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Pulse return to winning form

Alongside her captain Katrina Grant, Phoenix Karaka, pictured, delivered an impressive defensive effort in the Pulse's win over the Tactix. Photo: Andy Radka -- Above Ground Level Photography

Te Wanaga o Raukawa Pulse rewarded a loud and uplifting Wellington crowd with a 48-37 victory over the Mainland Tactix to open Round 3 of the ANZ Premiership on Sunday, but it was by no means a stress-free win.

Both teams were engaged in a fierce defensive battle from the get-go; the Pulse looking to their international defence duo – Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka – to lead the way, and give the Tactix a series of headaches throughout the match.

But the Tactix, who have a habit of performing well when they travel to the capital, kept the home team honest, and were buoyed by an improvement in their own game – particularly their shooting efforts (Brooke Leaver finishing with 93 percent and Anna Thompson 89 percent).

Faced with a quick turnaround after Wednesday night’s narrow loss to the WBOP Magic, the Pulse bounced back fresh and determined to notch up their second win of the ANZ Premiership.

It was a slow scoring start, with both teams on full defensive alert; only five goals were scored in total in the opening five minutes.

English import Kadeen Corbin struggled under the hoop with the dynamic defence of Grant and Karaka bearing down on her, and the Pulse made more inroads through court as the spell wore on, leading 12-8 at the first break.

The Pulse continued to stifle the Tactix attack, forcing them out wide to survive. When the difference was eight, the Tactix introduced young shooter Leaver to try to elude their grasp. Her strong presence made an immediate difference, shooting six from six (including a buzzer beater from almost the circle edge) to close the gap to six goals at halftime – 26-20 still in the Pulse’s favour.

As captain Thompson at goal attack continued to lead by example, the Tactix drove through the court, finding their connections, to quickly halve the difference. But that only triggered Grant and Karaka to step up to another level, successfully hunting down the ball and putting the home side back in control.

Pulse shooters Cathrine Tuivaiti and crowd favourite – 16-year-old Tiana Metuarau – kept the scoreboard ticking over in their favour, giving the Pulse a double-digits lead heading into the final quarter, 37-27.  With their other impressive goal attack Te Amo Amaru-Tibble returning to the game in the last spell, the Pulse held the Tactix at bay; Tuivaiti making the biggest scoring contribution of the game with 24 from 27.

Shooting Stats – Pulse
Tuivaiti: 24/27 @ 89%
Amaru-Tibble: 11/14 @ 89%
Metuarau: 13/18 @ 72%

Shooting Stats - Tactix
Corbin: 7/15 @ 47%
Thompson: 16/18 @ 89%
Leaver: 14/15 @ 93%
MVP: Katrina Grant (Pulse)