Pulse retain poise to fend off spirited Magic challenge
4 March, 2019
In a defensive thriller, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse held out a gritty Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, 43-37, in the lowest scoring game in ANZ Premiership history in Rotorua tonight.
The Pulse, desperate to get back on court after their opening match on Super Sunday, may have looked like they were the dominant side in the final quarter, but the Magic had their moments and pushed the visitor’s resolve for much of the match.
Experienced defenders Katrina Rore and Sulu Fitzpatrick with four intercepts each and a host of deflections and rebounds between them were at the heart of the Pulse’s resistance in an absorbing contest.
Captain Rore welcomed the contest and the pressure the Pulse were put under.
``It was a very defensive game, very back and forth,’’ she said. ``Both teams made each other work really, really hard and both of us wanted to win but it was good fun.
``We’ve been working hard on our full court defence and if everyone does their job, it often means we can pick up some ball at our end. It was great for us to be put under pressure to see how our training is converting to the court. There’s still a bit to work on but it’s only Round 2.’’
Although Pulse goal shoot Aliyah Dunn shot with 96 percent accuracy (25 from 26), it was a game ruled by the defenders, with Magic captain Casey Kopua earning MVP of the match.
In the opening seconds of the game, the Pulse lost Karin Burger with a bloodied mouth, replaced at wing defence by the eager young Maddy Gordon. But it didn’t reflect on the scoreboard, with the visitors putting five goals on the board before the Magic even began their tally.
The young Magic attack was unsettled by the defence of Fitzpatrick and Rore, but when they fell into a rhythm, and Monica Falkner’s shooting confidence grew, it pushed them back into the game – the sides locked 9-all at end of the opening quarter.
At the other end, Dunn was involved a ding-dong battle under the Pulse goal with Kopua - who pulled off a spectacular intercept passed back between her legs right on the buzzer, and another early in the second spell.
While Dunn found it tougher to put up shots under pressure from Kopua and Kelly Jury, she was faultless, not missing an attempt (a feat she maintained until the last quarter). With sharp feeding by Whitney Souness, the Pulse quickly jumped out to a three-goal advantage - a lead they held at halftime, up 21-18.
The Magic brought young Beko Netball League shooter Kelsey McPhee into their circle, and the experienced Sam Sinclair (who’d been unwell) for the third quarter. Initially the changes came with good effect, as the home side evaporated the gap once more to sit at 22-all.
Wing attack Simonn Howe showed excellent vision connecting with her shooters, and the Magic snatched the lead halfway through the third spell.
But with Rore and Fitzpatrick all over the Magic attack, the Pulse pulled out to three goals 29-26 going into the final stanza and carried on the momentum to add another four before the Magic replied.
Up by seven, the Pulse showed patience and control to be certain of capturing their second win from two outings.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 18/26 (69%)
Aliyah Dunn 25/26 (96%) - Pulse:
Monica Falkner 16/21 (76%)
Abigail Latu-Meafou 12/15 (80%)
Kelsey McPhee 9/14 (64%)
MVP: Casey Kopua (Magic)