Northern Stars 51 Southern Steel 73

The Southern Steel have continued their unbeaten start to the ANZ Championship, proving far too strong for the Northern Stars in Manukau tonight.

Having won their opening four games to begin the new national competition, the Steel led from start to finish at Vodafone Events Centre. The visitors topped 70 goals for the fifth successive outing and, such was their supremacy, even enjoyed the opportunity to rest a couple of key players in the second half.

Jhaniele Fowler-Reid was again in imperious form, helping her side open up a 19-goal advantage by halftime before experiencing a rare spell on the bench in the third quarter.

Fowler-Reid, who was coming off a 70-goal performance in last week's demolition of the Tactix, did return for the fourth and finished the match with a near-flawless 45/46, proving impossible for the Stars defence to contain.

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Having regularly provided the final pass for her shooting partner while the Steel broke open the game in the first half, Te Paea Selby-Rickit showed some nice touches after moving to goal shoot in the third quarter, using her athleticism to latch onto several long passes and finishing the game 20/26.

Such a tactic proved impossible for the Stars to implement, proving excessively error-prone whenever they enjoyed opportunities to attack. The home side finished with 34 turnovers for the match, continuing to show a lack of coherence that is perhaps to be expected of such a new side.

The only time they were able to enjoy parity with their opponents was the third quarter when, with Fowler-Reid and Silver Fern Jane Watson sitting on the sidelines, coach Reinga Bloxham opted to retool her entire team, with four other starters swapping bibs.

The Stars could only look on with envy at such versatility and depth, unable to cope with Fowler-Reid's return and eventually helpless as the margin blew out beyond the 18-goal defeat they suffered to the Steel in round one.

Victory took the Steel back to the top of the standings ahead of a tricky double-header this weekend, hosting the Mystics on Sunday afternoon before welcoming the Pulse on Monday night.