Belief key for Northern Marvels
Northern Marvels coach Ripeka Pirie wants to see her charges achieve a “complete” game before the Beko Netball League comes to a close.
She has seen glimpses this year but believes a full 60 minute performance will help her side push beyond a number of narrow defeats they have suffered.
They head south this weekend to Nelson where they meet a Heller’s Mainland team which sits second on the Beko Netball League ladder.
It might seem an insurmountable task for the Marvels, which is second last on the table, but they showed last week – when they lost by just three goals to third-placed Waikato-BOP – that they mean business and have the ability to upset the rankings in the last three weeks of the regular season.
In fact it is only a couple of blow-out score-lines to the defending champion Central side which have really put a blemish on their record.
They opened their season with a draw against the Northern Comets followed by a win and from there a number of narrow defeats.
Pirie said the belief within the squad that they could close out tight matches was still missing.
“I think it’s just their total belief that we can actually win these games,” she said. “I’ve really seen some moments of brilliance but we need to be able to draw on that belief that we can win.”
Pirie, who was assistant coach to Paula Smith last season, said it had been a steep learning curve for much of the squad which was experiencing its first taste of the pre-elite environment.
The former Norther Harbour representative believes her team is still learning how to be honest with each other.
“It’s about being tough with each other, honest, but not aggressive,” she said. “They need to be accountable for happens on court and be able to move on.
“I do think that comes with experience and that’s what this Beko Netball League is for. It is such a big learning curve.”
As a coach, she has been pleased to see the progress from a number of squad members including former SKYCITY Mystics mid-courter Nadia Loveday who is returning to the game after a lengthy injury break.
There have been others who continue to improve on fitness goals or master new ball skills which have not gone unnoticed.
“We’ve had players on the radar with the Mystics asking them to sit on the bench, so that is rewarding as a coach,” Pirie said.
They will need to be at their best against an experienced Mainland team at Trafalgar Centre on Sunday, a team they lost to by just two goals in Round 3.
“They are a side that just go, go, go,” Pirie said. “They’ve got the flair in (Gemma) Hazeldine and are just a fast, fit team.”
The match will be key for the hosts as they aim to stay in the running for a top two spot and a place in July’s grand final.
Central and Waikato-BOP are the other two teams in the run for a finals berth with just two points separating the top three teams. The table-topping Central are set to host South on Sunday while the Northern Comets travel to Hamilton to play Waikato-BOP.