ANZ Premiership Round 8 preview: Mystics look to continue winning ways
THREE games stretched out over four days makes for a fascinating round of ANZ Premiership action. The first game starts on Sunday, with clashes following on Monday and then Wednesday. We take a look at how Round 8 pans out.
There will be a sense of déjà vu when it comes to these two teams facing off, having just done so yesterday. Whilst the Central Pulse got the job done on the road then, they return to be the home side against the Northern Stars in Sunday’s encounter. The Pulse sit second on the table, but only a four-goal difference separates them from the Mystics, and they can temporarily take top spot with a victory. For the Stars, after starting strong, they have slipped to 3-3 and will be desperate to bounce back and take the points here. Aliyah Dunn is fresh off a Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the Pulse against the Stars, so will need to be contained here, whilst Whitney Souness, Erikana Pedersen and the returning Maddy Gordon have shared the load in the midcourt. Anna Harrison will look to get back on top of her opponent in this outing, whilst it is a huge game for Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume, with the shooters not quite as potent the past fortnight as they have been. Pulse to be favourites for the game given recent form.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
In a Monday night fixture, top of the table Northern Mystics will be out to continue their red-hot form against the fifth placed Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. The Mystics have won four of their past five games – including belting the Northern Stars by 24 goals last start – and have the greatest percentage and goal difference in the league. The magic on the other hand have struggled, winning just one of their five games, and will be hoping to turn it around and cause an upset here. Whilst Grace Nweke‘s ability to deliver under the post is renowned, the work of Sulu Fitzpatrick, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Phoenix Karaka up the other end of the court is just as crucial. At full strength on paper, the Magic look incredible with the shooting pair of Silver Ferns duo Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio, but it has not quite solidified as of yet, with the likes of Claire Kersten and Samantha Winders in the midcourt desperate to turn it around. It is hard to look past the Mystics at home though.
After an extended break, the fans of the Southern Steel and Mainland Tactix will have to wait a while yet, not taking to the court until Wednesday. When they do, the Steel will be strong favourites, having come off a win over the Mystics not too long ago, and sitting 4-2 overall in the standings. The Tactix just have the one victory from six games so far in 2022, and are sixth overall on the ANZ Premiership ladder. With a goal difference of minus-52, something will need to change for the visiting side. Worldclass defender Karin Burger and partner-in-crime Kelera Nawai-Caucau are keys to winning the clash for the underdogs, performing as strong as they can under touch circumstances. They go up against a red-hot George Fisher who is firing on all cylinders with 258 goals at a 94 per cent efficiency, whilst Ellie Bird (190 at 91 per cent) and Te Paea Selby-Rickit (99 at 80 per cent) are not quite on the same level. Steel wing attack Shannon Saunders leads all-comers when looking at feeds, whilst Kate Burley has been incredible in defence. Expect the Steel to be a bit too strong across the court.