Tag: Maddy Gordon

2020 ANZ Premiership – Young gun focus: Round 4

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition, Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week the player in focus is Central Pulse midcourter Maddy Gordon who impressed in Round 3 with her speed, tenacity and desire to take the game on. 

Age: 20
Height: 174cm
Position: WA, C, WD

Still honing her craft, the young midcourter has walked into the permanent wing attack position and taken each challenge in her stride. Typically known for her role as either a centre or wing defence, Gordon has taken like a duck to water in the attacking position, using her speed to full effect and delivering the ball on a silver platter to the likes of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn. Her ability to read the play and vary her passes depending on the goalers is impressive, able to release the ball with speed and trajectory to Dunn holding under the post, or popping a short pass to Ekenasio at the top of the circle. 

For someone so young her vision is also impressive, able to sight her teammate in space and deliver accordingly as shown last round racking up 10 goal assists against the Mystics despite the long arms of opponent Emily Burgess. Gordon will once again have to use her speed and fancy footwork to evade the hands over pressure from her opponent and have a profound impact in the attacking third for the Pulse against both the Magic and Steel. 

Standing at 174cm, the wing attack is not afraid to take the hard drive to the top of the goal circle and create plenty of attacking forays. She hardly ever stands still, constantly repositioning around the circle and looking to open up space making her incredibly hard to match-up against. She is a real energiser bunny for the Pulse through the midcourt with her explosive speed and impressive change of direction to keep defenders head on a swivel. Her nippiness around the court and strong hands makes her a crucial cog for the Pulse through the centre and attacking third while her athleticism is also another key element of her game play. Gordon’s balance around the perimeter and general spatial awareness is second to none and given she is still early in her career has plenty of upside.

Impressive in attack, Gordon has proven more than once that she can do the defensive things incredibly well, with her three foot marking and aerial ability allowing her to get hands to ball. She is never out of the contest, always on the hunt for an intercept and contesting every ball that comes her way. Her pressure through the midcourt is pivotal to the Pulse’s game style with the 20-year-old renowned for her timing to create tips and skill to switch from defence into offence in a heartbeat amassing three deflections and two pickups for her efforts in Round 3. 

Combining with the likes of Claire Kersten through the midcourt, the two balance each other out, knowing when to run or when to hold in the attacking third. Their quick ball movement and link up through court adds to the Pulse line-up and will have to be on song once again this week if they are to remain undefeated.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 3

THE ANZ Premiership delivered once again over the weekend with all six teams showcasing their skill and dominance across the court. Round 3 was unfortunately marred with injury while the Pulse continued their merry way and ended the Mystics winning streak on the way. 

Steel claim first win of the season:
In their second game of the round the Southern Steel mustered up a strong performance downing the Northern Stars in a rematch of the elimination final that saw them knocked out of grand final contention in 2019. It was a hot start for the Steel who proved that when firing on all cylinders they are hard to beat and are classy with ball in hand. Jennifer O’Connell was a commanding presence under the post, able to clearly indicate where she wanted the ball and use her footwork to ward off defenders. Through the midcourt the class of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton shone through with the tried and tested duo relying on their strong connection to thread the ball through the defence and deliver the ball on a silver platter to O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. The shared effort between the two midcourters worked wonders with defenders unable to effectively stop their consistent output around the circle edge. 

Defensive masterclass:
Round 3 was heavily dictated by defence with the Tactix keeping the Magic to 36 goals for the game, Mystics restricting the Steel to 42 goals and Pulse limiting the Mystics to 35. Dominant performances from Tactix duo Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau set tongues wagging with the two putting on a clinic down back with a combined 11 gains, five intercepts, four rebounds and six deflections. Watson elevated her game even further, only registering the one penalty for the match, showcasing her restraint and cleanliness at the contest. For the Mystics the combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka worked wonders with the two applying a wealth of pressure to shut down options and pick off passes with 13 gains, seven intercepts, eight deflections and one rebound between them in the clash against the Steel. Although the Pulse defensive unit did not have a stats filling performance it was their perceived pressure and stifling style of play that caused havoc, shutting down their opponents’ every move. Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore managed four gains, three deflections and two rebounds. 

Devastating injury blow to young up and coming goaler:
After settling into the attacking unit, Southern Steel’s Georgia Heffernan was struck down with a knee injury midway through the third quarter against the Northern Stars. Awaiting confirmation to the extent of the injury, Heffernan could be a huge loss for the Steel who were starting to find their rhythm in attack with the young goaler able to come on and have an immediate impact credit to her height and netball nous. In her first season at ANZ level Heffernan was steadily building into her role on court, displaying her accuracy to post and clever movement in the attacking third. 

Magic need to unlock their shooting potential:
Despite challenging both the Mystics and Tactix in the past two rounds the Magic have been unable to do enough on the scoreboard to worry their opponents and collect the win. In Round 2 the Magic managed 40 goals while their Round 3 total was even lower with 36 goals. Although the combination of Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee is strong they simply cannot generate enough opportunities at goal to put up a commanding score. In the second half against the Tactix, the Magic due only scored 14 goals – seven goals per quarter – while their opponents piled on 14 goals alone in the third term showcasing just how much the Magic’s attack end struggled. While accuracy was not a huge problem with McPhee sitting at 81 per cent and Latu-Meafou at 71 per cent, it was their output that did the damage with McPhee converting 21 goals and Latu-Meafou sinking 15. 

Pulse are still the team to beat:
In a gruelling four quarter battle against the Mystics, the Pulse had the final say, running over the top of their competitors in the last quarter. It was a strong showing from the Mystics but the reigning premiers were simply too good, able to wear their opponents down and capitalise on their opportunities. Clever with ball in hand and strong in defence the Pulse won ball back and propelled the ball back down court to create plenty of attacking forays. Their ability to withstand pressure and rise to the occasion is second to none. Inspired by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Tiana Metaurau in attack the Pulse looked revitalised and composed giving them that much needed competitive edge while the speed and excitement of Maddy Gordon helped to lift the Pulse. 

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Pulse hold off a determined Mystics outfit

IN a battle of the undefeated teams it was the reigning premiers that came out on top in what was an intense and highly defensive battle to finish the third round of the ANZ Premiership. Neither the Pulse or Mystics were willing to give an inch and despite it being their second game of the round the Mystics did not seem fazed coming out strong and sticking to their structures but ultimately the Pulse had all the answers able to combat everything thrown at them. The lead chopped and changed throughout the game before the Pulse pulled away in the final term to run away with a seven goal victory (42-35) and keep their perfect record intact. 

The opening term started with a bang with both sides feeling each other out. With the centre pass in hand, the Pulse hit the scoreboard first and converted off a turnover to nail two goals in a row despite the immense pressure from the Mystics. The Mystics made it hard in defence for the Pulse, clogging up the space and making Pulse flick the ball around. It was a scrappy couple of minutes from both teams with a lot of turnover ball before the Pulse started to settle in. Youngster Maddy Gordon continued her hot form from last round, lighting up the court with her speed and deceptive pressure while Aliyah Dunn showcased her strength with her solid positioning on the rebound and ability to find good space in the circle. The Mystics were costly in attack giving away a couple of offensive penalties allowing the Pulse to go on a mini goal scoring spree and open up a four goal buffer with seven minutes left in the quarter. Kelly Jury made Grace Nweke work for every ball before the Mystics goal shooter started to find her groove in attack and hold more of a commanding position. Pulse, goal defence Katrina Rore showcased her class taking a screaming intercept through the midcourt followed with a quick transition down the court and easy conversion under the post. The Pulse kept the pressure up going on another three goal run at the four minute mark while Nweke kept getting caught on the body and getting pinned for penalties. But she quickly changed up her game play sparking the Mystics in attack and prompting a flurry of goals to reduce the margin to two heading into the break. 

Much like the first, the second was filled with intensity and excitement, however it was the Mystics that seemed to have the upper hand. Peta Toeava found Nweke with ease under the post, constantly delivering the ball to her on a silver platter. Disregarding the height difference between Toeava and Karin Burger, the wing attack had a field day, turning Burger inside out with her speed off the mark and unstoppable connection with Nweke. In defence the Mystics applied a wealth of pressure with Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka shutting down every single option making the Pulse work for absolutely everything. With nine minutes remaining in the quarter, scores were tied up with the Mystics looking much more composed with ball in hand so much so they went on a three goal running spree to snatch the lead for the first time this match. Nweke was doing all the damage for the Mystics with Asher Grapes only managing the one goal for the game while the Pulse goalers struggled for accuracy. Sloppiness continued for the Pulse with Gordon breaking the centre pass and the Mystics applying a wealth of pressure only limiting the reigning premiers to two goals up until the 5 minute mark. With less than two minutes to go the Pulse kicked it up a gear inspired by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dunn stringing four goals together and clenching a one goal lead. 

The half time break did not slow either side down but brought plenty of changes. A slow start from Grapes saw Saviour Tui come on at goal attack for the Mystics while moments later Tiana Metuarau pulled on the wing attack bib for the Pulse. It was goal for goal for most of the quarter with neither side willing to give up possession before the Mystics defence prevailed forcing a turnover. It did not take long for the Pulse to return serve with Jury and Rore working in overdrive to claim a huge rebound. Toeava seemed to have the ball on a string able to deliver to Nweke with ease while for the Pulse Claire Kersten kicked it up a gear, linking well with Ekenasio in the attacking third. After being level pegging for the opening couple of minutes the Mystics took the lead capitalizing off the back of a turnover sparked by Fitzpatrick while Jury kept getting pinned for contact thanks to Nweke being so strong on the hold. With the Pulse struggling to generate turnover ball in defence and hit the scoreboard, Dunn went to the bench pushing Ekenasio to goal shooter while Metuarau moved into her preferred position of goal attack. The change up seemed to be the spark the Pulse needed with Ekenasio upping the ante in attack and Metuarau good on the shot. After a quiet start, Burger leapt into action taking an important intercept to swing momentum back to Pulse, helping her side to three consecutive goals with Metuarau nailing a shot on the buzzer. 

With the final 12 minutes of the game underway the Pulse unleashed, proving why they are still the team to beat. A turnover from the Mystics gifted the Pulse with an opportunity to bounce and that they did. Pulse were not afraid to go back and reset the play instead working the ball around to find an opening. The Mystics lost their way with Nweke giving away another offensive penalty while the Pulse kicked it up a gear to really pull away and cement their spot as top dog. It was a physical encounter with bodies flying everywhere, Gordon hit the deck midway through the quarter but immediately bounced back up. Ekenasio was as cool as they come under the post for the Pulse, dictating the play and sinking them from here, there and everywhere to push her side out to a solid lead. 

It was an accurate display of shooting with Dunn finishing the game with 12 from 14 before heading to the bench while Nweke also flexed her muscles under the post sitting at 85 per cent thanks to her 28 from 33 attempts. The real difference came from the goal attack output with Ekenasio a strong target under the post and converting 21 from 24 while Mystics youngster Tui struggled to generate a lot of scoring opportunities with six from seven. Fitzpatrick was key in defence with two gains, four deflections and two rebounds while Burger managed three intercepts and three gains.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 8 | 12 | 12 (42)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 8 | 9 | 11 | 7 (35)

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 Mystics:

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

2020 ANZ Premiership Head to Head: Round 3

IN each round we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. The return to netball sees two Silver Ferns at different stages in their netball career up against each other.

CENTRAL PULSE v. NORTHERN MYSTICS
Aliyah Dunn (GS) v. Sulu Fitzpatrick (GK)

Both fresh off a win expect the battle in the goal circle to be heated with both players vying for every inch of space. In her first season back at the Mystics Sulu Fitzpatrick will be eager to enforce herself on her old side while youngster Aliyah Dunn has already announced herself as a commanding presence under the post for the Pulse. 

It did not take Fitzpatrick long to work her way into the game and solidify her defensive connection with Phoenix Karaka last round. The duo’s physicality and hunting mentality is what makes them so ominous, able to back themselves and rotate through the defensive third to cause confusion. Up against her old side and the reigning premiers Fitzpatrick knows what it takes to get inside the head of Dunn and can use her experience to win plenty of ball back. The tenacious goal keeper is not afraid to throw her body on the line and go out to apply pressure on the ball carrier such is her attacking mentality. A strong competitor in the goal circle, Fitzpatrick relies on her nimble movement and quick footwork to get around the body of her opponent and force turnovers. Her read of the play and ability to dictate space enables her to set up defensive blocks and reduce the speed of ball movement in the attacking third, a key element for her side’s success. Pairing well with Karaka, expect Fitzpatrick to really challenge the high ball in the air and get a hand to a couple of balls to put doubt in the feeders minds. 

After a strong showing in Round 2, Dunn will be hoping to continue that hot form against her old teammate. The soon to be 21-year-old is cool, composed and collected under the post not often frazzled by the defensive pressure heaped on her. Dunn’s ability to detect space and command the ball is second to none, allowing for the likes of Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon to deliver the ball on a silver platter to her. She is quick on her feet and uses her height to full advantage to reel in high balls time and time again. When it comes to applying scoreboard pressure Dunn is a menace with her high volume of shots and accuracy to post causing all sorts of headaches for opposition defence units. Her connection with teammate and Silver Ferns goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another concern for the Mystics given the Pulse shooters know each other’s game inside out, able to clear out and make space in the circle for one of them to drive in. While Dunn is typically a holding shooter she can vary her game style and use her netball smarts to exploit her opposition. 

With plenty of history between the two players expect an enthralling battle with neither of them willing to take a backwards step given what is at stake. If Fitzpatrick can push Dunn out from under the post and force her to take the long bomb it will favour the Mystics, but it will have to be a full court defensive effort as Ekenasio can do just as much damage if Dunn is well held. On the other hand if Dunn can keep Fitzpatrick at bay with her strong holds, clever body positioning and control in the air then the Pulse should be able to generate enough scoring opportunities to win.

2020 ANZ Premiership Team of the Week: Round 2

AFTER impressive performances across the returning round of ANZ Premiership action it was difficult to narrow down which players should get the nod for Round 2’s Team of the Week. A strong win to Central Pulse saw the reigning premiers secure four players in the team credit to their sheer dominance on court, while Northern Stars and Northern Mystics also managed two players apiece. 

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Grace Kara
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Kelly Jury

BENCH: Maia Wilson, Maddy Gordon, Jane Watson

It is no surprise that the goal circle sees the combination of Pulse duo Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Dunn was simply too hot to handle for the defenders in Round 2 with the goal shooter building into the game and putting on a spectacle in the second quarter with 18 goals at 100 percent. She finished the game with 44 goals from 46 attempts proving just how much of a deadeye she is in the goal circle. Partner in crime Ekenasio was just as accurate to post only missing two goals for the game with 19 from 21. Her playmaking abilities were on show throughout with the goal attack seamlessly opening up space and delivering the ball on a silver platter to Dunn.

Through the midcourt Grace Kara took charge in the wing attack position for the Stars. Despite having a rather quiet game by her standards in the first game of the round, she took her play to the next level in her 150th match lighting up the court with her dynamic movement and pinpoint feeds. Tayla Earle took out the centre bib with the nippy midcourter showcasing her defensive pressure to win back a wealth of ball. She notched up four gains, four intercepts and two pickups while her efforts in attack also did not go unnoticed with 13 goal assists. The only Steel representative in this week’s team, Kate Heffernan showcased her potential and skill in wing defence. While it was not a stats filling performance from the youngster, her work rate, ability to get hands to ball and movement to clog up space earned her the spot racking up two gains, one intercept and two deflections.  

Defensively there were a plethora of options but in the end it was Phoenix Karaka that stood tall for the Mystics. The talented goal defence was in everything, picking off passes, using her nifty footwork and read of the play to wreak havoc in the defensive third. Her cleanliness and skill to pick up ball was on show throughout the full 48 minutes amassing seven gains, three intercepts, three deflections and three rebounds. Pulse defender Kelly Jury takes out the goal keeper position with the 23-year-old lighting up the court with her hunt for the ball and execution. On song from the opening minutes of the game, Jury leaped into action collecting a staggering six intercepts, nine gains, three deflections and two rebounds while her hands over pressure also provided an intimidating element to the Pulse defensive unit. 

Well held in her first outing, Maia Wilson came out with a real fire in the belly in her second game, owning the goal circle with her accuracy and high volume of shots. Although she was unlucky not to get the start slotting 67 goals from 76 attempts across the round Wilson proved to be no easy beat using her strong holds to command the ball. Speedy midcourter Maddy Gordon earned herself a spot on the bench after a dazzling performance for the Pulse with 19 goal assists and intercept to her name. Despite an un-Jane Watsonlike performance in her second game of the round the skilful Tactix defender did enough to warrant a spot on the bench after picking up an impressive nine gains, three intercepts, eight deflections and two rebounds in her opening game.

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

Central Pulse: What has changed?

THE ANZ Premiership returns this week after an enforced hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The break has done wonders for some teams allowing them to iron out issues and give time for players to focus on recovery. However some teams return to the season a little different than how they entered the 2020 season. Draft Central takes a look back at the Round 1 action, 2019 season and what has changed over the last couple of months. 

Coach: Yvette McCausland-Durie
Captain: Katrina Rore
2019 finish: 1st

Overview:
The reigning premiers will be hoping to keep that winning momentum rolling throughout 2020 and claim back-to-back premierships, something that is not unreasonable given the star power they have across the court. With a win already under their belt and a good mix of young up and coming players along with experienced heads the Pulse are in a commanding position heading into the season restart. 

Changes:
Heading into the start of season with a slight shoulder niggle youngster Kelly Jury will hopefully be at full fitness with the talented goal keeper a real threat to be reckoned with in the defensive third. Although it was only a brief appearance in Round 1, it was enough to excite Pulse fans with her long reach, lean over the shot and ability to read the play. With goal attack Tiana Metuarau not named in the Round 1 clash expect the quick footed shooter to be back amongst the mix in the coming games and once again assert herself with her play making skills and ability to deliver into the circle. 

Looking ahead:
The tried and tested duo of Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio will be looking to take their connection to the next level in 2020 and cause even more havoc under the post with their impressive movement, accuracy to post and general netball understanding. With a relatively unchanged line-up the biggest shake-up comes to an already stacked defensive unit with Jury joining the likes of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger a combination which has already proven to be formidable. With further time to nut out the nitty gritties of their defensive combo the Pulse will once again be in a dominant position. While through the midcourt the Pulse offer plenty of speed and variety with Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon able to switch between wing attack and centre. 

Key player:
A pivotal player in last year’s premiership ending drought, soon to be 21-year-old Aliyah Dunn has both youth and experience on her side. Heading into her third season the talented goaler knows what it takes to withstand immense defensive pressure and most importantly deliver. Her strong holds under the post, clever body positioning to ward off defenders and high volume of shots makes her one of the most intimidating goalers to take the court. Throw in her skill to shoot quickly and turn a game on its head with her aerial strength to reel in passes and Dunn is a key cog for the Pulse. 

Fantasy teams: New Zealand A v. Jamaica

NEW Zealand have steadily developed the next tier of players over the past couple of years with coach Noeline Taurua taking a clear look to the future of the Silver Ferns as shown with the New Zealand A team. Pitted up against a developing yet strong Jamaican team the battle sees a variety of up and coming stars as well as some experienced and well-versed international players.

New Zealand A:

GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick
GD: Kayla Cullen
WD: Sam Winders
C: Kimiora Poi
WA: Whitney Souness
GA: Tiana Metuarau
GS: Maia Wilson

BENCH: Ellie Bird, Maddy Gordon, Temalisi Fakahokotau

Starting in defence is Pulse premiership player and electrifying goal keeper Sulu Fitzpatrick. The defender is quick on her feet, can leap into action in a heartbeat given her impressive hops and is extremely dynamic both in the air and at ground level. Accompanying her is former Silver Fern and lanky defender Kayla Cullen who oozes nothing but class. She can ply her trade in goal defence, goal keeper or wing defence such is her netball understanding, versatility, strong movement and read of the play making life hard for opposition attackers.

The midcourt is littered with nimble and speedy players that are renowned for their ability to dart around the court and cause havoc. Wing defence, Sam Winders knows what it takes to play at the highest level having stepped out on court for the Ferns multiple times. Her defensive pressure, three-foot marking and ability to shadow attackers makes her a daunting prospect for many as she is constantly on the lookout for her next intercept or tip. Energiser bunny, Kimiora Poi gets the nod at centre with the 168cm nippy midcourter able to exploit every tiny bit of space and use her speed to burn off opponents. Her quick hands into the circle also allows her to catch defenders off guard and deliver pin point passes into the shooters. Partner in crime, Whitney Souness takes out the wing attack position. Although she plays a similar role to Poi given their speed and dynamic movement, her strength around the circle edge and general ball placement to feed into the circle makes her a promising prospect for New Zealand netball.

Looking into the goal circle there is no shortage of talent headlined by the likes of Northern Stars goaler in the ANZ Premiership, Maia Wilson. The 22-year-old has come along in leaps and bounds with her strong holds, and clever footwork, while her impressive rebounding ability, high volume of shorts and accuracy to post are just a couple of key components in her game play. Out in goal attack is Tiana Metuarau who much like her other teammates has developed at a rate of knots with her impressive timing along the baseline and skill with ball in hand. Metuarau has speed to burn, is confident in the attacking third and is not afraid to take the game on.

Rounding out the squad is physical and ball winning defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, speedster Maddy Gordon and holding goaler Ellie Bird.

Jamaica:

GK: Shamera Sterling
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
WD: Vangelee Williams
C: Adean Thomas
WA: Nicole Dixon
GA: Shanice Beckford
GS: Jhaniele Fowler

BENCH: Romelda Aiken, Khadijah Williams, Kadie-Ann Dehaney

There is no denying that the Sunshine Girls are bookended with top tier talent, able to turn a game on its head in a matter of seconds. Down in defence, Shamera Sterling leads the way with the long-limbed defender able to get a hand in everything that comes her way. Her ability to read the play, take a screaming intercept and constantly reject the ball from entering the goal circle is second to none. Out in goal defence, Jodi-Ann Ward plays a less flashy role than her defensive counterpart but still has an undeniable influence with her quick footwork, strong hands over pressure and court coverage to force timely turnovers. Ward is also very versatile able to move into wing defence and goal keeper when needed, giving her that competitive edge.

The midcourt is quite dynamic with all three players possessing plenty of speed to run opponents off their feet. The defensive minded Vangelee Williams is constantly on the hunt for an intercept with the wing defence able to read the play effortlessly and drop into the holes across the court. She is strong around circle edge to create tips and block easy access into the attacking third. Moving into centre is Adean Thomas with the 173cm midcourter able to take the ball at full speed and stop on a dime credit to her control and balance. Thomas is an exciting player to watch, able to light up the court with her playmaking style, dynamic footwork and vision into the circle. Similarly, Nicole Dixon plays with plenty of attacking flair able to find her fair share of space around the circle edge and deliver the ball into the goalers. She is quick off the mark and hardly ever stands still, always looking to work the angles and be an option in the attacking third.

Goal attack Shanice Beckford has speed and skill to boot, able to get under the feet of opposition defenders and command the ball despite her small stature. She is not afraid to back herself under or away from the post and is a real playmaker for Jamaica. Standing tall in goal shooter is Jhaniele Fowler with the 198cm goaler a commanding presence under the post. Her strength in the air is almost unmatchable, constantly reeling down any high balls, and using her body to ward off any oncoming defenders. She is hardly ever fazed by the defensive pressure and puts up a high volume of goals at an even higher accuracy.

On the bench is fellow towering goaler Romelda Aiken, along with dynamic midcourter Khadijah Williams and the ever-reliable Kadie-Ann Dehaney.

Who would win?

Boasting a slightly stronger midcourt group the New Zealand A team have the upper hand in the middle third with the likes of Winders, Poi and Souness all strong options. While Jamaica ooze nothing but class in both the goal keeper and goal shooter positions thanks to Sterling and Fowler it comes down to whether or not the Sunshine Girls can get on top of Wilson and Fitzpatrick to really romp it home something they definitely have the capability to do. With speed to boot and an uncanny intercepting ability Jamaica have a clear upper hand when it comes to not only connections across the court but so too scoring prowess.

ANZ Premiership: Leading stat-toppers from Round 1

WITH Round 1 of the ANZ Premiership done and dusted we look at the leading stat-getters from each side.

Northern Mystics:

The Mystics kicked off Round 1 with a hard-fought win thanks to some strong individual performances from a host of their key players. Shooting sensation Grace Nweke was a pivotal part in her sides win with the talented goaler notching up 40 goals from 43 attempts at an impressive 93 per cent accuracy, ultimately taking out number one spot on the goals and assists ladder. Teammate, Peta Toeava also impressed across the weekend particularly at the transverse line picking up 18 centre pass receives to come in fifth across the competition. While Toeava was strong at the centre pass, it was her impact in the attacking third that left a lasting imprint with the highly touted wing attack taking out the number one spot for feeds with a whopping 44, highlighting the wealth of work she does to feed into the likes of Nweke. Defensively it is hard to look past Phoenix Karaka with the goal defence featuring in the top five for rebounds and intercepts while being eighth for deflections. Karaka had a profound influence down back managing three intercepts in Round 1, gifting her prime position on the intercepts tally while also collecting two rebounds. However, she also recorded third spot for penalties with 13 something she will want to address heading into the next round.

Northern Stars:

Although the Northern Stars did not get the win on the board it was their young players that took the round by storm with five players making it into the top five in their respective areas. Goal shooter Maia Wilson was clinical under the post once again nailing 40 goals from 45 attempts at 89 per cent and locking down second spot behind Nweke. Captain, Grace Kara showcased her influence in attack with 25 centre pass receives and 43 feeds to come in second in both of those areas while defensively Kate Burley kicked it up a notch. The young defender made her presence felt both on the court and in the stats claiming second spot for deflections with seven. Second seemed to be the flavour for the Stars with Fa’amu Ioane following suit for rebounds with three highlighting her strong defensive attributes. However, second place for penalties will not sit so well with Daystar Swift racking up 15 for the game.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

The Magic did not necessarily have one game changer for them, instead it was more of a full team effort as shown by the stats at end of the round with the likes of goal shooter Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou sitting so closely together on the shooting leader board. While McPhee is in the top five with 35 goals from 43 attempts at 81 per cent, Latu-Meafou is not far behind at seventh with 19 goals from 27 attempts displaying their ability to share the ball between them. Even through the midcourt the load was shared with Ariana Cable-Dixon sitting sixth with 30 and Whitney Souness at seventh with 29 for feeds, while Souness also managed third for centre pass receives with 24. Erena Mikaere topped the table for rebounds with two while both Samantha Winders and Holly Fowler managed six deflections apiece to make the top 10. Alarmingly however, three players made their way into the leader board for penalties with midcourt duo Cable-Dixon and Winders taking out fifth and sixth respectively and Fowler coming in at eight.

Central Pulse:

With a relatively shared approach across the board, the Pulse did not have a heap of players top the tables with Aliyah Dunn the highest ranked player at third. Dunn was instrumental once again under the post with her volume and accuracy on show with 35 goals from 38 attempts at 92 per cent. Teammate Ameliaranne Ekenasio also made her way into the top 10 but at the lower end of the scale at eighth credit to her 18 goals from 22 shots. Youngster Maddy Gordon was also amongst the mix for centre pass receives with 19 earning herself fourth spot after an impressive effort in Round 1 while veteran and key cog in attack Claire Kersten also made her presence felt with 33 feeds in their win over the Tactix to finish fourth as well. With so many options in defence and the ability to rotate players the Pulse had no real standout however, Katrina Rore did manage a rebound to claim fifth, while newcomer Kelly Jury’s two intercepts also earnt herself fifth placed honours.

Mainland Tactix:

It is fair to say that Tactix dominated from a defensive point of view despite losing. Both Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau featured highly in the deflections and intercepts columns thanks to their tenacity. Watson took out third pace thanks to her seven deflections while also recorded seventh for intercepts credit to her two. Despite also collecting two intercepts Fakahokotau was slightly ahead on the leader board at fourth but did not feature on the deflections tally. In the goal circle, Ellie Bird took out the honours for the Tactix coming in at sixth across the competition with her 26 goals from 29 attempts at 90 per cent.

Southern Steel:

Although they did not win their Round 1 match the Steel had a wealth of players start their season with a bang and claim early bragging rights high up on the table. Gun midcourter, Gina Crampton currently sits first for centre pass receives with 28 while also has third spot tied up for feeds with 42. In the goal circle Jennifer O’Connell just made the cut inside the top five with 35 goals from 50 attempts. Defensively is where the Steel shine with Te Huinga Selby-Rickit earning second spot after pulling down five rebounds and fourth spot for deflections with six. Youngster, Taneisha Fifita snatched dibs on top of the table for deflections with eight while Kate Heffernan also made the top 10 for intercepts with two to her name.

Pulse pick up where they left off with strong win over Tactix

WITH a new look line-up, the Tactix showed that they meant business racing out of the blocks before reigning premiers, Central Pulse highlighted why they should be considered a threat once again in 2020 taking out a 12-goal win, 53-41. Central regained control after the first quarter relying on their strong connections and signature ball movement to dice through their opposition while the Tactix tinkered with their starting seven to find the winning combination.

The Mainland Tactix got out to a slim lead in the opening quarter with the new combination of Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit seeming to work wonders under the post. Bird was unfazed by the Pulse’s defensive pressure rising to the occasion time and time again and using her height to full effect. The goal shooter led the way in the goal circle with seven goals from eight attempts while Selby-Rickit was also accurate to post only missing the one goal for the quarter. Their movement in the circle was impressive with the two opening up space and using their varying styles to keep the defenders busy. The midcourt service from the likes of Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi was key to their early success with the latter taking full control in the centre. Poi found plenty of space and hit the circle edge with precision to feed into both Bird and Selby-Rickit with a team-high five goal assists for the term. While she impressed, her opposing centre Claire Kersten shone bright for the Pulse using her drive and strength to receive the ball and have an impact across the court with the two going toe-to-toe throughout the term.

The one goal difference quickly evaporated by the end of the second quarter with both sides heading into half time with 22 goals apiece credit to the high intensity game. Central Pulse only made one change in the second with Elle Temu coming on in goal keeper. Temu had an immediate impact down back with her ball winning ability and physicality picking up one gain and three deflections. Up the other end, Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio increased their load and accuracy to get back to level pegging’s. Dunn was solid as ever under the post using her quick feet, spatial awareness and strong holding ability to make the most of her opportunities shooting at 100 per cent with eight goals. Although Ekenasio was not as damaging under the post her playmaking abilities out the front once again proved to be the key with three goal assists.

The third term was the real turning point for the reigning premiers with Pulse well and truly putting their foot down. The 16 goals to nine quarter showcased just how explosive they can be working their way down the court with ease and most importantly finding their groove in defence. The defensive trio of Karin Burger, Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury seemed to be the wall down back they needed simply repelling any ball that came their way. Rore’s drive through the midcourt was impressive receiving her fair share of centre passes and creating a wealth of forward thrusts to spur her side on. The experienced captain also showcased her defensive tendencies with a gain and rebound while Burger impressed in wing defence using her long arms and deceptive speed to record a gain and an intercept in that term alone. While the Pulse defensive unit upped their ante, so did the Tactix with Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau combining to win a wealth of ball back with three gains, two intercepts and five deflections however it was not enough to quell the influence of Dunn and Ekenasio under the post.

With one quarter left to play, the Pulse did not muck around making light work of their opponents with a 15 goals to 10 quarter. Mainland worked tirelessly to wear down the visiting side but they simply could not stop the Pulse who looked in control in every aspect across the court. Wing attack Maddy Gordon continued her strong form in the attacking third while Kersten kicked it up a gear with a timely intercept and a gain. With Gordon having such a strong influence Charlotte Elley struggled to prevent her from hitting the circle edge. In hope to find a spark inside the attacking third for the Tactix Samon Nathan played a full quarter using her speed and quick hands to work the ball around but it was little too late with the game all but won.

Dunn was the most prolific shooter on the day walking away with 35 goals from 38 attempts at 92 per cent accuracy while her partner in crime, Ekenasio managed 18 goals from 22 shots. On the other hand, Bird inflicted the most scoreboard pain with 26 goals from 29 attempts with recruit Selby-Rickit struggling for accuracy sitting at 68 per cent thanks to her 15 goals from 22.