11 Jul 2021

Steel cool under Mystics pressure

8:33 pm on 11 July 2021

A composed Southern Steel have held the table-topping Northern Mystics at arm's length for a hard-earned 61-58 national netball victory in Invercargill.

Magic captain Sam Winders (left) tussles with Pulse wing attack Whitney Souness

Magic captain Sam Winders (left) tussles with Pulse wing attack Whitney Souness Photo: Photosport

And in the early game in Wellington, the Pulse held off the Magic 55-51 for their first win since late May.

The three-goal win keeps the Steel on the pace for a prized spot in the premiership's finals series, and ends the Mystics' run of five straight victories.

The Steel went into the match with a plan to disrupt the Mystics' attacking flow and the full-court defensive pressure did just that, never allowing the visitors to find their rhythm up front.

There were no surprises in the starting line-ups for either side although all eyes turned to the Mystics bench where defender and new mum Phoenix Karaka made a welcomed return to the blue strip.

The Steel headed into the first break with an 18-15 advantage, which was closed to 32-29 at half-time.

The Mystics, led by Peta Toeava, upped their urgency in the third quarter and levelled the scores early as the two teams went goal-for-goal for much of the spell.

Shooters George Fisher and Tiana Metuarau stepped up as the Steel finished the quarter strongly to lead 47-45 at the last break.

The Mystics threw one last defensive change late in the match with Karaka returning to the Premiership fray with a run at goal keeper, but a composed Steel side was not to be flustered, holding on for the win.

Two decisive six-goal scoring streaks in the second quarter have given the Central Pulse a 55-51 win over a fast-finishing Magic outfit in Wellington.

In a game that swung between the sublime and the scrappy, the Pulse's big second quarter performance was enough for their first win since round seven in May.

But the Magic made an impressive finish to the match - winning the second half and closing to within two with a few minutes left on the clock.

Pulse goal shoot Aliyah Dunn kept a steady hand throughout the game, shooting 41 from 44 (93 percent). For the Magic, teenage goal attack Khiarna Williams held her own in impressive company, contributing 20 from 23 shots.

The first quarter ended on even terms at 15-15, but the second spell belong to the Pulse.

But that all began to unravel for the Magic from the restart.

Pulse defenders, Kelly Jury, Kelera Nawai and Maddy Gordon returned with a new fire and denied the Magic shooters ball after ball, sending their team on two separate six-goal scoring sprees which gave them a 31-24 half-time lead.

Claire Kersten and MVP Whitney Souness controlled the midcourt, sending through some exquisite ball to Dunn, who was spot-on with her shooting.

The Magic claimed the third quarter 14-13, but still trailed 44-38 with 15 minutes remaining.

Circle defender Temalisi Fakahokotau underpinned a fourth-quarter Magic resurgence as they clawed back to within two but the Pulse's composure under pressure gave them the win