Netball: Breakthrough for Steel

Jhaniele Fowler
Jhaniele Fowler
It might only be the pre-season but the Steel has broken through a psychological barrier with its first win against an Australian team across the Tasman.

The Steel had a gutsy 36-35 win against the Swifts in Melbourne yesterday morning.

Since the ANZ Championship's inception in 2008, the Steel has struggled against Australian opponents away from New Zealand. The victory banishes a long-standing bogey, even if it is only a pre-season fixture.

Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler had a big impact when she came on with two quarters remaining. The 1.98m international missed just one of her 21 attempts and helped her side claw back a five-goal halftime deficit.

The Steel came agonisingly close to adding another Australian scalp to its tally before succumbing to the West Coast Fever 41-40 in the later game.

A rugged tussle from the outset, a slim two-goal buffer was the greatest margin achieved during the first half and the score was deadlocked 23-23 at halftime.

Youngster Phoenix Karaka was then thrust into the action at goal keep and displayed a maturity beyond her 18 years to hassle one of the world's best in Australian Diamond Catherine Cox. Bolstered by a confident display from Fowler, Jodi Brown, Courtney Tairi and Phillipa Finch on attack, Steel nudged ahead to hold a 33-28 advantage going into the final spell.

But a handful of errors early in the phase proved costly as the Fever racked up five unanswered goals to lock it up 36-36 with four minutes remaining. Swooping on any available possession, the Fever clung to the narrowest advantage until the final whistle.