Southern Steel 54
Central Pulse 53

The Southern Steel defied all odds in the ANZ Premiership grand final to take the spoils in dramatic fashion and become the first franchise to win back-to-back titles.

Chasing the Central Pulse for the entire clash, a victory for the defending champions looked out of reach before a sudden turn of events in the final minutes saw the Steel defeat the home side 54-53 and rob the favourites of the trophy.

Steel captain Wendy Frew looked overwhelmed at the sound of the final whistle as the Southern netball legend drew the curtain on her 16-year long career in style.


Frew said she couldn't have asked for a better finish from her side describing the final moments of the match as unreal.

"I'm just absolutely chuffed, when the whistle went I just went nuts," Frew said.

"This just means so much, obviously being my last game at this level, and there's no better finish I could imagine, it's just like a dream.

"To come back in the last few minutes just showed the character of the girls and the belief within the squad and just the heart that we have in the dress."

Meanwhile, the Pulse were left shattered as their captain Katrina Grant looked speechless and close to tears.

Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie agreed that it was disappointing for the team but had accepted the defeat.

"It's disappointing, but it's sport. I feel for the players ... but it is what it is," McCausland-Durie said.

"I'm still proud of the group, I think they've worked incredibly hard and certainly as a young group they've got a huge future and a lot of potential.


"It's always a bugger when you can't finish it off but I'm realistic that that's sport and we'll have to work a bit harder and be back again."

After dominating the Premiership ladder all season, the Pulse were hot favourites to take the victory, and were in fine form in the opening quarter as they stormed ahead to excite their passionate home crowd.

Teenage shooter Aliyah Dunn, who has risen as the top Kiwi goal shoot in the country since her Premiership debut last year, was back in formidable form alongside Silver Fern Ameliaranne Ekenasio.

After spending most of the season on the bench while her teenage teammates grabbed the spotlight, Ekenasio showed her hand in the tense match.

Steel's Gina Crampton (L) and Pulse's Karin Burger during the ANZ Premiership grand final. Photo / Photosport
Steel's Gina Crampton (L) and Pulse's Karin Burger during the ANZ Premiership grand final. Photo / Photosport

Mastering the balance of experience and youth, the shooting duo were fast off the blocks in the opening quarter while intercepts from Karin Burger provided the pair with plenty of turnovers.

Meanwhile, Steel shooter Jen O'Connell boasted a faultless accuracy rate, but under the pressure of Grant and Sulu Fitzpatrick, struggled for space in the circle.

As the Steel became hesitant, the home side surged ahead with a decisive six-goal lead that extended with leaps and bounds as the visitors continued to let major opportunities slip.

Steel goal keep Courtney Elliott fought to contain Dunn under the hoop with agile vertical leaps but wasn't able to snatch many rebounds off the towering Pulse shooter.

As the Steel looked to slow things down on the court and treasure the ball, they managed to claw back some lost ground in the dying stages of the second quarter.

A run of long-range shots from Te Paea Selby-Rickit pulled the clash back to a six-goal difference as the Pulse held the half-time advantage at 30-24.

But the Pulse's lead was slowly eaten away in the third quarter as the Steel took advantage of the home side's sudden change in pace and style of attack with 17-year-old Tiana Metuarau in place of Ekenasio.

Steel midcourter Gina Crampton led her side from the front as she found solid connection with O'Connell and Selby-Rickit from the circle edge while Frew kept her defence unit in line.

As the Steel edged their way to trail by just four goals, McCausland-Durie called Ekenasio back onto the court in hopes that the Silver Fern's presence could reignite the side's Premiership-winning form.

In an all-or-nothing final stanza, the Steel looked dangerous on the court while the Pulse were let down by a number of penalties.

The Steel converted on prime opportunities to threaten their Southern rivals but as the passionate Palmerston North crowd grew louder the Pulse looked set on claiming the trophy.

However, a sudden lapse in focus saw the Steel surge ahead to steal the show and stun the home side.

The Steel closed their season with 12 wins from 17 games while the Pulse finished with 13 wins from 16 games.