Round 1 Preview: Remaining Games
Splice Construction Magic v Northern Stars
The Northern Stars shook one monkey off their back on Super Sunday when they nailed a tense campaign opener. Last season they were guilty of losing the close matches – going down by five goals or less a number of times – but the added experience at either end of the court, coupled with the enthusiasm of some new young players has given the Stars a positive start with a first up victory. Captain Leana de Bruin felt their composure was key and they were thrilled to bag the points. “Now we know how to win,” she said. Backing up against the Splice Construction Magic will be crucial if they are to put their hands up as serious title contenders. The Magic showed against The Good Oil Tactix that they mean business despite losing the services of star shooter Lenize Potgieter. Monica Falkner and Abigail Latu-Meafou settled into their work together but will be aiming to up their goal percentage against the Stars with the Magic showing they can deliver plenty of ball to their shooters. The combination of Kelly Jury and Casey Kopua has lost none of its spark but will face a challenge against a Stars shooting duo which is full of confidence.
WHO TO WATCH:
Kayla Cullen (Stars) – exciting to see the defender back on court after a horrid run of injuries. Has lost none of her speed in coming through for the ball and forms an impressive defensive wall alongside Leana de Bruin and Storm Purvis.
Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Stars) versus Sam Sinclair (Magic) – the new Stars wing impressed in her season opener with her vision into the shooting circle. Will want to back it up against the Magic and a possible match-up with a Silver Fern midcourter.
Kelly Jury (Magic) – a few anxious moments early on in Super Sunday as the Silver Fern looked to have tweaked the shoulder she dislocated last year. Played out the 60 minutes however and will be challenged by the strong hold of Maia Wilson.
The Good Oil Tactix v Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
There will be mixed emotions for The Good Oil Tactix having opened their ANZ Premiership with a win but losing midcourter Erikana Pedersen in the process. The Tactix wing attack was assisted off the court during Super Sunday and all eyes will be on just how serious her knee injury is. Re-jigging the forward line took some penetration out of their flow up front and they will be hoping to address that against the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel. Their transition out of defence will be another area to improve as the Tactix looked awkward attempting to bring ball through the court, while slashing turnovers is a must against the Steel. Co-captain Gina Crampton says the Steel will need to lift their intensity when they meet the Tactix after a quiet outing in the loss to the Northern Stars. She felt they took time to adjust to their changes on attack but would be better for their court time in Round One. Coach Reinga Bloxham has been left with plenty to ponder after Jennifer O’Connell made an impact in the shooting circle as a replacement for Lenize Potgieter while Taneisha Fifita also came on strongly at the other end of the court.
WHO TO WATCH:
Brooke Leaver (Tactix) – expected to swing between the goal attack and wing roles this year, the Tactix attacker will have to hone her skills in the wing position early on after the departure of Pedersen. Never lacking in passion no matter where she plays.
Kimiora Poi (Tactix) versus Shannon Saunders (Steel) – expect the watchful eye of Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua to be on this possible match-up. Poi is the rookie in the Ferns’ black dress while Saunders is pushing hard to reclaim her spot in a World Cup year.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit (Steel) – the Steel co-captain looked more comfortable moving out to goal defence and combined well with Fifita late in the game. Showed her strong rebounding skills in their season opener and is a crucial cog in the Steel’s defensive unit.