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Tuivaiti steps up to tackle familiar foes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/06/2017 Cathy Walshe

Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt - in Central Pulse shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti's case, it's produced a healthy dose of respect.

A foundation member of the Northern Mystics since 2008, the 30-year-old made a difficult decision to leave the Auckland-based club this season for a complete change of scene in Wellington.

The leap into the unknown has invigorated her game, her calmness under pressure playing a huge part in the Pulse's impressive national netball premiership run.

After edging the Mystics 59-52 in Sunday's sudden-death play-off, the Pulse now travel to Invercargill to meet the unbeaten Southern Steel in the grand final on Wednesday.

Tuivaiti admits it's been difficult lining up against her former teammates this year, particularly in Sunday's elimination final in Wellington.

"It tugged on the heartstrings, knowing that only one of us could get through," she told NZ Newswire.

"It was a little bit emotional for me - nobody really understands what it's like to essentially play netball against your old family."

The Pulse had to work hard for the win after the Mystics jumped out to a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But they patiently narrowed the gap to 30-28 at half-time, hit the front 45-44 at the three-quarter mark then took out the final 15 minutes 14-8 to secure the win.

The Pulse had racked up two narrow early season wins over the Mystics, but the northerners ran away with an emphatic 64-53 victory in their most recent game last month.

That loss certainly left the Pulse - and the fiercely competitive Tuivaiti - fired up for Sunday's elimination final.

She took on a huge workload out of the circle, guided 16-year-old goal attack Tiana Metuarau impeccably, and still managed to shoot with 95 per cent accuracy in missing just two of her 37 shots on goal.

The Pulse's patience in working around a gritty full-court Mystics defence gave Tuivaiti immense satisfaction.

"They really brought it to us - it was really hard to get the ball through, and when the ball got in, it was really hard to take a shot.

"I'm over the moon - that was a tough-fought battle but that's the nature of the beast, that's semi-finals netball," she said.

"There was no tomorrow for the loser and I didn't want to be the loser."

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