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Southern Steel ready to kick on

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/05/2016 Cathy Walshe

Southern Steel have shaken off the cobwebs from their bye week and are ready to attack the next phase of their trans-Tasman league campaign in Sunday's match against Northern Mystics in Dunedin.

It will be Noeline Taurua's 100th ANZ Championship game, and the canny coach has high expectations of her rapidly improving young squad.

They sit atop the New Zealand conference, unbeaten in seven games and with wins over Australian contenders West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Mainland Tactix have come closest to upsetting the southerners, holding them to a 58-58 draw in round two.

The Steel held off Central Pulse 67-63 in Wellington on Monday, returning to the trans-Tasman fray after a week off in a performance Taurua described as rusty.

She says they'll need to lift significantly if they want to down the Mystics, who they pipped 58-57 in round one.

The Steel might hold an eight-point lead over the second-placed Mystics, but Taurua says the log-jam with the Tactix, Magic and Pulse behind them is ominous should her team miss a beat.

"Any team of the bottom four could make the finals, which I think is quite a dangerous situation for us," she told NZ Newswire.

"If we're not prepared, if we take the game too easy or we're ego-driven, I think we'll get done."

Taurua is in her first season at the Steel but has a stellar record from her six-season stint at the Magic, including the 2012 title.

That experience is invaluable as the Steel look to become just the second New Zealand team to win the ANZ Championship.

Taurua is happy enough with the start they've made, but says there's still a long way to go.

"This is a stepping stone - we really want that solid base, but now we can also start to add a bit of X-factor, and a bit of drive, a bit of mongrel," she said.

"Physically and mentally, I want them really strong and a putting out a really good product of netball we're proud of.

"This is a good start for us, but we've got to keep building."

With the third-placed Tactix on a bye, the other match of New Zealand interest will pit the slow-starting Magic against New Zealand conference tail-enders the Pulse in Mount Maunganui on Monday.

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