Catastrophic final quarter fatal for Steel

The Pulse was perfect.

And the Steel was pretty good, well, for three quarters at least. But that last 12 minutes was catastrophic for the southern side.

The Steel managed just five goals and was powerless to stop the Pulse posting the opening nine goals in the period and blowing through to a 47-40 win in Auckland on Saturday evening.

The Steel had led 35-33 but could not hold on to the advantage for long and even let the bonus point slip away.

Steel co-captain Gina Crampton laid the blame on herself.

‘‘I had three shocking errors in a row at the start of that quarter,’’ she told the Sky Sport commentary team.

‘‘Definitely, personal errors were really disappointing but we wanted to be better than we were last week and we definitely were. We had a really good three quarters, so happy with that.’’

The Steel can take heart from the quality of the performance it drew from the Pulse. Shooters Aliyah Dunn (22 from 22) and Ameliaranne Ekenasio (25 from 25) never missed.

It was a flawless display in the shooting circle from the defending champion.

The Steel made the worst start, pinged for a held ball from the opening centre pass.

It gifted the Pulse a couple more turnovers as well. Some hasty passes sailed past their intended targets and the Steel found itself trailing 12-6 with most of the first quarter gone.

But the side rallied. Shannon Saunders came up with a crucial poach, and some rapid late scoring closed the gap to three at the break.

The Pulse kept up the defensive pressure in the second spell and forced and early turnover in the circle. Goal keep Kelly Jury got in front of her opponent to make a deflection.

The Pulse was not missing shots, either. But the Steel forced a series of errors and went on the seven-goal run to take the lead.

Crampton speared in some cracking passes and Jen O’Connell (27/32) was doing a tremendous job in the shooting circle.

Some high quality netball was played during the third quarter by both sides. Just the odd sneaky little hand here and crafty deflection there separated the teams.

Kate Heffernan used her long limbs to secure an early turnover for the Steel, and veteran defender Te Huinga Selby-Rickit leaned on all her experience to get herself into a position to make small differences.

But the slim two-goal margin was erased within about minute.

The Pulse emerged from the break with more energy. The pressure shifted to the Steel and it floundered.

The Pulse added nine goals before the Steel responded. By then it was too late.

The Central Pulse yesterday thrashed the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic 51-30.


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