Pulse stay in hunt with close win over Fever

BATTLE: Caitlin Thwaites and Josie Janz contest the ball.
BATTLE: Caitlin Thwaites and Josie Janz contest the ball.

Even non-racing people remember Kotare Chief.

In the 1987 Auckland Cup the eight year-old gelding burst ahead by about 25 lengths, before hanging on to win by seven.

Most people thought it was lunacy at the time, but Kotare Chief proved a magnificent frontrunner. Well, you could never accuse the Central Pulse of the same thing.

Leading just isn’t there thing, especially in the dying stages. But just when it looked like their run at the West Coast Fever, and their season for that matter, was about to die on the TSB Bank Arena floor last night, up popped Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit.

Her last-ditch intercept, and 20 seconds of measured passing among themselves, enabled the Pulse to beat the Fever 53-52 and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week.

The Pulse had been up by five goals with time running out and it looked like they might squander yet another winning opportunity. Thanks, ultimately, to Selby-Rickit, but also Donna Wilkins and Joline Henry, they summoned enough composure to seal a victory they simply had to have.

‘‘You can win by one or you can win by 10. The main thing is we got the two [competition points] so we’re really happy,’’ Wilkins said, after a magnificent all-round performance in which she also shot 25 from 25.

‘‘That’s my second game ever [of shooting 100 per cent]. It’s not an easy task, but I felt in the rhythm. I didn’t feel in the rhythm at training this week so I did a bit of extra shooting and obviously it paid off tonight.’’

With the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic beating the Queensland Firebirds in extra time yesterday afternoon, the Pulse couldn’t afford a loss to the Fever. Victory put them up to sixth, but on the same number of points as the fourth-placed Magic.

The Southern Steel are sandwiched between them in fifth and the Pulse will hope the southerners lose to the Melbourne Vixens tonight.

‘‘It was critical for us to win and it’s critical we win again next week [against the Canterbury Tactix]. It’s a big one, it’s down in Christchurch and everyone thinks it’s going to be easy but it’s not. They’ve tipped up the Mystics twice and will be looking for another win at home, so it’s going to be a big task,’’ said Wilkins.

Beating the Fever looked a big task at various times last night, especially in the first half when there was a lethargy and raggedness about everything the Pulse did.

Generosity, too, as the team repeatedly handed the initiative back to the Fever at critical times.

‘‘In the first half it was appalling,’’ coach Robyn Broughton said.There was a marked lift in intensity during the second spell after Broughton delivered a few halftime home truths.

‘‘Well I’m pretty hard on them, but they can take that at that age and stage, surely to goodness. No, I said they had to play with a passion and a pride and you’re too good to let silly things happen in a game, so individuals have to step up and then the team will step up,’’ she said.

Broughton singled out Wilkins, especially, and Henry for providing the cohesion when it counted.

‘‘I’m very proud and pleased with the win. They deserved that one.’’

The Dominion Post