Commentator’s Call: The halfway assessment
The ANZ Premiership is at a point as close to halfway as possible, with each team having played eight with seven to go at the conclusion of Sunday’s matches, writes Sky Sport commentator Jenny Woods.
Time to take stock.
The team which has shot the most goals might come as a shock – it’s not the table-topping Pulse or even the second placed Mystics, but rather the third placed Stars.
They have rattled up 376 goals, three more than the Pulse. The problem for the Stars, and the reason they’re not sitting on top of the ladder, is they have let in 393 goals. That’s 101 more than the defending champions.
This speaks volumes for the quality of the Pulse defence. In eight games, 292 goals have been scored against the Central defenders - an average of 36 per game.
They had a mighty scare from the Tactix in Round 6 in the lowest scoring game of this year’s competition, 33-32. No surprise really when two of the best defence combos in the world were in action with Rore and Jury at one end, Watson and Fakahokotau at the other.
Things are starting to get serious as we close in on the Finals Series. It has to be said the Pulse are looking dead certs to be defending their title in Invercargill on August 23. It’s the identity of their opponents that’s up in the air. The team with the momentum appears to be the Tactix. Sitting in third, they still have a lot of work to do to nudge out the Mystics and the Stars.
What’s encouraging for the Mainlanders is the form of Ellie Bird who had her best game of the season so far against the Steel. It was needed.
Conversely the Mystics are in shooting trouble. Grace Nweke shot all but one of their 38 goals against the Pulse last week and such an unbalanced situation puts an enormous amount of pressure on the 18-year-old. She’s shooting at 90% with numbers of 284 from 317 attempts. That’s just five goals fewer than the Stars shooting machine Maia Wilson.
Wilson is also on 90 % return but her partner in the circle, Jamie Hume, is a long way back with 85 from 126 attempts.
It’s not hard to see the benefits of a balanced team and that’s exactly what the Pulse shooting circle offers. Aliyah Dunn 195 goals from 213 attempts (92%) and Ameliaranne Ekenasio with 149 from 172 (87%).