Southerners steal last-gasp draw

Apr 27, 2015 - 9:49 AM Southern Steel stole a 53-53 draw in the chaotic final seconds of their trans-Tasman netball league clash against Adelaide Thunderbirds in Dunedin.

The result edged the Steel into third place in the New Zealand conference, while Adelaide remain mired at the bottom of the Australian ladder with three wins and two draws from nine matches.

The Thunderbirds started brightly, midcourters Leigh Waddington and Emily Beaton playing with pace and precision to consistently beat the Steel's defensive zone.

Goal shooter Carla Borrego, who finished with 38 from 45, played a magnificent holding game while Australian Diamonds goal attack Erin Bell's quick hands speed around the circle provided a perfect foil.

Adelaide's solid through-court defence made the Steel work for every goal, and the visitors controlled the tempo to lead 15-12 at the first break.

Brooke Leaver, 21-year-old daughter of former Silver Fern goal shooter Leonie and hockey international Mark, stepped up with a stellar performance over the two middle quarters.

She replaced Te Paea Selby-Rickit at goal attack late in the first quarter, and her sharp work outside the circle added another option for the Steel, who were struggling to find a path into shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

Leaver's ability to attack the ball, and willingness to feed Fowler-Reid lifted the Steel in the second quarter as they trimmed Adelaide's lead to 27-26 at halftime.

The two teams matched each other goal for goal throughout the third spell, sharing honours 15-15 as the Thunderbirds took a 42-41 lead into the last break.

Selby-Rickit returned for the final quarter, but cramp again forced her from the court and Leaver took over for the final six minutes.

Thunderbirds goal keep Samantha Poolman looked to have picked off the key intercept when she grabbed a misdirected pass into Fowler-Reid from Shannon Francois, and Adelaide led 53-51 with 30 seconds remaining and the ball in hand.

But Steel goal defence Storm Purvis read a loose pass across the circle to perfection, snaffled the intercept and the Steel swung into action.

With 17 seconds on the clock, with Fowler-Reid sidelined after rolling an ankle but with Selby-Rickit once again back on court, the Steel finished clinically to sink the two crucial goals to grab the draw.

Source: AAP

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