Pulse bounce back to dispel Magic

AFTER going down in a six-goal loss to the Northern Mystics on Saturday, Central Pulse bounced back with an eye-opening 16-goal triumph (57-41) over Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic yesterday. The 2022 ANZ Premiership clash saw the Pulse blow the Magic out of the water in the first half to race off to a 12-goal lead at half-time, and though the Magic managed to reduce the deficit somewhat in the third term, were again put to the sword in the last by a superb defensive effort from the Pulse.

The match marked the return of Silver Ferns star and former captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio in her new Magic colours, as she played the one quarter. In an international shooting circle, Ekenasio and Bailey Mes combined for nine goals from 10 attempts, but had limited opportunities. The Pulse controlled the midcourt, with Whitney Souness picking up seven goal assists from 10 feeds as well as an intercept, whilst Tiana Metuarau set up seven goals and shot two herself. Unfortunately it was a forgettable start for wing attack Georgie Edgecombe who had four turnovers in the first nine minutes before being subbed out for Hayley Saunders.

Saunders came on at wing defence with just under six minutes remaining, with Claire Kersten moved up to centre and Samantha Winders slotting into wing attack. The moves came after the Magic fell a whopping nine goals down (3-12), and though they did seem to even up the contest after that, the Pulse were now in control having won the term 19-9. Pulse pair Paris Lokotui and Jazz Scott kept rotating through the wing defence bib, whilst Ivana Rowland replaced Ekenasio for the start of the second term. At one stage, the lead blew out to a massive 17-goal advantage as the shooting circle of Aliyah Dunn and Metuarau was on fire. With five of the last seven – including a buzzer-beater from Rowland – the Magic headed into half-time with a 12-goal deficit, 22-34.

Dunn had shot 28 goals from 31 attempts in the first half, while Metuarau was six from eight. Ex-GIANT Kristiana Manu’a had recovered well from an injury that saw her leave the court early against the Mystics the day before, and was looking impressive in goal defence. The Pulse kept rotating players with the big lead, as Ainsleyana Puleiata got a chance on at wing attack, before subbing back out midway through the quarter for the player she replaced in Souness. At one point, the Magic had cut the deficit to just eight goals – and actually won the quarters 12-10 – but still faced a 10-goal deficit at the final break.

The final term was more of a formality once the Pulse were able to get going, as the Magic could not bring the deficit to below nine goals. At the end of the term, they only scored one goal in the final five minutes – as the Pulse piled on five goals in that time – and the home team ran away with the 16-goal win. Amelia Walmsley and Renee Matoe formed a new-look shooting combination for the Pulse in those final few minutes, with Parris Mason replacing Manu’a and Puleiata slotting into centre for Erikana Pedersen. Rowland also made way midway through the term, with Martina Reekers coming on at goal shooter for the Magic.

Dunn shot 41 goals from 45 attempts, whilst it was her partner-in-crime Metuarau who picked up the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Coached by her mother – Waimarama Taumaunu – who stepped in for regular coach Yvette McCausland-Durie who tested positive for COVID-19 during the week, the goal attack managed 14 goals from 16 attempts, as well as 100 per cent efficiency from her feeds, with 14 goal assists. Souness (20 goal assists from 26 feeds) and Kelly Jury (three intercepts, one rebound), worked har, whilst Manu’a also picked up the two intercepts, as well as a rebound.

Mes shot 19 goals from 24 attempts for the Magic, as well as providing eight goal assists from 12 feeds. Rowland picked up 15 from 18 and four goal assists, whilst Ekenasio shot the five from six. winders (13 goal assists from 30 feeds) and Georgia Tong (two intercepts) were also among the better Magic players.

Central Pulse travel to The Trusts Arena in Auckland to play the Northern Mystics next Sunday afternoon, whilst the Wakaito Bay of Plenty Magic hosts Mainland Tactix on Monday night at Trustpower Arena in Tauranga.

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