ANZ Premiership Preview – Round 10
Northern Stars v Northern Mystics
Sunday, April 28 in Auckland
Northern Stars skipper Leana de Bruin says the equation is simple if they want to reach the ANZ Premiership Finals Series for the first time. “We’ve just got to step it up really,” she said having suffered their fourth loss on the trot. She said their inability to adjust to what was put in front of them and not being able to execute the basics well proved costly and it was areas they would need to address in Round 10. The experienced defender admitted she had a few nerves about coming up against a Northern Mystics side which was continuing to improve and the Stars must produce a stronger start against their long-time rivals. “We talk about it every week how simple basics are so important,” she said. The Stars have already secured the Northern Challenge Trophy for 2019 but with the Splice Construction Magic breathing down their necks for the third rung on the ladder, the hosts will want maximum points. Mystics stand-in captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was also disappointed with aspects of their recent loss, including their transition from defence to attack. “I felt like we weren’t getting the ball out of our defence end to our attackers, so we were bringing them up too high,” she said. “We talked about this last week so the fact we did it again is really annoying for me.”
WHO TO WATCH:
Maia Wilson (Stars) – the business end of the ANZ Premiership is on the horizon as the pressure starts to build. Still leading the way with goal attempts but may want to lift her accuracy in a Netball World Cup year.
Kayla Cullen (Stars) versus Elisapeta Toeava (Mystics) – another explosive match-up between two of the quickest in the game. Cullen made an impact in the circle in Round 9 but may be needed to shut down Toeava who looks to be rediscovering her strong link with her shooters.
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (Mystics) – the young defender continues to put her best foot forward under the watchful eye of national coach Noeline Taurua. Has been in top form back in her role at goal defence.
The Good Oil Tactix v Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Monday, April 29 in Christchurch
Their record remains spotless after nine ANZ Premiership rounds, but Pulse captain Katrina Rore is still looking to add a little polish to their performance. “No matter what we do we just want to keep reaching forward,” she said. The Pulse are averaging nearly 57 goals a game and restricting their opponent to less than 43 goals, but Rore says her team continues to set new goals no matter the scoreline. “We look at our numbers and know that we want to be better,” she said. “We push ourselves to want to be better and I think that’s the strength of this side.” Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie almost cleared the benches last week giving Elle Temu, Maddy Gordon, Tiana Metuarau and Renee Savai’inaea all court time in another convincing victory. She may take the opportunity to do the same against a Tactix side struggling near the bottom of the ANZ Premiership points table. The Tactix rallied in front of a home crowd last week to net their third victory of the season on the back of a strong defensive display, led by captain Jane Watson. The defender was delighted with their full-court defence against the Northern Stars which they will need to replicate against a slick Pulse attack.
WHO TO WATCH:
Aliyah Dunn (Pulse) – the long-limbed shooter has four Test caps to her name and her recent form shows she is pushing hard to add to that tally. Is netting an impressive 94 percent of her attempts at goal this season.
Katrina Rore (Pulse) versus Kate Beveridge (Tactix) – the Tactix goal attack put in a strong showing in her team’s win last week but penetrating a Pulse defence wall has proven a tough ask for the best attacking units in the league. Another big game needed from Beveridge if the Tactix are to challenge the league leaders.
Ellie Bird (Tactix) – has stood strongly for the red-and-blacks this season and missed just one attempt at goal the last time the two teams met. Maintains composure despite shouldering most of the shooting responsibilities.
Splice Construction Magic v Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Wednesday, May 1 in Hamilton
The Magic admitted they were brought back to earth having been dealt a hefty loss at the hands of the Premiership leaders. Backing up against the league’s second-placed team will be a test of their mettle as they aim to stay in the hunt for the Finals Series. Captain Casey Kopua said it was important they take the positives out of the 21-goal loss to the Pulse having shown “good patches” during the game. “But we also need to get real with ourselves,” she said. “Are we doing enough work, are we doing what actually needs to be done, getting free and if the ball’s not on to reset it and just hold onto it until it opens up.” Maintaining confidence at this stage of the season would also be key to the rest of their campaign. “Our confidence is not that high, obviously we had a little after two wins, but when you get slammed like that it’s quite hard to get everybody up and when one person goes down in our team everyone seems to go with them,” Kopua said. The Magic have not beaten the Steel this season but improved when they met in Round 6, with just the first quarter (losing by nine goals) letting them down.
WHO TO WATCH:
Shannon Saunders (Steel) – the Steel centre has been a consistent driving factor for her team’s frontline and has also played her part on defence. A steadying influence for her side when the pressure is applied.
Kate Heffernan (Steel) versus Ariana Cable-Dixon (Magic) – Heffernan got her hand to four intercepts last Wednesday in another strong display and her growing presence in the role will be a challenge for the Magic attack.