A superb defensive showing has spurred The Robinhood Stars towards a 53-43 ANZ Premiership triumph over The Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in Dunedin.
The victory is the Stars' eighth of the campaign and sees them maintain top spot on the competition ladder for another week.
The first quarter was a scrappy affair, with both teams struggling to take a strong hold on the contest. The Steel worked hard to take the ball off the Stars who were struggling to convert opportunities inside the shooting circle.
However, as the Steel swung the ball into their shooting circle, the imposing figures of Stars defender Anna Harrison and Elle Temu were staunch and set - thwarting multiple attacking raids with impeccable timing.
Despite the shooting pairing of Maia Wilson and Jamie Hume struggling to get their respective shots going - they stayed present and available and refused to let the game get away from them as the Stars finished the quarter down 10-9 - the lowest scoring quarter of the competition in season 2021
The Stars continued to produce a defensive masterclass in the second period and were able to force a multitude of turnovers in a short space of time. Wilson and Hume began to find their rhythm and with goals flowing the Stars soon led by as many as six goals.
The Steel fought back late in the quarter and closed the deficit to four goals, with the Stars heading into the half-time break up 26-22.
Harrison and Temu ended the half with nine gains and two intercepts between them, while wing attack Gina Crampton had a busy output against her former team, with 12 goal assists.
The Steel made a fast start to the third quarter and went on a run of four consecutive goals early to cut the Stars' lead to two.
Penalties let the Stars down throughout the whole game and with the Steel shifting momentum in their favour, the Stars were now down by one.
Unperturbed by the rude second half awakening, the Stars responded with some vial turnovers and accurate play to regain the advantage on the scoreboard.
Temu and Steel shooter George Fisher were involved in a nasty collision late in the period which resulted in both players coming off the court and would sideline Fisher for the remainder of the match in what was a big moment.
The Stars kept the Steel at arms length and headed into the final quarter with a 36-34 lead
The Stars flicked a switch and came home with a wet sail in the final quarter - something they've done so well all season. Slick play across the court, resulted in the visitors going on a ruthless four goal run to stretch their lead to six.
The game loosened up in the dying minutes and as the Stars extended their lead further they would eventually run away comfortable 53-43 victors.
Harrison enjoyed a phenomenal outing - finishing the game with a whopping 10 gains and four intercepts to take the player of the match honours.
The Stars are at home against the Northern Mystics next weekend in the second instalment of the Northern Challenge series.