Tag: Tayla Earle

NZ Cadbury Series: Day 4

NOELINE Taurua and the Silver Ferns flexed their muscles on the final day of the Cadbury Series to clinch victory against the New Zealand Men’s team in the grand final while the New Zealand A side also collected their second win of the series, defeating the Under 21s in a strong showing.

New Zealand A (68) defeated New Zealand Under 21s (47)

It was another tough battle between New Zealand A and New Zealand Under 21s on the final day of the Cadbury Series, with the A team coming away with a stronger win than their first outing against the 21s credit to some significant changes across the court. While the 21s once again got off to a solid start, there was no denying the lack of experience hurt the young side who could not compete with the full-court pressure of the As. Despite the 21-goal scoreline, the young guns showcased some great hunt for the ball and willingness to contest, with plenty of players taking it up to their more experienced opposition and forming some great plays throughout. It was an exceptional first half showing from Kate Heffernan who used her anticipation, long arms and clean footwork to come away with player of the match.

For the New Zealand As, it was an impressive effort from young gun Grace Nweke that proved crucial early, with the goal shooter standing strong with plenty of confidence after her stint with the Silver Ferns and putting up a whopping 46 goals at 87 per cent in 52 minutes on court. Both Aliyah Dunn and Jamie Hume assisted on the scoreboard, with the former showcasing her renewed gameplay out in goal attack and the latter using her smooth moving to rack up 16 goal assists, only behind Tayla Earle (19 assists) and Kimiora Poi (18). Defensively, Heffernan racked up four intercepts in the first half while Kate Burley and Georgia Tong both collected three gains. Karin Burger wreaked havoc during her 39 minutes on court, counting six deflections though none resulted in a gain. 

For the Under 21s, Saviour Tui continued her excellent form with another 30-plus goal haul at 87 per cent, while Tiana Metuarau continued to lead from the front with her accuracy – sitting at 100 per cent until the final quarter – and finished with 14 goals at 88 per cent to go with her 13 goal assists. Maddy Gordon injected her zippy movement and speed into the centre third on her return to the 21s and Renee Savai’inaea continued to showcase her versatility rotating between centre and wing defence and using her defensive traits to assist around circle edge. Gordon finished with 16 goal assists while Savai’inaea racked up three gains (two intercepts). In the defensive circle, Taneisha Fifita and Parris Mason continued to perform well despite their experienced opposition, with Fifita racking up four deflections (no gains) while Mason collected three gains (two intercepts).

Silver Ferns (55) defeated New Zealand Men’s (52)

The Silver Ferns flipped the script against the Men’s side to claim a narrow three goal victory in the grand final (55-52). Going down to them in their previous encounter the Ferns came out with a renewed sense of intensity and strong connections down the court to not only nullify the Men’s side but so too capitalise on their own chances. The moving circle paid dividends for the Ferns while their patient approach allowed them to weave the ball down the court and work through the defensive pressure stemming from the Men. The first quarter well and truly set the Ferns up nailing seven goals straight to create a handy six goal buffer. However the Men fought back in the second term to reduce the margin and get back within striking distance. An even second half saw the Ferns and Men’s side go goal for goal, unable to be separated as the Ferns walked away with the win in a gruelling encounter.

After missing the last game Te Paea Selby-Rickit came out with a point to prove in goal shooter and did not disappoint in the opening quarter. She put in a wealth of work to break free along the baseline and utilise the backspace to lead the way for the Ferns nailing six goals albeit it at 50 per cent. Captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio was once again in fine form and showed no signs of her Achilles niggle setting the court alight with her drive and high release on the shot to steer the ship. Ekenasio was a real barometer through the attacking third, constantly setting up plays and getting in the circle to sink them from everywhere finishing with 21 goals from 25 attempts to accompany her 19 goal assists. The introduction of Maia Wilson also worked wonders for the Ferns with the goal shooter plying her trade under the post and standing up to the physicality to lead the way with a team-high 27 goals at 90 per cent. Through the midcourt Shannon Saunders was a real general with her cut and drive along with her ability to deliver ball into the goalers racking up 12 goal assists while Sam Winders showcased her desperation and tenacity to niggle away and force errors. There were options aplenty in defence for the Ferns with Jane Watson putting in a full 60 minute performance to walk away with three gains, two of which were intercepts while Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kelly Jury also impressed with a combined four gains.

Once again, Junior Levi was the go-to man under the post, commanding the ball with his sheer presence and long reach. He worked in overdrive to get on the move and present under the post while also highlighting his rebounding ability. Levi finished with 36 goals from 39 attempts and also managed a couple of assists. Daniel Jefferies and Cameron Powell both found the post sitting at eight goals from 10 attempts apiece as they endeavoured to find the most damaging combo inside the circle. Through the midcourt every ball was contested as Powell continued to star with his speed and ball delivery while Kruze Tangira showcased his impressive spatial awareness and overall netball smarts to deliver the ball on a silver platter into the likes of Levi and Powell. Deepak Patu was on fire throughout the game with his give and go, one-two punch around circle edge and turn of speed to lose the defender and hit the top of the circle time and time again to rack up 13 goal assists. Defensively Jake Schuster continued his merry way down back picking up four gains and covered the court with great ease to make the Ferns work for every pass while his partnership with Timothy Apisai was also on full show as he collected three gains.

NZ Cadbury Series: Day 1 wrap

THE first day of the New Zealand Netball Cadbury Series is done and dusted as the New Zealand Men’s and Silver Ferns both walk away with maiden wins in their respective matches. Thoroughly challenged by the NZA side early, the Silver Ferns showcased their class to grind out the final quarter and push for the win while the Men’s team flexed their muscles against the Under 21s.

New Zealand Under 21 (44) defeated by New Zealand Men’s (73)

The game was played with plenty of speed and intensity as the ball zipped up and down the court within the blink of an eye for both sides. The Under 21s drew first blood and really asserted themselves on the game with a three goal to zip start. However, they could not maintain that intensity for a full four quarters as the Men’s side started to kick into gear and find their rhythm to run out with an impressive 29-goal victory. They led at every change and while scrappy in patches, showcased their netball smarts and back-up play to chase down loose balls and pile on the pressure. The speed of ball movement was crucial for both sides as they flicked the ball around to catch defenders off-guard and not give them a chance to settle into a routine. The Under 21s showed plenty of grit and determination, working in overdrive to slow down the quick release into the circle and create opportunities for their shooters under the post however they simply could not match the physical prowess of the Men’s side.

The contest between Junior Levi and Taneisha Fifita was enthralling with neither player willing to take a backwards step. Despite roughly a 30-centimetre height difference between the two, Fifita made life hard for the towering goal shooter, thriving off the physical nature and getting a couple of crucial wins to finish the game with three intercepts, three gains and six deflections. Levi also starred in his own right with a whopping 47 goals from 52 attempts at 90 per cent accuracy, highlighting just how explosive he can be. The speed of Cameron Powell was mind-blowing to watch as he spent time in both wing attack and goal attack and carved up the court with his sheer footspeed and spin on the ball to bypass defenders time and time again. His connection with captain Kruze Tangira was virtually unstoppable as the duo combined seamlessly around circle edge to thread the needle or bomb it long into Levi under the post. Powell and Tangira combined for 36 goal assists in a highly impressive showing. Defensively, Jake Schuster was one to watch throughout the clash, taking full advantage of his long arms and hands over pressure to win ball back collecting a staggering 16 gains – seven of which were intercepts – displaying his impressive read of the play and clean instincts. His partnership with Timothy Apisai was also impressive, working in tandem to shut down the space and cause havoc.

For the Under 21s, Saviour Tui grew with confidence throughout the match, showcasing her athleticism and confidence to go to post despite the long reaching arms of Apisai and Schuster. Tui backed herself in and used her footwork to edge closer to the post while her adaptability to combine with the changing goal attacks was also credit to her composed nature. Tui was the most prolific goaler for the Under 21s with 22 goals from 27 attempts while Khiarna Williams plied her trade out in goal attack and did not disappoint, slotting 10 goals. Captain Tiana Metuarau was a real general across the court, starting in goal attack and then swinging into wing attack with great ease. She released the ball with confidence and accuracy into Tui and Williams amassing 20 goal assists while her connection with teammate and co-captain Renee Savai’inaea was on show throughout the contest. Fifita was electric in defence as was Parris Mason with the soon to be 18-year-old contesting everything in the air and showcasing her elite balance to reel in four intercepts and a rebound.

Silver Ferns (59) defeated New Zealand A (44)

There was no shortage of class across the court as the Silver Ferns and New Zealand A went head to head in a closer battle than the scoreboard reflects. The Ferns steadily built on their lead after being challenged early credit to a strong second and third quarter where they piled on the scoreboard pressure. Both sides proved they were not afraid to throw the bibs around, trying out new combinations and tinkering with line-ups to find the best fit. It was somewhat of a scrappy start to the match with a held ball early and a well-timed rejection on the shot from Erena Mikaere sending the ball to ping pong around the court, before both sides settled into their groove. It was goal for goal for majority of the opening term but a couple of wholesale changes to the frontend in particular for the Ferns gave them the ascendancy, able to work the ball down the court with greater ease and hit the scoreboard while NZA struggled to combat the Ferns’ new-found energy across the court.

Monica Falkner starred on return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, especially in that first quarter relishing the extra space Karin Burger was giving her, entering the goal circle with great speed. She showcased athleticism on the take to get up to those high balls and most importantly was accurate finishing with 11 goals from 14 attempts. Aliyah Dunn found herself out in the unfamiliar position of goal attack for much of the fourth quarter, a move that sparked plenty of interest and did not affect her accuracy. Ellie Bird was the main source of scoreboard pain for NZA with the towering goal shooter piling on 23 goals from 26 attempts in her 38 minutes of netball, credit to her strong holds under the post and commanding nature. Through the midcourt the speed of Maddy Gordon was crucial with the wing attack working in overdrive at the centre pass and around circle edge to create attacking forays and deliver the ball on a silver platter, racking up a team-high 10 goal assists. Tayla Earle was a consistent threat in centre pairing up with teammate Kate Heffernan to clog the midcourt. Defensively, Kate Burley and Mikaere were a dynamic duo getting hands to a wealth of ball for a combined nine gains, two of them intercepts thanks to their lanky arms and aerial abilities.

The Silver Ferns showcased their plethora of young talent especially under the goal post with Grace Nweke making her debut appearance in the black dress. Nweke starred with her composure, strength on the rebound and quick footwork to consistently reposition and demand the ball from the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Nweke led the way with 22 goals but was down on her usual accuracy at 79 per cent while fellow goal shooter Maia Wilson shone bright in her half of netball with 21 goals from 24 attempts. Kimiora Poi injected that dynamism in the Ferns front half with her quick give and go along with her impressive vision to set up the triangle play while Shannon Saunders was that experienced head as they combined for 21 goal assists. Down back the Ferns chopped and changed but that did not stop them from winning ball back as Sulu Fitzpatrick led the charge with an impressive five gains, two of them intercepts, credit to her body positioning and leap. The intimidating long arms of Kelly Jury also paid dividends picking up three intercepts as Jane Watson amassed three gains.

 

Upcoming matches:

New Zealand A v. New Zealand Under 21
Both sides are still looking for their first win of the Cadbury Series so expect plenty of intensity and excitement out on court. Many have played together throughout the ANZ Premiership season and will be looking to exploit each others’ weaknesses to claim the win here. Tui will be one to watch for the Under 21s given her prolific nature under the post and is likely to match up against the in-form Mikaere making for an enticing battle.

Silver Ferns v. New Zealand Men’s
Sitting at one win apiece the Ferns and Men’s sides will be hoping to keep their unbeaten record intact making for a high intensity match. The last time these two sides met in 2019 the contest between Watson and Levi lived up to the hype with both leaving no stone unturned and fighting for every single pass, making that contest one to watch this time around.

New Zealand Cadbury Series: Squad release

THE Cadbury Netball Series is set to kick off on Wednesday with the competition consisting of four teams; Silver Ferns, New Zealand A, New Zealand Under 21s and New Zealand Men’s making for an action packed couple of days. The competition will be run over four days, with two games per night. The top two sides will then battle it out on Saturday night to claim bragging rights and the series.

The Silver Ferns have a 15 player squad, with 12 members to be named on game day while New Zealand A (NZA) carries a core group of 11 players. The three athletes not included in the Silver Ferns game day squad will swing into the NZA side to get some court time. Newly appointed Central Pulse coach Gail Parata is set to join forces with Marianne Delaney-Hoshek to coach the NZA squad as Noeline Taurua resumes her role as Silver Ferns head coach. Yvette McCausland-Durie is in charge of the Under 21s while co-coaches Tania Anderson and Natalie Milicich head up the Men’s.

A few players were unavailable for selection with Bailey Mes, Katrina Rore and Temalisi Fakahokotau all out for medical or injury management reasons with the likes of Mes still recovering from an injury that ruled her out for the entire ANZ Premiership season. Despite the absentees there is still a number of highly talented players ready to grace the court in the upcoming series.

SILVER FERNS CADBURY NETBALL SERIES SQUAD

Shooters:
Ameliaranne Ekenasio
Monica Falkner
Grace Nweke
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Maia Wilson

Midcourters:
Gina Crampton
Claire Kersten
Kimiora Poi
Shannon Saunders
Whitney Souness
Sam Winders

Defenders:
Karin Burger
Sulu Fitzpatrick
Kelly Jury
Jane Watson

There is plenty of excitement surrounding Northern Mystics shooting sensation Grace Nweke who is preparing for a potential Silver Ferns debut. The 18-year-old goal shooter shot to stardom throughout the season after earning a permanent call-up to the Mystics side in 2020 with her strong holds, athleticism and sheer dominance at the post leaving many fans in awe. She is joined by the likes of current Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, the ever-reliable Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Maia Wilson. With Mes unavailable for selection Monica Falkner also joins the fold in the shooting circle giving the Ferns plenty of versatility under the post.

The midcourt is stacked with plenty of speed with the likes of Kimiora Poi and Whitney Souness leading the way while the staples in Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders will have to step up to the plate given the retirement of Laura Langman. Defensively the Ferns also have plenty of class boasting the likes of Jane Watson who oozes versatility and cleanliness much like Karin Burger while Kelly Jury will be hoping to make an impact in the black dress.

NZ A CADBURY NETBALL SERIES SQUAD

Shooters:
Ellie Bird
Aliyah Dunn
Jamie Hume

Midcourters:
Tayla Earle
Maddy Gordon
Kate Heffernan

Defenders:
Kate Burley
Oceane Maihi
Erena Mikaere
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson
*Georgia Tong (subject to medical clearance)

For the NZA team there is a wealth of exciting youth itching to take the court. Maddy Gordon is coming off the back of a stellar ANZ Premiership season taking home the grand final MVP despite only playing three quarters. Her speed and accuracy to dance around the court and deliver the ball on a silver platter will pay dividends to the tall timbers under the post such as Aliyah Dunn and Ellie Bird. The two goal shooters play a similar holding style role while Jamie Hume is more of that playmaker out the front in goal attack, able to glide across the circle and open it up. Tayla Earle and Kate Heffernan also join Gordon through the midcourt while excitement machines Oceane Maihi and Kate Burley were selected in defence. The two are not short of aerial capabilities, renowned for their leap and ability to contest the high ball similar to Magic goal keeper Georgia Tong who is waiting upon medical clearance to play. Meanwhile, breaking news is that Michaela Sokolich-Beatson ruptured her Achilles tendon and will no longer be taking part in the competition.

NEW ZEALAND UNDER 21

Georgie Edgecombe
Taneisha Fifita
Hannah Glen
Vika Koloto
Paris Lokotui
Parris Mason
Tiana Metuarau
Ainsleyana Puleiata
Renee Savai’inaea
Jessie Taylor
Saviour Tui
Khiarna Williams

Youngster Khiarna Williams will be one to keep an eye on throughout the season, often holding her own throughout the 2020 ANZ Premiership season the goal shooter proved her strength and netball smarts to outmanoeuvre opponents and edge closer to the post. Tiana Metuarau is no stranger to the big stage able to stand up under pressure, and is highly versatile able to swing between goal attack and wing attack seamlessly. Fellow goaler Saviour Tui can play both goal shooter and goal attack thanks to her height and spatial awareness. Paris Lokotui and Parris Mason both recently signed with Central Pulse for the 2021 season and will be eager to make a lasting impression with their defensive attributes and hunt for the ball. Taneisha Fifita burst out of the blocks in 2020 and oozes excitement aplenty given her physicality and ball winning abilities.

NEW ZEALAND MEN

Quintin Gerber
Nick Grimmer
Daniel Jefferies
Junior Levi
Deepak Patu
Cameron Powell
Jake Schuster
Ben Smith
Eddie Solia
Jaryn Tainui
Kruze Tangira (captain)
Joseph Tukaki
Timmy Apisai
Sheridan Wills

It is hard to go past the services of Junior Levi with the talented goaler a force to be reckoned with given his height, athleticism and ability to turn himself inside out to continuously reel ball in and score. Levi is a dominant force under the post that can command the ball and use his body positioning to outwork his opponents. Captain Kruze Tangira is renowned for his creativity with ball in hand and high endurance through the middle to consistently back up contest after contest. Goaler Cameron Powell is no slouch, able to unleash to post with ease if given the time and space while both Daniel Jefferies and Joseph Tukaki are others to keep an eye on having played in last year’s series.

Australia and New Zealand release Under 21 squads

BOTH Australia and New Zealand have released their Under 21 squads ahead of the Netball World Youth Cup expected to take place in 2021, with some familiar and exciting names amongst the ranks for both countries.

AUSTRALIA

Coached by Kylee Byrne there is no shortage of excitement looking at the Australian Under 21s squad which is filled with speed and tenacity. Taking the reins in 2020 for the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Byrne is accustomed to the high expectations and will be keen to make the most of her options in the shooting circle and in defence.

It is fair to say that South Australian Georgie Horjus has taken the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) competition by storm, quickly becoming a fan favourite thanks to her long bomb shooting, clever drives and spatial awareness. On the shorter side, Horjus uses her speed to dart around the court and has proven to be unfazed by the physical nature of SSN. Fellow South Australian goaler Nyah Allen has showcased glimpses of brilliance, albeit with limited court time. She is a smooth mover and has good composure under pressure. On the other hand, the likes of Matisse Letherbarrow plays more of a holding shooter role, and uses her height to dictate play giving Byrne plenty to work with in inside the goal circle. Mia Stower is another one to keep an eye on while Melbourne Vixens training partner Sacha McDonald is a real playmaker out the front and oozes a sense of calmness and leadership with her decision making.

The Diamonds Under 21 side has speed to burn through the midcourt with the likes of Macy Gardner and Tayla Williams able to dart across the court and have an influence with their give and go. Gardner has steadily built into the 2020 season for the Firebirds while Williams has injected plenty of excitement for the Thunderbirds when on court. Tyler Orr is highly versatile, has a high netball IQ enabling her to adapt quickly to the scenario unfolding and boasts plenty of speed. Melbourne Vixens training partner Allie Smith is another exciting squad member given her ball tracking ability, hands over pressure and skill to swing between wing and circle defence.

West Coast Fever defender, Sunday Aryang has been a revelation in 2020 with her tenacity, cleanliness at the contest and speed off the mark all vital aspects of her game. She brings an element of excitement to the game, able to transition between goal keeper, goal defence and wing credit to her versatility. Matilda McDonell is another livewire in defence for Australia with her leap and hustle on constant display and while Chelsea Blackman has not received a wealth of court time at SSN level but has proven that she can have an impact with her hunt for the loose ball and pressure over the shot.

Sophie Dwyer (NSW)
Matisse Letherbarrow (NSW)
Mia Stower (QLD)
Nyah Allen (SA)
Georgie Horjus (SA)
Sacha McDonald (VIC)
Ruby Barkmeyer (VIC)
Lucy Austin (SA)
Reilly Batcheldor (QLD)
Sloan Burton (WA)
Latika Tombs (NSW)
Macy Gardner (QLD)
Allie Smith (VIC)
Tayla Williams (SA)
Tyler Orr (SA)
Georgia Dent (SA)
Hannah Mundy (VIC)
Leesa Mi Mi (QLD)
Annie Miller (NSW)
Matilda McDonell (NSW)
Chelsea Blackman (SA)
Sunday Aryang (WA)
Clare Iongi (NSW)
Olivia Coleman (NSW)
Sarahpheinna Woulf (QLD)
Gabby Coffey (VIC)
Molly Watson (SA)
Amy Sligar (NSW)

NEW ZEALAND

Headed by two-time ANZ Premiership coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, it is fair to say that the New Zealand Under 21s side is in good hands and has a wealth of talent to choose from given the number of athletes that have played throughout the ANZ Premiership season. New Zealand is bursting at the seams when it comes to shooting talent while the midcourt boasts just as much excitement as they look to make it three consecutive titles.

There is a plethora of talent inside the goal circle with Grace Nweke arguably one of the biggest targets thanks to her high volume of shots, strong holds and accuracy to post. she hardly missed a minute of action throughout the ANZ Premiership while teammate Saviour Tui has also been named in the squad. Khiarna Williams burst onto the scene in the 2020 season with her smooth movement, deceptive strength on the hold and aerial ability despite not boasting the height of someone like Nweke. While more accustomed to the goal shooter position, Williams proved she could play out in goal attack which could be handy. Coming off another premiership, Tiana Metuarau is another exciting prospect with her drive, hot hand and composure and having played before in the 2017 Botswana World Cup knows what to expect at this level.

The midcourt is stacked with plenty of speed and talent with youngster Maddy Gordon announced in the Under 21s squad after a phenomenal season, winning the MVP award in the ANZ Premiership grand final and a call up to the Silver Ferns squad. Fellow Central Pulse teammate, Renee Savai’inaea has also been included in the squad with the former defender shaking up her game to play through the centre third and have an impact with her defensive manner. Joining them through the centre is Tayla Earle with the Northern Mystics midcourter no stranger to the big stage, racking up the minutes throughout the ANZ Premiership season and starring with her high work rate and clever feeds into the circle.

Defensively the likes of Taneisha Fifita oozes athleticism and tenacity with the goal keeper not afraid to put her body on the line and contest every ball that comes her way, as shown throughout the ANZ Premiership season with the Southern Steel. Nanise Waqaira is another player to keep an eye out for as New Zealand hope to make it three Netball World Youth Cups in a row.

Hannah Glen (Mainland)
Vika Koloto (North)
Tiana Metuarau (Central)
Grace Nweke (North)
Saviour Tui (North)
Khiarna Williams (WBOP)
Tayla Earle (North)
Georgie Edgecombe (WBOP)
Maddy Gordon (Central)
Kate Hartley (South)
Holly Mather (North)
Ainsleyana Puleiata (Central)
Renee Savai’inaea (Central)
Teuila Sotutu (North)
Taneisha Fifita (South)
Paris Lokotui (Central)
Parris Mason (Central)
Greer Sinclair (WBOP)
Carys Stythe (North)
Jessie Taylor (North)
Nanise Waqaira (North)

2020 ANZ Premiership season review – Northern Mystics

IT was an unprecedented season as the ANZ Premiership came to a halt after Round 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but later returned in June to round out the remainder of the season, bar Round 10. The season saw plenty of intriguing battles as teams plied their trade across the court in hope to work their way up the ladder. Draft Central takes a look back at the year that was, with the Northern Mystics narrowly missing out on the finals after what was a strong 2020 season.

Win-loss: 7-2-6
Ladder position: 3rd
Captain: Phoenix Karaka

Overall season review:

Despite being struck with injury early, as goaler Bailey Mes was ruled out of the season, the Northern Mystics piled on the pressure throughout the season to become a serious finals contender. A disappointing end to the season saw those hopes dashed but that did not discount the impressive performances they put out throughout the home and away season. The defensive combination of new-comer Sulu Fitzpatrick and captain Phoenix Karaka worked wonders as the duo were renowned for their impressive defensive pressure, ball hunting ability and physicality. Through the midcourt youngster Tayla Earle elevated her game throughout the season, taking the hard drive to the top of the circle and plying her trade in defence however it was Peta Toeava that was the real barometer for the Mystics. She was able to single-handedly change the course of a game with her speed of release, dynamic footwork and constant attack to drive the ball forward. One area the Mystics struggled with throughout the season however was the goal attack position with the likes of Saviour Tui and Asher Grapes often rotating through in hope to provide some scoreboard pressure. Although they did not finish the season on a high, there were plenty of positives to take out of the season as a whole, after just narrowly missing out on finals.

Star player:

It is hard to go past the efforts of teenage shooting prodigy Grace Nweke who was solid as ever under the post for the Northern Mystics. The goal shooter did not skip a beat often leading the way under the post with her strong holds and sheer scoreboard dominance. She was often a lone hand in the goal circle left to fend off both defenders but that did not seem to faze the youngster who took every encounter in her stride. Nweke put on a masterclass with her aerial presence second to none while her footwork also impressed, consistently able to edge herself closer to the post. Her ability to command ball and withstand the contest in the air to strongly reel in the ball was a testament to her development throughout the season, as she was a lynchpin in attack for the Mystics.

Surprise packet:

With the goal attack position up for grabs it was Filda Vui that brought the intensity and commitment. While she did not get a wealth of court time the youngster plied her trade effectively and most importantly proved that she was not afraid to take the game on. Vui made her way onto the list midway through the season and showcased her impressive footspeed and spatial awareness to continuously deliver ball into Nweke on the hold. Her injection of speed paired flawlessly with Toeava in the attacking third while her drive along the baseline also opened up the goal circle for the Mystics. Having played in the Beko League with Nweke the combination between the two was strong often showcased through their crafty shooter to shooter interplay while Vui also highlighted her skill to shoot from range.

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: Tactix defeat Mystics en route to finals

A SEASON defining matchup between the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix opened Sunday’s proceedings of ANZ Premiership action, with both teams fighting to the finish and the Tactix running away with a thrilling one-goal win (43-42). The Tactix extended their consecutive winning record, with the tally now at five on the trot as the side edges closer to a top two finish and finals berth.

A strong start from the Tactix proved the side was well and truly ready for a huge match, with a couple quick deflections forcing errors from the Mystics. Patience down the court was critical with Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick in an arm wrestle with Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit early, not forcing any ball into the circle, where the Mystics’ ball speed into the circle was the complete opposite. 

The Tactix extended an early lead, with cleanliness paying off for a 9-4 start, just over five minutes on the clock in the first term. Charlotte Elley was all over Peta Toeava, and while Toeava was able to free herself with her burst of speed, Elley’s take off and height was paying dividends to force Toeava away from the circle. But brilliant work and a splash of momentum proved the Mystics would not be shot out of the match early, with the lead closing to three goals – though the hunt of Temalisi Fakahokotau was just warming up. 

Bird continued her strong form, while Mystics’ Filda Vui got the start in at goal attack with her cleverness with ball in hand paying off at the other end and influential feeding the ball to Grace Nweke at the post. The mismatch in height between Nweke and Fakahokotau was evident though the goal keeper was doing a great job forcing Nweke to the front space rather than her preferred goal line, allowing Jane Watson to speed into the circle and attempt the block. While Watson did not manage a heap of that ball early, if Nweke couldn’t hold her ground and find the goal line the Tactix were well and truly in with a chance on that long ball into the circle. The Mystics’ comeback saw just a one goal lead at the first change, with Tactix leading 12-11 at quarter time.

Where the circles had much of the action early, through the midcourt was where a huge amount of the battle was fought with Tayla Earle and Kimiora Poi evenly matched and all but cancelling each other out on the drive. Selby-Rickit’s playmaking ability was huge, opening up a heap of space though her direct opposition in Mystics captain, Karaka was huge early with her drive down the court off the turnover and ability to create the loose ball. Karaka switched on with the home crowd behind her, with exceptional timing to flick the ball back onto the court from behind the post, seeing the Mystics take a two goal lead. Fitzpatrick did a lot of the backup work, partnering well with her hands over pressure.

Up the other end, a few handy rebounds from the Tactix saw a heap of turnover ball drive back down the other end, with Watson’s anticipation and timing on the leap paying dividends as the Tactix turned the tides to take back the lead. Emily Burgess took the court in wing defence for the Mystics to block some of Erikana Pedersen’s vision into the circle with the wing attack’s feeds vital for Selby-Rickit. Meanwhile, Saviour Tui joined the fray with her zippy movement and height adding a different element to the Mystics attack and take some attention off Nweke. Every player on the court was hunting for the turnover and pouncing on any loose ball, though it was the Tactix that headed into the second half with a three goal advantage, 24-21.

A tough second half commenced with no changed from either side to start, with the tough contest continuing and neither side letting off. The Tactix’ versatility through the midcourt continued to pay off, able to zone where required but the one-on-one defence huge too, confusing the space well. The rebound and tap from Fakahokotau and Watson was during once more, with the defensive duo impeccable on the timing to deny ball to Nweke. But the Mystics’ defensive pressure outside the circle was great to limit access to circle edge where the Tactix typically prefer to feed from, with Earle and Burgess’ ability to control the space hard to contend with and allowing Karaka and Fitzpatrick to go out hunting. 

Toeava’s pinpoint feeds continued to shine with Fakahokotau just missing the ball at times and the penalties racking up as the Mystics edged ever closer. Courtney Elliott joined the fray in wing defence with just under five left in the quarter, with the Mystics defender able to adapt well to the contest and her hunt limiting options in attack for the Tactix. That being said, the Tactix continued to fire and maintained the lead, despite the Mystics marching them goal for goal as the treasured Tactix ball limited chances for turnovers in attack. A turnover, resulting goal and next centre pass saw the Mystics close to just two goals once more with less than a minute on the clock, seeing the Tactix head into the final change 34-32 but the Mystics ready to fight to the very end. 

The Mystics’ three-goal run at the end of the third saw them take the first centre pass but the Tactix turned it over immediately to make the Mystics work for a win. The Mystics were still struggling to generate that turnover ball, and while defensively Fitzpatrick had a great intercept the attacking unit was failing to really have that significant defensive impact through the midcourt. The change was made defensively with under five minutes on the clock, with Elliott replacing Karaka in goal defence and Dani Gray back into wing defence. It failed to have a huge impact though, with the Tactix maintaining all the momentum and connections firing all the way down the court. The tightness of the contest saw cautions aplenty handed out in the final term, and while a huge last few minutes from Toeava saw the Mystics come close to victory, the Tactix had the final centre pass and kept the ball safe for a huge one goal victory, 43-42.

Nweke was huge as ever with 37 goals at 88 per cent accuracy, winning the battle against Fakahokotau who racked up just three gains – two deflections and on rebound – while Watson was clinical as ever (four gains from six deflections) limiting attempts from both Tui and Vui with the two goal attacks combining for five goals from nine attempts. At the other end, Bird finished with 30 goals at 91 per cent, while Selby-Rickit plied her trade out the front with 13 goals,13 assists and an intercept to her name – the only Tactix intercept for the match. Karaka was huge with three gains (two intercepts) while Fitzpatrick was quiet compared to her usual form. Toeava led the assists tally with 19 and an intercept, while Tactix’ Pedersen and player of the match, Poi racked up 13 and 15 apiece to go with Selby-Rickit’s haul.

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

Northern Mystics 12 | 9 | 11 | 10 (42)
Mainland Tactix 13 | 11 | 10 | 9 (43)

STARTING SEVEN:

MYSTICS:

GS: Grace Nweke
GA: Filda Vui
WA: Peta Toeava
C: Tayla Earle
WD: Dani Gray
GD: Phoenix Karaka
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

TACTIX

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

ANZ Premiership – Round 9: First quarter flurry gifts Steel huge win

AN energetic and highly contested match opened Round 9 of ANZ Premiership action, with the penultimate round seeing Southern Steel host the Northern Mystics. The Steel may not be in with a chance at a grand final berth, but they played like it against the Mystics and burst out of the blocks for a huge four-goal win (51-47).

A nice start from both sides saw predictable end to end play early, with clean hands and patience around the court not seeing a heap of turnover ball. That being said, Taneisha Fifita’s early physicality earned a turnover and early 4-1 lead, using her body-on-body and movement to pressure a feed into Grace Nweke and creating a turnover from the off-balance goaler.

The quick release feed into Nweke proved crucial early, with both Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle not hesitating in the slightest and paying off. While the Steel had the early lead, the Mystics held up well defensively, blocking easy avenues into the goal circle. Kalifa McCollin’s early form impressed, and a couple of uncharacteristic errors from the Mystics allowed the Steel to extend an early lead, knocking away crucial ball. Where each team’s start was clean, they both seemed to lose confidence in the feed, with defence from both sides finding a wealth of loose ball.

An early change towards the end of the quarter saw Filda Vui take the court, and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit immediately stepped up a gear to negate any easy ball in attack. At the other end, McCollin continued to star, putting up 11 goals at 100 per cent accuracy and really putting that offensive pressure on the Mystics who seemed out of sorts. The Steel’s impressive start saw them run away with a 17 goals to eight first quarter lead, with McCollin and Ellen Halpenny keeping the Mystics’ heads on a swivel.

An even start to the second quarter saw the Mystics’ impressive feeds continue, though Kate Heffernan’s ability to limit Toeava’s influence paid dividends with the Steel able to stay ahead of the pack. Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton were dominant with ball in hand, with their constant movement and drives around the circle seeing the duo rocket ball into the circle. While the Mystics were getting plenty of hands to ball, they were unable to collect the loose pickup and win the possession back to drive down court. 

The Steel could not compete with the transition down court off the Mystics centre pass but made up for it in droves with their constant midcourt defence, forcing the Mystics into the corners of the centre third and blocking vision with their zone defence. With both teams adopting a patient approach to the circle feed, the continuous passing caused plenty of opportunity for turnovers in a much more even quarter. The combination of Halpenny and McCollin continues to grow with every match and it shone in this encounter, with the duo rotating better than ever and sharing the load well, forcing a one-on-one defensive approach from the Mystics. But despite that, finicky errors from the Steel say the Mystics claw back the margin, trailing by seven goals at the main break.

The second half saw another change to the Mystics, with Saviour Tui taking the court and using her smooth moving to form a better connection into the circle, able to assist both in and around circle edge. That being said, the side lost the vision and speed of Vui, which stagnated the attack and allowed the Steel to work the lead out once more. Crampton was unstoppable on both the first and second phase, constantly freeing herself from her opposition in Courtney Elliott and able to spot Halpenny’s clever use of space to speed ball into the circle. 

Vision into the circle was spot on by the Steel, with Crampton and Saunders connecting with ease while the patience getting ball inside the circle allowed the Steel attack to continue moving and rotating accordingly. With so much riding on the lob into Nweke, the height difference between Toeava and Heffernan became very apparent as the Mystics wing attack became hesitant on the feed, with Tui’s injection into the game not quite as impactful as expected. Another stellar quarter from the Steel saw the home side extend their lead once more, always a few steps ahead of the entire Mystics unit.

With 58 circle edge feeds to 14 with just a minute left on the clock before three quarter time, it was clear that the defensive pressure from the Steel – and particularly Heffernan and Saunders out the front – was negating any easy feeds into the circle, consistently blocking drives and taking pressure off Fifita and Selby-Rickit inside the circle. With a nine-goal lead heading into the final quarter, the Steel had all the momentum and looked the goods on their way to a fourth win.

The final quarter saw a huge change with Elliott transitioning from wing into goal defence and captain Phoenix Karaka to the bench, and while Elliott added another element to the defensive circle the Mystics lost some of that great run and carry from Karaka driving through the midcourt. Before long the Mystics had drawn back the margin though, shooting the first four of the quarter and Elliott having an instant impact with her energy and hunt for the ball. The battle between Elliott and McCollin was immense, with the duo well matched in the contest and ultimately balancing each other out through the centre. 

While the Mystics were hungry for the ball, the Steel managed to remain ahead with the workrate of Crampton and Saunders continuing to pay dividends. A huge turnover from Dani Gray with under five on the clock saw the Mystics get back a few in a row but patience out the front from the Steel denied a late comeback despite a three-goal margin seeing Mystics well within their chances in the last few minutes. The eventual four goal win (51-47) saw the Steel potentially taking away a huge chance at finals for the Mystics who did not look like a winning team from the get-go.

While McCollin looked ginger in the final few minutes after a couple heavy landings, she continued to star at the post and finished well with a whopping 32 goals from 36 attempts, while Halpenny aided well with 19 goals of her own. Saunders (17 assists) and Crampton (26 assists, one intercept) impressed with their constant pressure paying dividends, while Heffernan was huge with four intercepts. For the Mystics, Nweke racked up 41 goals at 93 per cent, while Toeava racked up 26 assists but five turnovers in the process. Defensively, Karaka, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Elliott combined for seven gains between them, but it was not enough after an excellent start from the Steel set everything in motion.

>>> STEEL TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

>>> FULL MATCH STATS

SOUTHERN STEEL 17 | 12 | 14 | 8 (51)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 8 | 14 | 12 | 18 (47)

Steel

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

 

Mystics

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

2020 ANZ Premiership- Preview: Round 9

TWO weeks out from ANZ Premiership finals, it is do or die for the Northern Mystics and Mainland Tactix who are battling for second spot on the ladder while the Central Pulse have first spot all but sewn up. Conversely, up the other end of the ladder the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel are keen to avoid the wooden spoon and progress up the rankings with a strong finish to the season.

Southern Steel v. Northern Mystics
Friday, 7 August

The round starts with a clash between fifth and third on the ladder with the Steel hosting the Mystics. The Steel will take plenty of confidence out of their last outing downing the Mystics by six goals in Round 7 and while they cannot make finals will be eager to influence how the rest of the season pans out.

The injuries for the Steel have come hard and fast especially in the goal circle but with a couple of games under their belts the connection between Ellen Halpenny and Kalifa McCollin is starting to blossom. Halpenny provides that calming element to the goal circle with her precise movements and impeccable timing to pop out right on cue while McCollin has plenty of flair and dynamism to keep the Mystics defenders busy. The two share the shooting load between them meaning the Mystics will have to focus their energy on both goalers if they are to shut down any easy avenue to post. Sulu Fitzpatrick is a seasoned campaigner able to hold her own in the goal circle and win back ball with her long arms and quick feet to get around the body of her opponent. Partner in crime Phoenix Karaka is just as damaging down back able to shut down her opponent with her smothering pressure and three-foot marking. Although the combination with McCollin and Halpenny is developing, Karaka and Fitzpatrick have proven to be a formidable force meaning the Steel will have to be on their a-game.

Wing defence Kate Heffernan has been in ripping form lately with the young midcourter taking everything in her stride and working hard to own that defensive position. She is a constant threat around circle edge with her long arms but will take on speedster Peta Toeava who not only oozes pace but is renowned for her quick release into the circle. The Steel have options if Heffernan is unable to shut down powerhouse wing attack with Kendall Corkery a more physical and niggly style of player, able to get under the skin of Toeava and reduce her efficiency in attack.

With second spot still up for grabs expect the Mystics to throw everything they have at the Steel and exploit their new connections across the court.

 

Southern Steel v. Central Pulse
Saturday, 8 August

Dropping their first game for this season last round expect the Central Pulse to come out with a real fire in the belly and get the job done early against the Southern Steel. Renowned for their full court pressure and ability to treasure ball the Pulse will be keen to rectify last week’s shortcomings but the Steel will take in a sense of belief after pushing the reigning premiers to their limits in their last meeting.

The midcourt battle will be ferocious with a couple of Silver Ferns lining up against each other. After somewhat of a quiet performance last week Karin Burger will be hoping to assert herself against the Steel and shut down Gina Crampton‘s drive to the top of the circle. Burger is recognised for her three foot marking and long arms to block vision into the goal circle, something that she will be hoping to bring against the Steel in order to limit the influence of Crampton in attack. Partner in crime Shannon Saunders is a real workhorse through the midcourt for the Steel able to have an influence both in an attack in attack and in defence. She will have the job on Pulse centre Claire Kersten making for an intriguing battle between the two given their similarities in game style. Kersten is the key for the Pulse through the midcourt able to provide that consistency and link between attack and defence.

Down on their usual accuracy last week the Central Pulse will be hoping that Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn deliver to post. Ekenasio is a real player maker through the attacking third with her impeccable timing and clever touch to deliver ball on a silver platter to Dunn. They have one of the strongest connections in the competition with the two able to light up the court with their flair and clever ability to create space time and time again. Dunn is a strong holding shooter that is able to post up and command the ball no matter the defensive pressure. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit is the most experienced defender in the Steel defensive unit and will have to lead by example if they are to win ball back. Goal keeper Taneisha Fifita has struggled in the past couple of weeks drawing a lot of attention from the umpires, something she will have to address this game if she is to mount pressure on the Pulse and not give them free attempts at goal. The introduction of Abby Erwood could provide that extra element of composure in defence.

Coming off a loss expect the Pulse to bounce back and showcase why they are the reigning premiers with a strong performance across all four quarters against the Steel.

Northern Mystics v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 9 August

In their second game of the round the Mystics will want to leave nothing to chance against the second placed Tactix in hope to progress up the ladder and get one step closer to securing a finals berth. In arguably the game of the round both teams will be hoping to prove their worth and showcase why they deserve a spot in the finals. These two teams have a decorated history and are evenly poised heading into the match.

It will all come down to the battle in the goal circle with teenage shooting prodigy Grace Nweke the key to Mystics success given her impressive holds, high volume and accuracy the post. Nweke is a commanding figure under the post and can change the course of a game in an instant given the speed with which she can score and her strength in the air to reel in errant passes time and time again. However their weakness lies within the goal attack position with the likes of Saviour Tui and Filda Vui exciting young prospects but unable to consistently deliver the output required. Tui and Vui are clever with ball in hand but sometimes lack the confidence to go to post piling a wealth of pressure on Nweke to deliver and steer the ship for the Mystics. On the other hand, the Tactix have one of the best defensive units in the competition with Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson ball magnets down back. Watson is exceptionally clean in defence, able to pick up ball without getting penalised and making her a constant threat for any team, while her drive through the midcourt provides an added boost to the Tactix transition. Impressive individually, the connection between the two defenders is what really puts them ahead of the pack given Fakahokotau can read the play with ease and dictate Watson’s position according to what is unfolding in front of her. It will be up to Vui and Tui to draw the attention of Watson to isolate Fakahokotau and Nweke under the post.

With speed to burn through the midcourt it will be an exciting battle between Tayla Earle and Tactix centre Kimiora Poi as the two possess very similar attributes in the way they hunt the ball and then seamlessly switch into attack. They will match each other for speed and vision into the circle making for a tight tussle. Toeava is another key cog for the Mystics in attack while for the Tactix Erikana Pedersen has proven to be the link into the goalers with her dynamic footwork, quick hands and confidence on the pass to bypass the defenders and look long.

The last time these two sides met the Tactix clinched the narrowest of victories and will be hoping to build on that momentum to edge further ahead on the ladder.

 

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic v. Northern Stars
Sunday, 9 August

In their sole game of the round expect both the Magic and Stars to go toe-to-toe throughout the four quarters. With a renewed sense of confidence and a win under their belt the Magic will be keen to keep the good times rolling and secure their second win in as many days. Plagued by inconsistency this season the Stars will be hoping to rectify their issues and record their fifth win.

There is no denying that Maia Wilson is the lynchpin in attack for the Stars with the goal shooter a commanding target under the post with her strong holds and high scoring nature. Wilson is incredibly accurate shooting at a combined 94 per cent last round, a feat she will be hoping to replicate once again this week to lead her side to victory. Although Wilson is the go to girl the Stars do their most damage when goal attack Jamie Hume goes to post and troubles the scoreboard. If she can draw the attention of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong it will alleviate the pressure on Wilson under the post and help split the circle to create more one on ones at the post. While Tong is not the tallest defender in the league she makes up for it with her aerial presence and impressive leap to get hands to ball and disrupt the flow in attack, something the Magic will be relying on throughout the contest.

Khiarna Williams has been a revelation for the Magic in attack proving she can play both goal shooter and goal attack with the 17-year-old taking like a duck to water each time she steps out on court. Her growing connection with Kelsey McPhee under the post and Abigail Latu-Meafou is something to behold as the trio are getting stronger and stronger each week. McPhee is an easy target under the post for the Magic meaning the Stars defensive unit of Storm Purvis, Kate Burley and Daystar Swift will have to put in the hard yards out the front to limit her influence to post. The high ball into the circle is often the go to passage of play for the Magic which plays into the tenacious and ball hungry Stars defence.

With relatively even match ups across the court it will come down to the midcourt battle with captain Sam Winders the barometer for the Magic and Grace Kara the playmaker for the Stars. If Winders can dictate the flow through the middle and win ball back the Magic could register another victory.

 

Central Pulse v. Mainland Tactix
Monday, 10 August

The final game of the round sees a battle of the top two teams with the Central Pulse hoping to make it three straight wins against the Mainland Tactix. Falling agonisingly short in Round 6 the Tactix will be hoping to go one better and upset the Pulse to prove that they are a real finals contender. Playing in their second game of the round it could come down to the depth on the bench and who can withstand the high intensity battle.

Ellie Bird has really hit her strides in the past couple of weeks with the goal shooter dictating the space and using her height to full advantage to reel in passes and shoot truly. Bird is an exciting prospect when she is on song able to nullify the influence of her defender and use her clever footwork to move around the body of her defender and allow the likes of Te Paea Selby-Rickit to come through and have an influence in the goal circle. Selby-Rickit, while she might not put up a wealth of shots, does a plethora of work out the front to deliver the ball into Bird and create attacking forays. In saying that, the Pulse have their own star power down in defence with Kelly Jury having a breakout season, showcasing her exceptional lean over the shot and read of the play to create constant disruption down back. Her ever developing connection with Katrina Rore causes plenty of headaches for opposition teams with the two able to hunt the ball while Elle Temu is a solid option off the bench, able to come on and have an immediate impact with her hands over pressure.

The Pulse have speed to burn through the centre court with Maddy Gordon a real excitement machine and energiser bunny able to hit the circle edge with great speed and tenacity. Impressive in attack it is Gordon’s work through the centre third and defensive pressure to try and win ball back that makes her such a dominant threat. Able to play both goal and wing attack Tiana Metuarau is another player to keep an eye on for the Pulse with her spatial awareness and pinpoint passes into the circle. It will be up to wing defence Charlotte Elley to really shut down the influence of Gordon and Metuarau to ensure that the Pulse have limited opportunity to go forward and score. In recent weeks the inclusion of Samon Nathan into wing defence has provided a different element for the Tactix down back.

Expect this game to go down to the wire with neither side willing to give an inch and fighting not only for the win but momentum heading into finals.

2020 SSN/ANZ: Stats wrap – Rounds 1/8

A NEW look stats wrap is in effect this week, with both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership taking the court on the weekend. While the ANZ Premiership is heading into its final rounds with some big performers stepping up towards the end of the season, the SSN had Round 1 over the weekend making for some interesting stats across the two rounds. It is important to take into consideration that the two leagues currently have different rules and matchplay times, with differing stats evident. 

ATTACK 

The introduction of the super shot added a new element to the SSN stage in the opening round, with Steph Wood (10 super shots), Jo Harten (nine) and Sam Gooden (nine) shouldering the super shot load for their respective teams, with Harten the most accurate of the trio missing just four attempts across the board to finish with an overall 86 per cent accuracy. Looking to tall timbers at the post, Jhaniele Fowler was hard to stop with 52 goals from 55 attempts (including two super shots) while Lenize Potgieter and Cara Koenen shot 35 goals apiece. In her new Collingwood colours Emma Ryde  impressed (34 from 38) and Sam Wallace (33 from 40) once again proved to be a solid target. Alice Teague-Neeld proved the nay-sayers she could have an impact with 10 goals at 67 per cent (including four super shots at 100 per cent accuracy) and plying her trade out the front with 19 goal assists and a gain to her name.

Heading across the ditch to the ANZ Premiership, there were a couple huge performers across the five matches, with repeat offenders in Maia Wilson (74 goals from 80 attempts) and Ellie Bird (63 from 72) adding to their goaling tallies off the back of two games apiece, while Grace Nweke racked up 38 goals from 44 attempts in her sole match for the round. The likes of Central Pulse duo Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn once again shared the load with 21 and 20 goals respectively in their first loss for the season, while there is no discounting the work ethic of Te Paea Selby-Rickit with the goal attack combining for 31 goals across her two games as well as her work out the front to finish with 25 goal assists.

MIDCOURT

The opening round of Super Netball saw Liz Watson not skip a beat over the off-season, racking up 28 goal assists from 49 feeds, while Chelsea Pitman picked up 26 centre pass receives credit to her take-off speed and first phase play. Both Watson and Charles also racked up a gain apiece, while Magpies midcourters Madi Browne (12 assists, one intercept) and Molly Jovic (two intercepts from 21 minutes of play) both impressed in their first matches, albeit Browne’s first on return from injury and Jovic on her overall debut. In wing defence there were a couple high performers, with young guns Kate Eddy (four intercepts, two pickups, three penalties) and Amy Parmenter (six intercepts, seven deflections (none to advantage), five turnovers) both plying their trade well in wing defence while Maisie Nankivell stepped up through the Thunderbirds midcourt with 12 goal assists and two intercepts though 14 penalties. Mahalia Cassidy also impressed on her return from injury with 17 assists from 35 feeds and two gains to her name.

Heading to the ANZ Premiership midcourt, the stand-out this round – and our Round 8 ANZ Premiership Player of the Week – was Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic’s Whitney Souness, with the speedster racking up 16 assists in her first match before finishing with 19 in her second, also picking up an intercept in each of her outings. Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle were consistent as ever in their winning outing against the Pulse, sharing the load on circle edge with 19 and 17 assists respectively, also picking up a gain apiece. Meanwhile, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan racked up a round-high 26 assists in her second outing of the round from 35 feeds though was kept quiet in her first match with just 12 assists, an effort matched for the most part by Erikana Pedersen who was explosive in her first outing (23 assists, one gain) but shared the load better in the second with Selby-Rickit. Meanwhile, Kate Heffernan and Sam Winders both racked up four intercepts apiece across their respective matches.

DEFENCE

Lauren Moore and Parmenter led the intercept tally for the round, with the two young guns stepping up with six intercepts apiece. Phumza Maweni put on an impressive final quarter performance to trip up the Firebirds attack and finish with six deflections and three intercepts, while veteran Geva Mentor proved she is still more than capable of pulling out impressive performances with nine deflections, closely followed by Sarah Klau (eight deflections and three rebounds) and Kim Jenner (seven and three). Jenner and partner in crime Tara Hinchliffe will want to clean up their act in the coming rounds, racking up a whopping 35 penalties between them to be first and second in the least preferred statline after Round 1.

On the ANZ Premiership stage, Temalisi Fakahokotau was consistent as ever down back with Jane Watson in their first outing combining for 11 gains (14 across two matches), while Georgia Tong stepped up with nine gains (six intercepts) in her first outing but was overshadowed in her second with just the three gains – still a solid effort. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit showcased her ball winning ability again this round with three and four gains, while Kate Burley continued to impress for the Stars with six gains (four intercepts) and two gains across her two matches, consistently matching up on court to have an impact despite the prowess of her opposition.

2020 ANZ & SSN: Five talking points – Rounds 1/8

IT was the first round of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) with a host of new rules coming into play and fresh faces gracing the court. Across the ditch things heated up in the ANZ Premiership as the fight for a spot in the top two continued with a couple of surprise results headlining the round.

Return of Suncorp Super Netball
There was plenty of debate around whether or not we would even see an SSN season with COVID-19 restrictions forcing teams to flee their state and seek refuge elsewhere to make the season viable. Queensland become home to the Vixens and Magpies as the Fever and Thunderbirds were set to travel to New South Wales. But only days out from the season opener a scare in COVID-19 numbers saw the SSN shift all teams to a hub in Queensland meaning both the GIANTS and NSW Swifts were now also on the move in hope to keep the season alive. Despite all the last minute changes to accommodation and fixture alterations, Round 1 kicked off with a bang with all eight teams putting on a competitive display and making full use of the new rules.

Super Shot in SSN
The controversial rule provided an element of theatrics throughout the round with youngster and Queensland Firebirds goaler Tippah Dwan the first player in the competition to sink the super shot. Each team approached the two point goal in a different way with Sunshine Coast Lightning the most effective of the eight teams thanks to the hot hand of Diamonds goaler, Steph Wood. The goal attack slotted a whopping 10 goals from 11 attempts at 91 per cent showcasing her rangy shot and accuracy. Her influence from perimeter edge single handedly changed the flow of the game for the Lightning. Newcomer Sam Gooden also took full advantage of the super shot with nine from 10 for the Thunderbirds. The super shot saw teams employ unconventional methods in the final minutes of the quarter with players opting to pass out from under the post in hope to score the maximum and worry the scoreboard.

Mystics put an end to Pulse’s winning streak
After leading for the entire game the Pulse fell off the boil in the final term with the Mystics sensing their lack of intensity and pouncing to claim the biggest upset of the season. it was a season defining game for the Mystics who are just off the Tactix in second on the ladder. The win against the reigning premiers gives them a huge confidence boost heading into the last couple of games. Their never say die attitude and effort on the last line of defence from Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka is what kept them in the game amassing a combined eight gains, four intercepts and 10 deflections. It was a return to form through the midcourt for Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle who after being well held in her previous outings commanded the ball in the attacking third and delivered it with speed.

Plenty of young talent littered throughout the SSN
The introduction of the extended benches and rolling subs has paid dividends for the young up and coming players in Australian netball with a host of exciting prospects debuting across Round 1. Adelaide Thunderbirds goaler Georgie Horjus made a name for herself in her first outing for the club with her inclination to go to post, silky movement out the front and playmaking abilities. Goaler Nyah Allen and midcourter Molly Jovic also debuted for Collingwood Magpies while Jacqui Newton also hit the court for the first time for the Vixens. Dwan impressed for the Firebirds with her attack to post while Lauren Moore took the competition by storm, winning player of the match honours thanks to her defensive prowess for the Swifts. For the Fever Sunday Aryang wowed out in goal defence with her hands over pressure and speed off the mark. There was no shortage of breakout performances with a wealth of developing players pleading their case for more court time given their ability to burst out of the blocks and have an impact on the court.

Magic claim first win since Round 1
In a topsy turvy affair it was the Magic that reigned supreme in the dying seconds to claim a hard-fought and well deserved win over the Steel. Tears of elation graced the face of captain Sam Winders after the game with the centre leaving nothing to chance and contesting every ball that came her way throughout the game. Despite having their chances to put their foot down and run away the Magic’s ball movement and confidence wavered in patches throughout the match gifting the Southern Steel a chance to work their way into the match and hold control. Whitney Souness provided the spark the Magic needed with a game defining intercept on the transverse line as Abigail Latu-Meafou delivered under the post. But it was the defensive efforts from Erena Mikaere, Georgia Tong and Holly Fowler that shone true for the Magic with the trio working in overdrive to cause a ruckus and win ball back. After notching up two draws and being so close in previous weeks their hard work finally paid off and it was evident just how much it meant to every player.

Centre Pass Podcast: Georgie Horjus interview (Round 1 wrap)

Centre Pass Podcast: Molly Jovic interview (Round 1 preview)