Southern Steel hoping to learn from 2016 campaign as they hunt inaugural national netball league title - June 7, 2017
by SCOTT DONALDSON
The Southern Steel are looking to learn from their 2016 campaign and confirm home advantage for the 2017 national netball league finals in Wednesday night's clash against the Northern Mystics in Dunedin.
Rewind 12 months and the Southern Steel went through the ANZ Championship regular season unbeaten, before coming unstuck against the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in the New Zealand Conference final, this season they are determined to not stumble on the home straight as they chase the inaugural ANZ Premiership title.
They can book a home final with a victory against the Mystics at the Edgar Centre, as they seek their 12th consecutive win of the season.
According to Southern Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, the southern netball franchise has been working hard to maintain their top-of-the-table position.
"I feel it is just the positives, we have been doing them right and our hunger, I think we are really hungry to keep our No 1 standing because what happened last year was really a lesson to us and we are really keen to go straight through to the final," she said.
"We just want to maintain the No 1 spot."
She feels that having a settled squad has helped the Steel combination blossom in recent seasons.
"It's just communication, because I feel we have gelled so well over the years, so just keeping our communication and just putting what we have been training out on court every week," she said.
The Steel enter the round 11 fixture on the back of an 82-58 victory over the Northern Stars, while the fourth placed Northern Mystics will be looking to remain in the hunt for the three-team playoffs following a 64-53 win over the Central Pulse.
The Auckland-based Mystics side boasts an impressive lineup including Maria Tutaia, Bailey Mes, Storm Purvis and Anna Harrison who have played for the Silver Ferns and will be looking to continue their impressive late run into a top-three finals berth.
"It will be a matter of lifting our game, just playing to a really good intensity and having a really good start as well," Fowler-Reid said.
"I am feeling pretty good, pretty positive, it is going to be a very intense game, but I am feeling really good."
"I am definitely expecting a really tough encounter, because they are a really good team and when they come out good they put on a really good show, I know they are going to come pretty tough against us."
The Jamaican international goal shoot is looking to finish the final month of the national league strongly and help the Steel win the inaugural national netball league, before she returns to her home country and joins the Sunshine Girls for the Caribbean Cup in August.
Fowler-Reid helped them record their first series victory in England in 2016, but her return will be greatly anticipated this year after the World No 4 ranked side drew a three-match series 1-1, with 12th ranked Barbados recently.
"It was a bit of a disappointing result, even though we didn't have a really strong team there, we should have done much better than we did," she said.
"So when I go home, I guess I will be back into training and getting ready for that [the Caribbean Cup], so around August will be my next test with them."
At a glance
What: Steel vs Mystics
Where: Edgar Centre, Dunedin
When: Wednesday, 7:40pm