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Pulse pocket Super Club title to end season on a high note

In the absence of regular skipper Katrina Grant, Claire Kersten did a fine job in leading the Pulse to the 2018 Super Club title.

August 24, 2018

Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse ended a long 2018 season in style with a hard-fought 61-56 win over the Tactix to claim this year’s Super Club title in Nelson tonight.

The Pulse weathered a tenacious Tactix challenge before making a decisive move late in the second quarter and going on to keep their dogged southern opponents at arm’s length.

The match between New Zealand’s second and third-ranked teams produced a riveting contest, played in the more traditional style before the two-point shots took on greater significance in the final quarter.

The Tactix employed a stifling defensive through-court screen to deny the Pulse their preferred free-flowing style, the ever-present and dynamic Jane Watson providing the often-decisive last line of resistance in the circle. At the other end, the Tactix attack line complimented their forceful defensive play with an immaculate stream of ball to towering shooter Ellie Bird.

That galvanised the home team who took plenty out of the first half, the Pulse pouncing just before the halftime break.

Absorbing all the early pressure, five goals on the trot handed the Pulse a 31-27 halftime lead and from that point, there was no looking back.

The senior players were key contributors with shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio, midcourter Claire Kersten and defender Sulu Fitzpatrick getting through big workloads, dictating the run of play and rising to the occasion in the moments that mattered. Karin Burger was her usual strong presence with a telling influence in the crunch moments while Beko Netball League Player of the Year Maddy Gordon stepped into the cauldron for the last quarter with all the poise of a veteran.

``It feels so good, there were moments when they kept coming back and I’m so proud of everyone tonight that we stuck at it and kept ahead,’’ Ekenasio said.

Two-point shots were not as forthcoming as earlier matches but Ekenasio, who carried a huge workload up front, delivered when it mattered, the Tactix leaving their run a little late despite two late clutch shots from Kate Beveridge.

There was a sense of relief from the Pulse players flowing their devastating one-goal loss to the Steel in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final earlier this month.

``To get over the line, you have no idea, it feels great,’’ Fitzpatrick said. ``It got a bit stressful in those last few minutes which reminded me of a couple weeks ago, so it was good to come out on top.

``We learnt from that loss and knew we needed composure on attack and courage on defence which was shown by Karin (Burger) who went for ball at the right time and got it.’’