Netball: Pulse need to secure the ball

By Daniel Richardson

Camilla Lees of the Pulse catches the ball. Photo / Getty Images.
Camilla Lees of the Pulse catches the ball. Photo / Getty Images.

The Central Pulse haven't never beaten the Northern Mystics and Pulse coach Robyn Broughton say they will need to treasure the ball more when the two teams meet in Palmerston North on Sunday if that statistic is to change.

Arena Manawatu represents the third 'home' court the Pulse will have played on in their first five games this season, having also turned out in Napier and Porirua, and Broughton said her midcourters needed to find another level.

"The midcourt is a bit of a problem," she conceded. "Statistically, we are losing a lot of ball feeding it in to the circle so both of our feeders have to step up. With our mid-court, they have to put the ball in to space properly and make sure that it's in a comfortable position for the shooters. But the shooters in turn have to be in the right position, too, and meet the ball. So between them they've got to have a bit of care about that because we are getting the ball down there and we pick up plenty of ball [on defence] so we have to be careful with what we do with it."

Broughton's concerns are backed up by the numbers.

In Monday night's 50-45 defeat of the Canterbury Tactix, the Pulse turned the ball over 19 times to the Tactix's 11.

Camilla Lees and Daya Wiffen, who played a majority of the game at wing attack and centre respectively, combined for six of those turnovers, while shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Paul Griffin coughed up the ball nine times between them.

The Pulse have begun their campaign with two wins and two losses, while the Mystics are third on the ANZ Championship ladder with three victories and one defeat.

That defeat came last weekend after they were toppled 50-48 by the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Auckland.

The Pulse have failed to knock over the Mystics in nine previous attempts, although they have taken the Auckland-based side to overtime twice. The Pulse have also never won consecutive games in the transtasman league.

Broughton said past history, facts and figures weren't a motivating factor for her side.

"No, I don't think of it that way. I just think of each game as one that's there for us and we've got to play our best and do our best. We've got good players there, we just need to be careful of possession. It's a cherished thing and we've got to do things with it and we are good enough to."

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said her side hadn't taken any notice of the statistics, either.

"We talked a lot this week about not being distracted by media, by the peripheral things," she said. "Distractions like that take away our focus from what we've got to do and that's putting quality netball out on court. We don't look into the history or get pleasure out of statistics like that. We get pleasure out of playing great netball."

The Mystics represent a stern test for the ever-improving Pulse and the most intriguing match-up outside of the midcourt battle will be the Pulse's tough defence against the slick Mystics shooters.

Katrina Grant and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit have claimed 18 intercepts during the first four rounds of the competition, while Mystics goal shoot Cathrine Latu has drained an impeccable 93 goals from 96 attempts this year.

Latu doesn't need to look far for quality back-up, with Silver Ferns goal attack Maria Tutaia partnering her in the shooting circle.

Sunday's game gets underway at 7.40pm.

Pulse: Amber Bellringer, Caitlin Thwaites, Camilla Lees, Daya Wiffen, Jamilah Gupwell, Joline Henry, Katarina Cooper, Katrina Grant, Ngarama Milner-Olsen, Paul Griffin, Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit, Victoria Smith

Mystics: Temepara George, Kayla Cullen, Bailey Mes, Cathrine Latu, Maria Tutaia, Grace Rasmussen, Rachel Rasmussen, Anna Harrison, Portia Woodman, Jessica Moulds, Jade Clarke, Charlotte Kight

- APNZ

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