2021 ANZ Premiership Round 13 Preview
Friday, 9 July (Rescheduled Round 11 match)
Tactix v Pulse at 7.15pm at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua
The hunt for a top three spot has become more mathematical for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse following their loss last week to The Good Oil Tactix last week. They meet again in this rescheduled match for the game missed in Round 11 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Spoiler could be the Pulse’s biggest role from here on in with the Steel and Tactix now fighting it out for third place. Both the Pulse and Tactix were guilty of messy play after their week off but get the opportunity to make up for it with two quick games on the trot – the first, a re-match in Wellington.
The hosts will be hoping to have defender Kelly Jury back on board after she was ruled out of their last match with a calf injury. But it is in the goal attack bib which has proved most troublesome in recent weeks with coach Gail Parata plumping for Ivana Rowland for a large chunk of last week’s game against the Tactix.
The Pulse struggled to punch through the red-and-blacks unit defence with both Charlotte Elley and Kimiora Poi putting the pressure on outside the circle. Tactix in-circle defenders Jane Watson and Karin Burger were at their best, grabbing 11 gains between them, and are peaking at the right time of the year.
Sunday, 11 July
Pulse v Magic at 4.15pm at TSB Arena in Wellington
Avoiding the bottom rung on the ladder is high on the agenda for these two teams and the Splice Construction Magic showed last week they have the ability to make a move in the ANZ Premiership.
A narrow loss to the Steel was a timely confidence boost for the Magic who want to take as many positives over the coming rounds. The defensive combination of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Tong helped turn the fortunes of the Magic in their latest outing and must be favoured to grab the starting bibs again.
Mikaere looked at home in the goal keeper position with her long reach causing all sorts of problems and helping her snaffle eight gains for her team. The resurgence of Holly Fowler has also been significant in bolstering their defensive wall. Captain Sam Winders was quick to praise her team’s performance despite another defeat.
“We can’t expect the world in a week. But I think the turnaround we’ve shown – we are pretty proud of that.”
The Magic can also play a hand in how the Premiership table stacks up over the final few rounds as they are still to play both the Tactix and Stars.
It’s a big few days for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse who must back up just two days after taking on the Tactix – the good news; they have home advantage for both games.
Steel v Mystics at 6.15pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill
A big match for the Northern Mystics when they take on the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel and their fervent fans in the Deep South, with the Georgie Salter Memorial Trophy also on the line. The Steel are a tough team to topple when playing in front of their home crowd and the southerners had the better of the Mystics the last time they met, back in Round 7.
The Steel’s season is delicately placed as they jostle with the Tactix for a place in the top three but have the advantage of playing two of their next three matches in the fortress of ILT Stadium Southland. English international George Fisher made a welcomed return to the court in the last round, following a head knock, and may be called on for more minutes against the top-placed northerners.
They will need to dig deep against a Mystics unit brimming in confidence. It was a happy Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick following last week’s win – a club record of five straight victories. They consolidated their place at the top of the ladder and denied their nearest rivals, the Stars, a bonus point.
Fitzpatrick said they would enjoy the win but not look too far ahead as they still needed to address the ability to change things up when needed.
“It’s focussing on what’s now – what’s our job in the moment and if that doesn’t go right, what’s next?” she said.
Monday, 12 July
Tactix v Stars at 7.15pm at Christchurch Arena in Christchurch
The Robinhood Stars seem to have taken their foot off the pedal and with both The Good Oil Tactix and Steel chasing hard, must keep an eye in the rear view mirror with some concern. Captain Maia Wilson is not ready to push the panic button yet however and was pleased with much of their play in the eight-goal loss to the Mystics last week.
“I think in a lot of these games we’re actually playing quite well, it’s just the small little things in each quarter. We have to keep our heads up – we really want to play them (Mystics) again, hopefully in a final.”
It won’t be an easy trip south with the Tactix getting the results at home and Wilson was aware the Stars had lost three of their last five matches.
“You never want to say you’ve peaked too early but some of the results are unfortunately not going our way.”
Extra time was needed when they last met in Round 7 – the Stars claiming that match – and another close affair is expected.
“Like the Mystics, they are a team that’s definitely building,” Wilson said of the Tactix. “For us, we need to find that build again.”