Steel celebrate special win over Mystics
In a game that had extra special significance, Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel became the inaugural winners of the Georgie Salter Memorial Trophy when they overpowered the Northern Mystics 69-58 in Invercargill today.
In the contest for three-quarters of the match, a flurry of turnovers to open the final stanza didn’t help the Mystics cause. Holding a three-goal lead at the last turn, the Steel were quick to take advantage, putting their foot down in style to score nine goals on the trot and push out to a 12-goal lead.
That effectively put the seal on the outcome, important for both teams in honouring former Silver Fern and legendary coach Salter, who passed away late last year. Salter had strong connections to both teams and in honour of her memory and contribution to netball, the trophy will be contested on an annual basis.
The Steel maintained their settled starting seven of recent weeks while the Mystics gave teen shooting sensation Grace Nweke her first start at this level while also welcoming captain Phoenix Karaka back to active play after several weeks out with concussion.
Both teams produced a free-flowing and entertaining spectacle through the opening stanza, the Steel overcoming a slow start to get back on level terms as the combatants went toe-to-toe.
Once settled, the Steel showed their trademark patience and ability to make the most of their possession. A late surge by the home side pushed them out to a five-goal advantage but the Mystics replied in the best possible fashion to leave the scores tied at 18-all at the end of a high-scoring first quarter.
A strong start and finish to the second stanza allowed the Steel to keep their noses in front.
The growing rapport between shooters Lenize Potgieter and Te Paea Selby-Rickit paid dividends for the home side, the pair finding extra space and scoring opportunities as the Steel looked to put their foot down.
But they couldn’t completely shake the Mystics, defensive gains from Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and Erena Mikaere keeping the visitors in touch. However, with Potgieter posting a perfect 27 goals from 27 attempts, the Steel finished with a flourish to head into the main break with a 36-30 advantage.
Kendall McMinn took over at wing defence from Kate Heffernan for the Steel on the resumption while the Mystics replaced Nweke with Jamie Hume and Emma Iversen picked up the centre’s bib from Tayla Earle.
It was the Mystics who had slightly the better of the third stanza, the visitors refusing to take a backward step. Shooter Bailey Mes led the attack end, her athleticism and movement finding good space under the hoop while Hume had impressive success from range.
Wing attack Gina Crampton was a key distributor for the Steel, finding her shooters in prime position on a regular basis as the home team kept their noses in front when leading 51-47 at the last break.