Netball: High-flying Steel putting up some big numbers

When you have not lost a game, it is not surprising some of your players are putting up some big numbers.

That is the case for the unbeaten Southern Steel, which has won a record six straight matches this season and made a mockery of the New Zealand conference. 

At the end of nine rounds, the southern side has a nine-point lead on the Kiwi side of the draw, having won seven of its eight matches.

Its only blemish was a second-round draw against the Tactix.

The Steel has grown in stature this year under the watchful eye of coach Noeline Taurua and with a roster which boasts an enviable mix of experience and youth.

Captain Wendy Frew will bring up her 100th game for the franchise against the Tactix on Sunday, while centre Shannon Francois, who has played 21 tests for the Silver Ferns, will play her 60th.

Elsewhere, Storm Purvis has just clocked up 50 games for the side, Jane Watson will play her 50th ANZ Championship match on Sunday (she has played 18 for the Steel), and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid will play her 49th.

The most inexperienced in terms of games played is the dynamic duo of Gina Crampton (28 games) and Te Paea Selby-Rickit (39), and those two players have been instrumental to the team's success this season.

Crampton has been the go-to player for the Steel from set play, receiving a tournament-high 259 centre passes in eight matches.

The next best is Maria Tutaia from the Mystics, with 202 grabs in nine games.

The electric Crampton is also having a huge contribution in getting the ball into the shooting circle.

She has produced the third-most goal assists (122), one behind the Vixens' Madi Robinson and two behind the Pulse's Chelsea Locke.

Centre Shannon Francois has contributed 99 goal assists, the sixth-most in the competition.

In the circle, the unstoppable Fowler-Reid has slotted a championship-high 412 goals, six more than the Firebirds' Romelda Aiken in one fewer game.

The Jamaican star has also pulled in the second-most rebounds with 51 and, although she missed 11 shots against the Mystics on Sunday, she regathered every one of them.

At the defensive end, Jane Watson has collected the third-most intercepts (17) and effected the fifth-most deflections with (36). She has also pulled in 14 rebounds, putting her in the top 10 for the season.

The Steel has also scored the most goals of any team to have played eight matches or fewer (517) and has the third-best goal difference (52).

The goal now will be for the Steel to continue its successful run into the playoffs and better its record of eight wins in a season, which it has achieved twice previously. 


NZ Conference

Steel  0   15  
Magic 8


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