Tactix go down to NSW Swift in Christchurch
The Tactix netball season is in trouble, two weeks into their trans-Tasman netball league campaign.
Eight days after being thrashed by 24 goals in their season opener, the Tactix were a much improved outfit in a 68-57 loss to the New South Wales Swifts at CBS Canterbury Arena tonight.
They displayed far more fight, were more active defensively through the court, but it wasn't enough to match it with the clinical Swifts.
New South Wales broke away in the final quarter, which they won 22-13, to rest the initiative from the Tactix.
The Tactix will wonder how they are going to snap a nine-game losing streak, which dates back to last year.
Next up for the team, is a difficult away trip to Perth to face Norma Plummer's winless West Coast Fever. After that, they have another tough assignment against the talent-laden Central Pulse in Napier.
The Tactix trailed by just three goals early in the final quarter, but with the steadying influences of Caitlin Thwaites and Susan Pratley leading the way in the shooting circle, the Swifts were able to keep their noses clear.
Pratley had an accurate game, landing 29 of her 35 attempts, while Thwaites made a significant difference after coming on at halftime, converting 24 of her 26 attempts.
Tactix captain Anna Thompson rued some crucial mistakes at key stages in the final quarter from her team.
"They put the pressure on us. They stepped up their intensity and physicality and forced a couple of errors. They were crucial because they scored off them really quickly,'' Thompson said.
"We weren't turning the ball over at the other end. I'm really disappointed we couldn't hold on and finish it off. There were definitely opportunities.''
Thompson refused to blame fitness for her team's errors in the early part of the fourth quarter.
The second half of the game was a see-saw affair with very little separating the two sides. Every time it looked like the Swifts were about to break clear on the scoreboard, the Tactix made a mini-run to remain in contention.
The Tactix received a huge boost in the lead-up to the game with Australian Diamonds midcourter Paige Hadley suffering a season-ending rupturedanterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at training on Thursday. Her Diamonds' team-mate, Sharni Layton also sat out the game with a precautionary injury to her left thumb.
After trailing by six at the end of the first quarter, the Tactix hauled themselves back into the contest, scoring seven consecutive goals to hit the lead.
The Tactix recovered from a disappointing end to the first quarter, where they allowed the visitors to jump out to an 18-12 lead. Mwai Kunmwenda was lively for the Tactix, but Sophia Fenwick struggled early on, missing her first five attempts. She finally notched her first goal of the game as the first quarter drew to the close.
Fenwick worked hard on attack and combined nicely at times with Kumwenda, but her inconsistent shooting was a factor, nailing just 11 of 22 attempts.
Kumwenda stepped up her play from last week, taking on greater shooting volume, finishing with the pleasing statistics of 46 goals from 49.
Defensively, the Tactix won much more ball than last week with wing defence Hayley Saunders and circle defenders Louise Thayer and Jane Watson keeping them in the game.
Turnovers again hurt the team at crucial times with the Tactix guilty of losing possession with the final pass in the attacking end. April Letton was busy in the defensive end for the Swifts, while midcourter Brooke Miller, on debut was not overawed by the occasion.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Adelaide Thunderbirds made it two from two to start the new season, beating the West Coast Fever 65-56 in Perth.
The Melbourne Vixens also remain unbeaten after overcoming the Queensland Firebirds 55-48. In Saturday's game, the Central Pulse were too strong for the Southern Steel, winning 67-56.
Swifts 68 Tactix 57
Quarter scores: (Swifts first) 18-12, 31-29, 46-44, 68-57
Mwai Kumwenda: 46/49 (93 per cent)
Sophia Fenwick: 11/22 (50 per cent)
Carla Dziwoki: 15/18 (83 per cent)
Susan Pratley: 29/35 (82 per cent)
Caitlin Thwaites: 24/26 (92 per cent)