Steel fades against punishing Mystics

A second quarter fade has been the Southern Steel’s undoing.

The Steel lost 64-48 to the Northern Mystics, winning the Georgie Salter Memorial Trophy, in Dunedin tonight.

The Steel lost the second quarter 19-9, after being down by only two at the break, with the Mystics punishing throughout the court and throughout the post.

They were without their captain Sulu Fitzpatrick, who sustained a knee injury last week, but that did not matter.

Phoenix Karaka moved to the back and the long arms of young Carys Stythe out the front caused problems.

Saviour Tui was still a solid target at the back and her combination with Georgia Heffernan continued to grow.

It was a much better performance than the round one 64-38 loss, but still, it was the lack of consistency that let the Steel down.

If players did pick up ball, they struggled to put scoreboard pressure on and the defence that was evident early outside the circle soon fell.

The Steel had a brilliant start to the game, sticking with the same lineup from last week.

Its intensity was strong, players treasured possession and went goal-for-goal.

The Mystics made a breakthrough seven minutes in and went up by two to lead 16-14 at the break.

It was the second quarter that changed the game.

The Mystics capitalised on misplaced balls from the Steel and jumped out to an early 21-16 lead.

The visitors’ ball speed killed the Steel through the court and the pressure out the front of the circle fell with players in chase mode.

Peta Toeava’s ability to change direction at speed and front cut the defenders to take the short ball and bomb it in to Grace Nweke was lethal.

She was vocal directing her attack line to change their angles and the tempo of the game.

Once the Mystics get a roll on and the ball is bombed into the circle, there is no stopping them.

At times the feeds to Steel shooters could have gone in earlier and it became harder to find that opening without the first option.

The Mystics punished and led 35-23 at the break.

Sam Winders and Kate Heffernan had a positional switch in the third quarter, with Winders moving into centre – and it worked.

Kate Heffernan’s arms made it harder for the Mystics feeders to sight Nweke.

Kate Burley took a great intercept and drew some penalties against Nweke to win the ball back.

The feeds went in earlier to the shooters and there was more flow on attack.

Traditionally a wing defence, Renee Savai’inaea entered the game at wing attack and helped change the timing.

She muscled up and screened space for Winders to find the circle edge, helping the Steel who only lost the third quarter by four.

It was a better final quarter too, picking up heaps of ball on defence and lifting the intensity again to draw the quarter.