Contributors: Nicole Mudgway, Emily Bruce
Central Pulse 56 d Northern Stars 46 (14-9, 14-11, 15-10, 13-16)
Northern Stars 47 d Central Pulse 46 (14-10, 14-14, 10-13, 9-9)
Northern Mystics 56 d WBOP Magic 44 (12-11, 16-12, 13-9, 15-12)
Mainland Tactix 63 d Southern Steel 52 (15-14, 16-13, 18-13, 14-12)
Most goals 49 Ellie Bird (Tactix v Steel)
Most intercepts 4 Sulu Fitzpatrick (Mystics v Magic), Elle Temu (Stars v Pulse) and Karin Burger (Tactix v Steel)
Most feeds 39 Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Stars v Pulse)
Most turnovers 6 Maia Wilson (Stars v Pulse), Bailey Mes (Magic v Mystics) and Shannon Saunders (Steel v Tactix)
Most centre pass receives 29 Gina Crampton (Stars v Pulse)
Most penalties 17 Erena Mikaere (Magic v Mystics)
Both Georgia Tong and Ameliaranne Ekenasio were absent for the Magic’s game against the Mystics. Oceane Maihi suffered a nose bleed at the end of the first quarter, meaning the Magic started the second quarter with only 6 players. Peta Toeava had been unwell, causing her to begin the game on the bench. She made her return in the second half of the game.
The Steel v Tactix game was a game of perpetual subs, as limited minutes for most players saw rotations occurring throughout. The Steel weren’t quite back to full strength, with Renee Savai’inaea, Kate Burley and Sarahpheinna Woulf still sidelined following Covid protocols.
A week of upsets, some might say. The Pulse v Stars double-header saw each team walk away with a win (the Pulse with a more convincing win, but the Stars had the last say) and the Tactix won a well-needed game against the Steel. Finally, the Tactix were able to hold it together for a full match: and the match marked the first time in 85 matches that the Tactix won all quarters in a game. The Steel’s last two matches saw them lose against the bottom of the table (Tactix), and prior to that beating the defending champions (Mystics).
Many players (especially in the Steel) are on return to play plans, which means managed minutes and an absolute nightmare for the coaches. It is a fine line to be walked, juggling optimal court time for players – both in terms of not wanting to impede player recovery from Covid but also still wanting to put their best foot forward for the ANZ premiership – which at this stage could still be almost anyone’s for the taking.
These return to play protocols have resulted in us experiencing the need for players to step up and play less familiar positions as benches are often used in their entirety. An example of this is Kate Heffernan, who we have become well accustomed to seeing at C, last night donning the once familiar WD bib. (For those who missed it, Heffernan and the WD bib are still a dreamy combination!) No doubt the Silver Fern selectors approve of players adding to their repertoire of skills!
Speaking of which, more spice has been added to the anticipation of our squad following the announcement of England’s international squad (including the Steel’s George Fisher) as well as the unveiling of the official medals that will be awarded at this years’ Commonwealth Games.
It has been confirmed that the Silver Fern squad will be named on 15 June and up to 27 players will be invited to trial for the Commonwealth Games team – which is limited to just 12 players, plus 3 training partners.
Rookie of the Round
Ivana Rowland is a rookie that is seeing considerable game time (over 230 minutes so far this season!), due to the somewhat restricted appearances of Magic teammates Bailey Mes and Ameliaranne Ekenasio. It has been an unexpected treat watching Rowland step up and own the GS bib, with her shooting percentage for the season sitting comfortably in the 80s. No doubt we will continue to watch her grow as a player as the season continues and Magic fans will hope that her partnership with Mes continues to flourish.
Match of the Round
NORTHERN STARS 47 def CENTRAL PULSE 46
After this nail biter of a game, we can say with certainty that the Stars are the comeback queens of the season so far. Just four days after their heavy ten goal loss to the Pulse, they managed to clinch this one by one lone goal.
The Stars have clearly begun to cement their player combinations and played a consistent lineup, with coach Kiri Wills making only two changes in the entire game (replacing Holly Fowler with Kayla Johnson at wing defence for the second half of the game and swapping Elle Temu and Anna Harrison’s positions in the fourth).
Both sides performed well defensively and were able to give their goal keepers (Kelly Jury and Elle Temu) the freedom needed to go hunting for the ball, with Jury picking up six and Temu five gains throughout the match.
Where the match was won and lost?
In a game where the second and fourth quarters were drawn and very little separated the teams, the Stars’ dominant first quarter (which they won by four goals) had a decisive impact.
The Stars made up for their slightly lower shooting statistics with their defensive efforts, managing to stem the Pulse’s trademark fast ball into Aliyah Dunn and to force turnover ball.
Which players/combinations stood out?
The Pulse shooting combination of Tiana Metuarau and Aliyah Dunn continues to go from strength to strength. They read each other’s game beautifully and seem to play with an increasing sense of calm and confidence each week.
Anna Harrison and Elle Temu are cementing their strong understanding of each other from last season in the Stars’ defensive circle.
Gina Crampton was once again a solid contributor to her side and was responsible for the most goal assists, centre pass receives and (equal with Mila Reuelu-Buchanan) feeds throughout the game.
Jamie Hume was a well deserved MVP. While her shooting may not have been as accurate as the others overall, she confidently went to post from long range on a number of occasions and sunk some critical goals for her side.
Aliyah Dunn 29/31 (94%)
Tiana Metuarau 17/21 (81%)
Maia Wilson 23/29 (79%)
Jamie Hume 24/32 (75%)
MVP: Jamie Hume
Mystics 8 played, 20 points
Pulse 9 played, 18 points
Steel 7 played, 12 points
Stars 7 played, 12 points
Tactix 7 played, 7 points
Magic 6 played, 4 points
All matches will be shown live on Sky Sport
Saturday 7 May
Northern Mystics v Mainland Tactix at 2.10pm
Northern Stars v WBOP Magic at 4.10pm
Sunday 8 May
WBOP Magic v Mainland Tactix at 2.10pm
Northern Stars v Northern Mysics at 4.10pm
Monday 9 May
Southern Steel v Central Pulse at 7.15pm