Pulse vs Mystics
MVP: Grace Nweke
Round two began with the Pulse taking on the Mystics at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua. Both the Mystics and the Pulse had two games this round meaning that player management was going to be a crucial balancing act for both coaches.
The Pulse got their 2022 campaign underway with a bang, leading at quarter time, 17-15. Aliyah Dunn was dominant under the post and her combination with, newly appointed co-captain – Tiana Metuarau, caused a headache for the Mystics defenders.
After missing round one, Grace Nweke returned to the court this weekend and was able to re-establish her dominant connection with Peta Toeava with ease. Monica Faulker was also crucial in the Mystics attacking end – her screens and drives allowed Nweke to become free under the post.
The Mystics came out firing in the second quarter with Sulu Fitzpatrick paying close attention to Dunn and limiting the scoring opportunities for the Pulse. With the scores drawn at 30 apiece going into halftime, we were set for an intense battle in the second half.
After the main break, the Mystics rejigged their defence and midcourt, injecting Carys Stythe into the game to cause some uncertainty in the minds of the Pulse feeders. At the end of the third quarter, the scores were 41-47 – the margin remained the same at the conclusion of the game. The final score of the game was 60-66, with the Pulse letting the Mystics sneak in a goal in the final seconds of the game to narrowly miss out on a bonus point.
We would like to extend our congratulations to Angela Armstrong-Lush – this game marks her 100th game umpiring at the domestic level.
Tactix vs Stars
MVP: Jamie Hume
After a disappointing start to their 2022 season, the Tactix left their round one loss to the Steel in the past and stamped their authority early in the first quarter against the Stars at Cowles Stadium in Christchurch.
The Tactix started strong and fed their tall target, Ellie Bird, with accuracy, speed and confidence. The Tactix were rewarded with a 5-goal lead going into the first quarter break. They looked like a completely different side in comparison to the team from round one.
The Tactix made use of their in circle connection between Te-Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird to create space and use smart offloads to keep the score ticking over. Down the other end of the court, Karin Burger was creating chaos for the shooters, chasing down loose balls and racking up six gains throughout the game.
Although their opening quarter was full of errors, the Stars grew in confidence as they settled into the game. Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume were two players that grew with the game, they were served with some fantastic feeds and bullet passes from Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan.
Jamie Hume shot with confidence and accuracy during the game to earn her first Player of the Match title. Her court craft and connection with Maia Wilson and the feeders allowed her to shoot at a high volume, racking up 23 goals at 77%.
The Stars were able to come back from five goals down at quarter time and draw level at half time but waited for the third quarter to assert their dominance. The Stars’ comeback was sparked by an intercept by wing defence, Holly Fowler, who was reliable at winning the ball for her team in the moments when it counted the most. The Stars’ third-quarter domination ensured them the win 57-52 with the Tactix collecting an important bonus point.
Pulse vs Magic
MVP: Tiana Metuarau
After a hard-fought loss against the Mystics on Friday night, the Pulse backed up on Saturday afternoon to take on the Magic at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua. The Magic took the court with former Pulse stars, Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Claire Kersten. Ekenasio, who is on limited minutes, started the game for the Magic but was only able to play the first quarter.
The Pulse came flying out the gate in the opening quarter, leading the magic 19-9 at quarter time. During the first quarter, the combination between Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau put on a shooting masterclass whilst displaying their strong connection. They were able to show off their silky shooting skills as Whitney Souness and Erikana Pederson fed the circle with accuracy.
At the start of the second quarter, the Magic injected Georgia Tong into the game to try and slow Tiana Metuarau down. Tong was successful in winning ball for her team but not enough to be able to catch the confident central side.
The Magic showed promise in the third quarter, their midcourt and defence were able to win back ball for them and their shooters, Ivana Rowland and Bailey Mes showed patience and confidence when turning to post. Although the Magic fought for the whole game, they were not able to recover from their slow start. In the final quarter, the Pulse put their foot down, securing them their first win of the season by defeating the Magic 57-41.
We would also like to congratulate Zac Middleton on his ANZ Premiership umpiring debut during this game.
Steel vs Mystics
MVP: Sulu Fitzpatrick
The Mystics flew from Porirua to Invercargill to take on the Steel at ILT Stadium Southland, after their win against the Pulse on Friday night. The northerners were dominant from the first whistle, running away to a 10-goal lead at the conclusion of the first quarter.
In the first quarter, the Mystics defenders were able to outplay the young Steel shooting circle of, Georgia Heffernan and ex-mystics player, Saviour Tui. In order to attempt to remedy their poor first-quarter performance, the Steel added some star power to their on-court team by injecting George Fisher into the game. Fisher was able to provide her team with more confidence but the margin of 10 goals in favour of the Mystics, remained at halftime.
The Steel threw everything that had at the Mystics in the second half. Ex-Mystics defender Kate Burley was faced with the tough of keeping Grace Nweke busy in the shooting circle, whilst she was able to get the ball off the 193cm shooter – Nweke was still able to score 50-goals across the 53 minutes she played.
The Mystics defenders were outstanding, with Phoenix Karaka collecting 4 gains and captain, Sulu Fitzpatrick finishing the game with 7 gains. The Mystics backline consists of three Silver Ferns, with Sulu Fitzpatrick, Phoenix Karaka and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson – this defensive unit is going to cause many headaches for shooters throughout the season.
Although the Steel played with heart and never gave up, the reigning premiers proved to be too strong on the night, they secured their first win in Invercargill in ANZ premiership history. This win now means that the Mystics sit at the top of the ladder at the conclusion of round two.