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Championship teams to face-off

Championship teams to face-off

In the extension of a rivalry established at the start of 2017, the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel will host the Sunshine Coast Lightning for a two game, pre-season fixture in March 2018.

In a showdown highly-anticipated by netball fans, the Steel, winners of the 2017 ANZ Premiership, will host the Noeline Taurua-coached Lightning in for matches at Edgar Centre in Dunedin (Thursday 15 March) and ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on Friday 16 March.

Steel coach Reinga Bloxham said the Lightning encounters would form a vital part of the team’s preparation for its 2018 ANZ Premiership title defence.

“It’s massive for us. It’s going to provide us with some vital high intensity international game play with a quality side,” she said.

“We’ll both have our full quota of respective Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds players so it will be fantastic for our community to see some really high-performing netball and superstars of the sport in action on our home turf.”

Earlier this year, the Steel travelled to the Sunshine Coast for pre-season, igniting a sister-club relationship between the two franchises.

“In 2018, the Lightning will reciprocate the visit and it keeps that relationship alive,” Bloxham said.

“When we first met in February, it was all a bit of an unknown as we both prepared for completely new competitions here and in Australia. But it couldn’t have worked out better for either of us as now it’s the two champion teams set to battle it out so it will be exciting to see what emerges.”

Taurua was excited to return to the deep south where she had a stint coaching the Steel to win the ANZ Championship minor premiership in 2016.

“I am so excited to come back … I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and for me, it’s like a homecoming,” she said.

“A lot of great things have happened over the past year with both teams successful in winning our respective competitions so this is a fantastic opportunity to share those learnings and to compete against each other.”

Entry to both games against Lightning is included with Steel’s 2018 VIP Membership packages. Existing members can renew their seats from this Wednesday (November 22) with new membership sales starting from December 4. Individual pre-season game tickets will be on sale in February.