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2021 ANZ Premiership Round 6 Preview

2021 ANZ Premiership Round 6 Preview

We take a look at all three match-ups in Round 6 of the ANZ Premiership.

Sunday, 23 May

Stars v Pulse, 4.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura

A five-game winning streak (seven including the last two in 2020) has the Robinhood Stars planted firmly at the top of the ANZ Premiership ladder and the Kiri Wills-coached side looks comfortably placed in the hot seat.

They line up for a second shot at the defending champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse at home in Papakura, having beaten them by four goals in last month’s season opener, but defender Anna Harrison said they would need to re-think their approach this time around.

“We just know that every time we meet a team again, for the second or third time, we’re going to have to change and be prepared because you learn a lot once you’ve played a team,” she said.

The former Silver Fern said it was important the Stars “stick to our processes” even when pressure mounted.

Pulse captain Claire Kersten was last week left lamenting another game where they had opportunities to grab maximum points, but lacked flow and punch through the middle at key moments, leaving them with another bonus point loss.

Now, with just the one win on the board and four losses, the midcourter says each game is a “must win” for her side in what was a closely fought Premiership.

Monday, 24 May

Steel v Tactix, 6.15pm at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill

Both teams bagged significant wins last week and this Round 6 match looms as a pivotal ANZ Premiership clash – the two teams in the middle of a tight league ladder.

The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel have already proved this season they are a formidable force at home, but their four-goal win over the Pulse in Porirua showed they can perform on the road. And the Steel should go into this match with bags full of confidence after dealing to The Good Oil Tactix (by 19 goals) in the season opener.

Much has changed for the Tactix since that first round however with the return of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit a major boon. The former Steel attacker has made an impact since stepping back on Premiership courts and could find herself up against older sister Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit when the Tactix line up for the southern derby.

Another big match-up in the shooting circle will be between the in-form Ellie Bird and Steel defender Taneisha Fifita. Fifita continues to feature on the league’s stats sheet – in the top five for rebounds, deflections and intercepts.

Magic v Mystics, 8.15pm at Trustpower Baypark Arena in Tauranga

It’s a big call from Splice Construction Magic captain Sam Winders, but the midcourter firmly believes if her side can nail their starts, the wins will follow suit.

The Magic again pushed the competition leaders hard last week only to lose their way in the fourth quarter. But they continue to show glimpses of a team which can challenge any ANZ Premiership contender.

“We believe we can do it,” Winders, who is approaching 100 league matches. The start is so important – I honestly think that will be the difference. The next time we win a first quarter I guarantee we’ll win the match.”

She has history to back up her claims, the Magic won the opening spell against the Northern Mystics back in Round 1 and went on to record their only win of the season to date. A repeat victory over the Mystics will require shutting down the link between the league’s teenaged shooting sensation, Grace Nweke (who has netted 264 goals from 292 attempts), and the midcourt master, Peta Toeava, who feeds her with an unnervingly accurate pass.

The long limbs of Erena Mikaere may be preferred to match up against Nweke while Georgie Edgecombe faces a mammoth task in marking Toeava.