The Southern Steel have underlined their favouritism in the ANZ Premiership by thumping the second-placed Central Pulse 80-44 tonight.
The Steel (10-0) needed only one quarter to send an emphatic statement to both the Pulse (6-4) and the rest of the competition, racing out to an almost unassailable early lead to silence the Porirua crowd.
Victory preserved the Steel's perfect record and solidified top spot with five games to play, vanquishing any doubts that may have crept in after a couple of unconvincing outings.
The Steel have experienced a 10-day layoff since their last match against the Magic but showed no signs of rust last night, as Jhaniele Fowler-Reid scored 18 goals in the first quarter en route to a personal haul of 66.
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The Jamaican's early efforts helped her side build a commanding 23-10 lead by the first break. And while the Pulse were guilty of some initial errors, committing nine turnovers in the first quarter, the Steel hardly needed any assistance from the opposition.
The visitors' accuracy in the final third was a class above and, when combined with the length of Fowler-Reid and the speed of Te Paea Selby-Rickit, left little chance for the Pulse defence.
If the hosts were to hold any hope of mounting a revival they needed a strong start to the second. Instead, the Steel began the quarter with five straight goals to confirm what the early carnage had hinted - the match was essentially over.
All that was left to determine was the final margin of victory. The Steel's lead swelled to 20 midway through the second and, although the Pulse did show some mettle to reduce the deficit after halftime, blew out to 23 by the end of the third.
In the end, the Steel's 35-goal win was a significant improvement on the 13-goal victory they posted over the Pulse earlier in the month, and would have left the Northern Stars wary of what they would be facing when they head to Invercargill to take on the leaders on Sunday.
Central Pulse 44 (Tuivaiti 26/28, Metuarau 11/18)
Southern Steel 80 (Fowler-Reid 66/70, Selby-Rickit 14/21)