MATCH PREVIEW (R5): STEEL V STARS
Lifting morale could be the biggest jobs for respective coaches of the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel and the Northern Stars after both suffered disappointing defeats last week. The Stars would have fancied their chances of claiming their first season win over the Waikato-BOP Magic but faltered across the board. The Steel will also be licking their wounds after a record-breaking defeat to Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse in what captain Wendy Frew called “a pretty dark night” for her team. “All the basics just weren’t on and at this level it’s not good enough,” she said of their performance. Frew said they would review the match and have “a few honest conversations” before meeting the Stars. An uncharacteristic amount of turnovers (35 against the Pulse) proved costly for the Steel and they have the short turnaround to address the issue. They will also be racing the clock to have mid-courter Dani Gray back in action after she left the court with what looked like a serious knee injury. The Stars have accuracy in goal shooter Maia Wilson but need to ensure they get the ball safely to her hands if they want to register their first win.
WHO TO WATCH:
Abby Erwood (Steel) – still finding her connections with Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit in the defensive circle and, if back at goal keeper, will have the challenge of combatting Maia Wilson’s strong hold and shooting accuracy.
Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Steel) versus Ama Agbeze (Stars) – both players had reasonably quiet games in Round 4 but it would be surprising to see the two internationals dip below their best for a second straight week.
Holly Fowler (Stars) – the former national Under-21 player has made the move into the centre where her attacking game continues to grow. Her defensive qualities are key through the middle as the Stars remain without the services of injured mid-courter Kayla Cullen.