ANZ Premiership

The final stop before finals – ANZ premiership Round 15 preview

The final home and away round for the ANZ Premiership is upon us and although the teams who will compete in trhis year’s finals are all locked in, there’s still plenty to play for.

Steel take on Pulse – Saturday, 5.15pm (NZST)

Steel shooting duo Tiana Metuarau and George Fisher will use this game to solidify their connections together in the shooting circle.

Young Centre Kate Heffernan, who has had a great season transitioning from WD to C, will also have another match to build her feeding game and attacking connections before the all-important finals match.

On the other hand, Pulse is a tough outfit and will be determined to reverse its winless season against Steel thus far.

The last time these two came head to head, it was just a four-goal deficit in favour of Steel.

Pulse announced earlier this week that Coach Parata would depart after just one season in charge – will that spur the playing group on as the club begins its search for a new coach?

If Pulse GA Te Amo Amaru-Tibble can have an impact on the scoreboard, Pulse is in with a big chance to take the win.

Young guns Maddy Gordan and Whitney Souness, as well as Captain Claire Kersten who has had a solid season, will all be looking to finish their season strong to push for Ferns Selection. 

Top of the table clash between Mystics and Tactix – Sunday, 4.15pm (NZST)

Has this year’s grand final come early?

While Mystics is already set for the grand final, the club will certainly be aiming to improve its performance from last week when it barely escaped with a win against Pulse, 56-54.

Postgame, Mystics captain Sulu Fitzpatrick said “that was a meltdown” and will want to see her side improve dramatically against a strong Tactix side.

Against Pulse, Mystics put the work in during the first half steaming ahead by 12-goals at one stage, before it seemed to dramatically fall apart in the last quarter.

Golaer Bailey Mes is an experienced head and a great defensive GA, but she’s not had a memorable season when it comes to going to post for the shot.

In her last outing, Mes only put up two goals from five shots for a percentage of 40 per cent. Despite this, Mes has 178 feeds and 292 centre pass receives as she plays a supporting role for rising superstar goaler Grace Nweke.

Tactix, on the other hand, comes off a close win against the Magic.

While the defensive duo of Jane Watson and Karin Burger has been building all season to what now some are calling the Silver Ferns starting defensive duo, it’s the struggles down the other end for the Tactix.

Mid courter Kimiora Poi has shown consistent strong performance with good coverage around the court and strong feeds into her shooters.

Tactix will want Te Pea Shelby-Ricket to use this match to return to form after a few shaky performances. 

Both the top sides struggled against the two bottom sides – who will respond faster?

Can Magic disrupt Stars before finals? – Monday, 7.15pm (NZST)

There’s plenty of pride on the line for both Stars and Magic after missing the finals series.

The Stars started the season as such strong contenders for the title with five straight wins before their first loss.

Suddenly the club finds itself without a win in the last four outings and after last week’s heartbreaking one-goal loss to miss finals, the side will be keen to prove just what they are capable of.

It is another chance for shooter Maia Wilson to gain some confidence after back to back uncharacteristic poor performances. 

Magic is in the midst of a tough season. The side claimed a win all the way back in round 1, however, have not tasted victory since then.

But don’t discount them. In their past three matches, Magic lost by margins of two, four and two goals.

The combinations have really started to gel and have been able to find the connections in their attack end.

Since the early rounds Sam Winders, who has moved into the centre role from her more familiar role of WD, has been greatly improving with her connection and feeding of goal shooter Caitlin Basset – who stood out against Tactix’s star defensive unit.

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