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Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v Trident Homes Tactix - Round 11

June 22, 2024

It never bodes well when your opponent is on a best ever winning streak and fighting for the right to host a home final – as the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel abruptly discovered.

The southerners simply had no answers to stop the Trident Homes Tactix running rampant 71-47 at ILT Stadium Southland this afternoon.

Credit where its due. There was almost no faulting the Tactix performance, a masterclass fueled by a determination to write their own destiny in this year’s ANZ Premiership.

For Steel captain Kate Heffernan, it was another blow to an already challenging campaign.

“Tactix are just fit, fast and they have a really good connection all through the court. I thought we started okay but all of a sudden they got a fast run on us and before we knew it they were quite out of reach. That’s credit to them and they really took advantage of the momentum they got,” she said.

“They are playing really well all through the court and we were probably a little bit exposed at both ends which, in other games, we’ve been pretty solid down one end and lacking on the other end but I think all round they did dominate so we need to look at that.”

Steel can take heart from an improved effort on attack with both Grace Namana and Georgia Heffernan delivering credible shooting statistics.

“When they can create that mis-match and pull the d it’s really, really good. Being able to get the ball onto circle edge to make their job easier is probably something we didn’t do as well this week,” Heffernan said.

“Having an all-round performance in that attacking end is still coming but there was definitely some really great stuff even though it is tough against a really quality defensive end.”

Steel’s focus would now switch to claiming the inaugural Robyn Broughton Legacy Trophy against the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse on July 1.

“Robyn had a massive influence on a lot of the people in our team so we would love to get that trophy and have a really good performance, not only for Robyn but for the home crowd as well,” Heffernan said.

“We’ve got to really reflect and work hard this week. We have to watch that, dump it and come out hard next Monday.”

Tactix captain Kimora Poi confirmed her side’s motivation.

“We’re just hungry to get to the finals and secure the home final because that would be such an advantage for us. We know every game is important and every goal is important so we need to get as many points on the board to get our goal diff up as well,” she said.

“We need to keep putting the foot down. That last quarter was kind of goal for goal and we let basic errors go. We have high standards of ourselves and when finals and more is on the line, that’s really going to count.”

A familiar face featured for the visitors with former Steel defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit in the coaching ranks – a role she was relishing.

“Physically you’re not exerting so much energy but mentally it can be quite full on. It’s actually quite fun working on the things you do all week and then going out there and seeing them do it, it’s exciting and you do get a kick out of it, almost like playing,” she said.

“Preseason this year was a breeze for me – I was a timer, I was an encourager … I didn’t even want to run on. I don’t even bring my shoes to things, it’s not an option for me.”

The Tactix were setting the benchmark for defensive domination.

“I can’t act like it’s me … they might watch this and know it’s not true,” Selby-Rickit quipped.

“Individually, all of those defensive players are quality and they could do the job by themselves so when they are all working together they are just unstoppable. What I’m trying to get out of them is just that teamwork and working for each other.”

The Tactix notched several milestones when completing the comprehensive victory.

Growing in confidence at the top of the table, the Tactix maintained a steely focus of intent throughout to score at a consistently high level through each quarter while giving all players decent minutes on court.

That including the return of shooter Aliyah Dunn back from injury for her first appearance of the season and completing a fine first-up outing during her restricted minutes with an 18 from 18 return.

The emphatic outcome meant the biggest-ever win in the Tactix 17-year history and with their 10th this season, it signalled their longest winning sequence during regular season play.

A goal-for-goal opening four minutes was quickly extinguished on the back of a slick Karin Burger intercept, the crack defender setting the Tactix in motion and just as quickly into a position of dominance.

A defensive response from Abby Lawson and Jeante Strydom kept the Steel in the contest but in a fast-paced, high-quality shooting spectacle from both sides, the Tactix seamlessly slipped into top gear.

With Burger taking a spell on the bench, Paris Lokotui took over the goal defence bib but there was little respite for the Steel, the Tactix with their quick through-court exchanges skipping into the first break with an 18-12 lead.

In was a similar pattern on the resumption, both coaches mixing and matching their playing options with tall goalkeeper Laura Balmer and wing attack Charlotte Lourey making the jump from the Southern Blast team to the elite level.

However, the Tactix remained relentless at both ends of the court. Always on the alert for intercept opportunities, the defensive trio of Jane Watson, Burger and Lokotui were menacing in picking off six intercepts between them during the first half while the Steel came up empty-handed.

The potent defence through the midcourt and around the circle cut the Steel’s opportunities of making inroads.

Shooters Namana and Heffernan were accurate performers under the hoop but were unable to match the volume their Tactix opponents enjoyed at the other end. Ellie Bird continued her impressive form this season with another commanding presence under the hoop.

She was replaced late in the piece by Dunn, the Tactix not missing a beat as they headed into the main break well-placed when leading 36-23.

The Tactix continued to make full use of the players available while employing several different combinations, including Greer Sinclair taking over at centre and captain Kimiora Poi moving into wing attack, while Kate Lloyd replaced Watson at goalkeeper and Jess Allan afforded Te Paea Selby-Rickit a rest at goal attack.

The multitude of changes did not make it any easier for the Steel, the Tactix retaining a forceful presence across all facets and a dominating grip on proceedings.

The Tactix height at both ends of the court proved troublesome for the Steel, unable to cope with the high ball into the opposing shooters while on attack, there was difficulty in negotiating the tall defensive wall of the visitors.

Mirroring the previous two quarters, the Tactix had all the answers when taking a handsome 54-35 lead into the last break.

Try as they might, it was more of the same for the hapless Steel in the run home while feeling the full force of the experienced Tactix side.

Official Result and Stats:

Ascot Park Hotel Steel: 47
Trident Homes Tactix: 71

Shooting Stats - Steel:
Grace Namana 34/37 (92%)
Georgia Heffernan 11/15 (73%)
Summer Temu 2/2 (100%)

Shooting Stats - Tactix:
Ellie Bird 33/34 (97%)
Aliyah Dunn 18/18 (100%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 15/18 (83%)
Jess Allan 5/6 (83%)

ANZ Fans' Player of the Match: Karin Burger (Tactix)


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