Outside of NZ? Watch via Live Stream!

Pulse deliver in must-win match

Pulse deliver in must-win match

Producing four consistent quarters, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse have ended a four-game losing streak with a hard-fought win over the Robinhood Stars.

Guilty of letting game-leads slip in recent weeks, the Pulse kept their foot on the pedal to unsettle the Stars for the 58-44 victory at Pulman Arena in Papakura on Saturday night.

The last time they met, in Round 3, the Stars blew the game open in the third quarter to go on to a net a seven-goal victory.

But it was all Pulse in Papakura as they helped celebrate the 100th national league match of Kristiana Manu’a in what proved a willing contest between the two sides.

For the Stars, it was an opportunity to go to the top of the Premiership table while the Pulse desperately needed the points to keep in touch with the competition leaders.

And it was Yvette McCausland-Durie’s charges who answered the call as they were finally able to string four consistent quarters together for the win.

The Pulse made no changes to their starting seven while the Stars went with Amorangi Malesala in the shooting circle with Holly Fowler starting at wing defence, and Elle Temu and Kelera Nawai-Caucau teaming up in the defensive circle.

Both teams were polished in the opening minutes going goal-for-goal but there were early signs from the Stars attacking end, they would be a tough unit to contain.

The Stars had the best attacking record heading into Round 6 averaging just over 60 goals per match and with stellar service from Gina Crampton and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan looked threatening.

But the Pulse, with their season on the line, were hungry for ball putting early pressure for turnovers – thanks to the efforts of Manu’a and Fa’amu Ioane on the wing – a five-goal run helping the visitors to an 8-3 advantage.

Ensuring they did the basics well, the Pulse edged ahead with Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness – who produced an MVP performance – getting the ball to circle edge allowing for an easier release into Amelia Walmsley.

The seven-goal difference prompted an early personnel change for the Stars with Jamie Hume injected into the game with just under five minutes remaining the spell.  It was the spark they needed as the hosts finished strongly, Nawai-Caucau grabbing two late intercepts to help her side close the gap to 12-15 at the quarter break.

Another strong start to the stanza was promising for the Pulse – the big question was whether they would be able to maintain their composure when the inevitable pressure was applied.

Neither side budged as Stars coach Kiri Wills went to her bench in a bid to break the Pulse’s hold, Samon Nathan coming on to the wing, Fowler moving to goal defence and Temu taking over the keeper bib.  It was also an opportunity for the Pulse to make one change with Parris Mason replacing Manu’a for a brief cameo at goal defence.

The smothering defence on the outside of the circle, coupled with the long reach from Kelly Jury gave her side two vital steals as the Pulse showed in transition their ability to play the long game with speed, but also showed patience up front to find Walmsley as they finished the half strongly, leading 31-19 at the break.

The intensity and physicality resumed in the third spell as both teams reverted back to their starting sevens.

Twelve goals remained the difference as the Stars defensive unit struggled to break the Pulse’s attacking links with Wills turning to her bench again, bringing Lisa Putt into the fray.

But there was little that could take the Pulse’s eye off the ball, and they turned into the fourth quarter with a commanding 45-31 advantage.