Tactix reignite season with win over Steel
Taking charge in the second half, the Trident Homes Tactix pulled away to score an important 63-52 win over a gallant Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in Invercargill on Wednesday.
With both teams having played just six games in the current campaign and a heavy workload of catch-up games to look forward to in the back half of the season, the pair were keen to resurrect their seasons.
In must-win territory, the result reignited the Tactix campaign as they moved off the bottom of the table while the Steel, who competed gamely until the end, have some leeway in their favour after an encouraging start to the season.
Down on personnel, the Steel were gradually ground down the longer the match progressed, relying on the need to make changes on a regular basis while the Tactix completed the match making just the two changes in the dying minutes, the home side using all 12 players at their disposal.
Back in competition mode after being sidelined by the Covid-19 Match Postponement Policy, the hosts still had players on managed loads while being particularly heavy hit at the defensive end with Sarapheinna Woulf, Kate Burley and Renee Savai’inaea ruled out of action for this match.
Coming in on the back of three losses, the Tactix, consigned to postponed games for 10 days, had ample time to prepare on the training court and the luxury of being at full-strength.
In a free-flowing and entertaining opening stanza, both teams played with length and enterprise in their transitional play, each set of shooters benefitting from a decent number of opportunities while providing the polish under the hoop.
Through goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit, the Tactix made good use of the long feed with the tall figure of shooter Ellie Bird perfectly positioned to take the shot.
The Steel were unfazed by the newcomers in their line-up, twice forging three-goal leads before the Tactix reeled them into take a tenuous 15-14 lead at the first break.
Picking up their intensity, the visitors made several concerted dabs in the second stanza, building five-goal leads twice through the menacing defensive efforts of Karin Burger and Kelera Nawai-Caucau but were unable to completely shake the plucky home side.
With a constantly changing roster, the Steel refused to let their opponents dictate, the accuracy and ability of prolific shooter George Fisher pairing well with talented young off-sider Saviour Tui while captain Shannon Saunders was the tireless workhorse through the middle.
Selby-Rickit and captain Kimiora Poi were the conductors on attack for the Tactix, who kept their noses in front when leading 31-27 at the main break.
With the Steel unable to capitalise on their turnovers in the opening exchanges, the Tactix applied the squeeze to make their move in a productive third stanza.
Their status as the more settled team gradually paid dividends for the visitors as the Steel, relying on the continued use of rolling substitutes and having to dig deep into their well of player depth, took its toll on the home side.
The Steel had their moments with crafty defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit showing her guile but with the energy and high work rate of defender Burger providing the impetus, and with plenty of ball getting into the hands of Selby-Rickit and Bird, the Tactix built into a game -winning 49-40 lead at the last turn.