Tag: Lisa Mather

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Stars fight back to steal one-goal win over Magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE 

>>> FULL GAME STATS

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

STARTING SEVEN:

 Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

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

Northern Stars:

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 7: Threatening Tactix down Stars

COMING off the back of a disappointing loss on Saturday night to the Pulse, Northern Stars were ready for a fight, but the Mainland Tactix were hungry for a win and were far too good, eventually running out seven-goal victors, 47-40 in Round 7 of the ANZ Premiership. It was the Tactix’ first back-to-back win for the season, with the side putting in great strides for a potential finals berth.

There was a heap of pressure on Jamie Hume from the get-go, forcing every ball to go to Maia Wilson but with little chance to do so thanks to an excellent two-on-one, credit to the physicality of Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. The Tactix defensive partnership was switched on from beginning to end, with the duo batting away ball with ease and plying their trade with physicality and tenacity. While it was a very close start, a four-goal lead was extended by the Tactix with just under six on the clock, with wasted opportunities from the Stars seeing the Tactix find far too much loose ball. 

A great battle was forged between Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (13 assists, two pickups) and Kimiora Poi (eight assists, three pickups) throughout the term, with the duo almost evening the other out given their wealth of shutdown work. But where the Tactix had a lot of the early momentum, the Stars were able to work back to a two-goal margin over the last couple of minutes, taking away some of the Tactix’ breathing room. While the Tactix were accurate out in front, the inaccuracy of Hume hurt the Stars, sitting on zero from three by the end of the first and not doing enough to aid Wilson at the post. These wasted chances saw the Stars down by four at quarter time, trailing 14-10.

A change for the second saw Vika Koloto take the court in Hume’s place, with the Stars needing a bit more work in goal attack to assist the ever reliable Wilson. Koloto’s speed seemed to be what the doctor ordered, with the youngster taking on Watson but using the ball well. Koloto well and truly opened up the circle, taking her chances and taking away some of the one-on-one from Wilson. But while the Stars attack seemed to be clicking much better, coming to within one goal, the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird continued to shine at the post, with accuracy, composure and plenty of speed paying off at the post.

Another change with four minutes on the clock saw Lisa Mather head into centre for the Stars, bringing some fresh legs into the centre third against Poi who did not let up down the court. Still chasing, the Stars kept in touch but defensively could not win that ball back off the Tactix’ centre pass, seeing the Tactix maintain the lead 24-22 at half-time. 

Within touching distance of taking a lead, a huge third quarter change saw Daystar Swift take the court in defence for the first time since Round 1, replacing Storm Purvis and injecting a tough physicality and a fraction more height to the one-on-one against Bird. While the change injected a new point of difference to the quarter, both teams seemed to not have a load of control, unable to take advantage of all their opportunities and seeing plenty of see-sawing as both teams re-settled into the match. Within a couple of minutes however the Tactix had punished a number of errors, taking a six goal lead as Reuelu-Buchanan and Purvis returned to the court with the Stars’ connections lacking.

The Tactix defence was stellar, blocking vision and making the most of every ball, seeing Koloto subbed off for Hume as the Tactix lead extended. A lack of communication and movement from Reuelu-Buchanan and Grace Kara was evident with both Poi and Charlotte Elley forcing the Stars into position and holding them there to block circle movement and cause wasted ball in attack. Such was the Tactix defence that even Wilson was rendered inaccurate, shut down by Fakahokotau for the Tactix to hold an eight-goal lead heading into the final quarter, 37-29. 

Tight midcourt defence paid off for the Tactix in the final quarter, holding and waiting for forced passes to create intercepts. But five goals in a row to start the quarter saw the Stars work their way back into the match, hungry for an elusive win. While the Tactix were holding up the midcourt, Stars were blocking up the Tactix attack and forcing patience and constant feeding around the third before reaching the circle. With Bird still on 100 per cent accuracy with under five minutes left on the clock, it was the Tactix’ accuracy and explosiveness that saw them come away with the win, forcing continual issues all across the court for the Stars and applying constant pressure on the feed. 

Both sides continued to provide plenty of speed down the court, but it was the Tactix who used the ball better, able to open up space and create options on the drive with Erikana Pedersen (11 assists, 21 centre pass receives) finding plenty of first phase ball to send into the circle. With a seven-goal margin to finish, the Tactix were not only consistent but just far too strong for the Stars, running out with the 47-40 victory.

Watson (six gains) and Fakahokotau (three gains) were at their best and completely unstoppable, outplaying Kate Burley (four gains) and Purvis (four deflections but no gains) by miles and forcing errors from the Stars attack. While Wilson held up the attack as per usual, she was well held to 32 goals from 36 attempts at 89 per cent accuracy, with both Hume (four from nine) and Koloto (four from six) putting some goals up but not enough to really command the space. Bird was awarded player of the match for her stellar 37 goal effort, shooting at 100 per cent and dominating in goal shooter while Selby-Rickit shot 10 from 12 to go with her 27 goal assists, playing a much larger role in attack than her goal count suggests. Though not having the flashiest game, Reuelu-Buchanan and Kara worked well in tandem, with Kara racking up 12 assists and 25 centre pass receives. 

Sitting out the rest of this round, the two teams will go head-to-head once more on Thursday in Christchurch for the Tactix’ first and only home game for the season, with the Stars heading in off the back of two frustrating losses for the weekend and sure to come in with a fire in the belly.

>>> MAINLAND TACTIX PAGE

>>> NORTHERN STARS PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

MAINLAND TACTIX 14 | 10 | 13 | 10 (47)
NORTHERN STARS 10 | 12 | 7 | 11 (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 Stars

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 7 – Final quarter surge gives Pulse another hefty win

AFTER their dominant display against the Magic on Friday night, the Central Pulse faced a much greater challenge against the Northern Stars. The two teams were going toe to toe, and even though the Stars have never beaten the Pulse there was a sense they could defy the odds and make history. However, after a terrible final quarter the Stars wasted their chance, going down by 10 goals with a score of 46-36, despite leading a three quarter time. This was another gritty display from the Pulse who are proving every game that the hardest thing to beat is a winning mentality. 

From the opening whistle Stars displayed their fluidity and connections throughout the court and showed good patience. Despite the reputation and presence of the Pulse side, the Stars were holding their own and knew they would need to produce something special to beat the reigning champions. The Pulse were a little slower to start than usual, however even a sluggish Pulse side is one to be wary of. The Stars looked determined, and there was a sense that they didn’t want things to go down the way they had when the Pulse played the Magic. The matchup between Grace Kara and Karin Burger was interesting to watch, with Kara using her fake really well to distract Burger and command the attacking end. Pulse were efficiently exploiting the height difference between Aliyah Dunn and Kate Burley with Ameliaranne Ekenasio drawing Storm Purvis out of the goal circle. It was a question of who would break their focus first, and a held ball from Claire Kersten gave the Stars the edge early on. They held strong and a rare miscommunication from the Pulse towards the end of the quarter allowed the Stars to maintain their advantage. They headed into the break with a comfortable three goal lead. 

Pulse came into the second quarter firing and started to make more use of the short, sharp play which they do so well. The Stars were showing great patience in their attack end with Jamie Hume supporting Maia Wilson nicely, despite having Katrina Rore on her like a backpack. Both Stars and Pulse were looking in early to their shooters and finding each other with ease, meaning that the defensive ends weren’t picking up as much ball as usual. As the quarter progressed, the Pulse started to force the Stars on top of each other. Burger caught Kara standing still and waiting for the ball and pulled off a classic intercept which gave the Pulse the lift they needed to go on a run of five. Kelly Jury was having a standout game, racking up six deflections before half time, while Rore had the measure of Hume and was keeping her totally preoccupied. Pulse have proved that when your defensive line are this strong, you can afford for your attack to have an average day at the office. However Stars weren’t ready to give up, and capitalised on a Pulse error to claw back into the game. An unfortunate attacking contact from Maia Wilson meant a beautiful long bomb from Hume was disallowed, and Pulse seized their opportunity to strike, winning the quarter by six goals and heading into the break with a score of 21-19. 

Stars were by no means out of the contest and were determined to get back on top. They had managed to force ten turnovers before half time and were looking confident and hungry to win. Unfortunately for Stars, the Pulse shooters were on form, with Aliyah Dunn having a fantastic game, even earning a deflection, and shooting flawlessly at 100 per cent.

A third quarter change saw Fa’amu Ioane replace Lisa Mather at wing defence and make an impact for the Stars lineup. Mather had coughed up possession three times on transition play and this game was too important to risk giving up easy ball. The Stars defence forced another held ball, and the partnership between Burley and Purvis was really blossoming. This was the start of a comeback from the Stars and they managed to gain momentum and pull into the lead. The Northern side started to entertain the prospect that they could actually win. They held their lead going into the final break, winning the quarter by four goals, and the score was 32-30 to the Stars.

The final quarter was when the Pulse really put their foot down. Tiana Metuarau replaced Maddy Gordon in wing attack, and this change upset the rhythm of the Stars defence, causing them to lose focus. With the ever reliable Ekenasio commanding the side, Pulse set their minds on pulling the score back. Despite the best efforts of the Stars defence, they could not stop Metuarau who was displaying amazing vision and willingness to let the ball go early. An attacking contact from Kara allowed the Pulse to sneak five in a row, and all of a sudden they had all the momentum in their favour. A crucial miss from Wilson enabled the Pulse to further capitalise on their lead and it was just too easy for their shooters to make it to post. In a final roll of the dice, Oceane Maihi – a notorious ball winner – came into goal keeper, and pushed Storm Purvis out to goal defence. Unfortunately it was already too late and the Pulse were out to a 10 goal lead which they held onto for the remainder of the game.

Despite looking like they might manage a win at times, the disastrous 16-4 final quarter was a disappointment for the Stars and doesn’t reflect how well they tested Pulse throughout the game. Accuracy became an issue for Hume, and she finished the game on just 54 per cent. Stars played well, picking up plenty of ball defensively and you can see they have potential to really challenge the top teams. They need to work on closing games out and produce a consistent 48 minute performance when they take on the Tactix in their next game. The Pulse will have a well earned rest and will want to work on starting their game strongly against the Mystics next week to avoid another scare.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Central Pulse 8 | 13 | 9 | 16 (46)
Northern Stars 11 | 8 | 13 | 4 (36)

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse:

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

Northern Stars

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

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.

2020 ANZ Premiership: Stars and Magic play out dramatic draw

A WINNER could not be decided between the Northern Stars and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic with the game resulting in the first draw of the season, 46 goals apiece. Playing their second game of the round, the Magic came out with a real fire in the belly, contesting every ball and taking an early commanding lead. Their ability to fight back in the dying stages of the last quarter was inspired by their captain, Sam Winders with the wing defence pulling out all the stops but it was not enough to get her side over the line and claim their second win of the season. 

With the centre pass in hand it did not take long for the Magic to open their account at the hands of Abigail Latu-Meafou. Despite a disappointing output last night Latu-Meafou came out firing, using her precision with ball in hand and deceptive speed to insert herself on the contest from the get-go. Her confidence filtered across the court with the defensive unit of Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler creating an early turnover ball from the Stars and propelling the ball back down court with plenty of haste. The defensive combo shut down Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson under the post, blocking her every move and forcing her into early turnovers. The Stars finally hit the scoreboard three and a half minutes into the quarter but it was not without plenty of hard work with the Magic holding a 5-1 lead. With Wilson well held, goal attack Jamie Hume upped the ante delivering a bullet pass into the goal shooter but it was not enough with the Magic returning serve up the other end and pushing out to a seven goal buffer. Much like Latu-Meafou, Kelsey McPhee stepped up to the plate with the goal shooter dominating under the post only missing one goal for the term and showcasing her fancy footwork on the baseline to score despite falling out of court. As the Magic motored on the Stars struggled as Wilson was forced to come out of the circle on the second phase to try and open up the attacking end. 

With a handy five goal lead, Storm Purvis upped the ante in defence for the Stars winning an early turnover but her efforts were not rewarded with the ball lost in transition. An increased hunger for the ball across the court saw the Stars intensity lift and most importantly find better rhythm in attack, using their ball speed to pierce through the Magic defensive unit. With the Stars growing with confidence, McPhee and Latu-Meafou continued on their merry way but were denied the same easy access they were given in the first term. But it seemed to be all one-way traffic for the Stars in the second quarter with each player rallying to try and win ball back to reduce the deficit. In hope to quell the influence of Hume and Wilson under the post, dynamic defender Georgia Tong entered the court, replacing Fowler in goal defence. Going goal for goal through the mid part of the term, neither side was willing to give an inch however, Wilson upped the ante playing with more freedom and space while Magic wing attack Whitney Souness built into the game providing silver service to McPhee and Latu-Meafou with her skill to draw defenders. But a big intercept from Purvis gifted the Stars a chance to level scores and hit the front with the centre pass to come. The Magic quickly responded to go into half time at 24 goals apiece. 

Known as the premiership quarter the Stars did all the running piling on 14 goals to seven. The introduction of Fa’amu Ioane in wing defence provided an extra layer of defensive pressure for the Stars with the tenacious midcourter taking Souness out of the game, covering her drives and using her physicality to offset Souness’ vision into the circle. The Stars struck first nailing the first goal of the second half before going on a mini goal spree and opening up a three goal lead. McPhee struggled to impose herself, shaky on the shot and allowing the Stars to capitalise in defence with clever rebounds. The quarter was plagued with patches of inconsistency, unable to find any real continuity with the likes of Mikaere constantly disrupting play for the Stars in attack thanks to her long limbs. Tong racked up the penalties forcing the Magic to look to the bench and bring Fowler back on while Khiarna Williams came on to replace McPhee and was quickly into the action missing the shot but then getting back and helping to defend. With the Magic throwing ball away Stars continued to push ahead, with Purvis taking another strong intercept and showcasing her read of the play and aerial presence to open up a seven a goal lead. 

With the game on the line the Magic came out with a renewed sense of purpose and intensity, fighting hard from the opening minute of the quarter. Souness collected an early turnover with a crucial intercept in the midcourt to reduce the margin to six sparking her side to go on a two goal run. Souness continued to up the ante showcasing her impressive vision to release the ball from range into McPhee. The tables continued to turn with Magic taking a huge rebound with the centre pass to follow and cut the margin down to three goals. With pressure mounting, Wilson remained confident on the shot, shouldering the load of Hume who seemed to have gone off the boil. Goal defence, Kate Burley delivered for the Stars with a big tip and Ioane backing her up across the court. The Stars pushed the lead back out to six goals but the Magic were not done with yet cutting the lead to four goals with less than three minutes to play. The experienced Mikaere took with a huge rebound, dwindling the lead to two goals before McPhee impressed with a strong offensive rebound. But it was Winders who stole the show with a huge intercept in the attacking third to level the scores before the whistle blew. 

Wilson was huge for the Stars sitting at 34 goals from 37 attempts at 92 per cent while Hume slotted 12 from 17 at 71 per cent. McPhee also struggled for accuracy only converting 28 of her 37 attempts at 76 per cent while Latu-Meafou managed 17 from 20. Defensively Mikaere starred racking up four gains, seven deflections and two rebounds.

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN:

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

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

Northern Stars

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

ANZ Premiership: Round 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

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.

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Tactix, Stars and Steel search for first win

ROUND 2 of the ANZ Premiership will see three teams looking for their first win while the others will be hoping to make it two straight.

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 22 March
Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland

The Northern Mystics are coming off a narrow win, while the Tactix on the other hand will be hoping to notch up their first win of the season. The Tactix had a strong quarter and will want to build on that if they are to get over the line against a strong Mystics team that have plenty of firepower. But it will be a very tight battle given just how similar both sides are when it comes to game style and strengths.

The home side have arguably one of the strongest defence units in the competition thanks to the edition of Sulu Fitzpatrick and will be hoping to capitalise against a developing Tactix shooting combination. The battle between Fitzpatrick and goal shooter Ellie Bird will bring plenty of interest with Bird renowned for her holding style of game, something that Fitzpatrick is more than capable of disrupting given her aerial ability and hunt for the ball. Phoenix Karaka has also been in hot form, even if it is only after one round. The goal defence is strong in the air and at ground level able to track the ball and force timely turnovers with her long arms and speed. Her connection with Fitzpatrick will go a long way in stopping Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit who is still finding her feet in her new colours. Through the midcourt the combination of Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan must stand up if the Tactix are any chance to win, as opposing wing attack Peta Toeava is deadly on the feed, able to quickly turn and deliver pin-point precision passes.

Defensively the Tactix are also strong with captain, Jane Watson the real barometer for the side. Watson is in a league of her own able to make something out of nothing with her quick feet and vision. Her partnership with Temalisi Fakahokotau will only develop as time goes on with the two able to cause havoc down back with their ball winning abilities and high netball IQ. However, they will have their work cut out for them up against teenage prodigy Grace Nweke who currently sits first for goals credit to her ability to score from anywhere and do accurately. If they can shut down Nweke the likes of Bailey Mes if available, Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes will have to stand up to help shoulder the load under the post.

In the end, it will be a battle of the defence ends with both sides boasting a plethora of game changers.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 22 March
TSB Bank Arena, Wellington

Coming off a win and their first home game despite it not being in front of a crowd the Central Pulse will be hoping to make it two on the trot and repeat the lengthy undefeated streak of last year. Meanwhile, the Southern Steel will be wanting to right the wrongs of last week and notch up their first win of the year.

With very limited change over the off-season the Pulse have one of the most formidable outfits in the competition headlined by their defensive unit. The trio of Katrina Rore, Karin Burger and Kelly Jury is one simply cannot resist. Both Rore and Burger can swap out to wing defence giving the Pulse that added bit of pressure and defensive prowess across the court making life hard for the likes of Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders who like to zip around the circle edge. While Crampton and Saunders have speed to boot if the Pulse defenders can shut down their avenue to goal and block their vision they will be able to gain the upper hand. Inside the circle, expect Jury to have an impact with her long lean over the shot and ability to contest the high ball especially up against the likes of Jennifer O’Connell. The Steel goal shooter will need further assistance from the likes of recruit Kalifa McCollin and youngster Georgia Heffernan to put up a damaging score and keep their respective defender busy.

The Pulse also boast a tried and tested duo in the goal circle with Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio one of the competitions strongest connections. They know each others game inside out able to dish off perfectly weighted passes and able to back themselves when inside the circle. While Dunn is the more prominent shooter, Ekenasio’s work out the front is what makes them such a dynamic team meaning the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita will have to be on their a-game. If Fifita can win ball back like she did last round and receive support from the likes of Kate Heffernan and Abby Erwood it will go a long way in shutting the Pulse down.

However, given the strength and class across the court the Pulse should get the job done against a rebuilding Steel team.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Monday, 23 March
Trustpower Arena, Tauranga

In a clash of second verse fourth expect plenty of action, with the Stars hoping to topple the Magic and claim their first win of 2020. The Stars underwent a massive change over the off-season and are still searching for that winning combination while the Magic seemed to have found their groove. Both sides have a couple of young, up and coming players that will be hoping to make an impact.

The Magic’s strength lies within their midcourt with newcomer Whitney Souness already lighting the court up with her dynamic movement and impressive vision. Souness has quickly become a key cog in the attacking third, not afraid to release the ball from distance and back herself while her connection with centre Ariana Cable-Dixon is steadily developing. The versatility of Sam Winders able to move between centre and wing defence given her defensive attributes is pivotal to the Magic’s success. But Winders will have to pull out all the stops against experienced campaigner Grace Kara to stop the wing attack from having an influence. Kara is cool, calm and collected able to think her way through scenarios and deliver well executed passes into the circle. Fellow midcourters Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather will also have to be on high alert. Stars, wing defence Fa’amu Ioane will be hoping to continue her ball winning ways after starring last round with a couple of timely intercepts.

With a relatively new defensive line-up with Daystar Swift and Kate Burley at the helm the Magic shooting combination of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou will be hoping to capitalise. McPhee has shown that she can be explosive under the post able to post high numbers and relatively accurate. On the other hand, Maia Wilson is one of the highest scoring goalers in the competition able to find the net with ease and use her clever body positioning and strong holds to edge herself closer to the post. If she can have a big influence and Jamie Hume can chip in on the scoreboard then it will be hard work for Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler. In only her second game for the club, Mikaere will be wanting to cause mayhem with her reach and speed making the goal circle match-up an exciting one.

The game could really go either way seeing just how evenly poised both teams are but it could be argued that the Magic have a little bit more depth and that could be the edge they need.

Mystics win northern thriller over Stars

IN their first game of the season, the Northern Mystics showed plenty of promise for the year ahead notching up a well-deserved win over grand finalists Northern Stars, 59-55. After an up and down 2019 season, the Mystics seemed to iron out their on-court issues and string together a strong performance despite being challenged throughout the game.

The Mystics got off to a flyer piling on a whopping 20 goals in the opening 15 minutes of the game mainly thanks to teenage sensation Grace Nweke. The talented goal shooter did all of the damage under the post proving too strong for Oceane Maihi who simply could not combat her aerial strength and most importantly accuracy to post. Nweke managed an impressive 19 goals from 20 attempts in the first quarter alone showcasing just how explosive she can be when given the time and space to do so. On the other hand, the Stars only managed to record 16 goals putting them on the back foot from the very beginning. Still working on their combination both Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume took some time to sight each other in the circle but for Wilson it was business as usual with the towering youngster doing the bulk of the shooting with 11 goals from 13 attempts.

As the game went on things evened out across the court with both sides tightening up defensively and through the midcourt to make the most of their chances. New recruit Daystar Swift made her way onto the court for the first time with the Trinidadian defender easing into the game and using her height to disrupt the play. She ended with two pickups for the quarter highlighting her hunt for the ball while youngster Kate Burley also showcased her worth with five deflections and a gain. The increased defensive pressure paid dividends for the Stars while Mystics goal defence Phoenix Karaka starred with three gains, one intercept and three deflections. Karaka was a real workhorse down back confusing the space and also showing her attacking attributes with a five centre pass receives to transition the ball into the goal circle. Typical goal shooter Saviour Tui came onto the court with the goal attack bib late in the term to replace Asher Grapes who while had struggled to find the net throughout the game did a wealth of work out the front to feed Nweke and create space. Tui eased her way into the game using her height to provide an option across the court while also displaying her ability to go to post.

With a four-goal buffer still in play the Stars threw everything they had at Mystics in the third term to win the quarter and ultimately cut the deficit to a mere two goals thanks to Wilson and Hume going on a three goal run and the defence end kicking it up a gear. The Stars forced Northern Mystics into making four more turnovers and capitalised on those chances. In hope to find some fresh legs Dani Gray made her way into centre replacing youngster Tayla Earle while wing attack Peta Toeava continued her heavy workload with her ball movement and impressive vision on full display thanks to her seven goal assists. For the Stars Lisa Mather and Fa’amu Ioane stepped up a gear to take control through the midcourt and have an influence with their ball movement and defensive pressure taking centre stage with a combined two gains and two intercepts. The Stars dominated the play controlling the tempo of the game throughout the third term and limiting the Mystics’ opportunity to hit the scoreboard as easily.

Down by a couple of goals heading into the last quarter, the Stars did not have enough to go with their opponents eventually falling four goals short. The Mystics backed themselves across the court with wing defence Courtney Elliot plying her trade and Sulu Fitzpatrick going about her business despite not registering her normal stats filling performance. Earle and Toeava combined once again with the two using their speed and quick release to cause havoc and get the defenders heads swinging in the final term to secure the win. The influence of Grace Kara in wing attack for the Stars was important with the captain using her experience to hit the circle edge and deliver well weighted passes into the circle.

Despite slowing her scoring down in the second half Nweke notched up a team-high 40 goals from 43 attempts at 93 per cent while Tui finished at 80 per cent after slotting 16 goals from 20 attempts. The Stars were led by Wilson with the 188cm shooter scoring 40 goals from 45 attempts at 89 per cent while Hume struggled to find her rhythm under the post converting 15 goals from 24 shots.

New Zealand Super Club wrap: Day 3

COLLINGWOOD Magpies’ experience in the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) showed on Day 3 of the New Zealand Super Club series, winning their final game of the group stage to finish on top, while a dominant display from Central Pulse over the previously undefeated Southern Steel sent a message to the rest of the competition.

Northern Stars (41) defeated by Collingwood Magpies (53)

Collingwood’s dominance within its group continued in the third and final match of the stage, downing Northern Stars by 12 goals to finish on top of its four-team group undefeated. The Magpies had a blistering start to the game, piling on 15 goals to seven in the first term, with Shimona Nelson carrying the entire scoring load from 16 attempts, as wing attack Ella Bayliss was working well in midcourt between the experience of Ash Brazill and Nat Medhurst, picking up seven goal assists. Up the other end of the court, Maia Wilson did not miss from her six attempts,  but as the second quarter showed, the Magpies were just a class above, extending the lead out to 13 goals with a 14-9 second term. Nelson (11 goals) and Medhurst (three) did not miss any of their attempts, while the partnership of Geva Mentor and Matilda Garrett up the other end was forcing turnovers. Wilson added another six goals to her tally, while Lisa Mather was working hard in centre for three goal assists, the same number as Vika Koloto who also scored three goals from four attempts in the quarter. Medhurst and Mentor were rested for the entire second half, while Nelson and Brazill came off for the fourth quarter, with the likes of Brooke Allen and Gabrielle Sinclair coming on to have an impact, while Nyah Allen shot seven goals from eight attempts in the last quarter. The Stars’ more settled line-up came back to reduce the final deficit to 12, but the damage was done by then. Nelson finished the game with 36 goals from 38 attempts, while Brazill had an equal game-high 14 goals assists, two more than Bayliss who was equally impressive. For the Stars, Wilson shot 31 goals from 33 attempts, as Koloto proved a valuable link in the scoring chain for the Stars, helping herself to 14 goal assists from 18 feeds, then going into the circle and shooting four goals from six attempts. Jamie Hume had four goal assists from 12 feeds, while up the other end, Kate Burley was solid in defence, picking up a team-high two rebounds, as well as one intercept and committing just three penalties. Juliana Naoupu also gave spectators a glimpse of her ability to play both the playmaker and target role, shooting six goals from nine attempts with six assists from seven feeds in just a half of action.

Northern Mystics (52) defeated Wasps Netball (31)

In one of the most convincing performances of the tournament to that point, Northern Mystics completely dominated Wasps Netball by 21 goals to record a 52-31 victory in what was crucial to the Mystics topping their group stage. Coming into the match sitting at 1-1, while Wasps were yet to win a game, the Mystics took control in the opening term, adding 13 goals to eight. Talented teenager Grace Nweke was surprisingly left on the bench, as Saviour Tui (seven goals from seven attempts) and the experienced Silver Ferns shooter in Bailey Mes (six from seven) both took control, while Elisapeta Toeava had a massive seven goal assists from 12 feeds to be the difference. Up the other end, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was working hard to limit the supply to veteran Wasps’ shooter Rachel Dunn who could not miss in the opening term, nailing all of her eight attempts. The second term was even more dominant than the first for the Mystics, as they added a further 14 goals to six to lead by 13 at half-time. Tui (10 from 12) and Mes (four from four) were proving difficult to contain, while the addition of Phoenix Karaka in the defensive goal circle to join Sokolich-Beatson was impressive. Dunn scored five from six in the term, but the limited chances and turnovers in the midcourt – 10 turnovers to five – meant the Wasps were unable to retain possession. Nweke hit the court for the first time in the second half to replace Mes, while the move of English Roses’ midcourter Jade Clarke into centre worked wonders for the Wasps, having four goal assists from 11 feeds, setting up for Dunn (seven goals from nine) and Katie Harris (four from five), as the Wasps limited their turnovers and forced the Mystics to make a few errors (eight turnovers). The final quarter saw the Wasps decide to throw all the youth on, with Dunn and Clarke rested, and the Mystics regained control with a 14-6 final term to run out comfortable winners. Tui shot 23 goals from 25 attempts for the Mystics, while Nweke managed 19 from 24 despite only playing a half. Toeava had 13 goal assists from 20 feeds, while Karaka finished with a game-high intercepts in the story of the match with the Mystics finishing with 12 intercepts to zero. For the Wasps, Dunn was the standout with 20 goals from 23 attempts, while Alexia Baker (nine goal assists from 13 feeds, but 10 turnovers) and Amy Flanagan (eight goal assists from 16 feeds) were always working hard to get the ball through to the circle.

Mainland Tactix (43) defeated by Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (51)

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic earned second spot in their group, bouncing back from a Day 1 loss to Collingwood to earn back-to-back wins over Northern Stars and Mainland Tactix. The Magic did not have it all their own way, but a strong first term saw them move six goals clear at the first break. Kelsey McPhee shot eight goals from 12 attempts for the Magic, while partner-in-crime Abigail Latu-Meafou had six from eight, with Silver Ferns’ representatives Whitney Souness (seven goal assists from 10 feeds) and Samantha Sinclair forming a formidable midcourt. For the Tactix, Ellie Bird did the bulk of the scoring with seven goals from eight attempts, while the midcourt was struggling with retaining possession, having seven opening quarter turnovers, as well as 18 penalties, with goal keeper Sophia Fenwick committing 10 of those. The second quarter was more even as the Tactix settled into the game – Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit both added five goals each to the score, while Kimiora Poi was starting to influence the game with her movement in midcourt, producing six goal assists from eight feeds. McPhee was still proving a handful for the Tactix defenders, sinking nine goals from 11 attempts, while Latu-Meafou played the role of playmaker perfectly, sinking all three attempts and helping her teammate with seven assists from as many feeds. Both sides made some changes in the second half, with Latu-Meafou rested in favour of Georgia Marshall who scored from all five of her attempts, while converting her three feeds into assists. Despite this, the Tactix took control with elite shooting as Bird and Selby-Rickit did not miss from their 12 attempts. Poi (five assists from nine feeds) and Samon Nathan (four from seven) were also influencing the contest, cutting the deficit back to six at the final break. To ensure there was no comeback, the Magic shuffled the magnets in the final term with Sinclair heading to wing defence and Souness moving back to centre, allowing Ariana Cable-Dixon to enter the fray and have four goal assists from five feeds, with Marshall (five goals from seven assists) and McPhee (10 from 10) get the side back in control. They won the term 15-13 and enjoyed the eight-goal victory. Overall, it was the the composure with the ball in the first term that proved the difference for the Magpies, as McPhee finished with 32 goals from 40 attempts, while Souness (18 goal assists from 26 feeds) was crucial through the midcourt. For the Tactix, Selby-Rickit (20 goals from 22 attempts) and Bird (19 from 21) showed what they could offer as a partnership in the goal circle this season, while Poi showed once she settles into the game she can be a special player, having 18 assists from 23 feeds.

Central Pulse (51) defeated Southern Steel (28)

In the final game of the day, Central Pulse sent a message to group toppers Southern Steel, smashing their ANZ Premiership opponents by 23 goals. In a defensive effort that was almost beyond belief, the Pulse restricted the Steel to a combined seven goals in the first and fourth quarters, winning three of the four terms in a dominant display. The first term had plenty of spectators take notice of what the Pulse could do this season as ANZ Premiership favourites, with a full strength side really taking control. Ameliaranne Ekenasio continued her great form with six goals from eight attempts and three assists from six feeds, working well in partnership with Aliyah Dunn (eight goals from nine assists). Maddy Gordon was a key cog in the machine with seven goal assists from nine feeds in wing attack, as six general play turnovers from the Steel proved costly. Shooting at just 33.3 per cent, the Steel could only manage three goals for the term, as the most dominant defensive goal circle in the ANZ Premiership – Karin Burger and Katrina Rore had a combined three rebounds and one intercept for the term. The second term was a complete reversal for the Steel, showing why they were undefeated in the tournament to that stage, posting 12 goals from 14 attempts, and limiting the Pulse to just 10 attempts – of which Dunn and Ekenasio nailed all of them. Shannon Saunders had six goal assists from 10 feeds in wing attack after a disappointing first term, while Kate Heffernan worked hard in centre. The third term saw the Pulse take control once again, and extend the lead out to 16 goals at the final break courtesy of a 14-9 quarter. Ekenasio shot nine goals from 10 attempts with Dunn having four from six, earning a rest to give Tiana Metuarau (one from one and eight goal assists from nine feeds) a chance to shine. Kalifa McCollin was working hard for the Steel by converting all of her four chances and three feeds, with the coaching staff moving around the defensive end to give Abby Erwood and Della-May Vining a chance. The pair only committed a combined two penalties between them against a dominant shooting combination. The Steel returned to the defensive combination of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita for the final term, but looked helpless to stop the machine of the Pulse, with Ekenasio even rested for the final term, and Rore earning a break. Dunn shot nine goals from 10 attempts, while Metuarau had four from five and seven goal assists. Overall, Ekenasio finished with 20 goals from 23 attempts, as well as seven goal assists from 10 feeds, while Dunn (26 from 30) was also prolific. Metuarau and Gordon combined for 31 assists from 38 feeds, while Burger had four intercepts and three rebounds in a dominant defensive effort. For the Steel, Jennifer O’Connell played her role by shooting 17 goals from 23 attempts, while Saunders had nine assists from 21 feeds, but the Pulse were just too dominant across the court.

Semi-Finals:

Collingwood Magpies vs. Central Pulse
Northern Mystics vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic