Netball: Steel hoping to turn record around

On paper, the Steel and Thunderbirds could not be further apart.

The Steel heads into tomorrow's ANZ Championship match between the two sides in Adelaide unbeaten after five rounds, while the Thunderbirds have endured their worst start to a season, losing all five matches.

The Adelaide-based side has been losing by plenty, too.

It has scored the fewest goals of any team to have played five games and has suffered losses by as many as 19 and 24 goals.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Steel has the tournament's second-best offensive record and is looking to equal its record-winning streak of four matches when it runs out at Priceline Stadium tomorrow.

But when you dig a little deeper, you will see there is one factor not included in those statistics, and that is the difficulty of the side's runs so far.

The Thunderbirds have played all four fellow Australian teams and travelled to Auckland to play the Mystics last weekend, while the Steel has played four New Zealand sides and hosted the Fever in Invercargill last week.

It is a fact not lost on Steel captain Wendy Frew, who said the southern team would have to improve on last week's performance if it was to nab a notoriously elusive win across the ditch.

"The Thunderbirds will be an extremely tough game.

"They're actually a good-quality side. Unfortunately for them, they haven't managed to get a win so far, but they're a fast side and are pretty nuggety throughout the whole court.

"It's going to be a tough game and we'll need to perform better than we did against the Fever to get that win on Australian soil.''

Frew, who will play her 97th game for the Steel tomorrow, has been instrumental in the side's success so far.

She has been somewhat of an unsung hero among an ever-evolving team whose players have grown in stature this year.

Jane Watson and Storm Purvis are both in the top 10 players for deflections and Watson is second in intercepts.

Jhaniele Fowler-Reid is the top goal-scorer with 242 and Gina Crampton has contributed the third-most goal assists with 71.

Frew said the team was not getting ahead of itself but was confident it could call on all of that form to turn around its "poor record'' in Australia.

"To be honest, we just haven't performed well enough individually,'' she said of the Steel's struggles overseas.

"We've had some real tight games in the last couple of years but, unfortunately, we haven't been able to put in that 60-minute performance.

"It's nothing to do with travel. Unfortunately, we just haven't adapted.''

A win tomorrow would mean a great deal to the side and would set it up nicely ahead of its bye next week, Frew said.

To achieve that, the Steel had been working on minimising turnovers and making sure players were giving each other quality ball.

"We've been having some success. It's just about fine-tuning some of those things across the court.

"We're certainly going for the win. We'll be very disappointed if we come home and don't have the win on the board.''

Defender Samantha Poolman will return to the Thunderbirds side for tomorrow's clash, after missing last week's game for personal reasons.

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