The Central Pulse ended their trans-Tasman netball league campaign with a defeat which will haunt them all offseason.
Seemingly in control of their clash with the West Coast Fever, in Perth, the Pulse capitulated in the final quarter to lose 40-38.
The Fever had hardly been in the match until the final minutes, but held their nerve when it counted.
For the Pulse, it was an awful loss and one that shows there's still a lot that needs to be done to make the franchise a truly competitive outfit.
The standard of play in the first half often left a bit to be desired. The Pulse shot the better of the two teams, although that wasn't saying much.
The Fever were decidedly poor in that department, with Cath Cox again struggling.
Caitlin Thwaites was the best on show, in another demonstration of the fact that she's looking increasingly able to unseat Caitlin Bassett and Cox for a berth in the Australian shooting circle.
Thwaites shot 14 from 17 for the Pulse in the opening half, with partner Paula Griffin successful with six of her nine attempts.
The other aspect of the first half which would have been a concern to the coaches, was the high number of turnovers.
Most of those were as a result of the defensive intensity that was evident from both teams.
You can excuse the odd error when the players are showing genuine intent and there was plenty of that in the first two quarters.
Pulse defenders Joline Henry and Katrina Grant were at their combative best, scrapping for every ball and not worrying about who they were knocking over in their pursuit of it.
It certainly made for an entertaining, if scrappy, spectacle.
That kind of endeavour helped the Pulse go ahead by six goals halfway through the second quarter, before a strong Fever rally.
They trimmed the margin back to just two, until a late Thwaites shot took the Pulse to halftime ahead 20-17.
The third quarter was much like the preceding two, as the Pulse played with vigour but not always a lot of accuracy.
There was enough in their performance to suggest they should have been leading the match by eight or 10 goals, rather than the four or five they had to make do with.
It might not have been pretty stuff but you couldn't take your eye off it, just the same.
Up again by six, the Pulse still couldn't sustain their advantage as the Fever got back to within a single goal after coach Norma Plummer benched Bassett and brought on Nikala Smith.
Soon after the scores were level, with Thwaites then scoring the last two goals of the quarter to send her team into the final term with a slender 30-28 lead.
It continued to hover at that margin, as turnovers prevented the Pulse from pulling any further clear.
Depending on who's centre pass it was the Pulse led by two or three for much of the last quarter, until the Fever once again trailed by just a goal.
Pulse coach Robyn Broughton called a time-out to try and take some sting out of the Fever and their crowd.
The result was just more turnovers and the scores were soon level at 36.
Then, with just over three minutes remaining, the Fever took the lead for the first time in the match, at 37-36.
It was frantic stuff, but the home side hung on to win 40-38.
- © Fairfax NZ News