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2023 ANZ Premiership Round 12 Preview

2023 ANZ Premiership Round 12 Preview

Take a look at the match-ups coming in the final weekend of the ANZ Premiership regular season, Round 12.

Saturday, 20 May

Pulse v Tactix, 7.15pm at TSB Arena in Wellington

The equation is simple for the Trident Homes Tactix - win in Wellington to have any chance of keeping their ANZ Premiership campaign alive. Their opponent, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, have already booked their place in the Finals Series but will have one eye on the direct route through to next month’s Grand Final and a win at home will go some way to ensuring they hold that top ranking. 

The Tactix found form against the Magic last week with captain Kimiora Poi leading the way at wing attack - the midcourters defensive game just as impressive as her drives on attack. The shooter-to-shooter play, between Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Aliyah Dunn, also returned to their performance and they will need to be at their best against the best defensive team in the league. 

The Pulse have hit their straps at the right time of the season, winning eight on the trot, and captain Kelly Jury said they had their eye on a ninth victory to ensure that easier route through to the Grand Final. Despite a comfortable win over the Tactix three weeks ago, Jury expected their opponent to throw everything at them in a must win match for the Mainlanders. 

“We’ve got to prepare exactly the same. The Tactix had a good win (against the Magic), so they’re going to come out fighting for a Finals spot.”

Sunday, 21 May

Stars v Mystics, 2.10pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura

The Robinhood Stars have one foot in the ANZ Premiership Finals Series following their victory over Steel last week and know a win over the MG Mystics is needed to control their own destiny. Captain Maia Wilson was impressed with their performance last week led by the midcourt duo of Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton who dominated through the middle. The pair put in 91 feeds from the circle edge and will be a key combination when the Stars host the Mystics. 

“We know they’re our workhorse, our engine out there in the middle. We know we’re really successful once we can get in to circle edge. Most of the time the ball gets into the circle, nine times out of 10 it’s going in the hoop so we know when we can get there we’re going to be in a good space.” 

She said it was important to be “clinical with ball in hand” against the Mystics with turnovers hard to come by. Mystics coach Tia Winikerei was also calling for more discipline with ball from her side following their loss to the Pulse last week. They trailed by 10 goals after the first quarter when Winikerei said basic passing errors let them down. She said the side was “hugely disappointed” not to cement their place in the Finals Series last week. 

“We know the position that puts us in, but we’ve grouped together more than once this season and I have great faith and courage we’ll do it again.”

Steel v Magic, 4.10pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill

It is the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel’s last match at home and their final opportunity to net their first win of the season and avoid an unwanted record of becoming the first team to go through an ANZ Premiership campaign without a victory.

Standing in their way will be the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Steel’s inability to put in a full 60-minute performance - something that has eluded them this year. Captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit said both would be great to achieve but being proud of the product they put out on court was just as important. 

“We’re chasing that elusive win and that 60-minute performance, but I just want to put something out there that we can be proud of. You don’t want to finish the season losing but you also don’t want to come off that last game disappointed.” 

There are also Silver Fern spots up for grabs and with both teams out of the running for the Finals Series, will need to impress in their last outing for the season. Steel’s Kate Burley has impressed in a difficult year as has midcourter Kate Heffernan. Magic shooter Bailey Mes has given the Ferns selectors plenty to ponder this year and is sitting fifth on the league ladder for volume and accuracy, just one spot higher than her circle buddy Ameliaranne Ekenasio - a combination which could work Mes’ favour for a return to the international stage.

Monday, 22 May

Mystics v Tactix, 7.35pm at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland

A massive 24 goals separated these two teams the last time they met, in a result that surprised many. The Trident Homes Tactix were without stand-out defender Jane Watson when they played the MG Mystics three weeks ago and failed to adjust to her late withdrawal. They will have taken plenty of confidence in their latest performance against the Magic however, showing the form which has had them near the top of the ladder for much of the season. 

Accuracy wise, Tactix shooter Aliyah Dunn is matching her Mystics opposite in Grace Nweke (92 per cent) but the red-and-blacks need to be able to get her more ball if they are to remain in the contest.  It will be another big test for the attacking unit including Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Kimiora Poi and English import Laura Malcolm who was this week named in the Roses side to compete at the World Cup. 

Coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek said the team had overcome some key injuries and sickness to rally for the win over the Magic and would need to do it again this weekend. 

“A lot of things we had been working on just came together,” she said of last week’s victory. 

“Sometimes when your back is against the wall it’s when you can bring out your best performances.” 

Delaney-Hoshek said nothing had changed, with her side in the same situation again with wins a must. “It’s in our hands which is a good thing.”