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Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v Trident Homes Tactix – round 6

May 19, 2024

Struggling to combat a powerful defensive effort from the Trident Homes Tactix proved the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel’s downfall in round 6 of the ANZ Premiership today.

The South Island derby ended 53-44 to the home side in Rangiora but there’s no doubt it was an improved showing from the Steel.

Trailing by seven at halftime, the southerners brought a more composed approach to the third spell and managed to take bragging rights in the final stanza but the Tactix momentum was tough to halt – spearheaded by the international pairing of Jane Watson and Karin Burger.

Steel captain Kate Heffernan was left ruing another opportunity for redemption.

“We get caught up in a little bit of ‘help out’ mode and that’s where we get disjointed. We just need to all do our own jobs, and we know what they are, and bring more consistency.

“We’ve been talking about that 60 minute performance and that definitely was not it. We know what we need to do, it’s just getting ourselves in the right position to start off with so we can put ourselves in the fight. From the get go, we were just a bit under the pump tonight.”

Steel head coach Reinga Bloxham continues to seek consistency.

“That C word that just gets you every week. I thought our shooters Grace (Namana) and Georgia (Heffernan) did some great things at times and I thought, at times, our attack was really patient and they were put under a lot of pressure by a really good defence – we just have to be able to do it longer.

“The Tactix create a lot of pressure defensively which makes you doubt yourself.

“It was really tough. I felt like the Tactix actually gifted us ball that we could have scored from but we didn’t capitalise on it.

“It was nice to see them fighting right to the end but I still think there’s a lot that we can control ourselves rather than waiting to see what happens. We’ll have another look at it and have to see what we can do better next week.”

The Tactix were able to dictate terms from the outset to dismantle an inconsistent Steel. The non-stop defensive effort laid the platform for an improved attacking effort from the home side who were quick to reassert their credentials after leading from go to whoa.

Bouncing back from last week’s loss where scoring goals proved elusive – during which they managed to convert just 30 – there were no such issues today with Ellie Bird scoring 37 on her own in a commanding performance while missing just the one shot.

The Steel had the satisfaction of winning the final quarter but with an overall inferior share of the ball were always on the back foot. Shooters Namana and Heffernan provided strong accuracy under the hoop but lack of volume for the pair counted against the side.

Bird, once again, slotted in at goal shoot in place of the injured Aliyah Dunn in a settled Tactix line-up.

With injury recently ruling out the experienced Shannon Saunders for the rest of the season, the Steel opted for the up-and-coming Ivari Christie to make the start at wing attack in an otherwise regular starting side.

Looking to shed last week’s loss, the Tactix were all business at the outset with midcourters Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi spearheading a quick and steady stream of ball into shooter Bird’s hands.

At the other end, the home side’s defensive unit smothered the Steel’s attacking progress while providing plenty of turnover opportunities. Forging out to a six-goal lead, the Tactix looked set to take off but the Steel held their own to finish the quarter strongly.

Limiting the damage, the Steel remained within touching distance when trailing 14-11 at the first break.

It was a similar pattern on the resumption, the Steel needing to work overtime to thread the ball through court where multiple passes were required. But through patience the southerners found reward through shooters Heffernan and Namana.

However, the relentless combined defensive pressure from the Tactix began to take its toll. With the classy defensive pairing of Karin Burger and Jane Watson alongside intercept expert Poi, the home side were able to take a firm grip on proceedings.

The Tactix didn’t make the most of all their opportunities on attack, several passing lapses handing the Steel extra ball. Charlotte Lourey came on for her ANZ Premiership debut, taking over at wing attack for Christie but the Tactix built on their buffer to hold a 27-20 lead at the main break.

With Christie returning for the third quarter, the Steel made a promising start, gaining momentum on attack while a sterner defensive challenge slowed the Tactix progress.

A lack of defensive gains hindered the Steel’s ability to eat into the deficit, the goal-for-goal impasse finally snapping midway through the stanza. Unable to absorb the constant pressure, the Steel were guilty of too many turnovers and the Tactix were quick to pounce.

With Watson providing the impetus from the defensive end, the error rate on attack was cleaned up as the home side clicked up a gear to take full advantage. Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit were smooth and accurate with their finishing under the hoop as the Tactix took a handy 41-30 lead into the last break.

Official Result and Stats:

Trident Homes Tactix: 53
Ascot Park Hotel Steel: 44

Shooting Stats - Tactix:
Ellie Bird 37/38 (97%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 16/19 (84%)

Shooting Stats - Steel:
Georgia Heffernan 23/24 (96%)
Grace Namana 21/25 (84%)

ANZ Fans' Player of the Match: Kimiora Poi


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