Despite the Central Pulse leading by as much as 11 points in the second quarter, the Southern Steel defended the ANZ Netball Premiership with a single point final score of 54-53.
by LUKE JACKSON
The Pulse were the favourites heading into the game, after toping the tables and beating the Steel 71-40 at the end of May.
The first half confirmed this confidence with a 23-12 lead early in the second quarter.
However, the Steel’s strength never wavered as they chased the Pulse for almost the entire game.
Initially, the Pulse were able to match this tenacity, leading 53-47 with only four minutes left in the last quarter.
Just as the Pulse were about to make franchise history, Steel striker Jen O’Connel, sunk an astonishing six goals in a matter of minutes. Finally, Te Paea Selby delivered the winning shot within the final 30 seconds of the season, for back to back victories.
Steel captain Wendy Frew couldn’t have asked for a better way to end her 16-year elite career. She said it was the highlight of her life, before quickly adding “apart from getting married and having kids”.
Katrina Grant, captain of the Silver Ferns as well as the Pulse, was awarded ANZ Player of the Year. She thanked her teammates, saying, “I’m very fortunate that I play with a group of athletes who make my job so much easier.”
She left the second place speech to Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, who apparently lost her voice. McCausland-Durie was disappointed but still proud, “We struggled in critical moments. But I’m immensely proud of this group. It’s been a huge effort. They’re incredibly young so it can only get better,”
The Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse have come a long way since forming in 2008, where they only won two games in their first three seasons.
Grant, who has been with them from the start, thanked supporters for their loyalty last night, “The Pulse has had so much support during some pretty tough seasons, so to repay that faith has been rewarding for both me and the squad.”