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Pulse come so close to toppling Mystics

Pulse come so close to toppling Mystics

For the second time in as many days, defending champions Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse were there, but not quite - losing to the MG Mystics, 56-51, after leading for most of the match.

The final score did not reflect the intensity of the clash in Porirua, where the Mystics - the competition leaders – found themselves trailing by seven in the third quarter.

The Pulse showed no ill effects from their one-goal loss to the Magic just over 24 hours before, and straight away looked fired-up to turn around their three-game losing streak.

And the unrelenting work of Kelly Jury, Maddy Gordon and Tiana Metuarau almost saw them do it.

But in the end, the experienced connection between Grace Nweke and Peta Toeava, and the self-confidence of young defender Carys Stythe – the eventual MVP – secured the Mystics’ second victory of the weekend.

An electric start from the Pulse saw Jury rattling Nweke under the post, and the home side immediately took a three-goal lead.

At centre, Gordon was critical on both attack and defence for the Pulse, sweetly feeding goal shoot Amelia Walmsley but also hunting intercepts.

And the same could be said for Mystics wing attack Toeava and her on-point passes into Nweke and Monica Falkner - and her determination to pilfer ball, too.

The Mystics drew equal during the quarter, and finally took the lead in the last second, 13-12.

The second spell was dominated by Metuarau, who owned the role of the Pulse’s playmaker, showing off all her skills and smarts. And she took on the majority of shooting – ending the half on 100 percent accuracy.

Jury kept Nweke on her toes, pushing her out of the circle to gather ball, but Falkner was also unperturbed putting up shots and didn’t miss in that first half either.

With Whitney Souness in her 101st league game working smartly with Metuarau, the Pulse made certain to capitalise on ball they picked up and led 29-24 at halftime.

The Pulse just carried on where they left off, stretching out to seven. But three goals in a row, initiated by Stythe switching with Phoenix Karaka to go to goal keep, brought the Mystics back into it.

When the Mystics got within four, the Pulse brought Joyce Mvula into the shooting circle for Walmsley, and when it was down to two, Parris Mason entered the game for Fa’amu Ioane at wing defence.

And that was the margin going into the final stanza, when the Pulse simply had to hold on to pull off one of the upsets of the premiership so far.

While it looked like Mvula and Metuarau had established a good rhythm, the Mystics defence shot up a level to snatch the lead again with eight minutes left on the clock – forcing the Pulse to bring the composed Walmsley back at goal shoot.

But a stepping infringement against the young shooter turned the tables in the Mystics’ favour and Nweke stood her ground under the goal post, shooting with her usual precision to finish with an impressive 46 from 49 despite her battle with Jury.