Goal attack Wilkins can hold her head high

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014
Donna Wilkins
KEVIN STENT/ Fairfax NZ
KEY PLAYER: Donna Wilkins in action for the Central Pulse.

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Whatever went wrong at the Central Pulse this season, Donna Wilkins doesn't deserve any blame.

The 36-year-old goal attack has always had critics, be they of her play or demeanour. But she has given her guts for the Pulse and they've been a far better outfit for her involvement in the last two trans-Tasman Netball League campaigns.

It remains to be seen whether Monday night is her lot. The goal attack wants to put a bit of space between herself and the Pulse's last hurrah, against the West Coast Fever in Perth, before deciding if it's time to retire.

The team is aware of which way she's leaning and will hopefully produce a performance worthy of the contribution Wilkins has made.

And save some of the face lost by last Saturday's humiliating 60-33 defeat to the Queensland Firebirds.

"It was gut-wrenching really, but it happens in sport and you've got to move on," Wilkins said of the 27-goal drubbing.

"We've got another chance to go win over there [in Australia] and it's probably going to be our last game together as a unit."

Fifth last year the Pulse, barring extraordinary results over the weekend, will finish in the same spot this year. Standing still wasn't the plan this season but, as Wilkins noted, at least the Pulse didn't go backwards, like other teams she has played for over the years.

"I've still enjoyed my season. I came back because I wanted to make top four after we were so close last year. We were bloody close again, but that's sport. I've still enjoyed it."

And she has shown that time hasn't diminished her skills and desire.

"Yeah, but I've also had a couple of games where, not through lack of trying, I've come off thinking ‘why couldn't I do this, this and this'. I probably do that in the games that we win as well. But on the whole I've been pretty happy," she said.

It hasn't been enough, though. Every good thing the Pulse have done has been followed by a couple of daft things.

With the exception of one awful outing against the Mainland Tactix in Napier, the Pulse have beaten the other New Zealand franchises home and away, without playing particularly well.

But the Australian teams have continued to find the Pulse out, underlining the gulf in standard that exists on either side of the Tasman.

"The story of our season is that, as a collective seven, we haven't had a complete or near-complete performance. As the individuals that create that team we've had some patches of brilliance and hopefully we'll have some more of that on Monday," Wilkins said.

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- The Dominion Post

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