Steel power past Tactix in closing minutes
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.
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.
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. Out of the Lincoln University team in the Canterbury club competition, Grant impressed with her general court play, speed and accuracy under the hoop.
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, Karin Burger and Charlotte Elley helping the home side keep their noses in front.
Playing in her home town, Steel captain Shannon Saunders was a busy presence throughout the court while more ball found its way into the safe hands of George 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.