2021 ANZ Premiership Round 15 Preview
We look at all three match-ups in Round 15 of the ANZ Premiership.
Saturday, 24 July
Steel v Pulse at 5.15pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill
The opportunity to host the Elimination Final will be a driving factor for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel when they take on Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in Invercargill. The Pulse have nothing to lose with their season coming to an end in the Deep South while the Shannon Saunders-led Steel will be doing all they can to get one more game to play in front of their faithful fans.
They need a win – and a big win – to give them a chance of hosting the sudden death match against the Tactix on 1 August. Saunders said it would be “amazing” to have the Elimination Final played at ILT Stadium Southland.
“Obviously our crowd is the best in the country and it would be such a privilege to have that game here.” She pointed to the Steel’ s discipline and ability to keep ball in hand which was behind their win over the Stars and something they hoped to continue through the Finals Series.
“It is part of the Steel culture. If it takes 100 passes, it takes 100 passes. It’s not going to be the prettiest of netball at times but we don’t care as long as we can get it through the hoop.”
This match will also be the last game for Gail Parata as coach of the Pulse after this week announcing she is to step down from the role.
Sunday, 25 July
Tactix v Mystics at Christchurch Arena in Christchurch
The Good Oil Tactix will know exactly what they need to do to host the Elimination Final when they suit up to play the Northern Mystics at home in the last round of the regular season. Their Finals Series opponent, the Steel, will have already played their last round-robin game and goal difference could come into play if both the Tactix and the Steel claim maximum points this weekend.
Tactix captain Jane Watson said they were excited to play in front of their fans in what would be the Premiership Community Round.
“It’s going to be good to get home, get back to routine and just go 100 against the Mystics,” she said.
Both the Tactix and Mystics had to dig deep last week for their wins and the respective captains agreed they still had plenty to work on leading into the business end of the season.
Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick said they would need to “consolidate the consistency” after a patchy performance against the Pulse.
“When the pressure goes on we need to have more than one option to the ball. We started standing and waiting for the ball and the D started getting really static.”
They are up against a Tactix side that has not lost on their favoured home patch at Christchurch Arena – including an extra-time thriller against the Mystics back in Round 5 which the Tactix won 64-63.
Monday, 26 July
Stars v Magic at 7.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura
Few people would have picked the Robinhood Stars to be playing for little more than pride when the ANZ Premiership regular season wraps up in Papakura on Monday night.
Only a handful of rounds ago the Stars were on the express pathway through to the Finals Series having held onto the top spot on the points ladder since Round 2. But as opponents started to get the better of the Stars’ front line, the wheels started to wobble and finally fell off in a thriller last week which ended their finals hopes.
Now they must rally to finish on a high when they host the Splice Construction Magic. A devastated Stars captain Maia Wilson said it would be a big week preparing for their season-ending match against the Magic.
“It’s a massive blow,” she said of their dashed Finals Series hopes. “For now it’s a bit of pride and mana on the line for us.”
Wilson held her own hand up in trying to dissect where things went wrong for the side, with a decline in shooting percentages a factor.
“We just were not as clinical on attack as the weeks went on,” she said.
The Magic will also be desperate for the victory to send coach Amigene Metcalfe, who is stepping down from the role, out on a winning note.