Netball Scoop: NZ Round Up, May 2023

Netball Scoop: NZ Round Up, May 2023

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. 

Contributors: Emily Bruce, Jaimie Keay, Kariba McGin, Nicole Mudgway


And just like that, the ANZ Premiership season is drawing to a rapid close. The season has been an exciting one for fans – there was a consistent table topper (hello Mystics) and a steadfast team at the bottom (sorry Steel) but each round has brought changes to the middle of the table. It’s a magnificent result that the teams in the finals weren’t confirmed until the final round, as it points to a well balanced competition overall.


The season so far 

Round 9 saw the Steel almost claiming their first win, with a 53-54 loss to the Pulse in the dying seconds of the game. The Pulse put on a convincing display of netball in their double-header weekend to secure a 54-45 win against the Tactix. The Tactix also had a double-header weekend, and unfortunately with captain Jane Watson sidelined, they could not bring home a win. Losing to the Mystics 50-74, the Tactix suddenly found themselves in a risky position on the table. The Stars continued their run of quality netball with a 61-55 win against the Magic.

Round 10 started with a convincing win by the Mystics against the Steel, 65-55. In must win games, the Magic almost, but not quite, beat the Pulse (who won 50-49), and the Tactix failed to perform for four quarters, meaning the Stars secured a 57-50. Lastly, in a game that was much closer than the score suggests, the Magic beat the Steal 52-45. 

In Round 11, the Tactix showed that they haven’t given up hope of making the playoffs with a 65-56 win against the Magic. The Pulse beat the Mystics 62-56 to be the first team to secure themselves a final position (denying the Mystics a bonus point and their secured spot in the finals) and unfortunately the Steel were to remain winless entering the final round, as they suffered a 47-58 defeat to the Stars.

In the final round, the Tactix beat the Pulse 54-45 to keep their chances somewhat alive. The Mystics then pulled off a win against the Stars 63-58, but the Stars managed to secure themselves a bonus point – also boosting their own chances of making the final. After the Magic beat the Steel by 1 (53-52) to deny them a 2023 win, the Tactix took the Mystics to overtime but were unable to secure a spot in the finals. The Mystics won 64-61 and will now meet the winner of the Stars v Pulse in the grand final.


Stars have made their way into the 2023 finals. Image Nicole Mudgway


Ladder at the completion of round 12


Rank Team Played Wins and Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Differential Bonus Points Overall Points
1 Northern Mystics  15 11, 4 930 828 102 3 36
2 Central Pulse  15 10, 5 802 746 56 3 33
3 Robinhood Stars  15 9, 6 889 835 54 3 30
4 Mainland Tactix 15 9, 6 793 760 33 1 28
5 WBOP Magic 15 6, 9 791 830 -39 4 22
6 Southern Steel 15 0, 15 653 859 -206 4 4



Round 9 – Amorangi Malesala 50th national league game

Round 9 – Kate Lloyd 50th national league game

Round 10 – Karin Burger 100th national league game

Round 10 – Te Paea Selby Rickett 150th national league game

Round 10 – Sulu Fitzpatrick 150th national league game

Round 10 – Salmon Nathan 100th national league game

Round 10 – Marianne Delaney-Hoshek 100th national league game as coach 


Maia Wilson calling for the pass from Gina Crampton. Sulu Fitzpatrick (left) played in her 150th national league game this month. Image Nicole Mudgway


Retirements (and pregnancy!)

At the end of the season we usually see some retirements, and this season is (sadly) no exception. So far we’ve had Bailey Mes call time on the bib – which came as a bit of a surprise to some especially given her current form and pairing with Ameliaranne Ekenasio. Claire Kersten also retired after the Magic’s final game (although we understand she has left herself open for Ferns selection) and the other imminent retirement is Sulu Fitzpatrick… and whether she makes the World Cup squad is yet to be determined.

In other exciting news, Monica Faulkner is pregnant – so a huge congratulations there!

Coach Yvette McCausland-Durie is also leaving the Pulse. 


Juicy stuff

Aside from the Steel, it ended up being a very close call for the teams that made the finals (and for those who missed out). The Steel will no doubt be relieved to put this season to bed, but the question begs: how much of a role did George Fisher’s absence play in their season outcome? We have to assume A LOT, but it’s interesting to consider whether the Steel would have otherwise also been vying for a finals position. The same goes for the Tactix and the two games they lost in Round 9 without Jane Watson – a resounding 24 goal defeat against the Mystics and 9 against the Pulse – in what we expected to be relatively close games. 

Do teams really depend that much on one player? Well yes, we saw the Mystics fall (from Grace) last year after Nweke was injured so what can teams do to ensure they are not revolving around one key player? That answer lies somewhere in whatever the Mystics did this year: they endured a number of injuries across their starting lineup, yet managed to keep on winning – although admittedly none of those players was Nweke.



Finals preview


Grace Nweke pulls in a pass. The shooter is crucial to the Mystics – and Silver Ferns – chances. Image Nicole Mudgway


This weekend the Pulse will take on the Stars at home to determine who will meet the Mystics in the grand final the following week. As defending champs, the Pulse know what it takes to win, they have only lost one game since round 5 and no doubt they will want to take it all the way for their soon to be ex-coach, Yvette McCausland-Durie. We look forward to watching Amelia Walmsley taking on yet another challenge, hopefully succeeding in the process. 

After losing the final to the Pulse last year (also at home), the Stars will be doing what they can to prevent a repeat of 2022. If the Stars attack can fire at the right times, we can expect to see a close game. Exciting match ups include Kelly Jury against Maia Wilson – and what Amorangi Malesala can bring to ease that pressure off Maia, along with Maddy Gordon and Mila Reulu-Buchanan (surely both candidates for the World Cup team) battling it out in the C bib. Also, if the Stars defensive unit can take advantage of the high pressure situation to get in Walmsley’s head, they might have success in shutting her down. 

Meanwhile, the Mystics will no doubt be watching each team closely and making final touches on their own game plan as they give their bodies some rest over the next two weeks. After last season’s frustrating conclusion, they will want to claim back what they probably believe is rightfully theirs – but it won’t be easy! Both the Stars and Pulse are more than capable of beating the Mystics, so it should be a cracker of a final. 


Netball World Cup 

The clock is ticking for the naming of our World Cup side, coming up on 7th June. The Silver Ferns are lucky to have six weeks together in between the end of the ANZ Premiership season and the start of the World Cup, whereas over the ditch Australia will have just 20 days. This sounds like a good thing, at least to us! In a draw that sees us squaring off with Jamaica and South Africa, we are going to need all the preparation we can get. 

Sadly we won’t be seeing a televised Cadbury Series featuring the New Zealand men’s side ahead of the World Cup. A shame for viewers but maybe the idea is to keep some secrets up our sleeves. This is no doubt very hard to do in a World Cup year, with Diamonds head coach Stacey Marinkovich having been spotted in the crowds in some recent ANZ Premiership games (and generously taking part in interviews). 

There’s also been news that the true GOAT of the game, Laura Langman, will be playing a role in preparing the side for the World Cup. We’re all for it! 

Our netball world continues to obsess over the addition of the three reserves into the World Cup equation and what that means. One option which the additional three opens up is to name just three specialist shooters, given that it seems likely that Grace Nweke and Ameliaranne Ekenasio will be playing out the majority of the games in the shooting bibs. Another option is (as the Roses have done) to take a midcourt player who can cover goal attack if truly needed (Whitney Souness springs to mind!). This would then create opportunities to create more options in the midcourt line up, which is the one no doubt causing the most agony for the selectors. 


Gina Crampton trying to get free from Michaela Sokolich-Beatson. Crampton will most likely be included in the 2023 World Cup campaign. Image Nicole Mudgway. 


Links to other relevant articles/other resources

This interesting and candid interview with Rob Wright, covering the Mystics season, the consequences of the shambolic series against Jamaica last year and World Cup preparations 

Sky Sport’s Inside Netball Podcast continues to deliver the goods, with interesting discussions with the likes of Debbie Fuller, Stacey Marinkovich and Cath Cox in recent episodes 

A beautiful story about Ferns stalwart Linda Vagana and what she is up to these days 

And for a bit more nostalgia, this interview with legend Irene Van Dyk about why she made the decision to move to New Zealand.


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