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2023 ANZ Premiership Round 4 Preview

2023 ANZ Premiership Round 4 Preview

We take a look at the four match-ups coming up in Round 4 of the ANZ Premiership.

Saturday, 25 March

Steel v Magic, 7.15pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill

It may be the worst start to an ANZ Premiership campaign in history for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, but the southerners gave their fans some hope with a promising 15 minutes in their defeat to the Tactix last week. 

Now they must back it up against the red-hot Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic who gave their own fans plenty to cheer about with the upset of the round last week with the extra-time win over the Mystics. 

Steel captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit said she was happy with how her team fought hard in the last quarter against the Tactix. 

“We have really great patches and then we don’t score for along time,” she said. Breaking the opponent’s momentum was something they would look at before tackling the Magic. 

“It’s little things that can be fixed but we need to kind of switch on in our heads and know that these are big moments, and we need to score. The bigger work on in our attack end is we’re getting bunched and our defence we need to get more ball, so maybe setting up more for each other so we can get clean intercepts.” 

The Magic showed plenty of patience in their upset win over the Mystics last week and stealing any ball off the visitors will be a tough ask. Watch out for the match-up between former Magic stalwart Sam Winders, in the Steel colours at wing attack, and Magic midcourter Claire Kersten who made an impact at wing defence in Round 3.

Sunday, 26 March

Tactix v Pulse, 2.10pm at Mainpower Stadium in Rangiora

The Trident Homes Tactix climbed to third spot on the ANZ Premiership ladder with a convincing win over the Steel last week and will look to maintain that momentum when they take Premiership netball to Rangiora for the first time. 

Maximum points will be harder to come by when they meet the defending champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing eight-goal loss against the Stars. 

Tactix captain Kimiora Poi was pleased with the first three quarters against the Steel but said they needed to eliminate personal errors before tackling the Pulse. 

“We just went away from our game plan a little bit, and individually need to take responsibility for our own little errors out there,” she said. 

Poi said the attacking end had worked hard on creating a “clear first phase and then a clear second phase” which made delivery into the shooting circle much easier. 

New recruit Aliyah Dunn had her best outing in the red dress netting 87 per cent of her 45 attempts at goal and her match-up with Pulse co-captain and former team-mate Kelly Jury is sure to spark plenty of interest. 

Jury said her side “shot ourselves in the foot” in the third quarter against the Stars, something they wouldn’t be able to do against the Tactix, with disconnections right across the court. 

“I think both defence and attack do need to put their hands up and say that wasn’t good enough.”

Mystics v Stars, 4.10pm at The Trusts Arena in Auckland

The contrast of the two captains in Round 3 could not have been greater – the Robinhood Stars leader Maia Wilson spoke of “happy happy days” after her team toppled the Pulse for their third straight win in the ANZ Premiership while MG Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick couldn’t hide her disappointment after suffering their first loss of the season, an extra-time thriller against the Magic. 

Now the two teams go head-to-head in a highly anticipated first match of the Barfoot & Thompson Northern Challenge. Wilson was delighted with a “pretty comprehensive finish” over the Pulse as the Stars continue to build into their work. 

“We were able to do our job one-on-one and really contest ball,” she said, something they would need to replicate when they meet the Mystics. 

“We are coming up against tall timbers, a solid unit throughout the whole court.”

She believed her side was closing in on a full 60-minute performance after three strong quarters against the Pulse. An MVP performance from Kelera Nawai-Caucau last week could see her getting the nod, despite the possible return of Elle Temu, as the Stars may look to her physical presence to help nullify the Grace Nweke-factor. 

Fitzpatrick said they had no time to dwell on the one-goal loss to the Magic as she lamented some poor decision making, game awareness and game smarts in Round 3. 

“It’s good for us in terms of learnings, what they really did was test us under pressure – we have to take those and move forward.”   

Monday, 27 March

Tactix v Magic, 7.35pm at Mainpower Stadium in Rangiora

The Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic made many netballer pundits sit up and take notice with their extra-time win over the Mystics last week – including their next opponent, the Trident Homes Tactix. 

Led by a stellar captain’s performance from Ameliaranne Ekenasio, the Magic beat the odds for the win and to get their ANZ Premiership campaign back on track. Ekenasio was at her best as she dictated play in the attack line and was accurate in the shooting circle. 

And both she and former Silver Fern Bailey Mes will need a similar showing in another mouth-watering match-up in the circle against the international pairing of Tactix’ defenders Jane Watson and Karin Burger. The Tactix duo was at their menacing best against the Steel last week and will bring another stern challenge for the Magic combination.

Magic coach Mary-Jane Araroa may have uncovered her strongest midcourt mix during the second half of their Round 3 match with Claire Kersten making an impact at wing defence and Georgie Edgecombe coming on well at centre. 

Ekenasio said there had been a sense of relief to see what they had been working on at training translating into their actions on court but they needed to ensure that they continued to build against the Tactix. 

“We’re really trying to figure out how can we perform when it really matters. I think we’re seeing glimpses – obviously you can always be better, and we want to string those glimpses together.”   

Both teams are backing up in a double-header weekend and fitness may come into play after a tough weekend of Premiership action.