ANZ Premiership Preview – Round 11 (remaining games)
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Monday, May 6 in Invercargill
TEAM NEWS: The Pulse survived a physical workout against the Magic just over 24 hours earlier and is now backing it up against the second-placed Southern Steel – and a fervent southern crowd. Captain Katrina Rore was pleased with the way her side absorbed the pressure from the Magic over three quarters before pulling away in the fourth spell while also getting a number of players on court. “We’ve got a team of 10, anyone can take the court whenever we need to,” she said of the changes which were made to rest legs ahead of the clash with the Steel. “We knew that two games in two days is quite hard work.” The Steel came close to the Pulse in Round 5 when just four goals separated them but a massive 16 goals was the difference in Round 7. Just how much will the home crowd play a role in this key clash? “I’m not sure how much this crowd loves us,” Rore said after beating the Magic at ILT Stadium. “But we embrace that.” It also took the Steel until the fourth quarter to stamp its dominance over the Northern Mystics but captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit was pleased with the way her team ground out the victory.
WHO TO WATCH:
Katrina Rore (Pulse) – the Pulse captain says she is focused solely on the yellow dress but slipping back into a black dress must be on her mind with the Silver Ferns naming on the horizon. Has led by example for her Pulse team.
Gina Crampton (Steel) versus Karin Burger (Pulse) – it would be difficult to pick out a poor performance from either of these two players this season. Both have been influential for their respective teams and should provide another intriguing match-up.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit (Steel) – shutting down the Pulse’s slick shooting circle is going to be a big ask for the Steel, so look to captain Selby-Rickit to step-up in a big clash with Aliyah Dunn.
Northern Mystics v The Good Oil Tactix
Wednesday, May 8 in Auckland
Player management has been a constant theme for the Northern Mystics this ANZ Premiership and the juggling job that coach Helene Wilson has undertaken for the welfare of her squad. Captain Phoenix Karaka was back for Super Sunday, having returned from concussion, but was on limited minutes while youngsters Grace Nweke and Tayla Earle also had bench time in the loss to the Southern Steel. It adds up to an unpredictable line for a Mystics side keen to finish the season well. The Tactix are also keen to add to their win tally during the remainder of the regular season and will take some confidence from grafting a victory against the Northern Stars on Super Sunday. With the ledger standing at one apiece between the Tactix and Mystics, this match could be a battle of two towering shooters and which defence can do the better job in shutting them down. The Mystics got the better of the Tactix by 10 goals in Round 7 and have home advantage again for the rematch. Karaka said they competed for three quarters in the loss to the Steel but that consistency over four quarters was letting them down. “I think we had really good patches in that game.” she said.
WHO TO WATCH:
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson (Mystics) – the Mystics defender was in outstanding form when she last met the Tactix picking up three intercepts, two deflections and a rebound for her side. Is floating between the wing and goal defence roles.
Tayla Earle (Mystics) and Kimiora Poi (Tactix) – two of the countries brightest prospects through the middle could go head-to-head at The Trusts Arena. Both possess plenty of speed and a strong connection with their tall shooters.
Samon Nathan (Tactix) – led the way for the Tactix with feeds into the circle when the teams met in Round 7 and looked to relish the challenge against her former team. Has made the most of her call-up to Tactix colours this season and could be on the radar