Same old story for Central Pulse in close loss

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 21:29 03/03/2014
Irene van Dyk
Photosport
UNDER PRESSURE: Irene van Dyk of the Pulse tries to get a pass away.

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The worst of the lot.

The Central Pulse have had some shocking losses over the years - but this one takes the cake.

Up, or level, all the way, the Pulse threw away an opportunity to make this the trans-Tasman Netball League season they've all said it will be. They talk a good game and played one too, for most of last night's 60 minutes, but it all ended in failure and disappointment as they were beaten 45-44 by the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the dying seconds at Te Rauparaha Arena last night.

In the old days, a one-goal loss to the defending champions would've been encouraging. This time it simply isn't good enough and it could be a result the Pulse rue at the end of the season.

Elite teams don't lose games like this one, especially at home. And this was definitely a loss. As good as they are, the Thunderbirds handed out no beating.

"Isn't that a wee bit heartbreaking," Pulse captain Katrina Grant said at fulltime.

"With a minute 10 [seconds] to go I thought we had it. But you can never rest on your laurels against an Aussie side like that. They pegged it back and pegged it back and just kept on going and it's tough to take."

This is Grant's fourth season as skipper. At least one of her previous Pulse teams stunk, but this one doesn't. This one is the best of the lot. Or at least it should be. Which is why this loss stung her so much last night.

"That one is pretty tough. We've got a great side and we played well and it all came back to all those last little bits and pieces," she said.

"We could've had the first win on the board and it would've been onwards and upwards."

Instead it's a defeat to which the reaction will be fascinating. Grant's a trooper and happily fulfilled her various media commitments last night, but the plain fact was tears were never far from her eyes and it was obvious a good cry in the sheds was high on her agenda.

With that out of the way, the Pulse can either keep feeling sorry for themselves - or accept they blew it and get better. But you fear that they needed to beat the Thunderbirds to convince themselves they're as good as they'd like to believe and that failing to do so will bring back the old feelings of inadequacy.

They really ought to be disgusted with themselves after last night. Ahead by four after the first quarter, their lead was soon six and they seemed destined to beat the Thunderbirds in some style.

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But turnovers crippled them. It's easy to isolate incidents at the end of a game and say that if Irene van Dyk had shot this or shot that, then the result would've been different.

The truth is the Pulse gave the initiative, and the game, away long before the end. The one thing coach Robyn Broughton has tried to teach this team is how to keep a lead.

Two seasons and one game into her tenure, the players still don't know and they'll be crying all season unless they learn in a hurry.

Adelaide Thunderbirds 45 (Carla Borrego 32/37, Erin Bell 13/17) Central Pulse 44 (Donna Wilkins 25/28, Irene van Dyk 19/23).

- Fairfax Media

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