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Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v MG Mystics – Round 7

May 26, 2024

The Georgina Salter Memorial Trophy has returned home to the south.

It’s most complete performance of the season earned the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel a 47-43 win over the defending champion MG Mystics.

The Steel has been desperately seeking a full 60-minute effort and delivered exactly that in the round 7 ANZ Premiership clash, executing a solid plan to dominate proceedings.

Leading by three at halftime, the home side kept its composure to extend its advantage to 8-goals partway through the final stanza.

As the pressure mounted in the dying minutes, the spirited Mystics slotted five in a row to threaten heartbreak but the Steel weren’t going to let this one slip away.

Captain Kate Heffernan was rapt.

“We’ve talked about Georgie all week and it means a lot to everyone. For so many of our team she was such a massive part of their netball journey and it’s so cool to be able to get the Georgie Salter Memorial back in Dunedin. We’re really stoked,” she said.

“I think we’ve been talking all season about just doing our own jobs, and that’s what got us the result.

“When the pressure came on, we managed to gather ourselves which was really encouraging.

“We were quite disappointed with the way we didn’t capitalise on our turnover last week so that was a real focus for us.”

She praised the efforts of replacement wing attack Serina Daunakamakama who put in a stellar performance.

“We only had two trainings with her and we told her ‘just focus on your own job’ and as long as we each did ours, it would all come together despite the limited time we’ve had. It’s so cool to see that we did what we said we would.”

Defender Abby Lawson was awarded her first start of the season and snatched the opportunity to shine with a gutsy Player of the Match display.

“It means a lot to win at home again and the Georgie Salter Memorial is an awesome bonus,” she said.

“It was really enjoyable to get out there and just do my best.

“It’s really nice to have a lot of support around me. We’ve got some good structures out there now and we’re executing them well.

“It would have been nice to not let them get a bonus point but a win’s a win and we’ll take it.”

Mystics captain Michaela Sokolich-Beatson summed up her team’s efforts succinctly.

“Not good enough. We’re an experienced team and we’ve been playing those combinations for a while and that was simply not good enough,” she said.

The Steel delivered on all fronts to inflict the upset and post their second win of the season.

It was the second upset of the weekend after the Magic’s comprehensive win over the Pulse on Saturday and despite a late last quarter surge from the Mystics, the Steel held firm to savour their best performance of the season.

With the loss of Shannon Saunders to a season-ending injury, and Ivari Christie ruled out for this match, the Steel had a new-look midcourt with Daunakamakama, a Mystics training partner, making her debut.

Also missing a key player in Grace Nweke, the Mystics lined up with the budding shooting partnership of Hannah Glen (goal shoot) and Filda Vui under the hoop in a settled line-up.

Taking two minutes before the first goal was scored indicated the tone of the match as a real arm-wrestle eventuated through the first half.

With the accuracy missing from both sides, it was a messy start as the ball went back and forth for little reward. In a defence-orientated match, attacking momentum proved elusive with neither side able to find any flow.

Nudging to a three-goal lead, the Steel were unable to build on their buffer with Mystics defender Carys Stythe’s long reach causing plenty of problems for Steel shooter Grace Namana.

A string of five straight goals handed the impetus back to the Mystics, who took a slender 11-10 lead into the first break.

Showing all their renowned grit, resilience and ball retention capabilities, the home side were staunch in holding their ground, and the Mystics at arm’s length, during an absorbing second stanza.

The lack of flow continued and the usually free-flowing Mystics struggled in the face of committed team defence from the Steel where Renee Savai’inaea, Lawson and Taneisha Fifita all prospered.

It was hard work for both teams to thread the ball through court, but the closeness of the score ensured the intensity remained high.

With the lead changing hands several times, it was the Steel who got the vital breakthrough, the shooting combination of Georgia Heffernan and Namana, through good movement and accuracy, getting the upper hand over the attention provided by Phoenix Karaka and Stythe.

Finishing strongly, it was the Steel who were well worth their 23-20 lead heading into the main break.

Terrific team defence continued to help the Steel keep their noses in front during the third stanza as the Mystics made several quick changes in personnel and playing positions in a frantic bid to crack the game open.

Leading from the front, Kate Heffernan was a towering presence, both on attack and in defence while her young offsider Danaukamakama was steady and unfazed throughout the challenge of her first game at the elite level.

In unfamiliar territory, the Steel’s confidence continued to soar as their constant pressure forced the Mystics into rushes of blood and a building roster of errors.

Namana and Georgia Heffernan added the polish with their exploits under the Steel hoop to push the home side out to a 35-30 lead at the last turn.

With the game far from over, the Steel kept their shoulders to the wheel in the run home, surging to an eight-goal lead at one stage as they denied a desperate Mystics any sniff of getting themselves back into the contest.

Official Result and Stats:

Ascot Park Hotel Steel: 47
MG Mystics: 43

Shooting Stats - Steel:
Grace Namana 28/34 (82%)
Georgia Heffernan 19/23 (83%)

Shooting Stats - Mystics:
Filda Vui 20/22 (91%)
Hannah Glen 20/26 (77%)
Dani Binks 3/3 (100%)

ANZ Fans' Player of the Match: Abby Lawson (Steel)


 

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