Steel’s early progress pleases Bloxham

Reinga Bloxham.
Reinga Bloxham.
Two losses, but progress being made.

That was the outcome of the Southern Steel’s two preseason matches in Central Otago this week.

A 65-41 loss to the Mainland Tactix on Tuesday in Alexandra was followed by a 58-55 loss to the Central Pulse in Queenstown yesterday.

It was not just the score that looked better in the second game.

Coach Reinga Bloxham said the side showed far greater consistency, although it also kept a more settled line-up.

The Steel played a different line-up in each quarter on Tuesday.

That left it struggling to connect at times, although the Tactix also brought ball speed which the Steel found tough to slow down.

Bloxham said yesterday the Steel made big improvements.

It brought some strong unit pressure, found goal shoot Jennifer O’Connell more easily and, at times, held up the Pulse attack well and forced turnovers.

Just over a month out from the start of the season, Bloxham was happy with where the team was at.

‘‘I think the great thing about having these sorts of games is they highlight those areas of strengths and weaknesses,’’ she said.

‘‘I think that’s really important for us.

‘‘From yesterday’s game to today’s we made great improvements.

‘‘I think that’s the most important thing, that we just keep improving and keep growing.’’

There were no major injury concerns, although Abby Erwood copped a ‘‘friendly elbow’’ from Kendall McMinn early in the third quarter yesterday. That left her with a black eye and she came off for the remainder of the game.

The side had been in Wanaka, Alexandra and Queenstown over three days. It had also done workshops and visited several schools to run clinics.

Bloxham said it had been a great trip and players enjoyed getting out into the zone.

The next target was the ANZ Premiership preseason tournament in Otaki, which was just over two weeks away.

There the Steel would look to be a little more polished.

‘‘We just really need to make sure we’re getting some of our structures sorted, linking some of our defence end with our attack end, just getting a little bit more time on the court together.

‘‘So if we can start pulling it in a little bit tighter and executing at a higher speed, that’ll be beneficial for us.

‘‘So, hopefully, by the time we get to Otaki we can be a bit more fine tuned.’’

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