Pulse overcome feisty Tactix challenge
In the face of an unrelenting challenge, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse showed their class in the run home to clinch a 47-36 win over the Silvermoon Tactix in Christchurch tonight.
The match-up between the two best defensive teams in the competition produced just that, a tight, intense, grinding, low-scoring spectacle which took until the final quarter to really open up.
Producing a stirring third quarter comeback, a Tactix upset beckoned before the Pulse steadied the ship to deliver a polished finish. Pulse captain Katrina Grant was a standout throughout the match while the introduction of rookie Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Ameliaranne Ekenasio added the required energy and impetus for the visitors to get over the line.
There were no surprises in either starting line-up, with shooters Brooke Leaver and Ellie Bird getting the opportunity to build on their growing rapport in the Tactix circle while the Pulse retained their established seven starters.
There was a strong defensive flavour through the opening stanza, both teams employing oppressive pressure while squeezing the options on attack.
It was nothing short of a grind as both teams laboured to get the ball goal-bound with every play contested and plenty of patience required.
Tactix defender Temalisi Fakahokotau was an early beneficiary from the pressure, grabbing turnovers with her ability to attack Pulse ball while deflections came thick and fast both ways.
Katrina Grant returned the favour at the other end to assert her growing influence, a late surge pushing the visitors out to an 11-8 lead after a slow-scoring opening.
With Grant maintaining her impressive form on the resumption, the Pulse continued to apply the blow torch.
The visitors were able to make better use of their natural free-flowing quick-release game while continuing to apply intense defensive pressure on their opponents. Bird remained a strong presence under the Tactix hoop but the home side lacked creativity and attacking momentum.
A double change with import Kate Beveridge picking up the goal attack bib and Leaver moving to wing attack did not improve the Tactix impact with the Pulse forging a handy 25-18 lead at the main break.
The Tactix renowned fighting spirit was delivered on cue in a storming third quarter from the home team with entertainment machine Fakahokotau at the heart of the revival.
The athletic defender was in the thick of everything, cutting off anything in the air to the Pulse shooters while bouncing back to retrieve seemingly impossible intercepts. Her impressive showing inspired the Tactix to embark on a run of six unanswered goals as they went on to level up the scores.
Looking for more movement and accuracy on attack, shooter Ekenasio and wing attack Reulu-Buchanan were injected for the Pulse in the closing minutes, a more measured and patient approach helping them retain a 31-28 lead at the final turn after being restricted to just six goals for the quarter.