Pulse finally hang on to notch victory

Last updated 12:00 09/04/2012

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Netball

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The news might be two days old, but that shouldn't diminish the fact that the Central Pulse have won.

Hopefully that'll become commonplace one day. For now, though, every victory remains a special one.

Prior to Saturday's 47-42 win over the Southern Steel, the Pulse had won just five matches in four and a bit trans-Tasman netball league campaigns. All eight encounters with the Steel had been lost and there was little in each team's round one performances to suggest that would change at Napier's Pettigrew-Green Arena.

But it did and in a big way too. The Pulse were dominant from the opening whistle and never let that ascendancy slip.

"Bloody stoked," Pulse captain, Katrina Grant, said. It was the first time she could remember her team ever gaining a lead and holding it.

"We've tended to let our lead go in the last quarter, but this time we managed to keep it which was good to see," Grant said.

The importance of Saturday's victory can't be underestimated.

After an encouraging off-season, highlighted by the recruitment of coach Robyn Broughton and a proven winner in wing defence Joline Henry, the Pulse needed to show that there was some substance to all the talk of a new era.

With Grant, Henry and goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites all superb against the Steel, the supporting cast did enough to ensure the trio's performances weren't in vain.

"I definitely did not want to lose that game. I wasn't going to get off that court until we'd won," Grant said.

Her reward will be to mark Romelda Aiken, when the Pulse meet the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane on Sunday.

"Just the reigning champions and the tallest shooter in the world, so no big deal," Grant joked of the assignment that awaits her and her team-mates.

Not that the Firebirds are looking quite so formidable at the moment. No team has ever defended their title in this league and, having been beaten in round one by the Melbourne Vixens then 54-44 by the Adelaide Thunderbirds yesterday, the Firebirds show few signs of bucking that trend.

"It will be tough to go to Brisbane and play them at home, but they're just another team and they've been upset and are obviously beatable," Grant said.

"We still didn't do an amazing job last night [against the Steel]. We had too many turnovers [21] and we didn't convert all the time and we lost quite a few of our centre passes. So we obviously have a lot to improve on, but if we can step up another level next week then we definitely have a chance."

Steel skipper Jodi Brown saluted the Pulse back three, who frustrated them for much of the game.

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"They were pretty tough. They did a really good job of disrupting us off the ball. They put on a really good zone [defence] against us."

Last night, the Northern Mystics beat the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 47-41.

- The Manawatu Standard

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