ANZ Premiership Round 3 Preview
Friday 26 June
Tactix v Magic, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre
The Good Oil Tactix are hurting after a flat finish to the second round and need to bounce back with their third game in seven days. They impressed against the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel for their first win of the season but struggled two days later with a disappointing defeat to the Robinhood Stars.
Captain Jane Watson pointed to a slow start against the Stars and their inability to hold onto possession which will need to be addressed ahead of their clash with the Splice Construction Magic.
“We need to come out of the gates faster,” the defender said.
“We need to look at our energy but also not treasuring the ball with some passes that were going who knows where?”
Watson was however pleased to see debutante Jess Prosser get some court time in the shooting circle, landing all of her six attempts at goal in the fourth quarter.
“(Jess) just slotted in really nicely – we need to build that confidence up in her but her shooting is very accurate.”
Magic captain Sam Winders said they also would be taking a long look at footage to address where they fell away against the Northern Mystics.
“And also how we can maintain the good stuff that we did because there was some good stuff – we just were not consistent enough.
Saturday 27 June
Mystics v Steel, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre
There was plenty to admire from a young Mystics frontline when they emerged from lockdown – from the accuracy of shooter Grace Nweke to the defensive efforts of centre Tayla Earle (four intercepts in total) and the leadership of Peta Toeava.
New recruit Saviour Tui also made an impact when she was injected into the game at goal attack and with two wins from as many matches, captain Phoenix Karaka was all smiles on returning to the court. But the Mystics defender now wants to see her charges build on any advantage they get on the scoreboard.
“I think when we do get a lead, being able to keep it throughout the whole game and not letting them come back,” she said after beating the Magic in Round 2.
The Steel are still searching for their first points of the season and face the tall order of shutting down Nweke who stands 8cm above southern keeper Taneisha Fifita.
Wing defence Kate Heffernan will be a vital cog in the Steel’s defence – standing at 181cm she must help in blocking the direct route into Nweke and her match-up with Toeava will be one to watch.
Caribbean import shooter Kalifa McCollin showcased her athletic ability in the loss to the Tactix and looks to be a key addition to the Steel’s frontline.
Sunday, 28 June
Stars v Steel, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre
Back-to-back matches worked well for the Robinhood Stars in the second round and could work to the advantage of the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel this week. The southerners have a demanding travel schedule for the first half of the ANZ Premiership and coach Reinga Bloxham will be mindful of managing her players in Round 3.
Kendall Corkery can probably expect some minutes on court this weekend while new recruit Georgia Heffernan showed last week she is a genuine option in the shooting circle having combined confidently with Kalifa McCollin.
The Stars have given notice for opponents not to take them lightly after flipping their fortunes in just 24 hours. Given a netball lesson by Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in Round 2, the Grace Kara-led side looked a different team in grabbing maximum points against The Good Oil Tactix.
Hungry for ball on defence, led by Kate Burley, and accurate in the shooting circle, highlighted with Maia Wilson’s 37 from 40 attempts, the Stars were consistent in every quarter and now sit in third spot on the points ladder.
Midcourter Mila Reuelu-Buchanan said the Stars were “one of the fittest teams” she’d been involved with and their “connections” were improving with each game. “We just need to keep moving forward,” she said
Monday, 29 June
Pulse v Mystics, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre
The match of the round with the defending champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse taking on a Northern Mystics unit which promises plenty. Just how the Mystics back up from playing on Saturday night could dictate how well the northerners can shut down an impressive-looking Pulse side.
A young Mystics shooting circle faces its toughest test yet with the Silver Fern trio of Karin Burger, Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury ready to ask some serious questions of the teenagers. It has been good to see Jury back in action having been troubled by a shoulder injury in recent seasons. She wore no strapping in Round 2 and picked up six intercepts and three deflections in signalling her return to top form.
Just one centimetre separates Jury from the 193cm Grace Nweke in what will be a key match-up. Getting the ball into the hands of Nweke will be a tough ask with the Rore and Burger wall a daunting sight in front.
The Pulse was firing on all cylinders up front last week, led by wing attack Maddy Gordon who was athletic, accurate and a strong new link on attack. She found her shooters well but this week will have to get the ball passed former team-mate Sulu Fitzpatrick who has switched to the blue dress this season.
Tickets for all matches at Auckland Netball Centre are available through www.aucklandnetball.co.nz