ANZ Premiership cancels 2020 finals play-offs
SUNDAY August 23 was set to be an action-packed conclusion to the ANZ Premiership as all six teams were set to face off, finishing with a top two clash to determine the 2020 premiers. However, changed conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works with the ANZ Premiership opting to put a stop to the playoffs, meaning only the grand final clash between Central Pulse and Mainland Tactix will take place in Invercargill. The altered restrictions have also forced the match to be played behind closed doors with no fans allowed into the precinct to comply with the heightened regulations.
Prior to the cancellation of the playoffs, bottom of the ladder Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic were set to meet fifth placed Southern Steel to battle it out for the wooden spoon. It had been a relatively up and down season for both sides with the Steel hit with injury as Jennifer O’Connell and Georgia Heffernan were sidelined with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries but found their mojo in attack once Ellen Halpenny joined the ranks towards the back half of the season. Meanwhile, Magic kicked into gear with Sam Winders leading the troops through the midcourt and Kelsey McPhee upping the ante under the post. The cancellation however has forged the Magic’s cellar dwelling spot at the bottom of the ladder.
In the next round of playoffs the Northern Stars were hoping to upset the Northern Mystics who took the competition by storm with the hot hand of Grace Nweke leading the way under the post with her high accuracy and volume. Northern Stars defender Storm Purvis announced her retirement, calling quits on her illustrious 10 year career but falling agonisingly short of her 100 games, finishing with 99 to her name after the ANZ Premiership decided to not go ahead this weekend.
The grand final however is still set to go ahead with the Mainland Tactix playing in their inaugural grand final, making for an exciting battle between the two teams on Sunday. Reigning premiers, Pulse will be hoping to make it back-to-back premierships as the Tactix search for their maiden of silverware.
With the grand final the only game to be played the final placings see Mystics finish third, 2019 grand finalists Northern Stars come in at fourth, Steel in at fifth and Magic take out last place.