Pulse book finals spot
The Central Pulse will play finals netball for the first time in their history after a comfortable, albeit slightly shaky, win over the Northern Stars.
The 57-47 victory at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua on Wednesday night confirmed their place in the ANZ Premiership finals.
It will be the Pulse’s first playoff appearance as a franchise in their 10th season - the first nine in the old trans-Tasman competition.
Captain Katrina Grant was understandably pleased to make her first finals, having joined the team in 2010.
‘‘I’ve been here a wee while now and we’ve been close a couple of times and very far away others.
‘‘This is pleasing and this is a great group of girls. They’ve fought hard to get here, we did have a bit of a lapse in the middle of the season, so to push through that and get three good wins after that is pleasing and promising and shows our potential.’’
The Pulse are a better team and showed it for most of the match, with only a poor third quarter stopping them from putting the Stars to the sword.
Their shooters were excellent, with Cathrine Tuivaiti (35/36) and Tiana Metuarau (22/27) barely missing a beat.
Sara Bayman and Whitney Souness were dominant in the midcourt, while defenders Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka caused chaos in the Stars’ shooting circle.
It was a sloppy opening quarter full of turnovers, a stat which the Stars won 10-6.
Neither side really took advantage of those until the final two minutes when the Pulse turned two Stars errors in the shooting circle into goals down the other end to lead 15-10 at quarter time.
Stars coach Julie Hornweg made the first of what would be many personnel changes to start the second quarter, but it did little to stem the Pulse’s progress.
The Pulse defence was tight and most Stars attempts at a centre circle entry looked laboured at best.
A pair of Stars turnovers helped extend the Pulse’s lead into double digits.
A long-range effort from the imperious Tuivaiti saw the Pulse finish the half up 30-19.
The Pulse started the third quarter like they’d had a nap at halftime.
AT A GLANCE
Central Pulse 57 (Cathrine Tuivaiti 35/36; Tiana Metuarau 22/27) Northern Stars 47 (MaiaWilson 20/22; Malia Vaka 12/16; Afa Rusivakula 15/23). Q1: 15-10; HT: 30-19; Q3: 42-35. They were very loose with possession, allowing the Stars to score five of the first six goals.
The Stars managed to get within five at one stage before the Pulse eventually rediscovered their rhythm to lead 42-35 heading into the final quarter.
It was a concerning lapse from the Pulse and one they can ill afford come finals time against the better teams.
‘‘The Stars came out in the second half and played some good netball and we probably weren’t clinical enough, didn’t get enough ball on D, but at the moment we’re just going to be happy with that win and be happy with what we’ve done and achieved for this franchise and then assess what we need to assess to contend for a title,’’ Grant said.
A more clinical Pulse team arrived in time for the fourth quarter to close out the win.
Pulse shooter Tiana Metuarau takes a pass ahead of the Stars’ Sulu Fitzpatrick.