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Pulse ready to embrace Grand Final opportunity

June 27, 2017
Pulse ready to embrace Grand Final opportunity

Having spent most of the season as underdogs, it’s of little concern to Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse that they are now viewed as rank outsiders for Wednesday’s inaugural ANZ Premiership netball Grand Final.
There were no surprises that the Southern Steel would form half of the Grand Final equation or that they would play hosts at their Invercargill fortress but few would have predicted the Pulse to be their opponents.

There would be fewer still who would give the Pulse a bolter’s chance in the season’s showpiece, the team from the Capital losing all three match-ups during the regular season against the southerners, who had a couple of close shaves but impressed to go through unbeaten.

For Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie it’s a perfectly natural scene-setter.

``There’s nothing in the games that we’ve played against them so far that would indicate that we have the upper hand, so that’s a fair stance,’’ she said. ``But now we have an opportunity to really challenge that.’’

Responding positively to consecutive heavy losses in Rounds 9 and 10 and a rousing come-from-behind win against the Northern Mystics in Sunday’s Elimination Final have helped revitalise the Pulse’s ever-improving credentials.

Their determined ability to work as a team, an impressive outing from veteran shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti in both her general play and volume of shots, and patience with the ball were strong features in the Pulse’s win over the Mystics.

``They were a lot more self-reliant and a lot more self-responsible in their performance during that game and based on that, I feel really good about their ability to put together a strong performance in the Grand Final,’’ McCausland-Durie said.

``And that’s really important for me, regardless of the result. When you get the privileged opportunity to compete in a final, you need to absolutely compete because it’s a spectacle, it’s a reflection of the premiership, you’re there to reflect the work of everybody who has been playing in the competition and therefore there’s a huge responsibility in the performance.

``For us, it’s been about getting more of the good stuff more often. Our good stuff has been speckled with a few blemishes but those have been coming down to where it’s now just small instances and if we can eliminate some of those instances, we’re in with a chance.’’

For most Steel opponents, plenty of thought is applied to plans for nullifying the supply of ball to towering Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. That remains a key element but McCausland-Durie is also stressing the importance of the Pulse making better use of their conversion opportunities.

``We do have to improve our centre pass to score,’’ she said. ``(In terms of performance) you can’t turn a lot around in two days but you can certainly turn attitude around within seconds and it’s about taking that mentality that we have the ability to deny scoring opportunities.

``We’re No 1 in the competition at that and we have the ability when we stay on track to score our own goal (centre pass) and we’re getting better at that part. So, let’s just do what we do well and put the pressure on them to respond.’’

Having faced several must-win situations this season, the coach is confident her team will not be overwhelmed by the occasion, the Pulse experiencing the super-charged atmosphere of a final for the first time in their 10-year history.

``We feel like we have been playing finals for the last five weeks and have tried to bring the same focus, discipline and professionalism as well as a lot of fun and enjoyment to our performance, and the Grand Final will need the same,’’ she said.

``We don’t need to be any different, we need to take the same approach but we just have to be very deliberate. Errors will happen, it’s the nature of the game but how quickly the players transition and respond is going to be key. It’s about a mental and physical alertness….. what the mind thinks, the body will do.’’


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