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After 21 losses, Steel finally victorious

The Southern Steel have finally broken an unwanted record, their first win in nearly two years with a thrilling 63-61 extra time win over the Northern Stars in Invercargill on Saturday.

In an enthralling contest between two teams battling for their first win of the season, the Steel produced a huge comeback forcing the game into extra-time, turning an eight-goal deficit at the start of the final quarter into a dramatic 58-all stand-off at the end of regulation time.


That required two periods of three-minutes each way of extra-time, the Steel handling the pressure with more poise than their opposites and failing to buckle as they went on to clinch their first win in the ANZ Premiership since May 22, 2022 after a total of 21 losses.

Dominating the first and third quarters, the Stars went off the boil in the second and fourth quarters, letting a golden opportunity slip through their grasp in failing to nail home their last quarter advantage as the tenacious Steel produced the most stirring of fightbacks.

In registering their first win, the Steel left the Stars as the only winless team, the visitors left with a third success bonus point for finishing within five goals.

The home side started with their settled seven of recent weeks, including the international pairing of Kate Heffernan and Shannon Saunders in the midcourt.

The Stars gave impressive young training partner Summer Temu her second straight start, the goal shoot pairing up with captain Maia Wilson, who once again started from goal attack.

The Steel have beaten the Stars in the ANZ Premiership netball
The Steel have finally ended their winless streak in ANZ Premiership, but only after double extra-time. PHOTO: NETBALL NZ/MB PHOTOGRAPHY

It was the visitors who made the hottest of starts. Fluid and accurate on attack, the Stars provided the ball on a plate for Temu and Wilson while full-court defensive pressure put the squeeze on the Steel’s attacking momentum.

That was further enhanced by the mobility and speed of in-circle defenders Holly Fowler and Kate Burley, who did a fine job in disrupting the Steel’s shooters.

Skipping out to a five-goal lead, the visitors were threatening to stretch out further but a late home team rally reduced the deficit with the Stars taking a 16-13 lead into the first break while posting their first winning opening quarter of the season.

The Steel came out strong with the shooter-to-shooter link between Grace Namana and Georgia Heffernan starting to pay dividends. Finding their timing and connectivity, the pair gave the supportive crowd plenty to crow about when levelling up the scores with five minutes of the stanza to go.

In response, the Stars introduced new mum Monica Falkner into the goal attack role with Wilson moving back to goal shoot.

At the other, in a bid to stem the flow, the visitors re-jigged their defence line with the rangy figure of Lili Tokaduadua coming off the bench and into goalkeeper.

There was nothing to separate the teams, both having 33 attempts at goal during the first half as the sides went to the main break locked together at 29-apiece.

The Steel broke the deadlock in the opening exchanges of the third quarter, showing all their renowned grit, determination and ball retention abilities to build a three-goal buffer.

The Stars’ response was swift, levelling up inside a minute of play before unleashing a decisive and telling momentum swing.

Wilson played a strong role under the hoop with her movement and accuracy while at the other end, teen goal keep Tokaduadua came up with a couple of big turnovers, allowing the confidence to flow back into the Stars ranks with a productive change in fortune as the Steel’s resistance fell away.

In a complete turnaround, the Stars ended the quarter with a haul of 21 goals compared to the Steel’s 13 to leave them handily-placed when leading 50-42 at the last turn.

Southern Steel 63 (Grace Namana 43/49, Georgia Heffernan 20/26) Northern Stars 61 (Maia Wilson 43/47, Summer Temu 11/11, Monica Falkner 7/10). 1Q: 13-16, HT: 29-29, 3Q: 42-50, 4Q: 58-58


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