Spearheaded by a flawless shooting display from Ellie Bird and making their move at the right time of the season, The Good Oil Tactix delivered a well-crafted 47-40 win over the Robinhood Northern Stars on Sunday.
After leading by two at halftime, the Tactix delivered a big third quarter to set the platform for the all-important win while pocketing maximum points as the race to earn a top-two spot intensifies.
Backing up after playing 24 hours earlier, the Stars made a valiant attempt to at least gain a bonus point, by finishing within five, five straight goals in the early stages of the final stanza giving them a glimmer of hope.
But improving weekly, and hitting form at the right time, the Tactix absorbed everything thrown at them and with ball in hand, there was no denying Bird, who nailed all 37 of her shots.
Having more shots at goal, the Stars made a good fist of the first half but made too many errors at crucial moments, and unravelled as they chased the bonus point in the run home.
It was a steady start from both teams, the Stars enjoying an easier passage to goal where in-form shooter Maia Wilson was heavily involved in setting up play and potting the goals.
The Tactix required a more patient build-up but with play-making goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit directing play outside the circle and getting through lots of work, it was the southerners who made the breakthrough. A run of five straight goals helping them hit the first break with a 14-10 lead.
The injection of young goal attack Vika Koloto for Jamie Hume on the resumption helped revive the Stars fortunes as they produced a strong reply during the second stanza.
Stars defenders Fa’amu Ioane and Kate Burley were prominent with their hustle in forcing the Tactix to earn their keep while Koloto added extra spark with her speed, youthful enthusiasm and no-fear attitude.
Tactix defenders Charlotte Elley, Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau were also busy, making life difficult for the Stars in and around their shooting circle during an increasingly even and tight constant.
With Lisa Mather taking over from Mila Reuelu-Buchanan at centre, the Stars levelled up late in the piece before the Tactix had the last say. Goal shoot Bird completed a perfect first half with 19/19 in helping steer the Tactix to a 24-22 lead at the main break.
The Tactix made their move in a match-changing third quarter, negating multiple changes by the Stars to take control of proceedings.
Happy to retain her distributing role, Selby-Rickit had able helpers in midcourters Erikana Pedersen and Kimiora Poi in delivering a constant supply of ball to Bird, who obliged in kind. A run of seven straight goals pushed the Tactix into a comfortable lead.
At the other end, Watson and Fakahokotau were at their menacing best in effectively cutting off the supply to Stars danger shooter Wilson.
With Bird continuing to rattle in the goals, remaining blemish-free in the process, the Tactix skipped into the last break handily-placed when leading 37-29.