Steel’s teamwork a winner

Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel goal shoot Grace Namana gets ready to offload the ball to goal attack Tiana Metuarau during Monday night's game against the Splice Construction Magic at the ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill. Photo: Dianne Manson/Michael Bradley Photography

IT was the smallest of actions.

A simple pass under the goal post from one player to her team-mate who was only going to get a few minutes’ game time on court.

But that small pass spoke volumes about the person who was giving her fellow shooter an opportunity to shine.

Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel shoot Tiana Metuarau was, after all, standing under the goal post.

She had already shot 100% of her goals until then and this one would have been a dead cert.

Except she passed the ball to late-game substitute Kiana Pelasio.

When asked after the game why she did it, the answer was indicative of the player’s character.

“I just think when you come on and it’s in that last kind of piece in the game, it’s important to feel like you’re contributing in some way and it’s nice to find your feet when you come on and she’s amazing, she’s consistent, she can shoot.

“But, again, it is a big ask and I think sometimes you can have a few mind games happening when you come on in that 3-minute period to go, you know, so I just wanted to make sure she knew she was contributing and she did.”

It would be hard to fault Metuarau’s performance in Monday night’s 65-50 win against the Splice Construction Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the ANZ premiership – shooting at 97%, only missing one out of the 31 she put up.

Many were worried the absence of talented goal shoot George Fisher would just be too big a hill to climb for the southerners.

But Southern Steel proved one player does not maketh a team.

The combination of Metuarau and Southern Blast call-up goal shoot Grace Namana was a beautiful partnership.

Even when no-one else, including die-hard netball fans, could see the pass was on, the ball would be released with one or the other receiving it effortlessly arriving in just the right place, at just the right time.

Metuarau said the game provided consistent moments of fluidity.

“We all had confidence throughout the court and trust in everyone that they could do their jobs.”

Namana described the partnership with Metuarau as instinctive.

Both said it was also the work of the whole team, the defenders who won possession and the attackers who were masterfully orchestrating the ball through the court.

“It was pretty surreal,” Namana said after the match.

Namana, who works full-time as a lawyer by day, squeezing in team training and fitness around her work obligations often getting up at 5.15am to fit it all in, was thrilled with the game.

“It was always a bucket dream of mine to start an ANZ game and I’m a bit speechless it went pretty well. I just wanted to enjoy the moment.”

Unfortunately, due to the bad weather, she was unable to have her biggest fans with her, she said after the game.

“Mum found out this morning her flight was cancelled and last year because of Covid, they couldn’t make my debut for the first time, so they were like

Steel’s next game is away against the Magic on July 5. Its next home game is on July 11 against top-of-the-table Mystics.