2021 ANZ Premiership: Round 13 preview

IT is going to be a huge round of ANZ Premiership action with the rescheduled contest between Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix set to open proceedings tonight. Both sides will take the court twice this round with the Tactix hoping to stay in touch with the top three.

Central Pulse vs. Mainland Tactix
Friday, July 9 @7:15pm

Having only played last week the two sides will be familiar with what to expect and ready to put their best foot forward.  The Pulse will be hoping to increase their output especially in the front-end after being kept to 34 goals while all eyes will turn to Kelly Jury and whether she is fit to return after her calf strain. Meanwhile, the Tactix will be eager to continue their winning ways and generate some real momentum.

Jury was a huge out for the Pulse last round given she is the most experienced defender in the side and plays an integral role not only in the defensive circle but so too in transition. They will be hoping to have her services at their disposal once again to accompany the likes of Kelera Nawai down in goal keeper. Nawai stepped up her game last round while the likes of Abby Erwood, Parris Mason and Paris Lokotui have all proven to be impact players out in that goal defence role. But their job is not made easy when having to combat the likes of Silver Ferns shooter, Te Paea Selby-Rickit who, even when not firing under the post, is incredibly crafty out the front with her direct passes into Ellie Bird. The goal shooter can score within a matter of seconds making her a key cog in the Tactix frontend and a huge problem for the Pulse who lack the height to compete with her in the air.

The shooting end seemed to be the real issue for the Pulse with Aliyah Dunn unable to get hands to ball. The goal shooter was accurate to post but lacked volume, an area the Pulse as a whole will need to work on if they are to worry the Tactix defence. The combination of both Jane Watson and Karin Burger is just about unstoppable when up and running given the two are able to get hands to ball so easily and create absolute havoc down in that defensive third which they will be hoping to do once again this game. Their life is made somewhat easier by the work of Charlotte Elley out the front who has proven to be a real unsung hero in the Tactix defensive unit. But if the Pulse are to get the win over the Tactix here they will need the likes of Whitney Souness and Claire Kersten to up the ante with their drives and speed to create options in attack.

Central Pulse vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
Sunday, July 11 @4:15pm

The Pulse will be the first cab off the rank to play their second game in two days taking on Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. The Magic have had moments of brilliance pushing the Steel last round but just falling short and will be hoping to put out a full four quarter performance to get the win. On the other hand the pulse will be eager to climb up the ladder and really solidify their connections across the court.

Caitlin Bassett has been a great addition to the side and showcased just how potent she can be to post last round playing the full 60 minutes. Bassett alongside Khiarna Williams are creating a damaging combination with Williams able to create a number of attacking forays with her pinpoint passes or her composure and confidence to go to post from long range. If that partnership is up and running early it could spell danger signs for the Pulse, especially if Jury is still out of action. The Magic also had the luxury of bringing on Chiara Semple out in goal attack or goal shooter to add to their versatility in the front end while they also have a wealth of depth through the midcourt. Grace Kara is arguably the most reliable and consistent wing attack for the Magic with her speed and spatial awareness coming to the fore while Tori Kolose has also proven to be a real spark. All eyes will turn to the battle between Sam Winders and Kersten while Maddy Gordon is another one to keep an eye on for the Pulse.

Te Amo Amaru-Tibble only had limited court time last round and will be raring to go against the Magic while Ivana Rowland proved she is more than capable of stepping up to the plate with her accuracy to post. She will need to bring her calm composure into this clash given the long arms of Erena Mikaere, the athleticism of Georgia Tong and physicality of Temalisi Fakahokotau, if she takes the court.

Southern Steel vs. Northern Mystics
Sunday, July 11 @6:15pm

Expect an enticing battle between two of the top sides with the Mystics looking to extend their lead atop of the ladder and the Steel aiming to leapfrog the Stars. Both sides are coming in off wins with the Mystics on a five game winning streak while the Steel are looking for their third straight victory but will have the confidence knowing they can beat the Mystics.

George Fisher returned to the court for a quarter and a bit last round after missing the previous game with concussion and will be hoping to increase her efforts in this match up against some very physical defence in the likes of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Kate Burley. The defensive options do not stop there for the Mystics with Ama Agbeze more than capable of coming on and causing a stir with her defensive prowess. Fisher is cool, calm and collected under the post with her connection with Tiana Metuarau the real game changer for the Steel. Metuarau is able to sight Fisher with great ease and can do the same thing with Grace Namana meaning the Steel have plenty of options in attack.

Through the midcourt the Steel have some real livewires with Kate Heffernan likely to come up against fellow youngster Tayla Earle. This battle will be one to cast an eye on as the pair are not known for their willingness to take a backwards step. The attack end for the Mystics is the real concern for the Steel defence in Taneisha Fifita, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and potentially Sarahpheinna Woulf given just how quickly they can score. Grace Nweke has magnets in her hands able to grab anything that comes her way and shoot truly while both Bailey Mes and Filda Vui have proven to be viable options under the post. But the power Peta Toeava holds is what makes the Mystics tick as the wing attack controls the tempo in attack credit to her pinpoint passes from literally anywhere on the court.

Mainland Tactix vs. Northern Stars
Sunday, July 11 @7:15pm

The final game of the round is set to be a cracker as the race for the finals continues to heat up. The Stars have dropped down the ladder off the back of consecutive losses to the Mystics and will be out for vengeance while the Tactix will be fronting up for their second game of the round.

Maia Wilson will need to be on her A-game if she is to worry the Tactix defence in Watson and Burger. Jamie Hume has been a revelation this season with her increased workload and accuracy to post while the return of Monica Falkner could give the Stars the upper hand, even if she has limited court time. It will all come down to the amount of time and space Elley affords to Gina Crampton with the Stars wing attack able to carve up the court, renowned for her ability to receive just about every second pass to weave her magic in attack. If Crampton is able to break free early it will allow the Stars to generate some fluidity inside the goal circle with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan often lifting based on the workload of her midcourt partner.

One thing is for sure; Anna Harrison does not have two quiet games in a row – meaning that both Selby-Rickit and Bird will have to be on high alert. Harrison is a real ball winner for the Stars with her go-go gadget arms while both Oceane Maihi and Elle Temu are more than capable of causing a ruckus with their defensive nous and tenacity. Expect them to wear the Tactix shooters down and create some real momentum with their drives. Lisa Mather will have her work cut out for her against Kimiora Poi, Samon Nathan and Erikana Pedersen around circle edge with all three Tactix midcourters boasting blistering speed.

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