Commentator’s Call: Stars overcome odds to reach Grand Final
Imagine the pandemonium in the McCausland-Durie household. Just when plans were being finalised on how the Pulse could take down the Steel in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final, the upstarts from South Auckland did the job for them.
The Stars beat the Steel 56-53 in Wednesday night’s Elimination Final in what has to be the biggest upset in the competition’s history.
There are so many reasons this result was unlikely. The Steel had beaten the Stars 63-46 a week earlier, they’d just had three of their players named in the Silver Ferns, and were playing on an Invercargill court they hadn’t lost on in years.
With the Steel leading 30-27 at halftime, many thought the southerners would sooner or later run away with the game. That didn’t happen.
It has to be asked how much impact the decision to bench GS Lenize Potgieter late in the third quarter, had on the outcome. At that point the Steel were in front 39-38, when she returned almost five minutes into the final quarter, the Stars were ahead 48-42. Damage done.
Steel coach Reinga Bloxham believes the substitution was the right move as her feeders were having trouble finding Potgieter, but acknowledges they took too much time to adapt.
And speaking of adapting, the Pulse must now change their whole game plan ahead of Monday’s big match. McCausland-Durie and co. would have been expecting the “old foe” from the deep south, rather than the new kids from the other direction.
The Pulse have beaten the Stars three times this season - the latest a 26-goal drubbing in Round 12.
But their own form has been found wanting in recent times, with their last game a 60-54 loss to the bottom-placed Mystics.
There’s no doubt the Pulse go into Monday’s Grand Final as favourites. But having seen what happened in Invercargill they’ll be leaving any complacency on the side of the Porirua court.
Stars coach Kiri Wills said at the beginning of the season if they make the Finals Series, the rest will take care of itself.
As well, it gives two all time greats of the game Temepara Bailey and Leana de Bruin another moment in the sun.