Simple equation for Steel — just keep on winning

Tiana Metuarau during the Southern Steel Netball training at the Edgar Centre on Thursday. PHOTO:...
Tiana Metuarau during the Southern Steel Netball training at the Edgar Centre on Thursday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Just keep winning.

That is the simple equation for the Southern Steel.

Doing so will not be so simple, especially the way this year’s ANZ Premiership has gone.

Of course there is a chance even that might not be enough.

However, the Mainland Tactix would have to be very good to edge the Steel out of a top three spot.

It could even come down to bonus points.

That is a sign of the remarkably tight playoff race that has developed two-thirds of the way through the season.

The Steel finds itself tied in third place with the Tactix on 18 points with five games remaining.

Trailing is the defending champion Central Pulse on 14.

Meanwhile, the Northern Stars and Mystics lead the way on 25 and 24 respectively.

How that will end up is hard to predict — no game is a guaranteed win in this year’s competition.

In some ways, the Steel has a favourable run in, with

two matches remaining against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, a side that has won just one game.

This Magic side is much better than its record suggests.

However, the fact everyone else has been picking up wins against it makes it important the Steel does as well.

The Steel will have to play at least one of those games without key shooter George Fisher, which makes it even more challenging.

Games against the Mystics and Stars loom after that.

Both are tough assignments, although the Mystics game is in Invercargill and the Steel has already beaten them this year.

The last game, against the Central Pulse, could be crucial.

While it is an opportunity to gain points, it is equally a chance to deprive the Pulse of points.

The next two weeks will be significant for the Pulse, as they will for the Tactix.

They play each other twice.

If the Tactix win both, it effectively ends the Pulse’s chances of a top three spot and puts pressure on the Steel to win both games against the Magic.

If the Pulse wins both, that will make the race even tighter but give the Steel a chance to create a buffer.

Then there are the Mystics, who are six points ahead of the Steel and Tactix.

They still have to play both one more time, though, and have to play the in-form Stars twice — which no other team has to.

They also do not have a game against the Magic left.

The Stars would be a good bet to make it but at this point the other two spots are very much open.

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