Steel’s Super Club progress report card: must do better

Reinga Bloxham.
Reinga Bloxham.
Winning the Super Club tournament would have been nice.

But the real priority for Steel coach Reinga Bloxham is to find out what her players are capable of before the ANZ Premiership next year.

The Steel slipped out of contention following a humbling 51-28 loss to the Pulse on Tuesday night.

The tournament, which is being staged in Nelson, took a break yesterday but will resume today.

The Steel will play the Northern Stars as it jostles for the minor placings.

There is a lot to prove and even more to improve on, Bloxham said.

‘‘We have to be able to cope with the sort of pressure and physicality the Pulse brought,’’ she said.

‘‘They showed their intentions right from the start and we struggled to keep up, I suppose.

‘‘The girls were pretty disappointed and on reflection felt they weren’t good enough.

‘‘But it’s not the end of the world. These are what these tournaments are for — to expose us and put us under this sort of heat.’’

The Steel struggled to get the ball into the shooting circle during the opening quarter. When it managed to connect with its shooters, the shots rimmed out.

By the end of the period the Steel trailed 14-3 and was already in damage control mode.

Defenders Katrina Rore and Karin Burger put Jennifer O’Connell and Georgia Heffernan under tremendous pressure.

For Heffernan, is was a reality check. The 20-year-old rookie was replaced towards the end of the quarter.

‘‘It definitely was a tough assignment for her. But what she can take away from that is when we brought the experienced player on in Kalifa [McCollin] not much really changed.

‘‘That shows that the Pulse’s pressure was intense and immense.’’

The Steel regrouped in the second period, but the Pulse resumed control in the second half and pulled away to win by 23 goals.

‘‘We only turned up for that second quarter and the other three quarters were pretty disappointing in terms of what we did.’’

The Steel was without star midcourter Gina Crampton. She was feeling ill and was unavailable. It is unclear whether she will play tonight.

One of the areas the Steel struggled in was getting the ball to its shooters. Crampton’s absence did not help, but the Steel will need to be better.

‘‘The girls all recognised that was a major gap in our game, so we will take those learnings away.

‘‘But we still have a lot to play for. I don’t think anyone walked off the court the [other] night feeling great, so they will be keen to get back out there and fix what went wrong.

‘‘It is still a good opportunity to be able to test some combinations and put some people out there.’’

The Collingwood Magpies will play the Pulse in one semifinal, with the Mystics and the Magic contesting the other.

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