NZ Netball Round Up – #3

With only 4 rounds to go until the ANZ Premiership hits the finals we have your mid-season wrap of the on-court action across Aotearoa. The Tactix have staked there claim and are currently holding top stop just ahead of the Pulse but it looks like the battle for third will be hotly contested between the Magic and last years Champions the Mystics.

Contributors – Tobey Keddey, Nicole Mudgway + Graeme Laughton-Mutu.

Round 8

An onslaught of a first quarter by the Central Pulse (20-6) left the Southern Steel in the dust. Rising star and Game MVP Martina Salmon was firing as Pulse’s main shooter, scoring 50 out of 56 attempts. The defensive quartet of Claire Kersten (Centre), Fa’amu Ioane (Wing Defence), Paris Mason (Goal Defence) and Kelly Jackson (Goal Keeper) looked impenetrable, collecting seven clean intercepts between them.

Fortunately, not all was doom and gloom for the Steel, with Serina Daunakamakama leading the game in Centre Pass Receives and Circle Feeds. But the effort of the Steel’s Wing attack couldn’t offset the clinical performance of the Wellingtonians, who won 57-37.  

Free-flowing attack and pressuring defense led the Tactix to a comprehensive victory over a Grace Nweke-less Mystics, 56-42. While the Tactix had more turnovers than the Mystics (26-23), their shooting accuracy at 93.3% and the defensive pressure of MVP Jane Watson was outstanding.

The Northern Mystics tried every player on court to see if something would work, but their inability to score (77.7% accuracy) and their lack of consistent defensive pressure lost them the game. This game highlighted that Kimora Poi, Paris Lokutui, Greer Sinclair, Karin Burger and Watson will all look for national honours later in the year. 

For the first game at Auckland Netball Centre since the 2020 Covid season, the Magic scraped past a defiant Stars team in a tight contest, 60-56. A vintage Stars lineup came to play with Gina Crampton and Monica Falker making their presence felt. However, after Mila Reulu-Buchanan’s ACL injury in the second quarter, the Magic used the disconnection between the players to win this game.

Magic highlights include MVP Saviour Tui’s 37 goals from 38 attempts and the strong defensive pressure of Georgia Takarangi with her 4 intercepts.   


Round 9

After winning all four quarters, the Stars won their first game against the Southern Steel 63-46. Kate Burley’s six intercepts led to her with the MVP performance, her best game since being back in the Stars dress. Maia Wilson was also outstanding, scoring 49 from 52 attempts and secured three rebounds. 

The Tactix had their foot on the gas up against the Magic, never losing sight of victory with a score of 60-42. The connections on attacking look seamless and the pressure on defence is relentless. Jane Watson secured another five intercepts for her team but it was her defence counterpart, Karin Burger, winning the MVP for the game. The Tactix defence this season has been outstanding and going up against a Magic side without their strongest Wing Attack, Ali Wilsher, the Magic lacked their usual flow. 

The Central Pulse rounded out a week of crushing defeats, beating the Mystics by 16 goals, 54-38. The Pulse were strong on defence once again with their defence quartet securing ten intercepts. This game saw the return of Tiana Metuarau who will now bolster the attacking stocks of the Pulse, making them look near unbeatable for rounds ahead. 


Round 10

An ever-changing game by the Quarter, the Mystics narrowly escape with a victory against the Stars, 51-49. The Mystics secured the first and third quarters, 16-13 and 17-9 respectively. The third-quarter effort of the Mystics was too hard to make up, and the Stars were just playing catch-up netball for too long. Carys Stythe ended up with MVP honours, with her two intercepts, defensive pressure on the shot and arms deflecting several balls led to the Mystics being able to hold on. Amorangi Malasala and her clutch long shots in the last quarter saw them nearly make up the difference, but they were too far gone. 

Extra Time and an extremely low turnover rate saw a hotly contested match between the Central Pulse and the Canterbury Tactix, which was hailed as the best game of the year so far. Martina Salmon was announced as the MVP of the game, who had a dominant performance over the Silver Fern defensive pairing. She scored 50 goals out of 55 attempts, had her strongest holding performance of the season and limited Jane Watson to zero intercepts in the game.

The attacking game of both teams this game was much stronger than their previous game in Round 5, going from 58 turnovers in their first game to 37 turnovers in this game. Souness and Poi were highlights for their clean attacking play. It was neck and neck for the majority of the game.

Martina Salmon continues to shine for the Pulse. Image – Graeme Laughton-Mutu

However, Coach Delaney-Hoshek made key changes of Kate Lloyd who made a game-saving deflection and putting the energy of Jess Allan into Goal Attack to secure the victory for the Tactix, 58-52.  These two teams showed why they are the teams on track to make that final. 

The second-half effort of the Magic saw the team grow into a winning performance against the Steel, 48-41. The Magic struggled in the first half, with the defenders forcing the Attacking duo of Ekenasio and Tui into the same lines. The addition of Ivana Rowland, who shot 16 out of 17 attempts and Ariana Cable Dixon into Wing Attack in the Second Half were game-changers.

The speed off the mark of Cable-Dixon made it incredibly difficult for the tough Steel defence to keep up. The defensive duo of Mikaere and Takarangi were described by Sulu Fitzpatrick as “monstering” the Steel attacking end, a testament to them being the top two in MVP voting for the game. 

Round 11 

The Tactix showed the competition why they are in first place on the leaderboard with their dominant performance over the Souther Steel, winning 71 – 47. The defensive end generated 6 intercepts, limited the Steel to a high of 12 goals a quarter and forced the Steel to commit 28 turnovers. They were also clinical on attack and no matter who they brought on, they scored 17+ goals a quarter. The Tactix are further demonstrating that their lacklustre performance last year is no longer, and having only lost one game this year, look for this team to push further with the return of Ayliah Dunn. 

A surprisingly close game saw the Central Pulse sneak out of Porirua with a win over the Northern Stars, 46-43. Led by an MVP performance of returning Pulse player, Claire Kersten, and dominant 33 goals out of 41 attempts from Martina Salmon, the Pulse scrapped past a bold, 1-win Stars team.

For the Stars, rising star Holly Mather has answered the Stars’ search for a strong centre after the injury of Reulu-Buchanan as he provided stability in the middle. While this was Maia Wilson’s strongest performance of the season, shooting 27 from 29 attempts and added some nice flair to her feeds. 

A dominant First-half performance gave the Waikato BOP Magic an important victory over the Northern Mystics, 54-42. The Magic were unstoppable in attack and were dominating an experienced Mystics’ defensive quartet. While strong defensive pressure from MVP Georgia Takarangi and rising star Georgie Edgecombe disrupted a clinical Mystics attack.

The defensive pair looked like potential surprise call-ups for the Silver Ferns out there, continuing their strong form. Grace Nweke began her return to play programme in this game, coming in the third quarter for the Mystics, scoring 10 from 13 attempts. The Mystics doubled their goal scored from the previous quarter with Nweke on, creating a competitive game in the second half. 


Milestones and Debuts

Not a debut, but Martina Salmon officially signed with the Pulse early June for the remainder of the season. Crystal Maro debuted as Pulse #80 against the Southern Steel in round 8.

Holly Mather was elevated from training partner for the Stars to squad member following the injury of Mila in Round 8. Meanwhile, Stars training partner Summer Temu debuted as Steel #83 and subsequently signed with the Steel as a replacement for Jen O’Connell after Round 10. 

Kimiora Poi received a presentation for her 100th game for the Tactix. Image – Graeme Laughton-Mutu

Tactix captain, Kimiora Poi hit 100 games for the franchise in Round 9 against the Magic. Also in early June, in-form Ellie Bird signed with the Tactix for the rest of the season. 

Umpire Gareth Fowler reffed his 100 national league match, becoming just the fourth Kiwi umpire to do so. 

Saviour Tui and Claire O’Brien had their 50th tests when the Magic played the Mystics in Round 11. 


Players to watch

Whitney Souness – by far, the most consistent player in the competition, Souness has steered an inexperienced attacking end with her strong leadership and talent. This season, Souness has demonstrated every game that she is New Zealand’s in-form Wing Attack. Her clear attacking lines, her low turnover rate, and being first in centre pass receives and third in circle feeds show her feistiness on attack.  

Ellie Bird – returning after a season playing in England’s league, Bird has reached new heights this year. Originally joining as a temporary injury replacement for Aliyah Dunn, Bird has gone from strength to strength and has agreed to play out the rest of the season for the Tactix.

Georgia Takarangi – second in intercepts and sixth in deflections; Takarangi is having a fantastic season for the Magic in at Goal Defence. Usually the shortest in the circle, she makes this up with her athleticism, rangy arms and her quickness to the ball. She is only one intercept behind Kelly Jackson and six intercepts clear of the next competitor so if Taurua is looking for someone who can create defensive ball, Takarangi might sneak into the Silver Ferns this year. 

Georgie Edgecombe – as the midcourter with the highest interception tally in the competition, Edgecombe is becoming a threat for the Wing Attack’s to be on their A-Game. The 23-year-old has been continuously improving, and now she has been put in her best position of Wing Defence, which has allowed her arms-over pressure and tight marking to be in full effect. Another person that Taurua should be looking at to gain ball and be tenacious. 



Khiarna Williams suffered a calf strain during a warmup of the Central Pulses’. She is expected to be out for up to six weeks. At the time, her injury forced the Pulse to have none of their three originally contracted shooters with Metuarau on return-to-play programme and Amelia Walmsley still out with injury. 

The Pulse also still have Maddy Gordon sidelined with an ankle injury.

Peta Toeava has been ruled out of competition since Round 9 with a soft tissue knee injury. Her replacement ended up being former Silver Fern, Kayla Johnson. 

In the same match of Round 8, Magic’s and Star’s Centres Mila Reulu-Buchanan and Ali Wilsher both endured season-ending knee injuries. Reulu-Buchanan has been confirmed to have an ACL rupture with a medial meniscus tear in her left knee while Wilsher’s was a partial MCL (medial collateral ligament). Netball Scoop wishes both players a speedy recovery and can’t wait to see them back out on court.

Stats so far this season: 

Stats from the ANZ Premiership website.

Ellie Bird continues to top the shooting stats with four rounds remaining. It is interesting that across the top five shooting performances there is no room for a Mystics player. This is a sign of the season they are having without Grace Nweke for a number of weeks and both Hannah Glen and Filda Vui having to fill those shoes.

Saviour Tui currently sitting on 309 goals is already higher than her season total of last year, 302. Not having any injuries this season is certainly helping and she will no doubt continue to shine as we head towards finals.

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