Southland paid dearly for allowing Counties-Manukau to take an early hold of the game in their NPC clash in Gore yesterday.
Counties raced out to a 10-1 lead during the first quarter due to early mistakes from the Southland team.
The Counties game flowed, with players appearing to find each other well throughout the whole court.
Southland couldn't seem to get past the strong Counties defence but managed to end the quarter trailing 14-8.
During the second quarter, Southland started to look a bit stronger, with captain Hayley Crofts adding some flair to the attack and feeding some nice ball to the shooters.
Wing defence Kendall McMinn also put up a good fight in the defensive end.
McMinn put her body on the line on several occasions and effectively applied plenty of pressure to the Counties attack.
Her hard work continued when she moved to goal defence in the final quarter.
Southland had moments of brilliance throughout the game but it wasn't enough to threaten the lead Counties had built up from the first quarter.
Southland effectively played catch-up for the entire game while Counties continued to play strong, attacking netball and held on to their lead, winning comfortably 46-37.
Southland captain Hayley Crofts said the team didn't get off to the best start, which was something they would look at improving in training.
“It definitely wasn't our best performance . . . We need to work on having a good, strong start . . . Just playing the game and having faith in each other,” she said.
Crofts said Counties capitalised on the Southland mistakes but was pleased with the Southland defensive end getting a lot of ball in the circle.
Southland coach Reinga Te Huia said she thought her team played tirelessly in all areas of the court.
“They didn't give up. These girls have got a lot of fight in them.”
Te Huia said the Counties team had played a better game, whereas Southland's game had been mixed.
However, standout performances came from Hayley Saunders and Kendall McMinn, she said.
At centre for the entire game, Saunders was strong through the court and McMinn once again put in an impressive display.
“Kendall had a great game; she always has a great game.”
In preparation for next week's game against North, Southland would look at their timing, she said.
The team is looking for a win when they play North at 11am in Gore on Sunday.