Grant dejected as Central Pulse fall short again
So much for 2014. Billed as the year when the Central Pulse would finally fire a shot in the trans-Tasman Netball League, it will finish in failure and, perhaps even, ignominy.
Saturday's 60-33 defeat to the Queensland Firebirds on the Gold Coast was a shocker.
Sure, the result was hardly startling, but the magnitude of the thrashing definitely was.
With so much at stake, the Pulse's nerve and ability to execute deserted them.
''We all feel pretty disheartened by it. Going into the changing rooms at the end of the game, it was horrible,'' Pulse captain Katrina Grant said.
''We know we let a chance go through our fingers for the Pulse to finally win in Aussie and to finally get in the top-four.''
The Pulse won eight games last year. This time round it's seven, with a game left to play in Perth next Monday night.
It'll be Norma Plummer's last match as West Coast Fever coach, before going into retirement, and you imagine the atmosphere inside Challenge Stadium will be feral.
The Pulse's record in Australia now stands at 0-17 and there's no reason to suspect the number in that win column will suddenly tick over in seven days' time.
Plummer's a smart cookie, she'll have seen what the Firebirds did. Hit the Pulse like a ton of bricks in the first few minutes and then sit back and watch as Grant's girls beat themselves.
The Pulse have worked very hard to gain credibility over the last few years but Saturday's defeat, allied to the prospect that something similar could happen in Perth, would severely erode that.
The last thing this franchise can afford is talk that this is still the same old Pulse.
''It's really hard, because we showed glimpses in the season that we're a darn good side, it's just unfortunate we haven't consistently been that really good side that we can be,'' said Grant.
''I still think we're obviously much better than the Pulse of old and I'd really like to shake that tag. We're a good bunch of girls and we're hoping that respect's still there.''
It would take results of the kind that sees inquiries launched in other sports, for the Pulse to sneak into the semifinals.
Grant's all-but accepted that won't happen, but would take some solace from being able to win on Australian soil for the first time.
But it won't alter the fact that her team have over-promised and under-delivered this year.
''We needed to step up and didn't. The onus is on ourselves, because we should be in the top-four and we're not,'' she said.
It galls Grant that the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic will be New Zealand's sole semifinalist, but the Pulse had chances to unseat them and couldn't.
''We've proved we have a better side than them, because we've beaten them twice this season, but they've obviously proved they're better at beating the Aussie sides than we are. We can't win in Aussie, obviously, because we haven't done it yet.''