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The season may still be three weeks away, but there is a long way to go for the Southern Steel.
The side was thrashed in its opening game of the ANZ Premiership preseason tournament in Otaki last night.
A rampant Northern Stars team won 60-34 in a messy display from the Steel.
It struggled to get the ball to its shooters, as the pesky Stars defence — notably veteran Anna Harrison — deflected its feeds away.
English shooter George Fisher — who joins the team today after two weeks in quarantine — will help in that regard.
But at the other end it struggled equally.
The Stars found their shooters with ease, often throwing long balls into the circle or taking just three or four passes to feed the ball.
Wing attack Gina Crampton, playing against the Steel for the first time after nearly a decade with the team, was influential in that regard.
However, it was far from a one-person effort as the Stars picked apart the Steel defence.
Meanwhile, its shooters were equally solid, Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume both reliable in the circle.
The Steel changed its line-ups around as it continued to try new combinations.
Renee Savai’inaea made her first appearance after missing the prior games through injury.
Shannon Saunders wore the wing attack bib as the side continues to search for its best midcourt combination.
It went badly from the start for the Steel.
The Stars shot out to an early lead, which it quickly extended to 6-1.
The Steel hit back late in the quarter, Taneisha Fifita creating a handful of turnovers to win the Steel back some ball.
It trailed 14-12 at the break, but the Stars again pulled away.
The Steel took over five minutes to score in the second quarter, as the Stars pulled out to a 21-12 lead.
That scoring drought came to an end, but the Stars pulled out to a double-digit lead and led 29-17 at halftime.
That margin became 20 at the end of the third quarter, as the Stars led 47-27, before again holding the Steel to just seven goals in the final quarter.
The Steel plays again today at 5pm against the Mystics, before facing the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at 10am tomorrow.