In her 100th match, captain Jane Watson had a moment to savour when The Good Oil Tactix delivered a 53-48 win over the Northern Stars in Invercargill today.
Still looking to seal third spot ahead of the Finals Series, the Stars could not make inroads against the Tactix, who once they took the lead in the second quarter, managed to keep the northerners at bay in closing out the final instalment of Super Sunday for the season.
All players did their bit for the Tactix but none was more impressive than 1.96m shooter Ellie Bird who continues to refine her game, dominating her end of the court today with a match-winning 47 goals from 53 attempts.
The Tactix retained their regular seven of recent weeks while Holly Fowler started at wing defence ahead of Kayla Cullen for the Stars.
It was the Stars who got away to the better start, on the back of a well-balanced attacking end, shooters Maia Wilson and Ellen Halpenny showing their strong connection and instinct under the hoop to help forge an early lead.
The Tactix had early problems penetrating their attacking third but ever-improving in-circle defender Sophia Fenwick helped keep her side in the hunt after picking up a clutch of defensive gains.
With their defence tightening up, the Tactix found their feet late in the piece, making life more challenging for the Stars. Four goals on the trot had the Tactix nipping at their opponent’s heels as the Stars took a narrow 13-12 lead into the first break.
Showing some nice deceptive touches, goal attack Kate Beveridge ensured more ball landed in Bird’s hands as the Tactix made a decisive move in the second quarter.
The Tactix hit the lead three minutes after the resumption resulting in a goal-for-goal battle between the pair. With the Tactix converting their turnover opportunities, the Stars were not able to inflict the same presence they enjoyed in the first quarter while their shooting accuracy also dipped.
In-form Tactix defender Watson played an increasingly prominent role while the tall figure of Bird under the hoop continued to impress with her volume and accuracy rates. The ever-busy Brooke Leaver replaced Beveridge just ahead of the main break, a late surge pushing the Tactix out to a 26-21 lead.
With Cullen taking over from Fowler, the Stars made a flying start to the third stanza and with it a shift in momentum. Showing better drive through court and flow on attack, a five-goal scoring burst pushed the Stars within touching distance of the Tactix.
The Tactix managed to hold their poise, clutching on to a two-goal lead before delivering a strong late burst. The one constant for the Tactix was the form of Bird, the towering shooter a model of consistency with her ability to take ball under pressure and convert while helping guide her team to a 41-37 lead at the last turn.
Official Result and Stats:
- The Good Oil Tactix: 53
- Northern Stars: 4
Champion Data Match Centre
Shooting Stats – Tactix:
Ellie Bird 47/53 (89%)
Brooke Leaver 5/8 (62%)
Kate Beveridge 1/3 (33%)
Shooting Stats – Stars:
Maia Wilson 37/43 (86%)
Ellen Halpenny 11/17 (65%)
MVP: Ellie Bird (Tactix)