Fourth-quarter errors prove costly for Steel

Magic midcourter Ali Wilshier (left) and Steel defender Jeante Strydom chase the loose ball in...
Magic midcourter Ali Wilshier (left) and Steel defender Jeante Strydom chase the loose ball in Rotorua on Saturday. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Three good quarters do not count on the scoreboard.

After being locked up 38-38 at the end of the third quarter, the Southern Steel were guilty of taking their foot off the throttle and letting the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic run away with a 54-45 win at Events Energy Centre in Rotorua on Saturday.

It has been the story of the past three rounds for the Steel.

They produced a great opening half against the Central Pulse, but let the game slip in the third quarter, and they coughed up the third quarter against the Northern Stars last week as well.

Luckily, they were able to turn things around in that Stars game, but they let the Magic get too far out for them to claw back when they needed most.

Captain Kate Heffernan was honest in her assessment of the game.

"That last quarter was disappointing. We just let errors creep in, and a cluster of them," Heffernan said.

"Before we knew it, they were five goals up and it happened really fast. Magic did well on defence to disconnect us and force errors.

"It’s happened in past games, so we really do have to watch that back and see what goes wrong."

Magic defenders Erena Mikaere and Oceane Maihi tightened up in the final quarter and started to pick off the ball.

That made the Steel stagnant on attack with nobody driving to the ball, then it put Georgia Heffernan and Grace Namana under pressure on the shot.

Their shooter-to-shooter offloads, which worked so well early in the game, started to unravel as well.

However, the Steel started the game strongly, going on a 4-0 run as they looked slick on attack.

Young midcourter Ivari Christie again stepped up to fill the void left by Shannon Saunders, who was sidelined nursing an injury.

Christie was solid in just doing her job and led the Steel for feeds (29), goal assists (18) and centre pass receives (19).

She re-offered on the circle edge and punched on to the ball hard, showing depth in her game to help them lead 15-12.

Defender Jeante Strydom rode Saviour Tui hard around the top of the circle and eventually came up with the ball.

The Steel treasured their possession and came up with a 27-25 lead at halftime.

They again presented nicely in patches of the third quarter, but they let the Magic find more flow on attack and Silver Fern Ameliaranne Ekenasio led them through the rocky bits to win.

The Central Pulse beat the Mainland Tactix 36-30 in Palmerston North yesterday afternoon. Neither side had lost heading into the game.

The Northern Stars will host cross-town neighbours the Northern Mystics, who are without Grace Nweke, tonight.

ANZ Premiership

The scores

Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic       54
Saviour Tui 33/37, Ameliaranne Ekenasio 21/25

Southern Steel                                45
Grace Namana 26/33, Georgia Heffernan 18/24, Martina Salmon 1/2

Quarter scores:  12-15, 25-27, 38-38.