The Central Pulse made it three trans-Tasman netball league wins on the trot, with last night's 54-47 win over the Canterbury Tactix.
Victory pushed them up to sixth on the table ahead of tonight's clash between the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic and Southern Steel, where a win for the latter would see the Pulse remain in that comparatively-lofty perch.
The Pulse made the poorest start imaginable, turning over their first three possessions and looking lethargic all round. The Tactix took full advantage of the generosity, running out to a deserved 5-0 lead.
Slowly but surely the Pulse made their way back into the contest and when goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites converted the last opportunity of the opening quarter they'd levelled things up at 14-all. Their momentum continued into the second, with the Pulse up by nine goals at one point.
Turnovers were still an issue, though, and their advantage was either four or five at halftime, depending on what device you were looking at. Television had the Pulse ahead 31-26 at the break, but the league's official live scoring system read 31-27.
Whatever the case, it was the Tactix who began the second half better. Their through court play is always sound and it's really only their shooting that's mired them in last place in the competition.
When their shooters, Jo Harten and Ellen Halpenny are on, the Tactix are formidable. When they're not, as was the case for a good chunk of last night's second quarter, their team struggles.
At the other end of the court Thwaites and goal attack Paula Griffin were pretty much impeccable for the first half hour, missing just a shot apiece. For the third game in a row, Griffin, who had faltered in the early rounds, contributed very well.
Where the Pulse weren't as effective as they might have been, was at the defensive end. Joline Henry's shift from wing attack to centre has certainly improved the team's attack but without her at goal defence, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Katrina Grant again struggled.
The first time Henry was shifted forward, against the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Selby-Rickit and Grant were excellent. A week later, in the 58-50 win over the Southern Steel, the pair were not as good.
It was a similar story for a reasonable chunk of last night's match and the Pulse were a bit lucky that Harten and Halpenny continued to blow so hot and cold. Thankfully Thwaites and Griffin were more consistent and at three-quarter time their team were out to a 43-34 lead.
Keeping what you earn is something that Pulse coach Robyn Broughton talks about a lot and, having taken a nine-goal lead for the second time in the match, she would have been determined for her team not to relinquish it again.
They did that fairly well, even if they still gave away more ball than Broughton would have been entirely happy with.
- The Dominion Post
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