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The Southern Steel have come up agonisingly short in Invercargill tonight, losing 44-43 to the Central Pulse.
With the score all tied up with 30 seconds to go, the Steel held on to the ball and tried to work it around.
But that allowed the Pulse to have a sniff, cause the turnover and shift it quickly to score and steal the game.
It was a gutting end to a game that was the Steels for the taking - but do not let the score take away from its best performance this year.
The Steel were tenacious on defensive, first to loose balls and forced the Pulse in to uncharacteristic mistakes.
Everyone stepped up across the court for the Steel, playing with width and length down the court, and players were fired up, putting their bodies on the line.
There were less of the panicked mistakes, more care on the ball and the inexperienced players showed a maturity beyond their years.
Kate Heffernan was instrumental in the middle, snaffling intercepts and directing play on attack.
Malawi International Joyce Mvula replaced her, but that did not phase Burley, pushing the shooter high and picking up regular gains.
Her counterpart Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit played her part in shutting down Tiana Metuarau’s court craft.
Their work was converted at the other end of the court and the Steel led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
The Pulse were flat across the court and the much shorter Steel shooter Saviour Tui managed to keep Kelly Jury quiet by her standards.
Tui, who was sensational under the post, created better space and found herself alone under the post several times for an easy shot.
Sam Winders was dominant at wing defence and limited Whitney Souness’s feeds and centre pass receives.
She pinched the ball on the circle edge from feed and the Steels flowed through court to convert.
The Steel’s defensive disrupted the Pulse, resulting in the visitors having 16 losses at the half time.
The home side consolidated on the Pulse’s mistakes and led 22-17 at halftime.
It was the best half of netball the Steel has produced and its largest lead all season.
The Pulse came out of the break strong, with Walmsley re-entering the game and Parris Mason injected at goal defence.
The visitors closed the gap to three but the Steel refused to lay down dying.
It continued to confuse the space, making it hard to find entry into to the Pulse circle.
At the other end, Renee Savai’inaea had her best game at wing attack, driving hard, hitting circle edge and calm on the feed.
But the Pulse chipped away, with Souness coming into play more, and levelled the game 32-32 at the end of the third.
It was heart in the throat stuff for much of the last quarter, running goal for goal, until the the Pulse’s experience brought it home.