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Steel prove too strong for Magic

Steel prove too strong for Magic

The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel consolidated their grip on second place with a telling 63-48 win over Splice Construction Magic in Hamilton tonight.

The defending champions outclassed the Magic in most facets with their through-court transition, accuracy and finishing overpowering the home side, whose hopes of a Finals Series berth took a major blow.

Building on their lead throughout, the Steel had the game wrapped up by the three-quarter mark, both coaches making multiple changes for the run home which, ironically, was the Magic’s most productive.

In a must-win outing for the Magic, up-and-coming young shooter Kelsey McPhee again got the nod to start while goalkeeper Jenna O’Sullivan came in for Kelly Jury. There were no surprises in a settled and safe Steel line-up.

There was an immediate contrast in both attacking ends, the Magic laboured on their second phase play which required plenty of hard work and patience. The Steel had no such problems, the visitors slick and accurate with their transition as the ball arrived seamlessly into shooter Lenize Potgieter’s hands.

However, both teams proved tidy in the opening stanza where turnovers were few and far between as the pair traded goals for much of the term. Magic had their opportunities but were unable to benefit, the Steel breaking the impasse to hit the first break with a 17-13 lead.

Wing defence Kendall McMinn replaced Kate Heffernan in the Steel line-up on the resumption as the visitors continued to highlight their greater flow and momentum on attack.

A tenacious Magic hung on grimly, the introduction of wing defence Georgie Edgecombe, on debut, for Lisa Mather adding extra hustle before the Steel’s pressure began to take its toll.

With the link between wing attack Gina Crampton and shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit having a telling effect, there were danger signs for the Magic as they visitors slowly built on their buffer.

Jury was introduced to the Magic defence line just before the main break where the Steel enjoyed a 32-25 advantage.

With a double-header looming in the next round, the Steel made full use of their bench during a dominant third quarter.

Kate Heffernan took over from Shannon Saunders at centre while Courtney Elliott picked up the goalkeeper’s bib, the fresh legs paying immediate dividends as the Steel continued to push out their lead.

The Magic could not match the Steel in the possession stakes, their struggles compounded by untimely turnovers and accuracy woes under the hoop.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit continued to impress with her work rate and accuracy before being spelled late in the quarter, the second Heffernan sister, Georgia, taking her place.

Showcasing their dominance, the Steel doubled their half-time lead when heading to the last turn with a healthy 47-33 advantage.