The dress rehearsal has been put to bed and now the Southern Steel and Northern Stars go toe-to-toe for real in the ANZ Premiership Elimination Final.
There was little to glean from the performance last week – the one lesson for the Stars to walk away with was they just can’t afford a similar start having found themselves trailing by 10 goals early in the first quarter.
Captain Leana de Bruin was disappointed the scoreline blew out to 17 goals when they met the defending champions a week ago, but said the Elimination Final was a “clean slate”.
“It’s a different kettle of fish when you come to finals time. It will be a good test to see what we can do under pressure.”
The defender was pleased to see her side dig themselves out of the first quarter hole to fight their way back into the game.
“If we’d been able to stick to our guns in the third quarter…who knows. We wanted confidence out of that game and I kind of feel we had it in patches but we need 60 minutes of that confidence.”
Steel captain Gina Crampton said there would be no fears of complacency creeping in to her side despite the one-sided result.
“We want to go one more,” she said of their goal of reaching the Grand Final.
The wing attack was expecting a “fired up” Stars side to return to Invercargill for the must win match and said the Elimination Final would bring a different energy to the game.
Crampton said they would take positives out of their win over the Stars but also a number of learnings.
“We had a great start, but when we have a lead like that we need to hold onto it,” she said.
WHO TO WATCH:
Gina Crampton (Steel) – the Steel midcourter has been influential this season and will play a major role in the southerners Grand Final hopes. Crampton has been the most prolific feeder in the league and has built a strong link with shooter Lenize Potgieter.
Shannon Saunders (Steel) versus Temepara Bailey (Stars) – two of the most consistent performers in the league. Saunders has been rewarded with a Silver Ferns recall following her exploits this season and her links with Crampton and Te Paea Selby-Rickit are crucial, while Bailey brings a steady head to a frontline which has suffered a few wobbles in recent weeks.
Maia Wilson (Stars) – how hard will it be for the Stars’ shooting rock to shrug off the disappointment of missing a World Cup berth? Wilson started the season in commanding fashion but found her radar slipping over the second half of the league. Plenty rests on the shoulders of this young goal shooter.