Round 8 marked the half-way point of the ANZ Premiership, and you could argue that it was the best round yet.
International fans tuning in on NetballPass were treated to the first ever extended extra time in ANZ Premiership history, marginal victories, top of the table changes and sensational shooting.
New Zealand Silver Fern Captain, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, also reached her 100th national league cap.
Here are just some of the other international players that deserve to be celebrated this week…
Pulse 64 – 62 Stars
A marginal victory for Pulse against Stars in the ANZ Premiership, saw them go onto top the table (for a little while) in Round 8.
After a stalemate start, with the first quarter finishing 16 all, it was Stars that shot ahead first controlling much of the second and third quarters, winning both marginally.
Stars Silver Ferns Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan once again linked up beautifully throughout court putting in the perfect circle feeds to their shooters over the Pulse defence, allowing Stars to take a 48 – 52 lead into the last quarter.
However, Pulse then went on to show just why they had won their previous three league matches as they came firing out the blocks in the final-15 minutes, turning a four goal-deficit into a two-goal victory.
New Zealand Silver Fern and Pulse Captain, Kelly Jury, stood up to the test of composure and made a crucial interception in the dying minutes of the game to help her side seal the deal.
Jury now sits second in the leagues interception charts, second in the deflections charts and top of the table for defensive rebounds.
Despite being on the eventual losing side, another Silver Fern that deserves recognition for her performance in this match is Maia Wilson who shot at 98% missing just one of her 43 shots all game.
Wilson now sits second in the leagues goal scoring charts.
Steel 31 – 50 Tactix
In a low scoring contest, a final quarter push from Tactix saw them ease past struggling Steel.
In the opening quarter of this match neither team managed to find their rhythm, with both sides able to make easy turnovers as they capitalised off each others errors.
Tactix soon turned to their bench, with England Rose Laura Malcolm coming on at centre and making an instant impact as her team took a six-goal lead into half-time.
However, the second-half then went on to promise more of the same with neither team really looking like they were going to pull away, and it wasn’t until the last 15-minutes that Tactix really took hold of the match, winning 31-50.
Once again, just like in the first match of this round it was the goal shooter on the eventual losing team that had the best shooting statistics.
New Zealand Silver Fern Aliyah Dunn finished the match having missed just one shot all game (29/30), which a shooting percentage of 97%.
Mystics 60 – 49 Magic
Whilst Pulse were enjoying their time as the table toppers, it was not long until Mystics put a stop to their party, beating Magic 60-49 and reclaiming the top spot.
At the last two times of Pulse and Stars meeting, each team had picked up a win by just one goal, and fans tuned in globally on NetballPass to see just who would come out with the bragging rights this time.
After 30-minutes had been played it looked as though this one could go down to the wire again, with only two goals separating the two teams.
However, following the main break Mystics dominated the third quarter in all areas of the court, with Silver Fern Phoenix Karaka a key part of their comeback as she made six gains and two interceptions’ in the match.
Magic suddenly found themselves trailing by 11 goals with just one more quarter to go, and despite their best efforts they were never quite able to recover.
Magic’s final quarter push might not have been enough to win the match this time, but celebrations were still in order for their captain and Silver Fern Ameliaranne Ekenasio who reached her 100th national league match.
Mystics 77 – 79 Stars
The final match of Round 8 was a real case of save the best till last.
For the first time in ANZ Premiership history extended extra time was needed in order to find a winner, and things didn’t go the way you might expect with Stars holding on to beat the league leaders Mystics 77-79.
In the opening quarter it was Stars that took the early lead, thanks to Fiji international Kelera Nawai-Caucau making a tip, setting the tempo for the game, and showing that Stars had come to shine this match.
From then on, throughout the 60-minutes of normal match play the lead seesawed, with neither team looking like they were about to miss a shot, make an error, or give up on this match.
With only one goal separating the sides, in the league leaders favour, going into the final 15-minutes things began to heat up with both teams having to look at their benches for the game-changers.
Changes were made throughout the court, but with neither team able to find the breakthrough the match found itself in extra time at 67-67.
In extra time an uncharacteristic miss from Zealand Silver Fern shooter Grace Nweke in the dying seconds, stopped the Mystics from taking the win and instead saw the game play on into extended extra time where it was Stars goal attack Amorangi Malesala who scored the winning goal.
International fans can catch up on any of the action they have missed on NetballPass now.
To view the full fixture list, click here.
To find out more about the ANZ Premiership, click here.
To find out more about the start date of the other domestic leagues around the world, visit our Domestic League page here.