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2023 ANZ Premiership Round 6 Preview

2023 ANZ Premiership Round 6 Preview

Take a look at the four match-ups in Round 6 of the ANZ Premiership.

Saturday, 8 April

Stars v Pulse, 7.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura

It’s back to the drawing board for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse after letting another lead slip last week, something they don’t want to do against the Robinhood Stars. As we approach the midway point of the ANZ Premiership the Pulse have netted just two wins but have picked up three bonus points in three tight matches. 

Captain Kelly Jury said they were letting leads slip away too often – something they needed to address before tackling the Stars. 

“We’ve just got to learn to back ourselves. We’ve got to work out what’s going on especially in those high-pressure moments.” 

They will need to draw on their first-half performance against the Mystics where they led by five and were strong all over the court, led by Jury, Maddy Gordon and Tiana Metuarau. Metuarau, in particular, produced perhaps her best performance of the season with her strong drives into the shooting circle and accuracy – taking on a high workload in the match. 

The Stars are currently sitting second on the table, with two losses, but have netted the most goals in the league so far. Coach Kiri Wills has a nice headache with plenty of competition in shooting circle with captain Maia Wilson, Amorangi Malesala and Jamie Hume sharing the load to sink 364 goals between them.

Sunday, 9 April

Magic v Mystics, 2.10pm at Energy Events Centre in Rotorua

Are the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty getting the hang of nailing the nailbiters – winning their second match of the season by one goal with a win over the Pulse last week. And few will forget their extra time one-goal win when they last met the MG Mystics back in Round 3. 

Captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio has nothing but pride for the efforts of her side last week but knows they need to keep growing, particularly in what is expected to be a tough match against the Mystics. 

“We seem to like those close games. We need a bit more consistency and we’re working really hard, so we just need to continue to bring it in our game.” 

Defender and Magic stalwart Erena Mikaere produced perhaps her best outing of this year’s Premiership in last week’s win when she snaffled six gains for her side – including key deflections in critical moments. 

The top-of-the-table Mystics will be just as tough the second time round and stand-in captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson said they would focus on their recovery from a big Round 5 before looking ahead to the Magic. They were forced to dig deep against the Pulse last week, trailing at halftime, and Sokolich-Beatson said she couldn’t have been more proud of young defender Carys Stythe and her MVP performance with six gains. 

“We are so confident in her – we just need her to have that confidence in herself. She’s young but I’m incredibly proud of what she’s doing.”

Tactix v Steel, 4.10pm at Christchurch Arena in Christchurch

The winless Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel may fancy their chances in Christchurch after encouraging signs last week and up against a Trident Homes Tactix licking their wounds from a loss to the Stars. Captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit believes her side is moving in the right direction despite still searching for their first win of the season. 

One of those players to stand up has been young goal attack Georgia Heffernan who has taken on a senior role following the injury to international shooter George Fisher. Heffernan has been a regular feature in the shooting circle with the Steel relying on her work outside the circle and her shooter-to-shooter play. 

“I’m very happy with our shooters as they’ve built with every game,” Selby-Rickit said. 

“They’re young but Georgia is leading in there and I think she’s taken on that role really well.” 

She will need another big game with her likely match-up to Tactix defender Karin Burger. It was an uncharacteristically quiet night for the Tactix defenders in the loss to the Stars and it would be surprising to see two slow weeks in a row from the world class athletes. 

Captain Kimiora Poi was happy with the accuracy in their shooting circle but called on the midcourt to deliver more ball. 

“Us middies just need to work together and not get caught wide so we can provide good service.”

Monday, 10 April

Magic v Stars, 7.35pm at Globox Arena in Hamilton

The Robinhood Stars did their homework on the Tactix last week and came up trumps with a victory that will have made the rest of the league sit up and take notice. It’s another big week for the Stars with a double-header but captain Maia Wilson believes her side has the goods to continue their purple patch of form. 

“For us we’re finally starting to gel. We’ve got three games in eight days but we’ve done it before and we’ve been able to back it up – we’ve got the team to be able to do it, the legs to be able to do it and the rotations that it can be done.” 

Coach Kiri Wills has been able to call on various combinations at both ends of the court dependent on who they are playing with Kelera Nawai-Caucau making an impact on defence while Amorangi Malesala continues to make the most of her court minutes. 

The Stars dominated the first half when they last met the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to lead by 14 goals. Since then the Magic have been patchy with their form – suffering other big losses but also showing the goods for a couple of thrilling wins. Just what Magic team turns up at home in Hamilton will determine how close this affair at Globox Arena will be. 

“We’re always proud when we get to bring our game home and to our region, we just want to keep growing and growing,” captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio said.