Steel vs Pulse Match Report - February 7, 2023
If the old football adage ‘defence wins championships’ can apply to netball, it would bode well for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel.
Spearheaded by the experienced Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, the southerners unleased a defensively dominant display to rattle the defending champion Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse 60-56 in a preseason encounter at ILT Stadium Southland.
Steel head coach Reinga Bloxham said
“The collective pressure was so good and it always makes you smile as a coach when even your attackers are getting turnover ball,” she said.
“All of this match play has been great. We’ve had to take another step up today playing a New Zealand team with so many quality players.”
Despite initially taking time to settle into a rhythm, Steel took the lead halfway through the opening spell courtesy of some nuggety defence from Kate Burley and Selby-Rickit, and never relinquished the advantage.
Ahead 16-12 at the quarter break and 29-24 at halftime, the Steel weathered a determined effort at the restart which saw the visitors venture back within three goals. The momentum couldn’t be sustained and the Steel increased its buffer to a respectable 48-38 heading into the final stanza.
The Pulse upped the ante to once again sneak back within three but the defensive pairing of Burley and Courtney Elliott linked strongly to halt any further momentum.
In the attacking stakes, Georgia Heffernan proved a reliable option in either shooting bib while Sam Winders continues to evolve in the wing attack role, ably supported by emerging talent Ivari Christie.
With star shooter George Fisher recovering from a knee injury sustained in Sunday’s win over the NSW Swifts, training partner Jess Allen ensured she was on Bloxham’s radar with an impressive 20 from 21 display.
“Jess has been working extremely hard in the preseason and when she combines with Georgia they create some really beautiful space together in that circle,” Bloxham said.
“It’s exciting to explore all of the options we have and see the quality which is emerging.”
Fisher’s return to the court has yet to be determined as the franchise awaits the results of medical imaging.
The Steel now heads north to Timaru for preseason fixtures against the Trident Homes Tactix this weekend.
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Georgia Heffernan – 26/31 (84%)
Jess Allen – 20/21 (95%)
Meleitia Tatupu 14/15 (93%)
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse:
Joyce Mvula – 9/15 (60%)
Tiana Metuarau – 10/12 (83%)
Amelia Walmsley – 37/42 (88%)