Close victory for the Southern Steel over Tactix
NATHAN BURDON IN DUNEDIN
The Southern Steel have paid a hefty price for a 64-60 win over the Tactix with the loss of star shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid to a knee injury last night.
The Jamaican international hurt her left knee late in the first quarter and was replaced by Te Paea Selby-Rickit, with the Steel coming back from five goals down at the end of the quarter to do just enough to deny their mainland neighbours.
Selby-Rickit grew in confidence as the game progressed, shooting well and coming up with some big offensive rebounds.
A timely performance from Rachel Rasmussen off the bench helped provide the Steel with some crucial turnovers against a tenacious Tactix outfit.
Having fallen into the shadow of the younger defenders in the squad in recent weeks, Rasmussen's determination helped to lift the Steel when they really needed it.
The Steel had raced out of the blocks at the start of the game, scoring five straight goals as they looked to bolster their goal differential with a big victory on a cold Dunedin night.
Those plans had already gone awry before Fowler-Reid limped out of the game after 12 minutes, with the Tactix already leading 14-13.
Anna Thompson was getting free reign to feed the ball at the top of the circle, with Mwai Kumwenda finishing clinically.
The Tactix finished the first quarter with a deserved 20-15 lead.
There were worrying portents before the game, when the lights went out at the Edgar Centre courtesy of a blown fuse.
Stacey Peeters, who had started the game at wing defence with Wendy Frew struggling during the week with illness, was swapped for Frew for the second quarter, with Rasmussen replacing Phoenix Karaka.
The changes certainly worked, with the Steel outscoring the Tactix 18-11 in the second quarter for a 33-31 lead at halftime.
Heading into the final quarter the Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored Steel had eked out a four goal lead, but the Tactix weren't ready to concede.
They closed to within a couple of goals before the Steel managed to close the game out.
Fowler-Reid was already on crutches before the end of the game and will be in doubt for the Steel's final game of the season, against the Vixens in Invercargill on Saturday.
The Steel have equalled their six-win haul from last year and can mathematically still overhaul the Pulse for fifth place overall.
In other netball action this weekend, the Pulse are out of semifinal contention after being hammered 60-33 by the Firebirds in Brisbane.
Yesterday, the Swifts beat the Magic 55-43 and the Vixens downed the Thunderbirds 64-43.
Quarter scores (Steel first): 15-20, 33-31, 49-45, 64-60.
Steel: Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 11/11, Te Paea Selby-Rickit 27/32, Jodi Brown 26/36.
Tactix: Mwai Kumwenda 52/58, Anna Thompson 8/12.