Netball: Northern Stars struggles continue in ANZ Premiership

By Niall Anderson

Whitney Souness of the Pulse competes against Fa'amu Iaone of the Stars. Photo / Photosport
Whitney Souness of the Pulse competes against Fa'amu Iaone of the Stars. Photo / Photosport

The Northern Stars' struggles have continued in the ANZ Premiership.

The newest franchise in New Zealand netball has fallen to a 1-4 record after a 53-44 defeat to the Central Pulse in Manukau.

The Stars were formed to join the five former ANZ Championship sides in the new Kiwi competition, and the South Auckland franchise recruited some notable names in a bid to be competitive in their debut season.

So far, that hasn't been the case. A victory over the perennially poor Mainland Tactix has been sandwiched by hefty losses to the league's other contenders.

The Stars have been trounced by 18 goals by the Southern Steel, 20 by the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and 14 by the Northern Mystics, and they were similarly dispatched by the Pulse tonight.

Basic mistakes plagued the Stars, as a torrent of turnovers prevented them from getting regular ball to their shooters.

That didn't prove an insurmountable problem early on, with both sides sloppy during a tight opening quarter. While the Stars couldn't capitalise on their possession, their defence was holding strong.

Kayla Cullen and Leana de Bruin were locked in a physical battle against Pulse goal shoot Cathrine Tuivaiti, with Cullen racking up 21 penalties as the Stars were whistled a remarkable 76 times to the Pulse's 44.

When the Stars - led through the midcourt by Courtney Tairi - were able to feed the ball into the shooting circle, they struggled to convert at elite percentages; a problem which has plagued them this season.

Maia Wilson was busy, connecting on 34/43 shots at a 79 per cent clip, but she received little help from her shooting partners, with Malia Vaka and Afa Rusivakula only hitting 10/14 shots.

Comparatively, the Pulse were positively egalitarian, inserting 16 year old Tiana Metuarau in the second quarter to excellent effect.

With Whitney Souness and Sara Bayman providing composed feeds into the circle, Metuarau proved a handy foil to Tuivaiti.

Despite giving up 23 years in experience to De Bruin, the emerging talent shot 18/22 as the Pulse began to pull away in the middle quarters.

The lead reached double digits with 20 minutes left in the contest, and a Stars comeback never looked likely as the Pulse picked up their third win of the season.​

- NZ Herald

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