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Stars fightback fails to stop the Pulse

Pulse midcourters Karin Burger, left, and Whitney Souness in the thick of action against the Stars.

June 25, 2018

A courageous third quarter fightback wasn’t enough for the Northern Stars to overcome the might of Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, who racked up their eighth victory of the season with a 66-50 win in Porirua tonight.

It was the first time the two teams – who sit at opposite ends of the ANZ Premiership ladder – have met, and the final scoreline reflected their standings.

But it didn’t fairly represent the tension and excitement of the match, where the Pulse surged in the first 20 minutes, and the Stars battled back to take out the third quarter 17-12 - only the fourth time the Pulse have lost a quarter this season.

The loss brought the Stars, on top of the world after their first victory of the season last week, back down to earth with a bump.

Although the Pulse started strongly, taking a 7-2 lead, the Stars tightened up their defence – with goalkeeper Kate Burley standing out - and closed to within two. Again, the Pulse pulled away, forcing the Stars into unnecessary mistakes, and driving strongly back to their shooters to take out the first quarter 20-12.

Pulse goal shoot Aliyah Dunn was cool, calm and almost deadly accurate, shooting 17 from 18 in the first spell. The Stars’ Maia Wilson was even more precise with 10 from 10, but the scoreline reflected the difficulty the Stars had threading the ball through to Wilson and Paula Griffin.

The main aggressors were the Pulse defensive duo of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Katrina Grant, who were quick on their feet and smart with their hands.

The Pulse juggernaut kept rolling through the Stars when the game restarted, quickly building an impressive 13-goal lead five minutes into the second quarter. Pulse wing attack Whitney Souness was constantly moving, creating opportunities on attack, and feeding Dunn and Tiana Metuarau with confidence.

With the Stars adding only two goals in that time, they brought Ellen Halpenny into the shooting circle to join Wilson. Also introducing the experienced head of Anna Thompson at centre helped stop the landslide, but still the Pulse led 37-23 at halftime.

But the third quarter completely belonged to the Stars. Moving Holly Fowler to goal defence, after playing centre for most of the season, was inspired, and with Grace Kara fine tuning her feeding to Wilson (who hadn’t missed a shot to that point), the Stars stole the quarter 17-12.

While the Stars continued to push the Pulse, the home side gathered themselves in the last eight minutes and a run of five put the win out of the Stars’ reach.

Rival shooters Dunn and Wilson deserved big plaudits for their outstanding shooting efforts under fire – Dunn potting 40 from 43, and Wilson, 41 from 42.

Shooting stats

Aliyah Dunn 40/43 (93%)
Tiana Metuarau 26/30 (87%)

Maia Wilson 41/42 (98%)
Ellen Halpenny 7/8 (88%)
Paula Griffin 2/4 (50%)

MVP: Aliyah Dunn (Pulse)