April 29, 2021
Back in the winner’s circle, there will be a change in mindset when Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse take on a fresh-faced Southern Steel in ANZ Premiership netball action in Invercargill on Sunday.
After a bonus-point first round loss to the Stars, the defending champions roared back to life when dismantling Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic by 12 goals in a strong showing to right the ship and now their challenge is to push on.
Young and enthusiastic while showing plenty of grit in their opening two games, including a knock-out punch to the well-credentialled Tactix, the Steel are a handful and always a challenge at home.
``They’re a team that play off-marking whereas the Magic do a man-to-man like us, so we need to be a bit smarter about how we get the ball to our circle and that’s been a key focus for us in the build-up,’’ Pulse coach Gail Parata said.
``They’re very talented. The Steel have always been known for holding on to the ball really well and it’s hard to get it off them, so our full-court defensive pressure is also a work-on and making sure we execute it really well because we need to win ball off them.
``How we go against them is very important in the whole scheme of things. Even though we lost to the Stars in the first week, we did lots of good stuff, so we’ve just built into our second week against Magic, and with a one game at a time mindset, the Steel’s our third and it’s more of the same, focus on ourselves and execute everything to the best of our ability.
``If we can get the ball to our shooters safely, they’ll put it away for us.’’
Three key areas of improvement defined the Pulse’s winning impetus against the Magic.
``When we didn’t start well against the Stars, we were playing catch-up and against any team in this league, if you’re playing catch-up, it’s going to be hard to get the lead,’’ Parata said.
``So, our start against Magic was way better and we were also a bit more clinical in getting the ball to our circle but mostly, it was our defensive pressure right throughout the court.
``Every team’s different so we have to think about that when we take them on but the connections now are really starting to look sharper and that’s pleasing.’’
There has been plenty of chat about the physical content produced in all games while the Pulse and Magic finished their clash with 70 penalties apiece but Parata is not overly concerned with that aspect.
There is regular communication with the umpires after games and the feedback is always welcomed and put into practise at training.
``We are playing a man-to-man defence, most of the other teams are playing off-marking defence,’’ Parata said.
``There’s no malice in what we’re trying to do, it’s just about being really competitive in everything that we do. Sometimes people are going to get tangled up in each other, fall over each other but no, I’m not too worried about the penalty count.
``I do want us to keep working hard to put the pressure on to get ball and that’s what we’re always aiming to do, that is the sole intent.
``With the feedback we get, we come into trainings making sure that we have things tidy, so it’s not like we’re brushing off penalties and thinking they’re not important.’’
Media advisory: Just a note to clarify that Claire Kersten is the captain of the Pulse. It has been noted that some media are still referring to Claire as the interim captain when in fact she has been the captain since Ameliaranne Ekenasio went on medical leave several weeks ago.
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Jane Hunt | Media & Communications Manager
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