Central Pulse have been too clinical for the Southern Steel, winning their trans-Tasman league match 67-56 in Wellington.
Central Pulse survived another bout of late jitters to beat trans-Tasman netball league rivals Southern Steel 67-56 in Wellington.
The Pulse won each of the first two quarters by four goals to pull 34-26 clear at halftime in Saturday’s opening second-round match.
They were 50-41 clear going into the final stanza before the Steel mounted a furious rearguard, reducing the margin to four goals with seven minutes remaining.
However, the home side held firm, ensuring there was no repeat of their opening-round meltdown when they led the Adelaide Thunderbirds for nearly the whole game before losing 45-44 in the final seconds.
The Steel, who were outclassed 60-44 by the Queensland Firebirds last week, were off the pace through the early stages, making too many loose passes and basic mistakes.
They found their rhythm and upped their defensive intensity as the game wore on but lacked the precision of the Silver Ferns-laden Pulse.
Veteran shooters Irene van Dyk (39/41) and Donna Wilkins (28/29) shot accurately and combined well with midcourt feeders Camilla Lees and Elias Shadrock.
Wilkins, 35, was pivotal not just with her shooting but her control of the attacking end, as well as making some key defensive plays.
“There’s a lot of things we need to work on though; we should have stretched it to 20,” she said.
“When you come up against Australian teams, you have to work that much harder to find space. Against New Zealand teams, we have more time and space so we’ll need to work out how to play the Aussies.”
The feeding to Steel shooters Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (41/44) and Jodi Brown (15/19) was less consistent, with prolific Jamaican international Fowler-Reid marked impressively by Katrina Grant.
Coach Janine Southby shuffled her defensive end over the last two quarters which worked to some degree.
However, she will need more from all parts of the court if the southerners are to be a playoff threat this year.