Steel defend title in thrilling finish

The Southern Steel have defended their national netball premiership title in dramatic fashion.

Behind by six goals with less than four minutes to play, the Steel have stormed back to score the last seven goals of the match and snatch a 54-53 victory in Sunday’s final against the Central Pulse in Palmerston North.

The result meant the Southern franchise sent retiring captain Wendy Frew out with back-to-back championships, while the Pulse missed out on a maiden title.

It was also a repeat of the result of last year’s final, where the Steel defeated the Pulse in Invercargill.

For almost the entire match, it looked as though that wouldn’t be the case.

The Pulse, top qualifiers after round-robin play, were up by as many as 11 goals during the early stages of the second quarter.

But, seemingly determined to not say good-bye to long-time skipper Frew on a losing note, the Steel refused to stop fighting.

They closed the gap to six (30-24) at halftime and by three-quartertime the Pulse’s lead was down to just four (42-28).

The fourth quarter was a tense, torrid affair, the Central outfit starting well before their Southern rivals showed they still weren’t prepared to wave the white flag.

And just when it looked like the Pulse had finally shaken off the Steel’s challenge, up 53-47 with four minutes on the clock, the thrilling late comeback began.

The inspired Steel closed within one inside the final two minutes and after levelling the scores with just a minute to play, netted what was the winning goal with only 25 seconds remaining.

The Pulse had an opportunity to force extra-time as the clock counted down, but Ameliaranne Ekenasio’s mid-range shot did not go down, signalling wild celebrations from the Steel players, coaches and management.

Southern Steel 54 Central Pulse 53. Q1: 10-16. Q2: 24-30. Q3: 38-42.

– RNZ

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