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The Southern Steel has scored its second win in a row at the Super Club event in Nelson as a dominant third quarter sealed the victory.
The side won 45-41 over the Northern Mystics and with the victory has all but assured the side of a trip to the top four.
The Steel and the Mystics could not be separated after two quarters but the southern team pulled away as it grabbed some interceptions and the Mystics became hesitant in moving the ball down the court.
The Steel opened up a six-goal lead and led 37-31 at the end of the third quarter.
The Mystics came back slightly in the final quarter and when Grace Nweke potted a goal with just under two minutes left, the side was down by just three goals.
But Nweke was then immediately penalised for pushing in the circle and the Steel went down the other end to score a goal that, in the end, sealed the victory for the southern team.
The Steel side was constantly changed, no player taking the court for the entire match.
All four shooters — Jennifer O’Connell, Kalifa McCollin, Georgia Heffernan and Kiana Pelasio — had time in the circle and McCollin looks like she will be a good acquisition.
O’Connell appears more mobile this season and she was good at winning ball in front of the Mystics’ defenders. The Steel shooters had more chances but ended up shooting at 75%.
Former Steel defender Courtney Elliot was lively in the circle for the Mystics.
The Mystics tended to centre their attack through long balls to tall shooter Grace Nweke, who did not miss many.
But it all got a tad predictable and the Steel defenders were able to get interceptions and deflections at various times.
Kate Heffernan had an outstanding game, nabbing interceptions and finding the shooters with accuracy and strength. One rocket pass that travelled over half the court was a real eye-opener.
Not far behind was her twin Georgia, who started off shooting with real accuracy.
Coach Reinga Bloxham would have been happy with the tenacity in defence, although the Steel tended to rush at times and should have shown more patience. It was not the most intense sporting encounter ever played.
Silver Fern Gina Crampton did not take the court but Shannon Saunders had an impressive match, showing a calm hand.
It was good to see Dani Gray back on the court at this level and she played at wing defence for the Mystics. She was a member of the Steel before injuring her knee badly in May last year.
The final games of pool play will take place today and the Steel has a late game against the Central Pulse starting at 8.10pm.
All sides will have tomorrow off before the semifinals on Thursday and the final games on Friday.
Jennifer O’Connell 20/26, Kalifa McCollin 10/11, Kiana Pelasio 4/6, Georgia Heffernan 11/17
Quarter scores: 11-11, 13-13, 13-7, 8-10