A mountain too high for Pulse
Stop me if you feel like you’ve read this stuff before.
The Southern Steel have done their best American football impression and hurled lots of ball in the direction of goal shoot Jhaniele Fowler-Reid. She’s done the rest and now the Steel are national netball premiership champions, courtesy of their 69-53 grand final win over the Central Pulse in Invercargill.
In wing defence Wendy Frew, goal defence Te Huinga Reo SelbyRickit and goal keep Jane Watson, the Steel have some very good, very clever players. But the start and end of it is those long balls to Fowler-Reid, which her feeders have the luxury of throwing with little fear of an intercept.
To have any hope of upsetting the unbeaten Steel, they had to be perfect with the ball and weren’t. Frew and Selby-Rickit and Watson saw to that.
To the winner the spoils - and all that - but the uncharitable will always say the Steel owe it all to their goal shoot.
Having had no joy against the Steel this year, including a whopping 80-44 defeat a month ago, the Pulse resolved to start fast in the grand final. They had a very early one-goal lead and parity for a time, but 4-4 soon became 6-4 and then 9-5, which was as good as game over.
The Pulse rallied to 10-8 but their ability to get the ball from centre pass to shot wasn’t good enough and they went to quartertime down 18-10.
By halftime the Steel led 35-20. Between them Pulse shooters Cathrine Tuivaiti and Tiana Metuarau had shot a combined 20 from 24. Fowler-Reid had 26/28 all on her own.
The Pulse didn’t give up and ‘‘only’’ lost the third quarter 20-18 and won the fourth 15-14, but the game had become a victory celebration by then.
For the Pulse, second was better than second-last. That’s where many predicted they would finish this year, so getting this far was an achievement in itself.
This was their first appearance in a playoff series and the best is still to come from players such as Claire Kersten, Whitney Souness and Metuarau.
Southern Steel (Jhaniele FowlerReid 56/60, Te Paea Selby-Rickit 13/19) Central Pulse (Tiana Metuarau 27/30, Cathrine Tuivaiti 26/29)