Home Grand Final on the line for Mystics and Pulse
There is no doubt the sixth edition of the ANZ Premiership has proved the most challenging, but that in turn has left a tantalising finish in store for the 2022 season.
After 44 games, it has come down to the last match of the regular season between the MG Mystics and Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, to be staged in Auckland on Friday, to decide who will win the minor premiership and the rights to host this year’s Grand Final.
In a season fraught with constant change due to the ongoing influence of Covid-19, it is testament to the adaptability, resilience and perseverance adopted by all teams that the completion of the season has been achieved in the face of much adversity.
Two teams, coming from different perspectives, now have the opportunity to clinch home advantage for the Grand Final in what is shaping as a blockbuster clash.
In the 45th and final game of the regular season, there is little separating the two combatants. Both come into the match with nine wins apiece and four bonus points apiece.
Goal differential and bonus points have proved crucial in establishing their position at the top of the table and squeezing out a fast-chasing Robinhood Stars for a shot at playing the Grand Final at home.
The Mystics set their sights early with the goal of back-to-back titles after pocketing their first silverware in the club’s 14-year history last season and that looked well on the cards early on.
However, they have hit bumpy ground in recent weeks but with an exceptional depth of talent, experience and a clutch of internationals in their midst, they can be expected to muster a strong response when it counts.
The Pulse have a proud history at this level and this year confirmed a record fifth Finals Series place in six seasons. They won the title in 2019 and 2020 while finishing runners-up in 2017 and 2018.
With a new-look and young team for 2022, the team from the Capital have slowly built their momentum to be hitting form at the right time. In two close losses to the Mystics this season, they will look to turn the tables in their biggest challenge yet.