ANZ Premiership

ANZ Premiership: Round 6 Recap

Tactix vs Stars

MVP: Mila Reuelu-Buchanan

Photo: Michael Bradley Photo

Both the Stars and Tactix had been forced to take a couple of weeks off so when they hit the court on Saturday night at Christchurch Arena, they took a while to settle into the game. Tactix goal-keeper, Kelera Nawai-Caucau, was able to gain some crucial possession in the first quarter, and her team were accurate when they made it down to the shooting circle. The Stars, on the other hand, were able to maintain possession but when it came to scoring, they lacked accuracy under the post and often had to score off rebounds and penalties but were able to break away and go into the quarter time break ahead 15-12.

In the second quarter, it was struggle town for the Tactix as they struggled with consistency in their attacking end and dearly missed the presence of captain Kimiora Poi. Anna Harrison went up another level and started to shut down Ellie Bird’s dominance of the circle and with two gains and one pick up, she allowed the Stars to go into the main break ahead by five. 

The Tactix lineup is still not back to full strength, they had former Tactix Captain Jess Mclennan join them for this game. Mclennan, Burger and Nawai-Caucau were able to apply pressure to the Stars attacking end and combined for 10 gains. Although they were able to win back the ball, the Stars were able to win back more balls and absorb the pressure that was applied to remain calm on attack and treasure their possession. One statistic that stood out was the Tactix general play turnovers, the home side had 23 turnovers, 9 more than that of the Stars. 

Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Gina Crampton were able to fire down the court when their defence won back the ball for them. Their snappy transition from defence to attack showed us how they were able to score off their turnovers. This resulted in a win for the visiting team, they won with a decisive lead, 63-51, not only do they take home the premiership points but they also take home the Hanmer Springs Trophy. These two teams battle again on Wednesday night at Bruce Pullman Park, for the Stars’ first home game of the 2022 season. 

Steel vs Mystics

MVP: Shannon Saunders  

Photo: Southern Steel

It was a very special game for Shannon Saunders as she celebrated her 150th game when the Steel took on the Mystics at ILT Stadium in Southland. Early in the game, the Steel shooters struggled over the long arms of Phoenix Karaka and the clever defence of Sulu Fitzpatrick. Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was also winning back ball for the Mystics. The Mystics led the Steel going into the first quarter break 17-12. 

The second quarter started with the Steel piling on the defensive pressure – resulting in two huge turnovers to level the scores. The Steel scored five goals in a row, forcing the Mystics to bring Peta Toeava onto the court. Just as the Mystics came back into the game to snatch the lead back again, the Steel went on another run of five goals again to go into the second half trailing by one, 30-29 in favour of the Mystics. 

Although Grace Nweke’s shooting percentage was down in the first half – shooting at 83% – she was able to get all eight rebounds, largely uncontested. In the third quarter, the Steel had a strong centre pass defence, able to draw back any leads that the Mystics created. Shannon Saunders showed us all that she is made of steel as she put her body on the line to chase down any loose balls. Sparking her teams’ comeback to steal the lead back from the Mystics. 

The Mystics lacked consistency in patches in the game being unable to score off their turnovers which the Steel was able to do. Wracking up 46 feeds and 23 centre pass receives, Shannon Saunders wrapped up her milestone game with a win (64-59) and an MVP title. 

Magic vs Pulse

MVP: Kelly Jury 

Photo: Michael Bradley Photo

It was a slow start to the game on Monday night, it took over three minutes for the first goal of the game to be scored. The Magic took time to settle into the game as they had many turnovers and silly errors within the first quarter. Both teams struggled to get the ball out of the centre third due to intense defensive pressure coming from both teams. Maddy Gordon got her 2022 season underway – making her return to court late in the first quarter. The Pulse took the lead going into the first break – 12 – 9. 

The Pulse started the second quarter with five goals in a row to extend their advantage out to eight goals and keep the home side scoreless for the first four minutes of the quarter. Both teams were hesitant in the second quarter due to the strong defensive pressure present from both teams. The Magic answered back to the flurry of goals from the Pulse – scoring three in a row. The Pulse defensive combination of Kelly Jury and Kristiana Manu’a was able to deny Ameliaranne Ekenasio opportunities to score. Going into the halftime break the Pulse led by 6.

The Pulse got out to a ten goal lead in the third quarter, with Kelly Jury and her long arms having an incredible read of the game to help them to break away from the Magic. The Pulse displayed their incredible bench depth with Maddy Gordon, Paris Mason and young midcourter Ainsleyana Puleiata making appearances on the court. The Magic injected Greer Sinclair into the game- this marks the third team that she has played for this season.  

The Pulse smothered the Magic with their tight one-on-one defence. They also showed how fast they can transition down the court from a turnover. For the Magic, Sam Winders was outstanding at winning back ball for her team. The combination of Winders and Kersten applied pressure around the circle and in the centre third to force errors from the Pulse. Although the Pulse was dominant throughout the whole game, the Magic fought hard right until the final whistle. The Pulse took the three points in their 13-goal victory 39-52. Kelly Jury’s outstanding performance earnt her another MVP title, clearly stamping her mark on the season.

Prior to Round 7’s double header on Sunday, there are a number of catch up matches being played including the Stars vs Tactix in Auckland tonight.

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