Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Outclassed, outgunned Tactix put to the Steel

Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.
Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

It was always going to be a tough assignment for the Mainland Tactix.

Lacking in both height and experience in their defence end, even more so after losing key defender Jessica Moulds to a season-ending injury last week, the Tactix were completely unequipped to take on the transtasman league's most prolific shooter in the Steel's Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

The Jamaican import, who tops the league's shooting statistics in volume and accuracy, had a field day against the Canterbury side, slotting 60 goals from 61 attempts in the Steel's 77-61 demolition of the Tactix.

Had it not been for a quiet second quarter, in which they were restricted to 14 goals, the Steel would have smashed the competition's highest tally of 80 goals.

At one point it also looked as if Fowler-Reid would break her own individual record of 65 goals in a game, which she achieved twice against the Tactix in 2013 having made a habit of terrorising young Canterbury defenders.

The shooting circle became the 1.98m Jamaican shooter's aerial playground, as the Tactix defenders - with the exception of a strong second quarter - were unable to offer up much resistance to the long bombs that came flying into the circle with alarming regularity.

By the end of the opening period the Steel had amassed 26 goals - as many as the Adelaide Thunderbirds managed in a full match against the Melbourne Vixens at the weekend.

The Tactix managed 16 goals themselves in the first spell, which in any normal set of circumstances is a very respectable return from 15 minutes of netball, but the efforts of their attack end meant little when they were leaking easy goals down the other end of the court.

Down by 10 at the first break the match looked as good as over for the Tactix, but they found some defensive resolve in the second spell after a tweak to their line-up.

Jane Watson, who looked overawed by the challenge of marking Fowler-Reid, was replaced at goal keep in the second spell by Zoe Walker - the shortest of the Tactix defenders - with Louise Thayer taking her spot at goal defence.

With midcourters Jade Clarke and Hayley Saunders doing a power of work on the outside, the Tactix managed to significantly curb the Steel's scoring, pegging their lead back to 40-32 at the long break.

Having used up so much energy just to stay in touch with the Steel, the Tactix could not maintain that defensive intensity in the third quarter.

Steel captain Jodi Brown upped her workload outside the circle, making herself more available on attack to help her side bring the ball through the court at pace.

With the Steel's attack flowing well again, there was little the circle defenders could do to stop the ball getting into the hands of Fowler-Reid, who helped her side to a 61-43 lead heading into the final spell.

Such a healthy advantage gave the Steel licence to introduce some of their younger squad members off the bench in the final spell.

Te Paea Selby-Rickit replaced Brown at goal attack for the final eight minutes of the match, while Stacey Peeters was given a run at wing defence.

Steel 77
Tactix 61

- NZ Herald

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