Netball: Less pressure on Steel away, Bloxham says

An away game in Brisbane may be regarded as the tougher semifinal task but Southern Steel assistant coach Reinga Bloxham feels as though the pressure has been lifted.

The Steel will travel to Queensland tomorrow for its clash with the defending champion Firebirds on Sunday after it lost the New Zealand conference final to the Magic at home last weekend.

The southerners were slow out of the blocks at Stadium Southland in Invercargill and Bloxham said there was no doubt the pressure had got to the side.

She gave the impression the shackles had been released from the squad following the loss and there would be no stuttering when it took to the court for a last-chance effort on Sunday.

"I think there was a bit of pressure on us and we probably didn't absorb that as well as we could have,'' Bloxham said of the 59-57 defeat.

"It did unsettle us a little bit and disrupted the flow in our game.

"The girls are coping it with reasonably well. They've just thought, 'Right, we've put ourselves in this situation and we're just going to have to deal with everything we've been thrown this week'.

"They understood the implications of losing on Sunday.''

When asked if she thought the side was more relaxed as it prepared to leave Invercargill, Bloxham said that appeared to be the case.

"Personally, I do think that. I feel like it's a lot of pressure released.

"We aren't at home and don't have that pressure of playing in front of the home crowd.

"We've given ourselves a tough road but, on the other side, we've got nothing to lose.''

The Steel was behind by six goals after the first quarter last weekend but the gap continued to widen in the second period.

The Magic fielded a vastly experienced side and Bloxham said the Steel needed more players to step up and help captain Wendy Frew in a leadership role if it was to handle the occasion this weekend.

"Wendy always leads from the front. But the players around her know they need to be leaders and they need to look after their own games.

"I think they've learnt a lot from the weekend and they know what they have to do.''

However, the challenge facing the side this weekend was not lost on Bloxham.

"Watching them [the Firebirds] on Monday night, they looked very sharp and we know that it's going to be really tough.

"We'll need to have whole court pressure for the whole 60 minutes.

"It's going to be a real cracker.''

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