Daniel Richardson

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

Netball: Pulse not getting complacent

Joline Henry of the Central Pulse. Photo / Anthony Au-Yeung.
Joline Henry of the Central Pulse. Photo / Anthony Au-Yeung.

Playing the bottom of the table team in any sporting competition can be an unenviable task.

You're expected to win and if you lose you will cop a spray from anyone within earshot.

That's the problem facing the Central Pulse this weekend in the trans-Tasman netball competition as they head south to meet the Canterbury Tactix in Christchurch on Sunday.

The 4-5 Pulse are riding high on an unprecedented two-match winning streak, while the last-placed Tactix have only won one from nine this season, although they only went down 57-56 to the table-topping Northern Mystics last week.

Pulse coach Robyn Broughton stressed her side wouldn't take the Tactix lightly, despite having already disposed of them once this year - a comfortable 50-45 victory in round four in Porirua.

"They were only one away from Mystics," Broughton said.

"You never take them lightly. I never have in all my experience and all my years, you never take them lightly. Canterbury, they'll never lie down they sort of come up again, come up again and come up again. They were just probably making a lot of changes and I saw that that's stopped and they've kept a more stable playing seven."

The Tactix will need more than a playing stable seven to topple the Pulse though who have managed to put it all together in recent weeks after moving Joline Henry to centre and Camilla Lees to wing attack, which appears to have cured their mid-court woes.

Round 10 gets underway on Sunday afternoon in Brisbane when the Queensland Firebirds host the NSW Swifts.

The defending-champion Firebirds sit in fifth place on 10 points - one position below the Swifts - and a victory would take them back in the top four, while the Swifts could draw level with the Northern Mystics at the top of the table but they have a lower goal percentage.

Towering Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken has made the second-most goals in the competition this year with 303 from 365 attempts - an 83 per cent success rate - and the 1.96m Jamaican has also pulled down a league-best 34 rebounds.

In another Australian derby, the second-placed Adelaide Thunderbirds travel to Melbourne to meet the third-placed Vixens on Sunday afternoon.

Victory for Adelaide or Melbourne would see them draw level with the Northern Mystics at the top of the table and both Australian outfits also own a better goal percentage than the Auckland-based Mystics.

English import Geva Mentor has been crucial to Melbourne's fortunes this year and she leads the league in deflections with 68 and has also claimed the third-most intercepts with 22.

The Tactix and Pulse will then round out Sunday evening in Christchurch.

In Monday night's only game, The 4-4 Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic host the Southern Steel in Hamilton.

The Steel upset the Magic in round one of this year's competition but that was the high point of the Steel's season who have battled for consistency since.

With only two wins from eight, the Steel are eighth on the ANZ Championship ladder and don't look like featuring in the post-season.

Meanwhile, the Magic, who lost their first four games of the season, are on a four-match winning streak and will be refreshed after having the bye last week.

The regular playoff contenders are looming in the rear-view mirrors of the top four as they hover in sixth place on the ladder and will look to continue their winnings ways this week.

Evergreen shooter Irene van Dyk has been in her usual dominant form and has shot 94.2 per cent this season, the second-best in the league behind Mystics goal shoot Cathrine Latu who strikes at 97.9 per cent.

The ninth-placed West Coast Fever and Northern Mystics have the bye this week.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 25 Oct 2014 00:28:52 Processing Time: 682ms