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Hands on the ball key for Central

Holding on to the ball in key moments is the main priority for Central in their third-round Beko Netball League clash against South in Invercargill on Sunday.

Following two narrow losses to open their campaign, the defending champions find themselves in the unfamiliar position of sitting just above South at the foot of the points table.

The new-look and inexperienced Central have had their moments in the previous games but retaining the ball, particularly off their own centre pass, has been a problem area.

``They’re building at the moment and for a few of them they are playing their first full games at this level, but it’s providing them with a good foundation to be able to take off for the rest of the season,’’ Central assistant coach Anna Andrews-Tasola said.

``It’s all about being more patient and trusting each other. We’re getting good conversion rates, it’s now a matter of minimising the risk on our own centre pass. That’s where we’ve got a gap that we need to correct really quickly.’’

The value of the Beko Netball League, now into its third season, has continued to serve the purpose for which it was designed, highlighted this year by a more tightly contested competition.

Of the six matches played so far, five have been decided by five goals or less suggesting a more even spread across all the teams.

Central’s opponents have taken a leaf out of their own book by aligning more closely with their ANZ Premiership teams and that is paying dividends. It has also made it harder for the Beko teams to plan accordingly for their opponents.

A string of injuries in a number of the senior teams has meant plenty of reshuffling while providing opportunities for those playing at Beko level.

``All the Beko teams are changing week to week with players being made available for their franchise teams……they’re all working very closely with their franchise teams, so we can’t plan ahead as much because we’re not sure what’s happening in our opponent’s space,’’ Andrews-Tasola said.

``The great thing is that a lot of players are being developed and the game is continuing to grow and get better every year. There’s a lot of talent out there which is very exciting for New Zealand netball and great for the quality of netball being played in the Beko Netball league.

``It means the girls have to learn to adjust really quickly, be more game savvy and adapt to whatever’s happening on the court. That’s just the nature of this competition.’’

As for Central, there’s no lack of belief that their fortunes will turn.

``It’s about performing for a full game,’’ Andrews-Tasola said. ``We’ve got the talent. They’ve worked extremely hard, they’re all fully committed and are driven to do what’s best for the team.

``The girls are executing a lot of set plays really well, it’s just the times when things are not going so well that we need to adjust quickly and at the end of the day hold on to possession.

``They understand it is a tight competition, that we do have a lot of developing players and the experience will help us get better. Trust and possession are the two big ones for us against South.’’