WINS do not get much bigger than that.
Not only did the Southern Steel end the Central Pulse’s unbeaten season in Invercargill on Monday night, it won emphatically.
A 62-52 thrashing in front of a raucous crowd left no doubt this side is capable of claiming a third straight title.
In the previous meetings Steel became flustered by the Pulse’s pressure, but this time it was the other way around.
The Steel attack remained composed all night, patiently passing the ball around and methodically picking apart the normally tough Pulse defence.
At the other end its defence kept lifting, with Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit the star of the show.
She led a brilliant defensive unit and came up with several key turnovers.
The Steel capitalised off that, with Lenize Potgieter and Te Paea Selby-Rickit combining to shoot 62/71 to cap a superb night.
Steel co-captain Gina Crampton said it was a “massive” win heading into the playoffs in three weeks.
“I’m definitely surprised by the scoreline,” she said.
“I think it’s nice we did that, as well as it being our third game in six days, that’s really promising.
“But I’m definitely surprised, we put the foot down, and won every quarter but the last one, so really pleased.”
She felt the continuing development of the connections were key, as was the home crowd giving it a boost.
“I think we definitely got a better first-second phase on our centre pass attack [than the past two matches against the Pulse].
“Our unit defence is coming along really nicely.
“They’re building some great connections and starting to pick up some ball which is fantastic.”
The first quarter was a close battle, but it was the Steel that emerged with a 14-13 lead.
After a feed went through Te Paea Selby-Rickit’s hands off the first centre pass, the Pulse took the early advantage.
However, the Steel quickly hit back, tying things at 2-2 when it capitalised off a miss from Ameliaranne Ekenasio.
The Steel finally broke through when Lenize Potgieter scored after a bad pass from Karin Burger.
It held that lead until late in the quarter, when the Pulse capitalised on a mis-fired Steel feed.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit came up with a big intercept though, ensuring the Pulse did not score off the final centre pass of the quarter.
Aliyah Dunn briefly put the Pulse ahead 21-20 midway through the second quarter.
But two intercepts off consecutive Pulse centre passes by Kate Heffernan and Selby-Rickit put the Steel back on top.
They opened a 25-21 lead, a margin they held until another Selby-Rickit intercept allowed Potgieter to beat the buzzer and make it 32-27 at halftime.
Another run of three made that margin eight not long after, before a late quarter surge took it to 49-38.
While the Pulse came back to win the final quarter, the Steel limited its runs and ensured the margin finished at double-digits.