Central are hoping to consolidate their buffer at the top of the points table when they open Round 5 of the Beko Netball League against the Northern Marvels in Auckland on Saturday.
Now the only unbeaten team in the league, Central have become a prime target for their opponents, the early pace-setters having their winning momentum stalled and allowing a pause for thought over the Easter break.
In full-blown training mode since January, Central coach Natalie Milicich believes the break was timely and the players have returned refreshed and ready to go again.
``When you go through the first few rounds unbeaten, you do get a target on your back, that just comes with the territory,’’ Milicich said. ``But that’s actually a learning in itself to be able to deal with that and be able to maintain that (winning) performance and make sure you don’t get complacent.
``It’s a challenging spot to be in and I think it’s actually good for our girls to have the opportunity to experience that feeling of `now it is about turning up every week and performing’.’’
Now close to the halfway point of the season, Central have taken stock and revisited their progress to date while examining their goals heading forward, both personally and as a team.
They can expect a challenging day at the office against the Marvels, who so far have posted a win and two narrow losses.
The in-form Elle Temu and Northern Mystics training partner Tauhi Lopeti have formed a potent defensive line for the Marvels, their height and playing strength proving a handful for opponents. The Marvels are also expected to include shooter Tera-Maria Amani and midcourter Mererangi Paul in their line-up against Central, the pair being regular members of the Mystics senior team.
``I think they’ve probably learnt from those close losses and with the players they’re bringing in will be out to get us at the weekend, and it will certainly be challenging,’’ Milicich said.
Central have received excellent match-play preparation over the last six weeks, playing their senior team, the Pulse on a weekly basis in a no-holds-barred environment.
That regular contest against their senior peers has proved a priceless commodity, the Central Beko team hoping a repeat dose this week helps them slip seamlessly back into match mode and picking up where they left off 11 days ago in adding the polish ahead of the Marvels clash.