The Central Pulse are trying to organise a pre-season match against the Canterbury Tactix to avoid a month of relative inactivity ahead of their trans-Tasman league opener on March 24.
They will still train the house down and play matches against local male selections but, for now, Saturday's 78-71 loss to the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic in New Plymouth represents the start and finish of their competitive buildup.
Played over six sessions, the match was fairly even with the Magic quietly pulling away from the third spell.
Last year's league champions had their array of stars on show, with Casey Kopua (nee Williams), Laura Langman, Leana de Bruin and Irene van Dyk all making valuable contributions.
Star Pulse recruit Donna Wilkins played, but fellow new signing Liana Leota is still a week away from arriving from England and wing defence Joline Henry remains unavailable.
"It was blimmin good to have a good hitout together and playing six quarters meant we could get everyone out on the court and change it up," Pulse captain Katrina Grant said.
Goal keep Grant had as busy a time as anyone in New Plymouth. Friday night had seen the Pulse romp to a 94-48 win over the Australian Institute of Sport, before Saturday's contest against the Magic.
"Six quarters is pretty gruelling, especially when you have to back up and play six more against a team like the Magic. Especially for two of us [she and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit] because we only had two circle Ds."
All the same, Grant came away thinking it had been a worthwhile exercise.
"We just needed a base and an opportunity for us to play properly. It's a totally different style playing against the men, so it was good to play one Aussie team and one New Zealand team and see where we are."
Grant was a bit vague about where the team might be exactly. Partly because she thinks everything will improve out of sight once Leota hits town.
"Our game will change, especially down the attacking end, with her being here. She's like the little general and will lead the attacking end and put everybody where she wants them to go. Plus her ball skills are some of the best in netball."
Which is why the Pulse now want to find another decent opponent, with the Tactix the team most likely to be available. No date has been set.
- The Dominion Post
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