IT was a remarkable come-from-behind premiership victory for Central Pulse who caught the two northern sides and ended up with the automatic grand final spot. Finishing on top helped, as it gave the Pulse the extra rest, and set the eventual premiers up for a big grand final win. They were red-hot from the first centre pass, dominated the first term, then controlled play across the next three quarters to come away with the 19-goal win. Though offensively they actually were not that strong compared to the rest of the competition, it was the Pulse’s defensive unit that shut down opposition attacks time and time again to concede a measly 48.8 goals per game.
Goals For: 828 (4th)
Goals Against: 732 (1st)
Goal Difference: 96 (1st)
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
In hindsight, everything theoretically as the Pulse came away with the overall title. They won the 10 games, including the last four regular season games to really finish on a high. The dominant grand final victory was symbolic of their performance throughout the year when they were on. The Pulse produced the top scorer in Aliyah Dunn who scored 618 goals from 664 attempts at 93 per cent efficiency, the equal-highest efficiency in the league. She was well supported by captain Tiana Metuarau who finished with 250 from 306 at 82 per cent, while wing attack Whitney Souness ahd 536 feeds to rank fourth overall. With Maddy Gordon returning from injury and easing her way back into it, and the experienced Erikana Pedersen, the midcourt was in safe hands.
But it was defensively where the Pulse shone above the rest, ranking number one for least goals conceded by a long way. It was no surprise to see Silver Fern Kelly Jury leading from the front with 36 rebounds (second), 116 deflections (first) and 46 intercepts (first) to be the most complete defender across the competition. She would have enjoyed teaming up with ex-GIANTS Netball defender Kristiana Manu’a who joined the club this year, with Manu’a having 11 rebounds, 42 deflections and 21 intercepts to rank inside the top 10 in those three measures as well. The pair were outstanding, and able to match up one-on-one against their direct opponent, or zone off and cover the area with Pedersen and Gordon sharing the centre and wing defence bibs.
Realistically not much. If the Pulse had been able to have Gordon fully fit for the whole year, that might have lead to an even bigger season, but they were able to bring in some of their less experienced players – albeit Gordon is still young – to gain valuable court time.
Central Pulse have lost leading scorer Dunn for the 2023 season, but such is their pull, they picked up another player familiar with a yellow dress in Manchester Thunder’s Joyce Mvula. She will provide the same high-volume shooting and presence under the post stepping up to the ANZ Premiership level. If the Pulse keep the majority of their list together, then expect them to be another scary unit for opposition sides in 2023.