2021 ANZ Premiership: Season Review – Northern Stars
NOW that the ANZ Premiership season is done and dusted Draft Central casts an eye over each team and how they fared throughout their 2021 campaign. Shaping up to be title favourites before a turbulent end to the season were the Northern Stars, who finished their season in fourth spot on the ladder.
2021 will be one of missed opportunities for the Stars after sitting atop the table for majority of the season before an almighty decline in form saw them sink to fourth by season’s end. After a hot start to their 2021 campaign the Stars hit a roadblock and simply could not do enough to get their season back on track, missing out on finals by the skin of their teeth. The Stars finished with nine wins to their name – the same as the Mainland Tactix – but a couple of big losses cost them a spot in the finals and a chance to contest for the premiership.
“An area of weakness from earlier years is getting any gains, so getting turnovers, and that’s what we really want to try and lift this year,” Crampton said. “You know, it’s not just down to the defensive end, it’s up to the whole team to be able to get ball so I think with the likes of Anna Harrison you know, she provides so much experience. She actually is such a good ball winner as well. She and Elle Temu as well are just playing such good netball.”
Talking to Draft Central pre-season, Gina Crampton highlighted the necessity of the Stars outfit to capitalise and score on their turnovers, a feat they had down-pat in the first half of the season but fell away from towards the pointy end of the competition.
Jamie Hume well and truly staked her claim not only on the competition but so too Silver Ferns contention with the goal attack elevating her game to a whole new level this season. The goal attack showcased her capacity to do just about everything in attack with her desire to go to post and create attacking forays out the front. Her smarts and clever ball use allowed her to bring Maia Wilson into the game while she also proved more than capable of doing the heavy lifting herself with her well-timed drives and turn of speed. Previously criticised for her lack of accuracy to post, Hume showcased plenty of improvement this season to keep the Stars in with a fighting chance.
A continual reliance on Wilson was the Stars’ ultimate downfall with the goal shooter suffering from an uncharacteristic cold patch, with her accuracy and volume well and truly down towards the backend of the season. However, there were a number of other shooters that plied their trade with Amorangi Malesala making a lasting impact with her versatility, strength and accuracy while Monica Falkner made her long awaited return from injury at the end of the season after another setback. The midcourt craft of the Stars was impressive with the acquisition of Gina Crampton paying dividends thanks to the wing attack’s nous and spatial awareness. She complemented Mila Reuelu-Buchanan’s style of play as the two combined nicely to create a two-pronged attack.
Defensively there was no shortage of star power with the return of Harrison well and truly bolstering the Stars unit. Harrison led from the back with her long limbs and closing speed allowing her to regain possession time and time again while her experience also rubbed off on the likes of Temu who relished the extra court time this season. The pair built one of the most damaging combinations going around with their tenacity and cleanliness front and centre. Lisa Mather was somewhat of an unsung hero out in wing defence while Oceane Maihi proved to be the super sub the Stars needed in defence with her hops playing an integral role.