Netball: Wilkins fires perfection on one leg

By Daniel Richardson of APNZ in Palmerston North

Mystics' Julie Corletto, left, contests the ball with Pulse's Camilla Lees. Photo: SNPA / Ross Setford
Mystics' Julie Corletto, left, contests the ball with Pulse's Camilla Lees. Photo: SNPA / Ross Setford

One good ankle was all Donna Wilkins needed.

The Central Pulse goal attack was at her best during her side's 49-45 win over the Northern Mystics at Arena Manawatu in Palmerston North last night as her clutch shooting came to the fore.

The 36-year-old netted a perfect 16 goals from as many attempts as the Pulse erased a one-goal deficit at halftime to keep their bid for a maiden ANZ Championship playoff berth alive.

Wilkins sprained her ankle during training a week and a half ago and sat out last Sunday's win over the Mainland Tactix.

The former Silver Fern began last night's encounter on the bench, as Paula Griffin filled in, but was injected in to the game at the start of the third quarter.

"I don't think many netballers have much left in their ankles when you've been playing as long as I have," Wilkins said.

"It was pretty good. I've got a lot of tape around it and I think once you've got the tape on it you've got a bit of confidence. You expect it to hurt a little bit. It's nothing major."

Wilkins took a nasty tumble when she collided with Mystics defender Julie Corletto in the fourth quarter but ran off the pain as the Pulse closed out the game.

With two weeks left in the regular season they're hovering around a playoff spot and can write their own script.

They travel to the Gold Coast to meet the Queensland Firebirds on Saturday before playing the West Coast Fever in Perth in the final round of the campaign.

If they win both they will lock up a spot in the knockout stages, while one win may be enough if other results fall their way.

The problem is, the Pulse have never won across the Tasman.

"We just have to adjust and it's another final for us and if we want to make the top four that's the focus," Wilkins said.

"The way we are playing as a team, I don't see any reason why we can't and we are going over there to do a job to get the two points, so bring it on."

Last night's game also featured another encouraging half of netball from the returning Liana Leota who produced a reliable shift at wing attack for the Pulse.

Having given birth to her third child only two months ago, the 29-year-old is gradually working her way back to top speed just at the right time for Robyn Broughton's side.

Central Pulse 49 (Irene van Dyk 25/28, Donna Wilkins 16/16, Paula Griffin 8/12) Northern Mystics 45 (Cathrine Latu 25/26, Maria Tutaia 20/24) 1Q: 12-11, halftime: 24-25, 3Q: 38-33

- APNZ

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