2019 ANZ Premiership Preview – Round 3
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse v The Good Oil Tactix
Sunday, March 10 in Palmerston North
Having lost two key players at either end of the court is going to truly test the depth within The Good Oil Tactix this season. And the test probably doesn’t come any tougher than taking on Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse after yet another hefty defeat. They are now without Erikana Pedersen for the season, having called in northern midcourter Samon Nathan last week, and will need a little more spine in their through court defence if they are to challenge a confident looking Pulse side. It was hard to hide the disappointment on the face of captain Jane Watson following the loss to the Northern Stars. She said they had plenty to work on at training in what would be a quick turnaround. “We need to get free of our defender – we need to be smarter with our movements,” she said. It was a different mood in the Pulse camp with captain Katrina Rore upbeat about the confidence rising within the team early in the season. “If we’re not (confident), we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be playing for each other,” she said. “That’s the Pulse motto, ‘we’re here for each other and got each other’s backs’.”
WHO TO WATCH:
Kimiora Poi (Tactix) – such a big season for the young midcourter. Pushing hard to retain her place in the Silver Ferns during a World Cup year and now tasked with a more senior role for the Tactix up front with the loss of Pedersen.
Jane Watson (Tactix) versus Aliyah Dunn (Pulse) – the Tactix captain had her hand in plenty last week but needs support outside of the circle if she is to shut down ball to Dunn who has shown an accurate radar early on.
Whitney Souness (Pulse) – dominated last week with her speed, change of direction and quick release to her shooters. An impressive 27 feeds to show a great understanding with her team-mates.
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v Splice Construction Magic
Monday, March 11 in Invercargill
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham looks to have endless options in who she plumps for on court. A demanding first week in the ANZ Premiership has been well negated by the defending champions who put an early loss behind them to turn out two classy performances and were able to rest legs at various times. They will be pleased to be at home for the first time this season but wary of a Splice Construction Magic team which has surprised with their performances so far despite two losses. Magic captain Casey Kopua believed they could have won their game against Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse last week having picked up plenty of ball (18 gains), but they failed to stick to the game plan when the pressure went on. She said it would be important for the Magic to treasure possession against the Steel and “don’t’ play into the other team’s hands. We’ll need to keep that short ball, and it’s just probably about the top two inches when we need it.” Kopua and her defensive partner Kelly Jury have barely missed a beat despite a disrupted season last year. Jury looks to be returning to form and leads the league with deflections after two rounds.
WHO TO WATCH:
Shannon Saunders (Steel) –had her hand in everything last week with a strong performance through the middle. Topped the count with 40 feeds into the circle and snaffled three intercepts and three deflections.
Lenize Potgieter (Steel) versus Kelly Jury (Magic) –a great match-up with two players finding form. Potgieter missed just five of her 53 attempts at goal last week but must look over the long reach of Jury who seems untroubled by her shoulder.
Monica Falkner (Magic) –has taken the senior shooting role in her stride and is forming a strong connection with Magic newcomer Abigail Latu-Meafou. Has already amassed 35 penalties to her name so should be wary of involving the umpire.
Northern Stars v Northern Mystics
Wednesday, March 13 in Auckland
Netball’s northern neighbours go head-to-head for the first time this season and it is the Stars who can waltz into this match with a spring in their step. The Leana de Bruin led side looked strong in all areas on court during Round 2 and has now netted two impressive wins. The former Silver Ferns defender was particularly pleased to watch the play unfold up front with the interaction between the mid-courters and shooters a highlight. “It’s exciting to watch when they get it right and I think there’s plenty more to come,” de Bruin said. The defensive combination of Storm Purvis, de Bruin and Kayla Cullen was also finding its groove early on and coach Kiri Wills has genuine options in Kate Burley and Holly Fowler who slot in seamlessly. Shutting down the Stars electric midcourt of Temepara Bailey and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan will be a priority for a Mystics unit which has suffered two big losses. Captain Phoenix Karaka was pleased with the way they started against the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel but felt they lost their way. “We just need to be more consistent with our performance,” she said. The defender admitted it was hard to lift after such big defeats but they continued to work hard to get the best out of each other at training.
WHO TO WATCH:
Maia Wilson (Stars) –has netted more than 50 goals in two of her three games this season and must be gaining the attention of Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua for both her accuracy and movement within the circle.
Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Stars) versus Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (Mystics) –an intriguing battle looms between two players who hold big futures in the game. Reuelu-Buchanan has speed and a good connection with her shooters while Sokolich-Beatson is a defender hungry for ball.
Bailey Mes (Mystics) – Mes lifted her shooting accuracy last week and started well alongside Jamie Hume. Looked more comfortable in the goal shooter bib but the Mystics need to lift their volume into the circle.