It's make or break time for the Central Pulse this weekend with their playoff hopes on the line in the final round of the trans-Tasman netball championship's regular season.
In a faltering season and clinging to a tenuous lifeline, the solution is clear-cut for the Pulse who are on a mission to seal the third and final spot in the New Zealand Conference.
The Pulse must beat the Thunderbirds in Adelaide on Sunday and hope the Queensland Firebirds overcome the Southern Steel in the following match in Brisbane.
On equal points going into the final round of the regular season, the Steel hold the edge over the Pulse courtesy of a superior shooting percentage.
It is a daunting challenge for the Pulse who will be required to win in Australia for the first time against an emotionally fired up Thunderbirds.
While out of the Australian Conference Finals contention, the Thunderbirds will be primed to farewell popular long-serving coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson and loyal midcourter Leigh Waddington, in their final appearances.
Coach Robyn Broughton - who ends her tenure with the Pulse at the end of this season could also be facing her final outing in the league - is at a loss to explain the Pulse's failings in posting just three wins and two draws after 13 rounds in a season which had promised so much but retains the belief that her side can rise to the occasion this weekend.
"We've got five Silver Ferns in there, so yes I do expect them to do it. The expectation is there and they put pressure on themselves to do it….maybe there's too much pressure," she said.
"We're very disappointed in our result from last week (five-goal loss to Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic) and cross with ourselves."
"I've got great belief and find it hard to believe that we're not winning because they work hard and do that side of things very well. But we just fritter possession away…..when we've got the ball in hand, we should never give it back."
"That's always been big in my world of netball but we just seem to lose our connections and we have probably struggled a bit in our shooting end. We have to get that understanding and movement in the shooting end right for this weekend."
The Pulse have struggled to close out games this season, losing several by narrow margins, the importance of taking all their chances against the Thunders paramount.
"It's a situation where we have to leave everything we've got out on the court," Broughton said.
"At times, it's like we're trying too hard and as their coach I really feel for them. It's not like we don't want it, it's more like what are we doing to ourselves. It's not the opposition, it's us, so I think it's the responsibility of all of us just to pick it up and grab this opportunity."