Just how much progress the Central Pulse have made will be evident in Tauranga today. Coach Robyn Broughton's side could not ask for any more incentive to end the Waikato-BOP Magic's resurgence.
In past seasons, it would be inconceivable the Pulse could knock over the star-studded Magic.
They have, after all, never beaten Noeline Taurua's side in nine attempts. And in their first meeting this season, the Magic thumped the Pulse by 10 goals, with Silver Ferns captain Casey Williams only playing one quarter.
But this is a vastly different Pulse outfit, one that has rolled the previously unbeaten Thunderbirds, Steel and Tactix in succession. A re-jigged midcourt featuring Joline Henry at centre coincided with that surprising winning burst.
"With Joline in the middle, that has added a new chemistry and different dimension to their team," Taurua observed.
"They've got a more positive outlook than when we last played them."
An upset victory would bring double delight for Katrina Grant, the stoic Pulse leader.
"Winning definitely makes being a captain easier. Everyone is on a high. Things start to gel and stick," Grant enthused.
"We can definitely win now. We don't have anything to lose. "Motivation for us is, if we beat them, we will be in semifinal contention. If we win this game, then we are ahead of the Magic. That's massive for us. Being the second-rated New Zealand team would also be pretty impressive."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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