Pulse win back-to-back matches for first time in 2021

CENTRAL Pulse secured back-to-back wins for the first time in season 2021 defeating Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and keeping their four-year winning streak against the Magic alive (64-53). It was a scrappy game to say the least, with neither side playing end to end netball but the Pulse showcased their finesse to execute game plays in time of need and win.

Returning from her second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, it took no time at all for Holly Fowler to spark into action with the wing defence pouncing on a cross court ball and gobbling it up. Both sides took a bit of time to warm up as turnover balls flew left, right and centre but it was the Pulse that landed the first blow of the game. the notable changes did not stop there for the Magic with Grace Kara pulling on the goal attack bib instead of her usual wing attack bib to join Caitlin Bassett under the post. Te Amo Amaru-Tibble was doing the heavy lifting inside the circle nailing the first two goals before some magic from Whitney Souness to bang it long into Aliyah Dunn got the goal shooter into the game. but it still remained goal for goal as both sides worked in overdrive to steal the ascendancy. Kelera Nawai picked up where she left off with the goal keeper taking advantage of her long limbs to contest for the high ball and then get a hand in on the bounce pass to win back possession. The Pulse were not afraid to re-set the play, happy to go back to the transverse line and reassess their options as they skipped out to a three-goal lead.

Despite playing out of position, Kara made her presence felt inside the circle landing her first goal at the nine minute mark. Within a blink of an eye the Magic were back in the contest credit to some strong defensive plays. A costly turnover gifted the Pulse another opportunity to push forward and capitalise and that they did off the hand of Dunn who was finding good space inside the circle. A three goal run to the Pulse was quickly ended by some quick hands from Kara to Bassett hiding under the post as the lead was once again reduced. It was a comedy of errors to round out the quarter as the ball changed hands multiple times before the Pulse were able to consolidate with a couple of quick goals to hold a four goal lead.

Playing her 100th game, Magic captain, Sam Winders was a consistent threat through the midcourt, making Claire Kersten work for every single pass, while also showcasing her sheer aerial ability and athleticism. Things started to tick over for the Magic as Temalisi Fakahokotau and Erena Mikaere worked their way into the game, using their smarts to clump the Pulse shooters together. The Magic came out with some real heat nailing four goals straight to get back to within a goal. A long outlet pass into the circle relieved that pressure as the Pulse went on a scoring spree of their own to push back out to a three goal buffer. While Kara struggled to convert up the other end, Amaru-Tibble was thriving, using her drive into the circle and hot hand to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Souness was finding a wealth of space as was Kersten as the midcourt pair kept both Fakahokotau and Mikaere guessing. Winders continued her niggle but the ball kept falling the way of the Pulse as the visitors were unable to break that three goal margin.  it was a stalemate for much of the quarter with neither side able to explode out of the blocks and blow their opponent away such was the high intensity of the game. However the main difference lay with the accuracy to post as the Pulse converted each time they had an opportunity.

Only two goals separated the two sides at half-time and with that the Pulse rung in the changes albeit positional. Maddy Gordon swung into centre with the energiser bunny setting the court alight while Kersten slotted back into wing defence. It was a relatively scrappy start to the second half as the ball continued to fly up and down but Gordon’s move into the centre paid dividends with her hot hand and confidence enabling her to find the shooters with ease. Kelly Jury started to come into the game with her long arms on the rebound and read of the play coming to the fore as she streamed through the middle to pick up an intercept.

The cogs started to tick over for the Pulse as a whole with the midcourt combination of Gordon and Souness causing all sorts of headaches with their speed and slick hands keeping the Magic defenders heads on a swivel. Tori Kolose was working gallantly for the Magic as the wing attack hit circle edge to find Bassett under the post. with the game getting away from them the Magic made a couple of defensive changes as Fowler switched into goal defence and Georgie Edgecombe made her first appearance for the match in at wing defence but that did not seem to upset the Pulse who were going along swimmingly.

After a dominant third term the Pulse kept their foot on the pedal, hungry for more. Nawai held her own against Bassett getting up time and time again. Looking for a spark in defence the Magic brought on Georgia Tong but it was too little, too late as the goal defence was unable to really assert herself on the contest and win clean ball. With the game won and done, Paris Lokotui entered the fray in at wing defence using her long arms to mount pressure down back. The Pulse cruised to victory as Souness’ direct passes into the circle gave them the upper hand and allowed the home side to add to the scoreboard with ease.

Bassett was instrumental with her 47 goals from 55 attempts at 86 per cent, while Kara did not have the accuracy she would have liked only converting at 43 per cent thanks to her six goals from 14 attempts it was her shooter to shooter interplay that caught the eye racking up 13 goal assists. Winders was strong with her 17 goal assists as defensively Mikaere collected four deflections. Dunn was unstoppable with ball in hand nailing 42 goals from 46 attempts at 91 per cent, as Amaru-Tibble was also on fire credit to her 22 goals. Souness had the ball on a string amassing 21 goal assists as the combination of Jury and Nawai down back accumulated 12 gains and six intercepts.

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