It was a tough start for the Auckland franchises after both the Northern Stars and Northern Mystics lost in the opening round of the ANZ Premiership.

The Stars were narrowly defeated by the Mainland Tactix after an overtime showdown saw the Christchurch-based team pip the Northern squad by one goal and claim a 61-60 victory.

With their new captain Grace Kara, who jumped ship after nine years with the Mystics, and prominent English import Ama Agbeze, the Stars were well prepared for battle.

Recruited for her leadership and experience, Agbeze joined the Stars just three weeks after winning gold with the English Roses at the Commonwealth Games.


Agbeze's tight defence alongside Holly Fowler proved increasingly challenging for the Tactix shooters.

But with an impressive shooting display from Brooke Leaver (10/10) and Australian import Kate Beveridge (21/25), the Tactix didn't allow the Northern team much room to breathe before pushing past the Stars to claim their first opening game win since 2010.

Kara said although she was disappointed with the loss, she felt her team played to the best of their ability.

"I feel a bit deflated, but super proud, and as much as it is disappointing I think the girls did extremely well … considering the amount of time we've had together it's a pretty good effort by the girls," said Kara.

The defending champion Southern Steel made a sound statement in their opening game against the Mystics, with a 55-47 win.

However, such a margin of victory was not predicted, as the Steel entered the season being one of the youngest teams in the league, and without Jamaican import shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

Fowler-Reid, who has become arguably one of the world's best shooters, left big shoes to fill for 20-year-old Steel goal shoot, Jennifer O'Connell.

The Southern Steel beat the Mystics 55-47 in the opening game of the ANZ Premiership. Photo / Getty
The Southern Steel beat the Mystics 55-47 in the opening game of the ANZ Premiership. Photo / Getty

Despite being up against the tough defence of Mystics captain Anna Harrison, O'Connell was not shy to prove her worth, hitting a healthy 87 per cent of her shots (20/23), alongside Te Paea Selby-Rickit (35/46).


The Mystics quickly felt the absence of Silver Ferns sharp shooter Maria Folau, as Bailey Mes and Jamie Hume struggled to score - handing the Steel a comfortable victory.

Mes had a rough outing, shooting just 14/27 (51.8 per cent) - as the Steel shot 76 per cent compared to the Mystics' sub-standard 69 per cent effort.

Meanwhile, Katrina Grant's Central Pulse romped past the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the second game of round one.

Both teams showed patches of rustiness in the opening exchanges but it was the Wellington-based squad who settled the quickest to claim victory 45-33.

33 goals was the lowest attacking output by a New Zealand side since 2014, when the Pulse also notched just 33 goals, against the Queensland Firebirds in the trans-tasman ANZ Championship.

Defender Sulu Fitzpatrick, who played for the Steel last season, was a welcomed addition to the Pulse's defensive side.

The successful combination between Grant and Fitzpatrick saw the Magic only able to scrape a mere 15 goals by halftime.

Central Pulse captain Katrina Grant played her 150th test today. Photo / Getty
Central Pulse captain Katrina Grant played her 150th test today. Photo / Getty

Playing her 150th game on her 31st birthday, Grant was pleased with the win and said it was good to see the younger players gel into the team.

"A win is a win especially at the beginning when everyone is trying to figure everything out and finding their own feet so we were very happy and proud," said Grant.

After devastatingly losing 69-53 to the Steel in last year's Grand Final, the Pulse will look to build from today's win as they have a rematch against the undefeated champions at 7:45pm tomorrow night.