ANZ Premiership Preview – Remaining Round 6 games
Northern Mystics v Splice Construction Magic
Monday, April 1 in Auckland
Backing up 24 hours after suffering their sixth straight ANZ Premiership defeat is yet another challenge for the Northern Mystics. Captain Phoenix Karaka struggled to find the right words after Super Sunday’s loss to the Northern Stars where the difference was 14 goals. “I didn’t know what to say at the end of the game, but it’s obvious that the girls are trying really hard,” she said. “That’s the thing I want to see from my team.” Defensively she wants to see the Mystics pick up more ball and while she was pleased to see the attack end step up, it now needs to be for the full 60 minutes. It took an agonising six minutes for the Mystics to get on the board against the Stars and they were again left to wonder what might have been after coming back with a fight. It is the youngsters Tayla Earle and Grace Nweke who continue to keep the Mystics in the game up front, but the quick turnaround may see coach Helene Wilson plump for her more experienced heads against the Magic. They too are backing up after a disappointing loss and captain Casey Kopua is aware they need to net some wins to stay in contention for the Finals Series.
WHO TO WATCH:
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (Mystics) – finding the right position for the defender is a tough one for coach Helene Wilson, with Sokolich-Beatson looking well suited at goal defence but preferred more on the wing.
Grace Nweke (Mystics) versus Kelly Jury (Magic) – the young goal shoot has had a taste of action against Jury earlier this season and will no doubt grow with each outing at the premier level.
Casey Kopua (Magic) – has already announced her retirement from the game at the end of 2019 but looks far from taking the foot off the pedal just yet. Doing her best to urge her side on to better results.
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse v Northern Stars
Wednesday, April 3 in Porirua
There has been little to no fault from Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in recent weeks as they consolidate their spot at the top of the ANZ Premiership table. Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie may wish to revisit the Pulse’s starts after they have been slow out of the blocks the past two weeks. But the competition leaders show a steely composure when they need to and captain Katrina Rore has been pleased to use all players in their squad. “We’ve got a team of 10 and it’s an outstanding team,” she said. The defender had high praise for her frontline after a tough few weeks. “Our attackers, every week, just stand up when they need to which is good.” The match promises to be a good one between the two sides – only the second quarter was a blowout for the Stars the last time they met in Round 4 (losing it by nine goals). Captain Leana de Bruin said they would need to “worry about our own game” as they prepare for their third game in a week. “Last time we didn’t play that well against them, so this is another opportunity to show that we really have got what it takes.”
WHO TO WATCH:
Whitney Souness (Pulse) – the competition in the midcourt is one of the most keenly contested when it comes to Silver Ferns selection and the Pulse wing is giving coach Noeline Taurua plenty to ponder.
Maia Wilson (Stars) versus Sulu Fitzpatrick (Pulse) – the Pulse goal keep was at her best on Super Sunday as she got down low for ball, went hunting outside the circle and was strong on the rebound. Wilson’s feeders will have to be pin-point with their delivery.
Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Stars) – is up against Karin Burger who was at her best last week with a number of deflections. A big game needed with some suggesting Reuelu-Buchanan may have caught the eye of the national selectors.