The Northern Stars have moved up to third place on the ANZ Premiership ladder after a 48-39 win over the Southern Steel this afternoon.
After losing their star shooter Jen O'Connell to a knee injury in Friday night's match against the Central Pulse, the Steel were missing a lot of experience at the shooting end, and had less than 24 hours to regroup.
With young shooter Georgia Heffernan already ruled out for the 2020 season with an ACL injury, the Steel were left to promote training partner Kiana Pelasio to start at goal attack, paired with Trinidadian import Kalifa McCollin at goal shoot.
The Steel had to rely on the experience and skills of Silver Ferns midcourters Shannon Saunders and Gina Crampton to lead their attacking end, with McCollin being the dominant shooter, scoring 27 of the Steel's 39 goals at 93 per cent accuracy, while Pelasio hit six of her 10 shots.
The Stars led from the opening whistle, and every time the Steel drew close, the Stars would pull ahead and kept extending their lead.
The challenge for the Stars was to finish the game strong, after the disastrous end to their match with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic earlier this week, where they ended up drawing the clash despite being seven goals up at the end of the third quarter.
This time, the Steel drew close in the third quarter, getting back within one goal, but the Stars learned from their mistakes and dominated the final quarter, scoring 15 goals and limiting the Steel to just eight.
To underline the Steel's adversity, Grace Namana was called up to the Steel side late last night, and flew up this morning, playing eighteen minutes at goal shoot, shooting 6/8.
Steel co-captain Crampton drew positives from the match, despite the nine-goal margin.
"We had people out there who we hadn't even trained with...they did really well," she said.
The experience of Maia Wilson, playing a full match at goal shoot, was instrumental for the Stars, with Wilson being awarded the MVP of the match, shooting 36/39 (92 per cent).
Wilson has been strong all season, and is the leading contender for the goal shoot bib for the Silver Ferns when international netball resumes.
Stars captain Grace Kara credited her side's win to starting strong and keeping their intensity levels up all game, despite several defensive changes throughout.
"It's amazing to be able to bring the bench on and have them come on seamlessly."
The Stars will have to back up their performance when they face the Magic tomorrow afternoon, in a rematch of their drawn clash on Monday.