Tag: northern mystics

Netball Draft Central: Volunteer writing opportunities

WITH Suncorp Super Netball around the corner the team at Netball Draft Central are looking for fresh faces to join the team. Already covering the ANZ Premiership this season, we are hoping to find volunteer writers who are interested in both competitions and have a passion for all things netball. 

In the past we have covered other leagues such as the Vitality Netball Superleague along with a host of Australian competitions such as the Australian Netball League (ANL), Victorian Netball League (VNL) and M-League, but have not been able to do so this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This diverse coverage of netball allows Draft Central to have a point of difference from many other netball news outlets catering specifically to netball fans across the globe. 

We are looking for minimum second year media/journalism students that have an interest in sport, particularly netball and are wanting to gain valuable experience with a dedicated team of writers. 

Writing skills, dedication, flexibility, and effective communication are all crucial characteristics to be a part of the Draft Central team. While writing experience is preferable it is not a necessity for this role.

If you are interested, please email Sophie Taylor at sophie.t@rookieme.com

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Mystics maintain their winning streak in third round clash

IN a fairly predictable result for both teams, the Mystics remained unbeaten in Season 2020 while the Steel are still on the hunt for their first win of the year. Steel came in carrying the weight of a string of difficult losses and never quite managed to shake off that burden. In contrast, the Mystics, with their young and fiery shooting line-up, produced a full-court performance led by experienced defensive duo captain Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick, setting themselves up nicely for some tough tests coming up.

The Mystics were brimming with confidence at the start of the game and despite being without Bailey Mes they have proven their worth in the competition so far and earned a decent reputation. The tall timber of Grace Nweke is such an asset for them, and she came into the game fresh after shooting 41 from 45 last week. Tayla Earle was up against the experienced World Cup Champion Shannon Saunders, who has over one hundred more national league appearances than the youngster.

The Steel got off to a shaky start and it seemed that Jennifer O’Connell lacked confidence in the shooting circle, which had a ripple effect on the team. A couple of early turnovers gave the Mystics the edge, and the defensive pressure from Karaka and Fitzpatrick set the tone for the game. Kalifa McCollin played excellently in the goal attack position but needed O’Connell to create a stronger target in order to build flow and connections in the attack end. In contrast, the Mystics were fearless in attack, with Peta Toeava’s rapid speed and vision into Nweke giving them the upper hand early.

A couple of turnovers later, the Steel were still struggling to find each other and the Mystics used this to their advantage with their rock-solid defence scooping up plenty of ball. Steel managed to gather momentum towards the second half of the quarter and capitalised on a couple of Mystics errors to go on a five goal run. This comeback showed they had really warmed into the game and they started finding space and options in the middle channel. Mystics let go of a healthy lead allowing the Steel to creep back in with the quarter ending at 13-12 to the Northern side.

In the second quarter, Georgia Heffernan replaced McCollin – a bizarre change considering McCollin had been running the show in the Steel attack end. Fitzpatrick took advantage of a couple of sloppy feeds, and the Mystics went on a run, taking the score out to 17-14. Then the momentum swung, and with O’Connell growing in confidence at the post the Steel somehow managed to get back level, partly due to fantastic hustle from wing defence Kate Heffernan.

For the Mystics, Asher Grapes was having trouble finding a good shooting position and was not able to draw the defenders away from Nweke. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita realised Grapes was hesitant to go to post and started to double back on Nweke. This prompted coach Helene Wilson, assisted by Dame Noeline Taurua for this game, to swap in Saviour Tui to provide a different look for the attack end. This had an immediate impact and combined with two timely intercepts from Karaka, gave the Mystics a well-needed lift. There was a turning point in the game, taking the Mystics into half time with a four goal lead.

Steel went into the locker room with just one intercept to the Mystic’s six and were only shooting at 74 per cent. The Mystics were putting on a full-court defensive display, and Emily Burgess was doing an excellent job at keeping Gina Crampton away from good feeding position. Consistency was lacking in places for both teams, and the Steel, in particular, appeared to lose focus at points during the first half.

With McCollin back on at goal attack, the third quarter started well for the Steel, but their rebounding let them down and the Mystics extended to a six-goal lead. Bringing on the youngster Tui was doing wonders for the Mystics attack, and Selby-Rickit was being kept unusually quiet. Tui made a huge difference, as there were now two threatening options in the goal circle for the Steel defenders to choose between. Something was still not quite clicking in the Steel attack end and two held balls on O’Connell’s shot meant the Mystics pulled ahead. The Steel looked a little frustrated and were almost trying too hard. They lacked the composure and the leadership of the Mystics side and this began to show in the scoreline, with the Steel trailing 29–37 at the end of the third quarter.

The Steel came out all guns blazing for the final quarter, with an urgency and intensity that gave fans a sliver of hope they were making a comeback. Through sheer force of will, they pulled it back to within three with eight minutes remaining. This heaped pressure on the young Mystics shooters, but they managed to dig deep and ride the wave, making use of the well-trodden route over the top to Nweke. Unfortunately towards the second half of the quarter the play started to lose fluidity and became scrappy. Mystics were rushing it, possibly already thinking ahead to their next match. The final score of 46 – 42 was a testament to the Steel’s hard work in the final quarter, and they were fortunate to come away with a bonus point. Overall the Steel showed patches of promise but were inconsistent and struggled to make it click. The Mystics gave a standout defensive performance and have found confidence in the young shooting duo of Nweke and Tui.

The Mystics managed to secure 10 rebounds to the Steel’s five, a surprising stat considering they both had the same number of attempts at the post. Low shooting percentage (76 per cent), as well as a high penalty count (51), tells the tale of the game for the Steel. While the Mystics managed the win, they still gave away 19 turnovers, something they will certainly want to improve before their next game.

The Steel will have to pick themselves up again for their second game of the weekend against the Stars, while the Mystics will look forward to an exciting test against the Pulse on Monday.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

NORTHERN MYSTICS 13 | 11 | 13 | 9 (46)
SOUTHERN STEEL 12 | 8 | 9 | 13 (42)

STARTING SEVENS:

MYSTICS:

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

STEEL:

GS: Jennifer O’Connell
GA: Kalifa McCollin
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

ANZ Premiership Round 2 midpoint update: Mystics and Tactix secure seven-goal wins

AT the midpoint of the ANZ Premiership’s Round 2, the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix have secured early wins to kick-start their seasons again, whilst Northern Stars prepare to go back-to-back over the next two days, including a grand final rematch tonight.

COMPLETED MATCHES:

Northern Mystics (47) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (40)

THE first match back of the ANZ Premiership since the COVID-19 lockdown did not disappoint, as the Northern Mystics came out with a point to prove and blew the Waikato Bay of Plenty (WBOP) Magic out of the water as they did so. While Magic may have had a more expansive and experienced midcourt, it was Mystics’ young attack line and experienced defence that held down the fort, battering the Magic with their accuracy and impressing with the wealth of talent they possessed on their way to a 47-40 win. [ … CONTINUE READING … ]

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

Mainland Tactix (43) defeated Southern Steel (36)

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

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

UPCOMING MATCHES:

Northern Stars vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, 7pm

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

Northern Stars v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 7pm

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

[ … CONTINUE READING PREVIEWS … ]

2020 revised ANZ Premiership fixture announced

IN breaking news, the ANZ Premiership announced it 2020 season fixture today following on from its announcement last week that the ANZ Premiership will resume on Friday, June 19. While the competition will resume under new conditions – adhering to the social distancing regulations – it has given netball fans something to look forward to from mid-June through until late August.

While the season began in March, only the one round was played prior to the competition being put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis. But according to the ANZ Premiership’s statement, the competition will resume from Round 2 onwards, with a 10 weeks season featuring games every Friday through Monday evening.

This may mean some teams play twice in the same round, but will be made easier by the season being entirely restricted to the Auckland Netball Centre to limit exposure to uncontrolled environments and excessive travel. The season will be entirely closed to the public to comply with New Zealand’s health requirements due to the coronavirus.

A revised finals schedule has also been put into play, with a triple header finals series culminating on Sunday, August 23, featuring playoffs between fifth and sixth, and third and fourth before a premier is crowned in the 7pm first versus second match.

“While the situation is not ideal, it has also allowed for ingenuity and innovation around how we continue to present matches as a vibrant spectacle and maintain maximum engagement with fans and viewers,” said Netball New Zealand chief executive, Jennie Wyllie.

The season kicks off with a Friday night match-up between Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Northern Mystics at 7pm. In the other Round 1 games, Southern Steel takes on Mainland Tactix the day after, Northern Stars face Central Pulse in a massive grand final rematch on Sunday, before the Stars front up again a day later to take on the Northern Mystics in those sides second games for the round.

While there will be no crowds allowed at matches, all games will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3.

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
Created with Quiz Maker

Draft Central’s Top 25 International Young Guns countdown: #11/#10

WITH a number of netball leagues across the world being suspended due to COVID-19, the Draft Central team is making a case for the top 25 players under 25-years-old across the netball world. Coming in at 11 is Kiera Austin while up and coming New Zealander Grace Nweke snuck into the top 10 after a dominant last season in the ANZ Premiership. With so much talent at our disposal, this countdown is purely opinion-based, taking into consideration recent form, individual potential and future development.

Just sitting outside the top 10 is Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) developing shooter, Kiera Austin. The 22-year-old shooter has a bright future ahead given her versatility and sheer netball nous. While she has struggled to get court time thanks to playing alongside the likes of Jo Harten and Caitlin Bassett at the GIANTS has shown that she can come on and have an impact whether it be in the goal circle or out the front in wing attack. Her clever ball placement, deceptive speed and traditional style of netball are a couple of key attributes in her game. She is a real confidence player and builds as the game goes on, able to draw on the vibe of the crowd and players around her. Austin has shown time and time again for the GIANTS that she can have a damaging impact around the circle edge with her well weighted passes and spatial awareness while also backing herself when under the post. Her quick footwork and desire to go to post makes her an exciting prospect and will want to put her best foot forward in the coming season to earn herself a spot in the Diamonds.

Northern Mystics goal shooter, Grace Nweke snagged 10th place on the countdown given her breakout season in 2019. Nweke took the competition by storm and at the mere age of 18 is one of the most exciting talents to watch. She is simply unstoppable under the post with her ball control and unbelievable aerial ability. Not often overawed by the a-list defenders in the ANZ Premiership such as Kelly Jury, Katrina Rore, Karin Burger or Jane Watson, Nweke has shown that she can hold her own and most importantly backs herself. Her high volume and accuracy puts her in a league of her own able to single handily keep her side in the game or turn the tables with her skill to score quickly and big split. Playing alongside Silver Ferns goaler, Bailey Mes, Nweke has been able to further her develop her repertoire. Already apart of the Ferns development squad the youngster will be hoping to make a real name for herself this season in what is meant to be her first full season at the highest national level and hopefully secure a spot in the team. She is composed under pressure, able to think her way through zone defence and is strong on the hold to reel in any passes that come her way.

_

Top 25 so far:

25. Latanya Wilson (Jamaica)
24. Summer Artman (England)
23. Sophie Drakeford-Lewis (England)
22. Matilda Garrett (Australia)
21. Razia Quashie (England)
20. Sophie Garbin (Australia)
19. Imogen Allison (England)
18. Kelly Jury (New Zealand)
17. Tara Hinchliffe (Australia)
16. Aliyah Dunn (New Zealand)
15. Whitney Souness (New Zealand)
14. Amy Parmenter (Australia)
13. Cara Koenen (Australia)
12. Kate Eddy (Australia)
11. Kiera Austin (Australia)
10. Grace Nweke (New Zealand)

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.