Pulse come from behind to snatch thrilling win
The unblemished record remains for Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse after the buzzer denied The Good Oil Tactix in an ANZ Premiership thriller.
In a titanic arm-wrestle, the table-topping Pulse came from behind to beat the Tactix 33-32 at the Auckland Netball Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The Tactix led for much of the second half and had a chance to snatch a draw when goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit landed a long bomb, but it failed to go through the net before the final whistles sounded.
A fired-up Tactix side produced their best performance of the season and came within a few minutes of upsetting the unbeaten Pulse.
The win marked the end of a demanding weekend for the Pulse, pushed hard by both the Tactix and the Northern Mystics, but the Katrina Rore-led side boarded their chartered flight home with maximum points and a healthy buffer on the ANZ Premiership ladder.
Both teams went with their tested starting lines with some exciting match-ups across the court, but it was the Pulse’s rock-solid links which gave the defending champions the edge in the opening spell.
Wing Karin Burger was again a key factor on defence as she hustled Tactix attacker Erikana Pedersen and the Pulse held onto an early break to lead 10-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Their unflappable shooting combination of Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio was also a telling factor early on with their accuracy, the duo working hard for every goal against the formidable defensive combo of Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson.
But the Tactix’ full-court defensive effort – directed by the booming voice of Fakahokotau – gave the Pulse plenty to think about in the second quarter as they forced the turnovers and stayed in touch to trail by just the one goal at the main break.
Down 18-19 at halftime, the big question would be whether the Tactix could stay in step with the Pulse for the second half.
The Pulse’s ability to absorb the pressure and then apply the blowtorch in the second half has become a trademark for Yvette McCausland-Durie’s team.
But their heat was somewhat tempered as the effects of a game just 24 hours earlier may have taken their toll.
Against a hungry Tactix defence, the cracks started to appear as Watson and Fakahokotau made their presence felt.
At the other end of the court the Tactix attack also showed plenty of patience on attack as they waited for the opportunity to find Ellie Bird under the hoop.
The first change in personnel came with just over five minutes left in the third quarter as Ekenasio made way for Tiana Metuarau at goal attack, and the Tactix opened up a three-goal lead.
The sustained pressure from the Tactix defence forced the Pulse into more changes with Ekenasio returning to the court in place of Dunn but it couldn’t stop the red-and-blacks from taking a 28-25 lead into the deciding spell.
Elle Temu also made an impact off the bench as she replaced Jury and confused the space for the Tactix attack in their attempts to find Bird.
An intercept from centre Claire Kersten with six minutes to play saw the Pulse come within one and the arm wrestle continued with three minutes left on the clock.
As the Pulse attackers stepped up their defensive pressure the Tactix were unable to capitalise on the turnover ball and Metuarau showcased her rebounding ability to keep her side in the hunt.
With one minute left on the clock the scores were tied 32-32 as the Pulse looked to play down the clock, a long shot from Ekenasio giving her side the match-winning edge.