Old rivalries were renewed and fortunes reversed when The Good Oil Tactix handed the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel a 60-50 defeat in the cauldron of ILT Stadium Southland on Monday night.
The last time the two sides met was in the opening round, when the Steel dominated to the tune of 18 goals.
But with the addition of experienced goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit into the Tactix side since then, the Mainlanders racked up their third win in a row. Selby-Rickit’s shooting partner, Ellie Bird, was in superb form under the hoop, scoring 46 of her 48 attempts with 96 percent accuracy.
It was a strong start from the Tactix, with circle defenders Jane Watson and Karin Burger (the eventual player of the match) getting their eye in early and immediately making life difficult for the Steel shooters.
It took the home side almost three minutes to open their account, and although they were three goals down, they took the lead 8-7 halfway through the spell. Captain Shannon Saunders and Tiana Metuarau placed some exceptional passes into goal shoot George Fisher.
But the Tactix quickly reclaimed the lead and were 13-11 ahead at the first break.
The Selby-Rickit sisters found themselves in direct opposition for the first time this season – Te Huinga Reo at goal defence for the Steel and Te Paea at goal attack for the Tactix. Te Paea continued to build on her return to the court from injury as she and Kimiora Poi marshalled the Tactix attack.
Their feeding of goal shoot Bird was on the mark in the second quarter, and with Bird missing just one shot – despite taking a couple of heavy falls - the Tactix soon established a seven-goal lead.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit was benched for Sarahpheinna Woulf just before halftime, but with Watson showing why she’s leading the league in deflections, the Tactix lead expanded to eight, 31-23, before the teams headed to the changing rooms.
The Steel made some personnel changes for the start of the third quarter, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit returning to the court, and Renee Savai’inaea swapping to centre with Kate Heffernan at wing defence. Heffernan was able to made an impact on defence straight away, and the Steel had two heartening runs of three to claw back to within four.
That lifted the team right through court and the Invercargill crowd responded vocally, too. Fisher’s shooting success also picked up and the Steel won the quarter 15-12, to be just five down, 43-38, going into the final phase.
Two long shots from Metuarau kept the Steel in the game at the start of the fourth, but the more composed Tactix took control as the clock ticked down and denied the Steel a bonus point.