Last night's match between Pulse and Steel was a close-fought battle resulting in Pulse's victory by three goals (59-56). The Steel played with effective connections and teamwork, feeding the ball efficiently to their shooter Jhaniele Fowler, who at 1.98 metres tall proved an excellent target. The Pulse, however, seemed to lose connections and teamwork displayed in previous matches in their first half.
At the break, and into the second half, the score continued to rise for Steel, who displayed excellent defence and composure. The Pulse insertion of Joline Henry into the game initially failed to impede the rate of Steel goals scored. However, the Pulse did settle after a timely time out, and with Henry's court presence seemed to gain confidence, and find good connections with each other. Henry is very competent, but the Pulse must retain confidence in each and every player on court. They were playing as individuals, and failing to treasure ball and opportunities provided by their defence. Throwing 'bombs' and hoping is not sound technique. There didn't seem to be the same team belief in each other that the last games have reflected. A Pulse supporter sitting alongside me who desperately wanted a Pulse win, reached a stage where she didn't want to look. As the seconds ticked down in the last two minutes, she gained the courage to look and enjoy.
Two players gave great hope though: Te Huinga Selby-Ricket on defence at one end of court and the catching and shooting of Caitlin Thwaites at the other (89%) helped by the indomitable Donna Wilkins (93%). Selby-Ricket is in great form, with timely interceptions at crucial stages. Camilla Lees also showed vision and precise ball skills. Errors are still too common, but the Pulse additions to score in the last quarter reflected greater team belief and composure.
So things came together in the end for the Pulse. The unfortunate Steel were classy opponents, but their sound preparation and teamwork await recognition on another day. Theirs was an impressive whole-team effort, with close defensive marking especially in the first half. Jodi Brown at goal attack is forging an excellent combination with Fowler (both 90%), while Sulu Tone-Fitzpatrick and Rachel Rasmussen defended competently. Centre Phillipa Finch had a great game undeterred by an accidental elbow to the eye.