2021 ANZ Premiership - Round 3 Preview
Sunday, 2 May
Steel v Pulse, 4.15pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill
Two-time champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse addressed some key areas of their game in Round 2 and made a significant statement in the defence of their ANZ Premiership title. They impressed against the Magic last week but face an Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel team which has already shown this season just how good they can play at home.
Pulse captain Claire Kersten said her side looked at the slow start from Round 1 along with slashing their unforced errors.
“There were much better connections to circle edge and it just felt a whole lot better out there,” she said following their convincing win over the Magic.
Shooter Aliyah Dunn has stepped up in the absence of Ameliaranne Ekenasio – who has returned to training with the Pulse – while Te Amo Amaru-Tibble has taken her opportunities with both hands. A late inclusion into the team, goal keep Kelera Nawai, continues to grow in her role and will be a key match-up with fellow international George Fisher.
On attack they have impressed with their speed of ball and the clash between former team-mates Whitney Souness (Pulse) and Renee Savai’inaea (Steel) is one to watch. The Steel can never be underestimated at home however, as the Pulse know too well, the latter having won just once at the Steel’s fortress in Invercargill
Magic v Stars, 6.15pm at Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga
The Robinhood Stars head into Round 3 as the only unbeaten team in the ANZ Premiership and on early form look favourites to add to their tally in Tauranga. The Stars have won back-to-back matches on eight occasions but have never won three in a row in 62 ANZ Premiership games.
They have impressed in all areas, particularly up front where centurion Gina Crampton has slotted in seamlessly. Goal attack Jamie Hume is another to make her mark in Round 2 and captain Maia Wilson said it was exciting to have a second straight season playing alongside her.
“She’s playing some amazing netball with a beautiful shot and our attack end is slowly getting there but there’s so much more to come,” she said.
Meanwhile, Splice Construction Magic captain Sam Winders said her team had plenty to “reflect on” after a disappointing loss to the Pulse. Their timing up front was lacking but expect another key match-up in the middle with Winders likely to take on Mila Reuelu-Buchanan – the latter featuring in the top 10 for both deflections and intercepts after two rounds
Monday, 3 May
Mystics v Tactix, 7.15pm at The Trusts Arena in Auckland
Two losses on the trot and The Good Oil Tactix find themselves searching for answers to some troubling questions early on – mainly how to convert the truck load of defensive ball they are winning.
Their extended road trip continues against the Northern Mystics in what will be their third game away from home. It has been a tough start to the campaign and they will be eagerly awaiting the return of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit who is making progress and was back on the training court this week.
The Tactix big task will be shutting down Mystics shooter Grace Nweke who netted all but eight of her team’s 64 goals against the Steel last week – equalling her Premiership record of 56 goals from 2019 in a match against the Tactix. Wing Peta Toeava is a key cog up front and dominates with assists into Nweke as well as centre pass receives.
The Mystics climbed up the ANZ Premiership ladder on the back of an impressive opening spell in Round 2 – something they will no doubt want to replicate against the Tactix – as both teams look to break the deadlock of six games apiece in the 12 times they have met in Premiership history.