Fisher-inspired Southern Steel shock Tactix with 18-goal win

SOUTHERN Steel stamped their authority on the competition with a resounding win over grand finalists Mainland Tactix (54-36). Sporting new recruit George Fisher from the get-go, the Steel flexed their muscles in attack and dominated play right across the court while the Tactix looked lacklustre without the services of injured star Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

It was blow for blow in the opening quarter with Ellie Bird and Fisher carrying the load for their respective sides. The Steel defence made the Tactix work in overdrive with Taneisha Fifita pushing Bird up high and forcing her to shoot from outside of her comfort zone. The Steel crept out to an early three-goal lead with their defensive pressure enabling them to win ball back and fly down the court to add to their tally. Some crafty feeds from Samon Nathan allowed the Tactix to eat back into the margin but the steady head of Fisher continued to shine through, with the goal shooter controlling the tempo of the goal circle.

Kate Heffernan did not look out of place through the centre, using her long limbs to take a huge intercept in the midcourt and propel the ball into attack as the Steel mounted pressure in attack and defence. Errant passes in the Tactix frontend caused them headaches as they continuously threw ball away, gifting the Steel opportunities to go forward and score. The speed and connection of Tiana Metuarau and Fisher was impressive as the two created a wealth of space. A Karin Burger-inspired intercept sparked the Tactix into action as the attacking plays started to flow to level the scores. With the clock ticking down the Tactix and Steel traded goals to head into the first break at 11 goals apiece.

Both teams came out with a real defensive pep in their step as Burger picked up where she left off with another intercept. The ball continued to ebb and flow across the court with neither side able to build any real momentum before the Steel started to kick into gear. The attacking unit started to hum as Metuarau seemed to have the ball on a string while Fisher found space aplenty inside the circle. Heffernan made her presence felt in defence snatching up another intercept and then using her speed to hustle the ball down the court.

With the lead getting away from them, the Tactix rung in the changes with Erikana Pedersen pulling on the wing attack bib and Hannah Glen making her way on in goal attack. it took a while for the changes to make an impact as the Steel piled on the pressure going on a five goal scoring spree to establish a seven goal lead midway through the second. The wheels well and truly started to fall off in attack for the Tactix with wayward passes dictating the term. Kimiora Poi was well held with the physicality of Renee Savai’inaea getting to her around circle edge to rush the feed into Bird and Glen. The Steel were rewarded for their efforts throughout the term, boasting a six-goal lead at the main change.

A lack of cohesion for the Tactix seemed to be the main issue as they struggled to create space for one another. Fifita built with confidence as the game went on with her three-foot marking and all-round defensive pressure putting Bird under the pump. The cool, calm and collected head of Shannon Saunders became even more impressive against Charlotte Elley who struggled to combat her 1-2 punch around circle edge and precision passes into the circle. The Steel proved they were not afraid to use the width of the court to bypass the zone defence while delivering long balls into the attacking third to give Fisher first access. Jane Watson failed to quell the influence of Fisher who had only missed one goal midway through the third while Burger continued to toil hard using her outside arm to create deflections aplenty.

Scoring proved to be no issue for the Steel with Fisher presenting exceptionally well as they established a 10-goal lead. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit was somewhat of an understated star, working in overdrive to shut down the space and double-team Bird inside the circle as the Steel’s overall space-marking cause havoc for the Tactix frontend. With the game on their terms the Steel looked to the bench with Ali Wilshier earning her debut in wing attack as Saunders shuffled into her more traditional role of centre.

The final quarter continued much of the same as with the Southern Steel keeping their foot down and putting in the hard yards down back to render the Tactix inaccurate. The 2020 grand finalists simply could not maintain possession and were denied access into the goal circle. Looking for a spark in defence they pushed Burger out to wing as Sophia Fenwick entered the game in goal defence but it was to no avail as the Steel attackers continued on their merry way, running away with an 18-goal victory.

It was a dominant performance from Fisher who led the way under the post with 46 goals from 49 attempts at 94 per cent and while Metuarau was not overly accurate sitting at 57 per cent her playmaking abilities came to the fore with 20 goal assists. Saunders was influential around circle edge with 16 goal assists, while defensively the efforts of Fifita did not go unnoticed recording eight gains as Savai’inaea also reeled in two intercepts. Bird was the go-to girl for the Tactix nailing 22 goals at 82 per cent with both Glen and Jess Prosser slotting seven goals apiece. Burger was a key cog in defence and through the midcourt recording 11 centre pass receives to accompany her three intercepts and three deflections.

SOUTHERN STEEL 11| 14 | 13 | 16 (54)
MAINLAND TACTIX 11 | 8 | 11 | 6 (36)



GS: George Fisher
GA: Tiana Metuarau
WA: Shannon Saunders
C: Kate Heffernan
WD: Renee Savai’inaea
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita


GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Jess Prosser
WA: Samon Nathan
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Karin Burger
GK: Jane Watson

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