A shock loss to the lowly Mainland Tactix last night has put a severe dent in the Central Pulse's playoff aspirations.
The 55-53 boilover at Napier's Pettigrew Green Arena was the Tactix's first trans-Tasman netball victory since May last year and leaves the star-studded Pulse with a two win, two loss record.
Croaky-voiced Pulse captain Katrina Grant struggled to comprehend the result.
"That's not how our path to the finals is meant to go and we really need to go back to the drawing board really because we can't lose any more from here," Grant said.
"We're a much better side than what we showed tonight. Full credit to the Tactix but if we want to be top-four contenders we need to sort ourselves out and really lift."
Grant said her side was simply outworked by the lowly Tactix.
"They wanted it more, they played better, they deserved to win in the end and full credit to them. Ama [Agbeze] picked up some great ball [in the fourth quarter] but then we just threw it away, easy as that. It just wasn't right."
It was a gutsy performance from the Tactix who displayed a ton of fight and kept their nerve in the pressure situations of the fourth quarter.
Pulse coach Robyn Broughton would have been filthy her side allowed the Tactix back into the game, after holding a six goal buffer at halftime.
Broughton went to her bench for the last quarter, bringing on Agbeze and Katarina Cooper in a desperate bid to energise her team.
The Tactix clung to a two goal cushion for most of the final quarter, and remained cool, calm and collected whenever the Pulse threatened.
Question marks will linger over the Pulse's championship credentials.
It is still only early in the season, but this loss could prove decisive come the business end of the campaign.
Elsewhere, the Steel gained their first win of the season, pipping the Fever 66-65, the Magic upset the Vixens 49-44, while the Swifts prevailed over the Firebirds 53-48.
- The Dominion Post
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