A grudge match that saw Tiana Metuarau shine: ANZ Premiership Round 3 Recap

Tiana Metuarau broke out onto the netball scene way back in 2017 as the 16-year-old Goal Attack for the Central Pulse. On Sunday the twenty-year-old lined up as the starting Goal Attack for the Southern Steel against her home side.

Both teams had a rocky start to the season winning and losing one apiece, so it was not only Metuarau but the entire Southern Steel team out to prove themselves as contenders for the Premiership. In the end, it was a tight game where the Steel came out on top 56-52 against the Central Pulse.

It didn’t matter that Metuarau only scored eight goals the entire game.

She played out of her skin with 29 goal assists and 27 centre passes. If you take a look at the stats there is not a box she didn’t fill as she also caught an amazing intercept in the final minutes of the game.

But it wasn’t just her that had an outstanding game as she credits in her post match interview: “It’s a team effort…” and she’s not wrong as there wasn’t one player who missed a beat on the court.

The Southern Steel out to prove they are contenders

If we start down the defensive end, Taneisha Fifita needed to lift after her somewhat quiet game against the Northern Mystics last week. Lift she did! With a new look, it was like she had a magnet to her hand as she obtained four intercepts and three gains just in the first quarter.

Fifita did not stop there attacking every ball and putting an insane amount of defensive pressure on Pulse shooter Aaliyah Dunn. The amount of effort that Fifita put in to each and every quarter shows she is in the making to be a Silver Fern and won’t let anything stop her.

Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, often one of the most underrated defenders, supported Fifita’s efforts with amazing cover on Amaru-Tibble and the Pulse struggled to get the ball to either shooter for the entire first half.

It is Metuarau’s confidence for me though

It is not often that I credit shooters on their partnership but George Fisher and Tiana Metuarau play like they have been together for 20 years not six weeks. Slot in Shannon Saunders who has the game sight to pass the ball where needed and you have one of the best attacking ends in the world.

Their experience may be limited but when you have Metuarau throw look away passes over Kelly Jury’s long arms and Saunders threading the needle wherever she is on the court, who needs experience? Not to mention George Fisher and her outstanding shooting statistics that puts her as the most accurate shooter in the league.

Tiana Metuarau passes through Kelly Jury’s long arms. Photo by Robyn Edie

The first quarter blues for the Pulse

It just wasn’t meant to be for the Central Pulse but they fought for the win to the very end.

Within minutes of the game starting star WD Maddy Gordon went down and was out with an ankle injury. However, that just meant Paris Lokotui could come out and shine in her first game.

At the other end, it looked like it was going to be a disaster of a night with Te Amo Amaru-Tibble and Dunn still missing their connections, but after a straight-talking half time interview from Amaru-Tibble, it was their game to win.

“They said we had done a really great job at making the defense look good, so lets stop that and start playing some Pulse netball,” Amaru-Tibble said at half time. 

“We need to swing the momentum back our way, we need to score some goals and get the ball to Aaliyah Dunn.”

Unfortunately, the penalty count was high and while you can’t contribute losing a game to one player, goalkeeper Kelera Nawai definitely contributed to their loss giving away 24 penalties in 53 minutes.

Captain, Claire Kersten confirmed they needed to work on their first quarter before next week’s game.

“Not a great start going down by a fair few,” Clare said, “ but we need to play with a bit more patience and when it can’t go in straight away being ok with that and working to circle edge.” 

Next week both teams are set challenges as the Steel take on top of the table the Northern Stars and Pulse front up to the Northern Mystics. 

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