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Mystics set to challenge Steel's monopoly

Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel and SKYCITY Mystics set up an all-New Zealand showdown in tomorrow’s inaugural Netball Super Club Grand Final after sweeping to emphatic Semi-Final wins in Nelson on Thursday.

Producing a spirited first half, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse were eventually over-run by a revitalised Steel who turned on a rampant second 30 minutes. The 70-54 result sealed a fifth straight win for the Steel over the Pulse this season, in a rematch of the recent ANZ Premiership Grand Final.

An influential third quarter by the Steel proved pivotal, the Pulse unravelling in the face of the southerners relentless efficiency and accuracy.

Shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid was again the major beneficiary of the Steel’s abundant supply of ball, converting 55 shots from 59 attempts while Cathrine Tuivaiti delivered a perfect 30 from the 30 for the Pulse, who now meet the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) in the play-off for third/fourth.

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Building on the back of an outstanding outing from defenders Anna Harrison and Storm Purvis, the Mystics raced away to an impressive 66-48 win over NSWIS.

Grabbing 10 intercepts and 17 deflections between them, the defensive divas effectively shut down the threat posed by 1.96m opposing shooter Kristina Brice which took the sting out of the young composite Australian team’s main attacking weapon.

That had a ripple effect through the rest of the team, the attacking line of Elisapeta Toeava, Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes putting on a dazzling exhibition.

It wasn’t all mistake-free but the Mystics made better use of their turnovers, NSWIS restricted from playing their pacey game and not getting enough ball into the hands of Brice.

In the match-up between two of the most entertaining teams, the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) squeaked home 57-56 against Marama Vou (Fiji) as both showed a full repertoire of their aerial athleticism, flair and unorthodox play.

In a tight contest throughout, unflappable shooter Samantha Wallace overcame a shaky start to sink a penalty shot after the final whistle to put the Caribbean team in tomorrow’s play-off for fifth and sixth against the Celtic Flames (Wales).

Lively UTT goalkeeper Jameela McCarthy made life tough for the Marama Vou shooters, who started with a hiss and a roar. After a drawn first quarter, Marama Vou hung on grimly but a lack of accuracy under the hoop hindered their chances of getting the vital breakthrough.

They will now face Gauteng Jaguars (South Africa) in the play-off for seventh/eighth place.

With a helping hand from Silvermoon Tactix ring-ins Anna Thompson and Temalisi Fakahokotau, the Flames sealed their spot in the play-off for fifth with a comfortable 57-45 win over the Jaguars.

The Flames held the edge throughout a match which featured numerous momentum swings. Livewire centre Kyra Jones and wing defence captain Suzy Drane were influential figures for the Welsh who repelled several comeback attempts by the Jaguars.

Stilted in their attacking play, the Jaguars were more accurate under the hoop but were ultimately undone by too many errors and a huge penalty count.