Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Steel underline ANZ Championship credentials

Southern Steel star shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. Photo / Getty
Southern Steel star shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. Photo / Getty

The final box has been checked.

The Southern Steel addressed any lingering questions over their billing as one of the teams to beat in the ANZ Championship with a record win over the Thunderbirds in Adelaide this afternoon.

After a miserable weekend of transtasman action for Kiwi franchises, the Steel produced a performance New Zealand fans could be proud of, trouncing the Thunderbirds 69-54 in front of their home crowd.

The 15-goal win was the biggest margin of victory for New Zealand side on Australian soil in nine seasons, with the Magic the only other side to have previously netted a double-digit win across the Tasman, when they toppled the Fever 49-38 in 2009. That Magic side was coached by Noeline Taurua, who now leads the Steel.

Steel midcourter Shannon Francois was pleased her side were able to rise to the challenge across the ditch.

"It's quite good to tick that off - [winning in Australia] is something that had been looming over us and the media kind of talk up. So it's good we can get that off our back and continue with our season moving forward," the 21-test Silver Fern said.

The New Zealand conference leaders made a confident start to the match, taking an early seven-goal lead courtesy of some slick ball movement into star shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. But those connections fell away towards the end of the quarter and the Thunderbirds capitalised, scoring seven of the last 10 goals of the spell to ring the deficit back to just two goals at the first break.

The Thunderbirds drew level with the Steel soon after the break, but that lacklustre period of play proved to be the only blip in an otherwise dominant performance from the Southern franchise as they powered ahead later in the quarter to take a 32-24 lead heading into the second half.

Earlier this afternoon the Central Pulse added another chapter of humiliation to the tale of New Zealand's transtasman league woes, falling to a near-record defeat to the Swifts in Sydney.

Outplayed in every facet of the game for the full 60 minutes, the Pulse copped a 79-41 hiding at the hands of the high-flying Swifts. Mid-way through the final quarter the Pulse looked as though they would threaten the league record of 43 goals for the biggest defeat, but a messy final couple of minutes from the Swifts let the visitors off the hook.

But there were other big records to tumble, with the Swifts picking up their biggest win, their highest score tally, while sharp-shooter Caitlin Thwaites produced a career-high haul of 50 goals, netting all but three of her attempts.

While Thwaites was named MVP following a dominant performance over the Pulse's international defensive pairing of Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka, you could take your pick right across the court for star performers for the Swifts. Defender Sharni Layton terrorised the visitor's shooters all day, with the Swifts' Kiwi import, Laura Langman, was also in superlative form, shutting down the Pulse's key ball-distributor, Chelsea Locke, with relentless one-on-one defence.

Locke was replaced mid-way through the third quarter by youngster Samon Nathan - one of eight changes Pulse coach Tanya Dearns made throughout the match as she searched for answers to try and break the Swifts' dominant hold on the match.

The Pulse's stumbles in Sydney followed another disastrous showing on Australian soil from a Kiwi franchise this weekend, after the Northern Mystics copped a 70-42 drubbing by the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane yesterday.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 26 May 2017 20:39:17 Processing Time: 490ms