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2021 ANZ Premiership Round 14 Preview

2021 ANZ Premiership Round 14 Preview

We take a look at all three match-ups in Round 14 of the ANZ Premiership.

Sunday, 18 July

Magic v Tactix at 4.15pm at Energy Events Centre in Rotorua

The Good Oil Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit says her team has more work to do despite delivering an important win last week to launch the Mainlanders into second spot on the ANZ Premiership ladder.

A convincing win in what was their third game in eight days sent a message to other Finals Series contenders that the Tactix are peaking at the right time of the season. But Selby-Rickit said they wouldn’t be getting too excited about the victory.

“It’s not over yet. We’ve still got a couple of important games coming and we really want to make that final. It’s a good stepping stone for us but there’s a lot of work to do still.”

The Tactix have every right to be wary of a Splice Construction Magic side in what remains a must-win for the red-and-black team.

The Magic haven’t won since the Premiership’s opening round but six bonus-point losses suggest they will not be an easy opponent for a Tactix team back on the road. The Magic will however need to have their attack line working at its best against a Tactix defence unit which was outstanding against the Stars – the Jane Watson and Karin Burger combination picking up a remarkable 22 gains between them.

Pulse v Mystics at 6.15pm at TSB Arena in Wellington

The Northern Mystics hold onto their spot at the top of the ANZ Premiership despite last week’s loss but they remain on the road in what will be a testing last few rounds for the Sulu Fitzpatrick-led side.

Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse received a timely confidence boost in returning to the winners’ circle in Round 13 and, despite out of the running for a Finals Series position, have plenty of pride to play for in their final home game for the season.

The Mystics come into the game off the back off a loss and Fitzpatrick said her team would need to find their flow on attack again.

“I think we became our own worst enemy. We need to keep that ball moving on attack and on D we need to be running our feet through the ball,” she said.

The big talking point of their match in Invercargill was the return of defender Phoenix Karaka who played her first Premiership minutes since becoming a new mum late last year. The world champion-winning Silver Fern joined Fitzpatrick in the circle late in the game and could be an option for coach Helene Wilson leading into the business end of the season.

Monday, 19 July

Stars v Steel at 7.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura

Robinhood Stars defender Anna Harrison believes her team needs to rediscover the fun in their game as they race to push their way back into an ANZ Premiership Finals Series position.

The Stars fell out of the top three for the first time this season with a 13-goal loss to the Tactix and will return home to take on a confident Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel side in a key league match-up.

They were held to their lowest score this year in the defeat to the Tactix with the attack end, in particular, struggling to find any flow.

Harrison said it was important they felt “proud” about their performance as the pressure started to mount at the business end of the season.

“We know that when we’re having fun and feel connected, the results take care of themselves,” she said.

Coach Kiri Wills has plenty of options in her shooting circle – an area which failed to fire in Round 13 – with the return of Monica Falkner who got valuable minutes on court. It gets no easier for the Stars against a Steel side riding high following their victory over the table-topping Mystics.

Shooter George Fisher got a full 60 minutes under her belt last week and her combination with Tiana Metuarau was back to its best.