Netball Expert & Columnist
Tamsin Greenway: ANZ Premiership Round two talking points
Coverage of New Zealand's ANZ Championship continues on Sky Sports this weekend, with four matches live from Friday morning
Last Updated: 24/06/20 11:19am
From the prowess of the Central Pulse to young talents and a recognisable style of play, Tamsin Greenway shares her key talking points from Round Two of the ANZ Premiership in New Zealand.
First, how great was it to have live netball to watch, analyse and enjoy? I don't know about you, but I've missed it and I am so looking forward to seeing how this season pans out as it builds towards the Finals Series on August 23.
After a 95-day hiatus, the competition restarted with the Magic and the Mystics taking to court at Auckland's Netball Centre. More about the Mystics later, but for now, let's start with the defending champions - Yvette McCausland-Durie's Central Pulse.
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When I first saw the squads for the franchises, I actually thought that there was a fairly good spread of Silver Ferns across all six. Round Two, however, showed the power of those more experienced internationals.
From a Pulse perspective, Katrina Rore and Ameliaranne Ekenasio were fantastic. They are just in a different class and make a huge difference for the defending champs.
Ekenasio is a true leader now, so confident on and off the court. She mentioned she doesn't have a post at home and yet still performed like that and only missed one shot all game - what a natural shooter. She was so dominant on court and her connection with Aliyah Dunn was exceptional.
Dunn, thriving, was something else that I really enjoyed seeing. When you think about Suncorp Super Netball and how many import shooters they have in that league, plus the amount of import shooters in the Vitality Netball Superleague, it's great to see so many New Zealand players standing strong in those key positions.
ANZ Premiership Fixtures - Round Two [Live on Sky Sports Mix]
|Friday, June 19||Magic 40-47 Mystics||8am (BST)|
|Saturday, June 20||Steel 36-43 Tactix||6am (BST)|
|Sunday, June 21||Stars 39-63 Pulse||6am (BST)|
|Monday, June 22||Stars 49-43 Tactix||8am (BST)|
The Pulse, across the court, are a step above at the moment. It stems from their experienced players but also how those players are bringing their youngsters through too. Maddy Gordon partnering with Ekenasio on the line and Kelly Jury switching with Rore in the circle. It brings out the best in them.
I believe that there is only one other team who match them across the whole court, and could potentially beat them, the Northern Mystics.
Helene Wilson's side were my most exciting team of Round Two and they have my new favourite player in their ranks - Peta Toeava.
She's just so confident on the ball and is such a playmaker. Toeava isn't your typical WA, I really enjoyed that because I wasn't one either!
I think that when you're put in a position, you can be expected to play in a certain way. Personally, I think a WA should be a leader; they should be creative and be someone who is able to open up an attack end. Toeava can do all of these things.
ANZ Premiership Fixtures - Round Three [Live on Sky Sports Mix]
|Friday, June 26||Tactix vs Magic||8am (BST)|
|Saturday, June 27||Mystics vs Steel||6am (BST)|
|Sunday, June 28||Stars vs Steel||6am (BST)|
|Monday, June 29||Pulse vs Mystics||8am (BST)|
She's strong and full of expression. She was pinging the ball around, faking passes and had effortless touch on her deliver. Toeava made it look easy and their attack end had so much flair.
With all their talent the biggest issue for the Mystics' will be their inexperience. All three of their shooting options are teenagers, with starting shooter Grace Nweke - she's a future star.
I'd heard about her before, so was intrigued to see her play and at just 18-years-old, Nweke was impressive. Her strength under the post and how she took ball was incredible. What's scary for the rest of the world is that she's competing now, and she's still got so many areas ahead of her in the game to improve.
It wasn't just their attack, the Mystics defensive end was really exciting to watch too. I didn't think that Phoenix Karaka was a particular stand out at the Vitality Nations Cup, but she excelled in this team.
How she brought the ball through the court caught my eye and her partnership with Sulu Fitzpatrick in the back; they're off-marking and zone together was excellent.
There was also a lot of love on social media for Taylor Earle who impressed me too and I think that Earle, Toeava and Nweke - at C, WA, GS - are going to be part of the Silver Ferns' future line-up.
If Pulse are going to get shaken by anybody, it will be by the Mystics. Why? Well, because on the day, with the flair, talent and structure the Mystics play with, they could beat anybody.
With their age and inexperience, I would expect the Mystics to have a few games where things don't go their way, but that's all part of the learning process. Karaka said after the game on Friday that it's all about their youngsters just going out there and having fun. I love that attitude and it's going to be great seeing them do just that.
Moving on from the Mystics and turn our attentions on two of Mainland Tactix's players; Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau. A partnership I was really looking forward to.
Both are absolutely amazing individual talents, but watching them play I don't think that they're working together as well as they can be at the moment.
Of course, that's totally understandable given the league's break and Fakahokotau having missed all of last season due to a knee injury.
It was interesting to see Watson out at GD too. I think she did well there but I wonder if it'll be another one of those situations where you've got two quality GKs and one has to go out the front?
This defensive partnership could and should be a world-beating one and we need to watch it grow and develop over the course of the season.
I think they'll get plenty of practise as their attack end was pretty predictable at times, so it's going to be vital for Watson and Fakahokotau to really stand up to the challenge.
Finally, it was great to sit back and watch New Zealand's distinctive style of netball in all of its glory. Growing up, I always found New Zealand netball more appealing than the Australians' style of play which focuses man-on.
I love how they pass into space, the flair and creativity they play with and how they try to intercept the ball defensively.
We started to see all of that in Round Two; from the defensive zones, the speed of the ball through the court and the feeds and offloads into the circle as well.
Their defensive style, in particular, is their identity and it was great to see it across all of the matches.
Every franchise has their own interpretations and key players who they build it around, the best interceptors and readers of the game. I loved it and needless to say, roll on Round Three!