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Firebirds take off against Steel

2 March 2014

Queensland Firebirds (60) defeated Southern Steel (44)

Firebirds take off against Steel

Introducing a new generation of exciting young talent, the Queensland Firebirds produced a dominant performance to dispatch the Southern Steel 60-44 in Invercargill on Sunday.

Able to maintain a consistently high tempo throughout, the accurate and rampant Firebirds ran the Steel ragged in a frenetically-paced match.

With a stable core of personnel from last season, Steel made the choice to leave last year’s competition MVP Jhanielle Fowler-Reid on the bench after the Jamaican shooter arrived back late from the international season, subsequently missing much of the pre-season build-up. Her place under the hoop was taken by rising under-21 talent Te Paea Selby-Rickit.

Losing the big names of Natalie Medhurst and Chelsea Pitman in the off-season, Firebirds presented with a young midcourt and attacking line while welcoming back former inspirational captain Clare McMeniman in the defence line.

Played at a cracking pace from start to finish, both teams had their moments during a fast-paced opening stanza. With the long bomb Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken off target at times, Steel were able to claw their way back into the contest.

Veteran campaigner Jodi Brown orchestrated Steel’s attacking momentum with able support from Phillipa Finch and Shannon Francois while the young Selby-Rickit held her own in the face of some testing defence from Laura Geitz and Jacinta Messer.

The Firebirds young guns in the midcourt gradually found their groove with devastating effect at times, their extra quick transition through court catching the Steel on the hop while recruit Amy Wild and Aiken found their touch under the hoop. A withering six-goal unanswered burst handed the visitors’ the impetus as they headed to the first break with a 15-11 lead.

With Verity Simmons coming on at wing attack and Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion featuring in a reshuffled midcourt, Firebirds launched a dominant second stanza showing.

The impressive through court defensive pressure of the Firebirds hustled Steel. Talented defender Phoenix Karaka was an impressive contributor for Steel, hauling in a string of turnover ball but which was invariably frittered away at the other end.

Showing more accuracy with their execution, Firebirds bolted out to a decisive 29-19 lead at the main break.

Fowler-Reid was introduced for the second half but Steel were forced into chase mode for most of the third stanza. Firebirds leading by as much as 15 goals and putting up a relentless and swarming defensive effort coupled with the sheer speed supplied by Simmons and Ravaillion.

The towering Aiken was at her clinical best in providing the finishing touches, her new partnership with Wild paying dividends as the visitors held firm for a decisive 48-33 advantage at the last break.

Firebirds shooting statistics:
Romelda Aiken 35/44 (79%)
Amy Wild 25/31 (85%)

Steel shooting statistics:
Jodi Brown 11/17 (65%)
Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 20/22 (91%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 13/16 (81%)

Match MVP: Gabrielle Simpson (Firebirds)


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