Netball: Unbeaten Northern Mystics, Mainland Tactix still adjusting to new contact rules in ANZ Premiership

Defending champions Northern Mystics are preparing for their first home game of the ANZ Premiership season, as they host Mainland Tactix on Monday. 

Both sides have won their first two matches of the competition, as players still adjust to new rules, while a former player will return for what's shaping as a fierce battle. 

Tactix training is just like old times, with veteran shooter Ellie Bird back in the mix. 

Michaela Sokolich-Beatson in action for the Mystics.
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson in action for the Mystics. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's really exciting," she said. "It's lots of fun being back with the girls."

Bird was called into the side as injury cover at the start of the season and she knows the champions will be tough. 

"Obviously, they've had the winning track record lately, so it will be a challenge, but who doesn't like a challenge?" she said. 

Even though it's just the third round, both sides have shown their strength early, but the Mystics know they still have plenty of work to do. 

"I'm really excited that we have plenty of time ahead and more competition," said coach Tia Winikerei. "The competition so far has tested us in quite a few areas on court." 

One of those areas is learning how to defend under the new contact rule. 

"Getting sent off wasn't my finest hour," admitted captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson. 

Players can now be sent to the sin bin for two minutes, if the umpires deem their play dangerous, leaving defenders to think twice when hunting the ball during intercept attempts. 

"We know in our hearts, as defenders, if we can get it or not," said Sokolich-Beatson. "You see it in rugby and league on the high balls as well now.

"People pull out, let them catch it and then tackle them, and I think we'll see a lot of that more strategic play come into netball." 

Both the Mystics and Tactix will have to be strategic, if they want to remain unbeaten beyond Monday night.