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Co-captain plays strong hand in Pulse’s win over Steel

Co-captain Kelly Jury featured prominently in the Pulse's big win over the Steel. Photo: PhotoWellington

With a masterclass of defensive pressure, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse defender Kelly Jury played a major role in handing the Southern Steel their second straight loss of the season.

The Pulse co-captain picked up a wealth of possession for the hosts, her team going on to win 57-37 at TSB Arena in Wellington.

``It’s still untidy and there’s still work to do but it was awesome to get the win. There were more moments of brilliance than last week and what I’m excited about is this group’s got so much more potential,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said afterwards.

``Unfortunately, sometimes that means we go off piece but, I think the potential is huge.

``I thought today we were much better in the tight stuff, it was when it was open that we were untidy and that’s usually the other way round. So, we were much better when it got physical, we were really controlled and we worked the ball through well.

``I was also really pleased with how our defence stood up and their strong attacking games really kept us in the game.’’

It was a special night for netball as both teams acknowledged the remarkable milestone of Steel captain Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit who notched up her 200th national league match.

With her game smarts and knowledge, the defender was welcomed back into the starting seven after the influential Steel stalwart missed the opening round.

In a career that started with the Flyers in the 2005 national league, Selby-Rickit became just the fifth player to reach the double tonne.

The Pulse paid tribute to the defender, who played for the club from 2012 - 2015, but were all business when the whistles blew and were in control of the match by the first break.

And it was Jury who went about her work with purpose – an MVP performance as she grabbed five intercepts, seven deflections and five rebounds for her side and was an imposing obstacle for the Steel throughout the game.

Fourteen gains from the defensive pressure in the first half set the tone of the game – the hosts leading at each break and, unlike the opening round, kept the pressure on throughout the full 60 minutes of play for maximum Premiership points.

Jury was a menace on defence as was midcourter Maddy Gordon who put pressure over every ball while shooter Amelia Walmsley had another strong performance for the Pulse.

They started with the  same line which beat the Magic in the opening round including Walmsley again earning the starting bib in the shooting circle, while the Steel welcomed Selby-Rickit back into the defensive circle and Jess Allan got the nod in the shooting circle.

The battle between Steel defender Renee Savai’inaea and Pulse attacker Whitney Souness promised plenty and delivered in the first quarter – the duo muscling up for ball and position.

After an MVP performance in her first start for the Pulse last week, Walmsley continued her promising start to the league with her strong hold in the shooting circle and accuracy a feature early on.

At the other end of the court, Jury was punishing with her defence over the ball picking up three deflections and a rebound as the Pulse edged out to 13-8 at the break.

The finishing touches proved elusive for the Steel who were solid with their transition from defence onto attack and bringing the ball to the circle edge.

But too many turnovers occurred with the feeds into the circle as Jury and Kristiana Manu’a shut down their options – the Steel’s shooting accuracy also hurting the visitors as the difference doubled to 10 goals.

A run of four goals late in the half gave the Steel a lift before the Pulse powered home to extend their lead to 27-16 at the main break.

Just one change was made for the third spell with Allan and Georgia Heffernan switching bibs in an effort to get more clean ball into the shooting circle.

The Steel also showed more urgency with their defensive efforts around the outside of the circle, doing their best to slow down ball into Walmsley.

It was a slow build-up of confidence for the visitors as they closed the gap to six goals mid-way through the stanza before the Pulse again rallied to regain their dominance and a 40-28 lead heading into the last term.

Shooting stats

Amelia Walmsley 42/45 (93%)
Tiana Metuarau 13/15 (87%)
Joyce Mvula 2/3 (66%)

Georgia Heffernan 20/22 (91%)
Jess Allan 13/22 (59%)
Meleitia Tatupu 4/7 (57%)

MVP: Kelly Jury (Pulse)