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ANZ Premiership Round 6 Preview

ANZ Premiership Round 6 Preview

Friday, 17 July
Mystics v Stars, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre

The Robinhood Northern Stars are a team on the move – two wins last week saw them climb the ladder to keep the pressure on the ANZ Premiership leaders.

Led by the efforts of Kate Burley on defence, captain Grace Kara in the middle and Maia Wilson in the shooting circle, the Stars continue to grow in stature. Kara said the team’s belief was strong after last week’s back-to-back wins and the knowledge they could come from behind for the win.

“It’s huge confidence for us, we’ve got the belief in the team it’s just a matter of putting that out consistently,” she said.

Coach Kiri Wills also used her bench wisely in the double header with Oceane Maihi making an impact on defence in the tight tussle with the Magic. Jamie Hume is another to make the most of her opportunities this season and proved the perfect foil for Wilson in the shooting circle, her growing confidence obvious in her court work and ability to turn to the post.

The Barfoot & Thompson Northern Challenge will be on the line in this match with the Northern Mystics having already placed one hand on the trophy with a four-goal victory over the Stars back in Round 1.

A rematch set to feature two of the league’s most accurate shooters should capture the attention of Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua

Saturday, 18 July
Pulse v Mystics, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre

It’s a top-of-the-table clash between the competition pace-setters, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, and an exciting young Northern Mystics side. The defending champion Pulse side got the better of the Mystics when they met in Round 3, taking control in the fourth quarter when Tiana Metuarau made an impact off the bench.

The match-up between Karin Burger (Pulse) and Peta Toeava (Mystics) delivered back in June and expect more fireworks from these two with the Mystics wing a vital cog in an inexperienced front line.

The Mystics showed their potency when they scored the last five goals in their one-goal defeat to the Tactix last week and captain Phoenix Karaka admitted that sort of play needed to happen more often.

“We should have been playing like that the whole game. In that last three minutes, the whole team was on defence and we got so much ball. We just need to be able to show more glimpses of that.”

Pulse midcourter Claire Kersten said her side also had work-ons after holding on for a three-goal win over the Steel. She said it was good to know the team could “win ugly” but they lost a lot of their movement when the screws were tightened.

“We’ve got to look at how we can still keep going forward, keep wanting the ball and keep the flow on when we get in those tight situations.

Sunday, 19 July
Pulse v Tactix, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre

There was a 12-goal difference when these two teams opened the 2020 ANZ Premiership in March, but plenty has changed since then. The Good Oil Tactix has notched up three wins since then and, if they can eliminate the lapses that hurt them in Round 1, poses a genuine threat to Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.

They will however need to rediscover their mojo up front having lost their connections in a frustrating draw to the Magic last week. Disappointment was the overriding feeling from Tactix captain Jane Watson who felt they should have boarded their chartered flight home with maximum points. But she felt they had made improvements leading into the match against the Pulse.

“I think our turnover to score was better. We’re growing each game and just changing little things here and there which have been quite good for us.”

They will also need to lift their shooting percentages to stay in touch with the Pulse, having found the mark just 79 percent against the Magic last week. In contrast, the Pulse duo of Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio has set the bar high netting 92 and 89 percent respectively

Steel v Magic, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre

It is a new week and a new challenge for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel. Coach Reinga Bloxham must want to wrap import shooter Kalifa McCollin in cotton wool as the depths of the southerners shooting ranks are fully tested due to serious injuries to Georgia Heffernan and Jen O’Connell.

It is the experienced Steel trio of co-captains Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Gina Crampton, and Shannon Saunders who have stepped up in recent weeks as they pull together a side battered with injury and a testing travel schedule.

Bloxham used both Kiana Pelasio (goal attack) and Grace Namana (goal shoot) as replacements last week and the pair will benefit from the week on the training court, building connections with their Silver Fern feeders.

The last time these two teams met was prior to lockdown when they played in an empty stadium in Dunedin – the Magic running out winners by six goals. It has been the Magic’s only win, but captain Sam Winders has taken great heart from their two draws in recent weeks. Winders, who made an impact when shifted into the centre bib, was proud of her team’s composure on attack when the pressure went on.

“We’ve definitely got the fight, now we’ve just got to have that urgency to win at the end of the game.

Monday, 20 July
Steel v Tactix, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre

A dominant third quarter set The Good Oil Tactix up for their first win of the season when they beat the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel by seven goals in Round 2. This will be a must-win match for the red-and-blacks if they want to keep their Finals Series hopes alive.

Last week the Tactix built leads over both the Mystics and Magic only to see them disappear and captain Jane Watson said it was an area to discuss.

“When we’ve got a lead we need to learn to hold onto that,” she said.

Former Steel attacker, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, looks to have made herself at home in Tactix colours. She notched up her 100th national league game last week and has been in imposing form with her play-making skills and volume of shots.

The Tactix may be taking on the bottom-placed Steel, but they must be wary of their southern neighbours – a side which has showcased its southern grit in recent weeks. Rebuilding their injury-hit shooting circle will be a big ask for the Steel, made enough tougher this week against an imposing defensive opponent in Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson.

The Tactix duo fills two of the top three spots in the league for deflections and is slowly returning to their form of 2018.