Emphatic victory for Southern Steel

Mystics player Peta Toeava, left, contests the ball with Southern Steel player Renee Savai'inaea...
Mystics player Peta Toeava, left, contests the ball with Southern Steel player Renee Savai'inaea during the netball match at the Edgar Centre on Sunday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
That is one way to make Georgie Salter proud.

Leading 30-35 at the end of the third quarter, the Southern Steel have powered home to beat the Northern Mystics 47-43 in Dunedin this afternoon.

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.

It was a game Salter, who coached various teams across the South before her death in 2018, would have been proud of.

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

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 – the Steel were admirable in treasuring the ball and working it deep to find the openings.

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 champions – who are without Grace Nweke – across the court and they did not look as slick as usual.

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 of the season at goal defence in place and was rewarded with an MVP performance.

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

It was a low-scoring affair as it took a while for both sides to settle on their transition through the court.

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 the ball that fell their way 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 attack line.

The visitors uncharacteristically threw away a lot of ball and the Steel were the first to pounce.

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.

Fifita and Lawson linked nicely to wear down the Mystics shooters.

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 this time 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 uncomfortable. They were static on attack, penalised on defence and looked stumped for answers as the Steel led 35-30.

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

The Mystics came back but the Steel held their nerve to win.

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