2021 ANZ Premiership: Young guns – Round 5

ROUND 5 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 young goal shooter was once again the focal point for the Northern Mystics and while her side did not get the win she did shoulder the load. Nweke impressed with her fancy footwork and composure to consistently outsmart and out manoeuvre her opponents in the goal circle to provide the Mystics with multiple chances to push forward. Her body positioning inside the circle was impressive, combatting both Jane Watson and Karin Burger time and time again to rip the ball out of mid-air. Nweke was a pinball between the two defenders and stood up to the challenge each time as she ground out the game.

Tayla Earle

Running through the centre, Earle tried her guts out in a gallant display. forced into overtime, Earle did not relent, instead digging deep and utilising her big tank to run out the match convincingly. Her skillset and netball IQ to switch between attack and defence was second to none with her impeccable footwork around circle edge catching the eye. Her three-foot marking helped to hold up play as she blocked the vision of her opposition, while Earle showcased her leadership to steady the ship at times through the centre when things got trying.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams

Although it took some time for Williams to work herself into the game once she found her groove there was no stopping her. Williams showcased her aerial strength to get up and contest the high ball while also showcasing her skills at ground level. The young goaler was not afraid to use her turn of speed to dart into the circle and impressed with her versatility to switch between goal attack and goal shooter. But it is fair to say that she did some of her best work settled at home in goal shooter able to read the attacking patterns to pop out or dart along the baseline. Her rebounding ability also came to the fore throughout the contest, with Williams taking advantage of her intuition and skill to boxout her opponent. Williams’ ability to manoeuvre and turn herself inside out mid-air was impressive to watch as she protected the ball each time she went up to receive a looping pass into the circle.

Georgie Edgecombe

The wing defence in Edgecombe continued to fly under the radar for the Magic with her contested work around circle edge paramount in her sides third quarter comeback. She pestered her opponent in Gina Crampton and while the wing attack had the upper hand for much of the battle she still worked gallantly. Edgecombe did not give up throughout her 60 minutes on court, utilising her strong hands and drive through the midcourt to propel the ball into attack. Her three foot marking paid dividends as she helped to block the vision of Crampton and build a wall in defence alongside teammates Erena Mikaere and Temalisi Fakahokotau. Edgecombe was hardly ever caught flat footed, always on the hunt for a crosscourt pass or opportunity to steal the ball back for the Magic.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon

It was another strong performance from Gordon who had her hands full with seasoned campaigner Shannon Saunders. But Gordon held her own and while she received a bit of attention from the umpire in the form of a caution it did not faze the happy-go-lucky midcourter who continued to throw everything she had at the contest. Although only slight in stature, Gordon matched Saunders for physicality particularly around circle edge. While her speed was her ultimate trump card able to burst from defence into the midcourt within a heartbeat. There is no denying that Gordon worked tirelessly for the Pulse, using her footwork and attacking mindset to shut down the Steel attacking unit.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau

With Fisher at the post there is often no need for Metuarau to worry too much about scoring and that was somewhat the case once again. The classy goal attack showed wisdom beyond her years to either shoot the long bomb or dish the ball off depending on the circumstance of the game which was highly impressive. Metuarau highlighted her ability to absorb the pressure and shoot while also flexing her playmaking muscles to keep the defenders heads on a swivel. Not fazed by Kelly Jury’s long arms, Metuarau took full advantage of her foot speed to dart around the court and run amuck with her deft touches also taking centre stage throughout the game. the Southern Steel goaler was nothing but composed each time she received the ball, able to quickly assess her options and then deliver accordingly.

Taneisha Fifita

Each and every time Fifita steps out on court the goal keeper adds another string to her bow. Her increased confidence and improved tidiness under the post allowed her to stay in play and mount a wealth of pressure. She contested everything in the air credit to her leap and she constantly used her footwork to dance around her opponent and confuse the space. Given she is so aerially blessed and her timing was on-point from the first few minutes of the game Fifita created a wealth of doubt for the feeders when dishing off into the circle. her body work enabled her to push Aliyah Dunn out of her comfort zone and force her to look long or play the ball around to not only give herself a chance to win ball back but so too her teammates.

Kate Heffernan

The young centre worked her way into the contest using her long limbs to full effect and showcased her endurance to impact the play running both ways. More of a defensive minded midcourter, Heffernan reeled in a couple of impressive intercepts – one through the midcourt which saw her sprinting through the centre third to cleanly rip the ball out of the air. She was a constant figure in both attack and defence for the Steel, working in overdrive to put up a fight.

Renee Savai’inaea

It was a quiet game on Savai’inaea’s behalf with the wing defence not having a huge impact on the stats sheet. However she should be commended for the work she did off the ball with her niggling style of defence constantly keeping Whitney Souness on alert. The wing defence used her physical nature to clog the Pulse attackers together while her deceptive closing speed also created doubt given she could come screaming through for an intercept at any second.

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