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Netball: Steel roll Firebirds

Southern Steel coach Noeline Taurua. Photo / Getty
Southern Steel coach Noeline Taurua. Photo / Getty

The Steel rolled the Firebirds like a bona fide southern 'r' in their top-of-the-table ANZ netball championship match.

Amid a cacophony of blue thundersticks in Dunedin's Edgar Centre, the Noeline Taurua-coached franchise outwitted their Queensland counterparts 66-51 using a strategy maximising speed and accuracy. The Steel midcourt of captain Wendy Frew, Shannon Francois and Gina Crampton delivered the sort of service any courier company would love to recruit.

They fed the ball with coconut-shy enthusiasm and Jhanielle Fowler-Reid and Te Paea Selby-Rickit received it with relish, as if the sphere was a slab of meat in a lion's den. The Firebirds' defence, albeit weakened without the services of Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman, was no match. Fowler-Reid (51 from 57 shots - 89 per cent) and Selby-Rickit (15 from 17 shots - 88 per cent) also had the better of the shooting over their counterparts.

An indication of the hunger theme came in the first quarter. The Steel went 14-10 ahead on the back of seven rebounds; the Firebirds procured none.

The hosts advanced to a 31-19 advantage at halftime before the defending champions clawed back to 47-37 after the third quarter. Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit earned plaudits with five rebounds, four deflections and three intercepts on defence.

The Steel were more disciplined and had the better of the contact penalties and turnovers.
Taurua cannot secure the gig as Silver Ferns mentor but, as the only New Zealand coach to win the ANZ Championship - in 2012 with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic - she looks every chance to repeat the feat with the Steel.

Meanwhile, Magic shooter Malia Paseka announced she and her partner are expecting a baby. She will not take any further part in the ANZ championship. No replacement is being sought.

- NZ Herald

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