While the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic came out on top 78-71 over the Central Pulse in New Plymouth, both coaches were talking up the benefits of Saturday's pre-season match.
Pulse coach Robyn Broughton and her Magic opposite Noeline Taurua both managed to get all their players on court in the match split into six periods.
"Things went really well. We had all our squad on court apart from the two who weren't here," Broughton said, referring to wing attack Liana Leota and wing defence Joline Henry.
Leota is due back in New Zealand next week while Henry is on the comeback trail after having a baby five weeks ago.
"But all the others had good court time. We lost by seven, but that's not so bad. I'm quite positive about things," she said.
"We tried every single solitary combination we could, so now it's my decision as to what my top lineup will be."
Broughton said the two matches - the Pulse played the Australian Institute of Sport on Friday afternoon - had been invaluable.
"They've given us a good idea as to where we are. We did some good things. It was good to harden ourselves up; that toughness out on court."
With the trans-Tasman league season opener against the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Adelaide on March 24 approaching, Broughton said the team would be training daily and playing against the Wellington men's side each week.
"The more match play we can get, the better. We were hoping to play the Tactix down in Christchurch, but the expense was too much."
Broughton said playing the match in New Plymouth had been fantastic.
"The crowd was great, very supportive. The excitement of the kids getting autographs. I thought it was well worth it," she said. "And we saw the mountain. I've been here before and it's never been clear.
"Our trainer, Guy Mothersole, sprinted up to the top on Saturday morning . . . 2 hours up, one hour down."
Taurua agreed the weekend had been a success.
"The two teams we played gave us a different contrast out on court.
"The Pulse had some good individuals and great stalwarts. They had a different defensive style and gave us a good run. The Aussies played a fast paced game," Taurua said.
"The two different styles were good for us. They gave me a chance to try all different combinations and I'm pretty happy with things. There's still a lot to work on."
There was plenty to excite the 1600-plus crowd on Saturday.
With both teams stacked with current or former Silver Ferns, the standard of play was high for a pre-season hit-out.
Pulse shooters Donna Wilkins and Paula Griffin were happy to pull the trigger from wide out, with Camilla Lees working hard to feed the ball in.
Australian shooter Caitlin Thwaites came on during the second quarter for Griffin and she helped the Pulse to a three-goal lead at the end of the second period.
The Magic came back in the third period to lead 44-41 and extended that to 55-47 after the fourth period.
The difference was 10 goals after the fifth period, with the Pulse clawing three back in the final period.
Amber Bellringer came on in the sixth period and despite being closely marked she was able to sink several back-to-back goals.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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