2023 ANZ Premiership | Round 10 preview: Potentially season defining games loom

IT is truly getting to the spicy end of the ANZ Premiership season, and with the ladder as tight as ever there really is still plenty to play for.

This weekend may perhaps become a season defining one, the next step on the journey to confirming who will play finals in 2023.

The team under the most pressure this weekend is the Magic. A much improved side in 2023, that growth may not amount to much this season if they cannot maximise this double game weekend to stay in touch with the teams above them on the ladder and still be in with a shot of finals. Even if they drop one match and other results do not go their way, they can just about kiss finals goodbye.

One thing that will help the Magic is that both their games are at home. They do have the Pulse and Steel to contend with, but since the one goal loss to the Pulse in Round 1 they have not lost to either side.

Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio have a big job this weekend. Both are having great seasons and are adaptable netballers but can they work together to navigate the influence of someone like Kelly Jury and neutralise her influence on a game?

The Steel also have a big weekend, first having to face the Mystics in Auckland before travelling south to face the Magic.

As the only team not stressing about finals anymore, the Steel have nothing to lose and can play with a newfound freedom. They will still be aiming to nab that first win though, and after coming so close last week will feel like they have got it in them to finally pull through for one this week.

It will not be easy though. Kate Heffernan in particular is going to have plenty on her plate, trying to quell the influence of the likes of Elisapeta Toeava and Tayla Earle, as well as Claire Kersten. Kate Burley also has a tough task this week, trying to keep Mes, Ekenasio and Grace Nweke quiet.

In the other game this weekend it is the third placed Stars up against the fourth placed Tactix. Very little splits the pair at the moment, but even if the Tactix do lose this weekend, they have a fall back plan of a game in hand, which will come next weekend. The Stars do not have that extra game, so will be extra keen to cement the win this weekend and extend the gap between the top and bottom three.

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton have become quite the partnership in midcourt for the Stars this season, but can Laura Malcolm and Kimiora Poi rise to the challenge and be the dominant midcourt partnership of the game?

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