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Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse Top Of Table After 54-38 Win Over Mg Mystics

10 June, 2024

Image copyright Michael Bradley Photography

A staggering streak of 12 unanswered goals propelled Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse to a 54-38 victory over an injury-stricken MG Mystics at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua.

With the formidable partnership of Pulse captain Kelly Jackson and Parris Mason eroding the confidence of the Mystics’ attack, the visitors took more than 10 minutes in the second quarter to finally score a goal.

The Mystics lacked experience at the front end of the court, with Grace Nweke still out of action, and the unavailability of Peta Toeava, out with a knee injury, only adding to the defending champions’ woes.

Even experienced ring-in Kayla Johnson couldn’t stop the Mystics suffering their second consecutive heavy blow.

Ahead at every quarter, the Pulse kept the pressure on throughout the court, with Martina Salmon dominating in the shooting circle, potting 40 from 48. Another victory for the Pulse was the return of Tiana Metuarau, on court for the first time this season following a frustrating foot injury.

The win keeps the Pulse at the top of the table on equal points with Trident Home Tactix, setting up a thrilling clash in Round 10, while Mystics stay clinging to the third rung of the ladder.

While the game began with a handling mistake from the Mystics, the defending champions looked bright as they put the Pulse attack under the pump and quickly leapt out to a three-goal lead.

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Tayla Earle, unaccustomed to wearing the wing attack bib, was heavily involved in setting up the Mystics shooters, who shared the early load.

Salmon got her fourth start at goal shoot for the Pulse, and shot with accuracy and grace, deftly fed by Whitney Souness. And with some smart defence from Jackson and Mason making it harder for the Mystics to find their shooters, the home side pegged back the deficit with five minutes remaining in the first spell.

The Pulse made early changes, bringing on young goal attack Crystal Maro, to try to evade the long arms of Phoenix Karaka and Carys Stythe. And she took no time to settle in, adding speed to the Pulse attack, and they led 14-10 at the first break.

The momentum continued with the Pulse scoring the next 10 goals (in a run of 12); Jackson especially making life a nightmare for the Mystics shooters. Fa’amu Ioane at wing defence was also effective in shutting down the Mystics’ options.

The Mystics’ attack lost all confidence on attack and 10 minutes into the second half, still hadn’t scored a goal in the quarter.

That’s when coach Tia Winikerei turned to former Mystics star Johnson – who joined the side covering for Toeava – for her leadership at centre. The Mystics then lifted their game, finally putting the ball through the hoop, and managing to make it a more respectable quarter score of 13-6, in the Pulse’s halftime lead of 27-16.

While the Mystics defence was strong – Stythe in particular collecting eight gains, five rebounds and two intercepts - their attack ran out of options smothered by the clinical Pulse defence. Defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson moved to centre and Karaka to wing defence in another effort to improve the Mystics’ flow of ball into their shooting circle.

The crowd roared when Metuarau finally took the court near the end of the third quarter, and she responded with two goals to help the Pulse lead 41-25 going into the final 15 minutes.

The Mystics could take some solace from drawing the final quarter, but the damage had already been done.

Official Result and Stats:

Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse: 54

MG Mystics: 38

Champion Data Match Centre

Shooting Stats - Pulse:

Martina Salmon 40/48 (83%)

Kiana Pelasio 7/10 (70%)

Crystal Maro 3/5 (60%)

Tiana Metuarau 4/6 (67%)

Shooting Stats - Mystics:

Hannah Glen 18/21 (86%)

Filda Vui 20/24 (83%)

Dani Binks 0/1 (0%)

ANZ Fans' Player of the Match: Kelly Jackson (Pulse)

© Scoop Media

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