Steel maintain unbeaten home record
The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel kept their perfect home record intact with a decisive 70-52 win over The Good Oil Tactix in Invercargill on Sunday.
It was the 13th successive win for the Steel at ILT Stadium Southland as the home side reinforced their credentials at the top of the table.
The Tactix had their moments but could not match the overall accuracy and finishing of the defending champions, who after absorbing some early pressure produced a top-class outing to shine across all areas of the court.
It was a settled starting seven for the Steel, who haven’t missed a beat in recent weeks. For the visitors, Brooke Leaver returned to her more familiar position of goal attack, replacement midcourter Samon Nathan got her first start in her third game for her new club while defender Sophia Fenwick received her second start of the campaign.
All the early play was with the Tactix, who benefitted from turnover opportunities where captain Jane Watson was a prominent figure. With Leaver showing her confidence from range, the Tactix built an early lead but after absorbing the early heat, the home side rebounded quickly.
With the Steel finding their momentum on attack, the Tactix fell off the pace slightly, the home side nailing five straight goals to skip into the first break with a handy 16-11 lead.
Scoring the first two goals on the resumption got the Tactix away to the best possible start but it was quickly eroded as the Steel took over dominance of the midcourt with their speed and defensive pressure.
Centre Shannon Saunders was in the thick of action across all sections of the court, wily goalkeeper Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was a disruptive presence and South Africa import Lenize Potgieter was an ever-efficient cog under the Steel hoop.
The tall figure of Kate Lloyd took over from Fenwick late in the stanza but it was the home side who had all the momentum when heading into the main break with a 33-24 lead.
In a free-scoring third quarter, the Steel moved up another gear, in the process showcasing their great effectiveness at playing with pace and timing while having the freedom of space to move.
The Tactix showed better coordination on attack, a quicker release to towering shooter Ellie Bird paying dividends but there was little wriggle room for the visitors. As is their trademark, the Steel were quick to punish anything loose as they enjoyed a steady stream of goal-bound ball.
Goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit played a strong supportive hand in and around the circle for her best outing of the season as the Steel powered to a 53-40 lead at the last break.