Netball: Northern Stars upset defending ANZ Premiership champions, Central Pulse, to open campaign


Northern Stars have opened their national netball premiership campaign with a 57-53 win over defending champions Central Pulse in Palmerston North.

The Stars win was built around an excellent first quarter and slick midcourt work from Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan.

The visitors missed only one shot on goal to lead 20-12 at the first break.

The Pulse battled back in the second stanza, the midcourt links working more smoothly into shooters Aliyah Dunn and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble, but the Stars took a 30-26 lead into halftime.

Honours were even across the second half at 27 apiece, Silver Ferns shooter Maia Wilson's combination with goal attack Jamie Hume proving effective, despite increased pressure from the Pulse's through-court defence.

Wilson shot 44 from 50 and Hume 10 from 12, while Aliyah Dunn (36 from 39) and Te Amo Amaru-Tibble (17 from 19) were equally reliable.

Elsewhere, Southern Steel opened their ANZ Premiership netball campaign with a commanding 54-36 victory over Mainland Tactix in Invercargill.

Pundits had Tactix as favourites for the match, but the hometown team set the bar, dominating in all areas.

Only within the last few weeks has Steel coach Reinga Bloxham been able to work with her entire squad, with English import George Fisher arriving in the country late last month.

But the Steel looked to have the more polished combinations, as they showed plenty of desire and passion for the win.

They made the early break to jump to a 6-3 lead before the Tactix clawed their way back to level the scores 11-11 by the quarter break, thanks to the defensive presence of Karin Burger.

But from there the match,belonged to the Steel, with Fisher and fellow new recruit Tiana Metuarau showing just how potent their combination could be.

Metuarau, who moved south for more game-time in the goal attack bib, played a strong feeding role, while Fisher picked up the heavy shooting load, landing 46 of her 49 attempts at goal.

Their confidence was infectious, as the Steel went from strength to strength, feeding off the Tactix' errors and a run of six goals giving them a comfortable 25-19 advantage going into the main break.

The Tactix conceded 26 turnovers, which they will need to address before their next game.