Pulse vs Stars
MVP: Jamie Hume
The Stars and Pulse had only played a few days prior to their round eight clash in Palmerston North. Although not overly confident on the shot early in the game, Maia Wilson built confidence as the connection with her feeders improved. Down the other end of the court, the Stars applied an immense amount of defensive pressure, forcing the Pulse to be patient. Both shooting circles saw physical contests, with both sides called for offensive contact, though in the end it was the Stars who led going into quarter time 14-9.
The Pulse were able to draw the margin back in the second quarter. The Stars’ midcourt was able to find their shooters with ease, looking very different to their performance in the previous round. Meanwhile the Pulse struggled to find their rhythm, forcing passes into their shooters which allowed for the defence to pickup gains. Elle Temu and Anna Harrison were both out hunting for turnovers. Despite some improvement from the Pulse, the Stars still led 28-24 going into the halftime break.
The Pulse continued to struggle as the second half got underway. They struggled to find their shooters due to the pressure being applied by the Stars. Kelly Jury was key in helping the home side drawback the lead. The defensive pressure from the Pulse allowed them to draw level with the Stars with only three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Stars went into the final quarter with a one-goal lead 38-37.
The winning margin remained the same for the eventual winners, the Stars. Although many changes were made across the court for the Pulse, they were unable to shut down the Stars’ attacking end. The Stars won the game 47-46 with Jamie Hume as the game’s MVP.
Mystics vs Magic
MVP: Grace Nweke
The Mystics took the court against the Magic at Eventfina Stadium in Auckland. The first quarter had small swings of momentum. Though no team was able to break away to a definitive lead within the first quarter. The Mystics went into the quarter time break with a slim lead of 12 goals to 11.
Although they were missing their goal defence for the first passage of play in the second quarter, the Magic got their quarter underway with a goal and an intercept. Although the Mystics were able to answer back with intercepts and gains of their own. The Mystics forced the Magic to throw rouge passes ultimately winning them back the ball. Hunting down the ball and gaining rebounds was a characteristic of the Mystics defenders’ game. They were successful in this as before half time they had seven gains. The Mystics went into the halftime break ahead by five goals – 28-23.
The Magic let the Mystics extend their lead early in the third quarter. Although hope was not lost for the visitors as they were able to bring it back within court goals with five minutes to go in the quarter. The Mystics’ defensive lifted to another level, winning the ball and shutting down the Magic attacking end. The Mystics lead going into the final quarter 41-32.
During the final quarter, the Mystics were able to use their cleaver shooter to shooter passes to feed doubt into the minds of the Magic defensive unit. Although the scoreline was getting away from them, the Magic kept fighting right until the final whistle. The Mystics further extended their lead in the final quarter to capture a 56-44 victory.
We caught up with Tayla Earle after the game. Her thoughts on the game were: “it was a slow burner, we came alive in the second half and we need to be able to adapt a bit faster. Once the ball got moving it was good, once we started letting the ball go and moving the ball it pulled the defence off our shooters and we were able to give them a lot more. Moving forwards we need to keep looking forwards.”
Steel vs Tactix
MVP: Kalera Nawai-Caucau
The Tactix started their Wednesday night game with a few errors. This allowed for the Steel to lead early in the game. The Steel were able to sight George Fisher directly and early, resulting in some perfectly weighted long-range feeds from Shannon Saunders. Once the Tactix settled into the game, they were able to see over the midcourt zone that the Steel had set up. The Tactix had a quick release into their shooters, allowing them to score quickly. Once both teams settled into the game, they were able to play free-flowing netball. The Tactix took the lead going into the quarter time break, 15-14.
The Tactix stamped their authority on the game early in the second quarter. They were able to extend their lead to five goals but the gritty Steel team reeled them back in. The defensive duo of Karin Burger and Kalera Nawai-Caucau played a gritty game, with their hand in amongst everything. Down the other end of the court, Captain Kimiora Poi and Te Paea Selby-Rickit remained calm and led the attacking end to a halftime lead of 31-27.
The Steel were out hunting in the third quarter but were unable to be rewarded for their hard work. The Steel was forced to turn to their bench and use the rolling substitutions due to return to play programmes in place. For the Steel, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit was able to show her crafty court play and her court smarts but this was not enough for her team. The Tactix went into the final quarter with a nine-goal lead of 49-40.
The Tactix had a settled lineup and showed strength in their connections on the court. One connection that shone in the game was that between shooters, Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird, they were able to find plenty of space in the circle and they were served plenty of balls. The defensive effort of Kalera Nawai-Caucau won her the title of MVP as the Tactix won their second game of the season. The Tactix defeated the Steel 63-52.