The Central Pulse are the only challenger left with a chance of spoiling the Southern Steel's unbeaten season.

The Pulse have beaten the Northern Mystics 59-52 in the preliminary final, advancing to take on the 15-0 Steel in Invercargill on Wednesday night.

It will be a deserving conclusion to the debut Premiership season, with the Pulse having been the second best team for the majority of the campaign.

However, the gap between the Pulse and the dominant Steel has been significant, with the Pulse likely needing a virtuoso performance to overcome their toughest challenge.


They certainly won't be able to start slowly, like they did against the Mystics.

The Mystics - who needed a lifeline to make the playoffs after a horror loss to the Mainland Tactix - went on an early 8-1 run to take a 16-10 lead at quarter-time.

Maria Tutaia put in a super showing for the Mystics, connecting on a multitude of long-range bombs as she shot 33/35. In contrast, her shooting partner Bailey Mes went the first 11 minutes without taking a shot, eventually only mustering a 19/24 shooting display.

The Mystics' lead got as large as seven goals, before the Pulse dragged themselves into the contest as they increased their defensive pressure.

As the Mystics started to get sloppy, the Pulse pounced. They took 17 deflections to the Mystics' nine, but crucially managed to get them in key attacking areas. Every Pulse player picked up a deflection, with the midcourters and attackers combining for seven as the Mystics' lead evaporated.

At the other end, Cathrine Tuivaiti and Tiana Metuarau were cashing in. The Pulse's shooting duo hit at a 90.7 per cent clip as the Pulse pulled away. A 4-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter gave the Pulse a lead; one they would never relinquish as they sealed their place in the final.

Now, they need to go up another level - or perhaps two levels - to take on the Steel, who have won all three of their games against the Pulse this season.

A 63-50 win in Round Six was followed by an 80-44 trouncing in Round Nine and a 64-51 victory last Monday, all convincing victories which cast considerable doubt on the Pulse's chances of a famous upset.

Pulse captain Katrina Grant - playing in her first final at this level - says her side need to be intense throughout the entire game to topple the Steel.

"We just have to go for everything, do our own jobs and just give it our all because they're an impressive side and we haven't done too well against them," said Grant.

"I think we showed last time that if we change up our combinations, you never know what happen. We had a couple of quarters when we were even with them - we've got a lot of belief in this side and that's all we need."