Netball: Central Pulse rue missed opportunities against Southern Steel in final

Central Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie is ruing missing opportunities, after a crushing defeat to the Southern Steel in netball's ANZ Premiership final.

The Pulse led by as many as 11 during the second quarter and appeared to have the game won, when they held a commanding six-goal advantage with less than four minutes to play.

But they crumbled under pressure, and the Steel rallied home to defend their title 54-53 and send retiring captain Wendy Frew out a champion.

"It's incredibly disappointing, but that's sport," McCausland-Durie said, after the match. "You turn up and get given half the ball at the centre pass, and we didn't make the most of the last ones.

"The group has worked hard, and we had some excellent opportunities throughout the match, but we knew the Steel can close out games, so all we can say is well done to them.

"I'm incredibly proud of the group for all the time and effort they put in. They're hurting, but the sun will come up tomorrow, and we build again."  

McCausland-Durie admitted that the pressure definitely got to the players late in the game.  

Leading 53-47, the Pulse thought they had their maiden title in the bag, but Steel shooter Jen O'Connell landed six-straight goals and Te Paea Selby-Rickit nailed the match-winner with less 30 seconds left on the clock.

Southern Steel celebrate defending their title.
Southern Steel celebrate defending their title. Photo credit: Photosport

Pulse shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio had a chance to level the score at the death and send the match into extra time, but her attempt missed.

"We got tense and we often held the ball for too long, and we didn't play with the length and depth we'd been playing with.

"When it's so close and you want it so bad, you almost hold onto it for too long, and we ended up getting a held ball, which is incredible, because we haven’t had one all year.

"They're all taking responsibility for their performance, and they're certainly feeling it."  

Steel coach Reinga Bloxham said her team’s experience heads and ability to remain calm under pressure got them over the line.

"Coming from behind is a scenario we've practiced before," she said.

"The other thing is that we've got some experienced heads, who have been in this situation before and that belief what we knew exactly what to do.

"We knew we just needed to get one turnover, because one can turn into three goals, so we knew if we could get one ball and try to get something.

"We had to create an opportunity, and we executed that."