Pulse control Tactix to keep touch on top spot

A DOMINANT four-quarter performance from second placed Central Pulse against Mainland Tactix has set the Pulse up to challenge the top of the table Northern Mystics for the ANZ Premiership automatic grand final spot. The Pulse are in great form, and they took care of the Tactix, winning all four quarters on their way to a commanding 13-goal victory, 62-49. The defensive effort of Kristiana Manu’a earned her the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the win.

CENTRAL PULSE 14 | 18 | 16 | 14 (62)
MAINLAND TACTIX 12 | 10 | 14 | 13 (49)

Central Pulse edged ever closer to a ANZ Premiership Finals spot, now having a nine-point gap on Southern Steel with the Pulse still having two games to play. It means for the Pulse to drop out of the top three, they would need to drop all their matches and the Steel would need to win their three remaining matches, as well as pick up a bonus point. That does not look like happening though, with the Pulse pulling out a terrific four-quarter effort to knock over the Tactix.

The Pulse took the early lead, scoring 14 goals to 12 off the back of a strong first-up quarter from Whitney Souness (six goal assists) feeding it to Tiana Metuarau (five goals from six attempts, four goal assists), as Aliyah Dunn only shot nine from 12 in her chances. By comparison, Ellie Bird scored nine from 10, as Te Paea Selby-Rickit – fresh off an MVP last game – scored all three of her attempts, and had eight goal assists to her name.

Vika Koloto got her chance late in the second term for the Tactix, coming on for Samon Nathan, whilst Kelera Nawai-Caucau and Kate Lloyd kept rotating to remain fresh on the dangerous Dunn. The towering goal shooter scored 13 goals at 100 per cent efficiency in the second term, with Metuarau also making all five of her attempts, and the Pulse piled on 18 goals to 10 to open up a double-digit lead. Erikana Pedersen (eight goal assists) was getting on top of Kimiora Poi in the centre, whilst Manu’a locked down on Selby-Rickit to limit her opponent to just two goals and five goal assists that quarter.

The trend continued into the second half, as the Pulse maintained their advantage to scored 30 goals to 27. The Tactix kept bringing fresh legs on, with Lily Fletcher even replacing Charlotte Elley late in the third term to try and combat Souness (six goal assists). Dunm was on fire shooting 12 foals from 13 attempts, whilst Manu’a and Kelly Jury were on top of Bird and Selby-Rickit, picking up four combined intercepts in the third term after Manu’a picked up two in quarter two.

Overall the Pulse kept the entire same unit for all bar the last 90 seconds of the match, when they replaced five players to use up their bench talent, with the job well done and the result in the bank. Manu’a ended up with three intercepts, four gains and three deflections, working well with Jury (four interceots, five deflections, seven gains and two rebounds). Dunn (43 goals from 48 attempts) and Metuarau (17 from 20 and 20 goal assists) were lively, with Souness (18 goal assists) and Pedersen (15) both impressive through midcourt.

For the Tactix, Bird shot 39 goals from 45 attempts, with Selby-Rickit managing the 10 from 12, but also picking up 22 goal assists. Nathan managed 17 goal assists, as well as two deflections and a gain, while Nawai-Caucau (three gains, three deflections, two rebounds and one intercept) was strong in defence.

Central Pulse will take on Northern Mystics in a top of the table clash on Saturday, with Mainland Tactix hosting Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Sunday in a bottom two contest.

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