AFTER a shaky start to the 2022 ANZ Premiership season, Mainland Tactix have been able to notch up their second win of the season, defeating the Southern Steel by nine goals last night. The Tactix won all four quarters to gain a bonus point and move off the bottom of the ladder, adjusting their win-loss record to 2-5. The result also meant the Tactix are within five points of the third placed Steel, who are now only goal difference ahead of Northern Stars in fourth. Holding the high-powered Steel to their second lowest score of the season, goal keeper Kelera Nawai-Caucau was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP).
SOUTHERN STEEL 14 | 13 | 13 | 12 (52)
MAINLAND TACTIX 15 | 16 | 18 | 14 (63)
In what was a topsy turvy first term, the Steel actually lead by two goals heading into the final two minutes after three consecutive goals from dominant goal shooter George Fisher, but then the last three goals went the way of the Tactix with Te Paea Selby-Rickit and Ellie Bird scoring three late to hit the front. Bird shot 11 goals from 13 attempts in the opening term, with Selby Rickit (four from five, and five goal assists), whilst up the other end, Nawai-Caucau and Karin Burger were containing the dominant Steel shooters. Fisher shot eight from eight before coming off late in the term, whilst Saviour Tui shot six from seven and Shannon Saunders (five goal assists) was busy in wing attack but also had three turnovers, whilst Kate Heffernan picked up seven goal assists, coming off for a rest in the final five minutes.
The Tactix extended their lead out to four by the main break without making a change to their starting seven. Bird was up to 23 goals from 26 attempts, whilst Kimiora Poi took advantage of Heffernan going off to rack up eight goal assists from 14 feeds in the second term, whilst Selby-Rickitt had an identical second term to her first making it eight goals from 10 attempts and 10 goal assists for the half. By comparison, the Steel kept making an array of changes, racking up 20 in the first half. Ali Wilshier and Abby Erwood both got their chance, as Saunders had another eight goal assists, but no turnovers.
The match really blew open in the third term with the Tactix piling on 18 goals to 13 to lead by nine at the final break. It was enough to set up the win, with Selby-Rickit having an enormous third quarter adding 13 goal assists to her name and effectively setting up Bird for 16 goals at 100 per cent. The Steel could not quite get the same connection with Saunders and WIlshier having a team-high four goal assists, and the shooters well controlled by Nawai-Caucau and Burger.
With the game in the bag, the Tactix made a couple of late changes giving Samon Nathan and Nawai-Caucau a well-earned rest in the final few minutes of the match, as Vika Koloto and Kate Lloyd took their chances. The Steel substitutions kept piling up with a mind-boggling 18 in the fourth term, regularly mixing it up to try anything to get back on top, but it would not change the resuly.
Nawai-Caucau earned MVP honours picking up two intercepts and a rebound but was credited with nullifying Fisher to just 33 goals from 36 attempts for the match, whilst Burger snagged four intercepts and a rebound in a strong pairing. Bird shot 49 goals from 53 attempts, had three goal assists and three rebounds, whilst Selby-Rickit managed 14 from 20 and 25 goal assists herself. Poi had 18 goal assists and two intercepts to work tirelessly in midcourt.
Outside of Fisher, Tui shot 11 goals from 14 attempts, had four goal assists, one rebound and one intercept, whilst Georgia Heffernan managed eight from 10 and six goal assists. Te Huinga Selby-Rickit – who had to accept the loss against her sister – still managed the three intercepts and three rebounds. Saunders tried hard with 20 goal assists and an intercept, but still had six turnovers.
Mainland Tactix will take on Northern Mystics on Saturday in a Round 9 clash, whilst Southern Steel have a five-day break before hosting Central Pulse at the Edgar Centre on Monday evening.