Steel strong in both defence and attack

Shannon Saunders of Southern Steel tries to break the defence during the 2019 Super Club...
Shannon Saunders of Southern Steel tries to break the defence during the 2019 Super Club Tournament match between Southern Steel and Wasps at the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
The end was a bit messy, but there was plenty to like from the Southern Steel.

Disruptive defence and clinical attack gave it an early lead that helped it cruise away in its Super Club opener last night.

It beat English side Wasps 50-36 in Nelson, showing plenty to suggest this will once again be a very competitive side in 2020.

The Steel led 24-10 at one point, completely dominating the early stages of the game.

Its defence proved tough to break down as the Wasps struggled to get quality ball to their shooters.

They leant heavily on Rachel Dunn, who scored 29 of the Wasps’ 36 goals and took 33 of their 46 shots.

In contrast, the Steel attack made use of its extra ball. It looked after possession and missed just two shots in the first half.

Goal shoot Jennifer O’Connell was dominant, using her size to provide an easy target and finish with an impressive 24/26 (92%) accuracy.

She combined well with new import Kalifa McCollin, who moved well and was equally accurate.

They were key as the Steel eased out to a 16-8 lead at the first break. It made several changes for the second quarter, as it did for every quarter, but the dominance continued.

Youngster Taneisha Fifita made an instant impact on the defensive end, helping the Steel continue to come up with ball.

The side continued its attacking dominance as well.

O’Connell remained a force, allowing easy feeds, and did not miss her first shot until the final second of the half.

However, as the lead kept extending, the Wasps began to ease the bleeding at 24-10.

They began finding their shooters, while also forcing mistakes from the Steel. That helped them win the rest of the second quarter 7-5, although the Steel still held a comfortable 29-17 lead at halftime.

More changes came at halftime and the Steel game became messy, while the Wasps had their best quarter.

The Steel extended the lead by one to 41-28 before the Wasps restored the margin to single digits midway through the fourth quarter. It never got closer than nine, though.

The Steel finished stronger, taking eight of the last nine shots, making six of them, to restore a comfortable margin to finish.

The tournament continues today, the Steel playing the Northern Mystics at 3.30pm.

It then faces the Central Pulse at 8.10pm tomorrow, before a break day to prepare for the semifinals and finals on Thursday and Friday.


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