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Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v Robinhood Stars - March 13, 2023

There’s no sugar coating it … the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel are on a frustrating losing streak.

Heavily defeated 74-40 by a rampant Robinhood Stars in Auckland tonight, the southerners were dealt yet another harsh lesson as it succumbed to a superior opponent for the third time in as many games this season.

And you can bet no-one is more frustrated than the team itself, including captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit.

“We’re just not learning. We’re making the exact same mistakes that we have for the last two games,” she lamented to Sky Sport.

“We’ve talked and talked about it and I don’t know when the switch is going to click on so we start doing what we said we would but it needs to be soon or this competition is going to be over for us before we even start.

“We’re just trying to give little work-ons at a time – simple things like just reset it … but I think when you’re in the heat of the moment your mind just goes back into autopilot and you don’t think. That’s what we’ve got to switch and focus on reading the game better,”

Selby-Rickit was hoping Monday’s first game on home turf at ILT Stadium Southland would provide the edge needed to topple the Trident Homes Tactix.

“The Tactix are another step up so it’s not going to get any easier for us.”

A personal-best performance by Maia Wilson and a memorable 50th match for Elle Temu were the highlights of the Stars’ dominant performance.

A run of eight goals by the Stars in the midst of the second quarter turned out to be the toughest blow for the Steel, who never recovered. It was also the highest score posted by the Stars in their ANZ Premiership history, surpassing their previous best of 67 goals, and the highest margin too. Wilson scored her highest tally in elite league netball, with 59 goals – missing just two.

Temu was in stellar form – pulling in nine intercepts, four gains and three rebounds.

Both sides had already played two days before, but where the Stars continued their momentum from their confident win over the Magic on Saturday, the Steel’s tough start to 2023 got even tougher, struggling with injuries and cohesion, with less experienced players on court.

The fired-up Heffernan twins were the stand-out performers for the Steel, but the Southerners will have to return to the drawing board after three heavy losses on the trot.

With Wilson and Amorangi Malesala moving smoothly around the circle from the first whistle, the Stars quickly established the upper hand.

The Steel surged at the end of the first quarter as their attack looked to be finally knitting together – young wing attack Ivari Christie making her mark alongside veteran Sam Winders, back in the centre bib. They got within four, before the Stars extended again – Gina Crampton showing her understanding with Maia Wilson with some pinpoint accurate long passes. And the Stars led 16-9 at the first break.

The second quarter was all the Stars’ – Temu and Holly Fowler, looking at home in her original goal defence bib, forced the Steel attackers to exhaust every option just to get the ball into their shooters.

The Stars defence through court denied the Steel a goal for five minutes, while the Stars added eight. With Wilson perfect in her 38 attempts for the half, well supported by Malesala, the Stars were simply too good, ahead 35-18 at halftime.

The Steel had a stronger start to the second half, pilfering ball off the Stars, but again their shooting accuracy let them down.

Both sides had a change in goal attack – Jess Allen for Georgia Heffernan, and Jamie Hume for Amorangi Malesala. But again, it worked in the Stars’ favour.

As Wilson missed her first shot of the game, the Stars were unrelenting through the court and were 52-30 ahead with another quarter to go. They scored twice as many as the Steel in the final quarter, determined to hammer home their domination.

Shooting Stats - Steel:
Georgia Heffernan 15/23 (65%)
Jess Allan 6/6 (100%)
Eseta Autagavaia 19/26 (73%)

Shooting Stats - Stars:
Maia Wilson 59/61 (97%)
Amorangi Malesala 6/7 (86%)
Jamie Hume 9/13 (69%)

MVP: Maia Wilson


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