More challenges for Pulse against improving Magic
April 18, 2019
On everyone’s hit list, table-toppers Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse remain focused on not letting their guard down as the ANZ Premiership netball competition grows in intensity heading towards the business end of the season.
Four days after repelling a spirited challenge from a rejuvenated Northern Mystics, the Pulse come up against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, another team on the improve, in Wellington on Sunday.
Through trial and error, many teams have now found their feet, mirroring a rise in performance levels and with it the opportunity to make a late dash. For some, the race is still on for a top three play-offs spot while for others, they could play influential roles as spoilers.
``I think all teams have improved and you would expect that at this stage where we’re just closing in on the end of round two (in the head-to-heads),’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.
``The Magic have mixed their (playing) lines up and they’ve got some points of difference. We’ve had a wee look at what they do and will do further analysis work ahead of Sunday.’’
Through the impressive exploits of Casey Kopua and Kelly Jury, the Magic have been defensively strong all season and are now beginning to show improved accuracy and finishing on attack as they hit their straps.
Having predominantly stuck with seven frontline players this season, the Pulse showcased their depth of talent when teenaged shooter Tiana Metuarau made a seamless entry against the Mystics after Ameliaranne Ekenasio was forced from the court during the second quarter with an ankle injury.
Coming into a tense situation, a completely unfazed Metuarau went on to play a key role in a match which provided no let-up, a healthy sign for the Pulse in regards to what they can expect in the coming rounds.
``Getting Tiana into the match, a young player who hasn’t been on the court a huge amount, and who really stepped up, was a real positive,’’ McCausland-Durie said. ``It is helping grow our depth and the team just settled with it really quickly which was very pleasing.
``It was a really good challenge from the Mystics. They’ve got a lot of variation and difference, play more of a man-on game and there were some really good physical challenges. I was pleased with our players, it was great to see Tiana run out, and great to see people keep their composure.’’
Retaining a consistent seven throughout the season has helped the Pulse build a strong foundation of which the benefits are now showing, other teams having taken longer to find a settled core.
``We believe that continuity really helps build and when you’ve got continuity, you can then inject players into a system who just get to add value and concentrate on their own job,’’ McCausland-Durie said.
``We’re also really aware, that to get accurate decision-making and that ability to keep building requires continuity and that is within the line where there’s still internal competition and players know that they’re still playing for positions.’’
The coach pin-pointed the inability to get any ascendancy on attack against the Mystics as a work-on for Sunday’s game.
``We didn’t really drive down to the deep stuff as hard as we normally do and I think that held us up on attack. The way they played the game meant there were a lot of penalty calls throughout and that changed momentum hugely, so you’ve just got to recognise what is happening and settle in on it.’’
Ekenasio is expected to be available for selection against the Magic.