ANZ Premiership preview: Steel v Pulse
Five reasons why the Southern Steel can win tomorrow’s ANZ Premiership final.
Pride: The two teams have met three times this season, with the Pulse leading the series 2-1. The Ascot Park Hotel Steel won the last game between the two teams, a 51-47 win in Invercargill in Round 9. The one that will really rankle, however is the 71-40 loss to the Pulse in Porirua in Round 4. That sort of result sticks under the skin of professional athletes.
No home team: Can you imagine the Steel playing a final in Dunedin? No, you can’t, and for good reason. The Pulse have only an average record in Palmerston North, winning six of 10 games. However, they have won their three Premiership games at the venue and history beyond this season counts for little with the Pulse because they have been pretty average for most of their history.
Frew factor: Championship-winning teams are often built on a fairytale narrative and there’s no better fairytale finish than a much-loved veteran going out on a high. It didn’t exactly go to plan for Saints coach Kevin Braswell against the Sharks last weekend, but he isn’t Wendy Frew. The Steel captain will play her 176th and final elite match of netball against the Pulse. Frew played 39 matches for the Southern Sting (2002-2007) and has played 136 for the Southern Steel between 2008 and 2018.
Shoot hot: Steel shooter Jennifer O’Connell has shot 523 goals at an average of 34.9 goals per match the third highest average of the shooters in 2018. Magic shooter Lenize Potgieter shot 39.9 goals per match while Maia Wilson shot 37.8 goals per match.
Finals experience: They say you have to lose one to win one, and the Pulse will certainly be hoping that rings true after being comfortably bested in Invercargill last year. However, that theory is mainly rubbish. The Steel might have had the Jhaniele Fowler-Reid factor in their favour last year, but they also know what it’s like to win on the big stage.
Verdict: The Steel will start the underdog tomorrow afternoon, but so did the Sharks against another team from the capital. There’s a feeling that the Steel haven’t really hit their straps for a consistent period of time this season as they have adapted to life without Fowler-Reid. Now is the time to do it. The Pulse have set the standard this season and deserve to be favourites. They’ve unearthed some great young talent and been pretty consistent, but they are gettable. If the Steel play out of their skin, they are a real chance of sending Frew out a winner.