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Tactix thrash the Steel to prove top billing

The Tactix have thrashed the Steel to show they deserve their top of the table place in the ANZ Premiership
Tactix defender Jane Watson tries to block a pass during the big win over the Steel. PHOTO: NETBALL NZ/MB PHOTOGRAPHY

The Mainland Tactix have succeeded in several milestones with a comprehensive 71-47 win over the Southern Steel in Invercargill on Saturday.


Growing in confidence at the top of the table, the Tactix maintained a steely focus of intent throughout to score at a consistently high level through each quarter while giving all players decent minutes on court.


That including the return of shooter Aliyah Dunn back from injury for her first appearance of the season and completing a fine first-up outing during her restricted minutes with an 18 from 18 return.


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The emphatic outcome meant the biggest-ever win in the Tactix 17-year history and with their 10th this season, it signalled their longest winning sequence during regular season play. 


A goal-for-goal opening four minutes was quickly extinguished on the back of a slick Karin Burger intercept, the crack defender setting the Tactix in motion and just as quickly into a position of dominance.


A defensive response from Abby Lawson and Jeante Strydom kept the Steel in the contest but in a fast-paced, high-quality shooting spectacle from both sides, the Tactix seamlessly slipped into top gear.


With Burger taking a spell on the bench, Paris Lokotui took over the goal defence bib but there was little respite for the Steel, the Tactix with their quick through-court exchanges skipping into the first break with an 18-12 lead.


In was a similar pattern on the resumption, both coaches mixing and matching their playing options with tall goalkeeper Laura Balmer and wing attack Charlotte Lourey making the jump from the Southern Blast team to the elite level.


However, the Tactix remained relentless at both ends of the court. Always on the alert for intercept opportunities, the defensive trio of Jane Watson, Burger and Lokotui were menacing in picking off six intercepts between them during the first half while the Steel came up empty-handed.


The potent defence through the midcourt and around the circle cut the Steel’s opportunities of making inroads.


Shooters Grace Namana and Georgia Heffernan were accurate performers under the hoop but were unable to match the volume their Tactix opponents enjoyed at the other end. Ellie Bird continued her impressive form this season.


She was replaced late in the piece by Dunn, the Tactix not missing a beat as they headed into the main break well-placed when leading 36-23.


The Tactix continued to make full use of the players available while employing several different combinations, including Greer Sinclair taking over at centre and captain Kimiora Poi moving into wing attack, while Kate Lloyd replaced Watson at goalkeeper and Jess Allan afforded Te Paea Selby-Rickit a rest at goal attack.


The multitude of changes did not make it any easier for the Steel, the Tactix retaining a forceful presence across all facets and a dominating grip on proceedings.


The Tactix height at both ends of the court proved troublesome for the Steel, unable to cope with the high ball into the opposing shooters while on attack, there was difficulty in negotiating the tall defensive wall of the visitors.


Mirroring the previous two quarters, the Tactix had all the answers when taking a handsome 54-35 lead into the last break.


Try as they might, it was more of the same for the hapless Steel in the run home while feeling the full force of the experienced Tactix side.

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