2022 ANZ Premiership Round 11 Preview
Take a look at all the match-ups coming in Round 11 of the ANZ Premiership.
Saturday, 21 May
Mystics vs Tactix, 2.10pm at The Trusts Arena in Auckland
The penultimate round of the ANZ Premiership is another big one with six games on the schedule – teams still playing catch-up in the latter stages of the season. The MG Mystics have the chance to make it three from three when they host the Trident Homes Tactix but there will be a nervous wait to see if injured shooter Grace Nweke will be back on deck.
Their grip on the top spot of the league ladder could come under threat if their key target in the circle is missing for a second successive match – her absence felt in the one-goal loss to the Magic in the previous round.
Defender Phoenix Karaka said they showed they had a “moving circle” with Monica Falkner and Filda Vui taking charge.
“There’s a lot more hard work that we have to do to get the ball on circle edge – but it’s an opportunity we need to take and I think those shooters did.”
Karaka said the loss to the Magic was timely and showed they still had “flaws” in their game.
“It showed that in those critical moments we need to be steady, and we need to be calm with the ball in hand.”
Her match-up with Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit could be pivotal with the Mainlander’s attacking play-maker hitting form at the right time of the season.
Steel vs Pulse, 4.10pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill
Will the ILT Stadium Southland fortress play its part in helping the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel’s side get one over Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in what poses as another key ANZ Premiership clash? The Steel kept their Finals Series hopes alive with a hard-fought win over the Magic on Wednesday and their busy schedule ramps up with a double-header weekend, starting with the Pulse.
The use of the bench will be crucial for Steel coach Reinga Bloxham as she may need to inject fresh legs against a Pulse side which has had the full week to plot their trip to the Deep South. Bloxham however said she had been pleased with her full bench and the changes she can call upon.
“I’ve got all the belief in the world that they’ll go out there and do the job,” she said.
“They’ve got good clarity in what they have to do when they go out on court so we’re going to need all of them to get us through.”
All eyes will be on the Steel’s shooting circle and the match-up between George Fisher and Kelly Jury – plenty of fireworks between these two when they last met in Dunedin with Jury getting the better of her Steel opponent.
The Pulse will be without defender Paris Lokotui who was this week ruled out of the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in her left knee.
Sunday, 22 May
Stars vs Mystics, 2.10pm at Pulman Arena in Auckland
The Northern Challenge trophy is out of reach for the Robinhood Stars when they meet the MG Mystics, having lost their first two encounters this season, but with the race for an ANZ Premiership finals spot heating up the hosts will be keen for maximum points. Stars coach Kiri Wills said they hoped to have inspirational defender Anna Harrison back for the match although the former Silver Fern is likely to be on limited minutes as she follows return to play protocols.
“She’s a huge part of this team but we’ve got options to cover her until she’s ready. It’s been a season of coping with change, and I’m really pleased with my team.”
The Stars showed in a tough back-to-back weekend they could absorb the pressure against both the Magic and Pulse to grind out much needed wins.
“I think we’ve got into our mindset now that we just have to keep working at it and wearing the opposition down. We know that towards the end of the game that stuff will come.”
It has also helped that Stars captain Maia Wilson returned some of her best figures of the season in the previous round and her connection with Jamie Hume gets better every time they step on court.
Steel vs Magic, 4.10pm at ILT Stadium Southland In Invercargill
Expect another tense battle between these two teams with just two goals separating the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel and Splice Construction Magic earlier this week. Neither side could take a grip on the game on Wednesday night and Magic captain Sam Winders said it was important that her team built on any lead they got in the re-match.
“I think we held the ball nicely, worked it quite well – we just had a couple of brain explosion moments, and it came down to the final minutes. But when we do get a lead or buffer of two or three, we’ve got to push on and not just make it a tight game because I do think we have that ability to push on.”
The Magic may still be at the bottom of the league ladder, but coach Mary-Jane Araroa believes her charges continue to improve and is pleased with the “progress we’re making as a unit”. But she said her side got “flat” during patches of the 49-51 defeat to the Steel, losing the sharpness in their movement. Araroa said they need to treasure ball and continue creating movement to have two options available.
Steel captain Shannon Saunders hopes her side has rediscovered their “mojo” following the win over the Magic after being hit hard by Covid.
Monday, 23 May
Pulse vs Tactix, 7.15pm at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington
This will be Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse’s last home game of the regular season and they must make that advantage count against a Trident Homes Tactix side brimming with confidence. They have had a full week on the training court where coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said there would be areas on attack that needed to be looked at following a bonus-point loss to the Stars.
“We just looked a little bit stuck on attack at times and lost that thread. We got caught going sideways instead of having that courage to punch through – to let that ball go.”
The Tactix came unstuck in a horror fourth quarter against the Pulse when they met in Round 7 but showed against the Steel last week, they have the ability to bring it home in the second half, winning the third quarter by two goals and dominating the fourth stanza.
Captain Kimiora Poi said she was proud of the way her team stayed in the fight and it was something they needed to do over their remaining games.
“I think we showed if you really want it and fight in that last quarter, you can do it. We now have to take what we brought in that fourth quarter and put it into every game going forward.”
The Tactix captain was inspirational in the deciding spell with two crucial intercepts and a performance worthy of catching the Silver Ferns’ selectors eyes.