Another big win for Steel on the road
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel put the seal on a six-day road trip when posting a convincing 67-48 win over the Northern Mystics in Auckland on Saturday.
Playing their third game in six days, the Steel rotated their players with effective efficiency, fresh legs ensuring the visitors kept their campaign well on track after dropping their opening match of the season.
The Steel were simply more proficient across all areas of the court and as a result, enjoyed far more scoring opportunities. The Mystics had handy conversion rates but a lack of volume counted against them as struggled to penetrate consistently on attack and at times were bogged down by the smothering defensive exploits of the Steel.
With Bailey Mes lining up at goal shoot in tandem with Jamie Hume, the Mystics opted for a moving scoring end while new signing Lenize Potgieter made her third straight start under the hoop for the Steel.
Showing confidence to let the ball go and their quick scoring ability, the Steel threatened early, a five-goal streak pushing them into a handy lead.
At the other end, Mes came into her own while Mystics defender Erena Mikaere pressured the Steel shooters into turnover mishaps to help level up the scoreboard.
Just as quickly, the Mystics undid all the good work, a late burst, in a high-scoring opening stanza, giving the Steel a 19-15 lead at the first break.
The Steel continued to enjoy a greater share of the possession on the resumption, the growing combination between Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Potgieter growing in confidence by the moment. They were well-serviced by the vision of Gina Crampton who fired in a succession of pin-point feeds.
With a re-jigged defence line, including youngster Tayla Earle coming off the bench to wing defence, the Mystics continued to struggle for accuracy on attack, the Steel’s defence line of Kate Heffernan, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood proving effective foils in shutting down the Mystics scoring opportunities.
With more ball in their hands, the Steel stretched out to a 35-25 lead the main break.
Grace Kukutai took over at centre for the Mystics at the start of the third quarter but playing at pace with clinical efficiency, the Steel had the home side back-pedalling for large patches. Showing their dominance, ever-present centre Shannon Saunders was often in the right place at the right time to pick off bonus intercept ball.
Mystics captain Phoenix Karaka put in a wholehearted effort throughout but the Steel proved masters at retaining control of proceedings.
Wing defence Kendall McMinn and goalkeeper Courtney Elliott were given their opportunity in the run home, fresh legs for the Steel helping the defending champions post their second win on the trot.