ANZ Premiership: Pre-season tournament – Day 1

THE ANZ Premiership preseason tournament kicked off on Friday with multiple fresh faces gracing the court for their respective sides. The reigning premiers – Central Pulse – played two games, donning a new look line-up given the departure of a couple of key players across the board while the Magic also got out on court twice to open Day 1 of the tournament.

Here are a couple of key headlines from each game:

Central Pulse (39) defeated BY Mainland Tactix (55)

Tactix consistency proves too strong:

  • After a fast start from the Pulse, the Tactix managed to not only claw their way back into the contest but in the end trounce the defending champions. The consistency across the court for the Tactix was the difference with the side able to rely on their strong connections to out manoeuvre and outsmart the Pulse who despite trying multiple combinations could not find the winning formula.

No Ekenasio disrupts the attacking unit

  • The absence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio was well and truly felt across the court with the captain set to not play the entire preseason tournament. Her composure and overall netball smarts were missed across the court with Te Amo Amaru-Tibble still working her way into the mix and getting used to the tempo of the game.

Pulse midcourt is where their strength lies

  • Maddy Gordon found herself playing out in wing defence and she did not skip a beat. Accustomed to playing that wing attack position the energiser bunny brought that same level of intensity and speed to the backend picking off passes with ease. her partnership with Claire Kersten was impressive while the addition of Whitney Souness balanced the attacking unit, as the midcourt controlled proceedings from start to finish thanks to their read of the play and intuition.

Ellie Bird is key

  • Mainland Tactix goal shooter Ellie Bird continues to grow with confidence and stature, commanding the ball under the post and utilising her height to reel in high looping passes time and time again. she is the main port of call for the Tactix and will once again have her work cut out for her in 2021.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (40) defeated Northern Mystics (32)

CBass looks at home with Magic

  • It did not take long for Caitlin Bassett to look comfortable under the post for the Magic, holding strong and taking full advantage of her extra centimetres to command the ball and do damage. Bassett showcased her strength and overall smarts to constantly position in dominant positions under the post and made the most of her chances shooting at a high accuracy.

Filda Vui is an exciting prospect for the Mystics

  • Getting the official call-up to the Mystics squad this season, Filda Vui has showed plenty of promise with her silky movement and innate timing a couple of key characteristics in her game play. she is a cool, calm and collected customer that oozes fancy footwork and versatility.

Magic attacking line-up is exciting

  • The combination between two experienced veterans both on the international and domestic scene in Bassett and Grace Kara is going to cause grave concerns for opposition sides. Kara is a real livewire that boasts impressive spatial awareness and class able to sight Bassett on the hold and release within a second.

Defensive options aplenty for both sides

  • There was no shortage of defensive options for the Mystics and Magic with both sides brimming with talent. The Magic showcased their versatility to switch between Erena Mikaere, newcomer Temalisi Fakahokotau and Georgia Tong while the Mystics got valuable minutes from captain Sulu Fitzpatrick and recruit Kate Burley. They all showed their tenacity and aerial ability constantly swatting away passes.
Northern Stars (60) vs. Southern Steel (34)

Anna Harrison still has it

  • Coming out of retirement, defender Anna Harrison proved that she has still got it, not skipping a beat in her first official outing. Her impressive timing, read of the play and aerial ability was all on show for the Northern Stars throughout their contest. Harrison was a constant threat using all of her years of experience to pester the Steel shooters and stop them in their tracks.

Maia Wilson is a rock under the post

  • Northern Stars goal shooter, Maia Wilson continued her hot form from the Constellation Cup into this match with her strong holds, quick footwork and impressive range all on show. Her composure with ball in hand and ability to dictate in attack was second to none while she consistently re-offered inside the circle to make herself an option.

Steel defensive unit developing

  • The combination between Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita continued to develop throughout the contest with the two reading each other and the play well to create chances for turnovers. their overall defensive pressure and space marking was another key aspect in their game play.

Attacking unit very congested

  • Still working on their connections given the number of fresh faces joining the squad the attacking unit for the Southern Steel was highly congested as Tiana Metuarau and Kiana Pelasio grouped together. Their inexperience and lack of time together on court started to show up against the likes of Harrison who is a well-oiled defensive machine.
Central Pulse (57) vs. Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (46)

Fakahoktua is a gamechanger

  • The goal keeper can simply change the course of a game in an instant with her defensive prowess and athleticism causing all sorts of havoc for the Pulse. She can read the ball with great ease and is a real menace, getting in the head of the shooters.

Pulse are adapting to new connections across the court

  • With fresh faces galore, particularly in the defensive unit it will take some time for Central Pulse to fully gel. Kelly Jury has diversified her game, spending time out in goal keeper while Fijian product Kelera Nawai has slotted into the goal keeper position but is still adjusting to the high intensity brand of netball played.

Magic have plenty of versatility through midcourt  

  • Despite not having a specialist centre with Ariana Cable-Dixon out for the year after giving birth, Magic boast versatility and excitement through the midcourt. Up and coming youngster, Georgie Edgecombe showcased her class up against the likes of Claire Kersten while Sam Winders’ experience and endurance paid dividends able to run through the centre.

Pulse need more awareness in attack

  • It was clear the impact a lack of Ekenasio had on the Pulse side with Aliyah Dunn and Amaru-Tibble often running into each other’s space and clogging up the court. They grouped together and were forced wide with Dunn forced to shoot from range and Amaru-Tibble struggling at times to combat the defensive pressure stemming from the Magic defenders.


Picture credit: Adrian Watkins

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