EasiYo Tactix v Southern Steel

The Southern Steel have jumped into the trans-Tasman competition's top four with a 55-53 win over the Canterbury Tactix in Christchurch tonight.

The Steel deserved their win, but the Tactix must surely be ruing letting the game slip after they led late in the third quarter and trailed by just one with 15 minutes to go.

The two sides were neck and neck throughout most of the game, but a 7-1 run either side of the three-quarter break made all the difference.

The Steel ended what had been a tough third quarter for them on a high and carried that on to the start of the last spell.

Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs made a number of changes and her side responded, but they couldn't get passed their visitors.

The last five minutes were goal for goal, but the Steel held their nerve and the Tactix couldn't quite bridge the gap.

It was a case of so close yet so far for the home side.

Not only would a win have put them into the top four, it would have been their first consecutive wins since late in the 2009 season when Helen Mahon-Stroud's side finished that competition impressively.

There was plenty to like out of the Tactix' performance, but that will be - and should be - of little solace to Gibbs and her side.

Their shooting was much improved and their ball retention was fine, but they couldn't create the same number of turnovers they'd been able to against the Fever and Swifts in the opening two rounds.

The Steel were largely to blame for that, playing a structured game and keeping possession well.

Both teams had strong opening quarters, playing largely error free netball.

The shooting was good and the few turnovers that were created weren't wasted.

The Tactix moved the ball well, still enjoying the form that helped them beat the New South Wales Swifts 54-51 last week.

But the Steel stuck with them the whole way and the teams went to the first break locked at 15-all.

That first quarter laid the platform for what was always going to be a close game.

With a spot inside the top four at grabs and bragging rights in the Southern derby at stake, it was always going to be a case of who held their nerve best.

The Tactix couldn't keep their momentum after the break as the troublesome second quarter continues to bother them.

They gave away too many penalties, but also struggled to get as much ball to their shooters as the Steel's defence lifted their game.

A late run by the home side kept them close at halftime, but they were still down 28-26.

Last week the Tactix' gave credit to a rare Gibbs' halftime serve for their second half comeback and historic win, but tonight it looked like Gibbs may have delivered another one as her side came out of the sheds a well motivated side again.

They scored six of the first seven goals of the quarter to take the lead and had lifted their defensive intensity.

But the match continued to seesaw and the Steel took a one goal lead into the final quarter which they managed to nurse through to the final whistle.

Article courtesy of Matt Richens at The Press