Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Tactix earn draw with Steel

Canterbury Tactix shooter Bailey Mes. Photo / File
Canterbury Tactix shooter Bailey Mes. Photo / File

For the past few seasons the Mainland Tactix have routinely copped double-digit clobberings at the hands of the Southern Steel.

The scorelines have been ugly, with Steel and supershooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid having racked up several transtasman league scoring records against the young Canterbury side.

Which is why today's 58-all draw in Invercargill felt very much like a win for the Tactix.

After letting a two-goal halftime lead disappear into a four-goal deficit by the end of the third quarter, the Tactix looked as though they were going to fall victim to the fast-finishing Steel, who last week pulled off a shock come-from-behind win over the Mystics.

But the young Tactix side refused to allow the Steel charge away with the match and launched a big fightback of their own in the final quarter, only to fall just short of walking away with the full points.

The draw, which was sealed with a Bailey Mes penalty goal, was nevertheless greeted with jubilation from the Tactix players, while the Steel looked furious at themselves for letting an opportunity to notch up back to back wins slip from their grasp.

Last season the Tactix had to wait until the final round to notch up their first points of the year when they pulled off a shock win over the Magic, who went on to take out the New Zealand conference. But the 2016 Tactix are playing with a new-found confidence and composure after big fitness push in the off-season.

Tactix coach Sue Hawkins was delighted with the resolve her side showed in the final spell.

"I think I played every position out there that last quarter - my vocal chords are in a lot worse shape than they were at the start of the game," said Hawkins.

"It was a great fightback in that last quarter, but the girls are a little bit disappointed with that result because they saw the opportunity there. But it's nice to have some points on the board and we'll build from here."

Steel captain Wendy Frew cut a despondent figure in the post-match interview, lamenting her side's lack of concentration in the big moments.

"We got up by four and we let them back in the game - that's disappointing. We're not pleased with that performance, we need to analyse this and come back from it."

While history favoured the Steel, it was the visitors who made the early running, ensuring a high energy tight match-up from the outset.

Employing a fast-paced strategy, the Tactix held the slightest of edges through the first half, dazzling at times with their speed of ball through court, courtesy of lively midcourters Nicola Mackle and captain Anna Thompson, while shooters Mes and Mwai Kumwenda showcased all their athletic traits.

With Fowler-Reid anchoring the Steel circle and the movement and aerial ability of Mes and Kumwenda, the high bomb featured prominently in an entertaining contest.

In today's other ANZ Championship match-up, the Vixens bounced back from a heavy opening round defeat to the Swifts by dealing out some punishment of their own to the Thunderbirds in Adelaide. The Melbourne side outclassed the Thunderbirds 59-44 in what proved to be a tough afternoon at the office for the homeside, with shooter Cody Lange stretchered from the court with appeared to be a serious knee injury after only moments earlier coming on midway through the second quarter.

- NZ Herald

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