ANZ Premiership Review: Round 10

WITH only three rounds left until finals all the sides are vying for the best ladder position and the chance to play at the end of the season. The Northern Stars mustered up their first win in a couple of rounds, while the Central Pulse continued their domination over the rest of the competition.

Northern Stars (53) defeated Northern Mystics (52)

The Northern Stars claimed a nail biter to get back onto the winner’s list after losing their last four games. It was a close encounter with the Northern Mystics holding the lead at half time, but a gallant effort in the third term saw the Mystics do just enough to get over the line.

It was the same old tale for the Mystics who struggled under the post until shooting revelation, Grace Nweke came onto the court. Her commanding presence in the goal circle, strong hands and accuracy under the post makes her an easy target for the Mystics and allows Bailey Mes to run free on the court. Nweke finished with 29 goals from 37 attempts at 78 per cent and was strong on the rebound picking up nine, while Mes slotted 21 goals at 80 per cent. The work through the midcourt was also efficient with Elisapeta Toeava dominating with 50 feeds and 25 goal assists, showcasing her work to get free in the attacking third. Goal keeper, Erena Mikaere was impressive with her hands over pressure, long reach and quick movement allowing her to pick up eight gains, two intercepts and four rebounds. Michaela Sokolich-Beatson also did a wealth of work down the court with 11 centre pass receives, two rebounds, one intercept and three gains.

The Northern Stars had a slow start, but a big third quarter pushed them ahead. The Stars only made one change for the game, bringing on Holly Fowler for Kayla Cullen who got a knock. Cullen had been solid in defence prior to coming off, notching up two gains, two deflections and five centre pass receives, credit to her both her attacking and defensive mindset. The settled line-up gelled well down the court with Maia Wilson dominant in the goal circle, slotting 36 goals from 45 attempts. She was ably assisted by partner in crime and experienced goal attack Ellen Halpenny who chipped in with 17 goals. Wing attack, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan was impressive in attack, using her speed and vision to let rip with bullet passes leading her side with 39 feeds.

Mainland Tactix (44) defeated by Central Pulse (62)

The Mainland Tactix won the first term but the Central Pulse put their foot down in the next two quarters piling on 38 goals to 18. In the third term alone the Pulse scored 22 goals and kept their opponents to a mere nine, showcasing their dominance and pressure across the court.

There is no doubting that Central Pulse are the team to beat, with stars scattered across the court and both shooters prolific and accurate under the post. The connection between the two is growing week in week out, sending worrying signs to the rest of the competition. Aliyah Dunn was unstoppable once again, holding space and using her good footwork to get into damaging positions. Her hot hands were also on show with 36 goals from 38 attempts at a whopping 95 per cent. Ameliaranne Ekenasio was not far behind with 26 goals to add to the tally at 84 per cent. Captain, Katrina Rore was her dominant self, commanding the troops down back and pushing up through the midcourt to provide some attacking movement. Rore had two goal assists, five gains, two intercepts, three deflections and eight centre pass receives. Others who impressed were Whitney Souness through the midcourt and Sulu Fitzpatrick, with both playing their role well.

The Mainland Tactix struggled to penetrate through the Pulse defense and were stagnant on the court, credit to the pressure applied by their opponents. Scoring machine, Ellie Bird lived up to her standards once again, piling on 39 goals at 93 per cent. Unfortunately, she was the sole hand in attack for the Tactix with Kate Beveridge and Brooke Leaver unable to fire. Jane Watson was solid in defence, showcasing her three feet marking and good footwork to manoeuvre around her opponent and cleanly pick up the ball, collecting six gains and three intercepts. Samon Nathan and Kimiora Poi were pivotal through the midcourt, feeding the ball with precision into the goal circle but ultimately to no avail.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic (48) defeated by Southern Steel (63)

The Steel had a point to prove, and with a hot start they well and truly showed that they are a force to be reckoned with, maintaining constant pressure down the court and using slick ball movement to transition down the court. The Magic worked hard but it was to no avail as the side was unable to keep up with the Steel who proved to be too strong.

Lenize Potgieter was dominant under the post, with her beautiful footwork and good timing to pop out and receive the ball on show throughout the three and a half quarters she played. Her accuracy and volume was high, racking up 39 goals from 44 attempts sitting at 89 per cent. The changes in attack did not seem to disrupt their scoring ability with Te Paea Selby-Rickit also posing a threat in the goal circle with 22 goals, while youngster Georgia Heffernan also got some court time in the second half of the game. Defensively, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was solid with her three feet marking and ability to cover her opponent’s first and secondary moves. She finished the game with five gains, one intercept and four rebounds while Courtney Elliot was also strong in goal keeper picking up four gains and a couple of deflections.

For the Magic Kelsey McPhee had a hot start, scoring 18 goals in the first half and only missing three before going on to finish with 28 goals. Monica Falkner and Abigail Latu-Meafou also played their role in attack, but inaccuracy and low volume was an issue as the pair only managing to nail 20 goals between them. Ariana Cable-Dixon was clever in attack with her strategic passes and good movement in the attacking third on show, with 22 feeds and leading the way with 21 centre pass receives for the game. Georgie Edgecombe also got her first game of the season and was impressive in defence, showcasing her versatility to move between wing defence and goal defence. Casey Kopua worked well with her new defensive partner, picking up two gains and three deflections for her efforts.

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