Steel pays dearly for hesitant third quarter

Invercargill will host the final.

Now all the Steel need to do is make sure they are playing in it.

The franchise’s return game in Auckland on Saturday did not go to plan at all.

The Tactix outscored the Steel two-to-one in the crucial third quarter to build an unassailable lead.

And it was a former Steel player who finish the quarter with a flourish. Shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit dropped in a long shot from the edge of space, err, the circle to stretch her side’s lead to 34-27.

It was a big statement from a player who has spent most of her career in the Steel strip.

Te Paea finished the game with 12 from 14 to help her side win 43-36.

Her older sister and veteran Steel defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit could only admire the shot and said after the match the third quarter effectively cost her side the game.

‘I think we just got a bit hesitant and stopped driving through the ball," she said.

"Against a team like that you have to drive all the way and make sure it is in your hands and you deliver a good pass. I was guilty of a couple of shockers.

"We’ll have to have a look at it and fix it because we can’t have another quarter like that again."

The shortened 12-minute quarters fly by awfully quickly and it was the Tactix who made the stronger start. Temalisi Fakahokotau grabbed an early intercept and fellow defender Jane Watson got in the road as well.

But the Steel poached a late goal to cut the gap to 12-11.

There was precious little separating the sides in the second period. A tiny mistake from Jen O’Connell when the ball rolled out of her grasp and a sloppy pass on the edge of the circle were really the only flaws to report for the Steel.

Fittingly the teams went into the halftime break with 20 goals apiece.

But that is were the contest ended. All was all Tactix thereafter.

The Christchurch-based team is a quality side and have arguably firmed as favourite to join the Pulse in the final in a couple of months’ time.

The Steel really struggled with the height of Tactix shooters Ellie Bird (31 from 39) and Te Paea.

Late last week Netball New Zealand announced the ANZ Premiership finals series will be staged at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill on August 23.

The top two seeded sides at the end of the regular season will meet in the grand final, while the remaining four teams will contest the minor placings.

Netball New Zealand head of events Kate Agnew said it was fitting to see the season close in Invercargill in front of a passionate fan base.

"There is a huge netballing history in Southland so we are delighted to be able to take the ANZ Premiership showpiece to Invercargill,” she said.

In the other game yesterday, the Central Pulse beat the Northern Stars 63-39.


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