Much improved Pulse down the Tactix
Accuracy, tenacity and skill - all the things coach Robyn Broughton had asked for - enabled the Central Pulse to beat the Canterbury Tactix 50-45 in their trans-Tasman netball league clash in Porirua.
Humbled 58-32 by the Queensland Firebirds in the previous round the Pulse responded to their coach's request in style, in front of a sellout crowd of 2302 at Te Rauparaha Arena.
Used to winning one, or even no games, in a season, victory over the Tactix meant they'll enjoy multiple wins this season, for just the second time in their history.
Being just four games into this 2012 campaign, there must be high hopes now that the team will outstrip last year's record effeort of three wins.
You saw the Pulse in all their glory during the first half.
Having made an outstanding start collectively, goal attack Paula Griffin had an opportunity to hand the hosts a deserved 7-2 lead.
Instead she missed, from beneath the post, and the remainder of the quarter was all Tactix.
Ahead 13-11, the Tactix were excellent frontrunners until wing defence Finau Pulu wet down with an eye injury, with just under eight minutes remaining in the half.
From 20-16 in front, the Tactix surrendered seven unanswered goals as the Pulse played their best patch of netball this season.
Goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites was magnificent, throwing herself out of court on one occasion, in search of a loose ball, before scrambling back into the circle to receive a Joline Henry pass under the post.
Having spent 15 minutes looking decidedly second rate, Thwaites' example was exactly what the rest of the Pulse players needed to spark them out of their lethargy.
From there, they went on to finish the half leading 27-22.
The Pulse have talked of themselves being a better team this year, even a good team, and here was some tangible evidence.
Some of their feeding into the shooting circle continued to err on the cute side, when a less ambitious pass would have served better, but overall their first half was a vast improvement upon last week's woeful effort against the Firebirds.
With Griffin still tentative on her shot, Thwaites' near-flawless 22 from 23 was exceedingly valuable.
At the other end, the contribution of goal defence Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit was almost as immense.
The Tactix were enjoying more possession than the Pulse, but the pressure exerted by Selby-Rickit meant that wasn't translating into goals.
By three-quarter time the introduction off the Tactix's bench, of goal attack Anna Thompson, had helped her team trim the deficit to 36-33.
The Pulse were having more difficulty getting the ball to Thwaites, but this remained their match to lose.
Given how adept both they, and the Tactix, have been at that over the years, it promised to be fascinating final quarter.
But a 5-0 run, to start the fourth period, quickly established the Pulse an eight-goal buffer.
The Tactix continued to chip away, edging within four goals with as many minutes to play, but the Pulse hung on to win.
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