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Pulse upended by Tactix

Goal defence Kristiana Manu'a had a strong outing for the Pulse whose winning run was halted. Photo: PhotoWellington

With their season on the line, the Tactix ended the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse’s unbeaten streak with a 54-45 win at TSB Arena in Wellington on Saturday to keep their Finals Series alive.
Not even a fourth quarter suspension to wing defence Paris Lokotui for two minutes or the limited services of defender Jane Watson could derail the Mainlanders who executed their game plan with a mix of poise and determination.
The permutations for the remaining round are plenty but for the Tactix, they knew they needed nothing less than a win to keep their season alive.
They carried momentum into the match from last week’s victory into the must-win match in Wellington, having done their homework on the Pulse and limiting the presence of key players.
The Pulse remain top of the table with the Mystics sitting three points behind them in second spot with two matches still to play this round.

``That was frustrating, we played poorly and it was not good enough,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said afterwards. ``I didn’t think attacking-wise we were in control enough today, we sat too wide and it was always going to be hard to get ball off players who can shoot well, so yeah, it was disappointing.

``You always learn a lot from a loss, so for us it’s just about that real clarity on execution and we weren’t clinical enough with that tonight.’’
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Tactix against an in-form Pulse unit, made even tougher without the services of Watson for the start of the match, the Silver Fern still on managed workload due to injury and only injected into the match for the fourth quarter.
And a turnover from their first centre pass threatened to set the tone for the match as the Pulse edged out to a 2-0 lead.
But with the Tactix playing for their season and led by an MVP performance from captain Kimiora Poi, they rallied just as quickly to level the scores and settle into their work.
Outplayed by the Pulse’s defensive end, when they met in Round 9, the Tactix made sure of their passes and despite a few early jitters Te Paea Selby-Rickit found her radar for another strong performance in and around the circle.
The battle between Aliyah Dunn and Pulse goalkeeper Kelly Jury also promised plenty as they jostled hard for position in the circle.
In an intense and high quality first 15 minutes, it was not lost on either side the importance of the result, and nothing separated them going into the first break locked at 13-13.
The resumption of play brought much of the same with every ball contested and the two teams going goal-for-goal.
A deflection from Lokotui was converted at the other end, allowing the visitors to nudge ahead by two.
Defender Kate Lloyd, who was given the start at goalkeeper, grew into the match and went hunting for ball while also being strong in the air for a couple of key deflections.
Her long reach was also enough to cause a few wobbles from Pulse shooter Amelia Walmsley as the Tactix went on a four-goal run to go into the halftime break with a 27-22 lead.
Lamenting some basic first half errors, there was no panic from the Pulse as they returned to the court having been in this position before during the season.
A turnover to Fa’amu Ioane sparked the hosts as they were quick to slash the gap to two within two minutes of play.
It took an intercept from Selby-Rickit and a settler from the goal attack to push the buffer back out as the Tactix lifted yet again.
Lloyd remained on court for the start of the second half and in combination with Karin Burger limited the contribution of Tiana Metuarau who netted just her second goal of the game early in the third spell.
McCausland-Durie made her first personnel change with Parris Mason injected to wing defence at the midway stage of the quarter.
An intercept from Jury gave the Pulse the chance again to unsettle their opponents as they pulled within three with just under two minutes left in the spell.
A frenetic final minute of play was a sign of what was to come in the deciding quarter, the teams going into the last turn with the Tactix leading 40-36.

Shooting stats

Amelia Walmsley 40/47 (85%)
Tiana Metuarau 5/5 (100%)

Aliyah Dunn 37/40 (93%)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit 17/23 (74%)

MVP: Kimiora Poi (Tactix)