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Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse Defeated The Stars 58-51 In Auckland

14 April, 2024

The Stars have opened their 2024 ANZ Premiership campaign with a tough 58-51 loss to the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in Auckland.

A new season presented the opportunity for some new faces to pull on the Stars dress for the first time - Kanye'-Lii Munro-Nonoa making her debut starting at wing defence and the returning Lisa Mather at centre and Kate Burley at goal keep.

The Stars made a strong start to the contest, heaping pressure on the Pulse on defence and managing to force some errors and capitalising with slick link up play helping goals come easy.

The Pulse then bean to warm into the contest and find their feet with some suffocating defensive pressure forcing some sloppy play from the Stars which gave the Pulse cheap possession and they made it count.

The Stars kept nipping at the Pulse's heels, but it was the visitors who showed more composure in the first period to lead 16-12.

The second quarter saw the introduction of sharpshooter Rahni Samason, who donned the goal shoot bib in her maiden Stars appearance and showed poise in front of the goal while nailing some deep shots.

The Stars worked hard to try and gain some ascendancy, but the Pulse kept them at arm's length and extended their advantage with well worked periods of play.

The Stars added some spark to their mid-court with Gina Crampton coming on at wing attack, which allowed Mila Reuelu-Buchanan to switch to centre. Ball flowed freely and the Stars continued to fight hard.

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Rising talent Lili Tokaduadua graced the court at goal keep late in the quarter for her Stars debut and immediately made an impact. Her speed and timing brought about two important gains for the Stars and the half finished with the Pulse ahead 32-24.

The Stars came out firing in the second half with Tokaduadua and Burley heaping pressure and winning valuable ball. At the other side of the court, the Pulse were doing similarly with Kelly Jackson and Paris Mason constantly in the faces of Stars shooter Maia Wilson and Amorangi Malesala.

Wilson and Malesala remained persistent though and were rewarded as the scoreboard kept ticking over.

Frustratingly for the Stars they struggled to turn forced turnovers into two for one opportunities with regularity, but they kept themselves in the game, cutting the deficit to just four goals at three-quarter time.

The Stars surged into the final quarter smelling blood and an opportunity to make the Pulse pay and managed to further eat into the deficit, with some slick play getting them to within one goal of their opponents.

The Pulse returned serve however and forced the Stars to up the tempo at a pace they couldn't sustain, with errors punished and the Pulse running away with a 58-51 victory.

Tokaduadua produced a breakout MVP performance with four gains, one intercept and seven total deflections in a high octane first outing at the elite level.

The Stars will now head to Christchurch to face the Tactix on Sunday.

Robinhood Stars: 51

Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse: 58

© Scoop Media

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