Steel plotting a way forward

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 22/03/2014

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The Southern Steel are hoping this afternoon's trans-Tasman league game against the West Coast Fever is more like the first half against the Magic than the second.

The Steel carried a five-goal lead into halftime in their fourth-round game against the Magic in Hamilton on Monday, but found themselves on the wrong end of a 61-57 final scoreline – worn down by a combination of their own errors under pressure and the increased physicality of the home team.

The team was disappointed with the way Shannon Francois and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, in particular, were targeted physically during a game which saw 18-year-old Magic wing defence Jamie-Lee Price warned by the umpires for her persistent infringing.

There's unlikely to be much respite this afternoon against a Fever defence led by English international Eboni Beckford-Chambers.

Steel coach Janine Southby didn't want to be drawn into the debate over over-vigorous play, wary of the dim view championship officials take of negative headlines.

But the Steel have been working this week on ways to try to combat the combativeness of their opposition.

Just how you go about that is a question waiting for an answer.

Southby already knows the answer to Steel's winless start to the season – replicating the attacking cohesiveness they displayed for much of the first half in Hamilton.

"I think our second quarter was outstanding. We all did our own jobs and that's what it comes down to, when everyone contributes and does their own jobs it works really well for us and you saw the result. We took them to pieces in that second quarter, we just couldn't sustain that for a full game," Southby said.

"[The second quarter] is something that I know they are capable of and the girs know they are capable of and they are finally doing it, now the challenge is doing it for a full 60 minutes."

The Steel will be hoping for more improvement from their international shooting combination of Fowler-Reid and Jodi Brown.

Fowler-Reid looked to be approaching the record-breaking form she had in her debut season in 2013 against the Magic, while Brown was more of a presence in the shooting circle after giving up some of the responsibility for the centre pass.

The Steel will also need to find a way to limit the ball travelling into 193cm Australian shooter Caitlin Bassett.

"Every team you play provides different challenges in the way they play the game and they have different strengths. Having Caitlin Bassett in the back is a different challenge than [Magic shooter] Jo Harten in the back and you have to look at that strategically."

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- The Southland Times

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