The Southern Steel proved too strong for the Northern Stars, winning 63-46 at the ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill tonight to take the advantage heading into next week’s elimination final.
Captain Leana De Bruin who was rested last week, said the match was a difficult one to prepare for.
“It was hard to play a game that didn’t really matter, we had great play in patches but disappointed that it blew out. We are really looking forward to next week,” said De Bruin.
The teams had split their two previous outings with one win a piece this season but it was the Steel who shot out of the blocks to lead early.
Maia Wilson and Ellen Halpenny both missed their first attempts at goal and the visitors quickly found themselves down 11-1.
Head coach Kiri Wills brought on Charlee Hodges at goal attack. The changed took a while to settle but the Stars came back to trail 11-16 at the first break.
The patchy play from the Stars continued in the second quarter with De Bruin, Storm Purvis and Kayla Cullen creating turnover ball, only for it to be lost on attack.
Once the ball found the hands of Wilson and Hodges, both shooters went straight to the post and helped bring the Stars back to draw the quarter (13-all) and trail 24-29 at half time.
In a forthright analysis of the first half, Wilson put her hand up that the shooters needed to reward the hard work of the defence.
“Being down 10-1 wasn’t good enough but we did well to bring it back to five. Our defence are getting some amazing ball, we (shooters) just need to get it through the hoop,” said Wilson.
A switch in the midcourt saw Temepara Bailey move to wing attack, Holly Fowler taking the center bib and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan to the bench to open up the third quarter.
Both sides continued to make changes within the quarter as Kate Burley made an appearance at goal keep as the Stars clawed their way to within 3 goals.
Jennifer O’Connell slipped back into the steel shooting circle with ease as she caused headaches for Stars defence with the holding shooter creating space for her feeders.
The Steel ramped up the pressure and quickly built a nine goal lead heading into the final quarter thanks to Stars errors.
In a bold statement ahead of the elimination final the Steel continued to starve the Stars of possession and punish the visitors for their errors and take a comfortable win.