The Southern Steel have consolidated their lead at the top of the New Zealand conference in the trans-Tasman netball competition with a 67-63 win over the bottom placed Central Pulse in Wellington last night.
The Steel, coming off a bye, were rusty in patches and had to contend with a determined Pulse side, who trailed by just one at all three breaks.
The difference ultimately came down to the Steel's patience and another strong shooting performance from Jhaniele Fowler Reid.
While Fowler-Reid was on fire, popping in 54 from 56, a lot of the credit had to go to her off-sider, Te Paea Selby-Rickit. The goal attack's vision and precision dropping feeds in to Fowler-Reid was blinding.
The Steel held a slight advantage for much of the first quarter. In spite of the dogged defence of Pulse goal keep Phoenix Karaka, Fowler-Reid popped in 16 from 16.
The Pulse picked up the intensity towards end of the quarter, and top shooting from Maia Wilson and Ameliaranne Wells, who comfortably shared the duties, ensured they kept in touch and trailed 18-17 at the break.
After shuffling their defence, the Pulse began to rattle the Steel attack and by remaining patient, leapt out to a four-goal lead.
But the Steel regathered and with stout defence from Jane Watson and Storm Purvis on the Pulse shooters, the Steel reclaimed the lead just before halftime to lead 33-32.
The third quarter was a classic see-saw battle for supremacy, that neither team dominated.
Just when it looked like the Pulse's momentum would propel them back into the lead, Steel captain Wendy Frew took control and calmed down her side, resetting their attack, and re-establishing a lead of five.
While Fowler-Reid got kudos, the opposing shooters also put on a good display - both Wilson and Wells shooting with 93 percent accuracy.
Fowler-Reid's fellow shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit wasn't so successfuly scoring from only 13 of her 21 shots on goal.
The Southern Steel have now won six of their seven matches this season while the Pulse have only a solitary win from their eight matches.
Pulse Shooting Statistics
Maia Wilson 37/40 (93%)
Ameliaranne Wells 26/28 (93%)
Steel Shooting Statistics
Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 54/56 (96%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 13/21 (62%)