2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 12 preview

IN a copy of Round 11’s ANZ Premiership action, Round 12 will see the same match-ups take place, only with different home venues. Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix will be eager to get out on court after missing last round due to the COVID-19 alert in place.

Northern Mystics vs. Northern Stars
Sunday, July 4 @4:15pm

The Northern Mystics have had the wood over the Northern Stars this season claiming the two wins so far this season and will be looking to make it a clean sweep. The Stars have showcased some glimpses of magic but have been unable to combat the scoring flow of the Mystics who stole top spot off them.

There is going to be plenty of feeling in this clash with the Stars eager to get one back here. The main source of pain in both their outings this season has been Peta Toeava with the Mystics wing attack showcasing her dominance to hit circle edge. Toeava only needs an inch of space to feed the ball into Grace Nweke meaning the Stars defenders in Elle Temu, Anna Harrison and Oceane Maihi will have to address. It will be interesting to see if the Stars opt with the same tactics as last round, with Harrison attacking Toeava on the feed with her three foot marking. But the Mystics will take plenty of confidence in knowing that even if Nweke and Toeava are somewhat smothered the likes of Bailey Mes, Filda Vui and Saviour Tui are game changers in the goal circle while Tayla Earle is a menace in centre. Earle will come up against Mila Reuelu-Buchanan who is in equally good form, making that match-up through the centre a key contest.

Inside the circle the Stars have proven they have options with Amorangi Malesala getting the nod last week and not disappointing. Her willingness to go to post, silky drives and accuracy to post alleviated the pressure for Maia Wilson. But the goal shooter has been a bit off the boil and will be hoping to get back to her damaging best. She will have her work cut out for her against Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley with the pair becoming incredibly hard to match-up against. Throw in the fact the Mystics have Ama Agbeze at their disposal as well and the Stars will need their A-game in attack. It would be remiss not to mention Jamie Hume who has been a revelation this season while Gina Crampton has not missed a beat with her pinpoint feeds.

Mainland Tactix vs. Central Pulse
Sunday, July 4 @6:15pm

With their Round 11 match to be rescheduled, the Tactix and Pulse will just be keen to get out on court. The Tactix need to win if they are to stay in touch with the top three while the Pulse will be hoping to improve their ladder standings and get a bit of respectability back.

Having an extra week off will allow this game to be played at a high intensity for a full 60 minutes. Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit are the ones to watch for the Tactix with the latter a real barometer for her side. If Kelly Jury is able to implement her three-foot marking early and get in the head of Selby-Rickit it will work in favour of the Pulse given just how much of a load the goal attack carries in the frontend. Still trying to solidify a player in that wing defence position the Pulse will be hoping that either Claire Kersten or Maddy Gordon is able to combat Samon Nathan who has been in ripping form around circle edge with her drives and quick hands while Kimiora Poi is another livewire through the midcourt for the Tactix.

Looking up the other end of the court and it does not get any easier for the Pulse with the Tactix boasting the services of Jane Watson and Karin Burger down in defence. The pair have grown with confidence over the past couple of rounds and will be looking to double team Aliyah Dunn under the post and force the likes of Te Amo Amaru-Tibble or potentially Whitney Souness to shoulder the load. The Pulse are at their best when Dunn and Amaru-Tibble are able to share the load so will be hoping to use their movement to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The Tactix also have unsung hero Charlotte Elley out in wing defence with the midcourter often flying under the radar given the amount of work she does off the ball which does not always translate into big stats.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic vs. Southern Steel
Monday, July 5 @7:15pm

The final game of the round sees Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic host Southern Steel. After going down by a whopping 15 goals, the Magic will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and put out a more competitive performance while the Steel will be hoping for the return of George Fisher.

Although all eyes will turn to see if Fisher is available, Steel fans will take plenty of confidence out of the performance from Grace Namana and Tiana Metuarau with the pair lighting the court up with their dynamism. Namana was cool, calm and composed while Metuarau showcased just how dominant she can be when afforded enough time and space to go to post herself. The Magic defenders in Erena Mikaere, Temalisi Fakahokotau and Georgia Tong will need to up the ante and shut down the shooter-to-shooter interplay if they are any chance to get a win. Holly Fowler has been crucial since her return and will have her hands full with Shannon Saunders given her speed and strength particularly around circle edge.

The midcourt contest between Kate Heffernan and Sam Winders is going to be one to watch with neither willing to take a backwards step and possessing more of a defensive mindset. But if Grace Kara is once again out of action it will be up to Winders to lead the attacking end with her drive to the top of the circle and deft passes in. Tori Kolose has shown glimpses but if the Steel are able to create doubt on the feed into Caitlin Bassett, Chiara Semple and Khiarna Williams then they will be in the box seat to take out the win. Bassett has been in strong form but has lacked full court time but will be eager to lead her side to victory if given the opportunity. Up against up and coming defender Taneisha Fifita along with Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Sarahpheinna Woulf the Magic will have to have their wits about them given all three are ball-hungry players.

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