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Commentator’s Call: Scene set for final showdown

Commentator’s Call: Scene set for final showdown

It’s a line that’s been used a bit this year - Go Hard and Go Early. It’s perhaps apt that in these COVID-19 laced times, whichever side does this in Sunday’s ANZ Premiership Grand Final will take home the trophy, writes Sky Sport commentator Jenny Woods.

There’s no doubting the two best teams will line up against each other in Invercargill. They’ve both beaten every other side, and are well clear of the next best Mystics on the ladder. The Pulse and the Tactix have met three times over the season, resulting in two wins to the defending champions and one to the Mainlanders.

The first clash was in the opening game of the season, way back in March. That round of course involved 60 minute games and ended up in a 53-41 win to the Pulse, after a swarming 31-19 second half.

The next time they met was months later in mid-July when the Pulse got home in a 48-minute one goal thriller 33-32 at the Auckland Netball Centre. There was plenty of post-match argument over whether a last gasp goal from Te Paea Selby-Rickit should have been counted. It wasn’t, and so the Pulse got home again, but the Tactix’ statement had been made.

By Round 9, the ANZ Premiership was starting to look remotely normal, with teams once again playing around the country. The Tactix pulled off a punishing double act, beating the Mystics by one goal on the Sunday before picking off the Pulse 39-32 in Wellington the next day, cementing their place in the final. That means both sides know they can beat the other.

However there’s no question the Tactix come into this final as underdogs. It has to be mentioned the home side in that Round 9 game was without regular starters Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Maddy Gordon.

The stats for the season are revealing. The Pulse have a superior attacking record, defensive record, and shooting accuracy. And then there are the emotional factors - it’s Pulse coach Yvette McCausland Durie’s last game at the helm, and captain Katrina Rore’s 150th outing for the Pulse.

But the Tactix are a side that’s grown throughout the year. Selby-Rickit has provided the final piece needed to lock in that Tactix shooting end. She’s formed a tidy combo with Ellie Bird, who says her addition has taken a lot of pressure off her shoulders.

Pressure is one thing there’ll be no shortage of on Sunday night, and it’s good to know extra time will be available if needed.