Pulse belief high as semifinals loom

COME ON: Pulse player Katrina Grant takes on Mystics player Cathrine Latu.
COME ON: Pulse player Katrina Grant takes on Mystics player Cathrine Latu.

Winning in Australia is key if The Pulse are to make the trans-Tasman netball playoffs.

The Central Pulse remain alive in the trans-Tasman netball competition, but now things get even harder.

The Pulse beat the Northern Mystics 49-45 in a scrappy game at Arena Manawatu last night and now head across the Tasman for their final two games of the season to try to qualify for the playoffs.

The fifth-placed Pulse have never won in Australia, or reached the semifinals and coach Robyn Broughton will be hoping they can finally make it this year, with their last two games against the Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever.

"I think that the belief is there," she said. "But it needs to be put together with everyone and that means starting with the shooter, the goal attack, position by position, and they need to take ownership in those positions.

"They need to come in and ask ‘why I threw that pass? I don't know' and play to the game plan."

Broughton said the thought of sitting just below the top four had inspired the team during the past few weeks and they knew what they needed to do to now.

"Not make mistakes," she said. "I thought both sides out there tonight, Silver Ferns laden, there were lots of silly mistakes and to win in Australia you've got to take those out of the game and certainly we'll be working on that.

"They did at the end. They were patient, they took control of the ball, moved with the player at the right time and you didn't see so much contact."

If they do want to be in the mix at finals time, the Pulse will need to improve from how they played last night, where they looked disorganised and gave away too many turnovers, especially in the first half.

The Mystics had them rattled in the first half and led 25-24 at halftime, before the introduction of Liana Leota at wing attack and goal attack Donna Wilkins picked up the Pulse's game and they won the second quarter 14-8, which proved to be the difference.

"I knew it was going to be that hard," Broughton said. "I knew it was going to be physical, both sides knew that.

"It was always going to be one [goal] for one, which it was for the whole of the first half, but there was just a time when I felt we had the edge.

"When I was looking at the countdown clock and we were freezing the ball a bit I just knew we were going to get it. I don't know why."

Leota was better at feeding the circle when she came on and worked well with Wilkins, who hasn't fully recovered from her ankle injury.

They helped fight back from the halftime deficit to lead 38-33 at three-quarter time.

Pulse defenders Katrina Grant and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit got better as the game went on, with an energetic Grant always a pest for the Mystics.

The Mystics' best were goal keep Temalisi Fakahokotau, wing defence Anna Harrison and the shooting combination of Maria Tutaia and Cat Latu, who obviously have chemistry working together in the circle.

Leota said they didn't cherish the ball at the start of the game, but a win is a win. "We've got to play one game at a time and whatever happens, happens. Two games later next week is another final for us.

"I think we're trying to train differently and adapt to that style, so we've just got to take it with two hands."

Manawatu Standard