Who can stop the Southern Steel?

Through the first six weeks of the ANZ Premiership, a legitimate contender is becoming increasingly hard to find, as the Steel continue to swat away all prospective challengers.

The latest side dispatched are the Central Pulse, whose strong start to the season proved no match for the surging Steel.

The Steel's 63-50 victory moves them to seven wins from seven games, possessing an average winning margin of 20.2 goals.


Their 13 goal win over the Pulse was notable considering the Pulse had perhaps the strongest case of any contender. Possessing a potent mix of athletic internationals and encouraging prospects, the Pulse had been competitive in every game this season before tonight - losing twice by the miserly combined margin of just three goals.

The glaring hole in their resume was soon to be addressed in Invercargill however, having not played the Steel during their impressive start.

The Pulse came into the clash conceding a Premiership-best 46.8 goals per game this season, but the stinginess of their defence is slightly misleading. While the defensive combination of Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka is excellent, the Pulse had yet to play the overwhelming Steel attack, and prefer to play at a slower pace than other Kiwi sides.

Although Grant and Karaka fought physically in the defensive circle, the netballing cheat code that is Steel shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid proved overwhelming.

You wonder just how good the Steel would be without Fowler-Reid, whose 6'6" frame allows the Steel's midcourt to loft balls into places inaccessible for opposing defences. The Jamaican goal shoot then converts those opportunities at a 91 per cent clip, and often snares offensive rebounds on the rare occasion when she misses.

Fowler-Reid sunk 49 goals for the Steel, and has now netted more goals (371) this season than four of the competition's other five teams.

Her contributions were crucial in building the Steel's advantage, as a 4-4 stalemate quickly evolved to an 11-4 Steel lead. As Steel shots dropped, the Pulse could only muster one attempt in four minutes. Jane Watson was impressive, plucking away interceptions, while the Steel were safe in possession.

The Pulse ended the game with no intercepts and lost the turnover and deflections battle, giving the Steel had an overwhelming shot attempts advantage (77-57). It meant the efforts of Tiana Metuarau were nullified, despite confidently shooting from range when goal shoot Cathrine Tuivaiti was covered.


Tuivaiti found her footing as the game progressed, with the Pulse briefly cutting the deficit to three and keeping in touch without ever looking like making a game-changing run.

Although the Pulse showed signs of being a legitimate combatant, the Steel pulled away in the final quarter, posting another comprehensive win in a season which promises plenty more to come.