Southern Steel too strong for Waikato-BOP Magic in top-of-table netball clash - April 11, 2017
by SCOTT DONALDSON
The Southern Steel netball team showed the benefit of a settled squad with a comfortable 72-59 win over the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic at Stadium Southland in Invercargill.
The home team won the rematch of the 2016 ANZ Championship NZ conference final, with last year's experienced starting seven taking the court for the southerners against a relatively new look Magic team.
Steel coach Reinga Bloxham was thrilled with the result.
"I am really pleased with being able to get everyone out on court and just pleased with what we were able to put out there," she said.
'Our performance was a better one than we had last week, which was good."
The Magic started strongly and took an early break to lead 5-2 after three minutes, but the Steel broke back to level the scores at 7-7 after seven minutes and got their noses in front, before edging away for a comfortable win.
The midcourt of Gina Crampton and Shannon Francois started to find their shooters Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Silver Fern Te Paea in the shooting circle with aplomb as they pushed out to a 17-13 first quarter lead.
The second quarter started evenly, with the Steel stretching their lead to 25-19, before the Magic clawed it back to 26-22.
The Magic applied pressure to reduce the deficit to three goals 10 minutes into the second half, before they switched around their side, despite having the momentum.
They introduced Alex MacLeod-Smith at wing defence for goal attack Monica Falkner. Samantha Sinclair moved to centre, Grace Rasmussen to goal attack and Ariana Cable-Dixon to wing attack.
Both teams turned over the ball several times towards the end of the second quarter, missing regulation shots.
The Steel went to halftime with a 32-27 lead.
The Magic switched back to their original starting seven for the third quarter, but the Steel started strongly with four unanswered goals.
They raced out to a 39-29 lead early, as the Magic midcourt had to work much harder to find their shooters under pressure from the Steel defence of Jane Watson, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Wendy Frew, while Crampton in particular was having few difficulties finding her shooters,
The Steel stretched their lead to 44-32 in the middle stages of the third quarter.
The teams traded goals before a late flurry saw the lead increase to 14 goals at 50-36 with five minutes left in the third quarter.
The Steel introduced NZ U21 internationals Abby Erwood and Jamie Hume, while the Magic brought Grace Kukutai on at centre, while MacLeod Smith returned to the game for the Magic in the dying stages of the third quarter.
The Magic reduced the lead to 54-42 at the end of the third quarter.
The Steel extended their lead in the fourth quarter to 63-47 after six minutes, before the Magic clawed back a couple of points.
Ngawai Eyles made her debut for the Steel at centre with five minutes remaining, as the Steel passed 70 goals for the third time this season to remain the only unbeaten team of the competition.
At a glance:
Southern Steel 72 (Fowler-Reid 45/50, Selby-Rickit 20/27, Hume 7/9) beat Waikato-BOP Magic 59 (Potgieter 38/41, Falkner 19/21, Rasmussen 2/4).
Q1;17-13; Q2:32-27; Q3: 54-42.