Business as usual for reliable Pulse shooter
June 10, 2021
Expecting to partner up with the Silver Ferns captain in this year’s ANZ Premiership netball league, things couldn’t have turned out more differently for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse top shot Aliyah Dunn.
With Ameliaranne Ekenasio ruled out due to pregnancy and rising young talent Tiana Metuarau moving on in search of more court time, the Pulse’s rich array of shot-makers took a substantial hit. But that has had little to no effect on how the ever-relaxed and ever-reliable Dunn, who is now the senior pro at the shooting end, goes about her business.
In challenging circumstances, not much has changed for Dunn, 21, who in her fourth season with the Pulse continues to be a rock under the hoop.
With Ekenasio alongside her, Dunn finished 2019 and 2020 as the most accurate shooter in the league and in 2021 has set about reinventing the shooting end with new stablemates Te Amo Amaru-Tibble, Ivana Rowland and part-timer Whitney Souness.
Dunn has enjoyed helping Amaru-Tibble find her feet at the elite level, the pair being like two peas in a pod where temperament is concerned and finding they have a natural rapport on the netball court.
``I don’t think of myself as the senior pro,’’ she said. ``I think Amo and I are as equally good as each other, it’s more about learning what she can do and what I can do and bringing that all together.’’
With Souness taking over from an unwell Amaru-Tibble in last week’s match against the Tactix, the bulk of the shooting load rested on Dunn’s shoulders. While being double-marked by Silver Ferns defensive duo Jane Watson and Karin Burger wouldn’t be the ideal day out for most, for Dunn it was the perfect day out.
``I didn’t actually think it was that challenging but I did think it was fun,’’ she said.
``Whitney (Souness) was a goal attack back in the day (school) but is now a specialist wing attack, so it was a good challenge for her and I thought the whole situation was really fun, being able to play with her and just figuring out a few little things to try and get the shot up.
``She was really supportive in the circle, knowing the defenders were going to try and put a bit more pressure on my shot. The goal attack lines are a little bit different from the wing attack ones, so she was getting some help from the side-line about where to run but she picked it up real easy.’’
An expert at deflecting praise elsewhere, Dunn could look back and be pretty happy with her own efforts in a standout individual performance after posting 47 of the Pulse’s 52 goals, her percentage of 87 percent dipping slightly from normal as she continues to work on her long-range shot.
On a tightly congested points table, the Pulse have proved good scramblers in picking up four bonus-point losses but pocketing maximum points is becoming increasingly important.
``There’s definitely still a positive vibe in the team, we just have to be a bit more careful now. Every game is going to count from now on pretty much, so everyone just needs to turn up at training and on game day in the right mind-set,’’ Dunn said.
``I was gutted when Amo couldn’t play in the last game because between her, Whitney and myself we have just started to get some good flow into the attacking end and I’m looking forward to getting back with that combination.’’
Posting a win apiece in their previous two match-ups and with both coming off losses, a lively contest is expected when the Pulse and Stars do business again in Auckland on Sunday.
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