Saturday 4 March, 2023


The Trusts Arena, Henderson, Auckland

Full time MG Mystics 64 – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel 38

ANZ Player of the Match – Phoenix Karaka (MG Mystics)


The MG Mystics have made a big statement in their season-opener securing a hefty 26-point win against the visiting Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel.

Any first game nerves were quickly expelled, with the MG Mystics sprinting to a 12-point head start in the first quarter.

Centre Tayla Earle found a safe pair of hands in Grace Nweke early on, as the star shooter once again proved she will be tricky to contend with this season. Goal attack Monica Falkner also found her rhythm quickly, sinking shots and showcasing great mobility in and around the circle.

In the defensive end, Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick were a tight pairing, forcing errors and securing turnovers as the Steel feeders struggled to penetrate the shooting circle.

Training partner Dani Binks made her debut at wing attack, settling into her work under the tutelage of the experienced Tayla Earle, before being replaced by veteran Peta Toeva who wowed the crowd with her signature flair and almost telepathic connection to Grace Nweke.

By half time the MG Mystics had inflated their lead to a whopping 18 points, securing some magical intercepts off the back of solid defensive teamwork and a physical contest in the Steel shooting circle.

Both teams noticeably upped the tempo, with the Steel desperate to chase down the point margin. However, the Steel defense battled to come up with an answer to the soaring feeds into Grace Nweke’s 193cm frame and the Mystics managed to keep their opponents to just one point in the entire first half of the second quarter.

Youngster Carys Stythe made a strong impact off the bench hunting down tips and intercepts, making tough work for the Steel feeders to find clean space and showing great confidence despite being one of the youngest players in the ANZ Premiership this season at just 19-years-old.

Wing defence Michaela Sokolich-Beatson brought huge energy in her first outing of the season, chasing down a stunning tip in the second quarter, keeping the Steel midcourters contained and causing big upset to the Steel’s attacking play throughout the match.

The fourth and final quarter saw head coach Tia Winikerei take the opportunity to trial new combinations, including in the shooting circle with Filda Vui and Monica Falkner flaunting their agility as a pairing and in the midcourt with Katie Te Ao replacing Tayla Earle at centre to make her ANZ Premiership debut. For the final minutes Grace Nweke even ran on at goal attack much to the home crowd’s delight as their team ran away with the win making it 64-38 at the final whistle.