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Netball fantasy teams: ANZ Premiership All-Stars v. VNSL All-Stars

BOTH the ANZ Premiership and Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) play host to a wealth of a-list talent making for some impressive squads. The ANZ Premiership is filled with a multitude of Ferns players while the VNSL also has a couple of Roses featured in the team creating an interesting contest between the two sides.

ANZ Premiership All-Stars:

GK: Jane Watson
GD: Katrina Rore
WD: Karin Burger
C: Shannon Saunders
WA: Gina Crampton
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
GS: Maia Wilson

BENCH: Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Whitney Souness, Phoenix Karaka

The ANZ Premiership is littered with New Zealand Silver Ferns representatives as shown by this stacked line-up. But their strength really lies in their defensive end with Jane Watson taking out the goal keeper position. Watson is a machine down back with her cleanliness, hunt for the ball and ability to shut down opponents with ease a couple of her key attributes. The goal keeper is not afraid to back herself, often out hunting for an intercept with her quick feet doing all the work while her lean over the shot is highly intimidating. Fellow defender and veteran Katrina Rore is one of a kind. Just like a fine wine she continues to get better with time, able to read the play with ease and disrupt the attacking flow of the opposition with her aerial ability and long arms. Rore is never out of the contest always able to weasel her way back into the play and is strong in transition thanks to her offensive minded style of play. Wing defence and partner-in-crime at the Central Pulse, Karin Burger is another key cog down back. Burger has really come into her own in recent seasons with her tenacity and tagging style of defence often wearing opponents down. Her long arms and height causes havoc in the wing defence position while her deceptive speed gives her another competitive edge around circle edge to swat away any passes into the goal circle. Throw in her ability to move into goal defence or keeper and Burger is one of a kind for the All-Stars line-up. Through the midcourt, the tried and tested duo of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton adds another strong element to the already stacked squad. While Saunders is more defensively minded, she can hit the circle edge and provide an option in attack while teammate, Crampton consistently showcases her impressive vision into the circle with her pinpoint precision passes and good timing. Crampton has good balance around the circle edge and is not often worried by the physicality of the game. Headlining the goal circle is none other than fan favourite Ameliaranne Ekenasio. The highly talented goaler has class to boot able to sink them from just about anywhere in the circle while her impeccable timing is envious. Ekenasio is renowned for her smooth movement in the circle, strong baseline drives, quick ball movement, accuracy and most importantly ability to stand up under pressure. Youngster Maia Wilson takes out the goal shooter position with the towering shooter able to hold strong and provide a commanding target under the post. Unlucky not to make the starting All-Stars squad are Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby Rickit, speedy midcourter Whitney Souness and Northern Mystics defender, Phoenix Karaka.

Vitality Netball Superleague (VNLS) All-Stars:

GK: Razia Quashie
GD: Fran Williams
WD: Nat Panagarry
C: Jade Clarke
WA: Caroline O’Hanlon
GA: Eleanor Cardwell
GS: Rachel Dunn

BENCH: Sigi Burger, Adean Thomas, Eboni Usoro-Brown

Although the VNSL has less Roses players in the competition due to the majority of them joining the Suncorp Super Netball League, there are still plenty of classy players amongst the ranks. When it comes to options in the goal circle there was no shortage of possibilities, however it was veteran and deadeye shooter Rachel Dunn that claimed the starting goal shooter position. Dunn is one of the most experienced shooters in the league with her silky footwork, strong hands and impressive timing consistently on display along with her accuracy. While Eleanor Cardwell is typically suited to the goal shooter position she has proven that she can do just as much damage out in goal attack with her clever ball placement into the circle and strong movement. Through the midcourt Caroline O’Hanlon provides plenty of experience with her gut running and ability to hit the circle edge time and time again. Adding to the experience through the midcourt is Jade Clarke with the Wasps centre consistently able to do the unthinkable. Clarke oozes class, netball understanding and is cautious with ball in hand able to dish off well weighted passes making her an easy pick for the all-stars squad, while also able to move into wing defence given her defensive abilities. Loughborough Lightning’s Nat Pangarry dons the wing defence position thanks to her defensive skills, long arms, speed off the mark and ability to cause havoc down back to propel the ball into the attacking third. She can clog up space with her shadowing movements and can read the play often forcing turnovers. Roses representative Fran Williams takes out the goal defence position. Williams is an excitement machine and works tirelessly down in defence to build pressure and cause confusion with her quick feet and three-footy marking. She is not afraid to go out and hunt the ball and has a good netball nous to sense the moment. Rounding out the starting seven is goal keeper Razia Quashie. The goal keeper is strong, not often outmuscled under the post and uses her long arms to intimidate shooters when going for goal. Making their way onto the bench for the VNSL all-stars is London Pulse and South African goaler Sigi Burger, Jamaican Adean Thomas and former Roses defender Eboni Usoro-Brown.

Who would win?

With plenty of talent amongst both sides it is tricky to decide who would have the edge however given that the ANZ Premiership All-stars team is virtually filled with Silver Ferns players it is fair to say that they should have the upper hand. Their strength clearly lies in the defence end and while the VNSL All-stars line-up has a couple of handy goalers in the mix they would have to be on their a-game to overcome the prowess of the Ferns. The ANZ Premiership squad is strong through the midcourt with their dynamic movement and experience further adding to their competitive edge.

Which All-Stars team would win in this match up?
ANZ Premiership All-Stars
Vitality Netball Superleague All-Stars
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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.

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.

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

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

Mainland Tactix v. Central Pulse
Sunday, 15 March

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

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

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

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

Northern Stars v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 15 March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premiers: Central Pulse

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

Biggest improver: Mainland Tactix

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

Potential slider: Northern Stars

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

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

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

Central Pulse (52) defeated Mainland Tactix (51)

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

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse (42) defeated Southern Steel (25)

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

Northern Stars (42) defeated Central Pulse (61)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Central Pulse (69) defeated Northern Mystics (55)

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

Potential ANZ Premiership All-Stars team

WITH Australia naming the Suncorp Super Netball All-Stars team, we take a look across the ditch in the ANZ Premiership to see the potential players that could be included in their All-Stars squad.

New Zealand Nations Cup squad:

Ameliaranne Ekenasio
Gina Crampton
Jane Watson
Karin Burger
Phoenix Karaka
Bailey Mes
Kimiora Poi
Shannon Saunders
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson
Whitney Souness
Maia Wilson

All-Stars: 

Aliyah Dunn (GS)
The Central Pulse goal shooter has skill to burn, able to find the goals with ease thanks to her clever movement in the attacking third. Standing at 190cm, the shooter has proven that accuracy is no problem – finishing last season at an impressive 92 per cent while her volume to post is also high.

Grace Nweke (GS)
The talented goal shooter is an excitement machine credit to her impressive athleticism and accuracy to post. She had a breakout season last year and has proven that she can do damage in the goal circle with her dynamic movement and strong holds. Her ability to shake up her game play and sense the moment to get on the move is second to none, while her footwork in the goal circle enables her to set up attacking forays.

Monica Falkner (GA/GS)
The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic goaler is versatile and strong under the post. Falkner is accurate and able to shoot from range or up-close, making her a real threat in the goal circle. Her movement is strong both in the attacking and middle third able to draw the defenders with her commanding presence and rarely fumbles a ball credit to her strong hands.

Tiana Metuarau (GA/GS)
Although she is still young the Pulse goal attack is not afraid to back herself from range and is a real workhorse in the attacking third to bring the ball down and infiltrate the defence. She is a smooth mover always looking to open up the space and use her dynamic change of direction to receive the ball. Her partnership with Dunn is also steadily developing, making her a good option for the All-Stars team.

Storm Purvis (GK/GD)
Although she is not the flashiest defender, Purvis relies on her consistent pressure to wear down opponents. Her hands over pressure and read of the play sets her apart from fellow defenders while her deceptive speed catches many goalers off guard, often able to pounce on a loose ball and send it spiralling back down the court.

Sulu Fitzpatrick (GK/GD)
Renowned for her physicality and never say die attitude, Fitzpatrick would be a great inclusion into the All-Stars team. She has a wealth of experience but most importantly can get under the skin of her opponents with her nagging style of defence and consistent movement. The typical goal keeper uses her feet to get around the body and use the space to allow her to pick off passes and create turnovers.

Erena Mikaere (GD/GK)
Mikaere uses her impressive reach and long lean over the shot to intimidate goalers, making her an exciting prospect for the All-Stars side. She is strong in the air, able to read the flight of the ball and take a timely intercept or cause a turnover. The 192cm defender is a dominant presence in the defensive end, able to switch between keeper and goal defence seamlessly. Her transition work is strong, able to bring the ball down the court with ease.

Kelly Jury (GK)
The lanky defender is renowned for her ability to cause headaches in the goal circle with her impressive lean over the shot and towering height. Jury positions cleverly under the post to collect rebounds and deny the opposition any second chances. What she lacks in speed she makes up for in height and netball smarts able to get into damaging positions in the goal circle and capitalise on any errant passes.

Claire Kersten (C/WA/WD)
Kersten oozes experience and class with ball in hand. She is a real game changer through the middle often acting as the barometer given her ability to win the ball or create something in the middle. The midcourt player is versatile, able to switch between a defensive or attacking role with ease to make her a valuable inclusion in the All-Stars team.

Samantha Winders (C/WD/WA)
It is hard to go past the gut running and high endurance base of Samantha Winders, with the talented midcourter able to run all day and all night. She puts in the hard yards across the court to win the ball circle edge or deliver well-weighted passes into the goal circle. Winders is precise with ball in hand and acts as a key link to the defensive and attacking ends credit to her work through the midcourt. She consistently hustles for prime position and is not afraid of the body contact.

Grace Kara (WA/C)
Kara knows what it is like to taste success having played with the Ferns, meaning her knowledge and experience would put her in good stead. The midcourter has plenty of pace but most importantly uses her change of pace to dart across the court and give and go. She is clean with ball in hand, able to spot a teammate in space and thread the needle into the goal circle to create a scoring opportunity.

Elisapeta Toeava (WA/C)
The dominant wing attack has speed, but most importantly is clever with ball in hand. Her ability to feed the ball into fellow goalers and create attacking plays is second to none often using her vision to full effect. Still developing her craft, she has plenty to offer in the attacking third with her strong drive to the goal circle and ability to re-offer.

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

New Zealand Super Club wrap: Day 1

DAY 1 of the New Zealand Super Club tournament saw some surprise losses and the rise of young stars putting their name on the international netball map. The Magpies got their campaign off to a hot start in the first game of the series while fellow international invitees the Wasps did not have the same fortune going down to the Steel. ANZ Premiership champions, Central Pulse dropped their opening match, with the Northern Mystics getting the wood over competition favourites early.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (33) defeated by Collingwood Magpies (52)

Collingwood led from the get-go all but doubling their opponents score in the opening quarter and did not let up for the remainder of the game. The Magic failed to combat the Magpies star-power in Geva Mentor who notched up seven gains, one intercept and five rebounds clearly denying any easy access into the circle for her opposition goalers. The addition of Brooke Allan brought plenty of spark to the Collingwood line-up, while goal defence Matilda Garrett staked her claim with a strong performance against the likes of Abigail Latu-Meafou picking up three gains, one intercept and six deflections. The Magic struggled to find a way forward credit to the Magpies strong defensive wall with Latu-Meafou only converting 11 goals from 16 attempts while partners-in-crime Kelsey McPhee (12 from 18 attempts) and Georgia Marshall (10 from 12) could not post a high enough total to keep in touch with their opposition. It was a clinical performance by the Magpies who were led by goal shooter Shimona Nelson who nailed 41 goals from 44 attempts at 93 per cent efficiency, while Gabby Sinclair played a nice cameo role with nine goals from 12 attempts. After making the switch from premiership winning side Pulse, Whitney Souness found her feet through the midcourt pairing well with Ariana Cable-Dixon and Sam Sinclair but it was not enough to get her side the win against a relatively full-strength Collingwood line-up.

Southern Steel (50) defeated Wasps Netball (36)

From the first whistle, the Steel had a point to prove racing out of the gates and scoring with ease able to transition from defence to attack in seconds. The Steel had no issues exploiting the gaps and capitalising on any turnover ball against Vitality Netball Super League team, Wasps in what was a convincing performance throughout. Despite boasting a highly experienced team with some key players, the Wasps struggled to make inroads against a dominant Steel team that would simply not give up led by the likes of Jennifer O’Connell in the goal circle with a team high 24 goals from 26 attempts at 92 per cent efficiency. Fellow shooter Kalifa McCollin followed that same vein of form only missing one of her 15 attempts while Georgia Heffernan also hit the scoreboard but not with the same accuracy nailing 12 goals from 19 attempts. Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton were up to their usual tricks through the midcourt slicing through the opposition defence and hitting the circle edge with ease. For the Wasps Jade Clarke stood tall switching between wing attack and centre, using her signature ball movement to penetrate the goal circle and create attacking forays with Roses goaler Rachel Dunn on the end of most deliveries thanks to her clever positioning. Dunn made the most of her opportunities under the post sitting at 88 per cent accuracy, with 29 goals to her name from 33 attempts.

Central Pulse (39) defeated by Northern Mystics (49)

The Northern Mystics had a point to prove and they well and truly proved it thanks to young gun and star goal shooter Grace Nweke who put on a clinic under the post. Nweke singlehandedly sliced up the Pulse defence with her dynamic footwork, strong holds and aerial ability. She carried the load in the goal circle sinking 37 goals from her 44 attempts at 84 per cent efficiency, meanwhile Bailey Mes and Saviour Tui chipped in to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The attacking end seemed to have all the answers despite being up against an ‘A’ grade defensive unit of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger who are both renowned for their physicality and ability to hunt the ball while up and coming defender Elle Temu also got some valuable court time. Up against her old team, goal keeper, Sulu Fitzpatrick pulled out all the stops defensively to quell the influence of towering shooter Aaliyah Dunn. Fitzpatrick and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson worked well to confuse the space and get hands to the high ball coming in, amassing 10 gains, five intercepts and nine deflections collectively. Silver Ferns goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio did not make an appearance for the Pulse leaving the shooting load to Dunn who converted 36 goals from 34 attempts at 77 per cent and youngster Tiana Metuarau who did a wealth of work out the front but was a bit shaky on the shot sitting at 13 from 21 at 62 per cent.

Mainland Tactix (46) defeated Northern Stars (43)

It was a high intensity filled final game of the day with the Mainland Tactix prevailing by a mere three goals after trailing in the first quarter. The Tactix worked their way back into the contest to edge ahead when it counted with new recruit Te Paea Selby-Rickit combining well with Ellie Bird in the goal circle to cause havoc for the Stars defenders in Storm Purvis, Kate Burley and Oceane Maihi. Despite only being on for a half Purvis made her presence felt Bird used her commanding presence to receive the ball and capitalise scoring 23 goals from 28 attempts while Selby-Rickit notched up 15 goals from 19 attempts in her debut game. Temalisi Fakahokotau was stellar down in defence for the Tactix picking up four gains, one intercept and five deflections highlighting her defensive prowess and ability to stand up under pressure. The Stars had a heavy rotation of shooters with Juliana Naoupu, Vika Koloto, Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson all influencing the scoreboard with Wilson the biggest contributor with 17 goals from 21 attempts at 81 per cent efficiency. Hume made herself useful switching between goal attack and wing attack meanwhile youngster Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was influential through the midcourt using her speed and strong connection with Wilson to deliver well weighted passes into the circle. But the Stars fell away in the dying minutes of the game unable to maintain their early intensity.

2019 New Zealand Super Club: Young players to watch

WITH a host of marquee players named for the Super Club test series we look at an up and coming player from each of the eight teams competing. For the likes of invitational teams in particular – Magpies (Suncorp Super Netball) and Wasps (Vitality Netball Superleague) – some of the players will be a relatively unknown quantity, and are considered the young and developing players of their respective countries.

Northern Mystics: Grace Nweke – GS

Nweke broke onto the scene midway through the 2019 season and will be wanting to replicate her hot form in the Super Club to really put her name on the map. Nweke is a strong talented shooter who moves with ease and puts up a high volume of shots. Nweke could be the difference for the Mystics in this tournament given she is a fairly unknown quantity for the international teams and is a developing player in New Zealand. Nweke can stand up under pressure, often unfazed by the physical nature of her defenders and thinks her way through the pressure.

Northern Stars: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan – WA/C

A dynamic midcourter who has speed to burn and is an exciting prospect for New Zealand, able to break lines with her quick ball movement to shake the defence. She started to become more confident throughout the 2019 season and will be aiming to bring that same intensity and excitement into the Super Club. Reuelu-Buchanan works hard across the court running both ways to re-offer around the circle edge and deliver carefully crafted passes into the circle.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic: Holly Fowler – WD/GD

Fowler will be looking to prove her worth at her new club after making the switch from the Northern Stars. She has plenty of X-factor about her with her impressive aerial ability to pick off errant passes and read the play to have an impact across the court. She could be a game changer throughout the tournament if given enough time to find her feet and build up a connection with her teammates. Fowler’s versatility is another key aspect of her game while her transition work is equally as important, coming out hard to receive the ball and bring it down the court.

Central Pulse: Tiana Metuarau – GS/GA

Despite being in her fifth year at the club the 19-year-old is a raw talent filled with plenty of potential and skill and will benefit from further court time. She is a smooth mover and can have an impact under the post when called upon and most importantly will be hoping to prove herself on the big stage against some key defenders. Metuarau is crafty in the attacking third able to dish off passes into her fellow goaler and swing the defenders’ heads with her quick ball movement. Expect her to come out all guns blazing and assert herself on the competition.

Mainland Tactix: Kimiora Poi – C/WA

Despite being on the international radar for a while now Poi is still only 22 and has plenty to give. She showed glimpses of her brilliance throughout the 2019 season in both the ANZ Premiership and Suncorp Super Netball highlighting just how damaging she can be. Poi has speed to boot, can find space with ease and exploit opposition weaknesses with her give and go ability. The talented midcourter backs herself across the court and can switch between the positions with ease, so will want to bring that strong form into the Super Club tournament.

Southern Steel: Kate Heffernan – C/WD/WA

The 20-year-old midcourter offers plenty of class across the court and paired with her strength and versatility she is shaping up to be a real star of the future. Heffernan uses her height to full advantage applying strong three-foot marking to block her oppositions’ vision and cause headaches. Credit to her athleticism and ability she can get hands to ball and cause a disruptive influence through the midcourt to stop the ball hitting circle edge.

Collingwood Magpies: Brooke Allan – GK/GD

The talented defender is a real excitement machine, able to turn a game on its head with her flair and defensive pressure. Allan poses a constant threat down in defence thanks to her commanding height and lean over the shot. She makes her opponent work for the ball, clogging up the space and forcing turnovers such is her pressure. With limited experience with the Magpies she will be hoping to have an immediate impact when on court and use her defensive assets to full affect.

Wasps Netball: Alexia Baker – GA/GS

The former Queensland Firebirds training partner has made the big move to play with the Wasps and will be aiming to have an immediate impact for her new squad. She has talent to boot but is a very raw prospect that has not gained much court time in Australia. If she can hone in her craft and really lift her game play to the next level to pair with her strong timing and silky movement Baker could pose a real threat in years to come.