Northern Stars: 50
Southern Steel: 43
In a standout individual performance, shooter Maia Wilson played a key role in steering the Northern Stars to an impressive 50-43 win over the Southern Steel in Auckland on Saturday.
As games make a return to the regions this weekend, the ever-reliable Wilson made the last match at the centralised Auckland Netball Centre venue one to savour, keeping a clean sheet after converting all 39 of her attempts in helping the Stars post their highest score in the 12-minute quarter matches.
An emphatic first quarter set the Stars up. Trailing by nine at the first break proved too much of a lead for the Steel to negate despite competing on level terms for the rest of the match and winning the second and fourth quarters.
Both teams adopted a steady-as-you-go approach during the opening exchanges before the presence of Stars defenders Kate Burley and Storm Purvis helped the home side gain the initiative.
The disruptive influence of the in-circle defenders provided more ball for the Stars, who were mostly slick and precise through court. Once safely into the hands of prolific shooter Wilson, the Stars continued to build a handy lead.
Wilson was pin-point perfect from all areas on the shot, longer-range shots this year adding to her repertoire. With the Steel unable to find their flow on attack, two unanswered five-goal runs helped push the Stars to a dominant 16-7 lead after a high-scoring first quarter.
A brilliant game tonight backed by an amazing sold out crowd. The atmosphere was electric and we’re so pleased to come away with the win. Thanks @sthrnsteel for an awesome game. Congratulations to MVP: Maia Wilson - so deserved ✨ We can’t thank you all enough for the support near and far 💜 📷 @mbphotonz
There was immediately more impetus from the southerners as the Stars were forced into a messy start. The Stars defenders continued to leave an impression with Burley picking up four intercepts for the half while the renowned Steel patience was also a factor.
Finding their flow, the Steel had a much better second 12-minutes, the experienced head of Halpenny, a recent ring-in for the injury-plagued Steel while holding down a fulltime job as a police officer in Tokoroa, nailing 9/9 during the quarter.
However, with Wilson a model of consistency at the other end, converting all 21 of her attempts, it was the Stars who retained their edge when leading 26-19 at the main break.
The Steel lifted in the latter stages, three straight goals helping them chip into the deficit. But it was the Stars who ended with a flourish, their accuracy and finishing giving them a handy advantage when leading 38-30 at the last turn.
Official Result and Stats:
Robinhood Northern Stars: 50
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel: 43
Shooting Stats - Stars:
Maia Wilson 39/39 (100%)
Jamie Hume 11/15 (73%)
Shooting Stats - Steel:
Ellen Halpenny 26/29 (90%)
Kalifa McCollin 17/18 (94%)
Kiana Pelasio 0/1 (0%)
MVP: Maia Wilson (Stars)