Steel recovers from poor first quarter to win

Lenize Potgieter
Lenize Potgieter. Photo: Supplied
The comeback was great, the reason it was necessary not so much.

Facing a 13-goal deficit early on, the Southern Steel rallied to emerge a 64-56 winner over the Mainland Tactix in Christchurch last night.

The result in the end was convincing and the second quarter was brilliant but the Steel cannot expect to haul in a double-digit deficit every game.

Jane Watson led the way as the Tactix piled on the pressure early. She combined well with fellow circle defender Charlotte Elley to disrupt a Steel attack which appeared in meltdown.

Turnovers plagued its game and the home side jumped out to a 22-9 lead.

But the Steel response was as good as its first quarter was bad. It rediscovered its form and, after hauling in the deficit before halftime, maintained control throughout the second half.

The cool heads of Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders proved key, although the shooters' efficiency was a difference maker.

Lenize Potgieter and Te Paea Selby-Rickit combined to make 64/69 (93%) of their shots, clinching the win despite the Tactix getting an extra two attempts.

That it rediscovered its form almost instantly will be a relief with just one game remaining before the playoffs.

The poor start will be a focus point though. For a team that has a goal of building on each quarter throughout the season, it was a disappointing 15 minutes.

Indeed it was arguably its worst quarter of the season.

Watson and Elley dominated proceedings, attacking the ball and making it difficult for the Steel to feed inside.

At first, they picked off several long feeds but even from the edge of the circle the Steel was unable to find its shooters.

The connections which have solidified all season went missing and 10 turnovers - along with just nine shots - was the result.

At the other end the Tactix attack clinically made use of those, leading 22-9 at the first break.

The second quarter could not have been more different. The Steel defence began to click and the Tactix attack began to fall to pieces, managing just eight goals.

Meanwhile, the Steel attack was rampant. The feeds became easier, Crampton becoming a major factor.

Potgieter scored in the final minute to even the score at 29-29, before Ellie Bird gave the Tactix a one-goal lead at halftime.

The rampage ended at halftime, although momentum remained with the Steel.

It took the lead early in the third quarter, although the Tactix was able to put up a fight.

Its attack began to function again and, while Bird's shooting percentage was down, the home side was able to put in 13 goals.

The Steel shooters continued their hot streak though and led 47-43 at the final break.

That continued through the fourth quarter, the Steel pulling away throughout the final eight minutes. It led by 11 at one point, although the Tactix was able to cut the deficit back to single digits to finish.

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