2021 ANZ Premiership Round 5 Preview
We look at all three match-ups during Heritage Round of the 2021 ANZ Premiership.
Sunday, 16 May
Pulse v Steel, 4.15pm at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse captain Claire Kersten admitted they would need to return to the drawing board this week after a third quarter meltdown against the Mystics.
The Pulse midcourter said the team had talked a lot about producing a good start, which they achieved last week, before it all went “horribly wrong” in the third quarter – a spell they lost 8-22. Now they must regroup to take on an Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel side also coming off the disappointments of a Round 4 defeat.
Only four goals separated the teams when they met earlier this month, the Steel coming out on top, and just one point is the difference between the two on the Premiership ladder with the southerners ahead in third place.
The Pulse will need to lift their accuracy in the shooting circle and also re-establish the links up front which went missing under pressure last week.
The match-up between Pulse shooter Aliyah Dunn and Steel defender Taneisha Fifita will be key with the former the shooting rock for the defending champions. Fifita – who picked up nine gains in the loss to the Stars – has continued her promising start to the ANZ Premiership and leads the league for intercepts (10) and rebounds (9).
Monday, 17 May
Tactix v Mystics, 6.15pm at Christchurch Arena in Christchurch
The Northern Mystics have turned on perhaps their best performance yet and signalled their intent as ANZ Premiership contenders. A third-quarter masterclass last week – when they netted 22 goals – showcased the threats the Mystics pose early in the season and captain Sulu Fitzpatrick said their focus was about performing for all of those who have already worn the blue strip.
“It’s about paying tribute to the legacy that a lot of greats before us have done. We are trying to be disciplined in when to use the flair and when to grind.”
That flair comes in the form of wing Peta Toeava and the link she has with the league’s most prolific shooter, Grace Nweke. That link helped the Mystics snatch victory from The Good Oil Tactix when the teams met in Round 3 – the winning goal coming in the last second of play. Shutting down Toeava must be a priority for the Tactix – the wing attack leading the league for feeds – and stemming the flow of ball into Nweke.
The Tactix, in their first win of the 2021 ANZ Premiership against the Magic, looked to the experienced duo of Jane Watson and Karin Burger to pull out the big plays when needed while shooter Ellie Bird produced her best game of the season.
Monday, 17 May
Magic v Stars, 8.15pm at Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga
Unbeaten after four rounds and there looks to be no slowing down for the Robinhood Stars who were clinical in maintaining their winning streak last week. A dip in shooting accuracy was perhaps the only blemish in their latest outing but with maximum points on the board, coach Kiri Wills, who will coach the Stars for the 50th time in Round 5, must be pleased with the start to their campaign.
Young defender Elle Temu is proving the perfect foil for former Silver Fern Anna Harrison and the Stars have the best defensive record to date, conceding 48 goals per match. The duo picked up seven gains each – Temu with three intercepts – and will again pose a formidable wall for the Splice Construction Magic to penetrate.
The teams met in Round 3 in what was a willing contest and the Magic will back themselves to push the league pacesetters again. Teenager Khiarna Williams continues to grow in stature in the goal attack bib and her off-loads to shooter Caitlin Bassett impressed – 20 goal assists during her three quarters of play.
The Magic have however missed the experienced head of Grace Kara up front with those other links into Bassett still forming in the wings absence.