Pulse book fi­nals spot

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - LIAM HYSLOP

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.

PHOTO: MARTY MELVILLE/PHOTOSPORT

Pulse shooter Tiana Me­t­u­a­rau takes a pass ahead of the Stars’ Sulu Fitz­patrick.

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