Pulse resist late charge from Mystics
A first-half blast ensured the home side Te Wānanga O Raukawa Pulse could repel a late charge from the SKYCITY Mystics, winning 47-43, in Wellington tonight.
It was another defenders’ picnic, with the defensive line-up of both teams making the most of the much-hyped clash.
Pulse defenders Phoenix Karaka and Katrina Grant poured huge pressure on the Mystics’ shooters, especially on the rebound - traditionally Bailey Mes’ forte - and the frustration was quickly reflected on the scoreboard.
Although the Pulse dominated the first half – at times pushing the difference to 10 goals - a final quarter surge by the Mystics at least gave them a bonus point for clawing back to within five.
Other features of the match included a 90 per cent success rate from the Pulse shooting trio, while the Mystics were too often caught out on the wrong side of the whistle, incurring a high penalty count.
Teenager Tiana Metuarau got her first start at goal attack, and she rewarded her coach Yvette McCausland-Durie’s confidence with a strong showing from the get-go.
If either team made a blunder, the opposition were ready to pounce. But the Pulse showed more commitment in converting that hard work into points, and 10 minutes into the match, had built a five-goal advantage.
Karaka, celebrating her 50th combined national league match, started what would be a series of stunning intercepts, making sure the home side kept the upper-hand, 14-8, at the end of the first quarter.
The Pulse picked up further momentum as soon as they returned to the court, with Cathrine Tuivaiti and Metuarau showing a maturity in their shooting partnership as if they’d been playing together for years. In contrast, the Mystics attack found it difficult to make their links through court, and soon the difference was 10.
Trailing 28-19 at halftime, the Mystics bounded back with a major improvement in composure and connections, scoring the first five goals to close to within four.
But captain Grant again lifted the intensity on defence to quell the Mystics attack, and the gap stretched to double figures once more.
Although the Mystics narrowly won the third quarter, the Pulse still looked dominant, up 38-30 going into the final spell. Nevertheless, the visitors weren’t about to hand the win away; the outstanding determination and disruption of Mystics veteran defender Anna Harrison and the young Michaela Sokolich-Beatson keeping their side in the hunt.
In a scrappy finish, the Mystics put their bodies on the line to take out the final quarter 13-9, but it wasn’t enough to cancel out the early advantage the Pulse had created.