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Tactix pounce to take shine off Stars

Updated: Apr 24

The Mainland Tactix required all their experience and poise to fend off a spirited second-half fightback before finally subduing a gallant Northern Stars 59-54 in Christchurch on Sunday. 

In control through the first half, the home side found themselves firmly on the back foot when the Stars came right back into the reckoning with a terrific third quarter which left the scores all tied up at 43 goals apiece heading into the final stanza. 

With six centurions in their midst, the Tactix needed every ounce of that experience to finally break the goal-for-goal impasse of the opening eight minutes of the final term, pouncing on a Stars error to gain the slightest of edges and hold on for a hard-fought win. 

Tactix shooter Ellie Bird played an influential hand for her side with 47 goals from 51 attempts while at the other end, Stars shooter Summer Temu had an inspiring debut with 20 from 20 after coming on in the second quarter and playing a fearless role. 

Covering for an injured Aliyah Dunn, Bird got the start at goal shoot for the Tactix in a settled line-up with resolute defender Jane Watson lining up for her 150th national league match. 

With shooter Amorangi Malesala ruled out through injury, new-season recruit Rahni Samason got her first start, pairing with captain Maia Wilson under the hoop. Exciting teenaged defender Lili Tokaduadua made her first start at the elite level from the custodian’s position of goalkeeper. 

Jane Watson Mainland Tactix netball
Tactix goal keep Jane Watson attempts to block a shot by Maia Wilson. PHOTO: NETBALL NZ

Tactix shooters Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Bird quickly rekindled their in-circle connection from previous seasons with a string of easy-made passages to goal as the home side threatened to push on when forging an early five-goal lead. 

With Watson a bundle of energy at the defensive end, the Tactix put the squeeze on the Stars shooting accuracy, the visitors doing well to keep the home side to a 16-14 lead at the first break. 

Needing to improve their shooting returns, the Stars introduced Temu, younger sister of former team member Ellie, at goal shoot on the resumption, but it was the Tactix who grabbed to first three goals to build a five-goal buffer. 

The experienced Selby-Rickit guided the Tactix attack end superbly with Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi chipping in with a steady stream of scoring opportunities from close range for Bird. 

That required a defensive reshuffle from the Stars with Khanye-Lii Munro-Nonoa coming on at goal defence and Kate Burley moving back to goalkeeper. 

That defused the situation temporarily as the Stars clawed their way back through the steady shooting of Wilson, playing a strong hand from goal attack, and Temu but a second late surge where defender Karin Burger was a prominent force, paid dividends when the Tactix rolled out to a handy 33-27 lead at the main break. 

With a forceful halftime chat still ringing in their eras, the Stars took heed with a forceful reply in the third quarter. 

The experience of Wilson and temporary replacement player Gina Crampton shone through as the Stars swiftly changed the momentum with slick and accurate play on attack which was well supported by an impressive performance from debutant Temu. 

The defence end also sparked into life with successive intercepts from Holly Fowler and Burley helping the Stars level up with six minutes of the term left. 

The extra vigour exhibited by the Stars cause hesitation from the Tactix on attack, the visitors out-scoring the home side to the tune of 16-10 and leaving the game up for the taking when the sides went into the last break all square at 43-43. 

Mainland Tactix 59 (Ellie Bird 47/51, Te Paea Selby-Rickit 12/12) Northern Stars 54 (Maia Wilson 31/38, Summer Temu 20/20, Rahni Samason 3/6). 1Q: 16-14, HT: 33-27, 3Q: 43-43


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