Commentator’s Call: a spanner in the works

Commentator’s Call: a spanner in the works

In this week’s Commentator’s Call, SKY Sport’s Jenny Woods takes a closer look at the impressive win by the Northern Stars and the crucial clashes in Round 9.

What a spanner the Northern Stars have thrown into the ANZ Premiership, and most particularly in the path of their Northern stablemates.

Their 59-53 defeat of the SKYCITY Mystics has immediately done two things; taken the wind out of the sails of the resurgent Mystics and given themselves some momentum of their own.

It’s a tall order for the Stars to muscle their way through to a Finals position, but if they can continue to perform as they did on Wednesday night, they’ll be a handful for any opponent.Forgive the pun, but it was as though the “stars aligned” when Julie Hoornweg’s side finally lived up to their potential.

Emma Iversen was named MVP, but equally impressive were Maia Wilson, Kayla Cullen, Fa’amu Ioane and – as she has been all season – Leana de Bruin.The test for the Stars now is to do it again.

That challenge comes on Monday night when they play the WBOP Magic at Manukau.

The Magic haven’t been able to beat the Mystics this season so logic would suggest the Stars are in with a shot.But the Magic will be emboldened by a pretty good performance against the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in Round 8. Yes they lost 65-61, but by finishing within five, picked up what could turn out to be a season defining bonus point.

There’ll be match ups galore in this game.Cullen was particularly effective when she moved to GD against the Mystics, but Hoornweg may be tempted to leave her at WD to try to contain the in-form Grace Rasmussen. Then again, perhaps that job could be left to Ioane.Magic will certainly be favourites for this clash, but the Stars will at least take the court with renewed confidence.

The opening match of Round 9 is in Nelson on Sunday afternoon. Both the SilvermoonTactix and the Mystics will be hoping for better things.Both sides were flat in their last outings, with the Tactix putting up little resistance against the Te Wananga o Raukawa Pulse.

As mentioned, the Mystics will want to put Wednesday night behind them.They’ll also be hoping Elisapeta Toeava is fit. The WA has starred this season, delivering a fine supply of ball to Tutaia and Mes.She left the court with an ankle injury within four minutes of the opening whistle against the Stars, and didn’t return.There’s no need for the Mystics to panic, but that race for the Finals Series has become harder.They need to make sure of every two competition points on offer.

All eyes on Wednesday night turn to Porirua for the clash between the Pulse and the Steel. It’s a case of the best attacking side up against the best defensive side. The Pulse have let in 68 fewer goals than the Steel this season, but the shooting power of the Steel is formidable. They’ve scored 639 goals in their nine games. That’s 100 more than the next best Magic, and 180 more than the Pulse.

The Steel won by 13 the last time these teams met, helped by strong first and fourth quarters.As exemplified by Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit against the Magic, the southerners know when to pull out something special to nail the opposition.They may well need a few of those special moments to contain a Pulse side which is now second on the ladder and growing in self-belief each week.

You can hear Jenny and her commentary team colleagues calling all the Round 9 action live on SKY Sport (NZ fans) and on the ANZ Premiership Facebook page (outside NZ).