ANZ Premiership Round 2 Preview
MAGIC v MYSTICS
Friday 19 June, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre
The 2020 ANZ Premiership is back and the Splice Construction Magic and Northern Mystics have the honour of setting the tone for the start of the revised schedule. Expect plenty of energy as teams return to doing what they do best – playing netball.
The effects of the global pandemic hang over the Magic as they return to play without import shooter Georgia Marshall who is still waiting for the green light to return to New Zealand having gone home to Australia during the lockdown. She is not available for the Round 2 match against the Mystics and will be replaced by Magic development player Khiarna Williams who will join Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou in the shooting circle.
The trio will have to be at its best up against new Mystics recruit and league centurion Sulu Fitzpatrick (who notched up her 100th league game way back in March) and Silver Fern Phoenix Karaka on defence.
The Mystics have also been dealt a blow in their shooting circle with Silver Fern Bailey Mes missing for the remainder of the ANZ Premiership due to injury. Coach Helene Wilson turns to one of the youngest and most exciting shooting circles in the league with Grace Nweke and Saviour Tui teaming up, along with Asher Grape who steps in for Mes.
STEEL v TACTIX
Saturday 20 June, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre
Friends and whānau will be courtside for this southern derby and none could be feeling the tension of a cracking ANZ Premiership match-up more than the Selby-Rickit family. Sisters Te Paea and Te Huinga Reo have regularly taken the court together but usually in the same colour strip from the Deep South. Now they will be facing off on opposite sides and likely against each other when The Good Oil Tactix and Ascot Park Hotel Steel meet on Saturday.
The younger Selby-Rickit has moved north to Christchurch this season to join the Tactix and at goal attack could go head-to-head with her sister. But there are a number of match-ups to keep a close eye on including the all-Silver Fern clash in the middle between Kimiora Poi and Shannon Saunders while internationals Jane Watson and Kalifa McCollin are also likely to square off.
Add popular Tactix defender Temalisi Fakahokotau into the mix and the fact that both sides are chasing their first points of the season, and this Round 2 fixture promises plenty. The Tactix will be out to address their poor record against their netball neighbours having won just one of their 10 encounters but both teams may be feeling a little pressure to get the points as they reboot their seasons.
STARS v PULSE
Sunday 21 June, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre
A rematch of last year’s Grand Final sees the ANZ Premiership defending champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse take on the Robinhood Stars in a game open to the general public. It has been a number of weeks since the Pulse opened the 2020 league with an impressive outing against the Tactix and with threats all over the court, they remain the team to beat.
From the international defensive trio of Kelly Jury, Katrina Rore and Karin Burger to Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio in the shooting circle – there is no let up for opponents. As the Tactix found out in March, any lapses in concentration are heavily punished by this Pulse unit.
But the Stars showed against the Mystics in their season opener that they will be no easy beats, grabbing a bonus point in a tough match-up. Silver Fern shooter Maia Wilson was coming off the back of an impressive Netball Quad Series in the black dress when the country went into lockdown and all eyes will be on the youngster and how she emerges from time away from the game.
Another to re-emerge is wing Fa’amu Ioane who is back from injury and with three intercepts and three deflections in the opening round, will provide a tough match for exciting young Pulse attacker Maddy Gordon. It will however prove a big couple of days for the Stars who must back up on Monday against the Tactix.
STARS v TACTIX
Monday 22 June, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre
It’s a big few days for these two teams as they ride the high of returning to action in the ANZ Premiership. A quick turnaround means their fitness is going to be tested early on and with little separating these two sides in ANZ Premiership history (the Tactix with a favourable 5-4 record), another close game can be expected.
Their rock solid shooters in Ellie Bird (Tactix) and Maia Wilson (Stars) have shouldered the scoring burden in previous encounters but both teams have new recruits on attack which could change the dynamic up front. With a busy weekend of play it could be an opportunity for Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek to give youngster Jess Prosser time in the shooting circle. Prosser was the second most accurate shooter in last year’s Beko Netball League and can cover both shooting roles.
Stars coach Kiri Wills opted for Jamie Hume in front of Wilson in their season opener but could be tempted to blood new recruit Vika Koloto. The youngster has stepped in to replace former Samoan international Julianna Naoupu who announced this week she is expecting her first baby in December and unavailable for the remainder of the league. Koloto is no stranger to the Stars having travelled with the side to last year’s Super Club and has been training with the team since the end of lockdown.