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Magic defeat Pulse in fiercely contested match

Magic defeat Pulse in fiercely contested match

Digging deep in an electric final quarter, the Avis Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic have turned the tables on Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in an ANZ Premiership thriller.

The match was a must win for both sides if they are to keep in touch with the top three teams on the Premiership table, resulting in a tense battle with the Magic claiming a 48-47 win at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua.

Nothing could separate the two teams heading into the final term and it took a key intercept from Magic midcourter Claire Kersten to break the deadlock late in the game, while the Pulse will be ruing their opportunities to push the game into extra time in the dying seconds of play.

It was a Heritage Round match and it proved fitting for the encounter as the Pulse celebrated midcourter Whitney Souness’ 100th  match in the ANZ Premiership and also welcomed back the most capped Pulse player in history, with defender Katrina Rore answering the call as injury cover.

The defender and Pulse stalwart was given a rapturous welcome to the court as she was injected into the game in a tense fourth quarter.

It was a brief cameo for Rore as both sides looked for the winning edge in what proved an enthralling 60-minute battle which went to the wire.

Both teams were coming off defeats at the hands of the Tactix and went for settled line-ups with young Pulse shooter Amelia Walmsley, who impressed so much last week, earning yet another start.

It was a measured start from the two teams, as they warmed into their work with the Magic making the early break, shooter Bailey Mes showing strong early form – which finished in an MVP performance – while at the other end of the court defender Erena Mikaere was hunting outside of the circle.

Neither side blinked in the enthralling first quarter arm-wrestle, the Pulse finally edging ahead 12-11 at the break.

Just one goal separated the Pulse and Magic when they last met in the opening round, the former prevailing, and all signs pointed to yet another tight tussle.

But it was the visitors who again made the first break in the spell with Mikaere working her magic against Walmsley, forcing the young shooter into some early misses – a six goal run helping them to a 17-13 advantage.

A five-minute scoring drought caused some concern for the hosts and prompted Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie to make the change in the shooting circle with Malawi international Joyce Mvula injected into the game mid-way through the second quarter.

The Pulse’s defensive unit did everything they could to help close the gap with Kelly Jury, Kristiana Manu’a and Maddy Gordon all getting their hands to ball as the defending champions pulled within one with just over two minutes in the half.

Regaining a three-goal buffer, Magic coach Mary-Jane Araroa made a late personnel change in the spell with Georgie Edgecombe coming on at centre and Claire Kersten moving to wing defence – the Magic holding on to a 25-22 lead at the main break.

The Pulse reverted back to their starting line on the resumption of play with Walmsley returning to the shooting circle while the Magic made no changes to their seven.

And it was the hosts to came out of the changing rooms with more purpose, levelling the scores within three minutes of play and a clean intercept from Jury helping her team to hit the front.

But the Magic were not to be outdone with Mikaere snaffling ball at the other end of the court as the scores were locked yet again.

Desperation to make a break on the scoreboard forced some errors from both sides in a messy passage of play.

With just over a minute on the clock, Parris Mason entered the game, coming off the bench to the wing for the Pulse, but again, nothing could separate the teams as they headed into the fourth stanza locked at 37-37.