Stronger, better, faster is the marketing slogan the Central Pulse are using in 2012.
It's catchy enough, if in danger of looking a little daft come today.
The Pulse began their 2011 trans-Tasman netball league campaign with losses to the Northern Mystics and Southern Steel, before eventually finishing the competition in eighth place, having recorded three wins along the way.
This year they lost first-up to the Mystics again and now play the Steel, at Napier's Pettigrew-Green Arena today. A week ago, plenty of knowledgeable folk would have picked the Pulse to win today. Since then, though, the Pulse played like their old selves against the Mystics and the Steel have beaten the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
This might only be round two, but the Pulse badly need a win today to prevent "different year, same old results" becoming a more realistic motto for them.
"For us, every game has to be treated like a final, because we don't want to look back at the end of the season `oh, we should've won these games at the beginning'. So today's a must-win," Pulse shooter Paula Griffin said.
And it is an important match for Griffin. She shot poorly in the 51-47 loss to the Mystics and was benched for the fourth quarter. Griffin's 15 goals, from 24 attempts, were a big reason why the Pulse lost the match. The Pulse put up 63 shots in the defeat, to the Mystics' 57, and still ended up losing.
"A few shots, when I look back on them, I rushed, which I don't usually do. Then [for] a few under the post, my hands got a bit slippery," said Griffin.
"That's still no excuse, so I will definitely be focusing on my shooting and settling myself in and making sure I hit those goals. At the end of the day, you can't win if the goals don't go in."
Coach Robyn Broughton said she wasn't aware of Griffin's shooting statistics during the Mystics match. But, even without any figures in front of her, Broughton still knew it was time to give Griffin a rest.
"I didn't know I was coming off but when I did Rob just told me to sit down and take a look," Griffin said.
What she saw gave her some encouragement. But, if the Pulse are to win today, she added that they must be more ruthless.
In tomorrow's matches, the Queensland Firebirds host the Adelaide Thunderbirds, the Melbourne Vixens meet the West Coast Fever in Perth and the Magic and Mystics do battle in Hamilton. The Canterbury Tactix are at home to the New South Wales Swifts on Monday night.
Pulse (from): Katrina Grant (c), Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Joline Henry, Millie Lees, Ngarama Milner-Olsen, Paula Griffin, Caitlin Thwaites, Amber Bellringer, Daya Wiffen, Jamilah Gupwell, Victoria Smit.
Steel (from): Jodi Brown, Phillipa Finch, Shannon Francois, Demelza McCloud, Storm Purvis, Hayley Saunders, Sheryl Scanlan, Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Asleigh Smith, Courtney Tairi, Louise Thayer, Donna Wilkins.
- © Fairfax NZ News