Bloxham thrilled as Steel beat titleholders

Mystics wing attack Peta Toeava (left) and Steel wing defence Renee Savai’inaea battle for the...
Mystics wing attack Peta Toeava (left) and Steel wing defence Renee Savai’inaea battle for the ball at the Edgar Centre yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
That is one way to make Georgie Salter proud.

Her niece, Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham, reckons Salter would be "dancing and yahooing" after the Steel beat the Northern Mystics 47-43 at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin yesterday.

It was an emphatic victory for the Steel, who not only beat the defending ANZ Premiership champions, but also won the Georgina Salter Memorial Trophy.

"Whenever we play for this trophy we just find extra motivation and I think she’s been with us today — she just absolutely would have loved that," Bloxham said.

Where the Steel have usually taken the foot off the throttle, they were relentless in the second half.

There are still patches to work on — including being up by as much as 41-32 at one point and letting the Mystics back in — but the Steel were admirable in treasuring the ball.

Defensively it was the Steel’s best performance of the season by far, and their coaching staff were on their feet for the final minutes willing them on.

They tested the defending champion, who are without Grace Nweke, across the court.

Steel midcourter Ivari Christie sat the game out due to a knee complaint.

That meant Serina Daunakamakama, who plays for New Zealand under-21 and the Northern Marvels, made her debut for the Steel at wing attack.

Abby Lawson also got her first start at goal defence.

It was a subdued start from both sides and it took almost two minutes for the first goal to be scored.

The Steel had high court zone and Georgia Heffernan picked the middle channel to get the ball back and slotted the shot for an early two-goal lead.

Grace Namana took a moment to settle under the hoop, but once she found her off-loads, and range, she found her groove.

The Mystics were the first to make the most of their chances and held an 11-9 lead at the first break.

The Steel made some silly errors to start the second quarter and could have gained the lead earlier if not for them.

But they were determined and dogged in their approach and really rattled the Mystics attackers..

The visitors uncharacteristically threw away a lot of ball and the Steel pounced.

The Steel also ramped up their defensive pressure and perhaps the Mystics missteps were a result of that.

Kate Heffernan came around her opponent on the circle edge for a brilliant intercept and Taneisha Fifita confused the space in the circle, which forced Peta Toeava’s feed to go begging.

Lawson picked up ball and was instrumental in bringing the ball down the court.

The Steel finished it off at the other end and took a 23-20 lead at halftime and won the second quarter 13-9.

The Steel went on a three-goal run to start the third quarter and held a six-goal lead.

But then it was the Mystics turn to go on a three goal run but, unlike previous games, the Steel withstood that run and came back better.

Lawson took a great intercept backing into the pocket and Kate Heffernan ran through for a screamer.

She found Namana under the post, who rolled beautifully to lose her defender.

The Mystics looked rattled. They were static on attack, penalised on defence and looked stumped for answers and the Steel led 35-30.

They charged ahead and went up by as much as 41-32 in the fourth quarter and held on to win.

The Southern Blast recorded their first win of the national league in a thrilling 52-51 victory against the Northern Marvels.

ANZ Premiership

The scores

Southern Steel 47

Grace Namana 28/34, Georgia Heffernan 19/23

Northern Mystics 43

Hannah Glen 20/26, Filda Vui 20/22, Dani Binks 3/3

Quarter scores: Mystics 11-10, 20-23, 30-35.