2021 ANZ Premiership Round 8 Preview
Take a look at all three match-ups in Round 8 of the 2021 ANZ Premiership.
Saturday, 5 June
Tactix v Pulse, 5.15pm at Christchurch Arena in Christchurch
It is a quick turnaround for The Good Oil Tactix who will be left ruing missed opportunities against the Stars, halting their march up the ANZ Premiership ladder. They head home, where their success rate has impressed this season, but are up against a Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse side growing in confidence.
Captain Jane Watson said they would “need to look after each other” more when they returned to the court and look at individual errors. But she was pleased with the progress the Tactix continued to make and was looking forward to getting back in front of their fans.
The Pulse must head to Christchurch with a spring in their step after two strong performances for two straight wins. Defender Kelera Nawai has perhaps made the biggest strides in recent weeks and her match-up with Tactix shooter Ellie Bird promises to entertain. Nawai nabbed seven gains for her team last week and her combination with Kelly Jury improves with each outing.
It will a big test for Tactix wing Samon Nathan who has made strong claims on the attacking bib in the absence of Erikana Pedersen, but faces tenacious Pulse defender Maddy Gordon. All eyes will be on Tactix defender Karin Burger who comes up against her former team for the first time this season.
Sunday, 6 June
Steel v Magic, 4.15pm at Edgar Centre in Dunedin
Stringing two wins together will be the big focus for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel this week after they upset the Northern Mystics. They were a composed unit, both on attack and defence, and captain Shannon Saunders was proud her team could make the shift from the heavily penalised side just a week before.
“I think we really needed that win and it’s awesome now we return home – trying to get two wins in a row will be the next goal.”
English import George Fisher continues to shine as the most accurate shooter in the league while defender Taneisha Fifita was a stand-out with her performance last week. Fifita faces more tall timber in Australian Caitlin Bassett and just who partners the Australian will be of interest after Splice Construction Magic coach Amigene Metcalfe opted for Grace Kara in the shooting circle last week.
There are also plenty of options on defence for the Magic coach following the welcomed return of Holly Fowler to the elite ranks – back on court after a serious knee injury. Fowler may be the answer the Magic are looking for in the goal defence position with neither Erena Mikaere or Georgia Tong laying claim to the bib yet – both looking more comfortable in the goal keeper role.
Mystics v Stars, 6.15pm at The Trusts Arena in Auckland
An extra-time thriller has consolidated the Robinhood Stars spot at the top of the ANZ Premiership ladder and given them a timely confidence boost ahead of a much anticipated top-of-the-table clash with the Northern Mystics.
It is the first of three Barfoot & Thompson Northern Challenge matches between the two sides and feature intriguing match-ups across the court, starting with who Stars coach Kiri Wills will plump for to shut down Mystics shooting maestro Grace Nweke. The height and experience of Anna Harrison may get to the nod for the keeper’s bib but Elle Temu, who is leading the Premiership for intercepts, has shown her ability to seamlessly switch between circle roles.
Stars goal attack Jamie Hume continues to impress and her match-up against Mystics defender Kate Burley will be one to watch. The two best feeders in the league will also be on court with Peta Toeava (Mystics) leading the stats sheet with 308 feeds to date while Gina Grampton (Stars) is in second spot on 289.
Both teams were guilty of slow starts in Round 7 but both have also shown they can finish strongly in what promises to be an ANZ Premiership crunch match. With these two sides set to go head-to-head three times in the next five weeks, the Premiership points table is in for a shake-up.