Steel bottom after Stars notch first win

Steel defender Abby Lawson pressures Stars shooter Monica Falkner during the ANZ Premiership game...
Steel defender Abby Lawson pressures Stars shooter Monica Falkner during the ANZ Premiership game in Auckland on Saturday. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
It was all going so well for the Steel.

Then it all fell apart.

The Steel crumbled after a promising start and were thumped 63-46 by the Stars in Auckland on Saturday.

It was a deflating result for the Steel, who had broken their long losing streak against the Stars a month earlier.

This was also something of a wooden spoon clash, and the Steel now sit bottom of the ANZ Premiership, three points behind the Stars, despite this being the northerners’ first win of the season.

A netball game has four quarters but it is fair to say the tone for this one was set entirely by a small part of the first.

The Steel, no doubt wary, of their winless opponents’ desire to break their duck, started with nice control and some crisp Grace Namana shooting on their way to an 8-4 lead.

What followed was something of a horror show as the Stars scored the next nine goals.

Kate Burley did some lovely work at the back for the Stars but the ugly patch was more about the Steel’s wayward passing — even a couple from star centre Kate Heffernan — and their inability to stop the ball flowing to Maia Wilson at the other end.

Wilson showed all her calmness and circle presence to finish with 49 goals from 52 attempts.

The Stars held a solid 17-10 lead at the first break, and while the Steel quickly narrowed the lead to three goals through some hustling plays, they could not seem to maintain their intensity.

They also struggled for clear air under the hoop, and while Georgia Heffernan and Namana had their moments, their combined shooting of 74% was on the low side.

Wilson, in contrast, banked 24 of her 25 attempts in the second quarter as the Stars sat on a 32-22 lead at halftime.

Accuracy issues continued for the Steel so Summer Temu was introduced early in the third quarter.

She made all 11 of her attempts but the vigorous efforts of Burley and Holly Fowler continued to make life difficult for the Steel attack.

The Stars also found it too easy to get the ball through the court, even in the absence of star Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, as Holly Mather stepped into the starting team alongside sister Lisa.

The Stars remained in control with a 47-33 lead heading into the final quarter, and while the Steel finished with some pep and pride, the damage had been done.

"It’s nice to have a happy team", Wilson said after the game.

"Absolutely stoked, to be fair. It’s been a long time coming, and this was a game we needed to win, so we’re very happy."

Kate Heffernan lamented the Steel’s drop-off after their positive start to the game.

"I guess there was a bit of disconnect there and we really struggled in that middle part.

"They played really well together, and we just didn’t quite manage to shut them down, and we turned over a bit too much ball on attack."

Yesterday, the Mainland Tactix defeated the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic 60-42 in Hamilton.

The round finishes with the clash between the Pulse and the Mystics in Porirua tonight.


ANZ Premiership

The scores

Stars  63

Maia Wilson 49/52, Amorangi Malesala 10/12, Monica Falkner 3/4, Rahni Samason 1/4

Steel  46

Grace Namana 21/26, Georgia Heffernan 14/21, Summer Temu 11/11

Quarter scores:  17-10, 32-22, 47-33.