ANZ Premiership Round 10 Preview
Friday, 14 August
Mystics v Stars, 7pm at The Trusts Arena in Auckland
With their Grand Finals hopes now gone, the Northern Mystics will reset their sights on finishing the season as well as they can. They take on the Robinhood Northern Stars in the last round of the regular season in what will be a dress rehearsal for their Finals Series play-off for third and fourth place.
The Mystics have had the better in the battle of the bridge taking their two earlier encounters each by four goals. This match may be an opportunity for both coaches to look at different players ahead of the trip to Invercargill.
Stars coach Kiri Wills may be tempted to give more minutes to promising young shooter Vika Koloto who has impressed with her limited time on court. Captain Grace Kara, who was nursing a sore calf at the end of their one-goal win over the Magic last week, said she wanted to see her team “have fun” in their last two games of the regular season.
“Obviously it’s going to be a hard task,” she said of their matches against the Mystics and Pulse.
“We just need to stick to our strengths, because we’ve got a lot of them. And we need to play and have fun because I think when we’re enjoying it we can play some really good netball.
Saturday, 15 August
Mystics v Magic, 5pm at The Trusts Arena in Auckland
It has been a season of frustration for the Splice Construction Magic – narrow defeats have them stuck at the bottom of the ANZ Premiership ladder. A knee injury to defender Holly Fowler in the dying seconds of the one-goal loss to the Stars last week was a tough pill to swallow and now pride will be on the line when they suit up for their last games of the regular season.
One poor quarter ruined their chances against the Northern Mystics last month, and with nothing to lose, the Magic could pose a threat to their northern neighbours. It is the second game of a home-based double-header for the Mystics who will be out to thank their fans for their support in a roller-coaster season that promised much.
Defender Sulu Fitzpatrick was at her menacing best when they met the Magic last time with two intercepts and five deflections.
The experienced goal keeper, who has snaffled the most rebounds in the league to date and is third on the ladder for deflections, has been a rock for the Mystics this season and a strong finish to the ANZ Premiership could see her recalled to the Silver Ferns side, set to be named later this month.
Sunday, 16 August
Steel v Tactix, 5pm at The Edgar Centre in Dunedin
A southern derby rounds off the regular season for these two teams and the trip to Dunedin could be a chance for The Good Oil Tactix to rest some key players ahead of the Grand Final.
Coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek has stuck with the same seven in the Tactix’ run of six straight wins but could be tempted to try some new combinations with their history-making ticket to the Grand Final already booked.
Shooter Jess Prosser has taken her opportunities on court and could join Sophia Fenwick and Samon Nathan for more time in the action.
Tactix fans held their collective breath as defender Temalisi Fakahokotau went down late in the win over the Pulse – the ice packs were quickly applied to her ankle after the match – and could be first in line for a breather ahead of the final.
The last time the Steel hosted an ANZ Premiership match at the Edgar Centre was back in round one when they played to an empty stadium, just days before the country went into lockdown.
They have already shown what they can do when cheered on by a home crowd following their upset over the Mystics last week and will be keen to finish their regular season on a high.
Pulse v Stars, 7pm at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse cannot be ousted from the top of the ANZ Premiership points table but will be working hard nevertheless as they build towards their fourth successive Grand Final.
The defending champions pride themselves on the strength of their bench and coach Yvette McCausland-Durie may be tempted to turn there again with an important trip to Invercargill looming.
Midcourter Renee Savai’inaea got her first full game at the ANZ Premiership level last week when wing Maddy Gordon was rested due to an ankle injury, and Tiana Metuarau also made the most of her first full game of the season in the absence of an unwell Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
Experienced midcourter Claire Kersten said resting Gordon and Ekenasio was more about “precaution” as they prepared for a busy few weeks leading into the Grand Final.
“We’re just making sure everyone’s in top nick when we get to that final in Invercargill. It’s nothing to stress about but obviously just wanting to take care of the players while we can.”
Despite nothing riding on the Pulse’s last two games, Kersten said there would be no complacency creeping in as they aimed to finish the regular season strongly in front of their home crowd
Monday, 17 August
Pulse v Magic, 7pm at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington
Splice Construction Magic captain Sam Winders believes her team has made improvements across the court and are ready to “lift” again when they end their regular season against the ANZ Premiership defending champions.
It will be a tough weekend for the Magic, on the road to both the Mystics and Pulse, but Winders feels her charges are stringing together more good moments with their play all over the court.
“I think if we can exploit our strengths more often – be patient with that ball, bringing it through court nicely. If we can focus on that going into these next two games we’ll be able to lift again.”
The dynamic midcourter said her team was somewhat “rattled” by the cruel injury to Holly Fowler in the last seconds of play against the Stars and they would rally around the defender.
It has been a tough year for Magic coach Amigene Metcalfe who lost import shooter Georgia Marshall during the lockdown, the Australian unable to return to New Zealand having returned home in the break.
Ariana Cable-Dixon is also missing from the playing roster having announced her pregnancy earlier this month and another reshuffle might be needed if Fowler is unable to play out the season.