Robinhood Stars Defeated Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse 57-53 In Palmerston North
18 April, 2021
The Robinhood Stars cemented their status as a team to watch this season with a maiden ANZ Premiership win over Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse to open their 2021 campaign.
A 57-53 victory at Fly Palmy Arena in Palmerston North marked the Stars first ever win over the two-time champions with their new-look side leading from start to finish and showing patience to shake off a determined Pulse.
But the Pulse, without Silver Fern Ameliaranne Ekenasio and introducing a number of new combinations, showed they are not about to relinquish their title without a fight pushing hard until the final whistle.
Bookended by stand-out performances from captain Maia Wilson in the shooting circle and former Fern Anna Harrison on defence, the Stars held their nerve in a tense and physical final few minutes.
Wilson’s accuracy dipped under the intense pressure from the Pulse defence but her workload and movement in the circle was pivotal in a tight fourth spell, while Harrison never missed a beat despite playing her first ANZ Premiership game in two years.
Her long levers and timing put the Pulse shooting circle under all sorts of pressure as she finished with four deflections and two intercepts for a most valuable player performance.
With six new players in the Stars side and international experience across the court, much has been made about the chances of the Kiri Wills-coached side this year.
Wilson netted the first goal of the 2021 season and a 5-1 advantage in the early stages suggested a long night ahead for the hosts.
But, as for much of the match, the Pulse were hard to shake off and led admirably by captain Claire Kersten through the middle and the experience of Kelly Jury in defence.
The Stars showcased their speed of ball up front and opened up a challenging 20-12 lead in the opening quarter with new recruit Gina Crampton punching through to the circle edge and finding her shooters with ease.
Faced with closing a sizeable gap, the Pulse made the best possible start to the second stanza scoring off a turnover and quickly converting their own centre pass as they showed no signs of panic.
Hauling in a difficult intercept, new Pulse goal keep Kelera Nawai gave the hosts more reasons to cheer as her turnover was also converted and the lead cut to four.
The Pulse remained within striking distance and a flurry of goals near the end of the first half again closed the gap to 26-30 by halftime.
Harrison’s nuisance value lifted again in the third quarter as she disrupted Aliyah Dunn’s shooting radar and the Stars maintained a slender advantage, leading 45-39 with one spell to play.
New Pulse coach Gail Parata turned to her bench introducing the league’s youngest contracted player, Parris Mason, to replace Nawai late in the third quarter.
The 18-year-old did her best to get the better of Wilson as the Stars also made personnel changes with Monica Falkner coming on for Jamie Hume.
A run of three goals with just over five minutes in the game gave the Pulse faithful hope – Jury’s relentless pressure starting to take its toll on the Stars’ shooting accuracy.
But it was to be as close as the defending champions would get, claiming the bonus point at the final whistles in what was a tight season opener.
Official Result and Stats:
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse:
Shooting Stats - Pulse:
Aliyah Dunn 36/39 (92%)
Te Amo Amaru-Tibble 17/19 (90%)
Shooting Stats - Stars:
Maia Wilson 44/50 (88%)
Jamie Hume 10/12 (83%)
Monica Falkner 3/4 (75%)
Anna Harrison (Stars)