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ANZ Premiership Round 7 Preview

ANZ Premiership Round 7 Preview

Friday, 24 July
Pulse v Magic, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre

It was a weary Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse side which headed home after a tough weekend in Auckland where they absorbed plenty of pressure and still came away with eight competition points. Recovery processes could be key over the coming weeks as the target remains large on the backs of the defending champions.

The Splice Construction Magic are up next and while the Sam Winders-led side may be at the other end of the points ladder to their opponents, they are hungry for victory and have nothing to lose against the defending champions. They came agonisingly close to a win against the Steel last weekend and Winders said their situation was not all “doom and gloom” despite having recorded just one victory this season.

The midcourter said there was critical analysis after each game as they looked to build on their strengths. She believed the Magic was doing the right work but not executing it together all at the same time.

“It’s all there. It’s just being able to put it together. It’ll be the game when everybody has a really solid game for the full 48 minutes, is the game we’re going to get,” she said.

The Magic will need Kelsey McPhee and Abigail Latu-Meafou to hold their nerve against a tough Pulse defence while the match-up between Whitney Souness and Karin Burger promises plenty

Saturday, 25 July
Pulse v Stars, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre

The close games over the past few weeks has been welcomed by Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse captain Katrina Rore who says her side enjoys celebrating the tight tussles. They came from behind to snatch a one-goal win over the Tactix last week and have also been tested by the Steel.

“The way we finished and how we celebrated winning a close one – it does mean a lot to us because we put a lot of effort in training,” she said after the thriller against the Tactix.

“For us to be pushed that far and come away with the win with 30 seconds to go shows a lot of class from our side and shows how we train and trust in our processes.”

Rore said their squad pushed each other hard at training which set them up well for the tough ANZ Premiership matches. The Robinhood Stars face a pivotal weekend in their Premiership hopes with their game against the table-topping Pulse followed 24 hours later by a meeting with the third-placed Tactix.

They should be well rested however having had just over a week to analysis what went wrong in the dying stages of their Round 6 match against the Mystics when a five-goal run mid-way through the fourth quarter snuffed out their chances

Sunday, 26 July
Tactix v Stars, 5pm at Auckland Netball Centre

Have The Good Oil Tactix hit a run of form that could push them through to the ANZ Premiership Grand Final for the first time? – the test this weekend against the Robinhood Stars could go some way to answering that question.

These two teams last met in Round 2 when the Stars kick-started their season with a six-goal victory. Since then the Stars have consolidated their place on the points board but are now coming up against a Tactix team which came within one goal of the Pulse and punished the Steel in an impressive first half.

Captain Jane Watson, who was named most valuable player in both outings in Round 6, said she was pleased with her team’s turnover to score stats and their ability to build on a lead against the Steel.

Wing Erikana Pedersen is back at full stride since returning from injury while Ellie Bird produced her best weekend of play to make defenders take note. At the other end of the court, the Tactix’ unit defence impressed against both the Pulse and Steel and they will need a similar effort if they are to shut down the Stars’ shooting rock in Maia Wilson.

The Stars goal shoot has put up the most attempts at goal after six rounds and is one of the most accurate at 90 percent.

Steel v Mystics, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre

The Northern Mystics were left licking their wounds after a brutal first half against the Pulse last week and despite proving more competitive in the last two quarters, will need to address their start before meeting the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel. Mystics captain Phoenix Karaka said it was “not good enough” to play like they did at this level.

“This is ANZ netball and we need to bring that intensity straight from the first whistle,” she said.

Sunday night’s game will be their second meeting with the Steel this season, the Mystics holding off the fast-finishing southerners in Round 3 to win by four.

The Steel had mixed fortunes last weekend, beating the Magic by one but losing by 13 to the Tactix. Import shooter Kalifa McCollin continues to be their bright spot in what has been a torrid few weeks. The Trinidad & Tobago athlete has surprised Steel co-captain Te Huinga Selby-Rickit with her strength and what she brings to the court.

“It’s a style that takes a while to get used to. And she’s really strong for a little person. We’re stoked to have her and she’s been great for us,” Selby-Rickit said.

Consolidating their links up front and in a new-look shooting circle must be their main work-on although both Selby-Rickit and rising star Taneisha Fifita will have their hands full against Mystics’ shooter Grace Nweke

Monday, 27 July
Mystics v Magic, 7pm at Auckland Netball Centre

Much of the talk surrounding the Northern Mystics form in Round 6 came from up front and the support role of their goal attacks.

Coach Helene Wilson has a young shooting circle with teenager Grace Nweke shouldering all but one of their scoring opportunities against the Pulse last week.

Asher Grapes, who was called in as injury cover for Silver Fern Bailey Mes at the start of the season, has picked up the starting bib for most the games post lockdown with Saviour Tui brought on to goal attack from the bench. Both played a feeding role against the Pulse and captain Phoenix Karaka acknowledged they needed to lighten the load for Nweke.

“We need to take the pressure off her and have the goal attacks shooting more,” she said.

But it was also about growing the confidence in what was the youngest shooting combination in the league.

The Magic also wants to help grow its young shooter Khiarna Williams who was given more court time last week. Williams, who has come in to replace import shooter Georgia Marshall, made an impact off the bench against the Steel where she netted eight from 10 in the quarter she played.

The Magic got enough ball to their shooters when these two teams met in Round 2, putting up two more attempts, but will need a lift in accuracy if they are to reverse the seven-goal defeat.