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2023 ANZ Premiership Round 11 Preview

2023 ANZ Premiership Round 11 Preview

Take a look at the match-ups coming in Round 11 of the ANZ Premiership.

Saturday, 13 May

Tactix v Magic, 7.15pm at Mainpower Stadium in Rangiora

Only wins will suffice for the Trident Homes Tactix now as they slip off the pace in the race to the ANZ Premiership Finals Series. Three losses in as many matches have dented their hopes and the late-season injury toll has had an impact. 

Tactix captain Kimiora Poi, who took a nasty tumble in the loss against the Stars last week, said it was costly errors in the second half which put them on the back foot, but was confident they would rally for what now becomes must-win territory for her team when they take on the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. 

“We’ve got to absorb the pressure. We know that we’ve got to rise in these big games, go back to our own game plan and just being disciplined with the ball.” 

The Magic are just two points shy of the Tactix now, following their win over the Steel earlier this week, and will looking to get their first win over the red-and-blacks this season when they head to Rangiora. 

Defender Erena Mikaere, who is sitting second in the league for rebounds, said the Magic was pleased to net the win over the Steel after coming so close to upsetting the Pulse and they wanted to continue that form in their last two games of the season. 

“We’re looking at finishing strong. We wanted to be in those top three positions but that went out the door… so it’s important to us to finish well.”

Sunday, 14 May

Pulse v Mystics, 4.10pm at TSB Arena in Wellington

Could this be a dress rehearsal for next month’s ANZ Premiership Grand Final – these two top teams now fighting to avoid the Elimination Final and earn the direct pathway into the season decider. The MG Mystics perhaps have the edge over the defending champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, however with a game in hand and with some of their key players starting to return to the action. 

Captain Sulu Fitzpatrick talks about her team’s resilience this season in a campaign that has seen the Mystics hit hard with illness and injury. 

“That resilience through adversity – I’m really proud of the girls, how they step up and build as a team,” she said. 

Monica Falkner is yet to return to the court, having been off court since Round 7, while midcourter Tayla Earle was also missing last week. Coach Tia Winikerei will be hoping the timing is right for her big-name players to return to the court for the business end of the season. Fitzpatrick was pleased with her team’s fast start against the Steel last week, where they led 19-9, but need to address the middle stages of their game when they come up against the Pulse. 

“That start is very important to us. But I think we let ourselves down with discipline in the middle two quarters which is something for us to work on.” 

Watch the battle between the league’s most prolific scorer, Grace Nweke, and Pulse defender Kelly Jury who is leading the competition in rebounds and deflections while sitting second for intercepts.

Monday, 15 May

Steel v Stars, 7.35pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill

A danger game looms for the Robinhood Stars who head to one of the toughest venues to play at, the ILT Stadium Southland in the Deep South. They may be taking on the bottom-placed Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel but would have seen enough of the southerners to know that they won’t be an easy assignment and certainly won’t be a walkover in front of their fans.

A loss in Invercargill would open the door for the Tactix but Stars captain Maia Wilson is confident her team is again building at the right time of the season. 

“This is the perfect time for us to build,” she said after their efforts for a key win over the Tactix last week.  She said her team had been put in “uncomfortable” places early on in that match but showed they could dig themselves out of those positions. 

“It was nice to see that we could come back to our basics, stayed clinical and were able to score the turnovers that we got,” Wilson said. 

The Stars were particularly impressive in getting ball to their in-form shooters Amorangi Malesala and Wilson. Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan are leading the league in feeds and the Steel outside defenders in Sam Winders and Kate Heffernan will have to be at their best to halt the flow of ball into the circle.