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Commentator’s Call: Early leaders building

Commentator’s Call: Early leaders building

Four rounds into the 2019 ANZ Premiership there’s a growing divide between the top two teams and the bottom four, writes SKY Sport's Jenny Woods.

So far it seems the Steel and Pulse have the jump on the competition, the Stars and Magic are in the middle, while the Mystics and Tactix bring up the rear.

The Tactix have been unlucky with injury, but there almost needs to be some closer examination into the shooting woes of the Mystics.

Their game against the Magic in Round 3 was extraordinary. Their final score of 34 was their lowest ever in this competition, and in fact the combined total for the game of 76, the lowest of any ANZ Premiership encounter.

Yes, the defence by both sides was outstanding, but a team shooting percentage of 68% and 67% the previous week isn’t good enough. Incredibly, both teams conceded 37 turnovers. What got the Magic home was slightly better accuracy.

Add to that, the fact Australian import Kristina Brice has played just 53 minutes of netball, and you can understand the concern for Mystics – and the players involved. How to get out-of-form shooters back on song?

There’s better news in the south. Te Paea Selby-Rickit had a far better shooting performance against the Tactix (25/30 for a 83% return). She too has been in the shooting doldrums and there’ll be hope she continues the upward trajectory.

Round 5 starts with the Tactix hosting Mystics in Nelson on Sunday afternoon. For the first time 1.93m Erena Mikaere will stand against a shooter taller than her with Ellie Bird enjoying a 3cm advantage.

The big game is in Wellington on Monday night. Whether the Pulse remain unbeaten after their clash with the Steel is debatable. What’s certain is that the replay of last year’s Grand Final will be intense.

The round ends in Tauranga on Wednesday night, where the Stars will try to re-group after their Round 4 loss to the Pulse. The fitness of Temepara Bailey is key. The Magic won their previous encounter by six goals and will be hungry for another three points.