Back to business for Te Wananga O Raukawa Pulse
A telling third stanza signalled Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse's confident stride back into the ANZ Premiership winners’ circle.
Many were keen to see how the Pulse backed up after a surprise one-goal loss to the SKYCITY Mystics last week and they delivered in style to beat Waikato-BOP Magic 63-48.
Cheered on by a sell-out crowd at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington, the hosts built steadily before unleashing in the second half to inflict a third straight loss on the Magic.
Both teams knew how much was riding on the Round 7 match with the Pulse keen to show last week’s loss was just a blip and the Magic out for redemption after losing to the Pulse by 15 goals last month.
Silver Fern mid-courters Sam Sinclair and Claire Kersten highlighted just what was at stake as they brought plenty of passion to the Round 7 match, arm-wrestling for the upper hand with the intensity of a Test match.
Four straight wins had also given the Magic hope they could rein in the ANZ Premiership pace setters but they were unable to come up with an effective plan to close down Pulse sharpshooter Aliyah Dunn.
The teenager missed her first attempt at goal but from there it was business as usual for the Pulse as they hustled on defence, were quick with their ball release on attack and accurate with their shooting attempts.
The Pulse led 16-12 at quarter time and won the second quarter by one goal to enjoy a 31-26 half-time lead.
Magic’s struggles were at both ends of the court as they were unable to keep tabs on Dunn and were forced into delivering stressed ball to their shooters.
They toiled hard but never really looked like threatening the Pulse’s grip on the game despite being just five goals adrift at the main break.
Much of the damage however was done in the opening five minutes of the third spell when the Pulse opened up a match-winning advantage, displaying the ruthlessness that has been a trademark of their play this season.
Magic coach Margaret Forsyth looked to her bench to stem the flow with Katherine Levien coming on at goal defence and captain Casey Kopua asked to match up against Dunn.
As the goals kept coming for the Pulse, the personnel changes also flowed for the Magic with Lisa Mather making an appearance at wing attack.
It did little to the determination of the Pulse who dictated terms in a pivotal third quarter, winning the spell 19-12.
Despite trailing 38-50 with 15 minutes to play, the Magic showed they were not done as the deflections on defence coupled with the confidence shown by young goal attack Monica Falkner, netted five goals straight to mount a serious challenge.
But the turnovers on attack continued to hurt the Magic’s chances as Pulse captain Katrina Grant went hunting and playmaker Tiana Metuarau showed her class up front.
A string of six unanswered goals ensured the Pulse would walk away with maximum points and reinstate their buffer at the top of the ANZ Premiership points ladder.