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Steel play down 'grudge' match

Published: 7:07AM Monday April 08, 2013 Source: Fairfax

  • Southern Steel coach Janine Southby talks to her players (Source: Photosport)
    Southern Steel coach Janine Southby talks to her players - Source: Photosport

Southern Steel coach Janine Southby knows the media would love to blow up her team's third-round clash against the Pulse as a grudge match, but she's not buying into it.

Pulse are, of course, coached by southern netball doyen Robyn Broughton and have no fewer than five former Steel players on their roster: Donna Wilkins, their best player from 2012, and Katrina Grant, Paula Griffin, Liana Leota and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit.

"I guess it's probably going to be blown up that way in the media, you guys seem to love that stuff," Southby said after Saturday's 60-54 loss to the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Dunedin on Saturday.

"To be honest, they are just another team.

"We just need to debrief from this [loss] and then we'll look forward to meeting the Pulse next weekend.

"We'll have to adapt some of our strategies, they are a different style again. There are quite a few things we need to address from this."

One of those is an annoying tendency to fall away in the second quarter.

It didn't cost Steel during their second round win over the Canterbury Tactix, but it certainly cost them against the Thunderbirds at the Lion Foundation Arena in front of a middling Dunedin crowd.

Bouncing back from a 14-goal loss to the Melbourne Vixens last week, and trailing 15-10 after the first quarter, the Thunderbirds slammed in a blistering 21 goals to eight to put the game almost beyond Steel's reach.

"Take the second quarter out of it and I thought we were a competitive unit and had opportunities to take the game, we just lost the plot in the second quarter," Southby said.

"I think we just let them get into our heads a little bit, we went away from what we did. We just didn't get enough turnover ball to send down to the attacks so they could sort it out.

"The [Thunderbirds] stepped it up physically on defence and we didn't have an answer for it in that quarter."

Steel will take heart from their first-quarter performance, their best of this competition, and their ability to get back to within three goals in the closing minutes of the game.

If a clearing pass had not been thrown out of bounds with Steel behind by three midway through the final quarter the game may have had a different result.

Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson was rapt with the way her team responded after being five goals down at the first break, particularly after last week's loss to the Vixens.

"We are so stoked. No-one ever wins in the south lands, the crowds are so awesome for you guys.

"We needed the two points and this is such a hard trip for us, it's a four-day trip to play a game of netball."

The Thunderbirds were buoyed by the sight of a Queensland high school netball team that turned out to support their fellow Australians.

Steel goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler won the battle of the Jamaican giants in a losing effort, shooting 41 from 44 attempts, while former international Carla Borrego had 36 from 42.

The game was also notable for the achievement of vice-captain Wendy Frew, who had 6-month-old son Archie watching from the grandstands as she overtook Liana Leota's record for most games for Steel, with 55 appearances.

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