Steely Southerners take final spot

By Ruth Smith

It was an all-Southern elimination semi-final in the ANZ Premiership with the Canterbury teams, the Southern Steel and the Mainland Tactix clashing head to head. 

However, it was the Southern Steel who took away the honours and a place in the coveted finals in what will be a rematch of last year’s final against the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.

It was a big haul for retiring Steel captain Wendy Frew, walking away with a finals spot, a stadium renamed for her and the key to the city of Invercargill.

"It feels unreal.  That was a tough game and we're just stoked we got past the Tactix - full credit to them.  That was a good grind.  They played really well- could've gone any way, but we'll take the win and I'm so excited that we get the opportunity on Sunday against the Pulse.  Just stoked," says Frew.

The local netball legend was elated with the efforts of her team and humbly thanked the home crowd who continuously show their support for their team.

"We love this crowd. They’re so loyal to us.  They come in week in, week out and just cheer their little hearts out.  Absolutely stoked with the crowd turnout tonight and it certainly gets you over the line in tough encounters like tonight," she says.

By no means was it an easy game, with both sides bringing the heat. The momentum swung both ways but ultimately it was the experienced Steel side that prevailed, reflected in the 53-49 full-time score.

"We just showed our heads.  We do have a lot of experienced players and we just kept our cool, and went to score off our own.  Full credit to our girls, they really showed what character they have and the hunger and we're pretty wrapped with that," says Frew.

"Those critical moments didn't go our way.  We needed to treasure that ball a little more than we did.  End of the day, sport's the winner, but Steel took it to us and they played a really good game," says Tactix captain Jane Watson.

With the season now over for the Tactix, Watson congratulated her team for producing a historical feat for the club; making semi-finals for the first time.

"We came out there, we did, and we gave everything.  Full credit to the girls and to the Steel.  Just an awesome match," Watson says.

The Southern Steel are now set to take on the top of the league, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in Palmerston North this Sunday.