Netball Scoop: NZ Netball Finals Review & Next Gen

Netball Scoop: NZ Netball Finals Review & Next Gen

By |2023-06-06T08:08:18+10:00June 5th, 2023|Categories: ANZP, NZ|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Cover Image: Graeme Laughton-Mutu


Welcome to Netball Scoop: New Zealand edition. Each month we will bring you the latest in Kiwi netball, covering everything from how the season is going, world cup prospects and other interesting news. 


It’s hard to believe the ANZ Premiership 2023 season has drawn to a close, it sometimes feels like they pass faster each year! The Mystics were crowned the winners, capping off what can only be described as a consistent season at the top with a well-earned title.

The main consolation of the season being over is that the World Cup is right around the corner and with the Silver Ferns squad to be named on June 7th at 1pm, we know we’re not the only ones who will be tuning in to that announcement. With plenty of World Cup chat to come, this edition of the NZ Netball Scoop newsletter offers a recap of the preliminary final, the grand final and who some of our next gen NZ players might be!


Elimination Final: Northern Stars defeated Central Pulse 53-52

The Pulse were hosting the Stars at home in Porirua, somewhere they had never lost to the Stars and the current in-form team. They had to be considered slight favourites over the Stars, who were certainly out for redemption in what was a repeat of last year’s grand final, a match the Stars lost and would probably rather forget. 

Spectators couldn’t have hoped for a better final, with the two teams going toe to toe for the majority of the match. Both teams showed signs of brilliance, and at other times hints of nerves creeped into the play. The Pulse managed to take a 29-26 lead into halftime, but whatever Stars coach Kiri Wills said to her team in the locker room worked, because the Stars certainly came out firing.

Winning the 3rd quarter 18-6, the Stars went into the last quarter with momentum and despite the Pulse’s best efforts, managed to clinch the win 53-52. Kelly Jury was playing her 100th game, and in the dying minutes of the match she pulled off some incredible athleticism to secure a turnover for her team, which was converted and kept the Pulse alive. Some strategic play by the Pulse shooters saw them slow the ball as they took a penalty, but to no avail as the clock wore down and the Stars had the next pass.

The match came down to the last second, where a contact call in the Stars shooting circle allowed Amorangi Malesala to shoot yet another clutch winning goal. The Pulse’s loss marked Yvette McCausland-Durie’s last match with the franchise, having completed nine seasons, playing in five grand finals and securing three titles along the way. 

The Mystics proved too strong for the Stars. Image: Nicole Mudgway

Grand final: Northern Mystics defeated Northern Stars 74-56

The first ever all-Auckland final was held at Hamilton’s Globox Arena in what promised to be a thrilling match. All three matches played this year between the two teams this year were decided by a margin of five or less goals, and while the Mystics were natural favourites, the in-form Stars were carrying the momentum following the elimination final against the Pulse. The Mystics proved dominant, making a strong start early and not letting up throughout the match. While the Stars managed to eventually close the deficit to five, they never really gained control of the match and were always fighting to stay in it. 

Bells were ringing in a similar tune to last year’s grand final, where the Stars were dealt a thumping by the Pulse. However, in contrast to last year’s game where the Stars appeared a bit shell-shocked, this time round they still played well, it just wasn’t good enough. Stars coach Kiri Wills tried a few different options to change the cadence of the match – multiple times bringing on Jamie Hume in place of Amorangi Malesala and Kelera Nawai-Caucau and Holly Fowler also changing it up.

The attacking stats for both teams were exceptional, most notably Grace Nweke, who equalled her career-high in an ANZ Premiership game making 70 of her 73 attempts at goal. Nweke would eventually go on to become the match’s MVP, which many considered an inevitable outcome. Maia Wilson carried the bulk of the load for the Stars, shooting 38 from 42, Malesala shot 17 from 21 and Jamie Hume 1 from 3. 

Mystics coach Tia Winikerei was fortunate that all ten of her players were able to take the court throughout the match, meaning that all could share equally in the celebration of the ANZ Premiership title and the momentous occasion that marked captain Sulu Fitzpatrick’s last game. Fitzpatrick debuted back in 2010, has donned a number of different franchise dresses across the years, and will be sorely missed by all for her leadership skills, netball abilities and general attitude, both on and off the court.


MVP Grace Nweke starred, shooting 70/73. Image: Steve McLeod



Next Gen players: exciting times ahead!

At the end of each season we always see a number of retirements (Sulu Fitzpatrick, Claire Kersten, Bailey Mes so far) with more expected at the end of the World Cup campaign. While retirements always diminish the pool of talent, we’re lucky that at the moment there are a number of exciting, promising lesser-known youngsters making their way up through the ranks. Netball Scoop has taken some time to cast their predictions for some of the next generation players we might expect to see when New Zealand next vies for (and hopefully defends) the world cup in 2027.



Amelia Walmsley (GS) 19 year old Walmsley has had a memorable breakout season with the Pulse, gaining experience, finding volume and becoming an easy target for her feeders under the post. She’s been exposed to numerous high pressure situations this year, which bodes well for her future game.

Georgia Heffernan (GA) was setback by a nasty injury a few years ago, but ever since, shooter Heffernan has given us good reason to be excited. Confident on the long shot, the springy, agile shooter is nimble around the court, and has a better-than-average connection with Kate Heffernan.

Saviour Tui (GS/GA) Tui’s incredible athleticism and consistency have seen her be noticed, despite playing GS for a side that failed to win a game all season. She was injured starting the season but each week she improved considerably. It would have been fascinating to see her play GA alongside George Fisher – there’s always next year!  



Greer Sinclair (WD/GD) In a season cut short by injury, Sinclair was off to a more than promising start down at the Mainland Tactix. She cemented herself the WD bib, playing alongside Karen Burger and Jane Watson, but in the past we’ve seen her provide that sliding option across to GD. Having already taken the court for multiple franchises (as a fill-in until 2023) we can only wonder what other colours we’ll see her in in years to come. 



Carys Stythe (GK/GD) Thanks to Sulu Fitzpatrick enduring an injury across multiple rounds, we saw Stythe become a regular defensive starter alongside Phoenix Karaka. Quickly propelling herself to many a fan’s favourite rookie player, her height, timing and coordination make for a compelling combination. 

Parris Mason (GD/WD) Used predominantly as an impact player throughout the 2023 season, Mason almost never failed in the task. Her intuition, hunger for the ball and all round athleticism proved to be a healthy addition for the Pulse. Mason is also an extremely successful basketball player (Tall Fern to be precise) so we just have to hope that playing elite netball continues to be a goal of hers.


Caris Stythe has had a breakout season, and her future looks to be bright. Image Nicole Mudgway


Current “young” gen

Grace Nweke (GS) next gen, current gen – it’s all the same thing for superstar 21 year old Grace Nweke, who will hopefully be a part of the Ferns for many years to come. She’s undergone huge development in the last year or so, and is only going to continue to be a force to contend with at this year’s World Cup. 

Tiana Metuarau (GA/GS) crafty playmaker Metuarau continues to impress both on and off the ball. She did an excellent job of bringing Walmsley into each game this year, and her skilful play sits almost unparalleled across the league. Many are hoping she is named in the team this year, but regardless, we expect this fringe Fern to be a mainstay in the future.

Elle Temu (GD/GK) a bolter to the Ferns in 2022, Temu flourished under the circle mentorship of Anna Harrison. In 2023, Harrison’s retirement meant that Temu had to step up and provide some leadership of her own for her teammates, and it’s safe to say she just did that. Capable of playing both positions seemingly equally well, Temu’s progress has been exciting to monitor.

Maddy Gordon (WA/C/WD) A player known for her ability to put her body on the line, it’s hard not to talk about Maddy Gordon. Seeing out most of the 2023 season at C for the Pulse, she dominated defensively and was the only non-defensive circle player in the top ten for intercepts. We have to wonder whether she might nab one of those elusive and hotly contested midcourt bibs for the World Cup this year – her versatility certainly works in her favour.

Kate Heffernan (C/WD) It didn’t take long for Heffernan to make a claim as the Ferns starting C, despite most of her previous Fern appearances coming at WD. Heffernan’s height is invaluable in the midcourt, her rangy limbs enabling far more than her fair share of intercepts in a game. This youngster is certainly on the plane to Cape Town come July, and she’s someone we know will bring valuable experience to the side going forward.


Maddy Gordon can play across all three midcourt positions, and has put together a strong case for Netball World Cup selection. Image Simon Leonard


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