Southern Steel struggle before finishing strongly to beat Central Pulse - May 2, 2017
by SCOTT DONALDSON
It was another day at the office for the unbeaten Southern Steel, this time finishing strongly to take out a 63-50 win over the Central Pulse.
The Steel got off to another slow start before finding their groove to record their seventh win of the ANZ Premiership.
While it was a far from vintage performance from the Reinga Bloxham-coached side, they did enough to put away a determined Pulse outfit, as the southerners played their third game in six days.
They struggled to put the Pulse away and were unable to give many of their stars a rest, with the victory not secured until the final quarter, as Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was the only starter to be substituted.
"We are really happy. It was a bit of a tough game right to the very end. We expected it to be a tough one, but we are happy with the win," Steel coach Reinga Bloxham said.
"I think physically our bodies were really good, but mentally it is quite tough to back up game after game after game and dump that game and get on with that next one."
A couple of uncharacteristic early mistakes from the Steel saw the Pulse get an early two-goal advantage, before the Steel started hitting their straps.
The home team responded to emphatically race to a 12-5 lead after nine minutes.
The impressive Steel defensive end started stopping the flow of ball into the Pulse shooters, while the experienced midcourt began to find shooters Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Te Paea Selby-Rickit with varied plays.
The Steel stretched the lead to 15-6 at one stage, but just when it looked like they might run away with a large victory, the Pulse fought back.
They closed the gap to six goals, 18-12, at the end of the first quarter after some impressive shooting by teenager Tiana Metuarau, while Sheridan Bignall made an impact off the bench.
It was 20-17 to the Steel after five minutes of the second quarter as they had to work harder to get the ball to their shooters, before they restored their dominance to go to halftime at 31-24.
The Pulse started the second half stronger, as the usually well-oiled Steel juggernaut lacked cohesion. The Pulse got the deficit back to three goals with the Steel ahead 35-32 after five minutes of the second half.
As the Steel found their rhythm, they created pressure on the Pulse attack and snaffled a few turnovers to stretch the lead to eight goals 41-33, after nine minutes of the third quarter.
The Steel went into three quarter time with a 47-39 lead.
In the fourth quarter the Steel stretched their lead to 12 goals at one stage, 56-44, midway through the final quarter, before ending the game with a 63-50 victory.
Fowler-Reid scored 49/54 for the Steel, while goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit finished with 14/23.
Pulse shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti ended the game with an impressive 100 per cent shooting record, while Metuarau who started impressively in the early stages, ended up with 24/31.
Both teams get a well earned rest after two games in two days, with the Steel playing the Tactix on Sunday and the Pulse hosting the Northern Stars on Monday.
Southern Steel 63 (Fowler-Reid 49/54, Te Paea Selby-Rickit 14/23), Central Pulse 50 (Tuivaiti 26/26, Metuarau 24/31).
Q1: 18-12; HT: 31-24; Q3: 47-39.