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Perhaps the week-long party took its toll. Whatever the reason, the ANZ Premiership champion made a shocking start to the Super Club tournament in Nelson last night, losing 65-61 to the Gauteng Jaguars.
The Steel was always in a fight with the South African champion and there was little difference in the scores for most of the match.
The southern team’s lead at the end of the third quarter was one goal, 46-45.
But the South Africans were desperate to win.
They were ahead by six goals with three minutes left and though the Steel tried to come back, the Invercargill-based team come up short.
Long-range shots, which are awarded two points, became crucial the longer the game went on. Steel youngster Georgia Heffernan put in some bombs from long range but the South Africans were just as accurate and kept in touch.
The Steel gave some of the younger members of its squad a run. The likes of the Heffernan twins, Jess Allan and Taneisha Fifita all had significant playing time but there was no sight of Wendy Frew and Te Paea Selby-Rickit.
Te Huinga Selby-Rickit looked good in the two quarters she played, while Kate Heffernan found space in the court.
The Steel will play the Singapore Shakers tonight at 6.40pm.
In other results yesterday, the New South Wales Institute of Sport beat Marama Vou, a combination from Fiji and Samoa, 71-51, the Tactix beat the Shakers 86-51 and the Pulse beat the UWS Sirens, of Scotland, 66-33.