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Pulse poised to build on winning platform

Pulse co-captain Kelly Jury will be a key figure in slowing the Mystics shooting end. Photo: PhotoWellington

Mental sharpness as much as on-court physicality is the goal for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse as they prepare to tackle the ANZ Premiership-leading Northern Mystics in Auckland on Saturday.

It's been something of a hit-and-miss season for the Pulse so far, but although they sit fifth on the ladder with three wins and four losses, there's only three points between them and the second-placed Mainland Tactix.

Co-captain Kelly Jury is confident they can narrow that gap with a win over the Mystics, and says last weekend's 58-44 victory over the Northern Stars gave plenty of encouragement that they're on the right track.

"It was a great confidence builder, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time, in terms of building our trust with each other and also in terms of putting our names in the hat for the top three spots and the finals series," she said.

"That was a crucial win for us."

The most satisfying aspect of the win was being able to deliver a full 60-minute performance, Jury added. The win was set up by a dominant second quarter, but the Pulse were able to maintain control right until the final whistle.

"We've been playing some great netball all year, it's just that there's been some little mind lapses that we've had that have let the game run away when we've had those leads," she said.

It's been little more than a week since the Pulse last met the Mystics at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua, and the memory of that 51-56 loss still lingers. The Pulse had constructed a solid five-goal lead by the main break, but stumbled and were outscored 32-22 in the second half.

"We played some of our best netball in that first half, so knowing we've got that under our belt means that we do know how to put them under pressure," Jury said.

"It's just putting it out there for a full 60 minutes."  

The Mystics' loss followed a single-goal defeat to the Waikato-Bay Plenty Magic just two days earlier in a tough fifth-round double-header - back-to-back defeats which have spurred the Pulse to work even harder.

"Those couple of losses were really heart-breaking for all of us, and they hurt. But from those losses you learn a lot.

"If we do lose ball - and that's inevitable, you're going to make mistakes - it's about how you're going to deal with those mistakes. It's that what-next mentality of just being able to drop it and get on to the next job," Jury said.

"We don't want to disappoint each other - no-one goes out there to make a mistake, but it's about how we deal with the consequences."

The Mystics have suffered just one loss this season, defeated 56-57 by the Magic in Round 3. They boast some impressive midcourt firepower - led by wing attack Peta Toeava - and a formidable shooting circle, where Jury will measure up against Silver Ferns teammate Grace Nweke, who has shot at 94 percent this season.

Jury said the Pulse will be working overtime to disrupt the supply of ball before it gets to the circle edge, but also need to watch out for any long-range launches into Nweke.

"They're a great side and when they get their tails up, they're hard to stop, especially with Peta and Grace down their attack end - they're class players.

"Being able to get the ball before it gets to the circle would be ideal, because once they've got it there, it's pretty hard to get your hands on it. 

"So, it's just putting that full through-court pressure on them. It's pretty hard to stop when they've got their eye in from those long-range bombs - they really get their confidence up. We need to be able to deny them that option, and force them to work really hard to get the ball to circle edge."

In a quick turnaround, the Pulse will be back at action on Monday to complete their double-header weekend, against the Steel in Wellington.



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