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Steel brace for top-of-the-table test

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016 Cathy Walshe

Taurua says the Swifts will be going all out for the win. © Getty Images Taurua says the Swifts will be going all out for the win. Coach Noeline Taurua expects her Southern Steel team's patience will be sorely tested in Saturday's top-of-the-table trans-Tasman netball league clash against the NSW Swifts in Sydney.

Unbeaten all season, the Steel comfortably top the New Zealand conference, while the Swifts occupy the same position on the Australian table but sit ahead of the second-placed Queensland Firebirds on goal difference only.

Taurua says the Swifts will be going all out for the win.

"To secure top spot in the Australian conference, they need to win this game," she said.

"We'll be tested on our strategies, how mentally strong and how physically strong we are. The pressure that's going to go on in this game is huge."

The Swifts weren't at their best last week against the Northern Mystics, dominating only in the last 10 minutes to secure a 59-53 win.

Skipper Kim Green's return from injury for the last 30 minutes bolstered the Swifts midcourt, with Laura Langman shifting back to wing defence to add extra speed on transition from the back third.

"Their links, their connections weren't as strong as they have been in the past, so they're probably still working through that," Taurua said.

"But with Kim and Laura, you've got massive speed coming through the midcourt, as well as that sleight of hand and beautiful touches on the ball."

The Swifts also have three strong shooting options in Susan Pettit, Stephanie Wood and Caitlin Thwaites, and the formidable presence of goalkeeper Sharni Layton at the other end of the court.

But Taurua expects the Steel's own shooting circle, headed by towering Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, to more than hold its own.

Fowler-Reid tops the league shooting stats in both volume and accuracy, sinking 631 of her 701 attempts at an outstanding 90 per cent success rate.

Taurua says Fowler-Reid's combination with goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit has played a key role in the Steel's success this season.

"When Jhaniele has two on her, Te Paea comes in and she can shoot the lights out," she said.

"When it's one on one, you can feed anyone, whether at the front or back. Our outside feeders are putting some good ball in there that's got a lot of subtlety on it.

"If Jhaniele's doing the work and playing the body, there aren't very many people that can compete with her."

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