T&T goal-attack Kalifa Mc Collin missed only one of her 14 attempts on goal, but her Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel had a fourth quarter to forget scoring only five goals in a 40-47 loss to Te Wanangan Raukawa in Round Four of the New Zealand ANZ Premiership, yesterday.
After trailing 14-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Steel coming off its first win on the season in the previous round looked on course for a shock win over unbeaten Pulse as they led 24-23 and 35-33 at the end of the second and third quarters.
However, in the final quarter, the Pulse showed their potent credentials when delivering a withering last quarter to dismantle the 24-year-old Mc Collin and her team-mates at the Auckland Netball Centre on Saturday.
In imposing form for three-quarters, the Steel shooters, Mc Collin (3/3) and Jennifer O’Connell (2/3) were restricted to just five goals in the closing quarter after being left scoreless for the first six minutes.
At the other end, Pulse shooters Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn produced a rare double with perfect returns, Ekenasio with 25/25 and Dunn 22/22.
It was an enterprising start by both teams but it was the poise and balance of stylish goal-attack Ekenasio (8/8) who helped the Pulse get the better of the opening exchanges. Ekenasio was in the thick of the action in setting up the circle while also providing the bulk of the scoring opportunities with Dunn adding six from six.
At the other end, the Steel took time to find the accuracy of pass into shooters O’Connell (9/9) and former England-based Mc Collin (2/3) but once in the groove, they fought their way back from a six-goal deficit to trail the Pulse 14-11 at the first break.
Turnovers highlighted the resumption of play before both teams settled into their work, the Pulse giving up a five-goal lead as the Steel staged a stirring comeback.
Steel wing attack Gina Crampton came to life in stunning fashion with her availability to the ball and pin-perfect accuracy into O’Connell (11/13) who used her imposing height to gain perfect positioning, to take all ball thrown her way and unwavering accuracy while Mc Collin chipped in with two goals from as many attempts.
At the other end of the court, Pulse shooters Ekenasio (4/4) and Dunn (5/5) were thrown off their stride and lost their connections despite shooters Ekenasio and Dunn returning a perfect shooting record but being restricted to just nine shots.
Six goals on the trot pushed the Steel into the lead for the first time as they held on for a narrow 24-23 advantage at the main break.
A goal-for-goal arm wrestle featured in the early stages of the third stanza before the Steel, once again, showed a strong hand inspired by the playmaking T&T import Mc Collin (6/6) who came into her own as the Steel made the most of their increased turnover opportunities while O’Connell added five goals from seven attempts
At the other end of the court, defenders Te Huniga Reo Selby-Rickit and Taneisha Fifita helped limit the Pulse on attack, resulting in Metuarau entering the fray at wing attack late in the piece.
But it was the Pulse who had it all ahead of them when the Steel led 35-33 at the last break, and in the final period, as the Pulse got red hot the Steel melted under the pressure and were outscored 5-14 to stumble 40-47.
The win lifted the Pulse to a 4-0 record and 16 points while Northern Mystics sits second at 4-1 with 16 points as well. Mainland Tactix is third with a 2-3 and nine points followed by Northern Stars (1-3) with six points, Steel (1-4) with five and Magic with a 1-2 record and four points.
Overall, Ekenasio shot a perfect 25 from 25 attempts and Dunn was also flawless at 22 from 22 while O'Connell led Steel with 27 goals from 32 attempts, and Mc Collin13 from 14 at 93 per cent shooting overall.
After five matches, Mc Collin who enjoyed three seasons in the England Vitality Netball Super League before joining the Steel at the start of the season has scored 70 goals from 88 attempts for ninth spot at 88 per cent.
Up next for Steel is repeat clash with Pulse on Friday from 3 am (TT time) while they also face Robinhood Northern Stars, the club of injured T&T goal defence Daystar Swift on Saturday from 1 am (TT time).
The Stars also meet Splice Construction on Sunday, July 12 but before that, they meet the same Splice Construction tomorrow from 3 am.