Tag: tiana metuarau

2021 Stats wrap: SSN Round 8 and ANZ Premiership Round 10

A BIG round of ANZ Premiership action led to plenty of huge stats, while a split round of Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) put the microscope on plenty of players across four of the eight teams, as both NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball came away with comprehensive wins. We take a look at some of the standout performances and highest stats from the week.

GOALS:

Once again it was Grace Nweke who led the charge to post during Round 10, with the Mystics tall timber wreaking havoc in her side’s win over the Pulse. Finishing with 54 goals at 86 per cent, Nweke was hard to stop and utilised her adaptability to adjust to the physicality with ease. Ellie Bird returned to full strength after being ruled out with concussion last week, not skipping a beat as she piled on 47 goals from 58 attempts during her 47 minutes on court. Maia Wilson added another 38 goals to her season tally while both Caitlin Bassett‘s and George Fisher‘s outings were cut short, putting 32 and 22 goals on the board respectively. In goal attack, Tiana Metuarau and Te Paea Selby-Rickit led the charge with 19 from 23 apiece, while Te Amo Amaru-Tibble (16 goals from 20 attempts), Jamie Hume (13 from 19) and Khiarna Williams (12 from 13) all found double digits.

In the SSN, Sam Wallace was back to her winning ways after an uncharacteristic off-week last round, showcasing her match-winning ability with a 51-goal haul and commanding ball into the circle. She was countered by fellow tall-timber Romelda Aiken with the Jamaican adding 39 goals to her season tally, while Helen Housby and Gretel Bueta provided valuable assisting roles with 11 and 10 goals, respectively. It was a shared effort across the second game, with Jo Harten (26 goals from 34 attempts) and Sophie Dwyer (24 from 30) sharing the load for the GIANTS, while Lenize Potgieter (24 from 30) and Georgie Horjus (13 from 20) kept the scoreboard ticking along.

MIDCOURT:

It was once again Peta Toeava who starred through the midcourt this round, with the wing attack continuously finding Nweke with ease and precision to rack up 29 goal assists from a whopping 45 feeds. Whitney Souness was next in line with 23 from 32, while Selby-Rickit’s playmaking ability was clear for the Tactix adding 24 goal assists to her goal tally. Sam Winders registered 21 goal assists in her side’s loss, while Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan shared the load for the Stars, registering 21 and 20 assists respectively. Whilst not huge on the attacking front, Kate Heffernan created four intercepts out in centre as Kimiora Poi added two intercepts to her tally. Souness led all-comers on the centre pass receives with 37, while Magic wing attack Tori Kolose (30) and Shannon Saunders (28) were not far behind.

It was a good week to be Maddy Proud, as the Swifts midcourter switched up the gears for an all-round performance against the Firebirds. The centre racked up 19 goal assists from 33 feeds and also created two intercepts, while partner in crime Paige Hadley registered 22 assists from 36 and 25 centre pass receives. The two also combined for 10 pickups. Kim Ravaillion piled on 18 goal assists to lead all-comers for the Firebirds, while a shared effort from the Thunderbirds saw Maisie Nankivell register the most assists for the side with 11 and two gains. Shadine Van Der Merwe (two intercepts) put in the hard yards throughout her 43 minutes on court, although her direct opposition in Maddie Hay finished with 18 assists from 37 feeds and a gain. Amy Parmenter had a day out, piling on the defensive pressure to finish with five gains (two intercepts and eight deflections).

DEFENCE:

With so much defensive talent across the board in the ANZ Premiership, it was once again a huge showing at the back-end of the court. Anna Harrison racked up 10 gains (four intercepts, three rebounds and two deflections) while Karin Burger was hot on her tail with nine (six intercepts), as her partner in crime Jane Watson added five gains to her form. Despite falling to the Tactix by a significant margin, there was an undoubtably solid defensive effort from Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong, who combined for 11 gains (three intercepts). Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley were a force to be reckoned with down back, registering five and three intercepts, respectively, whilst also grabbing six gains apiece.

April Brandley had a match to remember, piling on eight gains (four intercepts) in an impressive first half against the Thunderbirds, while Shamera Sterling was imposing as ever at the opposite end finishing with 10 gains, three intercepts and four rebounds, and Matilda Garrett was a fraction quieter than usual but still finished with four deflections (zero to advantage) and three gains. For the Firebirds, Tara Hinchliffe created three gains (two intercepts) and registered a couple of pickups while Kim Jenner piled on the pressure for nine deflections but failed to capitalise, with just the two gains. Four Swifts players picked up a gain apiece, as Sarah Klau registered two.

Picture credit: NSW Swifts

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 10

ROUND 10 of the ANZ Premiership is done and dusted and with that came some scintillating performances from the next generation of players. This series will cast an eye over a host of under 21s players that made their way out on court and the impact in which they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

The goal shooter only continues to get better and this game was no different. Although she was pushed out of court early and gave up a couple of turnovers, her ability to build her way into the game was second to none. Her skill and smarts to stand upright and hold her space enabled her to be a clear option inside the circle while her connection with Peta Toeava was also imperative as the duo sliced through the opposition defence. Nweke was her dominant self, using the angles to keep the defenders at bay while also putting on an aerial masterclass. She competed incredibly strongly to reel in the high ball and was never far from the action using her long split to inch closer to the post. She shouldered the load in attack and adapted quickly with the changing goal attacks as Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui all got court time. Nweke offered a sense of composure and calmness for the Mystics and while the entry into the circle was predictable – a long loopy pass – her form was unstoppable.

Tayla Earle

The centre wasted no time having an impact both in defence and attack. Earle was a key cog, linking up attack and defence for the Mystics time and time again. She was never out of the contest and applied strong back-up around circle edge especially in defence to pick up any stray deflections. The centre was never far from the contest with her two-way running making her hard to compete with. She was often first to the scraps and never allowed an easy pass credit to her three foot marking while her ability to hedge her bets around circle. Earle got good depth on the second phase to sneak into the pockets or top of the circle to deliver ball into the likes of Nweke or Mes.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams

Williams played more of a feeding role when she was injected into the game out in goal attack using her nicely executed passes to feed into Caitlin Bassett. She showcased her impressive vision and work on the second phase to drive into the space and allow the feeders to do their job around circle edge. As the game went on Williams worked her way into the contest especially inside the ring to engage in a couple of 1-2 plays to inch closer the post and score. She was once again incredibly accurate, able to convert whether it be directly under the post or on the outskirts to have an impact for the Magic. Her footwork was also impressive throughout her time on court, as was her balance to steady herself despite being on one foot with an ability release crafty passes.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

Getting the nod in centre for the second week in a row, Gordon displayed her tenacity and smarts to work the ball down to circle edge in attack. Her ability to control her own speed and the speed of the entire Pulse front half was also on show especially when combining with Whitney Souness. Gordon got her time to shine in all three midcourt positions playing in wing defence, centre and wing attack and not skipping a beat in either spot credit to her netball nous and high level of endurance. The speedster contested hard for each and every pass with her ability to read both the space and the play a crucial aspect in her game. When in defence Gordon took advantage of her quick feet around circle edge to disrupt play with frequent deflections while in attack her well-timed drives enabled her to open up space.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

It was another crafty performance from the goal attack who had the ball on a string in the attacking third. Although Metuarau did not have a profound impact on the scoreboard it was her court craft that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Her ability to see 10 steps ahead in play allowed her to be a commanding figure in attack with the shooter to shooter interplay between her and George Fisher impressive. Her footwork also took centre stage as she created space with clever little half steps and negated the long arms of the defence to have an impact. Despite being one of the shortest in the circle, Metuarau competed hard for the rebound to try and snatch it out of the air and got into damaging positions in the circle whether it be from down town or under the post.

Taneisha Fifita

It was an impressive performance from Fifita with the goal keeper competing cleanly and holding her own against Maia Wilson. She constantly shifted her body and footwork around Wilson to confuse the space and shut down any easy access into the circle. Fifita was not afraid to go out hunting backing her closing speed and read of the play to cherry pick passes. She worked hard to earn front spot and went up strong for the rebound thanks to her springy style of defence. The goal keeper also used her smarts to block out Wilson on the shot to give herself room to regain possession.

Kate Heffernan

The centre was in ripping form throughout the entire game with Heffernan showcasing her defensive nous. Using her long arms to full effect, Heffernan reeled in an impressive four intercepts thanks to her ball tracking ability and read of the play. she had a real give and go mentality hitting circle edge and trying to dispose of the ball all in one action. Heffernan kept the defenders guessing and went into her bag of tricks to deliver a variety of passes into the circle whether it be overhead bombs, shoulder passes or nifty bounce passes. Her athleticism was on display throughout the entire contest, twisting her body inside out to keep the ball moving forward and in-play.

Renee Savai’inaea

Savai’inaea was strong through the midcourt providing that drive to open up the court while also sitting up nice and high on the transverse line to be that outlet pass. She was a constant nag around circle edge, niggling at her opponent and while she did not notch up a heap of stats it was her ability to grind out games that impressed. She often played more of a space marking game rather than a hard one-on-one which allowed her fellow defenders to sag off and go out hunting down back.

Stars reign supreme thanks to frantic final term

THE top three clash between Southern Steel and Northern Stars well and truly lived up to the hype with the Stars getting the “w” in a hard fought battle. It was even for majority of the game before a blowout final term handed the top side a thrilling 10 goal win.

It did not take long for George Fisher to open the account for the Steel before the Northern Stars hit back moments later. The tempo was set nice and early for the Steel as Tiana Metuarau was proving to be a real playmaker out the front. Her smooth movement and vision into the circle allowed Fisher to control proceedings as the home side skipped out to a handy three goal lead. A win from Anna Harrison allowed the Stars to propel the ball back down the court but Jamie Hume missed a long range shot and the lead extended back out to three goals. The Stars were struggling to find their rhythm in attack with wayward passes costing them while up the other end the Steel were in fine form able to connect with great ease.

Harrison continued to be a menace down in defence for the Stars but Fisher and Metuarua were not fazed working the ball around with great ease to keep the defenders head on a swivel. Shannon Saunders was a real driving force through attack but there was no real easy passage for either side as the ball continued to ebb and flow up and down the court. Maia Wilson could not find her range under the post and although the Stars got back to within one goal the Steel continued to find ways to regain possession and create havoc. With a minute and a half to play the scores were level with a goal for goal rhythm ensuing. It was an incredibly low scoring first quarter with only 19 goals scored for the entire quarter.

Wilson quickly answered the call in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter before Elle Temu showcased her defensive nous with a couple of handy deflections. Her presence and combination with Harrison forced a held ball on Fisher with the Stars hitting the front for the first time in the game. Lisa Mather upped the ante out in wing defence with a deflection as the Stars defensive unit as a whole increased their workload. There was turnover ball aplenty but the Stars still managed to hold on turning their two goal buffer into four. Wilson was finding more room inside the circle up against Taneisha Fifita and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit to have an impact in attack.

Harrison and Temu were making life incredibly hard down back for the Steel winning ball back time and time again. Sarahpheinna Woulf entered the fray in goal defence shutting down the play of Hume and forcing Wilson to do the heavy lifting. A run of three goals in the final couple of minutes of the quarter was exactly what the Steel needed to get themselves back into the game reducing the margin to three goals. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was having a commanding presence through the midcourt and around circle edge to feed the ball into the circle with relative ease as the Stars went into half time up by four goals.

An early turnover from the Steel gifted the ball back into the hands of the Stars and while Wilson missed the first shot she made no mistake on the second to steadily extend the lead. Gina Crampton plied her trade around circle edge with her silky footwork but Selby-Rickit showcased her class to pick up an intercept of her own. It was laboured in transition for the Steel who struggled to bring the ball down the court but once they got it inside the ring Fisher made no mistake. Kate Heffernan made full advantage of her long limbs and provided that spark that the Steel needed with a huge intercept as they mounted a strong comeback to get back within two. The combination of Hume and Wallace steadied the ship for the Stars once again but the Steel were not about to back down.

Fifita sprang into action with a huge rebound and sent the ball spiralling down court and Fisher rewarded her for her efforts. The lead changed once again as the Steel hit the front with five minutes on the clock. With that in mind the Stars looked to the bench as Amorangi Malesala entered the fray out in goal attack. but costly passes inside the circle allowed Renee Savai’inaea to win ball back. It was goal for goal for much of the quarter with neither side able to pull away as Woulf re-entered the contest. Three goals in a row for the Stars allowed them to sneak ahead. A nasty head knock forced Fisher to the bench prompting Kiana Pelasio to pull on the goal attack bib while Temu also left the court after the collision as Oceane Maihi came on.

Only two goals split the two sides at the final break and with the game on the line it was the Stars that came out with a pep in their step. Wilson upped the ante as Malesala also worked herself into the game for the Stars. Within a blink of an eye the lead ballooned out to nine goals as the Steel struggled to find their way to post without Fisher despite the best efforts of Metuarau down back. The ball was falling the Stars way and youngster Greer Sinclair made her way onto the court for the Stars in wing defence as they ran out 10 goal victors.

Fisher was a constant threat down at the post finishing with 22 goals to her name at a lowly 69 per cent. Metuarau was silky out the front amassing 14 goal assists and 19 goals while Saunders also plied her trade racking up 12 goal assists. Defensively Fifita showcased her aerial capacity with two gains. for the Stars Wilson was up and about piling on 38 goals from 41 attempts as Hume also showed her range sinking 13 goals. Crampton was at her damaging best around circle edge collecting 21 goal assists while the defensive ball winning trio of Maihi, Harrison and Temu all combined for 20 gains with Harrison having a game to remember with four intercepts and 10 deflections of her own.

2021 ANZ Premiership – Round 10 preview

WE have passed the midpoint of the ANZ Premiership season with Round 10 approaching and only five games of the home and away season remaining. With this in mind every game counts as the Stars look to maintain top spot and the mid-table logjam continues to intensify.

Southern Steel vs. Northern Stars
Saturday, June 19 @5:15pm

The opening game of the round sees a top three battle as the third placed Southern Steel hosts top of the table Northern Stars. It is set to be an enthralling battle with the least experienced team going up against one of the most experienced sides in the competition.

Steel goal shooter, George Fisher holds the mantle as the most accurate shooter in the competition and will need to be at her damaging best if she is to assert herself against an incredibly strong Stars defensive unit. Fisher’s combination with the crafty Tiana Metuarau is what keeps them ticking along and makes them hard to stop as the two have an innate connection that allows them to release the ball and time their movements with great ease and precision. However, the Stars are littered with versatility as Anna Harrison, Elle Temu and Oceane Maihi can all seamlessly rotate through the back court and win ball back. Harrison is a real aerial threat as is Maihi with the two likely to attack the high ball coming into Fisher.

The midcourt contest will draw plenty of attention with Kate Heffernan in ripping form for the Steel and Mila Reuelu-Buchnan a real livewire for the Stars with her constant give and go. The two have incredibly different styles with Heffernan more defensive-minded given her wing defence background while Reuelu-Buchanan boasts a real attacking and hunting mindset. Heffernan will be hoping to help out the likes of Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and even Sarahpheinna Woulf if she gets injected into the game to slow down the pace of the ball coming into Maia Wilson. The Stars goal shooter has been down on her volume to post in recent weeks but is still a force to be reckoned with while Jamie Hume has showcased her ability to kick it up a gear thanks to her long range shooting and silky movement.

Northern Mystics vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, June 20 @4:15pm

It has been a disappointing season for the Central Pulse while on the other hand the Northern Mystics are chugging along quite nicely and will be hoping to create some further ladder separation currently holding down second spot. It will all come down to whether or not the Pulse will be able to stop playmaker Peta Toeava with her sharp drives and speed.

In recent weeks, Claire Kersten has slotted back into the wing defence position which could be a good potential match for strength against Toeava however the Mystics wing attack also boasts exceptional take-off speed similar to that of Maddy Gordon meaning the Pulse have a big decision to make. Gordona and Kersten can play all three positions whether it be wing defence, centre or wing attack, making the midcourt highly versatile – something they will need to use in overdrive to eliminate the influence of Toeava who is renowned for her pinpoint feeds into Grace Nweke. The Mystics goal shooter is arguably one of the most consistent and prolific shooters in the business and it will take a team effort to stop her from single-handedly dominating the contest. Bailey Mes has proven to be a crucial cog with her crafty feeds while Filda Vui has also been a great addition with her ability and confidence to both dish off the pass or go to post. The Pulse have steadied into their new defensive look with Kelera Nawai down back and Kelly Jury out in goal defence and the two will be hoping to combine strongly and get a few early tips to put some real pressure on the Mystics.

Up the other end, speedster Whitney Souness is the main playmaker with her drive and dynamic movement to the top of the circle allowing her to feed into both Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. Dunn has increased her range this season while Amaru-Tibble has come along in leaps and bounds, knowing when to back herself to post or when to find a closer option to the ring. Sulu Fitzpatrick has been in hot form this season with the goal keeper able to gobble up anything that comes her way, while partner in crime Kate Burley also has a tendency to go out hunting for the cross court ball making the two hard to stop when they are up and about early.

Mainland Tactix vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Monday, June 21 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Mainland Tactix take on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic who have shown glimpses of brilliance but have been marred with an inability to put out a consistent four quarter effort. Both sides are coming off narrow losses once again and will be keen to put their best foot forward here to keep their slim finals chance alive.

Caitlin Bassett has really stepped up her intensity and control in the past few appearances, with the Magic finally looking confident to feed into her especially when Grace Kara has ball in hand. Bassett’s strong holds and clever footwork inside the circle enable her to edge closer to the post and complements the style of her fellow shooters who are both able to shoot from distance. Both goal attacks in Chiara Semple and Khiarna Williams offer different things inside the circle with Semple more of a smooth mover and Williams fast-footed and aerially creative. But they will not have it easy under the post with Karin Burger in scintillating form out in goal defence to create deflections aplenty while Jane Watson is a tough competitor down in goal keeper. Watson and Bassett are well known to each other and are both real warriors so expect the contest to be fierce and exciting.

The Tactix were without Ellie Bird last round and will be hoping the towering goal shooter is raring to go this round given her ability to score quickly. However, if she is unable to take the court the Tactix’s Round 9 debutants showed some real promise with Kate Grant bursting out of the blocks with her crafty court play and youngster Amelia Walmsley making a name for herself at the fresh age of 17. It will all come down to the output of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit and whether or not she can craft enough goals and clever plays to keep her side in the hunt. The Magic are boasting an exceptionally strong defensive core with the return of Holly Fowler alongside reliable duo Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong. However, all eyes will turn to whether or not Temalisi Fakahokotau takes the court after rolling her ankle last week and being sidelined.

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 9

ROUND 9 of the ANZ Premiership is done and dusted and with that came some scintillating performances from the next generation of players. This series will cast an eye over a host of under 21s players that made their way out on court and the impact in which they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

The goal shooter was well held in the first few minutes of the game double-teamed by Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere. But once she adjusted to the physicality and the tight marking, Nweke was able to dictate the terms. Her ability to leap directly up and grab the ball strongly with two hands is second to none. She steadily built into the game using her split to edge closer to the post. As her confidence grew so did the speed in which she scored which enabled the Mystics to slowly pull ahead. Her ability to clearly hold space and use her body positioning to drop into the backspace was crucial to keep the defenders hands away from the drop of the ball. Nweke was not afraid to shake things up sometimes popping out at the top of the circle to receive the ball or using the baseline to hold ground and score. The combination between Peta Toeava and Nweke was almost impossible to stop with the wing attack threading the needle to Nweke time after time.

Tayla Earle

In her return game after a head knock, Earle was in the thick of things. Playing in centre the dynamic midcourter wasted no time getting play underway with her quick thinking and hands allowing her to fire off passes. She competed hard around circle edge to create tips aplenty and used her drive in attack to complement Toeava. Earle was confident to release the ball from distance executing her passes with great ease and had great awareness to balance the circle. She impressed with a creative intercept around circle edge, managing to stay onside in the third quarter and then sprinting down the other end to push the Mystics into attack. She was a real menace in defence, constantly niggling away to win ball back. Her leap and strength on the take also shone through as Earle made a lasting imprint on the game.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams

After missing the past couple of weeks, Williams had a solid return out in goal attack. Coming on at half-time she used her smooth movement and clever footwork to inch closer to the post and keep the Magic in it. Williams played an excellent feeding role with her second phase work allowing her to deliver the ball with great precision into Caitlin Bassett. She was not afraid to play the ball around and most importantly was incredibly confident to post, backing herself from either under the post or from range. She brought a very different look to the Magic frontend with Williams able to use her turn of speed and aerial presence to have a profound impact. She was composed with ball in hand and did not look to panic, instead assessed the options and dished off clever passes accordingly. Her skill to execute the front-cut and use her patience was also prominent as Williams ticked away accurately on the scoreboard.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

Gordon does some of her best work when she is able to run freely and play a role in attack and that is what she got the opportunity to do this round. Playing through the centre Gordon combined her speed and attacking nous to hit circle edge and deliver clever passes into both Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. Her vision was highly impressive as she crafted her way down the court and showcased her versatility to either release bullet like passes or high floating ones depending on the attacking structure. Gordon displayed her two-way running ability to impact the play both in attack and defence. Her energy lifted in the second and that was when the Pulse became resurgent as she got hands to ball with a couple of impressive intercepts to get up nice and high and snatch the ball out of opposition hands.

Mainland Tactix:

Amelia Walmsley

In her debut game, the 17-year-old made no mistake stepping onto the court in the second quarter and having an impact with an immediate goal. Walmsley had great elevation and while it took a while for the Tactix to confidently deliver into the circle once they did she started to build. Her strong front holds made it obvious where she wanted the ball to be placed but her soft hands cost her the ball sometimes. Impressed with her classy footwork and ability to absorb the physicality piled onto her by Fifita. Not always confident to attack the ball, Walmsley steadily worked her way into the game especially when afforded a one-on-one directly under the post.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

It was another consistent performance from Metuarau as the goal attack imposed her crafty court play to steer the ship in attack. quiet in patches, Metuarau used her smarts to weave the ball through the defence and deliver ball into George Fisher time and time again. Her footspeed paired with her quick hands was hard to stop and although she only managed nine goals albeit at 100 per cent her work out the front was imperative. The shooter to shooter interplay could not be stopped and that was because Metuarau continued to shake things up on the pass. Her second phase play was strong and received just about every second pass to really generate that attacking momentum.

Taneisha Fifita

The goal keeper took a while to build into the game but her mobility and agility enabled her to have an impact. Fifita never stopped trying, consistently using her change of direction and hands over pressure to get in the head of her opposition shooters. she was strong in transition moving the ball from down back with great haste despite being confined to one third of the court. Her back-up support also enabled her to be an outlet pass when the Steel were stuck. Fifita adjusted quickly to her different goal shooters but one thing that remained the same was her hunt and intensity to win ball. Her closing speed in the dying seconds and springy style of play created doubt in the feeders mind while her smarts to use the outside arm enabled her to win back a wealth of ball.

Kate Heffernan

Heffernan continues to impress with the centre imposing herself from the opening minutes. her three-foot marking allowed her to swat the ball out of the air and then transition it down court before doing it all again only moments later. Heffernan’s drive through the midcourt and to circle edge enabled her to slice through the Tactix defence time and time again. She was a real driving force with her strong movement and vision in attack while also showcased her defensive craft to combine with Savai’inaea. Her sheer athleticism was on display throughout the entire game, turning herself inside out and then steadying to release pinpoint passes.

Renee Savai’inaea

Although she did not feature highly on the stats sheet, Savai’inaea showed her class off the ball to cover the space and clog the opposition together. Her fast footwork and read of the play constantly enabled her to drop into the space and block the move of Samon Nathan especially around circle edge. The wing defence worked hard in transition to bring the ball through the centre third and split the Tactix defence.

Fisher steers Steel to hard-fought two goal win

IT was always going to be a tough task without Ellie Bird and although the Mainland Tactix put up a good fight the Southern Steel showcased their grit and determination to steal a two goal win in a low-scoring affair (47-45). The Steel have gotten good at coming from behind to snatch victory, replicating their heroics from last week once again.

Missing a lynchpin in attack did not seem to worry the Tactix early as Kate Grant opened the account for the home side with a crafty goal. It did not take long for George Fisher to answer the call up the other end of the court for the Steel. Grant was making her presence felt nice and early with the goal shooter using her smarts to position cleverly inside the circle as the Tactix pushed out to a handy two goal buffer. But Fisher proved anything you can do, I can do better nailing consecutive goals to make it level pegging. Every time the Steel had a surge the Tactix found a way to skip one step ahead as Grant was having the better of Taneisha Fifita early to do the heavy lifting under the post. The tussle between sisters Te Paea and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was as exciting as ever to watch as they competed hard for every single pass and every inch of space out on court.

A mid-quarter rally from the Tactix pushed them further ahead as they established a five-goal lead doubling their opponents’ score 10-5. But just as soon as the game looked like it was getting away from them the Steel found a way to weasel their way back into the contest. The combination of goal attack Tiana Metuarau and centre Kate Heffernan came to life and worked wonders in attack with the duo spearing passes into Fisher with great ease. A newfound energy in attack forced the likes of Jane Watson and Karin Burger onto the back foot with Watson really struggling to combat the front hold of Fisher as the lead dwindled down to a mere goal at quarter time.

Holding the slimmest of leads at quarter time the Tactix looked to extend their margin but an errant shot off the hand of Grant gifted the Steel a chance to capitalise. It took a while for both sides to settle in the second with Te Paea Selby-Rickit landing the first goal with a tick under two minutes played in the term. Metuarau put up her first goal of the game moments later but the Tactix hung onto this one goal buffer. The tables slowly started to turn as Te Huinga Selby-Rickit sprung to life getting hands to ball and chasing down any loose ball that came her way to send the ball rocketing down the other end of the court. A four goal run to the Steel gifted them the lead with just over six minutes to play.

After being well held in the opening term Shannon Saunders upped the ante with her craft around circle edge and turn of speed to keep Charlotte Elley guessing. Changes came hard and fast for both the Tactix and Steel as Grant went to the bench and 17-year-old Amelia Walmsley made her way on in goal shooter. For the Steel, Fifita went to the bench allowing Sarahpheinna Woulf to be injected into the game. Walmlsey found her groove straight away against Woulf while she combined well with Te Paea Selby-Rickit to steadily eat into the margin. Up the other end, accuracy was proving no issue for the Steel as Fisher and Metuarau did not miss a single shot pushing their side out to a three goal lead.

The Tactix came out of half time with a real spring in their step as Te Paea Selby-Rickit slotted two goals in under a minute to draw back within a goal. Fifita was back on the court to start the term bodying up on Walmsley but that did not seem to bother the youngster who simply dug in and got the job done. Both Samon Nathan and Kimiora Poi increased their workload throughout the third term to spur the attacking unit on but this goal for goal rhythm remained. Neither side was able to break the shackles of each other as the defensive pressure intensified and scoreboard continued to tick over.

Fisher was doing all the heavy lifting inside the circle for the Steel with the England international using her footwork to avoid the long limbs of Watson. But the efforts of Burger is what stood out as the goal defence got hands to ball time and time again. Any way she could disrupt a passage of play she was there making life hard for the Steel and nullifying the influence of her former teammate in Metuarau. The Tactix managed to muster another layer of energy and drive sinking three goals straight to level the playing field but a late rally from the visitors saw all the hard work come unstuck.

It all came down to the last quarter and with only two goals separating them teenage shooter, Walmsley had a point to prove. Scoring the first goal of the term she made her intentions clear with the Tactix relishing a purple patch putting up seven goals straight. The momentum was and truly favouring the home side as they turned the deficit into a five goal margin. but that is where it stopped, as the Tactix did not put up a single shot from the eight and a half minute mark while the Steel went on a rampage. Fisher singlehandedly won the game nailing seven goals straight to rip the win away from the Tactix.

Fisher walked away with 40 goals at 91 per cent as Metuarau sat at 100 per cent with seven goals straight. Saunders was strong on the feed with 14 goal assists as Fifita amassed three gains and six deflections as Te Huinga Selby-Rickit picked up four gains and an intercept. Te Paea Selby-Rickit was the most prolific shooter for the Tactix with 18 from 20 while Walmsley impressed with her 16 from 19. Poi collected 15 goal assists as Burger had a day out in defence registering four intercepts and eight gains.

2021 ANZ Premiership preview: Round 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Stats Wrap: SSN Round 6 and ANZ Premiership Round 8

IT was a big week in both the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) and ANZ Premiership with a couple of unexpected results and nail-biters dictating the round. Round 6 of the SSN saw Queensland Firebirds get back on the winners list while Mainland Tactix upped the ante over in New Zealand to topple an undermanned Central Pulse outfit. Let’s check out some of the top performers in each respective league.

GOALS:

Grace Nweke continues to be a thorn in opposition sides with the goal shooter topscoring in the ANZ Premiership thanks to her jaw dropping 60-goal performance from 64 attempts in Round 8. She was a lynchpin in attack for the Mystics, dragging her side over the line with her cool, calm collected manner to post. Next best was George Fisher with the Steel goaler nailing not only 50 goals but so too the winning shot, scoring at 93 per cent accuracy. Aliyah Dunn was a commanding force for the Pulse sinking 47 goals from 54 attempts, while Ellie Bird also made her presence felt on the scoreboard thanks to her 46 goals but at a lower 81 per cent. It was a strong and accurate showing from Caitlin Bassett with the Magic goal shooter only missing two goals while out on court to sit at 95 per cent. Tiana Metuarau, Chiara Semple and Amorangi Malesala upped the ante out in goal attack with each goaler only missing one goal. Semple was the highest scorer with 19 goals from 20 attempts.

It is no surprised that Jhaniele Fowler was one of the top goalers for Round 6 of the SSN with the West Coast Fever representative nailing 59 goals from 60 attempts at an impressive 98 per cent. Hot on her heels was Sam Wallace with the NSW Swifts goal shooter starring under the post going at 100 per cent credit to her 58 goals straight as Shimona Nelson showcased her scoring prowess with 39 goals at 95 per cent. Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer shared the load for the GIANTS with 23 and 22 goals respectively and a combined six super shots with four coming off the hand of Dwyer. Speaking of shared shooting loads look no further than Romelda Aiken and Gretel Bueta with the two recapturing their signature form with the Jamaican leading the way with three super shots at 100 per cent and 34 regular goals. Cara Koenen was the go-to-girl for the Lightning posting 36 goals from 42 attempts while Lenize Potgieter did the heavy lifting for the Thunderbirds with her 29 goals at 91 per cent.

MIDCOURT:

Gina Crampton was electric through the midcourt racking up 32 goal assists and an intercept while Peta Toeava was not far off the pace with 29 goal assists and an intercept of her own. Grace Kara impressed with her pinpoint feeds into the circle to finish with 25 goal assists to her name with a late move into the goal circle assisting with this number. Teammate Sam Winders was also a commanding force with her 15 goal assists, one intercept and five pickups as Shannon Saunders picked up 14 goal assists for the Steel. Samon Nathan was the driving force for the Tactix in attack amassing 21 goal assists as Charlotte Elley impressed in wing defence with her three gains and two intercepts. Maddy Gordon and Claire Kersten shared the load in attack for the Pulse with 13 and 12 goal assists respectively.

Collingwood speedster Kelsey Browne had the ball on a string racking up 26 goal assists while former teammate and current Queensland Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was equally as impressive with ball in hand registering 20 goal assists and an intercept. Verity Charles and Jess Anstiss were crucial for the Fever managing 20 and 19 goal assists apiece with the latter also reeling in an intercept. Stacey Francis-Bayman made her presence felt in wing defence thanks to her three deflections and two intercepts with Ash Brazill also impressing with her three intercepts. Jamie-Lee Price was exciting through the midcourt racking up 18 goal assists and four intercepts as teammate Maddie Hay also found her groove with 15 goal assists of her own. Maddy Proud and Nat Haythornthwaite were influential for the Swifts with 18 and 14 goal assists while Maisie Nankivell showed some real attacking nous for Adelaide with her 15 goal assists.

DEFENCE:

It is hard to go past the performance of Oceane Maihi, who despite taking a while to warm into the game found her hops to really disrupt the play picking up six gains, four intercepts and only received six penalties showcasing her cleanliness. Another goal keeper that had a standout performance was Jane Watson with the Tactix captain registering five deflections, two intercepts and two rebounds. Partner in crime, Karin Burger was also amongst the thick of things with three gains and an intercept. Kelera Nawai and Kelly Jury combined for eight gains as Taneisha Fifita was also a commanding force down back for the Steel thanks to her three intercepts and six deflections. Erena Mikaere was the other top performer in defence collecting six deflections in her 60 minutes out on court.

Shamera Sterling was a nuisance down back for the Thunderbirds picking up six gains and four intercepts for her efforts. Partner in crime Matilda Garrett also had a day out with her four deflections and three gains as Queensland Firebirds goal keeper Tara Hinchliffe impressed with her ball winning capabilities to finish with six gains and four intercepts. Lightning goal keeper Phumza Maweni was in the thick of things with her four gains and three intercepts as the combination between Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner was at its damaging best with a combined nine gains. Courtney Bruce had a field day for the Fever with a staggering 11 gains five of which were intercepts along with 10 deflections as Melbourne Vixens goal keeper Kadie-Ann Dehaney relished her time out on court registering seven gains and three  intercepts.

Photo credit: Bradley Kanaris

2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 8

ROUND 8 of the ANZ Premiership is done and dusted and with that came some scintillating performances from the next generation of players. This series will cast an eye over a host of under 21s players that made their way out on court and the impact they had for their respective sides.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke

It was another impressive day at the office for Nweke with the goal shooter nailing 60 goals from her 64 attempts. The goal shooter was consistent, composed and clever with ball in hand to continuously keep the scoreboard ticking over. Her increased versatility to take both the high ball and the short sharp bullet pass came to the fore throughout this clash while her fancy footwork and balance along the goal-line was crucial. Nweke was a commanding presence from the opening minute of the game and did not let up constantly re-positioning inside the circle and using her leap to reel in ball despite the physical pressure coming from Oceane Maihi. Her ability to stand tall and clearly indicate the space allowed the Mystics to own the attacking third and she was hardly ever beaten in the one-on-one under the post.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Georgie Edgecombe

Although she did not get a wealth of court time, when injected into the action Edgecombe made an impact. Her defensive pressure in wing defence was impressive wearing down her opponent credit to her fresh legs and read of the play. Edgecombe backed herself in the contest to close down the space and apply strong hands over pressure to create held balls and get in the head of her opponent. Another key element of her play was her attacking mindset, getting up nice and high to help on transition and allow for the reset.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

It was good to see Gordon playing back in her breakout position of wing attack with the youngster looking much more at home in the attacking third. With speed to burn and an explosive connection with Aliyah Dunn she was able to feed the ball in with great ease and help keep the scoreboard ticking over. Oozing speed off the mark and a real aerial presence despite being on the shorter side, Gordon was a real energiser bunny and fed off the intensity of the crowd and her side. Gordon used her drive and quick 1-2 punch to the top of the circle to keep the defenders at bay and deliver pinpoint passes into the circle.

Paris Lokotui

Getting the start in wing defence, Lokotui went about her business in a cool, calm and collected manner. She did not do anything flashy and while she did not play the full four quarters showcased plenty of grit and determination. She was strong both in defence and attack to press hard in transition and sit up nice and high on the transverse line. Lokotui was not afraid to let the ball go and just back herself while her strong three-foot marking was another key characteristic.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

It was one of Metuarau’s best games so far this season with the goal attack showcasing her crafty court play. Although not overly prolific on the scoreboard, she sensed the moment when to work the ball around and when to back herself from range. Metuarau oozes composure and wisdom beyond her years to really control the tempo of the game. Add in her overall netball smarts and she is shaping to be a real threat for opposition teams. The goal attack was at her damaging best dishing off pinpoint perfect passes into George Fisher while her fancy footwork to pivot on one foot was second to none. Metuarau received just about every second pass to weave the ball into the circle and showcased her versatility on the pass to either bomb it long or use her short sharp passes to deliver into Fisher.

Taneisha Fifita

The goal keeper continues to grow in confidence and stature week in, week out and this round was no different. Tasked with Australian superstar, Caitlin Bassett, Fifita backed herself in taking advantage of her aerial skills and leap to contest the hands of Bassett. Renowned for her niggle under the post, Fifita found the right mix to stay away from a wealth of whistle but did enough to negate the class of Bassett. The youngster was not afraid to go out hunting for the ball utilising her closing speed to shut down options in the defensive third and then win ball back. She was never far from the contest and while she gave away a couple of penalties her recovery was exceptional. Her contest for the rebound was second to none while her body work to force Bassett along the baseline or up high was also imperative in the Steel’s narrow win.

Kate Heffernan

Heffernan continues to go along her merry way playing both centre and wing defence. Her transition between the two was seamless testament to the high quality athlete that she is. With endurance to boot and closing speed the fancy footed midcourter was able to have a consistent impact from go-to-woe. Both she and Sam Winders cancelled each other out at times credit to their similar playing styles and physicality, and Heffernan worked in overdrive to get free in transition. More of a defensively minded player, Heffernan was able to ply her trade coming flying through to cause tips and deflections time and time again to win ball back for the Steel and propel them forward in a blink of an eye. The move to wing defence was clever as she was able to employ her strong three-foot marking and make life hard for the Magic who were rallying later in the game. She proved to have a hot hand on the feed, releasing both from circle edge or down town such was the confidence on the pass. However she will need to tidy up receiving a warning in the dying minutes of the game and subsequently being moved to the bench to reduce the chance of her being sent off.

Renee Savai’inaea

Somewhat of an unsung hero for her side, Savai’inaea went about her business in a clinical and methodical way. Not known to be particularly flashy, Savai’inaea just played her role out in wing defence and then in centre for a quarter to give another element to the Steel and provide a calm head and consistent figure. With deceptive closing speed and good vision, the midcourter was able to win ball back and then send it back down the other end of the court in a heartbeat.

Fisher seals the deal in dying seconds of the game

IT was heartbreak for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic as they fell agonisingly short to the Southern Steel in Round 8 of the ANZ Premiership by one goal, 59-58. The Steel were off to the races in the opening half before the Magic pegged their way back into the contest in what was a thrilling encounter decided in the final seconds by a George Fisher goal.

The Magic got off to a blistering start piling on the first three goals of the game with Caitlin Bassett and Chiara Semple getting the nod in at goal shooter and goal attack respectively with Grace Kara relegated to her more typical position of wing attack. Temalisi Fakahokotau made her presence felt nice and early with a clever deflection and pickup as the Magic kept the Steel goalless for the first three minutes of the match. It was loud out on court with both sides making their voices well and truly heard to put doubt in the feeders’ minds. The combination between Semple and Bassett was causing all sorts of trouble with Taneisha Fifita and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit unable to stop their quick ball movement. The Magic maintained a handy five-goal buffer with the team humming along nicely in all thirds of the court.

All of a sudden the screws started to tighten as Steel won ball back through the midcourt and the home side hit the lead. The Steel scored five goals in a row with Tiana Metuarau and Fisher upping the ante in the goal circle to weave their magic. But Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere were up to the task as the duo double-teamed Fisher on the shot to reject the attempt and send the Magic streaming back down the court. The Steel hit the front with three minutes left to play in the term as silly errors cost the Magic an opportunity to capitalise. It was textbook play for the Steel in attack with Shannon Saunders leading the troops as they completely flipped the script to take a five-goal lead into the break.

Fakahokotau got the term off to a good start with an early intercept but the Steel continued about their business. The Magic defence were flying at just about everything with Holly Fowler providing great coverage out the front in wing defence to slow down Saunders. High looping passes into the attacking third gifted Fifita with a wealth of time to snatch the ball out of mid-air and propel it back down the court as the Steel continued to mount scoreboard pressure. The two centres in Kate Heffernan and Sam Winders cancelled each other out with the two doing a mountain load of work both off the ball to keep each other occupied and also in transition to feed the ball into the circle.

The timing was a fraction out for the Magic defenders as Fisher and Metuarau toyed with them credit to their impressive shooter to shooter combination. The Steel maintained their six-goal lead but with the whistle getting a bit out of hand the umpires pulled both captains in Winders and Saunders to the side to address their troops and clean up the action out on court. With that in mind both sides got off the body and instead played more free flowing zone style netball. The lead ballooned out to seven goals with Metuarau controlling proceedings in attack both on her second phase play and accuracy to post nailing three goals straight for the Steel.

Semple used her quick footwork and silky hands to open the Magic’s account nailing her tenth goal of the game and maintaining her 100 per cent accuracy. Kara started to work her way into the game with her class coming to the fore against Heffernan who switched into wing defence as Renee Savai’inaea switched into centre. The Magic managed the first five goals of the term to get back within three goals as the ball started to fall the way of the visitors. The Magic were playing with a renewed sense of confidence and intent especially in attack with Winders and Kara using their cuts and drives to slice through the Steel’s defence.

With Bassett receiving a wealth of attention from Selby-Rickit and Fifita, Semple carried the load with the goal attack sinking them from long range and doing so with accuracy. Georgia Tong made her way out onto court in goal keeper to replace Fakahokotau who was receiving some attention from the umpires while Sarahpheinna Woulf came on for Selby-Rickit for the Steel. A nasty head knock to Tong saw her come from the court as the Magic rung in the changes with Mikaere swinging back to goal keeper, Fowler into goal defence and Georgie Edgecombe into wing defence with it taking a minute or two for the side to settle.

The Magic made a couple more changes with Kara swinging into goal attack and Tori Kolose on in wing attack. The Steel got a real run on early in the quarter pushing out to a six goal lead before some vintage play from Fowler brought the Magic to life. Waikato Bay of Plenty continued to plug away at the margin with Kara proving to be a real playmaker inside the circle and allowing Bassett to dominate. Steel scored three straight goals with a tick over three minutes left on the clock but the Magic refused to give up. Sophie Erwood came on to replace Heffernan who was skating on thin ice after receiving a caution but that did not seem to faze the Magic who were on a roll. But it all came down to the final 10 seconds as Metuarau unleashed a pinpoint pass into Fisher who despite missing the first attempt, nailed the second to secure the win.

Fisher finished with 50 goals from 54 attempts at 93 per cent and while Metuarau only managed nine goals her workload out the front was telling registering 23 goal assists. Fifita was strong in defence with her four gains and three intercepts as Fowler was key for the Magic down back with her two intercepts. Bassett was accurate under the post with 39 goals to her name while Semple only missed the one goal sitting at 19 from 20. Although Kara did not put up a shot in the final term her hot hand on the feed kept the Magic alive finishing with 26 goal assists.