Pulse win through to ANZ Premiership Grand Final
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse have won through to the inaugural ANZ Premiership Grand Final with a 59-52 victory over the SKYCITY Mystics in Wellington on Sunday.
The seven-goal win secures the Pulse a grand final berth against Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel at ILT Stadium Southland on Wednesday night.
Breaking new ground has become a hallmark for the Pulse this year after clinching a spot in the Finals Series for the first time in their 10-year history, and now there is a Grand Final appearance to prepare for.
The importance of the match was evident with a determined and high scoring start from both teams. With Maria Tutaia’s long shot on song the Mystics settled first with brilliant feeds from wing attack Elisapeta Toeava.
The Pulse looked out of the race with the Mystics leading until midway through the third quarter when a Pulse defensive surge saw the home team chase down the deficit.
Through her clever play, Pulse shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti came back to torment her old team as the game progressed, finding her place under the hoop with touches of class.
Teenager Tiana Metuarau, the find of the season for the home side, was brilliant at goal attack, feeding Tuivaiti and going to the post with accuracy despite staunch attention from the Mystics defence.
The Pulse shooting combination flourished in the final quarter supported by a strong push from defenders Phoenix Karaka and Katrina Grant who poured huge pressure on the Mystics’ shooters Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes.
The Pulse enjoyed renewed confidence in the later stages of the Elimination Final on the back of excellent attacking drives from wing attack Whitney Souness. Wing defence Claire Kersten created turnover ball and centre Sara Bayman made her presence felt in the second half of the game.
Mystics defenders Anna Harrison and Storm Purvis made their presence felt, while Mystics wing defence Brooke Watt was outstanding – taking her chances on court due to the sidelining of outstanding young defender Michaela Sokolich-Beatson before the game with a back injury.
The Mystics held a lead of six at quarter-time with accurate long-range shooting from Tutaia. The Pulse fought back in the second quarter to reduce the deficit to two goals late in the second quarter.
The Pulse edged ahead to lead by one goal at three quarter time, going on to dominate the final fifteen minutes.