Pulse suffocate Steel attack in low-scoring win
HOLDING Southern Steel to their lowest score of the season, Central Pulse won a crucial top three clash to go outright second thanks to a six-goal win to close out Round 9 of 2022 ANZ Premiership season. The Steel started incredibly, piling on 18 goals in the first term, but the Pulse defence clicked into gear after that, restricting the home team to just 26 goals for the rest of the game. Despite trailing at each break, the Pulse saved their best for last, scoring 15 goals to five and running out 50-44 winners with Maddy Gordon‘s injection into the play crucial for the turnaround.
SOUTHERN STEEL 18 | 9 | 12 | 5 (44)
CENTRAL PULSE 13 | 10 | 12 | 15 (50)
Coming off back-to-back losses, the Steel were determined to make a fast start, and the home side certainly did that, with George Fisher scoring seven goals in eight minutes, and both she and Saviour Tui built a handy lead in the first term. It was a disappointing first term from the Pulse, who produced four turnovers that resulted directed in goals, with Gordon having three in her first game starting in centre. Tiana Metuarau (three goals from four attempts, four goal assists but two turnovers) was also a culprit, whilst Aliyah Dunn held up the scoring with 10 goals from 10 attempts. Meanwhile Shannon Saunders was all over Courtney Elliott – who came on for an injured Paris Lokotui four minutes into the match – producing 10 goal assists from 12 feeds.
Down by five at the first break, the Pulse opted to bring on Erikana Pedersen into centre, and send Gordon back to wing defence, a move that proved vital to the game. Kate Burley was also given a rest late in the second term in her first game back from isolation, as the teams held sway. The Steel headed into the half-time break still maintaining a lead, with the Pulse scoring 10-9 in the term, as Dunn (six goals at 100 per cent efficiency) and Metuarau (four from six) put up solid numbers, whilst Gordon restricted Saunders to just three goal assists in the term. It stemmed the Steel scoring flow and got the Pulse back in the game.
Despite all the defensive work of the Pulse, they could only break even in the third term, and the deficit remained at four goals by the final break. They backed in the seven on court, as the Steel shuffled around players as Burley came back on to start the term, and both Saviour Tui and Georgia Heffernan rotated roles. Burley picked up two crucial intercepts in the third quarter, with no side getting easy looks into the circle. Fisher scored another seven goals from nine attempts, with Tui (five from six). Dunn (seven from eight) and Metuarau (five from six) working well in tandem, whilst Kristiana Manu’a and Kelly Jury were doing their best to limit the flow into the Steel circle alongside Gordon.
Coming out with some ridiculous intent, the Pulse stormed to the first seven goals of the final term to go from four down to three up, with six in three minutes going the way of Dunn. The Steel tried to mix things up with Fisher coming off to combine for a Heffernan-Tui goal circle. Though that managed to even it up, they could not convert enough chances with Heffernan scoring just one of four in the quarter, and the Steel adding five goals to their three quarter time tally to go down by six. By comparison, Dunn shot 13 goals at 100 per cent, whilst Whitney Souness – who had started slowly – picked up eight goal assists with some great feeds.
Rising star Gordon was determined throughout the match, not having a turnover after that forgettable first term, and looking at home in wing defence. She even picked up one goal assist from four feeds, and shut down on Saunders who had just six goal assists after quarter time. Jury (two intercepts, two rebounds) and Manu’a (one intercept) did well in that defensive half, whilst Souness (22 goal assists) really built into the game. Dunn scored 36 goals from 27 attempts by the end of the match.
For the Steel, Fisher still scored 29 goals from 34 attempts, with Tui (14 from 16) also trying hard. Saunders had the 16 goal assists but was blanketed after quarter time, whilst Burley was sensational in defence with four intercepts and a rebound.
Southern Steel will look to bounce back net Sunday, May 15 against Mainland Tactix, whilst Central Pulse also play on Sunday, hosting Northern Stars at TSB Arena.