Hoping to have shed the rustiness, Central will be looking to add the polish in their second-round Beko Netball League clash against Waikato Bay of Plenty in Hamilton on Sunday.

The defending champions suffered their first defeat in over a year when losing by three goals to an experienced Mainland in a topsy-turvy opening round clash and are keen to get back to the winner’s circle.

``That was always going to be a challenging match first-up for us but I think it was a good starter to highlight how tough this competition really is and also just how close it can be across all the teams,’’ Central coach Pelesa Semu said.

``We have quite a new team and the players now have a good understanding of what to expect and they found that the intensity at this level was a massive step up. And that’s just the reaction we wanted. Having a game like that first-up was really beneficial for us.’’

Following the debrief, the players have taken full responsibility in letting the match slip from their grasp after Mainland recovered from a five-goal deficit after the first quarter, with rustiness and inexperience playing a part. Too many fundamental errors in terms of decision-making and execution led to Central’s first-up loss but Semu is confident some minor tweaking is all that is required to right the ship.

``To their credit, the positivity around the whole team has been great,’’ she said. ``At training this week, there’s been a real air of excitement and the energy levels have been high. It was the little things that let us down, mainly around our decision-making and our ball placement, so we’ve been working hard on tidying that up.

``The little things cost us in a match which had high turnovers both ways and we didn’t make the most of our opportunities. There is plenty to be encouraged about and a lot of good things came out of the game.’’

Having chalked up a win over Waikato Bay of Plenty during the pre-season and doing due diligence with their analysis, Central know what to expect. And they can expect an upbeat opponent who posted a promising eight-goal win over South in their season-opener.

``Like most of the other teams, Waikato Bay of Plenty have a mix of young players and some experienced campaigners, so we have prepared as thoroughly as possible this week ahead of the clash,’’ Semu said

``For us, it’s about just tidying up the little things….the consistency, the accuracy, ironing out the little errors and remaining positive about what we’re doing.

``The team are pleased to have the first game out of the way and now they know what to expect around their own preparation and what they need to do better. We’re just looking forward to getting back out there.’’