ANZ Premiership

Down to two: ANZ Premiership Grand Final

The ANZ Grand Final is set to take place at Spark Arena in Auckland on the 8th of August at 3pm NZT with the Northern Mystics taking on the Mainland Tactix.

Credit to both teams as they have had amazing seasons, which has produced some of the best netball to watch.

For the Mystics, this is a whole new feeling as they haven’t featured in a grand final for over ten years. They are in a great position heading into the grand final with Sulu Fitzpatrick at the helm, Rob Wright on the coaching team and Grace Nweke as their goal shooting star.

However for the Tactix it’s an all too familiar feeling. After last years loss to the Central Pulse, the team would still have a sour tase left in their mouths when talking about grand finals.

Earlier this season the Tactix were heavily criticised for not being in form despite only having one new recruit, Karin Burger.

But once the connection between Burger and Jane Watson had bloomed and Te Paea Selby-Rickit returned from an ankle injury, the team flourished and dominated the competition.

Some labelled the Tactix the dark horse of the league this season, and they are certainly a team to be wary of.

Statistically, the two teams are an even match as the Mystic have won eight games and Tactix have won seven of the matches played between the two sides.

More ironically each time they have played it has alternated who wins, with the Mystics winning the last match in  Round 15. So if superstition were to play a role, the Tactix are more likely to win this game.

Despite all of that if you need any other reason to watch this game, it is the ANZ’s best defensive team against the ANZ’s best attacking team and many of these players will be invited to the Silver Ferns camp in September.

To prepare you for this match here is some analysis we did for the finals series.

Stronger than Ever: Northern Mystics

Starting from the bottom now we’re here doesn’t even begin to describe the Northern Mystics run at finals.

The Mystics are the only team to have not featured in a grand final since the conception of the ANZ Premiership or if you are Championship fan since 2011.

Despite this, they have had the strongest performance of the 2021 series and the team is full of dynamos and killer partnerships right through to the bench.

Grace Nweke confidence and accuracy is by far the best thing to come out of this season.

After a wobbly first game, Nweke has come into every game better and stronger with many defenders needing to double up on her just to stop the shot.

Grace Nweke shooting one of her 794 goals.

On average, she scores 53 goals a game and has broken the record for most goals scored in a season with 794 goals. To top it off she is only 19 and this is her second season playing netball professionally.

Nweke has an advantage over every other shooter though, she gets to train against up-and-coming goal defender Kate Burley, English captain Ama Agbeze and the mastermind that is Sulu Fitzpatrick.

This is a defensive dream team and throughout the season there have been moments where fans, commentators and players were like “how did they pull that off?”

From rejects, deflections and intercepts Burley and Fitzpatrick have done it all in fabulous fashion.

Fitzpatrick’s captaincy has also been labelled the key difference as to why the Mystics have been so consistently strong all season.

Fitzpatrick just says it like it is and holds her team to this incredibly high standard she knows they can perform to, she is not afraid of telling her team on the court, in a press conference or on the bench what she thinks.

But let’s not forget about the stars of the show: the Mystics amazing midcourt, Peta Toeava, Tayla Earle and Fa’amu Ioane.

Toeava is one of the most hardworking WA’s you ever did find, with the vision to look down the court and fire pinpoint passes to Nweke and the game sense to follow her WD right up to the transverse line and receive those cheeky intercepts.

Tayla Earle and Karin Burger

Back her up with Earle who is one of the fittest C’s in the league and Ioane who puts the star power in that Wing Defence bib, oppositions have a very tough time getting through that centre third.

The Mystics typically have a great first half and it is the last quarter that will be their main concern as they will need to hold onto everything to ensure the win.

Back Better Than Ever: Mainland Tactix

After a shaky start to the season, the runners up to the 2020 season almost looked like they were running for the wooden spoon being on the bottom of the ladder after round 4.  

But throughout the second half of the season the Mainland Tactix have overcome their challenges and shaken up the ladder finishing in third place and then beating the Southern Steel fantastically in the preliminary final.  

The team is one of the only teams to stay pretty much the same with the only recruit being Goal Defence Karin Burger.

Together with Jane Watson, they have been having the defenders season of the year.

The duo have 141 deflections combined and Burger topped the leader board in intercepts with a total of 45.

As their connection has developed so has their game sense and as the two favourites to start in Silver Ferns defence this duo will be tough to beat.

Watson covers the circle ground so nicely and Burger can pick off passes throughout the court with what looks like little effort.

Jane Watson and Karin Burger

While its no easy feat to hunt the ball and put the pressure on the shooters, the duo wouldn’t look so successful without a strong and stunning midcourt.

The work of Kimiora Poi, Charlotte Elley, Samon Nathan and Erikana Pederson is outstanding.

Between Poi’s bolter type game  and Elley’s tight defence it is very hard for people to hit the circle edge and move the ball through the defensive third.

Not to mention the transition and impact both Nathan and Pederson have in playing that WA role.

Pederson is coming back from injury and has done a fantastic job at providing that needed game changing impact in the second half for her team.

In the shooting end, Ellie Bird has really started to craft her shot and finished the season as the second highest goal scorer in the league.

In the preliminary final against the Steel Bird’s confidence and accuracy in the second quarter is what defined their win.  

While Te Paea Selby-Rickit missed the first half of the season she has put her stamp on the GA bib and provided some of the best feeds and clear cut passes into Bird.

This team will need to settle first if they want to achieve the title as past games have shown once they have settled into a rhythm they are very hard to beat.

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