Six from six for table-topping Pulse
Dictating terms throughout, a relentless Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse remained unbeaten after sweeping past the SKYCITY Mystics with a clinical 60-38 win in Auckland on Sunday.
It was a record sixth straight win for the Pulse while inflicting the Mystics biggest ANZ Premiership loss. In her debut season, rookie shooter Aliyah Dunn continued to impress with a standout 39 from 42 return, while goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio provided a strong second half cameo with 16 from 18.
There were few chinks in the Pulse armoury, the Mystics lacking the consistency to harbour serious thoughts of derailing the pace-setters, the visitors proving just too good in all facets.
With no Maria Folau for this match, Jamie Hume assumed the goal attack role for the Mystics while the Pulse remained with the successful and settled line-up which has delivered so far this campaign.
It was a goal-for-goal start, the young Pulse attacking end facing a stiff challenge from the international trio of Michaela Sokolich-Beatson, Phoenix Karaka and Anna Harrison. But after absorbing everything the Mystics could muster, the visitors slowly picked up the intensity.
Playing a strong feeding role, goal attack Tiana Metuarau found her target in Dunn as the teenaged shooting pair struck the right notes. At the other end, the long reach and speed of wing defence Karin Burger had an unsettling influence on diminutive and elusive Mystics wing attack Elispeta Toeava, opening the door for the Pulse to swoop.
Burger was a standout throughout with her ability to unsettle, hassle and disrupt.
Showing their intuitive understanding under the hoop, Metuarau and Dunn moved into punishing mode, the Pulse revelling in the extra possession to bolt out to an 18-12 lead at the end of a high-scoring first quarter.
Continuing to exert plenty of defensive pressure of the resumption paid dividends for the Pulse, the classy in-circle pairing of captain Katrina Grant and Sulu Fitzpatrick joining the action with a suffocating presence.
Mystics had their moments but the oppressive and unrelenting pressure exerted by the Pulse had the home team struggling for options and hesitant with their delivery.
Midcourters Claire Kersten and Whitney Souness were always on the move, slick foot work on attack and scrambling defence helping hold the Mystics to just six goals as the Pulse skipped out to a 31-18 lead at the main break.
The Mystics made a positive start to the third stanza, Karaka and Harrison leading a strong defensive reply but it was short-lived.
With Ekenasio providing fresh legs at goal attack, the Pulse quickly returned to dominant mode. Once again, absorbing any hint of a Mystics fightback, the Pulse were relentless. Where the home struggled to make headway, the speed of the visitors’ ability to score was evident as they powered out to a 47-28 lead at the last break.