2021 ANZ Premiership Round 9 Preview
Sunday, 13 June
Stars v Pulse at 6.15pm at Pulman Arena in Papakura
The Robinhood Stars return home where they will be looking to break this year’s deadlock with Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse – one game apiece heading into this Round 9 clash.
Both teams are coming off narrow defeats but the 13-goal loss to the Pulse in Round 6 will no doubt be fresh in the Stars minds.
Captain Maia Wilson said the team remained confident despite two losses in three weeks in what she described as one of the toughest ANZ Premierships yet.
“I think all six teams are really solid this year and honestly it’s whoever shows up on the day is going to win the game. We can’t take anyone lightly.”
Defender Oceane Maihi has given coach Kiri Wills plenty to ponder ahead of the match after a strong performance in the keeper’s bib – picking up six gains for her side in the three-goal loss to the Mystics.
The Pulse would have been happy to grab a bonus point against the Tactix last week, especially without Te Amo Amaru-Tibble on court.
They will be keen to get the goal attack back however with Amaru-Tibble, who was ruled out last week with illness, playing a key role the last time the Pulse met the Stars.
Monday, 14 June
Magic v Mystics at 6.15pm at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton
The Northern Mystics are breathing heavily down the neck of the ANZ Premiership leaders but will be wary of a desperate Splice Construction Magic – the hosts with plenty to play for with the Hobbiton Cup on show.
The Magic last tasted victory back in the opening round and it was against the Mystics (64-60), something the Sam Winders-led side will take confidence from.
They can also take some belief after showing a stirring second-half fight back against the Steel last week, only to fall short of maximum points in the dying seconds of play.
Winders said she was proud of her team’s performance and was looking forward to meeting the Mystics.
“It’s always a good game coming up against them and I definitely think if we can build on what we did (against the Steel), then it’ll be good.”
Winders said it was important they maintained their “clarity” and simplified their focus on key areas. But they are up against a Mystics side growing with each outing and just one point shy of the top spot on the Premiership table, although captain Sulu Fitzpatrick said that was not driving them when they stepped on court.
“As long as we’re getting better each game, we really want to focus on getting our discipline right and in terms of our connections and consistency, and if that results in points, then that’s good for us.”
Tactix v Steel at 8.15pm at Trafalgar Centre in Nelson
Two of the ANZ Premiership’s most prolific shooters go head-to-head in Nelson when The Good Oil Tactix hosts the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel.
Ellie Bird (Tactix) and George Fisher (Steel) continue to impress and will bookend the Trafalgar Centre court, the latter sitting one spot higher on the stats sheet for most goals scored so far and also just edging her Tactix counterpart with accuracy in the circle.
Fisher netted the buzzer beater last week to give the Steel a one-goal win over the Magic, helping the southerners maintain their grip on third spot on the ladder, but the Tactix are lurking, just one point below their netball neighbours.
Steel captain Shannon Saunders believed her side was “tracking well” at the mid-way point of the league but said they were still searching for a four-quarter show.
“We were in and out of each quarter (against the Magic) which was a bit disappointing as we were hoping for a full 60 minute performance,” she said.
Saunders, who was born in Motueka, not far from Nelson, is one Steel player who is perhaps looking forward to the trip north more than most.
“I’ve been waiting my whole ANZ career to get up there and have a match for the Steel,” she said. “I’m really excited for that.”