Southern Steel has ‘plenty to be proud of’

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Lenize Potgieter of the Southern Steel is in action during the ANZ Premiership elimination final between the Southern Steel and Northern Stars at the ILT Stadium in Invercargill. Photo: Michael Bradley Photography

WHILE a “gutting” loss is fresh in the mind of the Southern Steel, the team is not letting that define a stellar season.

The hometown hopes were knocked out of the ANZ Premiership elimination final last week in a nail-biter where the The Northern Stars clinched victory 56-53.

This ended the Steel’s seven-game winning streak, and 16-straight wins at the ILT Stadium.

Coach Reinga Bloxham said the team was still disappointed it would not be able to keep the title at home for a third year running.

However, she was “extremely proud” of how players performed and grew over the season.

“That performance doesn’t define us. I’m still immensely proud they are still able to push each other.

“With the way the girls have such a high expectation and work ethic, there’s plenty to be proud of.”

The team has an impressive showing in national teams with Gina Crampton, Shannon Saunders and Te Paea Selby-Rickit recently being chosen for the Silver Ferns.

Lenize Potgieter, who is confirmed to move to the Queensland Firebirds, will also represent South Africa at the Netball World Cup later this year.

“Their team mates are extremely proud. They all felt they contributed.”

Bloxham put the winning streak down to hard work and a “fanatical” home crowd. “They just love the game of netball. In the sense of crowd sizes we’re doing reasonably well.

“You see with the crowd here how much they love netball and how much they love sport. It’s like having an extra player.”

Some young players had shone through and been able to bring life to the team.

As for last week’s final, credit had to be given to the Stars, Bloxham said.

“They had their best performance of the season. Their defence put us under a lot of pressure and we struggled to get the ball into our circle.

“That’s one of the things that pops out for me. It’s the team that wants it on the night and they were hungrier on the court.”

The Steel was always thankful for its home support, she said.

“It’s gutting we couldn’t finish the way we wanted.”

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