Tactix beat Pulse to boost Finals Series chances
The Silvermoon Tactix enhanced their prospects of appearing in the Finals Series with a riveting 44-39 win over Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse to open Super Sunday in spectacular fashion in Auckland today.
After picking up five bonus points for close losses during the season, the Tactix finished the job in style over the table-topping Pulse. With a close scrap expected over the closing rounds between a number of teams to secure third place, the Tactix have now given themselves every chance.
Experienced defenders Jane Watson and Temalisi Fakahokotau were the inspiration behind the Tactix, the pair excelling with their ability to turn ball over, outshining the Pulse in that area and ultimately proving the deciding factor.
Australian import Kate Beveridge got her first start since Round 6 to pair with Ellie Bird, giving the Tactix an extra tall shooting circle while the Pulse retained their usual starting seven.
With the two best defensive teams on show, that was all too evident in how the game panned out. The Pulse made a slick start, showing their ability to score quickly but it was the Tactix who provided the strong finish to the opening stanza.
There was little to separate the teams early on, the defensive prowess of Watson and Fakahokotau unsettling the Pulse shooters to give the Tactix a slight edge when they headed to the first break with a 12-10 lead.
The Pulse introduced Ameliaranne Ekenasio at goal attack on the resumption, for Tiana Metuarau, the defensive intensity showing no signs of abating with a relentless effort delivered by both sides.
However, it was the Pulse who scored the first four goals to nudge back into the lead. Ekenasio had a strong impact but as is their tradition the Tactix made a telling reply.
Showing great patience and delivering accurate ball to Bird, where Beveridge was influential, and the combined ball-snaffling abilities of Watson, Fakahokotau and Charlotte Elley, the Tactix went on a six-goal scoring spree to push out to a four-goal lead.
Hard-working Pulse centre Claire Kersten picked off some vital turnover ball, the Tactix retaining their two-goal buffer in a low-scoring drawn third quarter to head into the main break with a narrow 21-19 lead.
It was the Pulse who grabbed the edge in the opening exchanges of the third term, the contest continuing its high intensity levels but the Tactix gave their opponents a sniff which was gratefully accepted.
Whitney Souness showed her speed to open up the attack line with Ekenasio also prominent as the Pulse went out to a three-goal lead. Metuarau returned to the action in place of Aliyah Dunn as the Pulse employed a more mobile shooting circle.
The Tactix also made changes, the busy Brooke Leaver taking over from Beveridge, coinciding with a lift in energy. In an absorbing spectacle, the Tactix ensured an exciting run to the line when the scores were left poised at 32-all at the last turn.