Mainland Tactix stun Steel in battle of the south
COMING off a loss, the Mainland Tactix had a day out against the Southern Steel with the defensive unit generating a wealth of ball and shutting down any movement in attack to run home 13 goal victors (48-35). Their connections across the court were second to none dominating from the first whistle to the last. On the other hand, the Steel simply could not find any rhythm across the court with their defence often caught out of position and shooters unable to get sufficient supply to post.
The Steel got off to a strong start with with goal shooter Kalifa McCollin sinking the first of the evening and applying strong pressure to clog the centre pass. McCollin found a wealth of space along the baseline and used her turn of speed to exploit Temalisi Fakahokotau in the opening minutes of the game. However it was short lived as the Tactix kicked into gear with Kimiora Poi paving the way through the centre with her impressive speed and athleticism to keep the ball alive. The ball bobbed up and down the court as wing defence Charlotte Elley proved her worth for the Tactix with a perfectly read intercept in the defensive third to snaffle any attacking forays. The Tactix pressure continued to mount as Fakahokotau and Jane Watson starred with Fakahokotau able to read the shot, rebound and then deflect the ball to Watson in space.
Despite the best efforts of the Steel they simply could not go with the Tactix who seemed to unlock a whole new level of intensity both in attack and defence. Poi impressing around the circle edge to win ball back and create an attacking foray while Kate Heffernan tried to provide a spark for the Steel through the midcourt with a timely block. Mainland opened up a five goal lead while the Steel went goalless for five and a half minutes thanks to the immense pressure applied by Watson and Fakahokotau.
Down by eight goals at quarter time the injection of Ellen Halpenny paid dividends with the experienced former Silver Ferns goal shooter absorbing the pressure. The move allowed McCollin to transition back into goal attack and bring the ball down court with confidence but it took a while for the frontend to settle into the combination. It was a scrappy start to the term with the Tactix scoring off the Steel’s centre pass and extending the margin before Fakahokotau was forced from the court copping a heavy knock to her ankle. The Tactix shuffled around the bibs with Watson sliding into goal keeper and Sophia Fenwick making her way onto the court in goal defence. The Tactix were not fazed by the change with Watson immediately picking up an intercept.
With the defence humming, it was the attack that stood up for the Tactix with Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird putting on a show in the goal circle. Bird converted 100 per cent of her shots throughout the term nailing 10 consecutive goals while Selby-Rickit showcased her touch with six goal assists and range with five goals of her own to blow the margin out to 10 goals. The Tactix continued to build on their form nullifying the influence of Shannon Saunders through the centre third and establish a 15 goal buffer heading into the half time break.
Unable to find their connections through court the Steel resorted to the bench bringing on the nuggety Abby Erwood in goal defence, pushing Te Huinga Selby-Rickit into goal keeper. The changes did not stop there with Kendall Corkery also making her way onto court in hope to provide that spark down back and limit the ease in which the Tactix were delivering the ball into the circle. The influence of Halpenny was electric with the goaler drawing the defenders and gifting McCollin with some freedom in the goal circle to exploit the defenders with her speed and nifty footwork.
With ball being thrown away from both sides and tired bodies on the court, Jess Prosser was a valuable inclusion into the side with the goal attack composed with ball in hand and able to open the court up with her passes. The Steel showed more patience in attack to open the space and most importantly used their ball speed to catch the Tactix defence off guard and nail three consecutive goals to cut the margin to 12 goals.
With the game all but secured the Tactix made a couple of changes with Samon Nathan providing some fresh legs in a t wing defence and Fakahokotau returning to the action with her physical presence having a profound impact against Halpenny. Bird continued her merry way using her strong holds and clever footwork to dictate the space and control the flow in attack. A late rally from the Steel saw them cut down the margin to nine goals as Selby-Rickit injected herself into the contest picking up a gain and an intercept for her efforts. But the Tactix were not done yet with Erikana Pedersen showcasing her netball smarts with her clever feeds and connecting effortlessly with Hannah Glen in the final minutes of the game to take home a 13-goal win and clench third spot on the ladder.
McCollin was strong to post once again leading the way in attack with 18 goals from 21 attempts. The introduction of Halpenny was key with the goal shooter composed but down on her usual accuracy sitting at 74 per cent with 17 goals from 23 attempts. Bird starred with an impressive 32 goals from 34 attempts at 94 per cent while Selby-Rickit managed 10 goals from 12 attempts. The cameo appearance from Prosser was influential with the shooter nailing five goals. Fakahokotau was in sublime form with three gains and seven deflections but it was Watson that had a stats-stuffing appearance with six gains, two intercepts, four deflections and five pickups.
SOUTHERN STEEL 6 | 8 | 12 | 9 (35)
MAINLAND TACTIX 13 | 15 | 10 | 10 (48)
GS: Kalifa McCollin
GA: Kiana Pelasio
WA: Gina Crampton
C: Shannon Saunders
WD: Kate Heffernan
GD: Te Huinga Selby-Rickit
GK: Taneisha Fifita
GS: Ellie Bird
GA: Te Paea Selby-Rickit
WA: Erikana Pedersen
C: Kimiora Poi
WD: Charlotte Elley
GD: Jane Watson
GK: Temalisi Fakahokotau