Southern Steel shows strength in young players as they take the win from favourite Mainland Tactix.
“100% we were flat and the Steel just looked like they wanted it more,” Jane Watson, captain of the Mainland Tactix says after being defeated in the first round.
With just one roster change, being the addition of Karin Burger, the Tactix were picked as the favourites to take out not only the Round 1 match but the season. There was no doubt that it was a horror start for the girls with an 18 point loss to fresh-faced Steel.
Watson summed it up in three words “we were flat”, as the Tactix looked like they lacked real connection and never quite got to the level of energy the Steel were playing on.
It was particularly evident in the shooting circle with Ellie Bird and Jess Prosser, who were desperately missing the athleticism of Te Paea Selby-Rickett.
There were glimmers of hope for the Tactix in there as Karin Burger and Jane Watson showed their experience as the Silver Ferns defensive duo.
“Look it’s really coming along, there’s still lots we need to work on but she has got some real strength in our team and she’s great at getting ball,” Watson says.
“ But I think we need to utilise her ability to do man on man more, she’s got great reach.”
George Fisher debuts in style
However, nothing could outshine the Steel’s efforts and George Fisher’s debut at GS. Fisher only arrived in New Zealand two weeks before competition start and flourished in her debut with the Steel.
“I was loving it, I felt so supported and the crowd was so fantastic so yeah definitely enjoyed it,” Fisher says.
Fisher maintained a shooting average of 96% scoring 46 of the 56 Steel goals. Her grace and athleticism was something to be admired as she and her shooting partner Tiana Metuarau looked like they had been playing together for years.
Everyone could marvel at the accuracy between the two as the pair mimicked the relationship of Maria Folau and Catherine Tuivati. Metuarau looked well beyond her 20 years of age as she accurately fed the ball in each and every time to Fisher’s baseline and circle drive. What was most impressive about Fisher was her split that just looked to get longer every time she caught the ball.
In her post-match interview, Fisher did not want to take the credit for her outstanding performance.
“Everyone who came on made a difference, they came on with passion and gave the game some fresh legs. Everyone who came on did an amazing job and did themselves proud.”
“There’s never a perfect performance and there were a few times where they had a run on us and had us under so I think it’s looking at times like that and where we push on from there,” Fisher says.
Strong Performance from Steel
The Steel certainly had a strong performance with almost all new players debuting in the match. However, it was Shannon Saunders, captain of the Southern Steel, who took out player of the match for her outstanding leadership and bullet passes in the shooting circle. Saunders finished the match with 37 goal circle feeds with 32 on circle edge feeds and 5 long-range feeds.
“I don’t think I deserve it, lots of girls deserve it but it was a really great team performance,” Saunders says.
“We really just wanted to focus on ourselves and we had so much to learn ourselves so I think that was probably what we did and just really nailed our structures.”
After round 1 performance it is looking like it might be Steel’s year to steal a premiership.