Southern Steel book home final with thrilling national netball league win over Northern Mystics - June 8, 2017
by SCOTT DONALDSON
A late Jhaniele Fowler-Reid goal on the buzzer booked a home national netball league final for the Southern Steel with a thrilling 68-67 victory over the Northern Mystics in Dunedin on Wednesday night.
The unbeaten Steel raced out to an 8-4 lead after five minutes as they piled on some early goals and looked to be cruising to another comfortable win in the ANZ Premiership.
They moved out to an 11-5 lead halfway through the opening quarter thanks to some quick ball movement through the midcourt of Wendy Frew, Gina Crampton and Shannon Francois to stretch their lead to seven goals at one stage as they looked to replicate their 66-46 round six victory over the Mystics.
Two late turnovers in the first quarter were a turning point and brought the Mystics back into the game and reduced the deficit as the Steel won the first quarter 20-14.
The Mystics made a tactical substitution introducing New Zealand U21 captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson into the game at goal defence for the second quarter, with Anna Harrison moving to wing defence and Storm Purvis switching to goal keep.
The Steel stretched their lead to six goals, before a mini-revival saw the Mystics reduce the deficit to three goals midway through the second quarter putting the Steel under some rare pressure.
The Mystics hit the lead 30-29, five minutes before halftime as the Bailey Mes and Maria Tutaia combination managed to avoid the clutches of the Steel dynamic duo of Jane Watson and Te Huinga Selby-Rickit.
Fowler-Reid scored on the stroke of halftime to take a 37-35 lead into the break, with the Mystics winning the second quarter of a high scoring first half 19-17.
Jamaican international Fowler-Reid had 31/34 first half shots, while Mes shot at 96 per cent in the first half with 22/23.
The Steel introduced NZ U21 goal defence Abby Erwood in an attempt to stop the Mystics' attacking combination.
Storm Purvis grabbed a crucial intercept as the Mystics started the second half strongly, growing in confidence as they took the lead in the early stages of the third quarter.
The Mystics stretched their lead to three goals 42-39 midway through the third quarter.
Mystics coach Helene Wilson introduced Sasha Corbin for Elisapeta Toeava in the third quarter, as the Steel looked a little rattled.
The Mystics extended their lead to four goals at one stage, before a late flurry of goals by the Steel gave them a 50-49 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Toeava returned to the game and made an impact as the Mystics returned to the lead heading into the final ten minutes.
The Steel returned to the lead midway through the final quarter as the experienced Te Huinga Selby-Rickit returned to the game.
The experienced Steel held their nerve to secure their 12th win of the season, while the Mystics earned a valuable bonus point to keep them in contention.
Both teams have a short turnaround ahead of their round 12 Super Sunday fixtures in Auckland.
At a glance:
Southern Steel 68 (Fowler-Reid 53/58, Selby-Rickit 15/20)
Northern Mystics 67 (Mes 47/50, Tutaia 20/27).
Q1:20-14, Q2:37-35, Q3: 50-49.