Unbeaten Pulse End Pre-season Tournament In Style
Signing off in style, the Pulse were left unbeaten after posting a comprehensive 69-55 win over the Northern Mystics at the Te Wānanga o Raukawa hosted ANZ Premiership netball pre-season tournament in Ōtaki today.
Registering the highest score of the tournament against the Mystics, experienced Pulse midcourter Claire Kersten shone brightly in an impressive team effort, the shining light at either end of the court with her nous at the defensive end and sharp feeding at the other.
Smothering defence was a key to the Pulse grinding any resistance out of the Mystics while also revelling in their ability to produce the goods with flair, accuracy and deception in and around the circle to complete an important stage of their build-up before the season-opener in two weeks.
``This whole tournament’s been really valuable and it was good to have finished particularly that match (Mystics) really strongly,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.
``I think that gives us a lot more confidence going forward and we were able to use lots of combinations which was really good to see.’’
The icing on the cake was the opportunity for off-season signing Kelly Jury being able to get valuable court minutes under her belt during the weekend for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery several months ago.
``That was huge and we were a bit unsure leading into the tournament because it’s the first time she’s been back on court for a very long time but she’s come through really comfortably,’’ the coach said.
A withering opening 15 minutes when all elements of the court clicked helped the Pulse knock the wind out of the Mystics challenge.
The Pulse’s effective defensive effort through court squeezed the Mystics attacking options while limiting the ball getting into the hands of key shooting weapon Grace Nweke.
Wing attack Maddy Gordon was welcomed back to the Pulse line-up after missing a match yesterday through injury, returning against the Mystics with her normal energetic and bustling style. In tandem with Kersten, the pair provided a slick and seamless service to shooters Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Aliyah Dunn, who added the polish as the hosts went to the first break with healthy 21-7 advantage.
With their confidence sky-high, the Pulse continued to dazzle on the resumption, Tiana Metuarau taking over from Ekenasio and adding her special mix of skills to the mix while Gordon’s passing into the circle was immaculate.
The addition of mercurial little midcourter Peta Toeava helped the Mystics get a more even share of possession with Nweke making her presence felt under the hoop to keep the Pulse honest. In a much-improved effort, the Mystics drew the second stanza but the Pulse were still handsomely-placed when leading 38-24 at the main break.
In a growing trend over the tournament, Metuarau was given another opportunity to enhance her wing attack skills after slotting into the pivot’s position in the third stanza as the Pulse continued to deliver an exhilarating brand of netball.
It was the hosts who resumed their dominant pose when heading into the home stretch with a commanding 55-36 advantage.
Steel 64 Stars 52
Tactix 62 Magic 53
Pulse 69 Mystics 55