Dipping out in the deep south, Central Manawa are now banking on a change in fortune at the opposite end of the country against the Northern Comets in Beko Netball League action in Auckland on Sunday.
Defending champions Manawa suffered a tight 45-42 loss, their first of the season, to a well-drilled Southern Blast in Invercargill last weekend and are keen to right the ship before heading into their bye round.
Manawa have a tenuous hold on pole position on the points table with just a solitary point separating them from the Blast and Waikato Bay of Plenty teams, who both have a game in hand.
``Coming up to our bye week, the plan was to have four wins from four outings so we could go into the bye with plenty of confidence. That hasn’t happened but we were still pretty happy to come away from Invercargill with a (bonus) point,’’ Manawa coach Pelesa Semu said.
``Coming into the Comets game is a great opportunity for the girls just to take a breath and refocus.’’
Against the Blast it was the first time this season that Manawa did not have any of their eligible Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse players on hand but overall Semu was heartened by the attitude of the less experienced brigade, the resulting situation all being part and parcel of their growth and learning.
``I was pleased because even though we didn’t have any Pulse players, we still stayed quite close to them and it was basically our own errors that let us down,’’ she said. ``We just threw away too much ball, that’s a learning curve, and now we need to tidy that up for this week.’’
A strong defensive effort kept Manawa well in the contest but a rash of untimely turnovers proved costly.
``We had our chances but to South’s credit, they put us under a lot of pressure and we struggled with the physicality and the pressure that comes with that,’’ Semu said. ``So, that’s been a real focus this week around that and how we can make better decisions when we’re put under pressure.
``Our defence was one of the highlights and I was really pleased about that. There was a big improvement from everyone in that regard, not just our circle defenders but also our outside defence.
``There’s just some connections that need to be better, including our ball placement and possession which were telling points in the loss.’’
Manawa had a comfortable 20-goal win over the Comets in the opening round, so have a familiarity of what they’re up against but showing improvement in their own game remains the key focus.
``It’s all about the team and we’ve been working really hard just around ourselves and what we can do better in terms of our connections with each other, improving our communication and holding each other accountable as we head into this weekend,’’ Semu said.