Stars step up in second half to stop Pulse
AFTER an even first half where either side cold be split, it was the Northern Stars who stepped up to the plate and recorded a five-goal win over fellow contenders Central Pulse in the ANZ Premiership Round 10 clash yesterday. The Stars were without veteran goal keeper Anna Harrison, but called on another former Silver Fern in Leana de Bruin to replace her in that position. The Stars defence all night was on point, and they ended up securing the 49-45 victory, joining the Pulse on 22 points in equal second on the ANZ Premiership ladder.
CENTRAL PULSE 10 | 13 | 11 | 10 (44)
NORTHERN STARS 12 | 11 | 13 | 13 (49)
Northern Stars started the match strongly, going out to a two-goal lead at the first break courtesy of a 12-10 term. Not making a single substitution in that quarter or the next – where the Pulse won the term 13-11 – the Stars held firm against a strong attack to be level at the main break. No team lead by any more than three goals during the first half as both sides were up for the challenge. At the five-minute mark of the second term, Maia Wilson scored her third goal of the term – after missing her first chance – with Jamie Hume also missing her first two chances.
The Stars defence had held the Pulse shooters of Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau well with only two goals in the first five minutes, but then they piled on seven goals to three in the next five to take the lead, and go out to a 22-19 advantage. More late misses from Hume just prevented earlier chances, but she got it third time lucky in the final 10 seconds of the half to draw level. At half-time Wilson had put up 18 goals from 21 attempts, with Hume going from three goals at 100 per cent in the first term to just two of six in the second. Dunn (16 from 18) and Metuarau (seven from eight) were more efficient given less opportunities, whilst Whitney Souness had a game-high 16 goal assists at half-time.
At the main break, the Stars brought on Kayla Johnson for de Bruin in goal defence, whilst Amorangi Malesala took over Hume’s role in the shooting circle. Both sides had their moments in a see-sawing contest, with a late buzzer-beating goal from Dunn cutting the deficit back to two points, after the Stars had scored as many as five consecutive goals at one point, from a two-gaol deficit to a three-goal lead midway through the quarter. Wilson was on fire, putting up 11 goals from 13 chances, whilst Gina Crampton stepped up in the third term, delivering seven goal assists from 10 feeds. Erikana Pedersen (five goal assists) and Souness (four) were still the key architects for the Pulse. Metuarau taking over the scoring load with seven goals from eight chances, as Elle Temu (two intercepts) got on top of Dunn (four goals from six attempts).
Central Pulse brought on Parris Mason briefly for Kristiana Manu’a to have a rest, as the Stars had got on top with a strong start. By the eight-minute mark of the quarter, the visitors had scored nine goals to four and opened up a seven-goal buffer. Though the Pulse were able to get it down to as little as four goals at one stage, it wold not be enough, and the Stars recorded the 49-44 victory courtesy of a 13-10 final term. Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (five goal assists) and Crampton (four) did well, as Holly Fowler picked up a crucial intercept at wing defence. Souness (five goal assists) tried hard at wing attack, as Dunn shot eight goals at 100 per cent.
Reuelu-Buchanan earned Player of the Match honours for her 16 goal assists and two intercepts at centre for a full game, combining well with Crampton (17 goal assists). Wilson scored 36 goals from 42 attempts, whilst Malesala (eight from 10) provided impact when on court. Temu (two intercepts, only five penalties) and Fowler (two intercepts, two penalties) were both reliable in defence. For the Pulse, Kelly Jury had a four-quarter game on Wilson, picking up four intercepts and two rebounds for only six penalties. Manu’a (one intercept, two rebounds and one gaol assist) teamed up well with her, whilst Souness had 25 goal assists. Dunn finished with 28 goals from 32 attempts, whilst Metuarau scored 16 from 19.
Central Pulse will look to bounce back from the loss against Southern Steel next Saturday, whilst Northern Stars will face their rivals Northern Mystics again in a Sunday battle.