ANZ Premiership Preview – Round 5
The Good Oil Tactix v Northern Mystics
Sunday, March 24 in Nelson
Northern Mystics coach Helene Wilson is not hitting the panic button despite her side still searching for their first ANZ Premiership points this season. As they enter Round 5 Wilson continues to take positives out of their most recent performance. “I don’t think we’re struggling,” she said. “I think we’re improving – we just need to improve faster and harder.” She had high praise for the defensive efforts in the loss to the Splice Construction Magic and acknowledged it was the ability to score from that ball which was hurting them. “What we need to do is convert it in the shooting circle and be more careful and accurate.” She also pointed to the step up her young midcourt was making. “I’m proud of the growth they have.” They meet The Good Oil Tactix for the first time this season with both teams at the bottom of the points table. The Tactix continue to show good patches but often dip away near the end of the quarter which has proven costly. Captain Jane Watson continues to push her claims for a spot at the World Cup with an impressive start to the season while getting ball into the hands of Ellie Bird is a must with the shooter netting 93% of her attempts at goal.
WHO TO WATCH:
Brooke Leaver (Tactix) – looked more settled back in the goal attack bib last week but will need to take another step against Mystics captain Phoenix Karaka who is in sublime form.
Erena Mikaere (Mystics) versus Ellie Bird (Tactix) – Mikaere had a stand-out performance last week with 7 intercepts and six deflections and takes on Tactix’ tall timber in Ellie Bird. The shooter is one of the most accurate in the league.
Grace Kukutai (Mystics) – has been sharing the centre bib alongside Emma Iversen but came on strongly in the closing stages against the Magic, showing a good connection with Grace Nweke.
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse v Ascot Park Hotel Steel
Monday, March 25 in Wellington
It is the ANZ Premiership clash many have been waiting for with a repeat of last year’s Grand Final between defending champions Ascot Park Hotel Steel and the unbeaten Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse. A slip up in the first round seems a distant memory for the Steel who have put nearly 20 goals on every team they have met since. The defensive combination of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood is growing in presence and the Steel are quick to swing from defence onto attack. Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton are the strength and speed through the middle while Lenize Potgieter and Te Paea Selby-Rickit have a burgeoning understanding between each other. Co-captain Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was pleased with the way they absorbed the pressure in Round 4 before building yet another healthy advantage. But she warned she would need her full squad to step up again to take on the Pulse. “They are strong all over the court so we’re going to have to have a full team performance.” The defender also called on her team to “limit the lulls” during the 60 minutes against a side which would be punishing. “We’re really excited for this game.”
WHO TO WATCH:
Abby Erwood (Steel) – the Steel defender is getting better with each outing and picked up two intercepts, three deflections and two rebounds last week. Will need to be at her best against Ameliaranne Ekenasio who was a stand-out last week.
Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Steel) versus Katrina Rore (Pulse) – the Steel goal attack has come under close scrutiny in recent weeks but answered a few critics with her latest performance. Another stern challenge in the face of Rore who has plenty to play for.
Aliyah Dunn (Pulse) – the young shooter was a strong target for her side last week and netted all but two of her 45 attempts at goal for an MVP performance.
Splice Construction Magic v Northern Stars
Wednesday, March 27 in Tauranga
The battle in the middle of the ANZ Premiership points table intensifies as these two teams go head-to-head for the second time this season. The Splice Construction Magic are one up on the ledger but it was only a run of five unanswered goals midway through the fourth quarter which proved the difference in a tight affair back in Round 1. Another strong defensive display from the Magic last week marked their second win of the season but the turnovers on attack will still be of concern for coach Amigene Metcalfe. Stars captain Leana de Bruin was also ruing their turnovers in the loss to the unbeaten Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse last week. “We had our opportunities where we could have scored but we’re not very good at the critical moments,” she said. “There are big learnings from that.” The goal defender wanted to see more patience from her side and to “play our own game” after being drawn in the speed of the Pulse. The Stars will be hoping influential midcourter Temepara Bailey has recovered from a quad strain which kept her on the bench in Round 4. Bailey’s links with shooter Maia Wilson were missed as was her calming influence through the middle.
WHO TO WATCH:
Kelsey McPhee (Magic) – came on strongly in the last quarter for the Magic with both her positioning in the shooting circle and her accuracy. May have done enough to earn more minutes on court.
Simmon Howe (Magic) versus Kayla Cullen (Stars) – the Stars defender got her hand to plenty of ball last week and will be a tough prospect for Howe. Magic have options on the wing with Sydney Fraser also getting court time last week.
Ellen Halpenny (Stars) – shows plenty of netballing nous in the Stars shooting circle, setting up play for team-mate Maia Wilson but also not afraid to turn to the post.