Central Pulse must get onto it in playoff push

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2014
Katrina Grant
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
BELIEF: Captain Katrina Grant is adamant the Firebirds can be beaten.

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It's not the time difference, nor the afternoon centre passes or curious umpiring. It isn't even the tight man-on-man marking.

No, the thing that defeats the Central Pulse in Australia is their own pouting.

Just in case any netball fan still isn't aware, the Pulse have never won a trans-Tasman Netball League match on that side of the ditch. This isn't hugely helpful, given they really need to win one on the Gold Coast today.

Should the Pulse beat the Queensland Firebirds, then their quest for the playoffs will continue for another week. If not, they can start thinking of pubs in Perth where they can drown their sorrows once their season comes to a close against the West Coast Fever in nine days.

Captain Katrina Grant is adamant the Firebirds can be beaten, just as she's sure her team will have no show if they all start sulking.

"The thing we've really got to do against an Aussie team is just get on with it," Grant said.

"If someone gets contact and they drop the ball and the opposition picks it up, the issue we have is people staring around saying 'why are you not going to call that?' But the ball's already down the other end and that's a huge issue because it leaves the defence a little bit by themselves."

The Pulse's round-five loss to the New South Wales Swifts provided ample evidence of that. Kim Green and Susan Pratley tore the Pulse's defence to shreds and Grant was quick to drop her bundle as the goals and penalties piled up.

With the Pulse and Firebirds separated on the table only by goal differential, Grant felt today's game could get pretty willing pretty quickly. So, aside from a stiffer upper lip, she said her team needed eliminate shooter Romelda Aiken and goal keep Laura Geitz to stand any chance of victory.

"Getting the ball before it gets to Romelda would be ideal and then don't let Laura Geitz get in the game. She [Geitz] loves playing against Irene [van Dyk] - it seems to be such a good challenge for her and, internationally as well, she just seems to thrive on that.

"But if Donna [Wilkins] and Irene play well, they'll be fine with Geitz. Then, with us three in the back: Hoozy [Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit], myself and Joles [Joline Henry], if we're on and working like we did in the third and fourth quarters of that Mystics game, we should be fine."

One thing the Pulse won't do - although sometimes you wish they would - is resort to any roughness.

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Every team in the league gets physical with them now, with statistics showing the Pulse routinely concede half as many contact penalties as their opponents. But not only doesn't Grant believe she and her players have any thuggery in them, she says it's counter productive too.

"I'm a shorter keeper and Hoozy's not the tallest goal defence around either, so that's not our style. If we got into a physical game they [the opposition shooters] are going to have me stuck on their body and just pop the ball over my head," the 1.86m said Grant.

"So I need space to be able to run at the ball or space to be able to run around them. If I'm on them, I'm screwed.

"I have to work with my advantages as much as possible, and height isn't one of them."

The Pulse will need to find their best performance of the season to win today. They believe it's lurking somewhere and we'll know by 6pm whether it finally emerged.

- The Dominion Post

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