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Steel grinds out vital win over Tactix - June 14, 2021

In a telling final few minutes, Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel completed a dramatic come-from-behind rally to clinch the points in a hard-fought 47-45 win over The Good Oil Tactix in Nelson on Monday.

Dubbed the showdown for South Island supremacy, the round nine ANZ Premiership clash did not disappoint. It was a good old-fashioned grind from go to woah.

While the Tactix dominated proceedings initially to lead narrowly after the opening spell, the Southerners soon found their rhythm on attack and had snatched a three-goal buffer by halftime.

With both teams trading blows on the scoreboard throughout the third quarter, the match was set for an intense final stanza.

Tactix defender Karin Burger proved a force, hauling in crucial possession and four intercepts to her credit.

For the southerners, Steel goal shoot George Fisher excelled under the post in dynamic fashion, slotting an impressive tally of 40 from 44, while centre Kate Heffernan continued her stellar form to be a menacing presence throughout.

A series of seven unanswered goals gave the Tactix the edge halfway through the last quarter but the Steel responded in resounding fashion with seven of their own to snatch the win – a comeback spearheaded by defenders Taneisha Fifita and Sarahpheinna Woulf who flustered the Tactix attack.

Steel captain Shannon Saunders summed up the encounter as “a huge team effort”.

“It’s always really competitive (against Tactix) and we always want to get one up on each other. It was a pretty ugly game – we just couldn’t really get any flow but the Tactix are good at stopping us on attack and really disrupting our timing,” she told Sky Sport.

“Sarahpheinna and Taneisha got us some really crucial ball and down that attack end we actually managed to hold onto it which we’d been trying to do all game but we were much more successful in that last five minutes.

“Every game is crucial and you’ve just got to take it one at a time so our focus will now switch to the Stars on Saturday. It will be good to be at home again.”

Down on shooting numbers coming into the match, and introducing two newcomers to the elite level, the Tactix provided plenty in a dour clash between the pair. Ultimately, they were left disappointed as the Steel also took the bragging rights between the pair after winning two of their three clashes this season.

Still recovering from a head knock suffered last week, the Tactix were dealt a blow when key 1.96m shooter Ellie Bird was ruled out for the clash, her place being taken by 30-year-old doctor Kate Grant.

Turnovers highlighted the opening minutes but it was the Tactix who settled best, relying on patience and a steady-as-she-goes approach while acclimatising to a new shooting mix.

It was a ragged start from the Steel, going in fits and starts before finding their feet late in the piece to leave the match evenly poised when the Tactix held a slim 12-11 lead at the first break.

The defensive nature of the game continued on the resumption, the greater accuracy on attack and the defensive prowess of Jane Watson, Burger and Charlotte Elley helping the home side keep their noses in front.

Playing in her home town, Saunders was a busy presence throughout the court while more ball found its way into the safe hands of Fisher. The league’s most accurate finisher backing her team’s lift in intensity and movement to secure six straight goals and the lead for the first time.

The Tactix introduced their second new shooter for the match, 17-year-old Howick College student Amelia Walmsley for Grant, the teenager, a top performer in the National Netball League for the Comets, showing no signs of nerves.

But with their greater shooting accuracy, it was the Steel who slipped into halftime with a 24-21 lead.

The third quarter proved an old-fashioned grind for both teams, the through-court defensive pressure employed by each stalling attacking momentum and any expansive flow. It remained a goal-for-goal stand-off for large chunks, the Steel maintaining a two-goals advantage with neither able to make a decisive move.

Schoolgirl Walmsley held her own admirably, unfazed by the company she was keeping, to calmly slot goals and make her self available. At the other end, Burger was a menacing presence for the Tactix in getting her hands to a number of turnover opportunities.

Both teams made hard work of it at times, the Tactix threatened in an even third stanza, regaining the lead with a couple of minutes to go but were unable to hold onto it. Having only won one third quarter this season, the Tactix had the satisfaction of winning this one by a solitary goal but still trailed 37-35 at the last turn.

In a contrasting final stanza, which the Tactix dominated early after a run over seven straight goals and with it a five-goal lead, the youthful and gritty Steel showed their hand late in the piece to repeat the dose.

Scoring seven of their own pushed the Steel back into the lead with just under two minutes to go and from there they didn’t allow the Tactix to make any further inroads.

Official Result and Stats:
The Good Oil Tactix: 45
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel: 47

Champion Data Match Centre

Shooting Stats - Tactix:
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 18/20 (90%)
Amelia Walmsley 16/19 (84%)
Kate Grant 11/16 (69%)

Shooting Stats - Steel:
George Fisher 40/44 (91%)
Tiana Metuarau 7/7 (100%)

MVP: Karin Burger (Tactix)


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