The Southern Steel stole the show in a gripping game defeating the Northern Stars by just one goal, 46 to 45, securing a spot in the finals.
All on the line
A scintillating battle emerged quickly between the Northern Stars and Southern Steel in what ultimately was a do or die match for the Stars.
A win for the Stars would have meant keeping the dream alive of making the finals and for the Steel, a win would solidify them their spot in the finals with next weeks matches to determine who will host the prelim final with the Tactix.
With it all on the line, Stars started strong after the previous week’s loss; Maia Wilson was presenting well, creating good angles with her holds and looked confident after the previous weeks’ poor performance.
The mid courters were also using their angles to create good ball speed in order to service Wilson and Jamie Hume, who really stood up for the Stars.
However down the other end of the court, one of the biggest of battles was emerging with Anna Harrison and English Rose George Fisher.
Harrison had an outstanding game with five intercepts and 7 gains; she also managed to cause many turnovers and get into the heads of the Steel shooters.
Throughout the game, Steel’s captain and seemingly rejuvenated Shannon Saunders continued her impressive ways since moving to WA along with solid midcourt teammates Kate Heffernan and Renee Savai’inaea.
Yet it was Steel’s defensive stalwart Te Huinga Reo Selby-Ricket and young defender Taneisha Fifita who put all the physical pressure on the Stars shooting circle.
At both quarter-time and half-time breaks, scores were all locked up showing just how much each team wanted the win.
By the end of the 3/4 time break, the Southern Steel had finally broken the curse and taken a 2 point lead.
A Heart-breaking Finish
With this momentum change, the Steel really started to find their groove in the fourth quarter and pulled out to a 5 goal advantage.
But when the Stars needed a momentum shift, Anna Harrison was the one to do it for her team; with back to back intercepts, the Stars were right back in it.
Unfortunately, after what seemed like a resurgence for Maia Wilson in the first quarter, the star shooter became hesitant with her shots and fell below 50% accuracy in shots to goal.
While she still presented as a good option, her teammates preferred feeding to their Goal Attack Jamie Hume. Full credit to Hume, who shouldered the shooting and kept the score ticking over for the Stars.
Minutes into the last quarter, Coach Kiri Willis decided it was time for a change and brought Monica Faulkner on in GS to replace Wilson.
Faulkner was a great energy lifter for the Stars, and soon enough they were back to even with only a couple of minutes to go.
Tiana Metuarau, who has been in red hot form all year, was proving again why she’ll be in contention for a Silver Ferns squad call up again.
Metuarau controlled the attack end of the Steel against her fierce opposition in Harrison and the inform Elle Temu.
In the end, Steel prevailed by 1 point; however, Stars had two heartbreaking opportunities to level the score, yet it wasn’t to be.
Faulkner was in tears at the end of the final whistle and Harrison clutched her face in her hands, but both had given their all and cannot fault their efforts.
On the other hand, the Steel girls were elated and came together in hugs knowing they had secured a finals berth again for their club.
Categories: ANZ Premiership