Netball: Thwaites enjoying life in Wellington

By Daniel Richardson

Central Pulse GS Caitlin Thwaites creates room for a pass from midcourter Camilla Lees as Southern Steel defender Demelza McCloud breathes down her neck. Photo / Getty Images.
Central Pulse GS Caitlin Thwaites creates room for a pass from midcourter Camilla Lees as Southern Steel defender Demelza McCloud breathes down her neck. Photo / Getty Images.

Caitlin Thwaites is the Central Pulse's favourite adopted Australian and with shooting numbers like hers it's easy to see why.

The 1.88m goal shoot, who joined the franchise last year after playing for the Melbourne Vixens, has drained 117 goals in her first four games this season at an 87 per cent success rate - good enough for the fourth-highest tally in the competition.

"I really love Wellington and the girls have really embraced me being here, so I love it," Thwaites said.

"We have dinner dates during the week all the time and I've made really good friends with all of the girls so it's been really fun."

Australians have often been loath to join a New Zealand sporting team in a transtasman competition, let alone sign on for a second-consecutive season, but Thwaites has justified her move across the ditch with some sound displays on the court.

"I think they've got a soft spot for me. I always get a few Aussie digs here and there but they always go 'oh yeah, but you're not really an Aussie'," she said of her team-mates.

After a mixed display in round three against the Queensland Firebirds, where Thwaites shot only 21 from 28 as the Pulse were hammered 58-32 in Brisbane, the 25-year-old bounced back in fine style on Monday night.

Thwaites registered a game-high 38 goals from 40 attempts as the seventh-placed Pulse beat the Canterbury Tactix 50-45 in Porirua to claim their second win of the season.

"It was so good to have the flow through the centre court," Thwaites said.

"It made it a lot easier and the spaces were really clear to be able to drive in to and I was able to put the ball in too. So that's something I think we'll need to try and replicate in the coming weeks."

Pulse captain Katrina Grant was pleased with Thwaites' performance against the Tactix as the Australia led the side to victory.

"I think [Monday] was one of her best performances. She stood up, took charge in that attacking end and did the business."

Grant has also enjoyed a strong start to the ANZ Championship season and the defender is fourth in the league for rebounds with 11 and her eight intercepts are the sixth-equal most in the competition.

Her partnership in the defensive circle with the ever-improving Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, who has pinched 10 intercepts of her own this year, has continued to progress.

In a quirk of the draw, the Pulse play only their fifth game of the season this weekend but it will be the second time they've met the third-placed Northern Mystics despite the fact the Pulse are yet to play the Magic and have only tackled one Australian team.

The last time the Wellington-based franchise met the Northern Mystics they were defeated 51-47 in round one, but Thwaites said the side wanted to turn that around in a home game at Arena Manawatu in Palmerston North on Sunday night.

"Palmy gave us a really awesome crowd last year. So we are hoping that they'll be worth a couple of goals difference for us in terms of the support they'll give us and we only lost by four goals up in Auckland in the first round so hopefully the Palmy crowd will get us over the line."

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- APNZ

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