NETBALL THE Southern Steel have remained in touch with the Central Pulse at the top of the national netball premiership, beating the Northern Mystics 56-52 at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill last night. The win came despite an impressive performance from Mystics shooter Bailey Mes, who stepped up with Maria Folau absent and shot 100 per cent on 31 attempts, after efforts of 75, 71 and 52 per cent in her first three outings. Jennifer O’Connell led the way for the Steel, making 37 of her 42 shots, while Te Paea Selby-Rickit made 19 of 24. The lead changed hands on several occasions in the first two quarters, but neither team was able to grow their advantage beyond a two-goal margin. Mystics coach Helene Wilson has three Silver Ferns, past and present, to call on at the defensive end of the court who have all popped up in different positions at times so far this season, and it was no different here, with Anna Harrison starting at wing defence, Michaela Sokolich-Beatson at goal defence, and Phoenix Karaka at goal keep. Yet the Steel midcourt of Gina Crampton, Shannon Francois, and Wendy Frew showed patience in the face of solid defence, and at the end of the first spell, the home team were up by one, 15-14. The two teams remained engaged in a tight tussle in the second quarter, as neither of them could pull away when they opened up a lead. As the Mystics rushed to put up a final shot at the end of the second quarter, with the scores level, they tossed the ball away, and it was the Steel who got the final say, taking a one-goal lead into the halftime break. The Steel opened up the largest lead of the game as the third spell began, with the Mystics swapping Jamie Hume (15/24) for Tera-Maria Amani in the shooting circle, a change that pushed Mes from goal shoot to goal attack. They led by four very quickly, but the Mystics responded with a five-goal run – three of them by Amani – to take the lead themselves.