Pulse shoot down Stars in 10-goal win
FORTY five days after the fact, Round 1 of the ANZ Premiership season is complete. The third and final game – which was scheduled for March 13 – took place last night, with Central Pulse getting the job done over Northern Stars by 10 goals at Pulman Arena. The Pulse moved up to equal top of the table with Northern Mystics from the win, now boasting a 5-3 record in season 2022. Shooting sensation Aliyah Dunn was magnificent, shooting 37 goals from 39 attempts at 94.9 per cent to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Central Pulse controlled play for three quarters of the match to set up the victory, winning the first term 14-19, the second 14-11 and the third 15-10. By the final break, the visitors lead by 13 goals and could not be headed, having 13 less penalties and 54 per cent of the time in possession. To the Stars’ credit, they did score five consecutive goals at one stage to draw within eight with three and a half minutes left, before the Pulse secured the win wiht four of he last six to run out 56-46 victory.
When asked if she was nervous late in the final term when the Stars were coming, Pulse head coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said post-game it was always a little nerve-wracking despite the limited time left.
“Yeah I’m always concerned about that because we’ve been beaten in that space before, so I think there were some learnings and i think every game we take away some really good learnings I think,” she said. “Importantly I was pleased that they kept position, but certainly for us that ability to focus and retain that attention to detail is still a work on (progress).”
Whilst the Stars tried to mix up their shooting circle – bringing Amorangi Malesala on to replace Jamie Hume to start the second term – and defensive circle – Elle Temu replaced Kayla Johnson midway through the third – the Pulse looked to exclusively mixed up the midcourt and provide the likes of Erikana Pedersen, Whitney Souness and Paris Lokotui with rests, whilst managing Maddy Gordon‘s time on court as she continues to build from her long-term injury.
McCausland-Durie said she wanted to keep the midcourt “fresh” describing it as the engine room of the team.
“Yeah a little bit with fresh legs, we’ve got three games in eight games in the next space so we’re really aware that’s where the engine is and they started to tire quicker and I also think when you can make that change and that point of difference, that energy is really powerful so largely in the midcourt and also getting Maddy Gordon back into the play again, back into the fold after that injury break so a bit of mix of reasons,” she said.
It showed across the board with Souness picking up 17 goal assists from 28 feeds, Pedersen managing 11 from 30, whilst Gordon picked up four from six in limited time on the court. Their feeds allowed Dunn and Tiana Metuarau (19 goals from 25 attempts) to go to work, with the latter piecing up 14 goal assists from 18 feeds themselves. in defence, Kelly Jury and Kristiana Manu’a picked up a combined five intercepts and four rebounds to contain the powerful Maia Wilson (26 goals from 28 attempts) and limit the influence of her shooting partners, Hume (14 from 20) and Malesala (six from nine).
Despite the loss, Stars coach Kiri Wills said there was plenty to take from it, with particularly in regards to composure, but conceded it was far better than their 24-goal loss to the Mystics on Sunday.
“I think we showed a little bit more heart out there tonight which was pleasing as a coach, but I still think we have to be a little bit more patient when we haven’t got somebody ball-side when we play our triangles and our resets and when we move the ball and we change direction and the court opens up for us and we just have to be a bit more patient on that,” she said.
The midcourt of Gina Crampton (17 goal assists from 33 feeds) and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (15 from 39) tried hard, whilst the defence of Temu (three intercepts) and Johnson (one) tried to contain the opposition attacking flow, but the depth in the Pulse midcourt just got on top.
These sides meet again in three days, when the Pulse return home to Fly Palmy Arena to try and do it all again against the Stars on Sunday.