2023 ANZ Premiership Grand Final Preview
We take a look at Sunday’s 2023 ANZ Premiership Grand Final between the MG Mystics and Robinhood Stars in Hamilton.
Sunday, 4 June
Mystics v Stars, 4pm at Globox Arena in Hamilton
History will be made in Hamilton when an all-Auckland battle will decide the 2023 ANZ Premiership champions.
For the first time in the league, the MG Mystics will face their netball neighbours the Robinhood Stars in the Grand Final – the Mystics aiming to add a second title to their resume while the Stars are still searching for their maiden crown.
With the firepower of Grace Nweke at one end and the defensive nous of Sulu Fitzpatrick at the other, it is hard to look beyond the Mystics – the minor premiers – for the favourites tag ahead of Sunday’s decider.
They have already banked the Northern Challenge trophy with two wins over the Stars this season and have plenty of motivation to nab the major Premiership spoils with the opportunity to send their skipper out on a high.
Before anyone had even laced up their netball shoes for the 2023 season, Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick announced this year would be her last on court.
An injury scare mid-season threatened to derail an opportunity for a fairy-tale finish and prompted a few wobbles on the leader board from the Mystics.
Described as the “glue” in the blue side, the defender returned for the business end of the Premiership, steadying the ship, and will be influential in a key match-up against Stars captain and shooter Maia Wilson.
The battle of the league’s two standout shooters will be on show with Wilson the most accurate having netted 94 per cent of her 671 attempts at goal while at the other end of the court, Mystics scorer Nweke is the competition’s most prolific shooter with 755 goals.
Stars coach Kiri Wills believes they have the ability to nullify the impact of Nweke, but they will need to use all of the intel they have gathered this season.
“Every time we go out against them you learn something more, so we’ll be putting that all out there in the weekend,” she said.
“(Nweke) has a real sweet spot underneath that post. We just need to push her out a bit and then the ball is ours – she’s got to off-load it, or she’s got to shoot and that’s where you can get the ball off her.”
Mystics coach Tia Winikerei, who has made the Grand Final in her first year as head coach, said they were expecting a real “fight” from their neighbours, and it would be important for her team to “keep trucking on with what we’ve been doing” and sticking to their same processes.
“Obviously, it comes with a different level of pressure and over the last couple of weeks you can feel the pressure lifting. It’s now how we cope with that and how we go into it.”