The playoff fate of the Central Pulse rests with the outcome of their last two games in Australia after a tight win over the Northern Mystics.
The Central Pulse set up a classic race for the trans-Tasman netball playoffs with a tense 49-45 win over the Northern Mystics in Palmerston North.
Pulse overcame a 25-24 halftime deficit on Sunday, restricting the visitors to just eight points in the crucial third quarter to lead by five going into the final stanza.
They clung on to eliminate the Mystics from playoff contention, following up their six-point win when the teams met in March.
The introduction at halftime of veteran goal attack Donna Wilkins at goal attack for Paula Griffin and home town favourite Liana Leota at wing attack for Elias Shadrock provided a lift for the hosts.
Captain Katrina Grant also produced a series of spectacular deflections in the second spell to restrict the influence of Mystics shooter Cathrine Latu.
The Mystics’ seventh loss from 11 games leaves them eighth and with no mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs.
However, the Pulse are right in the mix after win number seven, leaving them level with the third-placed Magic, who have a game in hand, and the fourth-placed Queensland Firebirds.
The Pulse meet the Firebirds on the Gold Coast on Saturday in what shapes as a pivotal clash before closing their campaign away to the ninth-placed West Coast Fever.
They will seek similar intensity from Grant, goal defence Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and wing defence Joline Henry.
Veteran goal shoot Irene van Dyk showed glimpses of her best in a 25-from-28 shooting display while Wilkins’ 16-from-16 return was welcome after Griffin struggled early on.
Latu (25/26) and Maria Tutaia (20/24) shot solidly but the Mystics paid for ill-discipline, committing 101 penalties to the home team’s 52.