Tag: Te Paea Selby-Rickit

2020 ANZ Premiership season review – Mainland Tactix

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 season that was, as the Mainland Tactix made it to their first grand final in history.

Win-loss: 9-1-5
Ladder position: 2nd
Captain: Jane Watson

Overall season review:

It was a history-making season for the Mainland Tactix and while they did not get the chocolates on the day the showed plenty of fight and class throughout the season. it took a couple of rounds for the Tactix to really get going but once their connections fell into place across the court they proved to be a dominate side filled with plenty of match winners. In her first season with the club Te Paea Selby-Rickit made an immediate impact with the goal attack acting as a crucial link into Ellie Bird under the post. Selby-Rickit was a real playmaker out the front while Bird steadily grew with confidence throughout the season and was an integral player in getting the Tactix to the grand final. The speed through the midcourt was another standout for the Tactix as Kimiora Poi elevated her game to another level thanks to her drive through the centre third and defensive attributes to pick up ball. Returning from injury, Erikana Pedersen was a force to be reckoned with in at wing attack using her drive to the top of the goal circle and improving on her connection with Selby-Rickit and Bird while Samon Nathan proved to be a handy rotation through the centre third. Given the amount of star power in defence, Charlotte Elley often flew under the radar but the young wing defence was highly influential for the Tactix, able to nullify the influence of her opponent and continuously win ball back for her side thanks to her three foot marking. Although they fell short in the big dance the Tactix proved they have all the ingredients to mix it with the best.

Star player:

Captain Jane Watson had a phenomenal 2020 season, so much so she won the Player of the Year award after leading her side to their inaugural grand final. The way in which Watson attacked the ball was second to none, often driving that defensive unit and most importantly did it cleanly to remain in play. Her lean over the shot caused plenty of headaches for opposition shooters while her skill to transition the ball down court was another key element of her game play, proving she was not afraid to take the game on, even in the unfamilar position of goal defence. Her fancy footwork enabled her to manoeuvre around the body of opposition goalers and force timely tips and turnovers to give her side a chance to score.

Surprise packet:

While many knew what Temalisi Fakahokotau was capable of, it is fair to say there were some questions surrounding her ability to have an impact for four quarters coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, but the goal keeper well and truly answered the call. She fit seamlessly back into the defensive mix for the Tactix, able to consistently re-gather possession for her side credit to her read of the play and aerial ability. Fakahokotau was a wall in defence, contesting each and every pass and pushing her opponent high to force them out of their comfort zone. Her connection with Watson left many in awe with the duo able to swat away passes and seamlessly rotate within the circle making it incredibly difficult for teams to penetrate the defence.

2020 ANZ Premiership – Season stats leaders

THE 2020 ANZ Premiership season has come to a close with Central Pulse claiming back to back premierships after a dominant season. There were plenty of star players across the competition as Draft Central reflects on the top five players in each key performance indicator. Mainland Tactix and Northern Mystics impressed throughout the year with a couple of players featuring highly in the top five for their respective areas while Pulse also starred.

GOALS

Grace Nweke (471)
Maia Wilson (461)
Elie Bird (421)
Aliyah Dunn (340)
Kelsey McPhee (270)

It is no surprise that teenage shooting prodigy Grace Nweke tops the table for 2020 with the goal shooter once again starring for the Mystics with her high volume of shots week in week out and accuracy to post. Nweke proved to be a formidable force under the post credit to her sheer athleticism and strength. Hot on her heels in second place is Maia Wilson with the Northern Stars goal shooter guiding her side through the season acting as the go-to girl under the post. Wilson was consistent as ever and diversified her game in 2020 while Ellie Bird found some hot form towards the backend of the season to push her side into the grand final. Aliyah Dunn was influential for the Pulse sitting at the highest accuracy of the top 10 shooters in the league with 91 per cent highlighting just how damaging she was and the reason why the Pulse secured another premiership. The final spot in the top five goes to Kelsey McPhee who had somewhat of an up and down season but still managed to find the net to sink 240 goals for the year for the Magic.

CENTRE PASS RECEIVES

Gina Crampton (319)
Whitney Souness (311)
Grace Kara (250)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit (194)
Erikana Pedersen (182)

It was a testing season for the Southern Steel but that did not stop Gina Crampton with the wing attack plying her trade at the centre pass to receive a wealth of ball and create that flow in attack. Crampton showcased her speed and impressive timing to pop out at the line to take out number one spot while Whitney Souness was a key contributor for Waikato Bay of Plenty using her evasiveness to receive ball at the centre pass. Veteran and Stars captain, Grace Kara was strong at the line while two Mainland Tactix attackers round out the top five. Goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit was a real workhorse often involved in what felt like every second pass, while Erikana Pedersen showed no sign of slowing down, returning from injury this season.

FEEDS

Gina Crampton (434)
Grace Kara (394)
Whitney Souness (393)
Erikana Pedersen (384)
Peta Toeava (368)

Dominating the centre pass receives it is no surprise that Crampton starred around circle edge with her clever feeds credit to her exceptional vision into the circle. Kara was a real barometer for the Stars with the wing attack often controlling the tempo of the game and executing the pass into the shooter while Souness used her speed and give and go to hit circle edge for the Magic time and time again. Pedersen was solid for the Tactix varying her passes into the circle to keep the defenders guessing. Coming in at fifth was Peta Toeava with the speedy wing attack darting around the attacking third and taking advantage of her quick release to rack up the feeds.

REBOUNDS

Sulu Fitzpatrick (23)
Erena Mikaere (21)
Te Huinga Selby-Rickit (18)
Temalisi Fakahokotau  (16)
Katrina Rore (16)

In new colours for season 2020 Sulu Fitzpatrick did not skip a beat with the Mystics goal keeper oozing her class and experience to box out her opponents and gobble up rebounds. She was a tough competitor in the air often reeling in any shot that fell short while Erena Mikaere was also a commanding presence in the defensive third as her long limbs enabled her to collect a wealth of rebounds for Magic. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit toiled hard in defence for the Steel working in overdrive to reclaim possession while Mainland Tactix goal keeper Temalisi Fakahokotau came out with a point to prove after missing last season through injury. Fakahokotau was a menace on the rebound with her aerial ability and read on the shot while the experience and class of Katrina Rore shone allowing the Pulse defender to pick up plenty of ball.

DEFLECTIONS

Jane Watson (72)
Temalisi Fakahokotau (70)
Sulu Fitzpatrick (58)
Erena Mikaere (53)
Phoenix Karaka (49)

Mainland Tactix captain, Jane Watson led all-comers when it came to deflections with her long arms and read of the play causing a ruckus for opposition teams. Watson’s cleanliness at the contest and speed off the mark allowed her to impact the play. It is no surprise that partner in crime Fakahokotau took out second spot in the top five with the goal keeper injecting herself on the contest thanks to her fancy footwork to manoeuvre around her opponent. Fitzpatrick and Mikaere were consistent performers for their respective teams, often sitting back to read the flow of the game and then go out hunting to disrupt the attack. Captain Phoenix Karaka also proved to be a commanding force out in goal defence for the Mystics able to use her speed and long arms to force tips and chances to regain possession for her side.

INTERCEPTS

Kelly Jury (26)
Temalisi Fakahokotau (22)
Phoenix Karaka (22)
Kate Burley (22)
Karin Burger (22)

Swapping dresses in season 2020 and seeming to have recovered from a niggling shoulder injury, Kelly Jury showcased just how dominant she can be racking up a season high 26 intercepts. Jury was unstoppable in the defensive third, not afraid to go out hunting putting fear into the attackers. Fakahokotau was just as exciting as the goal keeper left no ball uncontested and used her footspeed to get hands to ball while Karaka also recorded 22 intercepts. Kate Burley was a silent achiever for the Stars showcasing moments of brilliance with her tenacity and relative cleanliness. The only non-circle defender, Karin Burger takes out fifth spot with the wing defence often leaving many in awe credit to her work around circle edge to not only stay on side but so too rack up the intercepts.

2020 Silver Ferns squad predictions

ONE day out from the Silver Ferns squad announcement, Draft Central has compiled a team of 16 potential players to don the black dress when the international season commences. We take a look at some new players likely to join the fray after an impressive 2020 ANZ Premiership season along with some familiar names also set to take the court.

Familiar faces:

There will be plenty of fan favourites raring to go for the 2020 international season with Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Katrina Rore and Karin Burger all likely to be named again in this year’s squad. The trio are a formidable force and are in scintillating form coming off a premiership in the ANZ Premiership and will be eager to replicate that level of intensity on the international stage, with Ekenasio the current Ferns captain. Other familiar names in Jane Watson and Te Paea Selby-Rickit have all but secured their spot once again in the Ferns outfit with Watson earning Player of the Year honours in the ANZ Premiership thanks to her dominance and cleanliness in defence while Selby-Rickit consistently showcased her playmaking abilities. Maia Wilson impressed with her accuracy, increased movement in the goal circle and heightened stamina while the midcourt combination of Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders is one of reliability and precision, something the Ferns will be hoping to take advantage of.

Next in line:

After starring throughout the ANZ Premiership season Kelly Jury has well and truly put her hand up for Ferns contention. The goal keeper has gone from strength to strength throughout the season working well with Rore and Burger in defence while her lean over the shot is an incredibly intimidating element to contend with for opposition teams. On the comeback from injury Temalisi Fakahokotau announced herself as a fierce competitor down back with her aerial presence and physicality under the post to win a host of possession and prime herself for selection. Up the other end in goal shooter, expect Aliyah Dunn to reclaim her spot in the black dress given her dominance to post, high volume of shots and increased versatility to come out of the circle and get on the move to shake up from her usual holding style of play.

The midcourt could have a new flavour with Kimiora Poi leading the charge for that starting centre bib thanks to her explosiveness and speed off the mark. She elevated her game to a whole new level throughout the domestic season and will be keen to carry that star power onto the international scene. Another possibility to re-join the Ferns for 2020 is Claire Kersten with the Pulse centre highlighting both her defensive and attacking attributes throughout the season to pick up ball and penetrate the attack. Magic captain, Sam Winders showcased her versatility to swing between wing defence and centre and could be a valuable inclusion into the Ferns midcourt and look to secure a permanent spot in the squad.

Maddy Gordon burst onto the scene in 2020 to well and truly cement her spot in the starting seven for the Central Pulse and put her hand up for Silver Ferns contention. Coming off an MVP performance in the grand final, the speedy midcourter injects enthusiasm and wisdom beyond her years to dart around the court and create space. Ultra-impressive in attack, her defensive efforts are just as captivating, able to track the ball with great ease to pick up intercepts or force deflections thanks to her incredible timing.

Who’s missing:

The Silver Ferns will be without a couple of key contributors, none bigger than veteran Laura Langman who announced on Monday her retirement from international duties. After being a key cog in the Ferns midcourt for the past 15 years it will be a huge loss for New Zealand and incredibly difficult to replace given her star power, gut running and reliability to do the unthinkable time and time again. Another notable absentee is Phoenix Karaka with the defender announcing her pregnancy while Michaela Sokolich-Beatson is also unlikely to be named in the squad, still recovering from injury.

Roughies:

While they might not get the call up to the Silver Ferns for the upcoming international season, Kate Heffernan and Grace Nweke are definitely knocking on the door. Heffernan was a quiet achiever for the Southern Steel across the ANZ Premiership season with the wing defence plying her trade and using her three-foot marking to block her opponents vision into the circle and pick up ball herself. Strong in defence, her work in transition was also impressive re-offering on the transverse line to allow her side to reset in attack. Nweke dominated under the post for the Mystics showcasing her sheer strength and athleticism week in and week out to topscore for her side. Her accuracy was second to none, often sitting in the high 90s and slicing up the defence, and most importantly withstanding the constant barrage of physicality under the post. Recovering from injury, it is yet to be seen whether or not Bailey Mes will be available to wear the black dress this year but if she is fit the experienced goaler will be a great asset to the Silver Ferns.

Predicted squad of 16:

Attack: Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Aliyah Dunn, Maia Wilson, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Bailey Mes
Midcourt: Claire Kersten, Kimiora Poi, Maddy Gordon, Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders, Sam Winders
Defence: Karin Burger, Katrina Rore, Jane Watson, Kelly Jury, Temalisi Fakahokotau

Pulse send off coach in style to claim back-to-back premierships

CENTRAL Pulse have made it back-to-back premierships defeating the Mainland Tactix in a dominant performance from start to finish (43-31). In coach Yvette McCausland-Durie’s final game and captain Katrina Rore’s 150th match the Pulse stepped it up a gear the minute they took the court ,forcing the Tactix to play catch-up netball credit to their strong structures and star power across the court.

The reigning premiers came out with a real fire in the belly in the opening minutes of the quarter with Kelly Jury making her intentions clear, claiming front position up against Ellie Bird to notch up the first intercept of the game and most importantly score off the Tactix centre pass. The Pulse opened up a handy two goal lead with Aliyah Dunn nailing the first for the evening before Ameliaranne Ekenasio hit the scoreboard moments later. After missing the last round of the home and away season Maddy Gordon was determined to leave nothing to chance, showcasing her defensive attributes to set the tone early and reel in an intercept off the Tactix centre pass. Ekenasio dominated at the post and set up a wealth of play in the attacking third to create a four goal to zero lead.

The first goal for the Tactix came through the hands of Te Paea Selby-Rickit at the eight minute mark of the quarter as the side in red started to find their rhythm sinking consecutive goals. Jury continued to toil away doing a wealth of work in defence especially over Bird’s shot while through the midcourt Kimiora Poi highlighted her defensive prowess and read of the play to regain possession and disrupt passages of play from the Pulse. It was blow for blow once both sides settled into the rhythm of the game and got the nerves out of their system but the Pulse were not content with that, increasing their full court defensive pressure and capitalising off turnovers. Gordon was having a blinder getting hands to ball and using her speed to burn down the court and hurt the Tactix in transition as they pulled away in the final minutes of the term to hold a six goal buffer.

Pulse picked up where they left off with an early win through an errant pass in which they capitalised on through the hands of Ekenasio. Gordon continued to impress, playing out of her skin, collecting yet another intercept off the Tactix centre pass thanks to her hunting style of play. The Pulse kept the Tactix to their lowest quarter time score in the season and were intent in keeping it that way as they skipped out to a 15-6 lead. Jury led the way in defence with another intercept, using her feet to cleanly get hands to ball and stop Mainland in their tracks. Both Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau struggled to contain Ekenasio and Dunn as the two were having a field day under the post unfazed by the physicality of the Tactix defenders and lean over the shot.

It was a bit of a stalemate midway through the quarter with neither side able to easily hit the scoreboard, as the ball travelled up and down the court to no real avail. Ekenasio continued to prove just how influential she is not only in the goal circle but in general play linking up exceptionally well with Gordon around circle edge. The Pulse pushed out to a nine goal lead despite a scrappy couple of minutes as the intensity lifted a notch. Back to back goals from the Tactix allowed them to cut the deficit to seven goals before Pulse centre Claire Kersten showcased her experience and vision to deliver ball into the shooters with precision and create a 10 goal lead.

After starring in the opening half, Gordon found herself on the bench as Tiana Metuarau entered the court in wing attack. A missed shot from the Tactix allowed the Pulse to pounce and score the first goal of the half with Dunn dominating to post. Charlotte Elley plied her trade through the midcourt to dice through the Pulse defence and re-offer at the transverse line while Poi worked exceptionally hard to win ball back and create timely tips. Wing defence, Karin Burger dominated Erikana Pedersen to nullify her influence around the circle, credit to her three-foot marking and quick footwork to constantly get hands to ball. Her defensive efforts worked hand in hand with Jury as the goal keeper endeavoured to make life hard for Bird in the goal circle to contest every single pass.

The change in attack seemed to hinder the Pulse’s second phase play as the physicality stepped it up a notch in the goal circle with Fakahokotau and Watson wearing both Dunn and Ekenasio like a glove to limit them to eight goals for the term. Up the other end, Selby-Rickit and Bird connected well finding each other on the hold as they rallied across the court. Elley picked up ball in defence as the Tactix cut the margin back to eight goals despite the lead being as much as 11 goals. They were not done with yet reducing the deficit to six goals to give them a fighting chance.

With the game on the line Gordon re-entered the match at wing attack as Ekenasio slotted the first of the term. Gordon did not skip a beat, immediately having an influence across the court, however the Tactix were mounting an admirable fightback to get within five goals as their strong defensive zone cut off the Pulse’s options in attack. But the Pulse flicked a switch with Gordon lighting up the court with her speed and Burger inserting herself into the action with a big intercept. With the clock ticking down Pulse ran rampant as their connections across court and silky ball movement enabled them to enhance the lead to 12 goals and gift them back-to-back premierships.

It was a battle of the towering goal shooters with Dunn leading the way under the post for Pulse with 28 goals from 30 attempts while up the other end Bird was the mainstay with 19 goals of her own at 83 per cent. The input from the goal attacks was where the game was won and lost with Ekenasio converting 15 goals and Selby-Rickit managing 12 goals.

It was a defensive masterclass from both sides as Jury proved to be a menace with two intercepts and two gains while Rore and Burger combined for three intercepts and four deflections. Watson led the way for the Tactix with three intercepts and two goal assists, an usual stat for a goal defence. But it was the work of Gordon that stood head and shoulders above the rest and despite only playing three quarters secured player of the match honours thanks to her 13 goal assists and three intercepts to cap off a sensational season for the youngster.

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE
>>> TACTIX TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL GAME STATS

Central Pulse 12 | 11 | 8 | 12 (43)
Mainland Tactix 6 | 7 | 11 | 7 (31)

STARTING SEVEN:

Central Pulse:

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

Mainland 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 – Head to head: Grand final

IN each round of the ANZ Premiership we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This week marks the grand final between the Pulse and Tactix as a host of highly touted players take the court, none more exciting than the battle between a pair of Silver Ferns teammates.

CENTRAL PULSE v. MAINLAND TACTIX
Katrina Rore (GD) v. Te Paea Selby-Rickit (GA)

Both players know each other’s game style extremely well having been around a while and spending time together in the Silver Ferns, making the contest between Katrina Rore and Te Paea Selby-Rickit a hotly contested battle. Rore has been hot and cold in recent weeks while Selby-Rickit has really built into the season and rejuvenated herself in her new colours.

The captain of the Pulse is an inspiration down back with her ball tracking abilities and lean over the shot. Although she has been a bit shaky in her past couple of appearances, throwing away uncharacteristic ball, Rore is no easy beat. She is able to jump into action and provide an element of excitement to the defensive third with her leap and skill to consistently get hands to ball to disrupt the flow of her oppositions attack. Rore is a menace both under the post with her lean but so too out the front with her tagging style of play, to go toe-to-toe with her opposing goal attack and nullify every single one of their drives. Working well with Kelly Jury in the defensive circle, Rore has valued the extra centimetres Jury has to offer able to go out hunting more and look for those cross-court passes, while also collecting tips off the goal keeper. Her partnership with Karin Burger is also important to the Pulse’s set-up with Rore and Burger often working in tandem to shut down the attacking third with their hands over pressure, quick footwork and smothering intensity to clog up space.

Selby-Rickit is a real barometer for the Tactix and can spark her side into action with her attacking forays. The goal attack is crafty with each of her possessions, often receiving every second pass to set up walls in attack and slice through opposition defences. Her fancy footwork and ability to baulk the ball catches defenders off-guard and allows her clear vision into the circle. Her connection with Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen both in the attacking and centre third is crucial to the Tactix game play, feeding off their speed to open space across the court. Selby-Rickit’s ability to get the give and go is another important element for her game play using her clever footwork to manoeuvre around her opponent with ease. Influential with ball in hand to link up with goal shooter Ellie Bird, Selby-Rickit is just as dominant in the goal circle with her ability to go to post from distance and close range. Although she does not put up a wealth of shots it is her composure to stand up and take ownership that often sets the tone for the Tactix in attack.

Selby-Rickit is a confidence player who thrives off having a strong start to any game, meaning if Rore can get in her head early and shut down her drive it will go a long way in tilting the favour towards the Pulse. The goal attacks’ accuracy and movement often suffers when she is down on confidence allowing the Pulse to reap the rewards and subsequently convert. However these two know each other’s game extremely well and know all of the tricks in the book making for an enthralling battle.

Other notable match-ups that should be taken into account is the battle between Temalisi Fakahokotau and Aliyah Dunn while Jane Watson up against Ameliaranne Ekenasio will also draw a lot attention given just how dominant each player is for their respective side.

ANZ Premiership: 2020 Grand final preview

IT all comes down to the final game of the season as the reigning premiers, Central Pulse look to make it two in a row while the Mainland Tactix are on the prowl for their inaugural piece of silverware. The Tactix will be riding a wave of confidence after knocking off the ladder leaders in Round 9 as their speed in transition and defensive efforts stifled the Pulse’s movement. On the other hand the Pulse know what it takes to win on the big stage and withstand the constant forays.

Central Pulse v. Mainland Tactix
Sunday, 23 August

With an extra week off the Pulse will be hoping that speedster Maddy Gordon is raring to go with the wing attack a key cog in attack with her drive, 1-2 punch around circle edge and quick feeds into the goal circle. Partner in crime through the midcourt Claire Kersten is another integral member of the Pulse attack and defensive unit given her skill and netball smarts to transition between the two roles seamlessly. She is often that link from the defensive third into the attacking third and controls the tempo of the game to ensure that possession is treasured for the Pulse. However she will have to compete with the speed of Kimiora Poi who has been in scintillating form towards the back end of the season for the Tactix. Poi has developed into a real barometer for the side, able to hit the circle edge in attack to deliver ball into the shooters while also pick up ball defensively.

Wing defence Charlotte Elley has also flown under the radar in season 2020 with the midcourter able to quell the influence of her opposition with her fancy footwork and intimidating three-foot lean to block their vision. Samon Nathan has also plied her trade in the wing defence position, using her speed and attacking mindset to match up on her opponents. Up the other end for the Tactix, Erikana Pedersen has not skipped a beat since returning from injury this season with the wing attack darting around the circle and using clever baulks to draw the attention of the defender and then release the ball into the circle. She will have her work cut out for her up against Silver Ferns and Pulse wing defence Karin Burger given her impressive footwork, height and deceptive closing speed to hunt the ball 24/7.

This game will be a game of defensive masterclasses with Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury both phenomenal athletes for the Pulse and able to win back a wealth of ball for their side. Jury is incredibly strong on the hold and in the air meaning that Ellie Bird will have to be on her a-game if she is to run a riot under the posts and give the Tactix any chance of winning their first premiership. Bird has shown in recent weeks that she is a real competitor and can adapt her game accordingly to ensure she has a profound impact on the scoreboard. It will also come down to whether or not Rore can nullify the influence of Te Paea Selby-Rickit not only in the goal circle but in the attacking third in general given she is a key playmaker for the Tactix with her crafty passes, vision, and spatial awareness. Selby-Rickit has proven to be a real barometer for her side, able to dictate the flow of in attack and often brings Bird into the game with her ability to draw the attention of the defender and isolate the 196cm shooter under the post.

The battles do not stop there as Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau head the defensive unit for the Mainland Tactix faced with the difficult task of shutting down the prolific Pulse shooting circle. Watson is an integral member of the Tactix line-up with the captain able to cleanly intercept the ball and remain in play to build pressure on the Pulse frontline and cause errors. Her defensive partner in Fakahokotau also builds pressure but through her physicality at the contest, aerial ability and vision to go out hunting and gobble up intercepts. However the Pulse are not without star power of their own in the goal circle with Aliyah Dunn able to hold strong in front position and use her footwork to edge closer to the post time and time again. She is a prominent figure and an easy release target down the line for the Pulse when in trouble something the Tactix will be hoping to shut down. The influence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio is also vital for the Central Pulse with the goal attack able to set the court alight with her silky movement, spatial awareness, and second phase play to continuously create movement in the attacking third. She is also not afraid to take the game on and engage in some body on body contact to win the ball under the post while also back herself from range making her a real threat. The Pulse also have a trump card in Tiana Metuarau with the 19-year-old able to swing between goal attack and wing attack with a blink of an eye and change the outlook of the game with her decision making and composure.

This game will go down to the wire as both sides boast formidable line-ups with game changers across the court. If Pulse regain Gordon and Ekenansio after they missed Round 9 they could be placed in a good stead to claim back-to-back premierships given their impressive connections across the court and quick transition through court.

2020 ANZ Premiership: Most developed players

WITH Round 10 of the ANZ Premiership season cancelled due to a change in COVID-19 restrictions, Draft Central casts an eye over each side’s most developed players for 2020 ahead of the finals. It has been an unconventional season to say the least with the ANZ Premiership season brought to a halt back March due to the pandemic and teams forced to fly in and out of Auckland to comply with the restrictions in place. But that did not stop each team from performing on the big stage, with the development of a couple of key youngsters front and centre.

NORTHERN MYSTICS – Grace Nweke

Without Silver Ferns goal attack Bailey Mes, the load landed on Grace Nweke and the teenager did not disappoint. The goal shooter was formidable under the post and constantly double teamed in the goal circle thanks to her prowess and ability to score with such ease. She leads all comers when it comes to goals with a whopping 471 at an impressive 89 per cent showcasing her complete and utter dominance. Nweke was the lynchpin for the Mystics in attack, using her height, read of the play, long arms and physicality to win majority of the passes that came her way. Her ability to work within the confined space and strong connection with Peta Toeava were simply unstoppable with the two able to sync up and score within seconds. Starring last season, there were plenty of questions about whether or not she would be able to back up this season, but it is fair to say that the 18-year-old went above and beyond. Her confidence grew throughout the season and allowed Saviour Tui, Asher Grapes and Filda Vui to ply their trade out the front.

NORTHERN STARS – Mila Reuelu-Buchanan

Northern Stars centre, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan has really come into her own in 2020 earning herself back-to-back appearances in Draft Central’s Team of the Week thanks to her dynamic movement. Her vision has developed tenfold in the latter half of the year, able to sight Maia Wilson with ease under the post and become a commanding figure in attack. Reuelu-Buchanan has been key for the Stars through the centre court, often organising traffic with her well-directed passes and applying strong hands over pressure to try and slow down her opposition. The 22-year-old stepped up in the absence of Temepara Bailey who retired last year, getting down to business each and every time she takes the court. She consistently showcases her high endurance to run out full games in the centre position and not tire while combining well with Grace Kara and Jamie Hume on the front line. Her adaptability to cater for the frequent changes in wing defence with Lisa Mather and Fa’amu Ioane rotating through was also on show.

WAIKATO BAY OF PLENTY MAGIC – Kelsey McPhee

Although it was a challenging season for the Magic, Kelsey McPhee proved to be a shining light for Waikato Bay of Plenty with the goal shooter increasing her accuracy and volume to post. Shaky on the shot at times, McPhee displayed her strength to reel in the rebound and block out defenders to give her side a second chance on the shot. Carrying a knee injury later in the season the shooter rose above highlighting her grit and determination. Her ability to shake up her game play was also crucial for the Magic as she got on the move more frequently to drive out of the circle and allow either Abigail Latu-Meafou or Khiarna Williams to float in while her strong holds also allowed the Magic to score quickly. Her 1-2 connection with Whitney Souness was also solid as the two combined on circle edge and from distance credit to her aerial presence.

CENTRAL PULSE – Maddy Gordon

It became apparent in the Pulse’s Round 9 loss to the Tactix just how influential Maddy Gordon is with the pocket rocket able to set the court alight with her turn of pace and slick hands. Relishing the extra court time in 2020 Gordon has taken everything in her stride, hitting the circle edge with speed and precision to deliver the ball on a silver platter to Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. She is crafty with ball in hand and at times can fly under the radar given the amount of big names across the court but has made a name for herself this season with her constant give and go. Strong in attack her defensive pressure is also a key asset of her game able to win back through the centre third with her three-foot marking and deceptive leap. Her connection with Claire Kersten has developed at a rate of knots throughout the season allowing the two to swing the ball across the court with ease to create space and keep the defenders head on a swivel.

MAINLAND TACTIX – Kimiora Poi

Kimiora Poi is another centre court player who has been in ripping form throughout 2020 and put her hand up for Silver Ferns contention thanks to her strong drives and endurance. She has been a key cog through the midcourt for the Tactix, using her zippy speed to cut through the defence and claim possession. She is quick off the mark and is patient with ball in hand, not afraid to work the ball to circle edge or deliver from distance into the goalers. Her high release on the pass allows Ellie Bird to grab the ball at its peak and keep defenders at bay while her short and sharp interactions with Te Paea Selby-Rickit is a testament to her ability to read the play and play accordingly. Poi is constantly on the move, rotating around the circle edge and setting up clever triangle plays with the goalers and Erikana Pedersen to keep the defenders guessing.

SOUTHERN STEEL – Kate Heffernan

A relatively unknown quantity heading into the season, Kate Heffernan took the competition by storm in 2020 and all but cemented her spot as the starting wing defence for the Steel. She is electric across the court credit to her impressive closing speed to create doubt in the receivers mind and force turnovers. her long wingspan is a crucial to the Steel in defence able to apply strong hands over pressure to block her oppositions vision into the circle and make life hard for them around circle edge. Heffernan is also strong in transition constantly reoffering on the transverse line to reset play or drive through the centre third to punch through and open up space. Her connection with the experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and youngster Taneisha Fifita in defence and combine with Shannon Saunders through the midcourt allows her to play with confidence and back herself to go out hunting for an intercept.

2020 ANZ & SSN: Five talking points – Rounds 9/2

WITH the race to finals heating up in the ANZ Premiership and Round 2 of the Suncorp Super Netball done and dusted there were a couple of stellar individual performances that stood out. The Swifts managed a narrow win against the ever improving Fever while across the ditch the Tactix made history securing their first spot in a grand final.

Sophie Garbin’s third quarter blitz
Down by eight goals at half-time, the Swifts found themselves in an unfamiliar position but the switch up of Sophie Garbin into goal shooter seemed to be the answer they were looking for as she single-handedly altered the game. her individual effort of 21 goals left fans and teammates alike in awe as Garbin slotted 13 consecutive goals to draw level and then push her side into the lead for the first time in the match. Garbin showcased her impressive strength under the post and ability to control the tempo of the game to set the tone for her midcourters in Maddy Proud and Pagie Hadley while her connection with Helen Housby was also on song. Her blistering third quarter performance will be sure to put the rest of the competition on high alert.

Tactix set to secure first ever grand final berth
An impressive round of action from the Mainland Tactix gifted them second spot on the ladder registering two wins from two games to book a date with Central Pulse in the grand final. It will be the first time the Tactix have played in a grand final despite it still being two weeks around. They will take plenty of confidence coming out of their Round 9 performance downing reigning premiers Central Pulse and Northern Mystics who were hot on their tail in third. Ellie Bird has come into her own in the past couple of rounds with the goaler finding a wealth of space under the post and sitting at a high accuracy while her ever growing connection with Te Paea Selby-Rickit is one to watch. The speed through the midcourt or Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen is damaging while in defence the consistent effort from Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau is undeniable. The defensive duo repeatedly won ball back across Round 9 and were a key reason for their success, shutting down the oppositions flow in attack as the shooters capitalised on their chances to send a warning shot to fellow grand finalists, Pulse.

Fever should not be underestimated
Coming up against the reigning premiers West Coast Fever burst out of the blocks against the Swifts and were keen to prove they mean business. Without captain Courtney Bruce down the back it was the youngsters in Olivia Lewis, Sunday Aryang and Jess Anstiss that stood up. Tasked with the challenge of quelling Sam Wallace at the post, Lewis stepped up to the plate ultimately forcing the goaler off the court thanks to her smothering style of play and ability to dictate the space. In attack, Jhaniele Fowler was dominant as ever owning the space both underneath the post and perimeter edge to sink four from six super shots. Fowler finished with an incredibly accurate 53 goals from 57 attempts while the improved efforts of Alice Teague-Neeld did not go unnoticed as the goal attack found the net more frequently and delivered the ball with great confidence into Fowler. Although they fell agonisingly short the Fever showcased their skill to score quickly and easily and win ball back in defence despite being undermanned.

Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maddy Gordon are key for the Pulse
The Central Pulse suffered their second loss in as many weeks, this time at the hands of the Mainland Tactix. In saying that the top of the table Pulse were without a couple of key playmakers in the attacking third with Maddy Gordon and Ameliaranne Ekenasio both not taking the court. Claire Kersten also played out of position in wing attack gifting Renee Savai’inaea some valuable court time while Tiana Metuarau played out the full game in goal attack. They seemed stagnant in attack without Ekenasio and Gordon with the court, given how much the duo do off the ball and ability to create space to ensure the front end works like a well-oiled machine. The Pulse missed Ekenasio both in the goal circle and out the front credit to the mountain load of work she does to bring the ball down and accuracy to post while the speed and dynamic movement of Gordon was also sorely missed.

Steph Wood the barometer in attack for the Lightning
Flat on their feet in the opening half the introduction of Steph Wood paid dividends for the Lightning who immediately kicked into gear when the goal attack took the court in the final 90 seconds of the second quarter. Originally expected to start the game, a slight niggle saw Wood take a seat on the bench and Lightning throw the bibs around with Cara Koenen getting the nod at goal attack and Peace Proscovia in at goal shooter. Out of sorts in attack, Wood came on and had a profound impact despite not being accurate to post. Her  sheer presence shifted the entire momentum of the game with Laura Langman and Laura Scherian raising the bar in attack and feeding off Wood’s intensity. Her spatial awareness, exceptional delivery into the circle and fancy footwork injected an element of life into the Lightning who rallied in the third to claim their second win of the season.

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 – Head to head: Round 9

IN each round of the ANZ Premiership we will identify one key match-up, provide an in-depth analysis of both players and compare the two styles. This week sees a couple of tall timbers match up under the post making for an enthralling battle.

CENTRAL PULSE v. MAINLAND TACTIX
Kelly Jury (GK) v. Ellie Bird (GS)

The contest between Mainland Tactix goal shooter Ellie Bird and Central Pulse goal keeper Kelly Jury will be exciting to say the least given what is at stake for both sides. In past outings it has been a tight tussle between the two under the post with Bird the main avenue to post for the Tactix thanks to her height and prolific nature while Jury has proven to be one of the best off-season pickups given her seamless transition into the Pulse line-up.

Bird has been in scintillating form as of late thanks to her increased accuracy and volume to post. Sometimes shaky on the shot, Bird has rapidly improved throughout the season and subsequently grown with confidence allowing her Tactix teammates to deliver the ball with precision into her. Standing at 196cm Bird is a commanding prospect under the post and is not afraid of the physicality in the goal circle, often taking it in her stride. The goal shooter plays a traditional holding style of game relying on her height and long arms to reel in ball while her balance is relatively impressive given her height. In recent weeks Bird has added an extra element to her game day performance popping out of the circle to provide that release or outlet pass for the Tactix when the pressure is mounting. In their first season together the connection between Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit has been damaging when on song with the two able to rotate through the space seamlessly and Selby-Rickit taking the heat off Bird. The speed through the midcourt of Kimiora Poi and Erikana Pedersen has paid dividends for Bird with the goal shooter relishing the quick release and enabling her to claim front position to score quickly and easily while the defence is still setting up.

There is no denying that Jury has been in ripping form with her increased pressure and hunt for the ball on constant display. Her long arms enables her to gobble up any loose ball that comes her way while her constant movement and clever footwork to manoeuvre around the body of her opponent gives her a wealth of opportunities to create turnovers. Although she might not win each and every ball that comes her way it is her second efforts and never say die attitude that sparks the Pulse defence to keep fighting. The 24-year-old is an exciting prospect that has really come into her own this season with her increased endurance and strong connections with Katrina Rore and Karin Burger. The strength of Rore and Burger allows Jury to roam freely in the defensive third and go out searching for that big intercept. But it is the balance between knowing when to attack and when to sit on her shooter that makes her a damaging player while she also takes full advantage of her height to be a real menace in the air.

There is a lot on the line for both teams with the Tactix hoping to gain an upper hand and second spot on the ladder while the Pulse are eager to get back to their winning ways. Matched for height in the circle it will come down to ball delivery for the Tactix and whether or not Bird can dictate the space with her strong holds to ward off the menacing Jury. For the Pulse it will be up to a combined effort from Jury and Rore if they are to shut down the Tactix shooting sensation and notch up another win.