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Pulse’s true colours begin to show

Exciting young Pulse midcourt recruit Ainsleyana Puleiata is quickly finding her feet at the elite level. Photo: Adrian Watkins

There was improvement all-round as the Pulse took some big steps forward after bagging a win and a loss on the second day of the Te Wānanga o Raukawa hosted ANZ Premiership pre-season netball tournament in Ōtaki on Saturday.

Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse chalked up their first win of the tournament in the morning session with a well-merited 48-44 win over the Southern Steel and in the match of the tournament to date pushed the highly fancied Northern Mystics all the way before falling 54-50 in an exciting spectacle.

The Mystics made a sizzling start in what quickly morphed into a fast-paced, action-packed, high quality spectacle, the Mystics holding the edge and a four-goal lead throughout the first half.

Respective feeders, Whitney Souness, for the Pulse, and Tayla Earle and Peta Toeava, for the opposing camp tossed in some spectacular passes to their main shooting weapons Amelia Walmsley and Grace Nweke with productive results.

With many players across the tournament on managed loads and return to play programmes, the Pulse were without seasoned performers Maddy Gordon and Kelly July for this match-up.

The Pulse made a concerted push in the third quarter, much of it at the hands of their younger brigade where defenders Parris Mason and Rachel Price (apprentice training partner) and tactically astute goal attack Kiana Pelasio, another training partner, were all well up for the challenge.

By three-quarter time, the Pulse had inched to a one-goal lead, forcing the Mystics to reinsert their big name players in frantic final quarter where the lead changed hands a couple of times.

There was much to admire from both sides.

``There’s been incremental shifts forward and that’s what we were asking from them, is just to keep improving progressively,’’ Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said.

``I’m really confident that all of them have got a feel for what it’s going to be like out there and that’s a really important piece. For them finding out individually what each other’s got, we‘ve been able to expose all of our players to a range of challenges and I think they’ve stood up to it.

``We had opportunities for a win, but same thing, we’re still not closing out on some critical stuff but we’re competing and that’s a start. If we can compete, we can then start to get the discipline but I think already that has improved.’’

Following successive narrow losses, the Pulse were happy to open their account with a confidence-boosting win against the Steel.

There were momentum swings throughout but it was the Pulse who finished the stronger, long-limbed defender Jury enjoying her limited court time by providing plenty of impact and turnover gains with a productive half of netball. At the other end, the equally rangy Amelia Walmsley anchored the shooting end with another solid outing to highlight her growing improvement.

The Pulse rocketed out to a 15-9 first quarter lead before the Steel turned the tables in the second quarter, restricting the Pulse to just nine goals while pouring in 18 of their own to take a 27-24 lead into halftime.

Malawi international shooter Joyce Mvula, midcourter Ainsleyana Puleiata and defender Mason were injected in the second half, coinciding with a collective push from the Pulse in helping regain some impetus.

Both teams delivered some thrilling passages of play in a goal-for-goal tussle, the Pulse restricting the Steel to a minimal  number of goals while regaining a slender 36-35 lead at three-quarter time.

The creative Pelasio joined Mvula under the hoop, the pair’s productive shooting helping the Pulse finish with a flourish. Staunch defence, the non-stop efforts of midcourt general Souness and four successful long-range bombs from Pelasio helped seal the Pulse’s first win.

Day two results:

Pulse 48 Steel 44

Mystics 48 Stars 45

Steel 39 Magic 38

Tactix 56 Stars 44

Mystics 54 Pulse 50



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