The Southern Steel remain unbeaten in the ANZ Premiership, but challengers are emerging.

Their latest victory has come after a stern test by the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, who gave the Steel their tightest contest of the season in Rotorua, before the visitors eventually emerged victorious, 65-61.

It was the Magic who stunningly halted the Steel's unbeaten season in the conference finals last year, and for moments they looked potent of making it a double dose.

The Steel had easily accounted for them when they met earlier in the season, but they were coming off their least convincing display last week against the Mainland Tactix, where they only won by six goals.


Most of that poor display against the Tactix can be put down to star Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid sitting for two quarters, and the Jamaican goal shoot was again a big contributor for the visitors.

A 49/56 return was slightly below her usual standards, but nine offensive rebounds negated any missed shots as the Steel once again had a significant shot attempts differential, putting up nine more attempts than the Magic.

The Steel have taken 145 more shots than the next-most prolific side, a consistent advantage which makes it difficult for any side to match them.

That factor gave them an early five goal lead, but the Magic's impressive ball speed and spacing through their attacking third pegged them back, taking a halftime lead.

Magic goal shoot Lenize Potgieter had one of her best showings, shooting 46/49, and Kelly Jury was impressive at goal keep, but the Steel's offensive potency was eventually overwhelming as they slowly regained ascendancy.

A quick fourth quarter run put the result out of doubt, but the Magic did enough to battle back and earn a bonus point, and keep their noses in front of the Central Pulse and Northern Mystics in second spot on the ladder.