Tactix win messy affair over Steel

Southern Steel goal keeper Taneisha Fifita defends the shot of Te Paea Selby-Rickit during last...
Southern Steel goal keeper Taneisha Fifita defends the shot of Te Paea Selby-Rickit during last night's ANZ Premiership game. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Well, at least that one is 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 last night, they were far from their best.

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

The shooting statistics from the Tactix were poor — they converted 52 from their 71 attempts.

The Steel were better in that department at least, converting 35 of their 41 attempts.

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

Shooter Grace Namana was a shining light for the Steel.

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

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

It was a poor first quarter for both sides.

The Tactix held a 11-4 lead at the break, the Steel producing their lowest-scoring quarter in the franchise’s history.

The Tactix took a while to settle in attack without usual 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 on top of each other driving down the same channel.

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 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.

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

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

Kate Heffernan, who is still coming back from an Achilles and ankle injury, took a seat 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, stealing a couple of rebounds and bringing the ball down the court nicely.

She and Taneisha Fifita pressured the Tactix shooters more and Lawson made a strong case for a starting spot.

Australian Charlie Bell made her Tactix debut, 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 comfort to test their connections.

The Steel had patches of nice play during the final quarter, but it they just lack the consistency to pull those patches together for longer.

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

ANZ Premiership

The scores

Mainland Tactix          52

Te Paea Selby-Rickit 21/29, Jess Allan 5/8, Ellie Bird 24/30, Charlie Bell 2/3

Southern Steel           35

Grace Namana 22/25, Georgia Heffernan 11/14, Martina Salmon 2/2

Quarter scores:  Tactix 11-4, 25-14, 39-25