The Southern Steel halted the Central Pulse’s winning streak at 14 games last night in Invercargill, beating the table-topping Wellington side 62-52.
It was an ominous foreshadowing of what is likely to be the ANZ Netball Premiership final, which has been won by the Steel over the Pulse for the last two seasons.
Despite their success in 2019, this game was always going to be a tough ask for the Pulse, as the Steel had a 15-game winning streak of their own on their home court.
The Steel defence targeted the Pulse shooter Aliyah Dunn and contained her well enough so Ameliaranne Ekenasio had to put up all of the Pulse’s shots until halfway through the first quarter.
At the other end, Steel goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit was doing a superb job at setting up Lenize Potgieter, making her own shots count.
Although the Steel built up a three-goal buffer at one point, the Pulse had got back to 14-13 when the first quarter ended.
The second was when the game turned in the home side’s favour with the Steel taking a 32-27. It was only the second time this season that the Pulse had been behind at the halftime break.
Things didn’t get much better after halftime for the Pulse, who at one stage trailed by 11. This was mostly due to a star turn by Potgieter, who nailed 45 of 47 shots on goal. While the prolific Dunn landed 32 from 34, she simply didn’t get enough ball to make a difference in the second half.
Despite the loss, the Pulse still sit first on the ladder with two games to go in the regular season. They now face the Stars and Mystics before advancing to the final, while the Steel have the Tactix and Stars before they play their sudden death playoff.