Commentator’s Call: big match-ups on the cards in Round 2
Round 1 brought down the curtain on one of netball’s incredible winning streaks. The Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse extinguished the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel’s run of 17 wins on the trot. It also signalled that they may be the team to beat in 2018.
With some big name departures, the Steel surprised many by beating the SKYCITY Mystics 55-47 in the opening game of the competition. It’s hard to know if it was because the Steel were good, or the Mystics bad. Certainly 20-year-old Jen O’Connell showed the potential to fill the Jhaniele Fowler gap, while Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Shannon Francois both looked no worse for wear after their Commonwealth Games ordeal.
The same can’t be said for Bailey Mes. Her court work is as good as ever but there are still the shots that go up and over without bothering the hoop. Mystics coach Helene Wilson has a dilemma. She has the starting Silver Fern shooters at hand, but one’s out of form and the other isn’t always available.
The Silvermoon Tactix are riding high after a sensational start to the season with an extra time win over the Northern Stars and then a gutsy 42-39 win over the Mystics. In fact that tally of 39 is the lowest the Mystics have scored in the ANZ Premiership.
The WBOP Magic have had a trying start to the premiership. The most concerning of a raft of injuries, is to star shooter Lenize Potgieter. She was badly missed in their opening loss to the Pulse.
Round 2 snaps into action with the Auckland home derby between the Mystics and the Stars on Sunday. The Stars look a tougher proposition than last year, and the Mystics will have to lift their game if they want to take first blood in the Barfoot & Thompson Northern Challenge.
Monday night’s game sees the Tactix in Wellington. Both these sides are unbeaten after their first two games, but it’s the Pulse that stands out. All the talk after the first round was about teenage shooters Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau, but the new look Sulu Fitzpatrick is a magnificent pick up to combine with Katrina Grant in the defensive circle.
Wednesday night wraps the round up in Dunedin with the Steel at home to the Magic. Casey Kopua was at her menacing best against the Pulse collecting 7 intercepts and 5 deflections. But her side will be sweating on the fitness of the scoring machine Potgieter to get them home.