Steel upset Thunderbirds in trans-Tasman netball league
The Southern Steel have kept their trans-Tasman netball league playoff hopes alive, overwhelming the Adelaide Thunderbirds 58-49 at Dunedin.
The Steel drew level on 14 points with Queensland Firebirds but the nine-goal margin allowed them to leapfrog their rivals into fourth in the standings on the strength of better goal difference.
The loss ended the Thunderbirds’ six-game winning streak but they cannot be overtaken by either the Steel of the Firebirds as they are on 18 points with just one round to go.
The contest for the fourth and final play-off spot will be decided in next weekend’s final round when the Steel take on the under-performing defending champions NSW Swifts at home, while the Thunderbirds play the West Coast Fever in Adelaide.
The Steel gelled in all areas of the court Monday night, particularly in the attacking third where the instinctive passing between shooters Donna Wilkins and Megan Dehn ran Thunderbirds defenders Mo’onia Gerrard and Geva Mentor ragged.
Adine Wilson at wing attack was back to her best as the playmaker, feeding her shooters an ample supply of ammunition with which Wilkins converted 91 per cent of attempts and Dehn 90 in the first half to take their side out to a 30-24 lead.
Steel wing defence Wendy Telfer and circle defenders Megan Hutton and Katrina Grant also had strong games which blunted dangerous Thunderbirds shooters Kate Beveridge and Natalie Medhurst.
While Thunderbirds centre Natalie von Bertouch struggled to link effectively with her attack, Steel centre Liana Barret-Chase was a bundle of energy as she effectively linked both ends of the court in combination with Telfer and Wilson.
The Steel stretched their lead out to 46-35 after three quarters only to see the Thunderbirds up their pace to outscore them 7-2 early in the final quarter.
But Wilson cleverly called an injury break to break the Thunderbirds’ momentum and from there the Steel regained their momentum and control of the game.
Wilson said it was great to have finally pull one over an Australian team.
“We knew one was coming close against those Aussie teams and it’s fourth time lucky and really just when we needed it.”
Gerrard said the Thunderbirds had played badly but “they made us play badly and we probably didn’t turn the ball over enough.”© AAP 2013