It may be Caitlin Thwaites who cops the flak
Tomorrow might be Caitlin Thwaites' turn to take one for the team.
The Central Pulse goal shoot was the recipient of goal attack Donna Wilkins' generosity during Monday's 63-48 win over the Northern Mystics.
Wilkins absorbed a lot of punishment on her team's behalf, from Mystics goal defence Julie Corletto, allowing Thwaites to run amok in the circle.
The Australian shot 43 from 47 as the Pulse posted their biggest trans-Tasman league score and highest winning margin, as well as beating the Mystics for the first time in 12 attempts.
"Donna said, ‘there's no point me bringing Jules into play, because you can beat Jess [Moulds] one-on-one'," Thwaites said ahead of tomorrow's clash with the West Coast Fever.
"We figured that out after the first quarter and Donna was like: ‘I'm going to have a few bruises after this game'. She hit the deck a few times and her goal in the second half was not to hit the floor."
But with the Fever tomorrow night's opponent at TSB Bank Arena, the most intense physical battle could be between Thwaites and Fever goal keep Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
The Englishwoman has terrorised shooters this season, not least the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic's Irene van Dyk.
Should Thwaites be on the end of something similar, at least there's some comfort in knowing that Wilkins isn't your average goal attack.
Once the Silver Ferns' goal shoot, Wilkins is a lot more accurate in the shooting circle than most goal attacks.
"The good thing about having a dominant goal attack is that, at times, she and I can take over the lead [role] from one another," said Thwaites. "I'm expecting it to be quite physical again and we didn't quite deal with the physical pressure when we played the Vixens in the last Aussie game we had."
Thwaites, in particular, which was unusual given she used to be a Vixen. If anyone should've known what to expect and how to cope, you would assume that it was Thwaites.
Instead, she ended up being substituted after shooting just 15 from 21 and turning the ball over eight times. "I was very angry at myself," Thwaites said.
It was an out-of-character performance from Thwaites, who has otherwise shot 285 goals from 322 attempts this season. Jamaicans Jhaniele Fowler and Romelda Aiken have the highest volume of goals this season, followed by the Fever's Caitlin Bassett and then Thwaites.
The Fever are sixth on the table, a spot above the Pulse courtesy of goal difference, and a loss for either team will put paid to any playoff ambitions.
The Dominion Post