Tactix's strong defence enough to overcome Steel

Southern Steel wing defence Renee Savai'inaea looks down the court over the defence of Mainland...
Southern Steel wing defence Renee Savai'inaea looks down the court over the defence of Mainland Tactix goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
They say defence wins games.

It does not always have to be a tick in the intercept or deflection column, just a collective effort to chip away at the other team and put the pressure on them.

That is exactly what the Mainland Tactix did against the Southern Steel this afternoon to come up with a 53-44 win in Rangiora.

After suffering their first loss against the Pulse last week, the Tactix bounced back to win three quarters after failing to win one last week.

At times, the Steel looked flat and possibly still reeling from a big week with Shannon Saunders being ruled out for the rest of the season.

But they will take heart from the final quarter which they won 14-12.

The Tactix, who sit second on the ANZ Premiership table, probably will have still been wanting more out of that game.

Silver Ferns defenders Karin Burger and Jane Watson were a step above at the back and made the Steel attackers' life difficult.

But their full court defence was impressive.

The Tactix sat deep in the box on defence and made it hard for the Steel to penetrate.

They squeezed the Steel wide, which made it hard for them to find a clear path to the circle and punch through.

Once the Steel had a bit more movement on the ball, and Ivari Christie and Kate Heffernan hit the top, they found some nice openings.

Georgia Heffernan drove the base hard and Grace Namana found herself alone at the back.

They just needed a little more patience, and consistency, and found themselves down 14-11 at the first break.

The Tactix ball speed was their friend and exposed the Steel at times.

While the Steel would cover their players for two seconds, Tactix feeders would find the opening on the third.

But it was a terribly messy second quarter from both sides, with unforced errors and coach killers creeping into the game.

Abby Lawson made a difference when she was injected midway through at goal defence.

Yet still, the sizeable height difference Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit had over the Steel defenders made it easy for the home side to find a path to post and lead 27-20 at halftime.

The Tactix zone tested the Steel’s ability to exit through the court and wing defence Renee Savai’inaea did the most to reoffer and drive through the middle.

But once the ball was at circle edge, Burger and Watson confused the space, forcing the Steel to reset or put in a questionable feeds.

There were moments of brilliance again from the Steel. Kate Heffernan had some nice feeds and her sister, Georgia, was accurate finishing with 23 from 24 attempts.

It was just the volume of ball to their shooters that cost them.

Their attention will now turn to their game against the Northern Mystics in Dunedin on Sunday.

The Central Pulse beat the Northern Stars 58-52 on Saturday.