively if the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood shut down McPhee it will go a long way in setting Steel up for the win. With stars either end the real battle will unfold through the midcourt with Magic’s Whitney Souness and Sam Winders the key cogs. The two have differing styles but will have to work together to create opportunities for their side. Souness is renowned for her speed, attacking flair and creativity with ball in hand while Winders is more tailored to the defensive style of the game. For the Steel, they have arguably one of the best midcourt duos in the competition with Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders. The two know each others game inside out, able to slot into the space and deliver well weighted passes into the circle making for an enthralling battle.

The win could go either way such is the evenness of the match but given the Steels experience they should do just enough to claim their first win.

ANZ Premiership season preview: Will the Tactix take the competition by storm?

WITH the 2020 ANZ Premiership season quickly approaching we take a look at potential premiers, the competitions biggest improver and a potential slider in a season that is sure to be filled with plenty of excitement and breakout performances.

Premiers: Central Pulse

After an impressive 2019 season capped off with a premiership 20 years in the making, the Central Pulse will be hoping to replicate their form going into this season. Having retained the majority of their players over the off-season the Pulse are in the box seat to make it back-to-back grand finals. Despite Sulu Fitzpatrick departing the club the Pulse picked up Kelly Jury a very handy replacement given her height and defensive pressure. Throw in the likes of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger and the Pulse once again have  a formidable trio down back able to stop any forward thrusts and propel the ball back down the court with their seamless transition and attacking mindset. In the goal circle, they are near on impossible to stop when both Ameliranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn are on song with the two able to shoot confidently and accurately from anywhere in the circle. Ekenasio is the mastermind in the attacking third with her ball movement, strong drives and ability to glide into the circle while youngster Tiana Metuarau has plenty of potential. With key pillars at either end of the court the influence of Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon will be pivotal to their success.

Biggest improver: Mainland Tactix

With some key recruits over the summer and the return of highly touted defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, the Tactix are shaping up to be a real force to be reckoned with in season 2020. Mainland struggled to get going last year but have shown good signs in the preseason with their strong defensive intent and impressive ball movement down the court. Fakahokotau has made an immediate impact to the defensive circle with her physical pressure and aerial skills able to swat the ball out of the air with ease or force turnovers with her athleticism. Her combination with captain, Jane Watson will bring plenty of joy to fans and all involved with the duo renowned for their intense pressure and ability to confuse space with their zone style of defence. Kimiora Poi has taken massive leaps in her development throughout the past couple of months with the speedster able to open-up the court with her dynamic movement and use of angles while her variety of deliveries into the circle makes her an unknown quantity. New recruit, Te Paea Selby-Rickit will be hoping to have an immediate impact with her accuracy and volume to post just what the doctor ordered for the Tactix. Despite all the changes it will set them in good stead for the upcoming season making them a possible finals contender if they can maintain a high intensity.

Potential slider: Northern Stars

Despite making it to the big dance last year, those feats may be far away this season with the Northern Stars forced to resort to their young up and coming players to lead the way. The Stars were hit hard over the off-season with a couple of their key players such as Leana de Bruin, Temepara Bailey and Ellen Halpenny all retiring leaving some gaping holes across the court. While three of their usual starting seven all departed the game and youngster Charlee Hodges has returned to Australia the Stars still have some talent with none other than Maia Wilson. The goal shooter has had a strong preseason and her recent time with the Ferns will have paid dividends for the upcoming season. Meanwhile down the other end of the court Storm Purvis will have to lead the contingent of young defenders along with Trinidad and Tobago recruit Daystar Swift. However with so many people lost it will be hard to return to their lofty standards of last season.

ANZ Premiership: Pulse and Tactix star in Te Wānanga o Raukawa pre-season tournament

THE Te Wānanga o Raukawa pre-season tournament over the weekend gave teams one more hit out before the season officially commences in two weeks. There were 11 games played throughout the tournament with the Mainland Tactix taking it to reigning premiers Central Pulse, while the Northern Stars failed to find their rhythm given the host of off-season changes. The Southern Steel, Northern Mystics and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic also took part in the pre-season competition.

Central Pulse (52) defeated Mainland Tactix (51)

It was an even game throughout with the Pulse claiming a narrow victory over the new and improved Mainland Tactix. The lead ebbed and flowed with both sides putting on a show across the court thanks to their exciting brand of netball and high calibre of players. the Tactix got out to a handy lead in the second term before the reigning premiers hit back in their usual fashion as the game went on to reclaim the lead. New Pulse recruit Kelly Jury showcased her class down in goal keeper with the lanky defender using her physical presence on court to out-body her opponents. Her connection with goal defence Karin Burger continued to develop as the game went on with the two picking off passes as they pleased. The ever-reliable Ameliaranne Ekenasio was strong under the post for the Pulse with her smooth movement, accuracy to post and netball smarts all on show. Maddy Gordon was strong in the midcourt putting her body on the line to win the ball and transition down court.

Northern Mystics (57) defeated by Southern Steel (63)

The Southern Steel opened up a handy lead in the first quarter and kept their foot on the pedal for the remaining three quarters to get the win. Steel played with plenty of flair and speed transitioning from one end of the court to the other with ease. After making the switch from the Pulse to the Steel, Sulu Fitzpatrick displayed her tenacity and hunt for the ball using her aerial ability to become a real threat to the Mystics. Fitzpatrick combined well with Phoenix Karaka to try and limit the options to post for the likes of Jennifer O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. It was hard to stop the connection between Northern Mystics wing attack Elisapeta Toeava and goal shooter Grace Nweke with Toeava delivering quick feeds into the circle and consistently shaking up the delivery with loopy or direct passes. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit had her work cut out for her in the defensive circle having to combat Nweke with her aerial ability and accuracy under the post.

Northern Stars (52) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (60)

The Stars came out with a fire in the belly establishing a one goal lead at quarter time with the likes of Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume combining well under the post. As the game went on they struggled to maintain that high intensity thanks to the Magic piling on 17 goals in the second term. With only two goals the difference at half time the Stars clawed back another goal with a sole goal the difference once again but that was where it ended for the Stars with the Magic powering ahead in the fourth quarter. Waikato Bay kicked it up a gear in the final term with Mikaere showing her prowess down back with her hands over pressure. Whitney Souness displayed her speed through the midcourt with the dynamic wing attack slicing and dicing her way through the attacking third hitting the circle edge with pace and delivering pin point precision passes into the circle. Youngster Georgia Marshall also got her time to shine in the goal circle pairing well with Abigail Latu-Meafou in the circle with her movement and ball control on display.

Central Pulse (42) defeated Southern Steel (25)

The Pulse dominated the Southern Steel in all aspects limiting them to a mere 25 goals credit to their high defensive intensity paired with their attacking intent. The Steel’s defensive unit proved to be no match for the Pulse who picked them apart with their clever ball placement and good vision. Through the midcourt the inclusion of Renee Savai’inaea paid dividends with the centre using her strong hands and drive to the circle edge time and time again to deliver the ball into Ekenasio and Metuarua. Savai’inaea’s movement in general was strong commanding the ball and playing a good link-up role to re-offer across the court. With Jury only coming into the side this season her connection with Elle Temu developed as the game went on with the two using their physicality to push McCollin and O’Connell wide and restrict their ability to go to post. Both Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders were well held through the midcourt and attacking third for Steel which in turn limited the flow to goal.

Northern Stars (42) defeated Central Pulse (61)

The tried and tested combo of Wilson and Hume combined once again in the goal circle with the likes of captain Grace Kara doing a wealth of work out the front to feed the ball into them. Kara was strong in the midcourt with her quick hands while Fa’amu Ioane plied her trade in centre. True to form they came out hot in the first quarter holding a three goal lead against the reigning premiers but as the game went on fell off the boil. The Pulse used their experience and skill to think and work their way back into the clash with a 16 to 10 goal quarter handing them the ascendancy. From there onwards Pulse did not look back, steadily adding to the margin and hitting the scoreboard with ease thanks to the likes of Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau. Defensively the Stars had their work cut out against the all-star shooting line-up with the loss of Leana de Bruin, Kayla Cullen and absence of Storm Purvis on show. In saying that the likes of youngster Kate Burley and Oceane Maihi worked tirelessly to win ball back for their side.

Southern Steel (47) defeated by Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (57)

The Magic stunned the Steel running out with a 10-goal win. They skipped out to an early seven goal lead pushing the Steel into chase position from early on, a deficit they simply could not reduce. Latu-Meafou showcased her netball smarts throughout the game with a clever throw in hitting the post and jumping back on court to score highlighting just how much she has developed over the off-season. Whitney Souness stepped it up through the midcourt with the speedy wing attack darting across the transverse line and providing that link into the goal circle. On the other hand, Steel wing defence Kate Heffernan could not keep up with Souness’ pace and dynamic movement allowing her to run freely in the attacking third. Magic’s swarming style of defence was on full display with each and every player looking to hunt the loose ball and propel it back down the court.

Mainland Tactix (62) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (53)

From the first whistle the Tactix skipped out to a strong lead and they did not look back building on their performance each quarter. The defensive duo of Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson brought plenty of excitement in the opening 15 minutes with the pair bringing the physical pressure along with the intensity in the goal circle, hunting any ball that came their way and using their three-foot marking to get in the head of their younger opponents. Ellie Bird was strong under the post using her change of speed and height to reel in passes. The inclusion of Te Paea Selby-Rickit in the goal circle worked wonders for the Tactix with the goal attack using her accuracy to post and passing skills to do damage in the attacking third with defender Erena Mikaere struggling to break the connection. Through the midcourt the battle between Kimiora Poi and Samantha Winders brought plenty of intrigue with the two ultimately nullifying each other. In the goal circle Latu-Meafou proved her worth with her smooth movement and ability to find easy avenue to goal but it was not enough to get them over the line.

Northern Mystics (50) defeated by Mainland Tactix (56)

The Mainland Tactix continued their strong showing at the pre-season tournament with a hard fought win over the Mystics. Mainland got out to an early lead and did not look like giving it up despite the Mystics’ best efforts to disrupt their game play. The Tactix were simply too strong across the court and impressed particularly in the goal circle thanks to Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit finding the net time and time again with their clever screens and accuracy to post. Fitzpatrick and Karaka struggled to stop the Tactix shooters despite their intercepting ability. Through the midcourt, centre Charlotte Elley created plenty of excitement with her efforts in the attacking third to thread the needle. Poi and Elley looked like a well-oiled machine spread around the circle edge and not leading into the same space causing havoc for the Mystics defenders.

Central Pulse (39) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (36)

The lead see-sawed throughout the game with both sides unable to truly break away from the other such was the closeness and evenness across the court. The Magic got to within one goal in the dying minutes of the final quarter before the Pulse put the foot down to notch up a three-goal victory. It was a fast pace game with players looking to move the ball with urgency and create space with well-timed drives. The ball placement into the circle was aerial for both sides with the Magic feeders backing in the strength of Kelsey McPhee under the post to reel in the ball and shoot. In her new colours Holly Fowler plied her trade down back and despite being a deal shorter than her opponents she used her speed to dart around the circle and cause confusion. Pulse captain, Katrina Rore was up to her usual tricks applying a truckload of pressure around the circle edge with her three-foot marking, long arms and deceptive speed to cover the court with ease and rack up intercepts.

Northern Stars (52) defeated by Southern Steel (64)

It was a convincing performance from the Steel who did not skip a beat against the Stars. Despite Wilson plying her trade in the goal circle the defensive pressure of both Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood proved too strong. Recruit, Daystar Swift worked hard down back for the Stars and although she was often beaten in the air her effort was immense moving around the body of her opponent to confuse the space. Through the midcourt Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was impressive using her change of direction and quick ball movement to slice through the defensive zones and deliver into Wilson and Hume. But all in all it was the Southern Steel that were head and shoulders above their opponent hunting down every cross court ball and making the most of their opportunities under the ring.

Central Pulse (69) defeated Northern Mystics (55)

In the final game of the pre-season tournament the Pulse flexed their muscles once again showcasing why they are the team to beat in 2020. They owned the game from the first centre pass, creating a strong lead and steadily building on it as the game went on. It is hard to get past them credit to their defensive stocks with Burger, Rore, Jury and Temu all able to have a profound influence under the post such is their read of the play and defensive prowess while up the other end the shooting duo of Dunn and Ekenasio is hard to stop. Gordon took her game to another level in the midcourt with the centre using her body positioning and turn of speed to get around Tayla Earle and Dani Gray. Nweke was her usual consistent self under the post using her impressive athleticism and high volume to control the airways and provide a target but it was not enough to get her side over the line.

2019 British Fast5 All-Stars Championships preview

ONE of the biggest days on the Netball Superleague calendar is here, with the 2019 British Fast5 All-Stars Championships taking place at London’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Eight of the ten Superleague teams take part in the tournament, with a number of big name players from across the globe taking part in the competition. The tournament will see five-a-side 12 minute matches, with one, two and five-point scoring ranges. Teams each receive a two minute power play per match, which must be used in the first 10 minutes of the match.

It is the Dragons’ inaugural Fast5 appearance this year, having not made the cut in prior seasons. This will be one final farewell for retiring Kyra Jones, with the midcourter putting on the green dress one last time before officially putting down the netball. Each side is given the opportunity to recruit two “all-star” players from across the world, making it a world-class event for all involved and bringing some much-deserved attention to the competition. While some sides in Manchester Thunder and Severn Stars have opted to bring in the big guns with the likes of Australian goaler Erin Bell and New Zealand defender Leana De Bruin joining the fray from across the pond, Loughborough Lightning and Team Bath have looked local with exceptional local talent returning to the Superleague competition in long bomb star Jo Harten and speedy defender Stacey Francis. Meanwhile, Saracens Mavericks have a massive boost with key goaler Jhaniele Fowler stepping up to the plate. Meanwhile, teams the likes of Surrey Storm and Wasps Netball have stayed relatively close to home, keeping a similar lineup to their 2019/2020 regular seasons. Wasps will look to go one step further than their 2019 Superleague campaign and back up their 2018 Fast5 effort with another victory.

FAST5 ALL-STARS GROUP FIXTURES:

Match 1: Wasps Netball vs Severn Stars
Match 2: Manchester Thunder vs Loughborough Lightning
Match 3: Team Bath vs Celtic Dragons
Match 4: Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks

Match 5: Winner 1 vs Winner 2 | Winner advances to semi-final 2
Match 6: Winner 3 vs Winner 4 | Winner advances to semi-final 1

Match 7: Loser 1 vs. Loser 2
Match 8: Loser 3 vs. Loser 4

Match 9: Loser 5 vs. Winner 7 | Winner advances to semi-final 1
Match 10: Loser 6 vs. Winner 8 | Winner advances to semi-final 2

ANZ Premiership Season Review: Northern Stars

WITH the ANZ Premiership done and dusted for the season we reflect on each teams year. The next in line is the Northern Stars who had a very up-and-down season but fired when they had to.

Ladder: 3rd
Win-loss: 6-9
Percentage: 93.5%

After a strong start to the season the Northern Stars fell away with some surprise losses derailing all their good work early but thanks to their dominant start they stayed in the hunt for finals. They pulled out all the stops in the elimination final, upsetting the Southern Steel to progress into the Grand Final, but were unable to capitalise on the big stage. There was plenty to like about the Northern Stars, who proved throughout the season that they have what it takes to mix it with some of the best teams in the league, but will have big shoes to fill next season with veterans Leana de Bruin and Temepara Bailey both retiring.

The shooting end oozes youth and class with Maia Wilson a key cog in the Stars’ attacking forays. She offers great composure under the post while showing she is not afraid to turn and shoot. Wilson was the leading goal scorer in the competition with a staggering 619 goals from 743 attempts at 83 percent. The goal attack bib was shared between experienced shooter Ellen Halpenny and young Australian goaler, Charlee Hodges. Both shooters offer very different styles of play with Halpenny using her experience and knowledge to try and outsmart her opponent while Hodges relied upon her speed and dynamic movement to get around her player. The goal attacks chimed in to help out on the scoreboard, but in the end it was Wilson who carried the majority of the load credit to her holds, strength and commanding presence at the post.

Through the midcourt, Temepara Bailey well and truly reinvented herself with the 43-year-old centre proving that age is just a number time and time again. Her ability to create space and use her vision to deliver pinpoint passes into the circle was a real feature of her game, with 375 feeds for the season. Her quick hands and netball knowledge to let passes go at the right time allowed Wilson to make the most of her opportunities. She was ably assisted by young gun Mila Reuelu-Buchanan who did her best work around the circle edge feeding into the Stars shooters, ranking second in the league for feeds with 593. Reuelu-Buchanan was also influential at the centre pass driving out hard receiving 299 centre passes, showcasing her work to transition the ball down the court. Another key member for the Stars’ midcourt was Kayla Cullen who proved to be a revelation in wing defence, thanks to her long reach and hands over pressure to block the vision of her opponent. Her speed off the mark and ability to read the play made her an ominous threat for the opposition when on the court. Holly Fowler also provided a handy addition to the talented midcourt, utilising her ball placement and pace to cut through opposition defence and find the circle edge.

The defensive unit for the Stars was equally as impressive with Storm Purvis flexing her muscles and pairing well with teammate de Bruin in the goal circle. The understanding between the two allowed one to go out hunting while the other stayed back and vice versa. Both Purvis and de Bruin were relatively clean, staying away from the whistle which allowed them to build and apply pressure to worry their opponents out of the shot or force them to pass the ball around. Purvis highlighted her ability to read the play and take a timely intercept, notching up 24 for the season, while de Bruin led the deflection tally with an impressive 99 to finish her career on a high. Kate Burley also showed great versatility to rotate through as a circle defender and a wing defence. She was an impact player for the Stars, coming on and getting timely tips and clever intercepts when needed while also doing the little defensive things well.