New Zealand's former domestic netball league was all about one team: the Southern Sting.

In the 10 seasons of the old competition, which ran 1997-2007, the Sting featured in every grand final, going on to win the title on seven occasions.

More than a decade on, it appears New Zealand netball's power base will once again reside in the deep South in the new era of the domestic game.

The Southern Steel, an amalgamation of the Sting and the Otago Rebels franchised forged for the now defunct transtasman league, opened their ANZ Premiership campaign with a dominant 75-57 win over the Northern Stars.


The match, which marked the beginning of the new championship, kicked off the "Super Sunday" triple-header in Hamilton, with a further two games scheduled at Claudelands Arena today.

The Steel, who maintained a virtually unchanged line-up to the one that blitzed through the regular season of last year's transtasman league unbeaten, proved too slick and composed for the league newcomers.

But the South Auckland-based Stars, who were playing in their debut match, showed patches of promise with the defensive combination of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Leana de Bruin coming up with some good ball, while Emma Iverson was impressive in the midcourt in her first game at this level.

The Stars looked to have the Steel's ace shooting import Jhaniele Fowler-Reid quiet for the opening period.

After a couple of messy early possessions, the Auckland side were finding good rhythm down their own attacking end, taking a 12-9 lead late in the period. But a change to the Stars' shooting combination, made via the use of the competition's new rolling subs rule, killed their momentum.

Fijian import Afa Rusivakula, who replaced Malia Paseka at goal attack, had a nervous introduction to the league, landing just one of her three shots at goal in the first spell.

The Steel took advantage of the Stars' shooting wobbles, with Fowler-Reid piling on four goals in the final minute of the quarter to take a 15-12 lead at the first break.

That momentum stayed with the Steel early in the second spell, as they opened the quarter with a 5-1 blitz to put the Stars firmly in chase mode. Steel defender Jane Watson began to make her presence felt in the second quarter, snaffling any wayward passes in the Stars shooting end.

By halftime the scoreline had blown out to 35-26, with the Steel well in charge.

The Stars put in their best effort in the third period, showing a lot more patience with the ball in hand. But they were unable to eat their way into the Steel's lead, with both sides netting 15 goals for the period.

After the much improved effort in the third quarter the Stars dropped away badly late in the game as the Steel ran rampant.