Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Netball: Pulse with plenty to work on

Ngarama Milner-Olsen of the Pulse. Photo / Getty Images.
Ngarama Milner-Olsen of the Pulse. Photo / Getty Images.

Poor shooting and an inconsistent mid-court display held the Central Pulse back from mounting a sustained challenge against the Queensland Firebirds as they were hammered 58-32 in Brisbane this afternoon.

The Pulse, who remained winless from 11 trans-Tasman netball clashes in Australia, never got out of the starters' blocks and trailed 13-6 after the first quarter, where they turned the ball over six times.

Katarina Cooper made her debut for the Pulse at wing attack but struggled in the early stages and was eventually pulled at half-time by coach Robyn Broughton and replaced by Ngarama Milner-Olsen.

The mid-court has been an area of concern for Broughton, who has had to chop and change her combinations this season, due to injury and mixed form from her players.

Today's game wouldn't have given her a clearer picture as to who is the best person to fill the WA bib to partner centre Camilla Lees and wing defence Joline Henry through centre of the court.

Despite being the defending champions, the Firebirds came in to the game with two losses to start their season after being humbled by Melbourne and Adelaide in the past fortnight.

The Firebirds' defensive pairing of Laura Geitz and Amy Steel were particularly impressive in the first half and Silver Ferns goal attack Paula Griffin found the going tough as she only shot four from 12 for the Pulse and failed to link with her mid-courters.

Griffin was also yanked at half-time and the less experienced Amber Bellringer was more comfortable in the second spell and shot seven from 10.

Pulse goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites, who has been impressive during the opening two weeks, shot 21 from 28, but overall the Pulse only nailed 35 of their 50 attempts for a woeful 64 per cent shooting rate.

Percentages like that won't get you close to the playoffs and Broughton will need more from Griffin in the coming weeks if the Pulse want to be a force this season.

Worryingly for Broughton, the Pulse only scored more than 10 goals in one quarter of play - the third - which was never going to get them close to victory.

The Firebirds were poor in the shooting circle in the first spell, but recovered well as goal attack Natalie Medhurst had a typically composed outing as she drained 20 of her 22 attempts.

Towering goal shoot Romelda Aiken was more of a mixed bag and at one point was only three from nine, but recovered to shoot 38 from 48.

Part of Aiken's struggles were down to the solid work of Pulse defenders Katrina Grant and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit who put plenty of pressure on the 1.96m Jamaican.

Turnovers proved costly for the Pulse as they found themselves on the wrong side of that statistic 20-15, although Lees and Grant each claimed four intercepts for the visitors.

The Pulse's next game is a Monday-night affair on April 23 against the Canterbury Tactix in Porirua.

Queensland Firebirds 58 (Romelda Aiken 38/48, Natalie Medhurst 20/22) Central Pulse 32 (Caitlin Thwaites 21/28, Amber Bellringer 7/10, Paula Griffin 4/12) 1Q: 13-6 HT: 26-13 3Q: 44-24

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