A congested points table has added spice to the rematch between Central and Waikato Bay of Plenty in Beko Netball League action in Wellington on Sunday.
After a slow start to the season, including a four-goal loss to the same opponents four weeks ago, Central have worked their way up to second spot ahead of a defining match against the competition pace-setters.
At the midway mark of the season, the race for points will only heighten in the closing five rounds as a number of teams remain in with a chance to seal a spot in the top two to contest the grand final. Currently there is a spread of just three points across the top four teams.
``We started very slow in the campaign and now we’ve got a bit of a flow-on,’’ Central coach Pelesa Semu said. ``The focus has just been on working hard and getting the little things right. We’re really pleased to be second on the table at this stage of the season.
``We weren’t happy when we lost to them first time around because we had a lot of opportunities to take that game. But there was plenty of key learnings and we’re looking forward to playing them again this weekend.’’
Central head into the match on the back of three successive wins without giving up any bonus points. Just as crucially, the team from the Capital managed to secure two bonus points in their opening two losses which could prove handy in the run to the finish line.
In their last couple of games, Central have deflected evenly-contested first halves by unleashing a decisive second 30 minutes of play for match-winning results. Now Semu is now looking for the complete package.
Shooters Jermaine Howard-Vallance and youngster Saviour Tui have proved a handful for all opponents and once in possession are reliable finishers.
``It has been great for us doing really well in the second half of games but the challenge for us is about starting well and finishing strongly,’’ Semu said.
``We’ve been just a little bit inconsistent in what we’re doing, so it’s all about putting that complete performance together.
``Because we’re such a young team, a lot of this stuff is really new for these players, like being inserted into high pressure situations. So, it really boils down to what their preparation is like leading up to the match.’’
``Coming up against Waikato Bay of Plenty, it’s more about we can do and what we need to do better. We’ve been focusing around our possession and just making good decisions on attack because we’ve got capable shooters who are able to put the ball away.
``They have a very good attack end, so we also need to work hard defensively to slow and disrupt their flow.’’
Pulse midcourt players Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Renee Savai’inaea are expected to be involved at some stage of the game, adding strength to the Central cause.