1 May 2010

The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel kept their ANZ Championship play-off hopes on track with a crushing 66-38 win over the Mercury Energy Tactix in Christchurch today.



Matching their best-ever score in the competition, the Steel paced themselves expertly throughout the match. There was no let-up from the visitors who produced a top quality effort from start to finish as they completely shut the Tactix out of the game.


The Steel were all efficiency from the opening whistle, a distinct height advantage at both ends of the court helping the visitors gain the early edge. Captain Megan Dehn and the fleet-footed Liana Barrett-Chase took control of the Steel’s accurate supply of ball to 1.94m target Daneka Wipiiti, who was a figure of composure under the hoop.


Dogged Tactix defence kept the home team in touching distance as they swooped on any loose offerings. But it was the Steels defensive duo of Leana de Bruin and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit whose superior height put Tactix shooters Ellen Halpenny and Anna Thompson under all sorts of pressure as the visitors surged out to a 14-10 first quarter lead.


Megan Hutton was introduced at goalkeeper on the resumption as the Tactix looked to shore up the height difference on defence. Initially, the move paid big dividends with the Tactic more purposeful on attack and effective in slowing the Steels forward momentum.


Step by step, the home team ate into the deficit but when in positions to stay on an even footing, they were ultimately let down by a lack of accuracy under the post.  The well-oiled Steel made them pay with clinical efficiency through all facets of play, scoring six goals on the trot to take a firm grip on the game as they headed into halftime with a 29-22 lead.


Masters of retaining the ball, the Steel moved up another gear through a dominating third quarter as the floodgates opened. Wipiiti was a classy contributor under the hoop as she rattled in the goals from all points of the circle on the back of a steady stream of quality ball.


The Steel were mostly seamless in their transition through court while the defensive prowess of de Bruin and Selby-Rickit effectively extinguished any hopes of a Tactix revival.  Struggling to make any impression in their goal circle, the Tactix introduced new recruit Angela Mitchell but the slight figure of the former Silver Fern did nothing to stymie the Steels height advantage.


Full of confidence, the Steel restricted the Tactix to just six goals during the stanza while nailing 19 of their own to march out to a 48-28 lead at the last break. The game lost its shape in the run home after wholesale changes were made by both teams but with the damage complete, the Steel charged relentlessly on to record over 60 goals for the second week in a row.


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