Tag: tiana metuarau

2020 ANZ Premiership – Five talking points: Round 3

THE ANZ Premiership delivered once again over the weekend with all six teams showcasing their skill and dominance across the court. Round 3 was unfortunately marred with injury while the Pulse continued their merry way and ended the Mystics winning streak on the way. 

Steel claim first win of the season:
In their second game of the round the Southern Steel mustered up a strong performance downing the Northern Stars in a rematch of the elimination final that saw them knocked out of grand final contention in 2019. It was a hot start for the Steel who proved that when firing on all cylinders they are hard to beat and are classy with ball in hand. Jennifer O’Connell was a commanding presence under the post, able to clearly indicate where she wanted the ball and use her footwork to ward off defenders. Through the midcourt the class of Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton shone through with the tried and tested duo relying on their strong connection to thread the ball through the defence and deliver the ball on a silver platter to O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. The shared effort between the two midcourters worked wonders with defenders unable to effectively stop their consistent output around the circle edge. 

Defensive masterclass:
Round 3 was heavily dictated by defence with the Tactix keeping the Magic to 36 goals for the game, Mystics restricting the Steel to 42 goals and Pulse limiting the Mystics to 35. Dominant performances from Tactix duo Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau set tongues wagging with the two putting on a clinic down back with a combined 11 gains, five intercepts, four rebounds and six deflections. Watson elevated her game even further, only registering the one penalty for the match, showcasing her restraint and cleanliness at the contest. For the Mystics the combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka worked wonders with the two applying a wealth of pressure to shut down options and pick off passes with 13 gains, seven intercepts, eight deflections and one rebound between them in the clash against the Steel. Although the Pulse defensive unit did not have a stats filling performance it was their perceived pressure and stifling style of play that caused havoc, shutting down their opponents’ every move. Kelly Jury and Katrina Rore managed four gains, three deflections and two rebounds. 

Devastating injury blow to young up and coming goaler:
After settling into the attacking unit, Southern Steel’s Georgia Heffernan was struck down with a knee injury midway through the third quarter against the Northern Stars. Awaiting confirmation to the extent of the injury, Heffernan could be a huge loss for the Steel who were starting to find their rhythm in attack with the young goaler able to come on and have an immediate impact credit to her height and netball nous. In her first season at ANZ level Heffernan was steadily building into her role on court, displaying her accuracy to post and clever movement in the attacking third. 

Magic need to unlock their shooting potential:
Despite challenging both the Mystics and Tactix in the past two rounds the Magic have been unable to do enough on the scoreboard to worry their opponents and collect the win. In Round 2 the Magic managed 40 goals while their Round 3 total was even lower with 36 goals. Although the combination of Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kelsey McPhee is strong they simply cannot generate enough opportunities at goal to put up a commanding score. In the second half against the Tactix, the Magic due only scored 14 goals – seven goals per quarter – while their opponents piled on 14 goals alone in the third term showcasing just how much the Magic’s attack end struggled. While accuracy was not a huge problem with McPhee sitting at 81 per cent and Latu-Meafou at 71 per cent, it was their output that did the damage with McPhee converting 21 goals and Latu-Meafou sinking 15. 

Pulse are still the team to beat:
In a gruelling four quarter battle against the Mystics, the Pulse had the final say, running over the top of their competitors in the last quarter. It was a strong showing from the Mystics but the reigning premiers were simply too good, able to wear their opponents down and capitalise on their opportunities. Clever with ball in hand and strong in defence the Pulse won ball back and propelled the ball back down court to create plenty of attacking forays. Their ability to withstand pressure and rise to the occasion is second to none. Inspired by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Tiana Metaurau in attack the Pulse looked revitalised and composed giving them that much needed competitive edge while the speed and excitement of Maddy Gordon helped to lift the Pulse. 

ANZ Premiership: Round 3 – Pulse hold off a determined Mystics outfit

IN a battle of the undefeated teams it was the reigning premiers that came out on top in what was an intense and highly defensive battle to finish the third round of the ANZ Premiership. Neither the Pulse or Mystics were willing to give an inch and despite it being their second game of the round the Mystics did not seem fazed coming out strong and sticking to their structures but ultimately the Pulse had all the answers able to combat everything thrown at them. The lead chopped and changed throughout the game before the Pulse pulled away in the final term to run away with a seven goal victory (42-35) and keep their perfect record intact. 

The opening term started with a bang with both sides feeling each other out. With the centre pass in hand, the Pulse hit the scoreboard first and converted off a turnover to nail two goals in a row despite the immense pressure from the Mystics. The Mystics made it hard in defence for the Pulse, clogging up the space and making Pulse flick the ball around. It was a scrappy couple of minutes from both teams with a lot of turnover ball before the Pulse started to settle in. Youngster Maddy Gordon continued her hot form from last round, lighting up the court with her speed and deceptive pressure while Aliyah Dunn showcased her strength with her solid positioning on the rebound and ability to find good space in the circle. The Mystics were costly in attack giving away a couple of offensive penalties allowing the Pulse to go on a mini goal scoring spree and open up a four goal buffer with seven minutes left in the quarter. Kelly Jury made Grace Nweke work for every ball before the Mystics goal shooter started to find her groove in attack and hold more of a commanding position. Pulse, goal defence Katrina Rore showcased her class taking a screaming intercept through the midcourt followed with a quick transition down the court and easy conversion under the post. The Pulse kept the pressure up going on another three goal run at the four minute mark while Nweke kept getting caught on the body and getting pinned for penalties. But she quickly changed up her game play sparking the Mystics in attack and prompting a flurry of goals to reduce the margin to two heading into the break. 

Much like the first, the second was filled with intensity and excitement, however it was the Mystics that seemed to have the upper hand. Peta Toeava found Nweke with ease under the post, constantly delivering the ball to her on a silver platter. Disregarding the height difference between Toeava and Karin Burger, the wing attack had a field day, turning Burger inside out with her speed off the mark and unstoppable connection with Nweke. In defence the Mystics applied a wealth of pressure with Sulu Fitzpatrick and Phoenix Karaka shutting down every single option making the Pulse work for absolutely everything. With nine minutes remaining in the quarter, scores were tied up with the Mystics looking much more composed with ball in hand so much so they went on a three goal running spree to snatch the lead for the first time this match. Nweke was doing all the damage for the Mystics with Asher Grapes only managing the one goal for the game while the Pulse goalers struggled for accuracy. Sloppiness continued for the Pulse with Gordon breaking the centre pass and the Mystics applying a wealth of pressure only limiting the reigning premiers to two goals up until the 5 minute mark. With less than two minutes to go the Pulse kicked it up a gear inspired by captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Dunn stringing four goals together and clenching a one goal lead. 

The half time break did not slow either side down but brought plenty of changes. A slow start from Grapes saw Saviour Tui come on at goal attack for the Mystics while moments later Tiana Metuarau pulled on the wing attack bib for the Pulse. It was goal for goal for most of the quarter with neither side willing to give up possession before the Mystics defence prevailed forcing a turnover. It did not take long for the Pulse to return serve with Jury and Rore working in overdrive to claim a huge rebound. Toeava seemed to have the ball on a string able to deliver to Nweke with ease while for the Pulse Claire Kersten kicked it up a gear, linking well with Ekenasio in the attacking third. After being level pegging for the opening couple of minutes the Mystics took the lead capitalizing off the back of a turnover sparked by Fitzpatrick while Jury kept getting pinned for contact thanks to Nweke being so strong on the hold. With the Pulse struggling to generate turnover ball in defence and hit the scoreboard, Dunn went to the bench pushing Ekenasio to goal shooter while Metuarau moved into her preferred position of goal attack. The change up seemed to be the spark the Pulse needed with Ekenasio upping the ante in attack and Metuarau good on the shot. After a quiet start, Burger leapt into action taking an important intercept to swing momentum back to Pulse, helping her side to three consecutive goals with Metuarau nailing a shot on the buzzer. 

With the final 12 minutes of the game underway the Pulse unleashed, proving why they are still the team to beat. A turnover from the Mystics gifted the Pulse with an opportunity to bounce and that they did. Pulse were not afraid to go back and reset the play instead working the ball around to find an opening. The Mystics lost their way with Nweke giving away another offensive penalty while the Pulse kicked it up a gear to really pull away and cement their spot as top dog. It was a physical encounter with bodies flying everywhere, Gordon hit the deck midway through the quarter but immediately bounced back up. Ekenasio was as cool as they come under the post for the Pulse, dictating the play and sinking them from here, there and everywhere to push her side out to a solid lead. 

It was an accurate display of shooting with Dunn finishing the game with 12 from 14 before heading to the bench while Nweke also flexed her muscles under the post sitting at 85 per cent thanks to her 28 from 33 attempts. The real difference came from the goal attack output with Ekenasio a strong target under the post and converting 21 from 24 while Mystics youngster Tui struggled to generate a lot of scoring opportunities with six from seven. Fitzpatrick was key in defence with two gains, four deflections and two rebounds while Burger managed three intercepts and three gains.

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> MYSTICS TEAM PAGE

CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 8 | 12 | 12 (42)
NORTHERN MYSTICS 8 | 9 | 11 | 7 (35)

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

Northern Mystics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> FULL MATCH STATISTICS

>>> PULSE TEAM PAGE

>>> STARS TEAM PAGE

STARTING SEVENS:

NORTHERN STARS:

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

CENTRAL PULSE:

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

Central Pulse: What has changed?

THE ANZ Premiership returns this week after an enforced hiatus due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The break has done wonders for some teams allowing them to iron out issues and give time for players to focus on recovery. However some teams return to the season a little different than how they entered the 2020 season. Draft Central takes a look back at the Round 1 action, 2019 season and what has changed over the last couple of months. 

Coach: Yvette McCausland-Durie
Captain: Katrina Rore
2019 finish: 1st

Overview:
The reigning premiers will be hoping to keep that winning momentum rolling throughout 2020 and claim back-to-back premierships, something that is not unreasonable given the star power they have across the court. With a win already under their belt and a good mix of young up and coming players along with experienced heads the Pulse are in a commanding position heading into the season restart. 

Changes:
Heading into the start of season with a slight shoulder niggle youngster Kelly Jury will hopefully be at full fitness with the talented goal keeper a real threat to be reckoned with in the defensive third. Although it was only a brief appearance in Round 1, it was enough to excite Pulse fans with her long reach, lean over the shot and ability to read the play. With goal attack Tiana Metuarau not named in the Round 1 clash expect the quick footed shooter to be back amongst the mix in the coming games and once again assert herself with her play making skills and ability to deliver into the circle. 

Looking ahead:
The tried and tested duo of Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio will be looking to take their connection to the next level in 2020 and cause even more havoc under the post with their impressive movement, accuracy to post and general netball understanding. With a relatively unchanged line-up the biggest shake-up comes to an already stacked defensive unit with Jury joining the likes of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger a combination which has already proven to be formidable. With further time to nut out the nitty gritties of their defensive combo the Pulse will once again be in a dominant position. While through the midcourt the Pulse offer plenty of speed and variety with Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon able to switch between wing attack and centre. 

Key player:
A pivotal player in last year’s premiership ending drought, soon to be 21-year-old Aliyah Dunn has both youth and experience on her side. Heading into her third season the talented goaler knows what it takes to withstand immense defensive pressure and most importantly deliver. Her strong holds under the post, clever body positioning to ward off defenders and high volume of shots makes her one of the most intimidating goalers to take the court. Throw in her skill to shoot quickly and turn a game on its head with her aerial strength to reel in passes and Dunn is a key cog for the Pulse. 

Fantasy teams: New Zealand A v. Jamaica

NEW Zealand have steadily developed the next tier of players over the past couple of years with coach Noeline Taurua taking a clear look to the future of the Silver Ferns as shown with the New Zealand A team. Pitted up against a developing yet strong Jamaican team the battle sees a variety of up and coming stars as well as some experienced and well-versed international players.

New Zealand A:

GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick
GD: Kayla Cullen
WD: Sam Winders
C: Kimiora Poi
WA: Whitney Souness
GA: Tiana Metuarau
GS: Maia Wilson

BENCH: Ellie Bird, Maddy Gordon, Temalisi Fakahokotau

Starting in defence is Pulse premiership player and electrifying goal keeper Sulu Fitzpatrick. The defender is quick on her feet, can leap into action in a heartbeat given her impressive hops and is extremely dynamic both in the air and at ground level. Accompanying her is former Silver Fern and lanky defender Kayla Cullen who oozes nothing but class. She can ply her trade in goal defence, goal keeper or wing defence such is her netball understanding, versatility, strong movement and read of the play making life hard for opposition attackers.

The midcourt is littered with nimble and speedy players that are renowned for their ability to dart around the court and cause havoc. Wing defence, Sam Winders knows what it takes to play at the highest level having stepped out on court for the Ferns multiple times. Her defensive pressure, three-foot marking and ability to shadow attackers makes her a daunting prospect for many as she is constantly on the lookout for her next intercept or tip. Energiser bunny, Kimiora Poi gets the nod at centre with the 168cm nippy midcourter able to exploit every tiny bit of space and use her speed to burn off opponents. Her quick hands into the circle also allows her to catch defenders off guard and deliver pin point passes into the shooters. Partner in crime, Whitney Souness takes out the wing attack position. Although she plays a similar role to Poi given their speed and dynamic movement, her strength around the circle edge and general ball placement to feed into the circle makes her a promising prospect for New Zealand netball.

Looking into the goal circle there is no shortage of talent headlined by the likes of Northern Stars goaler in the ANZ Premiership, Maia Wilson. The 22-year-old has come along in leaps and bounds with her strong holds, and clever footwork, while her impressive rebounding ability, high volume of shorts and accuracy to post are just a couple of key components in her game play. Out in goal attack is Tiana Metuarau who much like her other teammates has developed at a rate of knots with her impressive timing along the baseline and skill with ball in hand. Metuarau has speed to burn, is confident in the attacking third and is not afraid to take the game on.

Rounding out the squad is physical and ball winning defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, speedster Maddy Gordon and holding goaler Ellie Bird.

Jamaica:

GK: Shamera Sterling
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
WD: Vangelee Williams
C: Adean Thomas
WA: Nicole Dixon
GA: Shanice Beckford
GS: Jhaniele Fowler

BENCH: Romelda Aiken, Khadijah Williams, Kadie-Ann Dehaney

There is no denying that the Sunshine Girls are bookended with top tier talent, able to turn a game on its head in a matter of seconds. Down in defence, Shamera Sterling leads the way with the long-limbed defender able to get a hand in everything that comes her way. Her ability to read the play, take a screaming intercept and constantly reject the ball from entering the goal circle is second to none. Out in goal defence, Jodi-Ann Ward plays a less flashy role than her defensive counterpart but still has an undeniable influence with her quick footwork, strong hands over pressure and court coverage to force timely turnovers. Ward is also very versatile able to move into wing defence and goal keeper when needed, giving her that competitive edge.

The midcourt is quite dynamic with all three players possessing plenty of speed to run opponents off their feet. The defensive minded Vangelee Williams is constantly on the hunt for an intercept with the wing defence able to read the play effortlessly and drop into the holes across the court. She is strong around circle edge to create tips and block easy access into the attacking third. Moving into centre is Adean Thomas with the 173cm midcourter able to take the ball at full speed and stop on a dime credit to her control and balance. Thomas is an exciting player to watch, able to light up the court with her playmaking style, dynamic footwork and vision into the circle. Similarly, Nicole Dixon plays with plenty of attacking flair able to find her fair share of space around the circle edge and deliver the ball into the goalers. She is quick off the mark and hardly ever stands still, always looking to work the angles and be an option in the attacking third.

Goal attack Shanice Beckford has speed and skill to boot, able to get under the feet of opposition defenders and command the ball despite her small stature. She is not afraid to back herself under or away from the post and is a real playmaker for Jamaica. Standing tall in goal shooter is Jhaniele Fowler with the 198cm goaler a commanding presence under the post. Her strength in the air is almost unmatchable, constantly reeling down any high balls, and using her body to ward off any oncoming defenders. She is hardly ever fazed by the defensive pressure and puts up a high volume of goals at an even higher accuracy.

On the bench is fellow towering goaler Romelda Aiken, along with dynamic midcourter Khadijah Williams and the ever-reliable Kadie-Ann Dehaney.

Who would win?

Boasting a slightly stronger midcourt group the New Zealand A team have the upper hand in the middle third with the likes of Winders, Poi and Souness all strong options. While Jamaica ooze nothing but class in both the goal keeper and goal shooter positions thanks to Sterling and Fowler it comes down to whether or not the Sunshine Girls can get on top of Wilson and Fitzpatrick to really romp it home something they definitely have the capability to do. With speed to boot and an uncanny intercepting ability Jamaica have a clear upper hand when it comes to not only connections across the court but so too scoring prowess.

Up and coming players in the ANZ Premiership: Part 2

WITH the ANZ Premiership set to commence on June 19 netball fans around the world are gearing up for another eventful season. With Round 1 wins going to the reigning premiers Central Pulse along with the Northern Mystics and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic expect the likes of Tactix, Stars and Steel to come out with a real fire in the belly. We take a look at one up and coming player from the remaining teams and the potential impact they could have throughout the season if given more court time.

Central Pulse: Tiana Metuarau

It is hard to believe that Metuarau is only 19 given she has been apart of the Pulse for four years and played a role in their premiership winning year. She is a smooth mover across the court, able to hit the scoreboard and back herself from range. Metuarau is crafty with ball in hand able to deliver to her shooting counterpart and does not skip a beat. She is not fazed by the physicality of the bigger bodied and more experienced defenders instead welcoming the challenge. The goal attack uses her speed and spatial awareness to have a profound impact on the netball court.

Playing with the likes of Silver Ferns legend Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Metuarau has been exposed to what it takes to mix it with the best and constantly better yourself. Throw in towering goal shooter Aliyah Dunn and Metuarau will once again have her work cut out for her to gain a more permanent role on the court but definitely has the skillset to do so.

Yet to play a game this season, despite only one round being completed, Metuarau impressed in her 2019 campaign with 59 goals to her name but will be hoping to improve her accuracy from 70 per cent to mid 80s if she is really to have an impact in 2020.

Mainland Tactix: Jess Prosser

New to not only the club but the overall league, Prosser will be wanting to show that she has what it takes to mix it with the highly talented defenders in the ANZ Premiership. Throughout her time in the Beko League the 183cm shooter proved her worth and most importantly her deadeye accuracy under the post coming out as the second most accurate goaler in the league, something she will be hoping to replicate for the Tactix this year.

With Ellie Bird all but cementing her spot in the goal shooter positon and Silver Ferns Te Paea Selby-Rickit joining the team over the off-season, Prosser will have to work hard to earn a spot in the side. But with classy goalers around her, expect the 24-yearold shooter to learn her fair share of tricks in the goal circle.

She is an exciting and unknown prospect for many teams in the ANZ Premiership and could prove to be the ace up the Tactix sleeve when it comes down to the tight contests.

Southern Steel: Georgia Heffernan

Soon to be 21-year-old Georgia Heffernan had an impact when on court last year albeit limited and will be hoping to go one better this year. Still honing in her craft the young goal attack possesses plenty of x-factor and uses her commanding height to have an influence under the post. Heffernan is a strong mover and while is still working on her accuracy she backs herself from range making her one to watch for the Steel. Having been a training partner for the past two years, the goal attack is well aware of what is expected to perform at the top level and will be hoping to showcase her strong hands and athleticism.

With the likes of Silver Ferns shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit gone the goal attack position is up for grabs and while newbie Kalifa McCollin has joined the ranks the door is still ajar for the young New Zealander to leave a lasting imprint with her netball nous and clever game play.

Although she has not featured so far in 2020, Heffernan proved in 2019 that her ability to set up her teammates was a key attribute of her game play along with her spatial awareness racking up 12 feeds across five games. Her ability to come out at the centre pass also adds another string to her bow, testament to her high endurance levels.

Memorable Matches: Central Pulse finally breaks premiership drought

WITH netball taking a back seat to coronavirus in 2020, Draft Central is taking a look back at memorable matches. Next up is Central Pulse’s 2019 premiership victory over Northern Stars.

While this memorable match only happened last year, it makes the cut thanks to it being Central Pulse’s inaugural grand final victory since the club’s inception in 1998. Factor in it was Pulse’s third grand final appearance in a row, and the victory is all the more sweet for the side which sat top of the ladder all season. Despite a solid second and final quarter, the Stars were unable to capitalise on any momentum, falling 52-48 at the final hurdle.

Pulse were threatening from the get-go, with defence holding strong to thwart options in the circle and deny precious goals on the board, propelling the netball down the court to attack and while Silver Ferns goaler Ameliaranne Ekenasio was slow off the ranks with only two goals from six first quarter attempts, youngster Aliyah Dunn stole the show with 10 goals from 12 to ensure a lead at the first break. Whitney Souness was key on circle edge collecting the seven assists from 12 feeds, working well with Ekenasio and Dunn who rotated seamlessly to the post. Souness ran circles around her opposition in Kayla Cullen, finding plenty of space and racking up 20 assists from 38 feeds throughout the match. It was no slow quarter for the Stars however, well and truly in the game thanks to early gains from defenders Leana de Bruin and Storm Purvis, with the duo capitalising off Ekenasio’s slow start and racking up a combined five first quarter gains. 

The second quarter saw neither side able to really capitalise, with Pulse unable to pull away from the Stars who had three more attempts on goal but finished the second with 15 apiece for the quarter, down by two goals at the main change. It was an impressive quarter in attack for Pulse who went 15 from 15 for the quarter, with Dunn shooting up a storm while Tiana Metuarau made her way onto the court to replace Ekenasio, not putting up any shots but teaming up well with Souness and Claire Kersten to serve Dunn the ball on a platter. Defensively, Sulu Fitzpatrick and Katrina Rore may not have been racking up the stats but it was the work they did off the ball that made all the difference, making it tough for Maia Wilson and Charlee Hodges to find clean ball at the post. The pair were far more accurate in the second sitting on 83 per cent thanks to stellar feeds from Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Temepara Bailey who shared the load on circle edge. 

Where de Bruin and Purvis were in control early, the third quarter saw Pulse lift their game with Rore and Fitzpatrick reducing the Stars goalers to just 11 attempts, seeing Wilson being tagged out and Hodges having to lift her game to hold down the fort. Bailey moved into wing attack on circle edge but had a tough time with Karin Burger who did not necessarily open her bag of tricks but dogged every effort of the wing attack, reducing Bailey to just the four assists. Ekenasio returned to the court and was far more accurate, shooting four from five to take some pressure off Dunn, with the youngster continuing to put on a show.

A brave effort from the Stars saw them win the final quarter but it wasn’t enough, going down by four goals after an impressive fourth term effort. Where Wilson had a quiet third quarter, she came out of the blocks well to shoot 12 from 14 in the final term, with Hodges, Reuelu-Buchanan and Bailey plying their trade to get the ball to her at the post. But Pulse were just too good, with Dunn and Ekenasio sharing the load to take the trophy home in the intense matchup.
__

PULSE 12 | 15 | 13 | 12 (52)
STARS 10 | 15 | 9 | 14 (48)

STARTING SEVENS

Central Pulse
GS: Aliyah Dunn
GA: Ameliaranne Ekenasio
WA: Whitney Souness
C: Claire Kersten
WD: Karin Burger
GD: Katrina Rore
GK: Sulu Fitzpatrick

BENCH: Elle Temu, Tiana Metuarau, Maddy Gordon
COACH: Yvette McCausland-Durie

Northern Stars

GS: Maia Wilson
GA: Charlee Hodges
WA: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan
C: Temepara Bailey
WD: Kayla Cullen
GD: Leana de Bruin
GK: Storm Purvis

BENCH: Ellen Halpenny, Holly Fowler, Kate Burley
COACH: Kiri Wills

SHOOTING STATS

PULSE:
Aliyah Dunn 40/43
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 12/19

STARS:
Maia Wilson 34/41
Charlee Hodges 14/20

ANZ Premiership season preview: Will the Tactix take the competition by storm?

WITH the 2020 ANZ Premiership season quickly approaching we take a look at potential premiers, the competitions biggest improver and a potential slider in a season that is sure to be filled with plenty of excitement and breakout performances.

Premiers: Central Pulse

After an impressive 2019 season capped off with a premiership 20 years in the making, the Central Pulse will be hoping to replicate their form going into this season. Having retained the majority of their players over the off-season the Pulse are in the box seat to make it back-to-back grand finals. Despite Sulu Fitzpatrick departing the club the Pulse picked up Kelly Jury a very handy replacement given her height and defensive pressure. Throw in the likes of Katrina Rore and Karin Burger and the Pulse once again have  a formidable trio down back able to stop any forward thrusts and propel the ball back down the court with their seamless transition and attacking mindset. In the goal circle, they are near on impossible to stop when both Ameliranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn are on song with the two able to shoot confidently and accurately from anywhere in the circle. Ekenasio is the mastermind in the attacking third with her ball movement, strong drives and ability to glide into the circle while youngster Tiana Metuarau has plenty of potential. With key pillars at either end of the court the influence of Claire Kersten and Maddy Gordon will be pivotal to their success.

Biggest improver: Mainland Tactix

With some key recruits over the summer and the return of highly touted defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, the Tactix are shaping up to be a real force to be reckoned with in season 2020. Mainland struggled to get going last year but have shown good signs in the preseason with their strong defensive intent and impressive ball movement down the court. Fakahokotau has made an immediate impact to the defensive circle with her physical pressure and aerial skills able to swat the ball out of the air with ease or force turnovers with her athleticism. Her combination with captain, Jane Watson will bring plenty of joy to fans and all involved with the duo renowned for their intense pressure and ability to confuse space with their zone style of defence. Kimiora Poi has taken massive leaps in her development throughout the past couple of months with the speedster able to open-up the court with her dynamic movement and use of angles while her variety of deliveries into the circle makes her an unknown quantity. New recruit, Te Paea Selby-Rickit will be hoping to have an immediate impact with her accuracy and volume to post just what the doctor ordered for the Tactix. Despite all the changes it will set them in good stead for the upcoming season making them a possible finals contender if they can maintain a high intensity.

Potential slider: Northern Stars

Despite making it to the big dance last year, those feats may be far away this season with the Northern Stars forced to resort to their young up and coming players to lead the way. The Stars were hit hard over the off-season with a couple of their key players such as Leana de Bruin, Temepara Bailey and Ellen Halpenny all retiring leaving some gaping holes across the court. While three of their usual starting seven all departed the game and youngster Charlee Hodges has returned to Australia the Stars still have some talent with none other than Maia Wilson. The goal shooter has had a strong preseason and her recent time with the Ferns will have paid dividends for the upcoming season. Meanwhile down the other end of the court Storm Purvis will have to lead the contingent of young defenders along with Trinidad and Tobago recruit Daystar Swift. However with so many people lost it will be hard to return to their lofty standards of last season.

ANZ Premiership: 2020 team preview – Central Pulse

WITH the ANZ Premiership season just around the corner we take a look at each teams chances heading into the year and a key player to keep an eye on. Reigning premiers, Central Pulse are next on the list.

Coach: Yvette McCausland-Durie
Captain: Katrina Rore
2019 finish: 1st

It was a fairytale finish for the Central Pulse who won their first premiership in 21 years last season and will be hoping to replicate that form in 2020. They went on a 10-game winning spree all but setting them up for grand final glory, and were simply too good with star players in each third able to punish their opposition and capitalise on their opportunities. The Pulse were in a league of their own, able to rotate players through different positions and build consistency across four quarters.

2020 predictions/expectations:

The Central Pulse will be looking to take home back-to-back premierships in 2020 credit to their stacked squad. Defensively they have one of the strongest units in the competition headlined by the likes of Katrina Rore while Karin Burger has made the wing defence role her own. Burger is one of the most versatile players in the team able to turn a game on its head so expect big things once again from the tenacious defender. It is hard to go past the shooting combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn with the two looking to get even better this season. The partnership is already formidable so with another pre-season under their belt it could spell danger for opposition clubs given their range and accuracy. Throw in the likes of Tiana Metuarau and the Pulse are in an enviable position. Considering the high-class talent, they have the Pulse should once again challenge for the title if not win.

Key pick up:

Lanky defender, Kelly Jury made the switch from Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and will be a handy inclusion for the Pulse. The goal keeper offers plenty of excitement and skill with her lean over the shot a key aspect of her game. Jury provides yet another element to the already strong defensive end with the keeper able to read the play and get hands to ball. Expect her to have a big year with the likes of Burger and Rore around her to guide and direct her on the court.

Team list:

Karin Burger
Aliyah Dunn
Ameliaranne Ekenasio
Maddy Gordon
Kelly Jury
Claire Kersten
Tiana Metuarau
Katrina Rore
Renee Savai’inaea
Elle Temu

ANZ Premiership: Pulse and Tactix star in Te Wānanga o Raukawa pre-season tournament

THE Te Wānanga o Raukawa pre-season tournament over the weekend gave teams one more hit out before the season officially commences in two weeks. There were 11 games played throughout the tournament with the Mainland Tactix taking it to reigning premiers Central Pulse, while the Northern Stars failed to find their rhythm given the host of off-season changes. The Southern Steel, Northern Mystics and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic also took part in the pre-season competition.

Central Pulse (52) defeated Mainland Tactix (51)

It was an even game throughout with the Pulse claiming a narrow victory over the new and improved Mainland Tactix. The lead ebbed and flowed with both sides putting on a show across the court thanks to their exciting brand of netball and high calibre of players. the Tactix got out to a handy lead in the second term before the reigning premiers hit back in their usual fashion as the game went on to reclaim the lead. New Pulse recruit Kelly Jury showcased her class down in goal keeper with the lanky defender using her physical presence on court to out-body her opponents. Her connection with goal defence Karin Burger continued to develop as the game went on with the two picking off passes as they pleased. The ever-reliable Ameliaranne Ekenasio was strong under the post for the Pulse with her smooth movement, accuracy to post and netball smarts all on show. Maddy Gordon was strong in the midcourt putting her body on the line to win the ball and transition down court.

Northern Mystics (57) defeated by Southern Steel (63)

The Southern Steel opened up a handy lead in the first quarter and kept their foot on the pedal for the remaining three quarters to get the win. Steel played with plenty of flair and speed transitioning from one end of the court to the other with ease. After making the switch from the Pulse to the Steel, Sulu Fitzpatrick displayed her tenacity and hunt for the ball using her aerial ability to become a real threat to the Mystics. Fitzpatrick combined well with Phoenix Karaka to try and limit the options to post for the likes of Jennifer O’Connell and Kalifa McCollin. It was hard to stop the connection between Northern Mystics wing attack Elisapeta Toeava and goal shooter Grace Nweke with Toeava delivering quick feeds into the circle and consistently shaking up the delivery with loopy or direct passes. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit had her work cut out for her in the defensive circle having to combat Nweke with her aerial ability and accuracy under the post.

Northern Stars (52) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (60)

The Stars came out with a fire in the belly establishing a one goal lead at quarter time with the likes of Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume combining well under the post. As the game went on they struggled to maintain that high intensity thanks to the Magic piling on 17 goals in the second term. With only two goals the difference at half time the Stars clawed back another goal with a sole goal the difference once again but that was where it ended for the Stars with the Magic powering ahead in the fourth quarter. Waikato Bay kicked it up a gear in the final term with Mikaere showing her prowess down back with her hands over pressure. Whitney Souness displayed her speed through the midcourt with the dynamic wing attack slicing and dicing her way through the attacking third hitting the circle edge with pace and delivering pin point precision passes into the circle. Youngster Georgia Marshall also got her time to shine in the goal circle pairing well with Abigail Latu-Meafou in the circle with her movement and ball control on display.

Central Pulse (42) defeated Southern Steel (25)

The Pulse dominated the Southern Steel in all aspects limiting them to a mere 25 goals credit to their high defensive intensity paired with their attacking intent. The Steel’s defensive unit proved to be no match for the Pulse who picked them apart with their clever ball placement and good vision. Through the midcourt the inclusion of Renee Savai’inaea paid dividends with the centre using her strong hands and drive to the circle edge time and time again to deliver the ball into Ekenasio and Metuarua. Savai’inaea’s movement in general was strong commanding the ball and playing a good link-up role to re-offer across the court. With Jury only coming into the side this season her connection with Elle Temu developed as the game went on with the two using their physicality to push McCollin and O’Connell wide and restrict their ability to go to post. Both Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders were well held through the midcourt and attacking third for Steel which in turn limited the flow to goal.

Northern Stars (42) defeated Central Pulse (61)

The tried and tested combo of Wilson and Hume combined once again in the goal circle with the likes of captain Grace Kara doing a wealth of work out the front to feed the ball into them. Kara was strong in the midcourt with her quick hands while Fa’amu Ioane plied her trade in centre. True to form they came out hot in the first quarter holding a three goal lead against the reigning premiers but as the game went on fell off the boil. The Pulse used their experience and skill to think and work their way back into the clash with a 16 to 10 goal quarter handing them the ascendancy. From there onwards Pulse did not look back, steadily adding to the margin and hitting the scoreboard with ease thanks to the likes of Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau. Defensively the Stars had their work cut out against the all-star shooting line-up with the loss of Leana de Bruin, Kayla Cullen and absence of Storm Purvis on show. In saying that the likes of youngster Kate Burley and Oceane Maihi worked tirelessly to win ball back for their side.

Southern Steel (47) defeated by Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (57)

The Magic stunned the Steel running out with a 10-goal win. They skipped out to an early seven goal lead pushing the Steel into chase position from early on, a deficit they simply could not reduce. Latu-Meafou showcased her netball smarts throughout the game with a clever throw in hitting the post and jumping back on court to score highlighting just how much she has developed over the off-season. Whitney Souness stepped it up through the midcourt with the speedy wing attack darting across the transverse line and providing that link into the goal circle. On the other hand, Steel wing defence Kate Heffernan could not keep up with Souness’ pace and dynamic movement allowing her to run freely in the attacking third. Magic’s swarming style of defence was on full display with each and every player looking to hunt the loose ball and propel it back down the court.

Mainland Tactix (62) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (53)

From the first whistle the Tactix skipped out to a strong lead and they did not look back building on their performance each quarter. The defensive duo of Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson brought plenty of excitement in the opening 15 minutes with the pair bringing the physical pressure along with the intensity in the goal circle, hunting any ball that came their way and using their three-foot marking to get in the head of their younger opponents. Ellie Bird was strong under the post using her change of speed and height to reel in passes. The inclusion of Te Paea Selby-Rickit in the goal circle worked wonders for the Tactix with the goal attack using her accuracy to post and passing skills to do damage in the attacking third with defender Erena Mikaere struggling to break the connection. Through the midcourt the battle between Kimiora Poi and Samantha Winders brought plenty of intrigue with the two ultimately nullifying each other. In the goal circle Latu-Meafou proved her worth with her smooth movement and ability to find easy avenue to goal but it was not enough to get them over the line.

Northern Mystics (50) defeated by Mainland Tactix (56)

The Mainland Tactix continued their strong showing at the pre-season tournament with a hard fought win over the Mystics. Mainland got out to an early lead and did not look like giving it up despite the Mystics’ best efforts to disrupt their game play. The Tactix were simply too strong across the court and impressed particularly in the goal circle thanks to Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit finding the net time and time again with their clever screens and accuracy to post. Fitzpatrick and Karaka struggled to stop the Tactix shooters despite their intercepting ability. Through the midcourt, centre Charlotte Elley created plenty of excitement with her efforts in the attacking third to thread the needle. Poi and Elley looked like a well-oiled machine spread around the circle edge and not leading into the same space causing havoc for the Mystics defenders.

Central Pulse (39) defeated Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (36)

The lead see-sawed throughout the game with both sides unable to truly break away from the other such was the closeness and evenness across the court. The Magic got to within one goal in the dying minutes of the final quarter before the Pulse put the foot down to notch up a three-goal victory. It was a fast pace game with players looking to move the ball with urgency and create space with well-timed drives. The ball placement into the circle was aerial for both sides with the Magic feeders backing in the strength of Kelsey McPhee under the post to reel in the ball and shoot. In her new colours Holly Fowler plied her trade down back and despite being a deal shorter than her opponents she used her speed to dart around the circle and cause confusion. Pulse captain, Katrina Rore was up to her usual tricks applying a truckload of pressure around the circle edge with her three-foot marking, long arms and deceptive speed to cover the court with ease and rack up intercepts.

Northern Stars (52) defeated by Southern Steel (64)

It was a convincing performance from the Steel who did not skip a beat against the Stars. Despite Wilson plying her trade in the goal circle the defensive pressure of both Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood proved too strong. Recruit, Daystar Swift worked hard down back for the Stars and although she was often beaten in the air her effort was immense moving around the body of her opponent to confuse the space. Through the midcourt Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was impressive using her change of direction and quick ball movement to slice through the defensive zones and deliver into Wilson and Hume. But all in all it was the Southern Steel that were head and shoulders above their opponent hunting down every cross court ball and making the most of their opportunities under the ring.

Central Pulse (69) defeated Northern Mystics (55)

In the final game of the pre-season tournament the Pulse flexed their muscles once again showcasing why they are the team to beat in 2020. They owned the game from the first centre pass, creating a strong lead and steadily building on it as the game went on. It is hard to get past them credit to their defensive stocks with Burger, Rore, Jury and Temu all able to have a profound influence under the post such is their read of the play and defensive prowess while up the other end the shooting duo of Dunn and Ekenasio is hard to stop. Gordon took her game to another level in the midcourt with the centre using her body positioning and turn of speed to get around Tayla Earle and Dani Gray. Nweke was her usual consistent self under the post using her impressive athleticism and high volume to control the airways and provide a target but it was not enough to get her side over the line.