Tears flow as Canterbury Tactix end drought

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2011
Donna Wilkins
DON SCOTT/The Press
BIT OF SHUT-EYE: Donna Wilkins, left, of the Tactix, and the Steel's Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit contest possession at CBS Canterbury Arena in Christchurch last night.

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The Canterbury Tactix have finally won a trans-Tasman netball game. And that's not a poor-taste April Fool's joke.

The Tactix broke their 374-day, 17-game drought with a 49-44 ANZ Championship win over the Southern Steel at CBS Canterbury Arena in Christchurch last night.

Maybe it was the boisterous 5124-strong crowd, or maybe just an amazing halftime speech, but the Tactix had a near-perfect third quarter to turn a five-goal deficit into a seven-goal advantage.

The home side won the third quarter 17-5, leaving a shell-shocked Steel side as the first team since the Central Pulse in the first round of last year's competition to lose to the Tactix.

The home side were awful in the first quarter and deservedly trailed by five at the first break.

The Steel's classy midcourt ran riot over the Tactix, with Phillipa Finch and Maree Bowden turning over a heap of ball.

The second quarter started much the same, and the Steel ran out to a seven-goal lead.

Late in the second quarter, the Tactix started letting their passes go and played with more confidence. Their defence stole some ball and they scored five in a row.

However, late mistakes and an interesting umpiring call cost them, and the Steel scored the last three to lead 26-21 at halftime.

Two shockers in the first half by umpire Jono Bredin did not help the Tactix cause.

He missed Paula Griffin clearly stepping out of court with the ball in the opening minutes, then, in the second quarter, called Anna Thompson for a step that never was.

Then the Tactix did something few expected. They were brilliant. For 15 minutes, the Tactix played the best netball the franchise had ever played.

Their passes stuck, their shooting was fantastic, and they blitzed the Steel which were only able to put up six shots.

There were a few nervous moments in the last spell as the Steel got back within four, but the home side remembered how to win.

The Tactix slowed the play, played patient, clever netball, and landed their shots.

The shooters were fed well, but Donna Wilkins and Thompson both had exceptional games.

Thompson missed three shots all game, Wilkins two, as they kept Leana de Bruin – arguably one of the competition's best this year – quiet. De Bruin never got an intercept, and only one rebound.

At the other end of the court, Kasey Evering was back to her best.

Second-half substitute Jo Trip had the game of someone with far more experience then just two matches.

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The celebrations were just as good to watch as the game.

More than a year's pent-up frustrations was let out in screams, tears and hugs.

The win had been coming for a long time. However, when it arrived, the Tactix were overwhelmed.

Co-captain Maree Bowden could not wipe the smile off her face.

Her side is finally on the competition board.

Canterbury Tactix 49 (Donna Wilkins 29/31, Anna Thompson 20/22) Southern Steel 44 (Daneka Wipiiti 11/14, Paula Griffin 33/38). Halftime: 21-26.

- The Press

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