Stars too strong for injury-hit Steel

The Steel were without key goal shoot Jennifer O'Connell after her injury on Friday. Photo: Getty...
The Steel were without key goal shoot Jennifer O'Connell after her injury on Friday. Photo: Getty Images
The Northern Stars have proven too strong for an injury-hit Southern Steel outfit, easing out to a 48-39 national netball premiership win in Auckland.

Already missing goal attack Georgia Heffernan to a season-ending knee injury last week, the Steel lost key goal shoot Jennifer O'Connell in Friday's three-goal loss to the Central Pulse.

That lack of experience in the circle cost them, although they pushed the Stars for three quarters before falling short in the final stanza.

The Stars piled the pressure on right from the first whistle, exploiting uncertainty in the Steel's attacking third and shooting circle.

Shooter Maia Wilson found her range early, and the Stars raced out to a six-goal lead after seven minutes.

But a tightened midcourt defensive effort from the Steel paid dividends, and Jamaican import Kalifa McCollin - playing in the unfamiliar position of goal shoot - converted the turnover ball to haul back the lead.

Young goal attack Kiana Pelasio also grew in confidence, and it took a Jamie Hume goal right on the whistle for the Stars to lead 12-11 at the first break.

The Stars built momentum in the second quarter, Wilson's circle movement and connection with midcourters Grace Kara and Mila Reulu-Buchanan key as they opened out to a 24-20 lead at halftime.

Pelasio was replaced by Grace Namana midway through the third quarter, and a strong finish to the spell narrowed the Stars lead to 33-31 at the final break.

But a combination of solid defence, patience on the feed, and unerring accuracy from Wilson (36 from 39) earned the Stars their second win of the competition.

They back up on Sunday against the Magic, with both teams fighting for victory after a 46-46 draw just six days ago.

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