Southern Steel netball team coach Reinga Bloxham happy with pre-season victories over Mainland Tactix - March 5, 2016
by SCOTT DONALDSON
Southern Steel netball team coach Reinga Bloxham is pleased with how her team is tracking after two pre-season victories over the Mainland Tactix in Dunedin.
The double-header gave both teams the opportunity to test new combinations before the inaugural ANZ Premiership starts on March 26, with the Steel recording two comfortable wins 79-51 on Saturday and 74-48 on Sunday.
Bloxham was pleased with the improvement in intensity displayed by her side.
"It went very well, we have had two consistent wins, so feeling pretty good about that," she said.
"Result wasn't our focus again, so we were looking at making sure we got everyone out on court and getting some combinations together, not too worried about whether we won or lost."
"But we were happy because we had talked about Saturday's game and the little things we wanted to work on today [Sunday] and felt that we were achieving a lot of those work-ons, so it was good."
In Sunday's game, the Tactix raced out to an early 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the introduction of Jamaican international shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid helped the 2016 ANZ Championship minor premiers come back and win after surging ahead in the third quarter.
"She is a massive asset and a big target for us, she didn't play the first quarter and so we had a different lineup," she said.
"I think it took them a little while to adjust to that lineup because we haven't had a lot of time practicing with that and then second quarter we pushed through that and got a few different connections once Jhaniele was back on the court, you know she makes a huge difference having her in the back for us."
Some of the Southern Steel training squad members like Abby Erwood, Jamie Hume and Jennifer O'Connell are also able to get game time for the 2017 Beko Netball League side, who played two matches against the Mainland team at the same venue.
Southland's Aliyah Dunn shot a goal in the final seconds to give her team a narrow 53-52 win in the opening game as Saturday's match went down to the wire.
Sunday's match was also tight with South winning a thriller 53-51.