Tag: Storm Purvis

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Stars fight hard for first back-to-back win

WITH a massive match culminating in a draw last week for the first time in ANZ Premiership history, the Northern Stars and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic went head to head once more in Round 5 with the Stars coming away with a come-from-behind two goal win, 45-43.

Coming off a win on Saturday night, the Stars were looking to build off that victory while the Magic hoped to turn the match on its head, with the first centre pass and score for the game giving them the start they needed. But great aerial work from Kate Burley saw an early turnover for the Stars, seeing the side win back an early centre pass to take out the early lead. Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson started well, with the offensive pair rotating and finding plenty of space and access to ball in the circle early. Despite some minor errors to start, the Magic were composed for the most part, turning over valuable ball down the court but not providing the accuracy the side needed to really take control. With both Magic and Stars playing with plenty of intensity, a lot of play centred around the middle third with a wealth of defensive work both on and off the body.

While the Stars still maintained control, the Magic did not allow any easy passes and consistently provided hands over pressure in the attacking third, putting a lot of pressure on the likes of Grace Kara and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan to position well to send the ball into the circle. The speed of Burley saw the Stars continue to hold ground well, with the young defender cherry picking multiple lobs and setting up some solid drives up through the midcourt. Three goals on the trot to the Magic saw the side draw closer to finish the quarter, trailing 13-10 at the first change.

With control heading into the second, the Stars looked to maintain that same intensity, though a couple of early issues and solid confusion of the space by Sam Winders and Holly Fowler to turn over the ball saw the Magic win a couple goals back to limit access to the Stars goal third. Miscommunication seemed to plague both teams leading to frantic passes across the court, the closeness of the contest was palpable. Jenna O’Sullivan joined the fray to take on Kara midway through the quarter, adding another element in wing defence and the added bonus and experience of Winders from wing defence to centre saw the Magic continue to clog up space well, though Wilson provided a much better target at the post able to draw errors from Erena Mikaere with her quick footwork and keep the Magic at arms length. 

Despite some impressive feeds and effort on the circle from Stars’ Kara and Magic’s Whitney Souness, it was a much more defensive quarter, seeing not as many goals scored and turnovers aplenty. Wasted opportunities and missed connections by the Magic did not see them out of the match however, with Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou far more accurate to post and applying some impressive pressure on the turnover to limit the Stars’ opportunities to drive down court. But a lack of continuous attacking movement in the Magic goal circle saw some wasted opportunities to finish the quarter, trailing by five at half time, 23-18.

Ariana Cable-Dixon returned in centre to start the second half, injecting a bit more of that attacking pressure up forward for the Magic and an immediate three goals on the trot proved how crucial the 50-gamer can be. Some better movement and stronger holds in the Magic attack also saw better flow in offence, allowing the side to draw back the margin a fraction, consistently keeping the Stars on their toes. Despite having a tough time limiting Wilson’s impact, Mikaere and Fowler won back some crucial ball to see the Stars really take control early to draw level just five minutes into the quarter. Keeping the Stars on the back foot saw the Magic gain some handy confidence, especially in attack. McPhee’s movement improved tenfold, while Latu-Meafou put a bit more pressure on the scoreboard to draw some of the double team away from McPhee at the post. 

The Stars seemed out of sorts, unable to easily stay ahead with a change in defence critical, with Storm Purvis subbed off for Oceane Maihi who immediately caused a turnover. While Hume started well at the post, the goal attack drifted in and out of the game forcing much of the defensive pressure onto Wilson. Meanwhile, fantastic timing on the deflection from Mikaere saw the Magic take the lead for the first time and the side well and truly took advantage of being on the front foot with the next centre, turning the tables to take a three goal lead into the final quarter, 33-36.

The see-sawing affair saw a massive final quarter, with Burley switched out of goal defence for the experience of Purvis once more, though an early turnover from the Magic saw the side get another strong start to extend their lead by two in the opening minutes. Better vision into Wilson and speed in attack saw the Stars regain some control, with Hume’s speed on the assist to Wilson doing wonders though her lack of confidence to post proved tough for the Stars attack to contend with. Meanwhile, patient play in attack from Magic saw McPhee continue to fire on all cylinders, putting on one of her better performances for the season and finding plenty of purchase in attack with her sticky fingers to reel in the ball. 

Wilson’s work rate continued, with Kara continuing to ply her trade out in front. At the other end, Maihi provided some quality effort in defence to see the Stars draw even once more, with a very similar final quarter to last round starting to ensue with five minutes on the clock. Small errors began to plague the Magic, who had maintained much of the control but could not seem to keep it on in the final quarter with a Wilson goal seeing the Stars take the lead, though a timely couple of deflections from Mikaere and goal from Latu-Meafou kept the Magic a step ahead.

But when the score seemed almost sorted, a massive intercept from Maihi saw the Stars take a one goal lead and an intense last 40 seconds saw the see-saw continue, with the Magic regaining possession with a chance to level for another draw before the Stars stole away for another goal to win 45-43.

Opposition tall timbers Wilson and McPhee starred, shooting at 91 and 88 per cent respectively. Wilson was phenomenal as ever with 39 goals from 43 attempts, while McPhee had less volume but was just as impactful with 29 goals to her name. Latu-Meafou’s workrate saw her rack up 14 goals, while Souness and Cable-Dixon shared the load well with 17 and 13 assists respectively on circle edge. In attack for Stars, Hume only shot at 55 per cent but racked up 19 assists, joining forces with the ever impressive Kara who racked up 15 assists and 31 centre pass receives. Defensively, Burley came up with four gains leading to a player of the match award, while Maihi’s two intercepts in her 16 minutes on court were crucial for the side’s victory. Fowler and Mikaere were impressive with five and four gains apiece and fairly consistent at that, while Winders’ two gains did wonders down the midcourt but were ultimately not enough for a winning score. 

Stars play again on Monday evening, taking on Mainland Tactix, while Magic’s next match will be next round when they play both Central Pulse and Southern Steel.

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

NORTHERN STARS 13 | 10 | 10 | 12 (45)
WBOP MAGIC 10 | 8 | 18 | 7 (43)

STARTING SEVEN

Northern Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

WBOP Magic

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

ANZ Premiership – Round 5: Mighty finish seals the deal for Stars

NORTHERN Stars have capitalised against a determined but understrength Southern Steel team that had to shuffle the magnets in the wake of key shooter, Jennifer O’Connell‘s injury. Despite the Steel coming close and giving the Stars a scare, the fourth quarter again proved to be the Steel’s downfall. The Stars, on the other hand, looked composed, fluent in attack, dogged in defense and are showing great form in Round 5, eventually getting the points in a 48-39 victory.

The Stars opened the game with determination and seemed to relish the opportunity to get their revenge for their Round 3 loss. Steel were working with a new shooting partnership of Kalifa McCollin at goal shooter and the youngster Kiana Pelasio getting the start at goal attack. This combination took a while to settle in which heaped pressure on Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton to dictate play and keep creating opportunities. There was hesitance in the Steel’s attacking end, and Storm Purvis and the Stars punished the Steel’s nervous start by getting out to an early lead. The contrast between the shooting partnerships was clear: Stars were well oiled, presenting holding and moving options, and Maia Wilson was backing herself at the post. A timely surge from the Steel midcourt towards the end of the first quarter brought the score back to within one, and the Stars kept a narrow lead of 12-11 going into the break. 

Both teams started the second quarter with intensity, and there was a sense that the game was very much up for grabs. A fierce battle was developing between plucky Georgia Heffernan and Stars’ captain Grace Kara, who was having to work hard to shake the tenacious wing defence. Miscommunication hampered the Steel’s attacking efforts and the Stars made no mistake at the post. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita were struggling to have an impact against dominant Wilson, supported by Jamie Hume. As the score crept out to 19-15, there was a sense that the game may start to unravel for Steel. A textbook interception from Kate Burley was answered by a gain from Selby-Rickit and the defence for both teams started to make their presence felt. Coming in at goal keeper for Steel Oceane Maihi had an immediate impact, allowing Purvis to roam and create more turnover ball at goal defense. With seconds remaining, the Steel failed to convert an attacking opportunity and went into half-time trailing by four goals. 

After the break, Abby Erwood came into goal defense for Steel with Selby-Rickit slotting into goal keeper, in an attempt to shut down the threat of Wilson who was shooting at 95 per cent. Maihi picked off a poor feed from Crampton and the Stars extended their lead. Steel were still struggling to find their timing in attack, and the midcourt were being effectively held up by Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Fa’amu Ioane playing at full strength. A change was inevitable for the Steel, resulting in McCollin switching out to goal attack (where she is most comfortable) and Grace Namana making her ANZ debut. As the third quarter progressed, both teams took things up a gear, and it started to get interesting. Steel clawed their way back in and narrowed the gap to just two goals at three quarter time. They were not about to let this game go without a fight.

Unfortunately Steel could not sustain this momentum in the final quarter. In a striking parallel to the previous game against the Pulse, errors in the fourth quarter proved to be the Steel’s downfall. Erwood had a standout quarter at goal defense, and although the partnership between McCollin and Namara was blossoming, it will need a little more time to click. The Steel fought tirelessly to cling on to the scoreline but the impressive hops and dynamism of the Stars defense end proved too much. Reuelu-Buchanan and Iowane were relentless, exploiting the Steel mistakes and really pushing for the win. After a ruthless final quarter, the Stars proved their worth in the competition and ended the game 48-39. 

Following an emotional and tiring few games for the Steel, they will be glad of a rest and chance to rebuild. Both teams will take a lot away from this game, and can be proud of the low overall turnover rate – 11 and 10 for Steel and Stars respectively – combined with impressive shooting stats from Wilson and McCollin in particular. Stars are certainly on the rise and will go into their next game against Magic with heaps of confidence following this strong performance.

>>>STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>>FULL MATCH STATS

SOUTHERN STEEL 11 | 9 | 11 | 8 (39)
NORTHERN STARS 12 | 12 | 9 | 15 (48)

STARTING SEVEN:

Southern Steel:

GS: Kalifa McCollin
GA: Kiana Pelasio
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

 

2020 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 5

ROUND 5 of the ANZ Premiership sees five matches over the course of the weekend with the Magic, Stars and Tactix all taking the court twice. There are a couple of identical clashes from Round 4 with some teams hoping history does not repeat itself. The Pulse will be eager to maintain their unblemished start to 2020 while the Magic will be wanting to go one step better than last round and collect their second win to climb up the ladder.

Central Pulse v. Southern Steel
Friday, 10 July

A fourth quarter demolition gifted Central Pulse the win over the Steel last round, however the Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing, going toe-to-toe with their opponents for three quarters. Shooting at 100 per cent for the match, the Pulse goalers were on song sinking them from everywhere – something the Steel will really have to double down on this round if they are any chance to knock the Pulse off their perch.

It is fair to say that the battle in the goal circle was won by Ameliaranne Ekenasio with the star goal attack taking ownership and dominating with 25 goals from 25 attempts. Last round, Steel defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita gave all their attention to Aliyah Dunn under the post and while the towering goal shooter was down on her usual volume sitting at 21 goals at 100 per cent, it allowed for Ekenasio to dictate the terms out the front. Fifita and Selby-Rickit are both strong prospects in the defensive circle with their physicality, hands over pressure and quick footwork but Abby Erwood should not be forgotten about and could be another option to come on for the Steel and upset the Pulse attacking duo with her tagging style of play. Heading into their second clash in less than seven days the Steel will be keen to rectify those issues in defence and shut down Ekenasio more effectively if they are to come out on top. While the combination between Ekenasio and Dunn is commanding to say the least youngster Tiana Metuarau is also proving to be a handful for the opposition whether it be in goal attack or wing attach with her silky movement, precise ball placement and netball nous.

Defensively the Pulse are stacked with Kelly Jury having the time of her life down back. The goal keeper has starred in recent weeks with her hunt for the ball, long arms and skill to contest the aerial ball. She really shut down Jennifer O’Connell in Round 4 with the goal shooter only managing 27 goals from 32 attempts at 84 per cent and denied any easy access into the goal circle. The influence of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger is also a key aspect to the Pulse defence with Rore putting in a wealth of work out the front to shut down the goal attack entering the goal circle and Burger nullifying the wing attack with her with arms over pressure and commanding height. Goal attack Kalifa McCollin will have to get busy for the Steel if she is to occupy Rore while Gina Crampton had Burger’s number for the majority of their last encounter using her speed and strength to tussle for prime position around circle edge.

It could be a case of history repeating itself with the Pulse in ripping form with their impressive ball movement, strong connections and ability to withstand the waves of pressure.

Southern Steel v. Northern Stars
Saturday, 11 July

In their second game of the round the Steel will be hoping to keep the winning streak against the Stars alive, getting the wood over them earlier in the season, albeit by just two goals. Both teams are evenly poised and match-up similarly headlined by a tall holding goal shooter and experienced midcourt.

The contest between the Northern Stars captain, Grace Kara and youngster Kate Heffernan will draw plenty of attention. Kara is a real lynchpin for the Stars in attack, providing that link into the goal circle with her effortless and perfectly weighted passes. She also does a wealth of work at the centre pass to ease the pressure on her shooters, meaning it will up to Heffernan to get in her head and stop her. Although still developing her craft, Heffernan is quick on her feet and can apply strong hands over pressure to block Kara’s vision into the circle. Another option in wing defence for the Stars is Kendall Corkery with the midcourter renowned for her niggly, physical style which can get under the skin of opponents. Expect veteran, Shannon Saunders to lead the midcourt cohort for the Steel especially up against 22-year-old Mila Reuelu-Buchanan. Saunders can run all day in centre and use her smarts to outwit Reuelu-Buchanan who is still honing her craft.

If the Stars are to register another win for the season, Maia Wilson will have to be on her game from the opening whistle. The goal shooter is a commanding presence under the post and has increased her range throughout 2020, looking more comfortable from further out. Her high volume of shots however puts a target on her back with the likes of Fifita, Selby-Rickit and Erwood likely to work in overdrive to smother her, meaning it will be up to Jamie Hume to take the load off Wilson. Hume will be hoping to put out a consistent four quarter performance against the Steel to really assert herself on the competition and take the heat off Wilson under the post, with her cleverly timed drives, long range shooting and play making abilities.

If the Steel can shut down the likes of Kara and Reuelu-Buchanan around circle edge and limit their chance to feed into Wilson it will put them in good stead to collect another win.

Northern Stars v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, 12 July

After playing out the first draw in ANZ Premiership history the Stars will be eager to put that to bed and claim the “W”. The Magic came from seven goals behind last round to finish strongly and clench a draw and will be keen to go one better this round.

The Stars will be hoping to make amends for their fourth quarter slump and run out a consistent performance this round with the defensive duo renowned for their balling winning abilities. One of the more experienced defenders in the group, Storm Purvis can change the course of a game in an instance with her leap and deceptive speed to dart around the court and force turnovers. Teammate Kate Burley has blossomed into a commanding prospect in the goal circle with her tenacity, often throwing herself at every contest and creating doubt in the feeders minds while Oceane Maihi is able to inject plenty of height and aerial presence, something the Stars might need in order to contend with Kelsey McPhee at the post. The goal shooter can suffer from the yips at times under the post, but when she is on song she is hard to stop credit to her strong hands, quick footwork and clever body positioning. The influence of Abigail Latu-Meafou will be crucial if the Magic are to replicate their Round 4 performance or notch up a win with the goal attack showcasing her accuracy to post, smooth movement and skill to slot them from range. A cameo appearance from youngster Khiarna Williams could also work wonders for the Magic in order to offset the Stars defence.

Through the midcourt the Stars boast some exciting players with Fa’amu Ioane one of the most electric wing defences in the competition, with her speed off the mark and quick hands. Her presence around circle edge and in the defensive third allows her to gobble up turnover ball and spring into transition. The versatility of Lisa Mather is another key for the Stars able to swing from wing defence into centre when needed. For the Magic, Whitney Souness is a real powerhouse able to deliver the ball with great pace and precision to catch defenders off guard while Ariana Cable-Dixon is reliable through centre.

This game could once again go down to the wire but expect the Stars to have learnt from their mistakes last round and impose themselves for a full four quarters.

Mainland Tactix v. Northern Mystics
Sunday, 12 July

Playing only nine days earlier both sides would have taken plenty out of their match-up when it comes to one-on-ones and overall team strategy. A quick start from the Tactix gave them the early ascendancy before the Mystics rallied and wrestled back the momentum to win the next three quarters. With this in mind expect the Tactix to come out with a real fire in the belly and increased intensity.

Shooting prodigy Grace Nweke is relishing every single minute of court time with the 18-year-old dominating in all facets such as volume and accuracy. She is simply unstoppable under the post using her 193cm frame to ward off defenders and dictate the space. Her aerial presence is second to none while her balance is equally impressive. Goal attack Saviour Tui is growing with confidence, not afraid to look to the post while Asher Grapes is constantly able to find space and create attacking forays. Up against some stiff opposition in Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson the Mystics goalers will once again have to be on their A-game. Fakahokotau impressed last week with her hunt for the ball, vision and quick footwork while Watson is renowned for her cleanliness and lean over the shot. If both defenders can work in tandem to minimise the influence of Nweke and win ball back it will be a huge bonus for the Tactix.

Wing attack Peta Toeava is the real barometer for the Mystics with her turn of speed and sheer ball placement. Toeava only needs a second to look into the goal circle and deliver a pinpoint pass into Nweke under the post such is her vision, understanding and connection with the goaler. It will be up to Charlotte Elley to limit her influence around circle edge and apply strong hands over pressure given Toeava’s shorter stature. The battle in centre will also be interesting with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi donning very similar styles. Earle has been really dominating for the Mystics with her high level of endurance and energetic style of play, helping out both in offence and defence. Poi plays a more defensive role with her strong hands over pressure and three foot marking, allowing her wing attacks to do the heavy lifting in attack.

It will ultimately come down to whether or not the Tactix can generate enough turnover ball and restrict Nweke under the post or if Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka can shut down the Tactix shooting end once more.

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, 13 July

In the final game of the round, fatigue could be a key element for both sides as they enter their second game. The last time these two sides met it was the Tactix that got the win by nine goals but the Magic have come along in leaps and bounds since Round 3 with their on court connections strengthening.

Boasting an impressive shooting combination in Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird the Tactix will be hoping to take advantage of the tall goaler and apply some real scoreboard pressure. Down on their accuracy last round expect both shooters to come out with a real intensity. It is unlikely for Selby-Rickit to have two quiet games in a row given her class and ability to spark back into action. The goal attack is a key cog in attack with her play making abilities often bringing Bird into the game with her well executed passes. However the tussle in the goal circle will be extremely physical as Magic goal keeper Erena Mikaere is not afraid to contest every ball that comes her way. Mikaere’s aerial presence is impressive and so too is Georgia Tong, with the two able to swat away balls with ease. Holly Fowler is another one to keep an eye out for in the Magic defence unit with her ability to read the play and take a key intercept at any given moment.

With a game saving intercept under her belt, Magic captain and wing defence Sam Winders is a real barometer for her side. she is able to spark the Magic into action with her constant effort around the court to create a tip and then transition into attack. Her ability to seamlessly switch from wing defence to centre is second to none able to shake up the course of a game. Winders will have to be on her game from the opening whistle with Erikana Pedersen and Samon Nathan both clever in their movement and strong around circle edge for the Tactix in attack.

To stay in touch with the top of the pack, the Tactix have to win this clash so expect them to pull out all the stops and assert themselves from the get-go against an inconsistent Magic side.

2020 ANZ Premiership stats wrap: Round 4

ANOTHER high-powered round of ANZ Premiership action is done and dusted, with some interesting scorelines and stats telling the story of Round 4. We take a look at the numbers of the round that was.

When it came to circle edge this round, there were none more impressive than Peta Toeava who continued her impressive run of form to run home with 25 goal assists, 32 feeds and 18 centre pass receives to her name against the Tactix on Friday night. Joining Toeava in the 30-plus feeding club is Tactix’ Erikana Pedersen (18 assists from 32 feeds, 20 receives), Steel’s Gina Crampton (16 assists from 30 feeds, 28 receives) and Stars’ Grace Kara (17 assists from 32 feeds, 24 receives), while Magic’s Whitney Souness racked up 49 centre pass receives and 31 assists from 52 feeds across her two games.

The circle defenders pulled out all the stops once more but did not necessarily have the same flair as usual with intercept stats down across the board. Temalisi Fakahokotau was impressive as ever and had a much more well-rounded game than usual, racking up five gains to top the leaderboard this round and was joined on that number by her opposition keeper in Sulu Fitzpatrick who was much cleaner in comparison. Sitting on four gains apiece were Storm Purvis and Phoenix Karaka (both two intercepts) and Holly Fowler (one intercept), joined by Kelly Jury and Erena Mikaere who both played two games, though Jury certainly got the better stats with another three gains to her name. Karin Burger and Georgia Tong also had solid games, racking up two intercepts apiece.

Heading down the other end, there is no surprise who topped the goaling tally once again with the same names performing well consistently week in and week out. Grace Nweke was influential as always with 38 goals from 40, while Maia Wilson was the only other individual performer who put in close to a similar tally with 34 from 37. The real impressive performance this week was from the Pulse however, with both Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio going at 100 per cent accuracy in the first match before backing it up with a high accuracy tally again the next day, shooting a combined 45 and 46 goals respectively across the two matches. Kelsey McPhee had an up-and-down round, shooting 19 from 26 on Sunday and 28 from 37 on Monday, clearly improving her volume though her combined accuracy of 75 per cent leaves something to be desired in the Magic camp. Meanwhile, Te Paea Selby-Rickit (16 from 24) was also down on accuracy but made up for it in the midcourt with 18 centre pass receives, teaming well with Ellie Bird who was on song at 90 per cent accuracy. Kalifa McCollin and Jennifer O’Connell were much more robust in attack this week, combining for 87 per cent accuracy.

MORE MATCH STATS:

>> Northern Mystics (47) defeated Mainland Tactix (42)

>> Central Pulse (47) defeated Southern Steel (40)

>> Central Pulse (51) defeated WBOP Magic (30)

>> WBOP Magic (46) drew with Northern Stars (46)

 

2020 ANZ Premiership: Stars and Magic play out dramatic draw

A WINNER could not be decided between the Northern Stars and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic with the game resulting in the first draw of the season, 46 goals apiece. Playing their second game of the round, the Magic came out with a real fire in the belly, contesting every ball and taking an early commanding lead. Their ability to fight back in the dying stages of the last quarter was inspired by their captain, Sam Winders with the wing defence pulling out all the stops but it was not enough to get her side over the line and claim their second win of the season. 

With the centre pass in hand it did not take long for the Magic to open their account at the hands of Abigail Latu-Meafou. Despite a disappointing output last night Latu-Meafou came out firing, using her precision with ball in hand and deceptive speed to insert herself on the contest from the get-go. Her confidence filtered across the court with the defensive unit of Erena Mikaere and Holly Fowler creating an early turnover ball from the Stars and propelling the ball back down court with plenty of haste. The defensive combo shut down Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson under the post, blocking her every move and forcing her into early turnovers. The Stars finally hit the scoreboard three and a half minutes into the quarter but it was not without plenty of hard work with the Magic holding a 5-1 lead. With Wilson well held, goal attack Jamie Hume upped the ante delivering a bullet pass into the goal shooter but it was not enough with the Magic returning serve up the other end and pushing out to a seven goal buffer. Much like Latu-Meafou, Kelsey McPhee stepped up to the plate with the goal shooter dominating under the post only missing one goal for the term and showcasing her fancy footwork on the baseline to score despite falling out of court. As the Magic motored on the Stars struggled as Wilson was forced to come out of the circle on the second phase to try and open up the attacking end. 

With a handy five goal lead, Storm Purvis upped the ante in defence for the Stars winning an early turnover but her efforts were not rewarded with the ball lost in transition. An increased hunger for the ball across the court saw the Stars intensity lift and most importantly find better rhythm in attack, using their ball speed to pierce through the Magic defensive unit. With the Stars growing with confidence, McPhee and Latu-Meafou continued on their merry way but were denied the same easy access they were given in the first term. But it seemed to be all one-way traffic for the Stars in the second quarter with each player rallying to try and win ball back to reduce the deficit. In hope to quell the influence of Hume and Wilson under the post, dynamic defender Georgia Tong entered the court, replacing Fowler in goal defence. Going goal for goal through the mid part of the term, neither side was willing to give an inch however, Wilson upped the ante playing with more freedom and space while Magic wing attack Whitney Souness built into the game providing silver service to McPhee and Latu-Meafou with her skill to draw defenders. But a big intercept from Purvis gifted the Stars a chance to level scores and hit the front with the centre pass to come. The Magic quickly responded to go into half time at 24 goals apiece. 

Known as the premiership quarter the Stars did all the running piling on 14 goals to seven. The introduction of Fa’amu Ioane in wing defence provided an extra layer of defensive pressure for the Stars with the tenacious midcourter taking Souness out of the game, covering her drives and using her physicality to offset Souness’ vision into the circle. The Stars struck first nailing the first goal of the second half before going on a mini goal spree and opening up a three goal lead. McPhee struggled to impose herself, shaky on the shot and allowing the Stars to capitalise in defence with clever rebounds. The quarter was plagued with patches of inconsistency, unable to find any real continuity with the likes of Mikaere constantly disrupting play for the Stars in attack thanks to her long limbs. Tong racked up the penalties forcing the Magic to look to the bench and bring Fowler back on while Khiarna Williams came on to replace McPhee and was quickly into the action missing the shot but then getting back and helping to defend. With the Magic throwing ball away Stars continued to push ahead, with Purvis taking another strong intercept and showcasing her read of the play and aerial presence to open up a seven a goal lead. 

With the game on the line the Magic came out with a renewed sense of purpose and intensity, fighting hard from the opening minute of the quarter. Souness collected an early turnover with a crucial intercept in the midcourt to reduce the margin to six sparking her side to go on a two goal run. Souness continued to up the ante showcasing her impressive vision to release the ball from range into McPhee. The tables continued to turn with Magic taking a huge rebound with the centre pass to follow and cut the margin down to three goals. With pressure mounting, Wilson remained confident on the shot, shouldering the load of Hume who seemed to have gone off the boil. Goal defence, Kate Burley delivered for the Stars with a big tip and Ioane backing her up across the court. The Stars pushed the lead back out to six goals but the Magic were not done with yet cutting the lead to four goals with less than three minutes to play. The experienced Mikaere took with a huge rebound, dwindling the lead to two goals before McPhee impressed with a strong offensive rebound. But it was Winders who stole the show with a huge intercept in the attacking third to level the scores before the whistle blew. 

Wilson was huge for the Stars sitting at 34 goals from 37 attempts at 92 per cent while Hume slotted 12 from 17 at 71 per cent. McPhee also struggled for accuracy only converting 28 of her 37 attempts at 76 per cent while Latu-Meafou managed 17 from 20. Defensively Mikaere starred racking up four gains, seven deflections and two rebounds.

>>>MAGIC TEAM PAGE

>>>STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

STARTING SEVEN:

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic

GS: Kelsey McPhee
GA: Abigail Latu-Meafou
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Ariana Cable-Dixon
WD: Sam Winders
GD: Holly Fowler
GK: Erena Mikaere

Northern Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Lisa Mather
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Steel notch up opening win of the season

IN a rematch of the 2019 elimination final there was plenty of feeling in the game with the Steel claiming redemption and their first win of the season (49-47). Although the two goal win was marred with injury the Steel proved the short turnaround did not phase them, coming out hot from the get go, flicking the ball around with precision in the attacking third. Despite a strong win in Round 2 the Northern Stars did not seem to find their mojo for the full four quarters, rattled by the Steel’s pressure and tenacity. 

The Steel raced out of the blocks in the opening quarter with their connections in attack on full display. Stars goal shooter Maia Wilson slotted the first goal of the game, but from there on in it was all the Steel with their clever ball movement and defensive pressure causing all sorts of headaches. The Steel defenders pushed Wilson to shoot from range with the goaler missing two consecutive shots and making them pay with their 100 per cent shooting accuracy up the other end. The patient approach in attack paid dividends for the Steel with Jennifer O’Connell holding strong and owning the backspace. The Steel shooting end of O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin got on a roll sinking five goals straight and opening up a commanding lead. Their dominance was so profound it caused the Stars to make changes down back with Storm Purvis pushing out to goal defence and Oceane Maihi coming on at goal keeper to provide that aerial presence. The Northern Stars struggled to generate any second phase play in the attacking third giving the Steel plenty of chances to cause turnovers. Steel continued to put the foot down establishing a five goal lead despite the Stars pushing hard and rallying late in the term to try and create some attacking momentum. 

Down by five goals at quarter time the Stars came out with a real pep in their step and heightened defensive pressure. Clearly on the hunt for turnover ball Purvis got her hands to ball in the opening minute of the game contesting the high ball and placing doubt in the feeders minds. Moments later partner in crime Kate Burley delivered, taking a huge intercept and propelled the ball back down the court. With increased intensity in defence, Wilson found her groove under the post with her strong rebounding positioning and impressive balance to dance along the baseline and keep the ball in. With nine minutes left in the quarter the Steel were yet to score while the Stars went on a four goal shooting spree using the angles in attack to open up space and apply scoreboard pressure. Jamie Hume continued to impress from her first quarter output, proving to be a real playmaker in the attacking third with her well weighted passes and drive while teammate Grace Kara was crucial throughout the quarter using her vision to deliver into the circle. With the Stars pushing, Kate Heffernan was pinged with a caution, while Taneisha Fifita struggled to combat Wilson under the post. A mere goal separated the sides before Gina Crampton kicked it up a gear for the Steel with her impressive vision into the circle prompting the Steel to go on a surge in the final five minutes of the quarter. 

After getting within touching distance before the half time break the Stars continued with the same line-up while the Steel opted for some changes across the court. Georgia Heffernan replaced McCollin while Abby Erwood pulled on the goal defence bib pushing Selby-Rickit to goal keeper and Fifita to the bench. It was goal for goal for the opening few minutes of the quarter with both sides feeling each other out and adapting to the changes. Heffernan had a shaky start with a held ball on her first attempt before steadily building into the game. The Stars were getting plenty of hands to ball in defence with Burley and Purvis creating a strong wall in defence while up the other end the connection between Wilson and Hume was blossoming. With momentum swinging back and forth the Steel were struck by injury with Georgia Heffernan going down with a suspected knee injury. Crampton upped the ante in attack, releasing the ball from distance but that did not seem to phase the Stars who managed three goals in a row for and drew even with 10 seconds left in the quarter, showcasing just how intense the battle was. 

The final quarter lived up to the hype with the game going right down to the wire. Steel sunk the opening goal of the term with the Stars replying instantly. It was goal for goal once again with both sides treasuring possession and capitalising on their centre pass. Kendall Corkery had a profound impact for the Steel, niggling at Kara and making her work hard to win any ball circle edge. Shannon Saunders showcased her brilliance with a timely tip to turn the ball over and was the clear spark for the Steel who opened up a three goal lead and did not look back. With two minutes left Purvis took a key rebound to reduce the margin to three goals and give her side a fighting chance but it was to no avail with O’Connell landing the final blow. 

O’Connell was a constant under the post for the Steel with 32 goals from 36 attempts at 89 per cent while McCollin was deadly going at 93 per cent sinking 14 goals from her 15 attempts. For the Stars WIlson dominated with 37 goals from 42 attempts at 88 per cent while Hume was down on her accuracy sitting at 67 per cent missing five of her 15 shots. Defensively Purvis starred with three gains, three deflections and two rebounds. Fifita and Selby-Rickit combined for five gains and seven deflections.

 

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

NORTHERN STARS 10 | 13 | 13 | 11 (47)
SOUTHERN STEEL 15 | 11 | 10 | 13 (49)

STARTING SEVEN:

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

Southern 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

2020 ANZ Premiership Preview: Round 3

AFTER an action packed return of netball, teams will be eager to prove that it was not a one off with strong showings in Round 3. The Steel and Magic will both play two games this round with the remainder only taking part in the one game. Arguably the game of the round will be between the two unbeaten teams on Monday with Pulse and Mystics set to go to head to head. 

Mainland Tactix v. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Friday, 26 June

Sitting on a win apiece heading into the round both teams will be searching for some consistency and more importantly their second win of the season. The Tactix had an up and down performance last round, struck down by a tummy bug in their second game which well and truly showed while the Magic simply could not generate enough accuracy to post to worry their opposition. 

With a stacked defensive end the Tactix will be hoping to use their physicality and ball winning abilities to stop the Magic from getting close to post. Copping a knock on her knee early in the last game, all eyes will turn to Jane Watson with the captain a real lynchpin for the Tactix as she can take huge game changing intercepts. After a hot start Temalisi Fakahokotau faded out of the game last round but will be wanting to showcase her prowess once again with her intercepting skills, leap and pressure over the shot to ruffle the feathers of Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou. The Magic shooters while they had plenty of opportunities struggled to convert and will have their work cut out for them again this round given the immense pressure Fakahokotau and Watson are renowned for.  

The midcourt battle will be another point of interest given the depth and speed that the Tactix have. Kimiora Poi is lightning quick in at centre, able to dart around the court and facilitate that second phase play for her side while also getting back and applying defensive pressure. Wing attack Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen also pose a threat for the Magic with their ability to come on and have an immediate impact with their quick ball movement, strength around circle edge and pin point precision passes into the circle. It will be up to Magic captain Sam Winders to really lead the midcourt with her defensive pressure, skill to clog up space and ability to keep her opposition off circle edge. In attack it will be up to Whitney Souness and Ariana Cable-Dixon to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Latu-Meafou and McPhee. 

It will be a tight battle between both sides but if the Tactix are at full strength they should be able to get the job done given the extra experience they have across the court both in attack and defence. 

Northern Mystics v. Southern Steel
Saturday, 27 June

Yet to register a win this season the Steel will be hoping to unlock something in their match-up against the Mystics and get their first “W” on the board. Meanwhile the Mystics will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact and notch up their third victory for the season after another impressive outing in Round 2.

With a developing attacking unit the Steel will have to be on their a-game if they are any chance to topple the Mystics. Kalifa McCollin proved to be a real pocket last round and has speed to boot, zipping around the attacking third and creating plays with her flair. The Trinidad and Tobago recruit is not afraid to go to post backing herself from anywhere in the circle and can adapt her game style to suit her fellow goalers. Youngster Georgia Heffernan is still working on her craft but has the potential to come on and have an impact with her athletic style of play and accuracy. While goal shooter Jennifer O’Connell is renowned for her holding shooter role and ability to score quickly and easily, something she will be hoping to capitalise on up against the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka. The Mystics defenders are a formidable unit that can pick off passes with ease and use their quick footwork to maneuver around the body of their opponents and create timely deflections. Fitzpatrick is a strong driving force down back with her hands over pressure and aerial ability while Karaka is key through the midcourt. 

After starring in Round with her pace, strength and ball delivery Peta Toeava will be one to watch for the Steel. The Mystics wing attack is a key cog using her balance, impressive vision and variety of passes to seamlessly deliver the ball into the goal circle. Toeava is quick on her feet and strong around the circle edge to demand the ball and dish off well-weighted passes. Fellow midcourter and centre Tayla Earle also starred last week and will be hoping to replicate that form with her defensive pressure to force turnovers and pick off intercepts for the Mystics. Her battle with Shannon Saunders will generate plenty of interest given just how damaging Saunders can be with ball in hand. Her experience, speed and vision is second to none while her connection with Gina Crampton is exceptional. The two know each others game inside out making them extremely difficult to combat given their read of the play and space, stamina and general netball nous. 

Vying for their first win of the season, expect the Steel to throw everything they have at the Mystics in hope of securing that elusive victory. However the Mystics have proven that they have the firepower to withstand challenges and can use their defensive pressure to win ball back and create scoring opportunities. 

Northern Stars v. Southern Steel
Sunday, 28 June

In Steel’s second game of the round the element of fatigue could play a huge factor up against a developing Stars unit who will be still riding that winning wave after downing the Tactix in Round 2. It will be the first time these two sides have met since the final last year where the Stars bundled the Steel out of grand final contention, so expect plenty of feeling in this game. With young players on both sides it will be up to the experienced heads to lead the way and forge a way forward for their team to win. 

The tussle in the goal circle for the Stars will be exciting with Maia Wilson a commanding presence under the post as her strong holds and accuracy to post is hard to combat. Wilson is able to read the play with ease and use her feet to move to the ball or create space in the circle. Still developing her partnership with Jamie Hume and Vika Koloto it will be up to Wilson to shoulder a lot of the scoring load but will have her work cut out for her against Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, Taneisha Fifita and Abby Erwood. Fifita is a real livewire down in defence renowned for her spring in her step and skill to cause confusion with her quick footwork while both Selby-Rickit and Erwood ooze consistency.

Coming off a relatively disappointing outing expect O’Connell to come back with a vengeance and assert herself with her scoring ability. O’Connell can hit the scoreboard quickly and easily given her height and clever body positioning to ward off defenders. Partner in crime, McCollin is the playmaker for the Steel in the goal circle using her turn of speed and spatial awareness to full effect. But Stars defenders Storm Purvis and Kate Burley are no easy beats with the two strong in the air and able to swat away their fair share of ball. Burley impressed last round with her smothering style of play and skill to switch into transition with ease while Storm showcased her skillset to seamlessly push out to goal defence. Another prominent threat for the Stars is the inclusion of Oceane Maihi who is a serious competitor in the air given her leap and strong hands. 

Potentially still on the hunt for their first win the Steel will be eager to secure a win but come up against a strong unit, in the Stars who will be raring to go. With key players across the Stars are in the box seat heading into the contest having already notched up a win. 

Central Pulse v. Northern Mystics
Monday, 29 June

In what could be a battle of the two undefeated teams the clash between the Pulse and Mystics will be one of youth and experience. There is no denying that the Pulse are the team to beat, once again announcing themselves as a powerhouse of the competition last round while the Mystics continue to showcase their composure and pressure each time they step out on court. There will be all-star match ups across the court with both teams littered with Silver Ferns stars making for an intriguing contest.

Young talent Grace Nweke has continued to take the competition by storm, letting her goal scoring do all the talking. Hardly ever out positioned, Nweke is a staple hold for the Mystics under the post with her commanding figure, aerial strength, read of the play and sheer dominance, but could meet her match in fellow youngster Kelly Jury. The Pulse goal keeper really hit her straps last round with her quick footwork, long limbs, lean over the shot and skill to get hands to ball. Throw in defensive comrades in Katrina Rore and Karin Burger and the Pulse are incredibly difficult to match-up on given their ability to shut down space, hunt the ball and suffocate attacking forays. While Nweke is the go to girl for the Mystics the likes of Asher Grapes and Saviour Tui will have to up their output if they are to draw away the defence from Nweke and apply some serious scoreboard pressure. 

Moving down into the defensive end for the Mystics and they too have no shortage of fire power with Fitzpatrick and Karaka. Up against her old side, Fitzpatrick will be desperate to have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure, physicality under the post and intercepting ability. Directly opposed to Pulse goal shooter Aliyah Dunn, Fitzpatrick will have to be on her a-game to stop the high ball release into her with Dunn renowned for her height, ability to reel ball in and nifty footwork along the baseline to hold space. Goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio is another huge obstacle for the Mystics defensive unit to conquer with the Silver Ferns goaler in impressive form. Her vision is exceptional, able to see two passes ahead, while her ball placement, turn of speed and strong drives into the circle is second to none. Throw in the fact Ekenasio can shoot from just about anywhere in the circle and is cool, calm and composed with ball in hand and the Pulse are in a commanding position.

With star power across the court and tried and tested combinations the Pulse should reign supreme but the Mystics definitely have the players to cause an upset given their defensive pressure.

2020 ANZ Premiership Young Gun Focus: Round 3

WITH a host of young talent littered throughout the ANZ Premiership competition Draft Central takes a look at one key player each week. This week the player in focus is Northern Stars defender Kate Burley who starred last round with her read of the play and efforts across the court to win ball back. 

Age: 23
Height: 181cm
Position: GD, GK,WD

After a stellar outing in Round 2 for the Northern Stars the young defender will be keen to back up her performance in Round 3 against some quality opposition in the Southern Steel. Faced with unknown quantity and Trinidad and Tobago speedster Kalifa McCollin, Burley will once again have her work cut out for her but has the speed and nous to match her opponent. 

In testing conditions in the first game of the round up against Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Burley plied her trade and made the goal attack work for every pass and while she tired as the game went on still managed to apply strong hands over pressure. Still honing her craft Burley displayed her attacking mindset with her strong drives through the middle of the court and willingness to fly at the cross court ball. Despite not playing the entire match she managed to collect one intercept, one gain and three deflections. 

But it was the second game where Burley really shone. Starting in at goal defence before slotting into the goal keeper position to close out the game, Burley’s hunger and intensity was up from the opening whistle. Her read of the play and aerial ability given her shorter stature compared to some defenders was highly impressive racking up four gains, three intercepts and four deflections. She was a real energiser bunny down back, able to create turnovers with her immense pressure and skill to double back on the shooter when needed.  Burley, along with partner in crime Storm Purvis, forced the Tactix to make wholesale changes in the attacking unit with Ellie Bird, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Jess Prosser all trying to combat and break through the defensive wall they had set up. 

Burley proved that she has the stamina and skillset to last an entire game and have a profound impact on the game with her willingness to get to contests and help out in transition. While still not at the peak of her powers, her Round 2 performance showed plenty of promise for the games to come with the young defender growing in confidence and backing herself more regularly whether it be to go for an intercept or block her opposition goaler from entering the circle with her strong movement. Her versatility is another element to keep an eye out for with Burley as she can not only switch between in-circle defence but so too wing defence given her read of the play and deceptive speed.

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Stars fire back in dual milestone match

FRESH off a loss on Sunday, the Northern Stars were keen to make amends and were faced with potential grand final challengers, Mainland Tactix to finish round two. But while the Tactix seemed to have much of the momentum early, it was the Stars who led all changes, with plenty of players stepping up to prove that Sunday’s result was not going to be repeated and defeating the Tactix 49-43.

With a fire in the belly, Tactix showed no mercy down in defence, blocking any easy avenue to goal and moving the ball with confidence through the midcourt. With two domestic milestones in the mix, the Stars were raring to go to get their first 2020 win on the board for captain, Grace Kara who hit 150 games and Silver Ferns goaler, Maia Wilson who reached 50.

The first quarter saw the Stars strike the first blow, getting out to an early lead though the Tactix were hot on their tail testament to the accuracy and connection between Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird on song early. However where the Stars seemed to struggle defensively in the beginning – not communicating well in defence – Storm Purvis and Kate Burley quickly caught on to the predictable and risky high ball to Bird, limiting the tall timber’s impact on the shot and putting doubt in the head of Selby-Rickit who did not seem her usual confident self on the long bomb.

While the Stars defence had a slow start and brought the heat throughout, it seemed to be another story for the Tactix. Temalisi Fakahokotau had a blinding start, racking up two of her three intercepts in the first quarter while Jane Watson asserted herself on the contest, playing a real attacking game out of goal defence. But while Tactix’ defence was on early, the Stars did not hold back as the likes of Wilson and Jamie Hume shook off any glimpses of fading out as they did on Sunday, making for a tense contest. Aiding on circle edge, Kara put out a spectacular show with her pinpoint passes and efficient play through attack, almost unstoppable. Where kara dominated for the Stars, as did Tactix midcourter Kimiora Poi who used her impressive speed to be a constant pest on the Stars’ tail. 

With the connection between Wilson and Hume growing as confidence joined the mix, it seemed as though Fakahokotau and Watson gradually faded out with Watson somewhat succumbing to injury – returning to the court, but not showcasing her typical tenacity or athleticism. Though the Tactix showed glimpses of brilliance, they simply could not maintain that high level of intensity – though with rumours of a stomach bug in their midst – with the team struggling to maintain that efficiency that saw them steam ahead on Saturday against the Steel. 

A one goal Stars lead at the first change turned into a seven goal lead by half-time, with a stellar seven goal run contributing to the effort and Tactix’ messiness certainly playing a part while their ball placement also seemed to improve, keeping the ball away from the athletic Fakahokotau. But while the tenacious goal keeper seemed like the one to watch heading into the match, it was Burley and Purvis that put on a show as the duo racked up four and three gains respectively.

While a switch for speedster Erikana Pedersen in wing attack seemed to open things back up for the Tactix in the third and ultimately a much better final quarter to finish, it was not enough with the side lacking confidence and ultimately making a lot of gambles as they fought to control an ounce of the match. Constant changes and a lack of confidence was the pressure point for the Tactix, and it was Wilson with the layup that put the nail in the coffin thanks to an offensive turnover, telling a real tale of the Tactix’ comedy of errors to finish the match.

Wilson was once again strong under the post for the Stars with the 22-year-old goal shooter doing much of the heavy lifting and finishing with 37 goals from 40 attempts, though was supported better by Hume this time around who, despite only shooting 12 goals at 63 per cent, provided a much tougher contest at the post, opening up space for the 50-gamer. For the Tactix, it was a much more even total between Selby-Rickit (19 goals) and Bird (18), while up-and-coming talent Jess Prosser made her mark in the latter stages, aiding Selby-Rickit well and shooting six from six. Player of the match, Burley racked up three intercepts while it was her constant pressure that saw her dominate the contest, combining effortlessly with Purvis to be a threatening pairing down back. Through the midcourt, Kara racked up 20 assists from 33 feeds to lead all comers, while it was a far more even spread of feeding for the Tactix, with six players putting the stat to their name.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

NORTHERN STARS 13 | 13 | 11 | 12 (49)
MAINLAND TACTIX 12 | 7 | 10 | 14 (43)

STARTING SEVENS:

Northern Stars:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

Mainland Tactix:

GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Samon Nathan
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau 

ANZ Premiership: Round 2 – Pulse reign supreme in grand final rematch

A LOT has changed between the two ANZ Premiership sides since they last met in the grand final with the likes of Temepara Bailey, Leana de Bruin and Ellen Halpenny both retiring while Kayla Cullen announced her move to the Swifts. Meanwhile, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Whitney Souness both left the Pulse. But that did not seem to matter with both sides leaving no stone unturned and putting on a show in the grand final rematch. The Pulse did not skip a beat in their first game back since the COVID-19 enforced break, trouncing the Stars by 24 goals in what was an impressive all-round performance (63-39).  

The opening quarter lived up to anticipation with the Pulse racing out to a hefty lead before the Stars reeled them back in. Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio got off to a hot start slotting the first four goals of the game before partner in crime Aliyah Dunn got involved in the action. Ekenasio showcased her slick ball movement and demanding presence both in the goal circle and attacking third, receiving what seemed like every second pass and creating attacking forays. Defensively the Pulse were up and about with the Stars unable to penetrate the zone pressure only sinking their first goal three minutes into the match after both Jamie Hume and Maia Wilson missed their opening shots. Newbie Kelly Jury was impressive for the Pulse, using her lean over the shot to get in the head of Wilson, before the talented goaler got things back on her terms, using her strong holds to claim prime position under the post. The Stars worked hard defensively to shut down options and then propel the ball back down court to reduce the margin to two goals but they did not stop there with Hume sinking a long bomb on the buzzer to be within one goal at quarter time. 

With things all tied up in the opening minutes of the second quarter the Pulse quickly put an end to the goal for goal rhythm thanks to Dunn and Ekenasio going on a scoring spree. Dunn showcased her versatility leading outside of the goal circle and driving back hard to goal while youngster Maddy Gordon had a field day in attack with her speed, impressive vision and balance around circle edge. With the ball trapped in Pulse’s attacking third, Stars wing defence Fa’amu Ioane put her hand up using her footwork to try and block Gordon but it was to no real avail while the likes of Kate Burley also imposed herself with her timely tips. The combination of Wilson and Hume in the goal circle was tested but the goal shooter stood up to the pressure, finding the front space with ease. But the Stars simply could not combat the intense pressure from the Pulse who capitalised on every turnover and opportunity that swung their way with a whopping 21 to eight goal quarter. Jury led the defensive end with an impressive intercept credit to her long arms and quick footwork to cover the court. Meanwhile the combination between Dunn and  Ekenasio continued with the two simply undeniable under the post sitting at 100 per cent, testament to their skillset. Dunn found her rhythm under the post, gobbling up everything that came her way, making it look easy.

Renowned as the premiership quarter, the third term lived up to its name with the Pulse applying a wealth of pressure both on the scoreboard and defensively. Once again Jury was straight into the action with an intercept and denying any type of easy ball movement for the Stars. In hope to change things up down back Storm Purvis pushed out to goal defence with Oceane Maihi coming on in goal keeper. Maihi offered plenty of height and aerial ability to challenge the prominent Dunn in the air. Purvis and Maihi made life hard for the first few minutes before the Pulse once again pulled away with Gordon and Claire Kersten leading the way through the middle with their effortless feeds and ridiculous ball speed. The quick transition down court was simply unstoppable with the Pulse linking up with ease and causing all sorts of havoc for the Stars forcing them to chop and change players in centre with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Lisa Mather rotating through. In terms of defence Katrina Rore wore Hume like a glove, going with her every step of the way and only allowing the goaler to manage three goals for the quarter while Jury maintained her hunger for the ball, using her spatial awareness and balance to reel ball in and propel it down court with a whopping five intercepts and seven gains in the term alone. 

The fourth quarter followed suit with the Pulse doing everything right and not allowing the Stars any space. There were changes galore for both teams with Tiana Metuarau coming on in wing attack to replace speedster, Gordon. Defensively the Pulse brought on some fresh legs with Renee Savai’inaea and Elle Temu both making their presence felt with the latter notching up an intercept and gain in her 12 minutes on court. Stars youngster Vika Koloto was not overwhelmed by her opponent instead coming on and showcasing her skillset with an early goal and delivering well weighted passes into Wilson. But the changes were simply not enough to quell the steam train that was the Pulse who were slick from start to finish only missing four goals for the entire game. 

Wilson finished with 30 goals from 36 attempts at 83 per cent while Hume managed eight from 11 at 73 per cent. Dunn was a commanding figure with 44 from 46 at 96 per cent while Ekenasio slotted 19 from 21. The defensive efforts of Jury were unmatched with the young goal keeper amassing nine gains and six intercepts with Rore hot on her heels with five gains and an intercept. 

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

STARTING SEVENS:

NORTHERN STARS:

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Jamie Hume
WA: Grace Kara
C: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
WD: Fa’amu Ioane
GD: Kate Burley
GK: Storm Purvis

CENTRAL PULSE:

GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Maddy Gordon
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Kelly Jury