In what will be a season of firsts for netball's newest franchise, the Northern Stars today ticked off a big one: first win.
After two heavy defeats in the opening round of the ANZ Premiership, the South Auckland-based Stars finally got on the board this afternoon with a 48-37 win over the Mainland Tactix in Christchurch.
The Stars may have got the points they were looking for, but they didn't get the performance.
The match, which kicked off the second round of the new domestic league, was a dire low-scoring affair riddled with basic errors from both sides. The two sides committed a combined 72 turnovers, with some patches of play more resembling a tennis match as the ball swung back and forth down the court.
Shooting accuracy was also poor from both sides, with Tactix import Kadeen Corbin (11/16) and stand-in captain Anna Thompson (16/26) looking particularly shaky on-goal.
The first quarter set the tone for a messy encounter, with neither side able to find any sort of rhythm on attack.
The Stars, who were back to a full complement of players - albeit some still on restricted workloads - after young midcourter Fa'amu Ioane was cleared to make her first appearance for her new side, battled to find their connections.
Stars coach Julie Hoornweg appeared to have little patience for letting the players work through it, instead implementing widespread changes just seven minutes into the game. Wing attack Courtney Tairi was the only player unaffected by the bib reshuffle.
The changes did seem to help the Stars settle somewhat, with the re-introduction of regular starter Maia Wilson back in the shooting end helping the visitors out to a narrow 11-9 lead at the first break.
The positional tweaks and the errors continued to flow in the second half, while goals were hard to come by. In one period of play, nearly a minute and a half passed without a team scoring a goal.
While both ends of the court produced strong defensive outings, there were too many soft turnovers and the Tactix in particular, missed numerous opportunities to forge a lead.
The Tactix inability to wrest control saw the Stars maintain their two-goal advantage at the long break.
The visitors finally kicked into gear in the third period, as the combined defensive efforts of Sulu Fitzpatrick, Leana de Bruin and Kayla Cullen began to increase their influence on the match.
The trio stopped the Tactix attacking line in its tracks, picking off a number of intercepts and deflections. The visiting shooters took advantage of every extra opportunity, slotting seven unanswered goals in a row to take a 36-27 lead heading into the final spell.
While disappointed with their first half effort, Tairi said her side are delighted to finally be on the board following a tough opening round.
"I think last week was a bit of a reality check for us. We knew this week we really had to put the foot down and chase down every ball," she said.
"This win will really give us a lot of confidence to know that if we stick to our gameplan we can push through it."