Plenty to ponder after first day exchanges
Purposeful intent was mixed with an assortment of combinations as all teams tested the waters on the first day of the Te Wānanga o Raukawa hosted ANZ Premiership pre-season netball tournament in Ōtaki today.
After one game apiece, the Robin Hood Northern Stars and The Good Oil Tactix presented imposing form to remain unbeaten while Splice Construction Magic and Te Wānanga Pulse had a win and a loss from their two games to keep their heads above water.
On the other side of the ledger, the Northern Mystics and Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel were left winless after playing one game each.
With six newcomers for their campaign this year, the Stars were too good for the hapless Steel, who struggled without a key cog in the form of England shooter George Fisher, who has just emerged from managed isolation in the last couple of days.
With Anna Harrison making a return to the upper echelons of the playing scale at 37 years of age, the former Silver Fern showed some touches of old from the custodian’s position, her long reach and aerial ability of menacing quality under the Steel hoop.
After a tight first quarter, the Stars sprung out to an ever-increasing advantage to post an impressive 60-34 final score with Mila Reulu Buchanan having a strong outing in the midcourt, shooter Maia Wilson ever-reliable under the hoop and Gina Crampton having her first match in her new colours against her old team.
``This was just the kind of performance we wanted to start the tournament, I couldn’t have been happier with the whole 12 (training partners included),’’ Stars coach Kiri Wills said.
``It shows I can put anyone on court, that they can deliver and that’s what we need for the season ahead.’’
The Magic, also with six newcomers, including shooting spearhead and Australian import Caitlin Bassett, midcourter Grace Kara and defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, both former Silver Ferns, had an eye-catching 40-32 first-up win over the Mystics in a 40-minute game.
Struggling with a young squad over the past couple of seasons, the experienced heads have added a sharp edge to the Magic dynamics after the team finished at the bottom of the table in last season’s league.
But the Magic couldn’t replicate their earlier performance when they were outgunned by the Pulse 57-46 in the final match of the day.
The Pulse showed plenty of character to bounce back from a heavy 55-39 loss to the Tactix earlier in the day. After the withdrawal of their captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who is taking time out to freshen up after a bruising and demanding Constellation Cup series against Australia, they played with a gutsy determination to post a commendable win over the Magic.
As well as not having Ekenasio on hand, the Pulse went into their final match without fleet-footed midcourter Maddy Gordon, who fell heavily in the first game while shooter Te Amo Amaru-Tibble was forced off with an ankle injury and experienced hands Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness, who controlled the attack line expertly, were also left battered and bruised after heavy falls.
The Pulse ended the match with their two training partners Grace McLean (shooter) and Abby Erwood (defender) playing a large chunk of the second half.
Day 1 results:
Tactix 55 vs Pulse 39
Magic 40 vs Mystics 32
Stars 60 vs Steel 34
Pulse 57 vs Magic 46