Netball: Pulse hoping to break another barrier

Katarina Cooper of the Pulse looks to pass during the round three ANZ Championship match between the Firebirds and the Pulse. Photo / Getty Images.
Katarina Cooper of the Pulse looks to pass during the round three ANZ Championship match between the Firebirds and the Pulse. Photo / Getty Images.

Pulse head coach Robyn Broughton has a simple message for her players this week - keep your heads and you could earn the team's first-ever win over the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in Tauranga on Sunday night.

The Pulse franchise has never managed to win successive games before this season, but that has all changed this year with five wins on the board so far, including the last three in a row against the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Southern Steel and Canterbury Tactix.

The positive run of results was kick-started by the 56-46 loss to the Magic in round seven, which gives Broughton grounds for genuine optimism going into this weekend's crucial game.

The two teams are locked in joint sixth place on the ladder with 10 points each, and a win this weekend is vital for either side to progress to the playoffs.

You are always thinking that you can get up there and make the playoffs," Broughton said. "The harder you work to get up there, and the more you start being successful, the more you start to think you can make it.

"In the last three games, they have been taking more care of possession and really starting to believing in themselves and trusting one another. It's about self-belief more than anything else and I think that if they can keep their heads, then another win is possible this week."

The Magic remains the only team to have qualified for the playoffs in each of the four years of the ANZ Championship, and Broughton believes experience throughout the squad has been the key to their continued success.

"They've got the most experienced players and they've made very few changes to their team over the years, so they should be performing well consistently. When they first started, they probably had six or seven Silver Ferns."

Pulse assistant coach Marianne Delaney believes that working out how to contain prolific shooter Irene van Dyk, who shot 39 from 40 attempts in the victory over the Steel on Monday night, will be key to success for her team.

"Irene doesn't shoot many long ones, so if we can a) starve her of the ball and b) force her wide, then we're going to do well," she said.

The former Wellington and Canterbury representative player also gave an insight into why Broughton has made such a difference to the team in her first year in charge.

"I think Robyn brings experience at that professional level and she sets high expectations of the girls. She's had so many really experienced players under her and they would set the expectation level quite high, so she's come in here expecting that from all of our players as well.

"She doesn't take any nonsense - her message is to stay focussed and not be phased by anything. If there's any talk going on, she's just not interested and that comes from being so experienced."

- APNZ

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