Steel hangs on to claim win over Magic

Southern Steel shooter George Fisher was back in action in her team's 56-54 win over the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Monday night. Photo: File

THIS one was tougher.

But the Southern Steel hung tough.

It scrapped its way to a 56-54 win over the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in Hamilton on Monday night.

That followed its 65-50 win over the same opponent in Invercargill a week before.

The Magic was without Temalisi Fakahokotau, but Erena Mikaere proved immense on defence and disrupted the Steel attack all night.

Meanwhile, the shooting duo which finished last week Bassett and Khiarna Williams shot an impressive 93%.

But while the Steel was far from the polished side of its southern performance, it turned over enough ball to ensure it had 67 shots to the Magic’s 58.

Grace Namana again started at goal shoot and shot 24/28, while George Fisher returned from concussion to play most of the second half and shot 17/19.

Two turnovers from centre passes late in the second quarter proved the Magic’s undoing.

It allowed the Steel to take a 29-25 lead to halftime in what had been an even game.

That lead became seven early in the fourth quarter, but a late rally from the Magic reduced it to one and left the Steel clinging on.

The side showed patience to stem that momentum, at one point holding the ball for more than a minute to prevent the Magic tying the scores.

It was proof of this team’s ability to find ways to win and coach Reinga Bloxham said it was “really smart”.

She said it had been a tight game and while it was ugly at times, she was happy to come away with the win.

It could be tough playing the same team twice in a row, Bloxham said.

“We knew they weren’t going to lay down and die and we knew we were going to have to do our jobs,” she said.

“I don’t know if we did them as well as we did last week. But I don’t think we were allowed to do them as well.

“The defensive pressure the Magic put on us was a lot tougher than what we had last week, so they really stepped up.”

The Steel had a messy start, but scrapped well to go to quarter-time down 12-11.

The teams traded the lead twice, before the Steel took its 29-25 buffer to halftime.

Fisher was introduced at that point and, while the Steel had its shaky moments, it extended the lead to 42-36 late in the third quarter.

While the Magic came back, the Steel clung on and claimed a significant win in a tight playoff race.