Netball: Early advantage maintained to the end

Magic goal attack Jo Harten (left) attempts a shot at goal as the Steel’s Te Huinga Selby-Rickit ...
Magic goal attack Jo Harten (left) attempts a shot at goal as the Steel’s Te Huinga Selby-Rickit (centre) and Jane Watson defend. Photo by Photosport.

The Southern Steel has continued its march towards the ANZ Championship playoffs, recording its ninth consecutive win by putting away the Magic 64-54 in Invercargill.

In what could very well be a precursor to the New Zealand conference final in four weeks, the Magic was given a reality check by the New Zealand conference leader yesterday afternoon after coming into the match on the back of five consecutive wins.

In front of a near sellout crowd at Stadium Southland, the home side shot out to a 10-2 lead before the Magic could catch its breath and the visitors were forced to play catch-up for the rest of the game.

Steel goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit almost launched into a fist pump as she got the Steel on the board when her first shot bobbled into the hoop. But while the early goal may have been an important confidence-booster for Selby-Rickit, it soon became clear this would not be a match decided on one or two moments.

The Steel earned its early lead on the back of some immense defensive pressure outside the Magic shooting circle, which forced the visitors into some long-range shots and clever offensive play.

Mid-courters Shannon Francois and Gina Crampton did not miss the opportunity to capitalise on mistakes at the other end as they continued their impressive form in getting the ball to the dominant Jhaniele Fowler-Reid in the shooting circle.

Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson then both snaffled intercepts as the home side took the early momentum.

Steel captain Wendy Frew said it was pleasing to see her side hit the ground running yesterday.

"We've really talked about starting well, so it's really nice that we could put that out there tonight.

"I guess being up by that much was a good feeling but we probably need to put our foot down a bit better than we did in the game, so we'll certainly have a look at that.''

After a couple of early misses, Magic goal attack Jo Harten and goal shoot Paula Griffin found their range and the Magic began to increase its tempo as it reduced the gap to 18-12 at the end of the first quarter.

The sides went goal for goal to start the second period as the score advanced to 26-19, before things got messy again for the Magic.

A pass slipped through the hands of Harten and into the lap of Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, before a loose pass was fired out of court by Magic centre Samantha Sinclair and the Steel found itself up 30-19.

Although the Magic was slick through the court at times, the Steel held on to its advantage and by halftime its lead had doubled as it went into the break 37-25 ahead.

The Steel had a 51-39 lead at the end of the third quarter and held on to win by 10 as it let the second-placed Magic know it would have to lift significantly if it wanted to challenge for the New Zealand conference.

The home side made life difficult for the Magic outside the attacking circle and Frew said that was something that started further up the court.

"We've been trying to put a lot of pressure on, not just in that area but all over the court.

"Certainly, Shannon and I are trying to do our job outside the circle so the more we do up there, it makes it easier for our circle defence.

"It's an area that we've been working on so it's nice to see it come together.''

The Steel can secure top spot in the overall competition if it beats the Vixens in Invercargill in its penultimate regular-season match on Saturday.

 


ANZ Championship
The scores

Steel            64

Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 55/61, Te Paea Selby-Rickit 9/15

Magic           54

Jo Harten 37/45, Paula Griffin 16/21, Ellen Halpenny 1/6 


 

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