Commentator’s Call: Elimination Final set for southern derby
A plan that germinated more than a year ago has driven the Tactix into finals netball for the first time. It began after Round 12 of the 2017 ANZ Premiership when the Steel beat the Tactix at home by five goals.
The Steel that day were weakened after a nasty road accident and Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek knew her side should have won. She knew then things had to change and she set about instigating that change.
Fast forward to 2018 and it will be the Steel that the Tactix meet in the Elimination Final on Wednesday night. It will be a southern derby of mammoth proportions.
Not only will the Tactix be striving to push their historic run further, but the Steel will want to give one of their all-time greats the farewell she deserves. The game will be played at Wendy Frew Stadium - yes, ILT Stadium Southland has been renamed for the match to honour the retiring captain.
So, plenty for both teams to play for.
But there are some numbers which can’t be ignored. The Steel have a far superior record having won 10 of their games, and losing five. The Tactix are actually in the negative having won seven and lost eight.
The Mystics had exactly the same win/loss record, but what got the Tactix through were their close losses. In five games they finished within five goals of the victor, and so the bonus point system has worked a treat for the Mainland side.
The Steel lead this season’s encounters 2-1, but the biggest margin has been three goals.
For most of the season, it’s been the Tactix defensive duo of Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson which has steered them to victory. But in their last game, a 62-60 win over the Magic, it was the shooters who stood up. Ellie Bird has improved steadily all season, and epitomises the trajectory the Tactix have taken over the last 12 months.
The trouble for the Tactix is the immovable force that the Steel become when they play in Invercargill. They don’t call Stadium Southland a fortress for nothing, and the fact that on Wednesday night it’s Wendy Frew’s Fortress, tips the scales in the Steel’s favour.
Whatever the outcome, the game will bring down the curtain on either a remarkable season or a remarkable career.