Pulse still alive for top with Stars win

IT might be feint, but Central Pulse is still a chance for top spot in the ANZ Premiership, having accounted for Southern Steel last night. The Pulse and Northern Stars have been neck-and-neck all season, but the now second placed side took a leap forward towards not only finishing second, but potentially grabbing top spot as the Northern Mystics begin to slip. Central Pulse is just six points off top spot with a game in hand, and grabbed another bonus point last night with a 10-goal win over the Steel, 59-49 thanks to triumphing in all four quarters.

SOUTHERN STEEL 10 | 14 | 13 | 12 (49)
CENTRAL PULSE 14 | 16 | 16 | 13 (59)

Central Pulse sent a commanding message to the rest of the ANZ Premiership, firing their way to a big 10-goal victory over finals hopefuls Southern Steel. The Pulse won each of the four quarters, and controlled play for the most part, which lead to their 59-49 triumph. A key difference in the match was the shooting accuracy, with the Steel struggling with just 49 of 62 (79 per cent), whilst the pulse shot at 59 from 62 (95.2 per cent). Goal keeper Kelly Jury was a clear standout, picking up the Most Valuable Player (MVP) with a massive four intercepts, nine games, five deflections and four rebounds in a memorable performance.

For the first three and a half quarters, the only swap the Pulse made was rotating Courtney Elliott and Maddy Gordon out of the wing defence bib, whilst the Steel did the same with Ivari Christie and Sarahpheinna Woulf. It was not until Kiana Pelasio replaced an inaccurate Georgia Heffernan late in the third term that a different bib changed hands. Five minutes into the last quarter with the game under wraps, the Pulse rotated the majority of their team, particularly in the final few minutes to give all their bench players a go. The Steel did the same in the last term, with Kate Burley moving to goal keeper, Te Huinga Selby-Rickit to goal defence and then off, and Woulf into goal defence for the final five minutes.

Aside from a one-goal lead in the opening minute, the Steel could never catch up, trailing for the remainder of the match on the Pulse took the advantage, and went out to as much as 14 goals in the sixth minute of the final term. They picked up four more gains (17-13) thanks to Jury’s work in defence, and though they had the same amount of turnovers (20-10) and one less intercept (7-8), they were far more accurate with their shooting, only missing one in the short distance shooting, nailing 39 of 40, and 100 per cent from the baseline with all 18 attempts going in. By comparison, the Steel managed just 32 from 42 in close proximity, and 13 from 15 from the baseline.

Other than Jury, Kristiana Manu’a was able to pick up three gains, two deflections and two rebounds in her time on court, whilst Whitney Souness had 27 goal assists from 38 feeds, one gain, one intercept and one deflection. Tiana Metuarau shot 14 goals from 16 attempts picked up six goal assists, but also had three turnovers. Aliyah Dunn (44 goals from 45 attempts) was a rock in the goal shooter bib to help guide the Pulse to the win.

George Fisher had her work cut out against Jury, scoring 39 goals from 41 attempts, whilst Heffernan only shot at 50 per cent (10 from 20), but did have 20 gaol assists and two rebounds. Shannon Saunders (12 goal assists) was limited compared to her usual impact, with Burley (five intercepts, eight gains, three deflections and three rebounds) the standout in the loss alongside Te Huinga Selby-Rickit (two gains, one intercept and three deflections).

Southern Steel play shortly against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, with Central Pulse to take on Mainland Tactix tomorrow.

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