Tactix steal victory as Steel blow late lead
A phenomenal attacking display, an error from a Silver Fern legend and a calm shot from an in-form English import all led to a shock Tactix victory tonight.
Behind the entire game to desperate Southern Steel side, the Tactix pounced on an Adine Wilson centre pass off error in the dying seconds, levelled the scores at 61 each before Jo Harten - with 11 seconds remaining - landed the winning shot to snatch a 62-61 victory in Invercargill.
While it was just the Tactix' second win of the season, that's one more than they've been able to achieve in the past two seasons and effervescent skipper Maree Bowden was understandably fizzing.
"I'm so happy," she said.
"Holly molley. I can't believe that."
Bowden's side had remained close throughout the match, but the Steel kept their noses in front.
The Tactix' previous lead, before the final seconds, was in the game's opening minutes, but Bowden didn't care.
"You have no idea how much that means," she said.
"It's been such a long time coming, it's huge."
The Tactix had their attacking play - a weakness all season - to thank for the win.
Harten has been steadily improving all season, but tonight's display was her best.
She moved well in the circle, linked brilliantly with Ellen Halpenny and landed 41 of her 44 shots at goal.
Halpenny was another standout for the Tactix as was the midcourt which controlled their possession impressively and moved the ball like coach Leigh Gibbs' has demanded of them all season.
Yet for most of the match they were behind.
The Steel too looked after their ball and the Tactix defence's usual high turnover rate was missing.
So they had to do it with their attack.
The Tactix trailed by one at the first break, but a late second quarter surge by the home side gave the Steel a four-point halftime advantage.
Try as they might in the third quarter, the Tactix couldn't reel the Steel in and constantly floated between two and five goals behind.
But Adine Wilson, a late injury replacement would make the telling mistake.
Wilson, now 33 and well retired, had looked like she'd been with the Steel side all season.
She moved well at centre and her crisp passes all seemed to be on target until the final minutes. Leading by one, with possession and with time almost up, Wilson's centre pass was thrown to fresh air and the Tactix were awarded possession.
The scored quickly to draw level, then wound the clock down like a team used to winning before Harten slotted the winner.
The win could have huge ramifications for the Tactix. They now draw level with the Steel and Fever on four points and while their poor goal percentage means they're still in 10th place, one more win would see them shed the wooden spoon they've held possession of for the last two seasons.
Canterbury Tactix 62 (Joanne Harten 41 Ellen Halpenny 21) Southern Steel 61 (Donna Wilkins 37 Jodi Brown 24) at Stadium Southland's ILT Velodrome
- © Fairfax NZ News
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