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2023 ANZ Premiership Round 3 Preview

2023 ANZ Premiership Round 3 Preview

We take a look at the three match-ups coming up in Round 3 of the ANZ Premiership.

Sunday, 19 March

Stars v Pulse, 2.10pm at Pulman Arena in Auckland

Two teams riding the highs of a strong second week – the Robinhood Stars and Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse set to provide the ANZ Premiership match of the round in what will be a repeat of last year’s Grand Final.

The Stars rocketed to second place on the table with two big wins and confidence must be riding high as they host the defending champions. They netted their biggest score in Premiership history with 74 goals over the Steel led by captain and shooter Maia Wilson who set her own record landing 59 of her 61 attempts at goal. 

But it will be a whole new ball game against the Pulse’s defensive unit of Kelly Jury, Kristiana Manu’a and Fa’amu Ioane who were in sublime form last week. Jury in particular was a standout – grabbing 13 gains for her team – and her match-up with Wilson will be a highlight of the game. 

Having played three matches in one week the Stars will focus on their recovery and midcourter Mila Reuelu-Buchanan said they were looking forward to meeting the Pulse having last played them in the title-decider last year. 

“We’ll do our homework on them, but we’re also just focussing on what we can do.” 

Her battle in the midcourt with Maddy Gordon is sure to set the boards on fire with both players renowned for their speed on attack and doggedness on defence.

Magic v Mystics, 4.10pm at Globox Arena in Hamilton

Urgency must be the driver for the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic after a second round they may prefer to forget. Captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio has asked her side for a “bit more mongrel” and to “knuckle in” as they attempt to put the 19-goal loss to the Stars firmly behind them and tackle the mountain in front of them in the form of the MG Mystics. 

“Mystics are a really solid team. They’ve got a strong defensive end, they’re big, they know they are and they’re confident.” 

She said it was important they held onto possession against the Mystics after being guilty of coughing up too much ball last week. 

“We can’t expect to win when we throw that much ball away.” 

It will be a big ask of the Magic and while establishing their links up front has been an area of concern for the side, it will be the defensive unit, led by Erena Mikaere, who will be in the heat of the spotlight against a Mystics attacking combo which built nicely in their win over the Tactix. 

The Mystics showed they could weather a defensive storm applied by their opponents last week, and come out on top. Centre Tayla Earle and wing Peta Toeava warmed into their game and their connection with Grace Nweke will be a tough one for the Magic to stop.

Monday, 20 March

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

It will be something of a relief for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel to return home after a tough road trip which resulted in three hefty losses. But they are back in front of the netball faithful from the Deep South and no-one can underestimate a home crowd at the fortress of ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill. 

Captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit lamented her team’s inability to learn from match to match and hoped they could put into practice what had been discussed at training. 

“It’s just disappointing – we’re making the exact same mistakes. I don’t know how long before the switch goes off until we start doing what we talk about, but it’s going to have to be soon, or this competition is going to be out of our grasp pretty quickly.” 

The double centurion, who celebrated the milestone in Round 2, believed it was just “little work ons” which could make the difference. 

“We’ve got to start thinking and focusing on and reading the game a bit better. It’s not going to get easier – it’s going to be tough (against the Tactix), but we just have to step it up.” 

The Tactix had their own issues in Round 2, having pushed the Mystics hard in the first half only to fall away in the second.  More cohesion up front will be at the top of the list and a lift in shooting accuracy having only nudged 80 per cent success last week.