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Thunderbirds (54) def Steel (41)

The Adelaide Thunderbirds treated their first home crowd of the season to a character defining 13-point win over New Zealand`s Southern Steel.

Despite being consistently challenged by a gallant Steel, filled with members of the New Zealand national team, the Thunderbirds showed great poise and hard work in keeping the ever pushing Steel at bay.

Their defensive game was second-to-none and was responsible for stalling any comeback by the Steel.

In front of a near capacity crowd Adelaide controlled the game early, jumping out of the blocks with an outstanding first quarter effort, lead in majority by the defensive work of Mo’onia Gerard and Geva Mentor. Gerard’s rebound gave the mid-court ample supply for the Thundebirds shooters.

Kristen Hughes was the go-to shooter early, dominating the first quarter with 10 goals and giving her side a nine point lead into the first break. Natalie von-Bertouch in her first match as captain without her recently retired sister, showed tremendous work-rate and leadership, giving the Thunderbirds plenty.

Her opposing centre Liana Barrett-Chase worked tirelessly with Steel captain Jenny-May Coffin and were pivotal in a mini-resurgence in the third quarter, where the Steel got within six goals of the Thunderbirds.

They along with Daneka Wipiiti’s 193-cm frame ensured the defenders worked hard for possession and Wipiiti seemed to have the upper hand on Mentor as the game went on. She ended with 33 goals from 46 attempts.

She played a lone hand in the numerous mini-challenges the Steel threw at the Thunderbirds and her dominance in front of goal forced the Thunderbirds shooting brigade to capitalise on their opportunities, which they certainly did.

Once again the defensive pressure of Adelaide ensured they stayed enough in front to ward off any comeback by the Steel. They forced their opponents to long and ambitious passes that were easily cut-off by Adelaide defenders.

The Thunderbirds fast paced criss-crossing passing split the Steel defence and Hughes and Natalie Medhurst worked their opponents well to open up scoring opportunities in the first half.

The Thunderbirds trio of Kristen Hughes, Natalie Medhurst and West Australian Kate Beveridge contributed evenly with 18 (90%), 18 (86%) and 18 (86%) goals respectively, giving coach Jane Woodlands enjoyment in having the flexibility of three shooters, something the Steel struggled with, having only Wipiiti as the main focal point in the scoring arc.

Going into the main break with an 11-point lead, Woodlands decided to rest dominant Hughes and bring into the game Kate Beveridge. She showed a lot in sinking her 18 goals.

The Thunderbirds will enjoy the break next week, having the bye, but the Steel will want to gain some much needed momentum when they face-off against the Mystics next week.

Match Shooting Statistics:

Adelaide Thunderbirds Shooting Statistics:

Kristen Hughes - 90%
Natalie Medhurst - 86%
Kate Beveridge - 86%

Southern Steel Shooting Statistics:

Daneka Wipitti - 72%
Megan Dehn - 80%

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Hon Mike Rann MP

Hon Mike Rann MP