The Northern Mystics found their first win of the 2021 season on Saturday. Photo: Northern Mystics on Facebook

It was the tale of two cities as the Northern Mystics defeated the Southern Steel 64-58 on Saturday.

It was the tale of two cities as the Northern Mystics defeat the Southern Steel, 64-58.

If round one was anything to go by, you would have picked Southern Steel to come out looking strong and absolutely dominate the game with their effortless plays. Yet on Saturday, it was the Northern Mystics who from the word go displayed absolute power across the court.

It’s a goal shooters world

One of the key pillars to their success was young superstar, Grace Nweke, who had 93% shooting accuracy at this weekend’s game, scoring 56 goals from 60 attempts.

It comes to show what a week with Rob Wright can do, a quick turnaround after last week, Nweke looking out of sorts playing against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.

This week, she took the firing line bullet passes with grace against Taneisha Fifita and showed a lot more confidence in her shooting ability throughout the goal circle.

Nweke is one to look out for and it should remain that her confidence did not just grow from this game, it soared. She is now the highest goal scorer in the league, shooting 105 goals in just two rounds.

Photo: Northern Mystics on Facebook

It is not even closely followed by her greatest competitor, George Fisher, who also had another standout game for the Steel.

Fisher shot at 42 goals from 42 attempts, an 100% accuracy that is almost unheard of in the ANZ Premiership or the Suncorp Super Netball, Jhaniele Fowler being one of the few to have done so.

Fisher had a mammoth task ahead of her, coming up against the body-on-body defence of Sulu Fitzpatrick and MVP Kate Burley. Unlike in round one, the dynamic duo of Tiana Metuarau and Fisher fell apart when defenders clobbered Fisher, disallowing any free movement in the ring.

“They are really tight, so I think its about changing it up in the back and opening up on the baseline, me giving a bit more of an option rather than just standing,” Fisher said at half time.

“They are doing really well at me standing and coming in last minute for the ball… so it’s about us changing it up and working the ball nicely to the goal circle.”

Just wasn’t Steel’s day

The Southern Steel may have come in as the fan favourites, but with the Mystics intense style of play, the Steel looked just a little bit out of their depth.

Throughout the court, multiple combinations were tried in the second half to rejuvenate their horror first quarter but nothing was able to stick.

The youth in the team really shone through as they struggled to make connections or gain confidence in general play. Shannon Saunders in particular looked lost without running partner Gina Crampton to back her up and ended up with seven turnovers to her name.

Saunders at the end of the game commented that there were just some silly mistakes that led to their lost.

“We needed to change something, we needed to create ball, and attack on D(efence),” she said.

“We need to have the ability to change our game plan if its not working, then what can we do to change things up, I think we struggled to do that and just create ball a bit more.” 

Who’s day? Burley’s day

Last week, the name Kate Burley would have been foreign to a new ANZ Premiership watcher. Her name will not be soon forgotten now, as she was the key denominator to shutting Steel’s shooting circle.

In just 45 minutes, Burley had three gains, one intercept, three deflections and two pick ups. Not a bad day at the office for a 23-year-old goal defence.

In particular, it was Burley’s athleticism and strength when contesting the ball against George Fisher that made her stand out. More than once she forced Fisher to make the coach killer errors, including landing out of court and fumbling a rebound.

Kate Burley. Photo: Auckland Sports Photography

In her post-match interview, Burley couldn’t have summed up her game any better:

“I think last week I was quite disappointed in my performance and I wasn’t really impacting the game or doing much in goal defence, so I wanted to change that and get more hand to ball today. But I still think that was a baby step in the right direction, as a team we can still give more.”

If anything is to come of round two of the ANZ Premiership it is that no team is guaranteed their spot this year.

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