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Steel outclass Pulse for premiership title

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017 Cathy Walshe

A fired-up Southern Steel have crushed Central Pulse 69-53 to win the national netball premiership grand final at Stadium Southland in Invercargill.

For the first time in nearly three weeks, the Steel were able to run a full-strength starting line-up, skipper Wendy Frew and goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit returning from 17 days on the sideline.

Both had needed surgery after the Steel team van was involved in a collision at a Christchurch intersection earlier this month, and their return added extra firepower to their midcourt.

Frew said it had been a dream return to the court, despite dealing with the aftermath of 70-odd stitches in her knee and elbow.

"The girls had our backs like you wouldn't believe, I feel like they stepped up and really played their A game tonight," she said.

"It brought us stronger together as a group - there was just a new belief.

"For us, it was just about doing the small things well, and not over-thinking it and getting too caught up in the final."

Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said having Frew and Selby-Rickit back had made the Steel an even more difficult proposition, but she wouldn't have had it any other way.

"You wouldn't want to have had the game without them, it wouldn't have been the same," she said.

"When you have adversity like that, you tend to grow a whole lot more. We were really pleased they were in the game."

The Steel led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter and 35-20 at halftime, slowing only fractionally in the third stanza for a 55-38 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

The Pulse battled to win the final quarter 15-14, but the Steel's pace, patience and accuracy across 60 minutes left them comprehensive winners.

Attacking midcourters Shannon Francois and Gina Crampton ran riot to the circle edge, leaving the Pulse circle defence no chance of halting the torrent of ball into shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

The Jamaican international's height, elevation and unerring accuracy left her with impressive figures of 56 from 60 for the match, Selby-Rickit efficient in nailing 13 of her 19 attempts.

In contrast, Pulse shooters Cathrine Tuivaiti (26 from 29) and 16-year-old goal attack Tiana Metuarau (27/30) had to work overtime for every shot.

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