Steel tame Magic to stay unbeaten
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel firmed their position as title favourites with an eye-catching outing when overpowering WBOP Magic 72-59 in Invercargill on Monday.
Back in front of their home faithful for the first time this season, the Steel showed the familiarity of their well-seasoned line-up with a merciless display to remain the only unbeaten team.
After a relatively even first quarter, Magic had few answers to the well-drilled southerners who showcased their rich depth of talent with a telling statement.
As befitting a top-of-the-table clash, both teams produced a high intensity start which showed little signs of abating in a fast-paced opening stanza.
In a classic opening, there was a series of punch and counter-punch from the exponents, both teams willing to let the ball go and play the long game on the back of strong drives.
The Steel absorbed the early pressure, overcoming a slow start to negate the visitor’s early lead with a relentless defensive effort. The home team overturned a three-goal deficit to gain a slight edge when leading 17-14 at the first break.
The home team got away to a flyer on the resumption, threatening to run away with proceedings as they built a handy five-goal buffer. The defensive efforts of Jane Watson and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit unhinged the Magic’s accuracy with the young shooting combination of Monica Falkner and Lenize Potgieter under constant pressure.
At the other end, towering shooter Jhanielle Fowler-Reid didn’t miss a beat with plenty of ball finding its way into her hands as the Steel took a forceful grip.
Finding goals hard to come by, Magic reshuffled their line-up with Grace Rasmussen shifting to goal attack and Alex MacLeod-Smith coming off the bench to wing defence.
Magic held their own to limit the damage as Steel went to the main break in the driver’s seat at 32-27.
Any thoughts of a Magic comeback were quickly dispelled when the Steel delivered a rampant third stanza. The home team quickly shot out to a 10-goal advantage, completing dominating their opponents with clinical efficiency.
Captain Wendy Frew and Shannon Francois provided the pressure outside the circle while the in-circle defensive pairing continued to smother Magic’s shooting opportunities.
There was more of the same at the other end, Gina Crampton supplying a steady stream of quality ball to Fowler-Reid. Steel had the luxury of introducing youngsters Jamie Hume (goal attack) and Abby Erwood (goal defence) for the Selby-Rickit sisters as the home team strode out to 54-42 lead at three-quarter time.