Tactix sink Steel in scrappy encounter

The Steel's Grace Namana lines up a shot against the Tactix. Photo: Getty
The Steel's Grace Namana lines up a shot against the Tactix. Photo: Getty
Well, at least that one’s out of the way.

It is a game the Southern Steel and the Mainland Tactix will be wanting to put behind them pretty quickly and look ahead to the rest of the ANZ Premiership.

Even though the Tactix won 52-35 at Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch tonight, they were far from their best as well.

It was a messy affair and the unforced errors across the board were high: the Steel with 37 turnovers and the Tactix with 21.

Shooting statistics from the Tactix were poor, the team converting only 52 from their 71 attempts, while the Steel were better in that department, scoring 35 of their 41 attempts.

But it was just their volume and entry into their shooters that let them down.

Shooter Grace Namana was a shining light for the Steel at the back.

She finished with 22 from 25 attempts, but it was her strength on the hold, take in the air and her positioning to re-offer that stood out the most.

Her feeders just struggled to sight her early enough or let the ball go with confidence.

It was a poor first quarter for both sides. The Tactix held an 11-4 lead at the break, with the Steel producing their lowest scoring quarter in the franchise's history.

The Tactix took a while to settle in attack without usual target shooter Aliyah Dunn, who was ruled out with a knee injury.

The Steel were strongly defensively, but when it came to bringing the ball down the court, they put each other under unnecessary pressure.

They struggled to find their flow and were often on top of each other driving down the same channel and it ended with long balls being forced in to Namana.

Tactix defenders Jane Watson and Karin Burger were smothering, splitting the circle to confuse the space and were not afraid to go for a fly.

Midcourters Kimiora Poi – playing her 100th national league game – and Erikana Pederson, in her first game out of retirement, looked like they had never been apart.

They re-offered on the circle edge, used their triangles to effect and supplied some nice ball to their shooters.

It was better second quarter for the Steel as they started finding their connections more.

Georgia Heffernan did a power of work out the front trying to bring the ball down, but that limited her impact at the post and the Tactix extended 25-14 at halftime.

It was a much better third quarter from the Steel, only losing 14-11.

Kate Heffernan, who is still coming back from an Achilles and ankle injury, took a set on the bench, which pushed Renee Savai’inea into the middle, South African Jeante Strydom out to wing defence and Abby Lawson into goal defence.

Lawson’s fresh legs made an impact immediately, boxing out steal a couple of rebounds and brought the ball down the court nicely.

She and Taneisha Fifta pressured the Tactix shooters more and Lawon made a strong case for a starting spot moving forward.

Australian Charlie Bell made her Tactix debut in the third quarter, replacing Ellie Bird who returned to the Tactix as injury cover.

They made a swag of changes throughout the game as the scoreline gave them some comfort to test their connections.

The Steel had patches of nice play during the final quarter, but it is just that consistency to pull them together for longer that is missing.

Fifita was send off for two minutes, with 11 seconds left on in the game, for what was cited as dangerous play when going for the ball against Bird.