2022 ANZ Premiership Round 9 Preview
Take a look at our preview for a bumper weekend of netball in Round 9 of the ANZ Premiership.
Saturday, 7 May
Mystics v Tactix, 2.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura
A repeat of last year’s ANZ Premiership Grand Final marks the start of a bumper weekend of netball with the MG Mystics, who have six wins so far this season, favourites against a Trident Homes Tactix coming off just its second win in 2022.
Shutting down Mystics’ shooter Grace Nweke is often the focus for any opponent and no doubt the Tactix have her in their sights. Nweke is going toe-for-toe with Aliyah Dunn for the top spot in the league’s shooting stakes – the Pulse scorer edging ahead having landed 94 per cent of her 381 attempts at goal. But with the Commonwealth Games selection also at the back of her mind, Nweke said she wanted to show in the ANZ Premiership that she was not just a “one-trick pony”. “I want to be more mobile in the circle and be confident to move the ball around so hopefully that’s coming through in my game,” she said.
The Tactix may opt to pit Kate Lloyd against the height of Nweke, the young defender giving away just one centimetre to the Aucklander although an MVP performance from Kelera Nawai-Caucau on Wednesday against the Steel may see the latter get the nod.
It may be a quick turnaround, but the Tactix will be buoyed by their 11-goal win over the Steel where, for the first time in 85 matches, they won all four quarters.
Stars v Magic, 4.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura
The Robinhood Stars made perhaps the biggest strides forward in Round 8 of the ANZ Premiership with their thriller over the Pulse and coach Kiri Wills will be wanting her charges to back it up against the Splice Construction Magic. Wills was looking forward to a full week on the training court, with no midweek games, as her side continued to work on specific areas including the shooting circle.
“We’ve been working really hard to getting our shooting circle back to what it used to be like, with a lot of movement and a lot of space instead of playing on top of each other.”
Both Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume impressed with their movement against the Pulse which had an impact on the rest of the attacking unit.
“From there is flowed through court and gave Gina (Crampton) and Mila (Reuelu-Buchanan) more space around the outside.”
They will need to replicate that against a Magic defence which asked plenty of questions of the Mystics frontline – the combination of Erena Mikaere and Oceane Maihi growing in stature every week. With the dependable Claire Kersten and captain Sam Winders through the middle, the main area to focus is the wing attack role where regular defender Georgie Edgecombe has been tested.
The return of Ariana Cable-Dixon sparked the attacking unit last week and with Simmon Wilbore expected to be back in the mix, coach Mary-Jane Araroa may have options.
Sunday, 8 May
Magic v Tactix, 2.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura
A bottom of the table clash but both the Splice Construction Magic and Trident Homes Tactix have made improvements across the board in recent weeks and expect plenty of fireworks with both sides desperate to take maximum points. The Magic pushed the Mystics in the previous round, but captain Sam Winders is calling for a full 60-minute “fight” if they are to add to their solitary win.
“Winning becomes a habit and when you get used to working hard for the whole 60 and I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”
It hasn’t been an easy season for the Magic with Covid and injuries forcing endless changes in personnel, but Winders said they would continue to work hard, no matter who was on court, in search of the results.
“We actually have enough experience and old heads in this team to rally the troops.”
A few “tough conversations” within the Tactix ranks may have been enough to spark last year’s Grand Finalists for the second half of their campaign. Coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek said it had been difficult finding their rhythm after the Covid disruptions, but she felt they were making progress.
“Our timing was a lot better on attack (against the Steel) but there a still a few things we need to work on in certain areas.”
Connections between Kimiora Poi and Te Paea Selby-Rickit will be key again if the Tactix are to get the better of the Magic again.
Stars v Mystics, 4.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura
The Robinhood Stars will be out for redemption after being stunned by 24-goals the last time they faced the MG Mystics – the Northern Challenge trophy also on the line at Pulman Arena. A poor first half against the Mystics last month proved costly and they showed against the Pulse last week what they can do when they hit their straps early on.
The defensive unit of Anna Harrison, Elle Temu, Kayla Johnson, and Holly Fowler did a strong job of shutting down outside options around the circle last week and then hunting for ball or forcing held balls. Captain Maia Wilson said the defenders’ ability to turn over ball allowed her team to “play with a bit of freedom”.
“Sometimes we’re a bit guilty of giving away our own centre pass ball so we’re lucky we’ve got strong defenders to get that ball back.”
Watch out for the midcourt match-up between Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Stars) and Tayla Earle (Mystics) in a battle which could catch the eye of Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua. Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick has been impressed with Earle’s efforts through the middle and her connection with Michaela Sokolich-Beatson with the duo helping to set up ball for the circle defenders.
“They’re really helping our defensive unit and I’m enjoying watching (Tayla) from the back.”
Monday, 9 May
Steel v Pulse, 7.15pm at Edgar Centre in Dunedin
Extra time was needed when these two teams met in Round 5 with the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel coming from 11 goals down in the fourth quarter to eventually topple Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse by three.
But the Steel are battling back from being hit by Covid with many players on managed minutes when they played last Wednesday night. Coach Reinga Bloxham said it had been a difficult time but also called on her charges to treasure possession when they came up against the Pulse.
“I think sometimes we were a little bit guilty of making personal errors and not being as patient with the ball as we usually are.”
Getting ball to circle edge for easy delivery into sharp shooter George Fisher will be key against the Pulse co-captain Kelly Jury who is strong in the air and leading the league for deflections, intercepts, and rebounds. Bloxham will also be hoping to have Kate Burley, Sarahpheinna Woulf and Renee Savai’inaea back in the defensive mix after the trio missed the 11-goal loss to the Tactix.
The Pulse will have had plenty of time to mull over their narrow defeat to the Stars where coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said their “subtleties” were missing in their circle feeds and ball placement – something they want to improve against the Steel.
“It’s those one percenters that close games.”