ROUND 10 of the ANZ Premiership is done and dusted and with that came some scintillating performances from the next generation of players. This series will cast an eye over a host of under 21s players that made their way out on court and the impact in which they had for their respective sides.
The goal shooter only continues to get better and this game was no different. Although she was pushed out of court early and gave up a couple of turnovers, her ability to build her way into the game was second to none. Her skill and smarts to stand upright and hold her space enabled her to be a clear option inside the circle while her connection with Peta Toeava was also imperative as the duo sliced through the opposition defence. Nweke was her dominant self, using the angles to keep the defenders at bay while also putting on an aerial masterclass. She competed incredibly strongly to reel in the high ball and was never far from the action using her long split to inch closer to the post. She shouldered the load in attack and adapted quickly with the changing goal attacks as Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui all got court time. Nweke offered a sense of composure and calmness for the Mystics and while the entry into the circle was predictable – a long loopy pass – her form was unstoppable.
The centre wasted no time having an impact both in defence and attack. Earle was a key cog, linking up attack and defence for the Mystics time and time again. She was never out of the contest and applied strong back-up around circle edge especially in defence to pick up any stray deflections. The centre was never far from the contest with her two-way running making her hard to compete with. She was often first to the scraps and never allowed an easy pass credit to her three foot marking while her ability to hedge her bets around circle. Earle got good depth on the second phase to sneak into the pockets or top of the circle to deliver ball into the likes of Nweke or Mes.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:
Williams played more of a feeding role when she was injected into the game out in goal attack using her nicely executed passes to feed into Caitlin Bassett. She showcased her impressive vision and work on the second phase to drive into the space and allow the feeders to do their job around circle edge. As the game went on Williams worked her way into the contest especially inside the ring to engage in a couple of 1-2 plays to inch closer the post and score. She was once again incredibly accurate, able to convert whether it be directly under the post or on the outskirts to have an impact for the Magic. Her footwork was also impressive throughout her time on court, as was her balance to steady herself despite being on one foot with an ability release crafty passes.
Getting the nod in centre for the second week in a row, Gordon displayed her tenacity and smarts to work the ball down to circle edge in attack. Her ability to control her own speed and the speed of the entire Pulse front half was also on show especially when combining with Whitney Souness. Gordon got her time to shine in all three midcourt positions playing in wing defence, centre and wing attack and not skipping a beat in either spot credit to her netball nous and high level of endurance. The speedster contested hard for each and every pass with her ability to read both the space and the play a crucial aspect in her game. When in defence Gordon took advantage of her quick feet around circle edge to disrupt play with frequent deflections while in attack her well-timed drives enabled her to open up space.
It was another crafty performance from the goal attack who had the ball on a string in the attacking third. Although Metuarau did not have a profound impact on the scoreboard it was her court craft that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Her ability to see 10 steps ahead in play allowed her to be a commanding figure in attack with the shooter to shooter interplay between her and George Fisher impressive. Her footwork also took centre stage as she created space with clever little half steps and negated the long arms of the defence to have an impact. Despite being one of the shortest in the circle, Metuarau competed hard for the rebound to try and snatch it out of the air and got into damaging positions in the circle whether it be from down town or under the post.
It was an impressive performance from Fifita with the goal keeper competing cleanly and holding her own against Maia Wilson. She constantly shifted her body and footwork around Wilson to confuse the space and shut down any easy access into the circle. Fifita was not afraid to go out hunting backing her closing speed and read of the play to cherry pick passes. She worked hard to earn front spot and went up strong for the rebound thanks to her springy style of defence. The goal keeper also used her smarts to block out Wilson on the shot to give herself room to regain possession.
The centre was in ripping form throughout the entire game with Heffernan showcasing her defensive nous. Using her long arms to full effect, Heffernan reeled in an impressive four intercepts thanks to her ball tracking ability and read of the play. she had a real give and go mentality hitting circle edge and trying to dispose of the ball all in one action. Heffernan kept the defenders guessing and went into her bag of tricks to deliver a variety of passes into the circle whether it be overhead bombs, shoulder passes or nifty bounce passes. Her athleticism was on display throughout the entire contest, twisting her body inside out to keep the ball moving forward and in-play.
Savai’inaea was strong through the midcourt providing that drive to open up the court while also sitting up nice and high on the transverse line to be that outlet pass. She was a constant nag around circle edge, niggling at her opponent and while she did not notch up a heap of stats it was her ability to grind out games that impressed. She often played more of a space marking game rather than a hard one-on-one which allowed her fellow defenders to sag off and go out hunting down back.