No celebrations for Steel
Southern Steel were unable to celebrate their first game in the rebuilt ILT Stadium Southland going down 60-44 to the Queensland Firebirds last night.
Steel started the game without Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, last year's competition MVP.
Fowler-Reid has a heart condition, which has affected her since childhood and flared up during Jamaica's tour of England.
She hasn't been able to take a full part in trainings since joining the Steel this year and the decision was made to limit her to two quarters.
Steel made a good start to the first quarter in front of a 2700-strong crowd, coming back from 5-2 down to take an 8-6 lead.
The Firebirds started struggling under the pressure, with long passes to Romelda Aiken going flying out of court.
But just when the Steel looked to build on their advantage, the Firebirds capitalised on a series of Steel mistakes and scored the last seven goals of the quarter for a 15-11 lead.
By halftime the Firebirds, last year's beaten finalists, had stretched that lead to 10 as they went about scoring from their own possession and pouncing on Steel's high error rate.
Defender Phoenix Karaka was doing extremely well despite giving up 10cm to Aiken.
Fowler-Reid was introduced after halftime, landing Steel's first goal as they attempted to eat into the deficit.
She shot 11 from 11 for the third quarter, but the Firebirds were still able to increase their lead, taking a 48-33 advantage into the final quarter.
Karaka, Steel's best player on the night, was replaced by Storm Purvis in the final quarter, before Karaka returned to have a crack at goal defence.
Steel had their best quarter of the game at the end, with the Firebirds only winning 12-11.
Quarter scores (Firebirds first): 15-11, 29-19, 48-33, 60-44.
Te Paea Selby Rickit 13/16, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 20/22, Jodi Brown 11/17.
Romelda Aiken 34/43, Amy Wild 26/32
The Southland Times