Winning streak main thing at stake for Steel

Lenize Potgieter
Lenize Potgieter
Momentum may be massive and records may be impressive.

Both are on the line in Invercargill tonight.

In terms of the season, though, the result of tonight's Southern Steel and Northern Stars match will have no significance.

The sides are guaranteed to meet again at the same venue in next week's ANZ Premiership elimination final.

A win may be a boost in momentum.

But it would also give the loser plenty of motivation to bounce back.

Likewise, it poses the problem of whether to put everything out there system-wise.

It can be good to practise things in a game.

At the same time, it gives the opponent a week to go away and counter whatever was happening.

One thing at stake is the Steel's winning streak, which is now at six matches.

Only twice has the Steel kept a streak going longer than that - 10 games in 2016 and 17 games spanning 2017 and 2018.

It has not lost since a drubbing from the Central Pulse on April 10, when a terrible third quarter left it looking well off-pace.

Close wins over the Stars and Northern Mystics followed, before the side found its groove.

That included an impressive 10-goal win over the Pulse in Invercargill to firm itself as a genuine contender.

It is the attack end that the Steel has excelled at.

Its 883 goals are already 37 more than the Pulse managed, despite the Pulse already finishing its round-robin.

The quartet of Lenize Potgieter, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Gina Crampton and Shannon Saunders all feature well statistically in that regard.

Potgieter is second in the premiership for goals with 529 at 90%.

Only Tactix goal shoot Ellie Bird (579 goals at 90%) beats her, while only the Pulse's Aliyah Dunn has higher accuracy (481 goals at 92%).

Of the goal attacks, Selby-Rickit is also second in goals (262 at 77%), coming on exceptionally well after a slow start.

That combination has made the Steel shooting duo tough to contain.

Making it even tougher to contain is the side's feeding prowess, which has also steadily developed throughout the season since Potgieter joined the side.

Crampton's 593 feeds are 64 more than anyone else in the premiership, while Saunders' 456 rank her fifth.

At the other end, the Pulse remains the toughest to score against - conceding 676 goals in 15 games, against the Steel's 763 in 14.

Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit ranks third in rebounds.

For the most part, though, it has been as a unit that the Steel has got its turnovers this season, rather than one or two standing out in any statistics.

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