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Top-level Netballers Bounce Back

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Top-level Netballers Bounce Back

Top-level Netballers Bounce Back

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It may not be the ANZ Premiership as we know it, but live, world class netball is back.
By Rikki Swannell

Some 14 weeks after just one round and three of the 48 games in the 2020 season were able to be played, the ANZ Premiership will resume, not quite where it left off, but with a jam packed schedule of classic match ups between the six teams. The Mystics, Stars, Magic, Pulse, Tactix and Steel will be back on court from June 19th for ‘take two’ of the competition.

All matches will be staged at the Auckland Netball Centre, with teams from outside the region travelling on chartered flights in order to maintain safe travel protocols. Unfortunately, due to the continued Covid-19 restrictions, spectators won’t be able to attend the matches.

However, the re-scoped format will be a boon to many fans starved of top quality sport in the past few months. For the first time, the ANZ Premiership will be played right across the entire weekend, with matches on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Sunday games will start at 5pm with centre pass on the remaining days at 7pm. Every team will play each other twice, which differs from the usual three round format, and each side will have a “double-header” round where they’ll play two matches across the weekend.

Every team will play each other twice

It’s been a long road back for players and coaches, who resumed team training late last month. As all high performance athletes and weekend warriors alike have had to, the players have been training at home within their bubbles during the level four nationwide lockdown. While some players have had the benefit of flatting with their team-mates and been able to form a training posse, others have had to go it alone with self-motivated practice under the guidance of their coaches and training staff via Zoom. For some, like Kelly Jury and Storm Purvis, who were slowly returning from injury when the season initially started, the delay has allowed them to regain full fitness and be able to hit the ground running upon the return to training. However, Silver Ferns shooter Bailey Mes won’t play any part when the ANZ Premiership resumes, undergoing surgery during level three of the lockdown on a knee injury suffered in January’s international season. She’s been replaced in the Mystics squad by training partner Asher Grapes.

Match results from the opening round will stand. Back in March, defending champion the Pulse beat the Tactix 53-41, and the Mystics upset last season’s runners-up the Stars 59 55 to take game one of the Northern Challenge, while the Magic put in a strong performance to beat perennial contenders the Southern Steel 54 48. The competition points system remains the same, with a bonus point on offer for losing teams finishing within five goals. 

It’s the only top-level netball being played anywhere in the world

The 10-round competition will culminate in a thrilling final day on Sunday, August 23rd. Foregoing the traditional finals series, the new look 2020 competition will see teams play off in a triple-header on Super Sunday; the fifth- and sixth-ranked teams after the round robin will meet, followed by the third-placed side against the fourth, with the two top-placed teams meeting in the final match of the season to decide the title. 

It’s been a long wait for players and fans alike, and an unprecedented situation for netball, sport and everyone in New Zealand to cope with. But with summer days long gone and autumn now turned to winter, the return of the ANZ Premiership will once again showcase some of New Zealand’s best female athletes and the only top-level netball being played anywhere in the world.

The first game is on Friday June 19th between the Magic and Mystics, tune in to Sky Sport 3 at 7pm.

Skywatch, June 2020


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