Tag: saviour tui

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 10

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.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

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.

Tayla Earle

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:

Khiarna Williams

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.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

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.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

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.

Taneisha Fifita

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.

Kate Heffernan

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.

Renee Savai’inaea

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.

Mystics make light work of reigning premiers

NORTHERN Mystics remained in touch with the top of the table Northern Stars thanks to an imposing 13-goal win over Central Pulse, 64-51. They won every single quarter and emptied their bench with a couple of fresh faces getting some valuable court time.

A misplaced ball in the opening passage of play for the Mystics allowed the Pulse a chance to capitalise and that is exactly what they did, flying down the court to open proceedings as Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness used their speed to open up Aliyah Dunn at the post. With the centre pass to follow, Souness found Dunn under the post once again and the Pulse were away. But the Mystics quickly caught up as Grace Nweke found her way to post to level the scores. There were turnovers aplenty for both sides to start the game as they settled into the match and found their rhythm in attack. The battle under the post between Sulu Fitzpatrick and Dunn was enticing as Fitzpatrick started to wear Dunn like a glove forcing Te Amo Amaru-Tibble to shoulder the shooting load, which she did with great ease.

Kelera Nawai was off to a hot start with the goal keeper using her leap and niggle to contest everything that came her way. Pulse were winning their fair share of ball back with Gordon snatching the ball in transition and Nawai a lynchpin down back, and the lead continued to chop and change as neither side was able to steady off their own centre pass with a wealth of uncharacteristic turnovers such as breaks and offensive contacts. A one-goal lead turned into three the way of the Mystics as the Pulse were riddled with bad passes. Kate Burley was having a field day down back, consistently getting hands to ball and creating opportunities for her side to punish as they extended out to a five-goal lead.

The Pulse ate into the margin to cut it back to three goals but the Mystics continued to find a way to score. Peta Toeava was crafty as ever around circle edge with her strength to outmuscle Claire Kersten while her pinpoint feeds into the circle were causing all sorts of chaos. Up the other end, Fa’amu Ioane was getting hands to ball and using her outside arm to cleanly regain possession. The Mystics really put the foot down pushing out to a whopping eight-goal margin with the ball continuing to fall their way despite the constant pressure from the Pulse.

A bit of magic from Dunn falling out of court was somewhat of a spark while Abby Erwood came on for all of a minute in wing defence before Gordon and Kersten switched bibs. Kersten provided plenty of composure in attack to feed the ball in with precision. The aerial dynamos started to come into play for both sides but it was the Mystics, in particular Fitzpatrick, that were running riot. The goal keeper was gobbling up every cross-court ball that came her way and sending the ball rocketing up the other end. Fortunately for the Pulse, Bailey Mes was well and truly off the boil and was unable to hit the scoreboard.

Up by nine goals at half time the Mystics extended that buffer to 10 nice and early in the third quarter converting off a Pulse centre pass. Filda Vui came on to replace Mes out in goal attack with the speedster using her playmaking skills to open up Nweke under the post. Gordon was trying her hardest out in wing defence while it was Fitzpatrick that was proving to be a thorn in the Pulse’s side stopping the ball from entering the circle. Things were not going to plan for the Pulse at all while the Mystics proved to be unstoppable with Ioane having an impressive game upon return while Tayla Earle was an unsung hero through the centre.

Nawai had her work cut out for her down in defence with the ball constantly flying over her head but using her leap to try and have an impact, while at the other end Dunn was struggling in goal shooter only converting at 68 per cent. The ball ping-ponged up and down the court with missed shots from both sides allowing the defenders to impose themselves. With the lead swinging out to a whopping 13 goals the Pulse made wholesale changes as Erwood re-entered the contest in at wing defence as Gordon pushed into wing attack and Souness into goal attack. But it took a while for the cogs to click into gear in the attacking third going into three quarter time down by 11 goals.

The final quarter saw much of the same from the Mystics as their silky transition down court continued to catch the Pulse off-guard. There was simply nothing the Pulse could do as the Mystics treasured possession and mounted pressure with their strong hands-over marking. Toeava was in a bit of discomfort with the wing attack leaving the court prompting Mes to pull on the bib instead, while with the game well and truly out of their reach Parris Mason came on in wing defence for the Pulse with the youngster contesting hard. With a tick under seven minutes on the clock Saviour Tui made her debut for the season while Ama Agbeze slotted into goal keeper shifting the defensive unit forward as the home side continued to purr along nicely.

Nweke was unstoppable once again nailing 54 goals from 63 attempts at 86 per cent as Vui played a strong accompanying role with her six from seven. Tui and Mes both managed two goals apiece with the latter racking up seven goal assists. But the main port of call was Toeava with the wing attack racking up 29 goal assists as Fitzpatrick had a game to remember in defence with five intercepts and a rebound. Dunn finished with 31 goals at 80 per cent as Amaru-Tibble registered 16 goals from 20 attempts. Gordon led the way with 12 goal assists as Jury and Nawai combined for seven gains.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 9

ROUND 9 of the ANZ Premiership rolls around with the ladder continuing to chop and change given the unpredictable season so far. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic will be eager to get another win on the board after falling agonisingly short last round.

Northern Stars vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, June 13 @6:15pm

The Northern Stars will be hoping to reverse their fortunes against Central Pulse and get one back here. Last time these two sides met the Pulse handed the Stars their first loss for the season and it was a hefty one at that going down by 13 goals. But it has not been smooth sailings for the Pulse who have struggled to find a level of consistency, so this is sure to be an enthralling match-up with the Stars and Pulse both coming in off narrow losses.

Maia Wilson was well held last round but the goal shooter never has two down games meaning she will be looking to punish in this clash. Wilson has added more strings to her bow this season, backing herself from range and getting on the move more often making her a prominent threat. But if she is not firing Amorangi Malesala has proven to be the Stars’ secret weapon with her ability to explode out of the blocks and play either goal shooter or goal attack. Jamie Hume is also highly dynamic and will be hoping to bounce back from a quiet performance last week. But the Stars shooters will have their work cut out for them with Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury developing a really sturdy relationship. Nawai is a strong physical competitor but will need the long arms of Jury to really get in the head of Wilson and reduce the amount of ball that comes flying into the circle, while the key for the Pulse will also lie with stopping Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan with the wing attack and centre wreaking havoc in attack thanks to their deft passes and impressive vision.

The Pulse will be hoping that Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is back in the fold this round with the goal attack severely missed under the post last week. Although Whitney Souness worked in overdrive to be an option with her scintillating speed, her lack of confidence to go to post mounted unnecessary pressure on Aliyah Dunn – and if double teamed by the Stars defence consisting of Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi, could spark trouble. The Stars defenders are in ripping form with their ability to compete especially when it comes to the aerial ball meaning Claire Kersten, Maddy Gordon, depending where she plays through the midcourt, and Souness will have to get crafty with their ball delivery.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, June 14 @6:15pm

It was heartbreak for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic while it was triumph for the Mystics who knocked off the top of the table Stars last round. Looking ahead to this game and expect it to be a good-old fashion arm wrestle. The Magic have proven they have the players and structures to compete with the best and just need to do so over a full four quarters while the Mystics will be riding a wave of success.

The Magic have no shortage of defensive options with Temalisi Fakahokotau, Georgia Tong, Erena Mikaere at their disposal plus the return of Holly Fowler only adding to their stocks. All four are capable of playing circle defence with their leap and long arms a couple of key characteristics. Fakahokotau will be hoping to redeem herself after receiving some unwanted attention from the umpire last round and will have to be on her A-game to combat Grace Nweke who continues to dominate at the post. Although Bailey Mes does not have a huge influence on the scoreboard the Magic defence will need to put some time into her out the front to reduce her impact on the feed. The Mystics also have the options of Filda Vui and Saviour Tui, with the latter yet to receive any court time this season. All eyes will turn to the midcourt with questions remaining about whether or not Tayla Earle will return to the mix of if Claire O’Brien will continue her run in at centre combining nicely with powerhouse wing attack Peta Toeava.

Caitlin Bassett was at her damaging best last round and the goal shooter will be hoping to keep that trajectory going as her partnership continues to blossom with Chiara Semple. The two proved they can shoot at an incredibly high accuracy with Grace Kara and Sam Winders real driving forces in the attacking third with their well-executed passes taking centre stage. With this in mind the Mystics combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley will need to be in full-flight to shut down the easy passage into the circle.

Mainland Tactix vs. Southern Steel
Monday, June 14 @8:15pm

The final game of the round sees the Mainland Tactix play host to the Southern Steel who just notched up their first consecutive wins for the 2021 season. It took a while for the Tactix to find their groove but have played some good netball in the past couple of rounds while the Steel have been the underdogs this season and frequently stepped up to the plate. Both teams head into this clash coming off a win so expect a high-octane match.

Boasting two dominant goal shooters in Ellie Bird for the Tactix and George Fisher for the Steel it will be up to the workload of the goal attack as to who gets their respective side over the line. Te Paea Selby-Rickit is yet to hit her straps this season while Tiana Metuarau has proven to be a real playmaker but is at her best when she can balance that role with her shooting load. Through the midcourt there is speed to burn with Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan leading the charge for the Tactix and the highly versatile and interchangeable Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea able to assert control for the Steel. The real contest will come down to whether or not Charlotte Elley can keep tabs on Shannon Saunders with the wing attack a real pillar of consistency and composure for the Steel in attack.

It is a contrast of youth and experience when looking at the two sides in particular down in defence with Jane Watson and Karin Burger a formidable unit with Silver Ferns experience. If the two defenders are able to replicate their form from last week it will go a long way in shutting down Fisher to post given both Watson and Burger are renowned for their ball-winning abilities. Conversely, the Steel defence consisting of Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Sarahpheinna Woulf is quite young with Selby-Rickit the exception. Fifita is a physical competitor that does not take a backwards step which will be interesting to see how Bird shapes up against her with the Tactix goaler not a fan of the body-on-body style of defence.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 8

ANOTHER round of ANZ Premiership action rolls around with Round 8 set to be an exciting one with the Northern Stars looking to maintain their spot on top of the ladder and Central Pulse hoping to extend their winning streak to three games.

Mainland Tactix vs. Central Pulse

The Tactix will be ruing their missed opportunities from last round and will be hoping to come out with a real pep in their step when they take on the reigning premiers who are just starting to find their groove having strung together consecutive wins. The Pulse have leapfrogged the Tactix on the ladder and will be eager to maintain that position with a potential third straight win here.

The combination between Karin Burger and Jane Watson is finally starting to gel and the duo are becoming incredibly damaging with their ability to go out and hunt the cross court ball and apply hands over pressure on the shot meaning Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble will have to be weary. The Pulse are at their best when Amaru-Tibble is able to find the post and use her quick hands to create plays in attack while Dunn is most damaging when able to hold strong under the post. Whitney Souness has been in hot form with her speed and pinpoint passes into the circle while Claire Kersten has also been a driving force for the Pulse meaning Charlotte Elley will have to up the ante if she is to keep Souness busy and reduce her impact.

Kelera Nawai has well and truly found her feet in goal keeper using her long arms and read of the play to force turnovers aplenty. Nawai will have to use all of her aerial skill against Ellie Bird with the Mainland Tactix goal shooter using her height to full advantage to command the ball and put up a high volume of shots. Her confidence has grown since Te Paea Selby-Rickit came back into the fold with the goal attack not only shouldering the load in the goal circle but so too in attack. Selby-Rickit brings both Samon Nathan and Kimiora Poi into the game something the Pulse and in particular Kelly Jury will need to be aware of if they are any chance to secure the win. Expect Jury to implement some strong hands over pressure and fancy footwork to keep Selby-Rickit from finding Bird under the post while Maddy Gordon will be hoping to use her closing speed to shut down Nathan.

Southern Steel vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

The Southern Steel have been in damaging form throughout 2021 and while they have lacked consistency at times to win back-to-back games they definitely have the calibre to do so. Conversely the Magic have only registered the one win this season and will be hoping to put out a dominant performance and really ruffle some feathers.

Many fans were left confused when Grace Kara got the nod in at goal attack as opposed to shooting dynamo Khiarna Williams or Chiara Semple last round. Although Kara is a great playmaker it is fair to say that the accuracy and volume needed to put up a competitive total was lacking thus it will be interesting to see whether or not the Magic opt for this same dynamic against the Steel who are renowned for their physical and ball winning defence. Speaking of the Steel defence, goal keeper Taneisha Fifita has been in ripping form but will have work cut out for against the highly-experienced and classy Caitlin Bassett who had her best game to date last round. Fifita will need support from Te Huinga Selby-Rickit while Sarahpheinna Woulf has also proven to be an explosive option in defence for the Steel with her tenacity and  hunt for the ball key.

The Magic welcomed back defensive midcourter Holly Fowler adding another string to their bow through the centre third to compliment the likes of Sam Winders, Erena Mikaere, Georgia Tong and Temalisi Fakahokotua. In fact, Waikato Bay of Plenty are brimming with defensive talent and will be hoping that their aerial ability and pressure is enough to offset the fast growing connection between George Fisher and Tiana Metuarau. The Steel shooting duo are slick, able to rotate the circle with ease and are not afraid to back themselves range making them a handful for the Magic defence. The other interesting contest will be through the midcourt with Kate Heffernan showcasing her versatility to effectively ply her trade in centre or wing defence much like Winders while Shannon Saunders is a real driving force in attack and someone the Magic will need to shut down if they are to secure their second win of the season.

Northern Mystics vs. Northern Stars

A top two battle is set to round out the action as the Northern Mystics host the Northern Stars. The Stars have been unstoppable despite their blip against the Pulse while the Mystics have also strung together some convincing performances and will be hoping to put out a strong performance in this clash.

It will be a battle of the dominant goal shooters with Grace Nweke up one end and Maia Wilson down the other end. Nweke is a lynchpin for the Mystics and has proven time and time again to be an aerial threat but will have to take the ball strongly up against Elle Temu and Anna Harrison. The Stars defensive duo have developed at a rate of knots able to seamlessly switch between goal keeper and goal defence with their ball winning capabilities and read of the play second to none to swat ball away. Nweke will need the likes of Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and even Savior Tui who has seen little court time so far in season 2021 to draw some attention off her if the Mystics are to put up a competitive score. Jamie Hume has really come into her own for the Stars, partnering with Wilson to drain the long bombs and use her silky movement to keep defenders busy and will have to be on her a-game against Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick with the latter a great physical matchup for Wilson.

Missing Tayla Earle last week the Mystics will be hoping to have the dynamic midcourter back to allow Peta Toeava to get down to business around circle edge. But the Stars have key cogs of their own through the midcourt with Lisa Mather able to grind out the game in wing defence and a real unsung hero for the defensive unit while Mila Reuelu-Buchanan is a livewire through the midcourt with her run and gun style. Speaking of midcourters all eyes will turn to the influence in which Gina Crampton can have for the stars with her connection between Wilson steadily growing. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Stars are able to weave their magic against a slick defensive combination.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 7

THE Northern Stars’ winning streak has ended while Mainland Tactix have found their winning formula with three consecutive wins. ANZ Premiership Round 7 is set to bring some exciting matchups as Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic hunt for their second victory of the season.

Northern Mystics vs. Southern Steel

The contest between the Northern Mystics and Southern Steel is set to be a thriller as both sides boast a prolific goal shooter. The Mystics currently hold onto second spot on the ladder while the Steel have slipped down the ladder and will be eager to work their way back into the mid-table logjam.

With Grace Nweke up one end for the Mystics and George Fisher up the other end for the Steel it will ultimately come down to the output from the goal attacks. The Mystics have a plethora of options such as Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui. Mes has struggled to find her form as of late while Vui proved to add that element of energy and dynamism in attack and could be an option once again in this clash. For the Steel, Tiana Metuarau has been a handy pickup with the youngster starring thanks to her change of direction, classy feeds into the circle and spatial awareness. Nweke is a pillar of strength at the post while Fisher is incredibly versatile in the sense she is willing to venture further out than directly under the ring. The midcourt battle between Tayla Earle and Peta Toeava and the developing Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea will be intriguing with Toeava the real mastermind in the Mystics attack end.

Looking at the defensive units and both sides boast plenty of star power. The combination between Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley is steadily developing as the two look to take advantage of their ball-hunting ability while Ama Agbeze is a handy option off the bench given her class, experience and skillset. The Southern Steel have a mix of youth and experience in their defensive circle in Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita. However one area they will be hoping to address is the number of penalties they rack up week on week as both Fifita and Selby-Rickit have been given warnings in their past two outings with Fifita sent off in Round 5. They will need to be on their A-game if they are to upset the Mystics shooters and most importantly win ball back cleanly to provide the Steel with a chance to capitalise.

Central Pulse vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

The Pulse will be riding high after knocking off the undefeated Northern Stars last round while the Magic will be eager to get back on the winners list after a couple of close shaves. It has been a trying season for both sides who have shown glimpses of what they are capable of but have been unable to unlock that full four quarter performance to consistently win games.

Aliyah Dunn was in scintillating form last round with her strong holds, volume and accuracy. She will be hoping to continue that form in this game as will partner in crime Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. The goal attack is a real barometer for the front end with her timing, strong drives along the baseline and playmaking skills able to allow Dunn to come into the game and alleviate pressure from the midcourters in Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness. The Magic have a multitude of defensive options with Temalisi Fakahokotau, Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong all aerial specialists and able to build a wealth of pressure on the Pulse shooting duo. if they are able to get into their heads early and cut off the shooter to shooter interplay it will go a long way in them collecting their second win of the season.

The influence of Grace Kara is instrumental in the Magic attack with the wing attack oozing confidence, class and execution to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Caitlin Bassett. That was evident last week and the Magic will be hoping she brings that high level output this round to bypass speedster Maddy Gordon. The wing defence was in just about everything last round and will be eager to once again impose herself and slow down the entry into the circle. Bassett, Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple are building a strong connection with Williams growing in confidence every time she steps out on court but potentially up against the long arms of Kelly Jury could have to diversify her game while Kelera Nawai seems to have found her groove for the Pulse.

Northern Stars vs. Mainland Tactix

The final game of the round sees a highly anticipated matchup as the Stars look to bounce back from last week’s loss while the Tactix will be keen to keep their winning form rolling with a fourth straight victory. Last time these two sides met it was the Stars that had the last laugh and exposed the Tactix in all areas of the court, something the Tactix will be hoping to rectify this time round.

Maia Wilson is the lynchpin in the goal circle for the Stars with the goal shooter a clear and commanding target. Her fancy footwork, body positioning and strong holds put her in good stead to take on the defence but she will have to up the ante against the likes of Jane Watson and Karin Burger who know just about every trick of the trade. Burger has really started to settle into the line-up with her closing speed, read of the play and spatial awareness causing all sorts of havoc and if she is able to take her connection with Watson to the next level then it could spell danger signs for the Stars. Goal attack, Jamie Hume has stepped up to the challenge in the absence of Monica Falkner while Amorangi Malesala proved she can be a real impact player thanks to her long bombs and composure. The real difference will come down to whether or not Gina Crampton can get free reign around circle edge to thread the needle into Wilson or if Charlotte Elley will be able to contain her.

Up the other end of the court Ellie Bird has come to life ever since Te Paea Selby-Rickit made her way back from injury. The towering goal shooter has found her rhythm and confidence to demand the ball and most importantly score at a high accuracy and quickly. Meanwhile, Selby-Rickit has alleviated the pressure from Bird under the post and her midcourters in Kimiora Poi and Samon Nathan credit to her playmaking skills. Expect the Stars defenders in Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi to look to shut down the drive of Selby-Rickit and wear her like a glove to force the Tactix midcourt to up the ante and shoulder the attacking load.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 6

NORTHERN Stars will be looking to make it six wins straight heading into Round 6 of the 2021 ANZ Premiership season while the Mainland Tactix will be hoping to increase their winning streak.

Northern Stars vs. Central Pulse

Coming in hot the Northern Stars will be looking to inflict more pain on Central Pulse with a win here. It has been a disappointing start to the season for the reigning premiers who have only managed one win from five appearances and will have their work cut out for them against a roaring Stars unit which is yet to drop a game. Both sides boast dominant goal shooters meaning it will really come down to which midcourt can deliver.

Speaking of dominant goal shooters it is hard to go past Stars captain, Maia Wilson who has been rock solid inside the ring. Wilson has added more strings to her bow throughout her 2021 campaign with her movement and long range shooting a focal point. While Wilson has been a lynchpin there is no denying that Jamie Hume has elevated her game further, doubling not only as a playmaker but a damaging shooting option. It will be interesting to see how the Pulse match up and whether or not Kelly Jury gets the start in at goal keeper to immediately shut down Wilson or if they will opt with their more favoured option of Kelera Nawai in keeper and Jury in goal defence.

The midcourt battle will be one to watch with speedster Maddy Gordon up against seasoned campaigner Gina Crampton. Although Gordon will have Crampton for speed, the Stars wing attack boasts wisdom and a damaging connection with Wilson – one the Pulse will need to shut down. Throw in the form of Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and the Pulse will have to be on their A-game through transition. With Aliyah Dunn securing the goal shooter position and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble in goal attack, the Pulse have scoring options that have proven to be damaging when they can get going but will be up against it given the calibre of players down back. The return of Anna Harrison from retirement has been monumental, while Elle Temu knows the game of the Pulse inside out after defecting this season, not to mention the aerial presence of Oceane Maihi – meaning the Stars are rolling in defensive talent to combat whatever the Pulse throw at them. The Stars will go into this game favourites and deservedly so given their current form and the Pulse’s poor start.

Southern Steel vs. Mainland Tactix

After a slow start to the season the Tactix have found their groove, winning their past two encounters. That is mainly due to the return of Te Paea Selby-Rickit. The goal attack has made a world of difference both through the midcourt and in attack providing her side with nothing but confidence. Having gone down to the Steel by a goal in her return game this match-up will be an enthralling one as the Tactix will be hoping to overturn the result. On the other hand the Steel are coming off a strong win and will be riding a wave of confidence.

Having already touched on Selby-Rickit it is only fair to bring up partner in crime, Ellie Bird. The towering goal shooter looks at ease with Selby-Rickit and benefits off her pinpoint precision passes and ability to draw the attention of the defender. Bird is prolific to post meaning Taneisha Fifita and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit will need to shut her down, although Fifita will need to adjust her attack on the ball if the Steel are to secure a win after getting sent off for the final two minutes of last week’s game.

The Steel are not without a power shooter of their own in George Fisher. The England international has been a revelation since crossing over to the ANZ Premiership, with her fancy footwork, range and versatility a couple of key attributes. Her combination with Tiana Metuarau has developed at a rate of knots while Shannon Saunders and Kate Heffernan have become a power duo through the centre with their silky movement and spatial awareness. But the Tactix have game winners of their own especially in the defence end to combat Fisher with Jane Watson and Karin Burger steadily building. Yet to fully hit their stride, the defensive duo will be eager to pick up a wealth of ball and cause chaos down back with support from the likes of Charlotte Elley and Kimiora Poi.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Mystics

The final game of the round sees the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic host the Northern Mystics in what is sure to be an exciting battle. The Magic have been a step off the pace while the Mystics will be ruing missed opportunities coming off a one-goal loss in overtime. After securing their first win way back in Round 1 the Magic have shown glimpses of brilliance but are yet to unlock that full four quarter effort. As for the Mystics they have depth aplenty and will be keen to get back on the winners list.

Caitlin Bassett played less than a half of netball in Round 5 and will be keen to make amends for her poor showing, putting up an accurate performance but struggling to find the volume. But the Magic will take great confidence in knowing that Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple are both more than capable of holding their own in the circle, despite really thriving with Bassett under the post. The Mystics have a number of seasoned campaigners in Sulu Fitzpatrick and Ama Agbeze amongst the mix but would be remiss not to talk about Kate Burley who has not skipped a beat since crossing over, with the goal defence a real workhorse for the Mystics and providing strong drives through the centre.

With Bassett down one end, the Mystics boast Grace Nweke down the other end. The teenage shooting prodigy gets better and better every time she steps out on court with her strength in the air and body positioning pivotal to the Mystics’ success. Bailey Mes will be out to redeem herself after a poor showing last week, but in saying that the Mystics have options aplenty inside the circle with Filda Vui and Saviour Tui viable options to accompany Nweke. The real gamechanger however is Peta Toeava. The wing attack controls the proceedings in attack for the Mystics, receiving just about every second pass and most importantly could thread the needle into Nweke with her eyes closed. The Magic defenders in Erena Mikaere, Temalisi Fakahokotau and Georgia Tong will need to be on their A-game to shut this down. They will also need the likes of Sam Winders and Georgie Edgecombe to shut down the midcourt if they are any chance to topple the Mystics.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 5 preview

NORTHERN Stars will be on the prowl for their fifth straight win for the ANZ Premiership season while Central Pulse will be eager to bounce back after a slow start to their title defence in this week’s action.

Central Pulse vs. Southern Steel
Sunday, May 16 @ 4:15pm

There is no shortage of youth and talent in both sides with the Steel boasting five players under the age of 21 and the Pulse with three. That being said, the Steel are in better shape heading into the clash having won two of their four games and most importantly their Round 3 clash against the Pulse. The reigning premiers will be hoping to get one back here and restore their season after a disappointing campaign so far.

Crossing to the Steel in 2021, Tiana Metuarau knows the game plan of the Central Pulse like the back of her hand. She is a crafty player that can turn the game upside down with her quick feeds into the circle and confidence to go herself. Her ever-evolving partnership with George Fisher will be something to watch with Fisher a commanding force inside the goal circle. Plenty of intrigue will circulate around whether or not Kelly Jury gets the start in goal keeper in hope to nullify the influence of Fisher under the post with the two standing at similar heights and Jury more than capable of competing in the air. If she does not get start expect Kelera Nawai to ply her trade and use her physicality to offset Fisher early. Another niggle to Maddy Gordon will influence how the midcourt shapes up with Paris Lokotui a potential to slot into wing defence with her hands over pressure and closing speed. Either Lokotui or Gordon will have their work cut out for them against experienced campaigner Shannon Saunders who is a real calming presence in an otherwise frenetic Southern Steel attack.

Missing Ameliaranne Ekenasio, the Pulse have been strapped for scoring options especially when Aliyah Dunn is well held meaning Te Amo Amaru-Tibble will have to be on her A-game against the likes of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita. Do not be surprised if Whitney Souness is also thrown into the goal circle to provide a bit of punch with her cuts and drives for the Pulse. The Steel have plenty of ball winners with Fifita headlining the defensive unit alongside Renee Savai’inaea and fancy-footed midcourter Kate Heffernan.

Mainland Tactix vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, May 17 @6:15pm

The Tactix and the Mystics will face off again with the Tactix hoping to flip the script and score a win this time round. Playing in front of a home crowd expect the Tactix to thrive off the energy and build off their win last week while the Mystics are shaping up as real finals contenders. Last time they met only one goal separated the two and if that is any indication of how this match will go it is sure to be a cracker contest once again.

It will be a battle of the goal shooters with Grace Nweke down one end of the court and Ellie Bird up the other. Both play that typical strong holding goal shooter role, able to pile on the scoreboard pressure and do so at a fast rate meaning their respective defenders will need support from their midcourt to shut down the ball movement. Nweke has no problem adapting to whoever she plays with whether it be Bailey Mes, Filda Vui or Saviour Tui such is her class. The real issue lies with stopping Peta Toeava with the wing attack a magician with ball in hand. She is constantly able to make something out of nothing with her play-on style of netball enabling her to bypass the defenders. The decision then falls to the Tactix on whether to play Charlotte Elley or get creative and push Karin Burger back out to wing defence despite her combination with Jane Watson developing at a rate of knots. The pair are able to read each other and the play to cherry-pick intercepts and create havoc down back, gifting the Tactix with a wealth of additional scoring chances.

Bird had a game to remember last round, and looks much more comfortable and confident with Te Paea Selby-Rickit out the front. The Silver Ferns goal attack is a real playmaker and was the catalyst in her side’s resurgence in Round 3 so except Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick to pay her plenty of attention. The teammates around her also thrive off her experience and smarts with Kimiora Poi, Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan all crafty with ball in hand and capable of threading the needle into the goal circle.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Stars
Monday, May 17 @8:15pm

The final game of the round sees Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic take on Northern Stars. The Stars are looking to keep their unblemished record intact with a win here while the Magic are hoping to secure their next win after getting close in patches but falling away in the dying stages. Playing a similar game style given the inclusion of prominent goal shooters, it will come down to the defensive efforts from both sides to see which way the game goes.

Maia Wilson has been in scintillating form under the post for the Stars with her versatility and range causing all sorts of headaches for opposition defenders. However, the Magic are brimming with talent in that back-end department with the likes of Temalisi Fakahokotau, Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong all viable options in the circle. The trio are renowned for their aerial presence meaning the likes of Jamie Hume and Gina Crampton will have to get crafty with ball in hand to deliver to Wilson. Hume has really upped the ante in 2021 not only dictating play out the front but getting busy on the scoring front, while it is still unknown when Monica Falkner will return to the mix.

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan somewhat flies under the radar for the Stars but the battle between her and Magic captain Sam Winders is sure to be an eye catcher. Neither player are willing to take a backwards step and are real barometers for their respective sides with their closing speed and hard drives a couple of key attributes. It is hard to go past lynchpin goal shooter, Caitlin Bassett with the Australian more than capable of scoring quickly and accurately. Her combination with Khiarna Williams is constantly evolving with Williams bringing a sense of pizzazz to the attacking unit. Chiara Semple is also another option, able to shoot from distance and position herself well inside the circle to benefit both her own game and her goal shooter’s. But it will be a challenging contest inside the circle with the long arms of Anna Harrison and the in-form Elle Temu making the duo game changers; throw Oceane Maihi in the mix and the Stars have no shortage ball winners.

Mystics continue to impress downing reigning premiers

NORTHERN Mystics kept the good times rolling notching up another win – their first at TSB Arena – against Central Pulse, 58-47. It was a game of two halves as the Pulse held the ascendancy early but got blown out of the water in the third quarter as the Mystics first stole away momentum, and then the win.

Mystics wasted no time hitting the scoreboard with Grace Nweke opening their account within the first 20 seconds. Playing with confidence the Mystics won the ball off the Pulse’s centre pass and converted, then with the centre pass to follow created a three-goal buffer in the blink of an eye. Scrappiness from the Pulse and ill-directed passes into the circle enabled Kate Burley to get her hands to ball as she gobbled up a big cross-court intercept. It took over three minutes for the Pulse to score and even then it was a shaky shot off the hand of Te Amo Amaru-Tibble who missed the first shot but was able to reel in the rebound and convert. Despite playing in wing defence, Maddy Gordon did a wealth of attacking work to transition the ball down court and provide that additional outlet pass.

The Pulse started to generate some momentum as Whitney Souness found her groove around circle edge and Kelera Nawai flexed her defensive muscles to win rebounds and contest the hands of Nweke. Down by three goals to start the game, the Pulse flipped the script to establish a three goal buffer of their own largely due to the work Nawai and Amaru-Tibble were doing down their respective ends. Both sides were playing with great speed down the court but struggled to find the middle channel, instead hugging the sidelines given the immense defensive pressure. It became a bit of a shoot-out between the two goal shooters as Nweke and Aliyah Dunn reaped the rewards of some well-executed passes into the circle but it was the Pulse that came out the stronger boasting a narrow two-goal lead at the first change.

The second term continued much the same as the physicality of the contest came to the fore. Fa’amu Ioane was given a warning with the wing defence mistiming her attack on the ball and subsequently drawing the attention of the umpire, while a couple of party tricks in the Pulse attack end allowed them to maintain their two-goal buffer despite the best efforts of the Mystics. The ball got lost in transition for both sides throughout the middle of the term with neither side able to capitalise on the turnover as errant passes started to come into play. Claire Kersten was a real general in both attack and defence for the Pulse, helping to set the tempo of the game while Gordon continued to be a menace up against the dynamic Peta Toeava.

Kelly Jury and Nawai’s connection started to blossom as Jury nabbed a timely tip on the ball with Nawai there to follow up. The three-foot marking coming from both sides was causing all sorts of havoc as Tayla Earle demonstrated her great athleticism creating a tip while captain Sulu Fitzpatrick impressed with her movement and constant pressure. The Pulse skipped out to a handy three-goal lead and with hope to extend it made a switch in wing defence with Gordon to the bench and youngster Paris Lokotui making her way on. Burley was making a nuisance of herself in defence for the Mystics, fighting hard for every ball but it was the Pulse that held the lead by four goals.

It was goal for goal for the first couple of minutes of the second half before the Mystics capitalised off a turnover despite the best efforts of Gordon who threw herself at absolutely everything. Bailey Mes had struggled to get into the game, well worn by Jury but her experience and class started to shine through with her defensive marking enabling her to regain possession for her side and then dart into the circle to finish the passage of play off. The Mystics stole the lead after being down for a large chunk of the match with inaccuracy from the Pulse creeping in and Fitzpatrick using her netball nous to box out her opposition shooters.

Things were well and truly going the way of the Mystics as they pulled out to a six-goal lead with the battle between Gordon and Toeava intensifying. With the game slipping away from them Gail Parata rung in the changes across the board as Abby Erwood pulled on the goal defence bib and Jury was pushed back into goal keeper, Gordon swung into wing attack and Souness moved into goal attack. The move seemed to work with the combination between Souness, Dunn and Gordon firing on all cylinders, nut the Mystics took advantage of their sound connections weathering the storm and causing disruption especially in attack given the high workrate of Burley and Fitzpatrick to boast a 10-goal lead.

After dominating the third term with a record 22 goals the Mystics continued on their merry way in the fourth as Nweke controlled proceedings. Her strong holds and clever body positioning enabled her to roam free while the Pulse were forced into more wholesale changes as Gordon left the court after landing awkwardly. It was all one-way traffic with the Mystics exploiting the Pulse in every which way thanks to their defensive pressure and composure in attack to work the ball around and dominate. With the game won and done Saviour Tui made her way onto the court for the Mystics while Parris Mason attempted to quell the bleeding streaming down the court to take a huge intercept for the Pulse but it was too little, too late.

Nweke was unstoppable under the post with 51 goals at 93 per cent while Mes struggled to inject herself into the game with five goals and 12 goal assists. Toeava was once again the attacking mastermind as shown through her 32 goal assists while Fitzpatrick and Burley combined for three intercepts and nine gains. Dunn’s accuracy wavered converting at 79 per cent as did Amaru-Tibble who sat at 75 per cent. Kersten was key through the midcourt with 24 goal assists as Gordon showed her defensive tendencies to finish with two gains and an intercept.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview – Round 4

NORTHERN Stars will be looking to keep their undefeated record intact heading into Round 4 while all eyes will turn to the winless Mainland Tactix who despite putting in a strong effort last round fell agonisingly short.

Northern Stars vs. Southern Steel
Sunday, May 9 @4:15pm

It is going to be an enthralling clash between the Stars and Southern Steel as both sides are coming in off wins. The Stars are in scintillating form, yet to drop a game with their experience and class causing all sorts of havoc for opposition teams, while the youth throughout the Steel unit has provided the side with an element of unpredictability to give them a winning edge.

With Maia Wilson at the helm, the Southern Steel are going to have their hands full down in defence. The Northern Stars captain has only grown with confidence throughout the season with her accuracy and range a couple of notable features in her game play. She will once again need support from Jamie Hume who has proven to be a key playmaker out the front with Monica Falkner missing in action due to her niggling knee injury. Youngster Taneisha Fifita will have to be on her A-game if she is to limit Wilson under the post and will need the experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit to provide additional support in the circle to nullify any easy ball movement. The midcourt battle will also be one to watch as Stars’ midcourter Gina Crampton comes up against her old side and will be hoping to exploit the inexperience of Renee Savai’inaea and Kate Heffernan around circle edge.

But the Steel have an ace of their own up their sleeve boasting the services of George Fisher. The English international has been a rock in attack with her volume and willingness to go to post key. Up against the long arm brigade in Oceane Maihi, Elle Temu and of course Anna Harrison the Steel will have to be crafty with their delivery into the circle to ensure that they are not predictable and do not provide too many opportunities for the Stars defensive unit to gobble up free ball. Expect Tiana Metuarau to shoulder a lot of the load in attack given her attacking nous alongside seasoned campaigner Shannon Saunders.

Mainland Tactix vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, May 9 @6:15pm

After making the grand final last year, it has been an incredibly disappointing start to the 2021 season for the Tactix who have been kept winless from three games so far meaning their clash against the Magic could be season-defining. For the Magic, it has been an inconsistent season notching up a win in Round 1 but unable to recapture those highs in their past two outings. With pride on the line expect both teams to throw everything they have at each other in order to keep their seasons alive.

It is fair to say that the Tactix look like a much better team when Te Paea Selby-Rickit is out on court and that is exactly what we saw last week. Returning from a broken foot and still on limited minutes it will be interesting to see much court time the goal attack gets this round. Her presence provides great confidence to Ellie Bird under the post while her impressive workload also alleviates the pressure on Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi through the midcourt. If the Magic midcourt in Sam Winders and Georgie Edgecombe can get on top early it will go a long way in shutting down the Tactix, while their versatility and depth in the defensive circle is another trump card they hold with Temalisi Fakahoktau knowing both Bird and Selby-Rickit’s game inside out given she was a former Tactix player, while Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong are capable of putting on an aerial masterclass.

Speaking of versatility, the Magic goal circle has a number of options which allows them to switch from a holding circle to a moving one very quickly. With the likes of Caitlin Bassett, Khiarna Williams and Chiara Semple at the helm, Waikato Bay of Plenty are bursting at the seams with talent but just need to finesse the entry into the circle. If Grace Kara gets out on court this round it will go a long way in setting up a win, but the Magic will have to combat a developing defensive combination in Jane Watson and Karin Burger to get there. The two are still fine-tuning their connections but have proven their ability to disrupt attacking forays with their tenacity and hands over pressure something that will need to be front and centre in this clash if they are to notch up their first win of the season.

Central Pulse vs. Northern Mystics
Monday, May 10 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Central Pulse play host to the Northern Mystics in what is set to be an exciting battle. The Pulse have been dealt a couple of blows of late with a suspected ankle injury to dynamic midcourter Maddy Gordon and are still trying to fill the void left by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio. However in saying that they have shown glimpses of brilliance but will have to pull out all the stops against a confident Mystics side who are coming off a narrow one-goal win.

The Mystics midcourt will look to exploit Pulse’s developing connections if Gordon is out of action with youngster Paris Lokotui likely to get the nod in wing defence. With Peta Toeava in devastating form with ball in hand and Tayla Earle a real workhorse through the midcourt, their partnership with shooting sensation Grace Nweke is the real concern for the Pulse given their tendencies to deliver no-look bullet like passes into the circle and release the ball with great precision to allow Nweke free reign in the circle. Throw in the experience of Bailey Mes and the other viable options in Filda Vui and Saviour Tui – yet to take the court in 2021- and the Mystics have plenty of explosive shooting power. However, all eyes will turn to the starting position of Kelly Jury with the Pulse defender spending majority of the season in goal defence but does her best work in goal keeper and will need to shut down Nweke. Kelera Nawai has been strong down back but often draws the attention of the umpire which Pulse cannot afford if they want to win, while she also gives away some centimetres to the tall timber in Nweke.

With no Ekenasio – now effectively for the rest of the season following the goal attack’s pregnancy announcement – Aliyah Dunn has picked up the slack in the front-end commanding the ball and controlling proceedings with her strong holds and accuracy to post. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble is steadily finding her feet in the attacking unit but will have to combat the niggling style of defence from Kate Burley while Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick is a menace with her court coverage, deceptive closing speed and fancy footwork. It will be up to Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten to bypass the Mystics defenders with their pinpoint passes into the circle.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 3

THE Northern Stars will be hoping to retain their unbeaten form heading into Round 3 of the 2021 ANZ Premiership season, while the Mainland Tactix are still on the hunt for their first win of the year. We preview the entire round of action.

Southern Steel vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, May 2 @4:15pm

Sitting on one win apiece, the contest between Southern Steel and Central Pulse is going to be an interesting one as they look to find a level of consistency. Both sides boast very different looking outfits compared to their 2020 squads and are still solidifying their connections across the court, meaning whichever team settles first is likely to gain the upper hand.

The battle between English juggernaut George Fisher and newcomer Kelera Nawai is set to be an intriguing one. Fisher has been in scintillating form coming off a 100 per cent shooting performance last round while Nawai really found her groove in Round 2. However, in order to stop Fisher under the post Nawai will need support from the long-limbed Kelly Jury who is relishing her time out in goal defence alongside speedster Maddy Gordon in wing defence. The new-look defensive unit for the Pulse is starting to come together and will need to put in the hard yards if they are to nullify playmaker and former teammate Tiana Metuarau out in goal attack along with experienced campaigner Shannon Saunders.

Looking down the other end, and the battle continues with Aliyah Dunn stepping up to the plate in the absence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Her ability to command the ball and shoot truly is what got them the win last week and she will need to be on her A-game again this round up against a highly physical opponent in Taneisha Fifita. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble started to come out of her shell last week and if she can continue to play with that level of confidence and freedom she could really cause headaches for the Steel defence. Whitney Souness’ versatility could also come in handy with the typical wing attack able to drift into goal attack when needed, allowing Gordon to revert to the front-end position and provide that signature drive and flair to the attack.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Northern Stars
Sunday, May 2 @6:15pm

The Northern Stars will be looking to make it three on the trot with a win against a reinvigorated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic side. The Stars are humming along nicely with their strong connections across the court causing all sorts of havoc for opposition teams while the Magic are still searching for that final link. A relatively new side, the Magic boast a wealth of talent but have a tendency to fade in and out of games, something they cannot afford to do against the Stars who will pounce on any slip-up.

It is hard to go past the star that is Maia Wilson under the post. The Stars captain and New Zealand Ferns starter is in fine form with her added movement and improved strength enabling her to dominate under the post. Throw in her accuracy and high volume and the Magic defence in Erena Mikaere, Temalisi Fakahokotau and Georgia Tong will have their hands well and truly full. Without the services of Monica Falkner who is suffering from a knee niggle it will be up to Jamie Hume to draw the attention of the defenders and provide that additional support in order to alleviate the pressure from Wilson and keep the scoreboard ticking over. The acquisition of Gina Crampton has been nothing but beneficial and in her 101st match expect her to have the ball on a string alongside Mila Reuelu-Buchanan in centre. However, the Magic have playmakers of their own with Sam Winders a real leader both in attack and defence.

Boasting the likes of Caitlin Bassett inside the goal circle, the Magic have the capacity to score quickly, if only they ensure they get the ball to her. Bassett is strong on the hold and most importantly accurate to post making her a great target under the ring but will need support from up-and-coming goaler Khiarna Williams who has proven to be a real livewire with her dynamic movement and long range shooting, while Chiara Semple is the other to keep an eye out for with excellent evasive footwork to clean up in attack. But the Stars have great defensive depth with Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi all ball winners credit to their aerial awareness and tenacity, meaning the Magic will have to be crafty with ball in hand.

Northern Mystics vs. Mainland Tactix
Monday, May 3 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Northern Mystics play host to the Mainland Tactix who have had a less than desirable start to their 2021 campaign. After reaching the heights of a grand final appearance last year the Tactix have fallen flat on their face, yet to get a win and really feeling the pain of not having Te Paea Selby-Rickit who is on the sidelines with injury. On the other hand, the Mystics are generating some good momentum with all the pieces of the puzzle falling into place in Round 2 and will be eager to keep that going.

The Tactix defence had a shakeup over the off-season with Fakahokotau departing, seeing the side pick up Karin Burger to fill void. Burger has slotted in nicely alongside captain and seasoned campaigner Jane Watson with the dynamic duo reeling in a wealth of ball but will need full court defensive pressure if they are to upset the Mystics’ frontline which has Grace Nweke at the helm. The shooting prodigy is incredibly strong in the air and leads the competition for goals credit to her high output. She is not the only weapon in the front-end with Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui all viable threats meaning efforts from Kimiora Poi and Charlotte Elley will have to be high through the midcourt to slow down the attacking plays. The other main concern for the Tactix lies with Peta Toeava, with the wing attack able to slice the game wide open with her bullet-like passes and pinpoint accuracy.

Ellie Bird looks a bit out of sorts and will once again have to shoulder the load in attack for the Tactix given the inexperience of both Jess Prosser and Hannah Glen. The lack of connection will allow Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley to really pounce down back and shut down any easy avenue to goal while Ama Agbeze is another defensive cog at the Mystics’ disposal. All three defenders are quite aerial which is Bird’s bread and butter, meaning the Tactix might be forced to play the ball around in order to find alternative avenues to goal.

Photo credit: Photosport