ANZ Premiership race for third heats up

ROUND 13 of the ANZ Premiership season saw the Mystics gel, the Pulse regain top position, and the Stars earn themselves an unwanted ANZ Premiership record.

Stars break record for most bonus points

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (51) defeated Northern Stars (47)

The Magic have shut down any chances of the Stars making finals as they push their own likelihood even further.

It was a tough game for the Stars to break into having only led by as much as one goal early in the first quarter. The Magic were better at scoring goals from their turnovers at 89 per cent compared to the Star’ 58 percent. This shows the Magic’s determination to convert from their turnovers and make the most impact on the scoreboard as they could.

Georgia Takarangi put on a defensive masterclass with four intercepts and one rebound for the Magic while able to shut down her opposition goal attacks to put more pressure on Maia Wilson. Wilson held up on her own though with 32 goals and two rebounds.

Claire O’Brien (41 feeds, 28 goal assists) has found her role in the Magic attack end with the help of experienced midcourter Ariana Cable Dixon. O’Brien took some time to adjust out on court without the likes of Ali Wilshier out with injury, but she has now taken the position on wing attack and made the most of it and the amount of ball she gets.

The Stars have made history in the ANZ Premiership with the most bonus points in a season with nine. This is both a blessing and curse for them as they are continually losing games, but they are able to fight it out and get to within a respectable margin. The most heartbreaking part for them though is knowing they were so close yet so far to taking away three points instead of one.

Two superstars return for Mystics in all important win

Mainland Tactix (49) defeated by Northern Mystics (61)

Grace Nweke only saw 15 minutes of court time last week due to managed minutes, but this week she had 37 minutes of time out on the court shooting 41 goals alongside five rebounds. It was thanks to Elisapeta Toeava (28 feeds and 20 goal assists) returning to the blue dress after her knee injury and she was the missing cog for the reigning premiers since both players’ brief departures.

Their connection clicked straight away which caused issues for the Tactix who lost that first quarter 21 – 11. The usually clinical Tactix defence let the Mystics have a seven-goal run stemming from the end of the first quarter into the second. They led by as much as 17 goals, but a flurry of scores by the Tactix closed the deficit, but it wasn’t enough and the Tactix were handed only their second loss for the season.

The midcourt battle between Kimiora Poi (34 feeds and 26 goal assists) and Tayla Earle (34 feeds, 19 goal assists, and one intercept) was an entertaining one. Both players have speed to burn, play both a great attacking and defensive game, and are able to sight the circle from anywhere. Earle was in her more familiar position of centre this game and he looked right at home with Nweke and Toeava in front of her.

Pulse take back top spot in 27-goal victory

Southern Steel (38) defeated by Central Pulse (65)

After a tight first quarter, the Pulse kicked into gear and ran away with the game to regain top position on the ladder.

The work of Kelly Jackson (15 gains, six intercepts, seven reflections, four rebounds and three pickups) in defence for the Pulse forced Georgia Heffernan to take on more of the workload in the circle. Heffernan shot 20 of the Steel’s 38 goals while playing goal attack across the full game.

The massive 27-goal win for the Pulse was thanks to Martina Salmon having an amazing day at the post, shooting 53 goals to go with six rebounds. Salmon hasn’t played as many games as other shooters in the league but already sits fourth for most goals scored this season with 305 at 86 percent.

Things gradually got worse and worse for the Steel as the game progressed, who lost the second quarter by seven goals, the third quarter by nine, and the fourth quarter by 10. The Steel only scored from 53 percent of their centre passes, which is far lower than the desired figure in the 80s at this level.

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