The Central Pulse's struggles to start the ANZ Premiership netball season have continued, with a surprise 56-52 defeat to the Southern Steel in Invercargill this afternoon.
The defending champions have now lost two of their three games, with the absence of skipper Ameliaranne Ekenasio being exacerbated by the loss of Silver Ferns midcourter Maddy Gordon, who departed after a quarter of their clash with the Steel due to an ankle injury.
That allowed the surprising Steel to pounce. Tipped as possible wooden-spooners at the start of the season, the Steel have benefitted from key opposition injuries in their wins over the Mainland Tactix and now the Pulse, but have also played well, led by English goal shoot George Fisher and former Pulse player Tiana Metuarau, who combined to shoot 56/60 in their victory.
Metuarau helped steady the Steel after their nine-goal buffer evaporated, with the Pulse coming back from 31-22 to sneak ahead 36-35, before the Steel pulled away once more with a composed final quarter.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The Steel sit in second on the ladder, behind the only unbeaten team in the competition, the Northern Stars.
The Stars moved to 3-0 with a 55-51 victory over the now 1-2 Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. The Stars pulled away to a dominant 10-goal lead just before halftime, and held that double-digit advantage early in the final quarter before the Magic went on a storming comeback.
Interestingly, they did it without star Australian recruit Caitlin Bassett, who didn't play the last 21 minutes.
The young Magic shooting duo of Chiara Semple and Khiarna Williams sparked a fourth-quarter 10-2 run that brought the Magic back within two with five minutes remaining, but that was as close as they got as the Stars held their nerve to claim a third consecutive victory.