May 13, 2021
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse have the perfect motivation to reignite their ANZ Premiership netball campaign in a re-match with the Southern Steel in Porirua on Sunday.
All teams will celebrate their history in this weekend’s Heritage Round which doesn’t get any better for the Pulse, who after slipping to back-to-back losses, are seeking to reverse their fortunes in the backyard of their quintessential Porirua girl Whitney Souness.
``We love playing at home and it is Whit’s stadium so hopefully she’ll pack it out,’’ Pulse captain Claire Kersten said of the little playmaker, who is affectionately dubbed the Princess of Porirua in some quarters.
``The Heritage Round is about celebrating a whole range of things. It’s about celebrating the players who have been before us and where we’ve come from. We’ve got a pretty diverse team and always have in terms of our backgrounds, so it’s just all about celebrating that and also our relationship with Te Wānanga o Raukawa.’’
There is plenty riding on the match-up with the Steel after the Pulse unravelled in a horror third quarter against the Mystics in their last outing while the southerners are also coming off a loss.
``From here on in, every match is super important,’’ Kersten said. ``We’ve obviously lost three out of four which is not how we wanted to start our season, so it puts a little bit more pressure on, going forward.
``At the end of the day, you want to win every game and where we’re at now raises the stakes in order to make the play-offs. We’ve still got the belief that we can win games and you have to. It’s not all over by any means.’’
For the Steel clash, there’s a strong emphasis on the team’s centre pass attack and trying to make that area more efficient while developing more stress-free phases of play.
Defensively, the team are aware of the growing connection between the Steel shooters, former Pulse player Tiana Metuarau and England international George Fisher, who were standouts when the teams met two weeks ago.
``If we can stop that early that will certainly help us while also executing what we want to do, particularly from our centre pass attack,’’ Kersten said.
``Consistency is the big thing for us. If we look at all four games we’ve played, there has been good patches in amongst all of them. It hasn’t been 60 minutes of awful netball, so it’s just about trying to put that all together in the one game.’’
The defending champions tag hasn’t piled any extra pressure on the Pulse, a new year and a new team meaning a new set of circumstances.
``You certainly see it written down, you hear it out and about and we’re all aware of it,’’ Kersten said. ``At the beginning of every season every team wants to win, so regardless of what happened last year, you start the following year fresh.
``Sure, we’ve talked about and acknowledged the fact that we’ve won the previous two years and how amazing would it be to win a third but you’ve got to start again and run the whole race again. It doesn’t sit heavily or really bother us.’’
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