Tactix coach frustrated at 'growing pains'

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 06/06/2013
Leigh Gibbs
CARYS MONTEATH/Fairfax NZ
COACH: Tactix netball coach Leigh Gibbs needs to recruit wisely in the off-season.
Sophia Fenwick
TALENT: Sophia Fenwick is one of a number of young players to have performed well for the Tactix this season.

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Frustrated Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs is adamant the growing pains her players are experiencing will reap benefits in the long run.

The Tactix slumped to their fourth straight trans-Tasman netball league loss on Monday, when beaten 62-45 by the Central Pulse at CBS Canterbury Arena.

It is their eighth loss from 10 games this season, leaving them in contention for a fourth consecutive wooden spoon. 

Last month, the Tactix appeared to have turned the corner with a confidence-building away victory over the Northern Mystics - where they produced four quarters of consistent play.

With four games in a row at home awaiting them, they wanted more scalps, but it has failed to happen.

If anything, the side seems to have gone backwards, with a high error rate, an inability to score from opposition turnovers and low shooting percentages, crippling their chances of winning.

The Tactix were never going to be a playoff side this season. With the second youngest squad in the competition, they firmly have the future in mind.

Youngsters like Zoe Walker, Jane Watson, Kirsten Hurley and Sophia Fenwick have all made major strides in their first full season as starting players.

The problem is the trans-Tasman netball league is an unforgiving environment.

Experienced teams will pounce, if you drift out of a game for just a short period - which is exactly what the Pulse did to the Tactix in the third quarter on Monday.

Watson is the only player in that quartet older than 20, and the Tactix will be hoping they can build their side around them over the next decade.

While it was painful to stomach losing consistently, Gibbs drew some solace that her young players would be better for the tough times.

''Every time they're out on court, they'll have success and they won't have success. It's money in the bank, I think,'' Gibbs said.

"There was some really good work done by our defensive unit [against the Pulse]. It was really exciting the amount of ball Zoe, Jane and Kirsten picked up.

With [centre] Jade [Clarke] they worked really hard as a unit.''

Unfortunately, the Tactix squandred it on attack and were only able to land 70 per cent of their shots - an unacceptable statistic at the elite level.

The Tactix have three games left, including rematches with both the Pulse and Southern Steel.

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Captain Anna Thompson said those clashes were a perfect opportunity to show how the team had learned from their earlier losses. 

''We're disappointed and frustrated things aren't going well, but we've got got three games to go. We're looking forward to really attacking them head on."

The ninth-placed Tactix sit two competition points clear of the bottom-of-the table Mystics, but the Auckland-based side have a better goal differential.

That means they would jump over the Tactix in the basement battle should they finish tied. 

Gibbs will be annoyed if the Tactix are unable to add to their win tally over the last three games. She said they needed to keep setting high standards in training. 

''I really want us to show that we have come a long way through the season, and a few wins would help ...

''I want to get at least another win. I'll be disappointed if we only have two wins at the end of the season.''

- The Press

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