Broughton, Pulse bring down the Steel again

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 21:33 28/05/2012
Caitlin Thwaites and Storm Purvis
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

TIGHTLY GUARDED: Pulse goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites attempts to put up a shot under pressure from Steel goal keep Storm Purvis.

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For the second time in 2012, mastermind Robyn Broughton has plotted the downfall of her former team.

The Central Pulse led the Southern Steel for virtually the whole game to ease to a 58-50 trans-Tasman netball victory in Dunedin tonight to keep their top four aspirations alive.

There was always going to be a ton of emotion for the clash with the former Sting and Steel coach leading her Pulse side into battle for the first time in Steel territory.

Broughton carved out a decorated coaching career in the deep south, but in a controversial move the southern franchise decided to advertise for the top job after a disappointing campaign last season. The veteran coach opted not to throw her name in the hat and wound up at the Pulse, a team who had been the whipping girls of the competition in its first four years.

Broughton would have been delighted with the consistent display from her Pulse team, who backed up their outstanding one-goal victory over the Thunderbirds from last week and fully deserved their win.

The Steel have now lost five games straight and would be disappointed with the way they have played in recent weeks after winning two of their opening three games.

Steel co-coaches Janine Southby and Natalie Avellino sprung a major surprise to begin the game. Young shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit gained just her second trans-Tasman netball start and skipper Jodi Brown reverted to the uncustomary position of wing attack.

The Steel would have been targeting a strong opening first quarter after some sluggish play early on during the past four games, which all resulted in losses.

They struggled with their penetration and movement into the attack end during the first half, with the midcourt hesitant getting the ball into their shooters. Selby-Rickit had a mixed performance in the opening 30 minutes of the game, landing 12 of her 19 attempts in front of goal for the Steel.

The Pulse's new-look midcourt, with Silver Fern wing defence Joline Henry operating in the centre bib, were functioning much more effectively.

After leading 12-10 after the first term, the Pulse jumped out to a 19-12 advantage courtesy of a sharp start to the second quarter. They scored five unanswered goals with classy Australian shooter Caitlin Thwaites again impressing, while Katrina Grant and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit picked up a steady supply of ball at the other end of the court.

The Steel went on a run of their own to trim the Pulse lead back to two goals, but a late flurry to finish the first half saw the Wellington-based side take a deserved five goal buffer into the main break.

Needing to get back into the game, the Steel rung the changes at halftime. Brown moved into the shooting circle, Louise Thayer was inserted in at wing defence, which pushed Shannon Francois into wing attack.

The Steel looked a completely different unit in the early exchanges of the second half, going on a 8-3 spurt to all of a sudden cut the Pulse lead back down to a single goal. The Pulse kept their cool when the heat went on and closed out the quarter with some important possessions to retain their five goal margin.

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The Steel refused to go away in the final quarter, but the Pulse always had an answer when the pressure went on. Steel would have rued a poor first half, where the experimental move to play Brown at wing attack badly backfired.

Much maligned Pulse shooter Paula Griffin had a fine game against her former team landing  23 of her 28 attempts. She and Thwaites converted 58 of their 70 opportunities (83 per cent) on the night.

Central Pulse 58 (Caitlin Thwaites 35 Paula Griffin 23) Southern Steel 50 (Donna Wilkins 22 Jodi Brown 16 Te Paea Selby-Rickit 12) at Lion Foundation Arena

- © Fairfax NZ News

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