ANZ Premiership netball supremacy and Auckland bragging rights will go on the line when the Robinhood Stars and MG Mystics meet in Sunday’s grand final in Hamilton.
The Stars advanced to their second straight final by toppling defending champions the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse by one goal in Porirua and are looking to hoist the title for the first time.
Centre Mila Reuelu-Buchanan’s been a live wire on the court for the Stars all season and says they’re feeling super determined to triumph this weekend.
“I feel like a lot of people doubt us, which adds fuel to the fire. We’re capable of doing well this weekend. I think we’ve shown over the past couple of games that we can play under pressure situations. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s made us more determined to get the job done.” Reuelu-Buchanan said.
The Stars are a committed and connected bunch on and off the court and Reuelu-Buchanan believes it’s a huge advantage ahead of such a big match.
“We’re such a tight knit team and I think that’s why the connections on court are so strong. That will get us over the finish line, but it’s just whether we all show up on the day. I believe in each and every one of us."
The Stars’ season came crashing to a heartbreaking end against the Pulse in 2022, where they were beaten by 19 goals.
Seven players have returned for the 2023 campaign and dynamic defender Elle Temu feels they are much stronger and have learnt from that loss.
“We’ve done a lot of work with our mental and physical skills, by being able to stand up to the challenge and take it on. I think mentally there’s been huge shifts and you’ve seen them in our tight games, if we’ve gone into extra time we’ve been able to take control and be really critical with the ball, so I think we’ve grown massively.” Temu explains.
It’ll be the first time the Stars and Mystics have met in a grand final. The teams have played three times this season, with the Stars winning an extra time thriller and the Mystics narrowly winning the other two games.
Temu says it’s imperative they have a fast start once the first whistle blows on Sunday.
“That hurt us last year when we got blown out in the first quarter as then it was hard to get back into the game. We need to work as a team. We don’t want to change too much as it’s been working, but it’ll be a lot of playing for and with each other which is exciting.”
While a lot has been mentioned about the rivalry between the two teams, Reuelu-Buchanan only has one thing on her mind.
At the end of the day, I’m not too concerned about the Auckland rivalry, we just want to win the game. They won the Northern Challenge and they can have that trophy, but we want that ANZ Premiership title.”
While not wanting to get too ahead of herself, Temu knows how important a win would be for the Stars and their supporters.
“It would mean a lot and be awesome for us and our supporters. We’re a team that loves to be together and we love each other’s company on and off the court which brings an extra reason to play hard and for each other.”
Sunday's Grand Final will be simulcast LIVE on Sky Sport and free to air on Prime, with coverage from 3.30pm.