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Long wait over for Pulse captain

It’s been a long time in the making but for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse netball captain Katrina Grant,Sunday’s ANZ Premiership Elimination Final in Wellington can’t come soon enough.
Breaking new ground has become a hallmark for the Pulse this year after clinching a spot in the post-season play-offs for the first time in their 10-year history, where they will meet the Northern Mystics for a place in theJune 28 Grand Final.

For the long-serving Grant, 30, who has been the one constant in the Pulse since venturing north from the Southern Steel in 2010, it is a standout moment in her long association with the Wellington-based team.
In terrific form this campaign, there have been plenty of harrowing and challenging times for the lithe defender during her eight years with the Pulse, seven as captain, but she has remained admirably loyal.

``Just being a part of all this is pretty exciting,’’ she said. ``In the past there were years of potential but we never really got there, so it’s nice to recognise it’s the first time and it is so good for our franchise.

``We’ve worked really hard to get where we are and this season definitely feels different to the ones in the past. It hasn’t been perfect but a lot has clicked into place, there’s a mix of young and experienced players where both are able to feed off the other, our coaching panel has been amazing and we’ve been really lucky to have their expertise.’’

Grant was part of the Steel team which made the semi-finals in the first two years of the former trans-Tasman competition (2008 and 09). Since moving to the Pulse, it has proved a long time between drinks but there are no regrets.

Despite the lack of success, Grant has turned down offers to move elsewhere, becoming the face of the Pulse in recent years and happy that she has stuck around.

``I’ve remained with the Pulse because I’m a local now, I love this place, I love the people and I’ve always known the Pulse’s desire to give of their best but the results haven’t always shown on the netball court, so it is really nice to see us finally make it with a home elimination final,’’ she said.

``That’s the best part about making the play-offs, is that we’re at home and our fans, who have been so loyal to us for so many years, have a chance to actually come and watch an elimination final and hopefully see us do really well.’’

The Mystics unexpected loss to the Mainland Tactix in the last round of the regular season, which put their Finals Series hopes in jeopardy, has probably not done the Pulse any favours.

``Mystics will be firing,’’ was Grant’s quick assessment. ``They’ll be wanting to prove a point and show what they’re really made of. We have to stop them in their tracks, just play our game and do what we know how to do well, and that’s playing with flair and freedom.’’

It will be important for the Pulse to get into the contest early, with sharp shooters Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes in the opposition, they’re not the sort of team you want to be playing catch-up against.

The Pulse were well-beaten, by 11 goals, the last time the pair met and Grant is hopeful they have learnt their lesson.

``We were guilty of not starting with a huge amount of intensity. We were not happy with that game, didn’t play well and know we can do a lot better, so that was a learning curve,’’ she said.

``Now we have the opportunity to make amends and ultimately go away with a win from an elimination final at home.’’


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