Gutsy Pulse make more his­tory

Kapi-Mana News - - CLASSIFIEDS CLASSIFIED - HAMISH BIDWELL

The Cen­tral Pulse will meet the South­ern Steel for the na­tional premier­ship ti­tle.

The Pulse, play­ing in the play­offs for the first time, with­stood a sen­sa­tional in­di­vid­ual dis­play by Mys­tics skip­per Maria Tu­taia, to claim a thrilling 59-52 vic­tory at Welling­ton’s TSB Bank Arena on Sun­day.

So long one of New Zealand net­ball’s also-rans, this was sweet for the Pulse and their fans. The Steel will still start Wed­nes­day’s grand fi­nal in In­ver­cargill as un­back­able favourites, but you never know.

Af­ter all, the Mys­tics looked des­tined to win for the bulk of this elim­i­na­tion fi­nal.

It’s hard to play a bet­ter open­ing half of net­ball than Tu­taia did.

You can’t ig­nore the shoot­ing. It was an in­cred­i­ble dis­play, re­ally, but matched by the poise and ac­cu­racy of her gen­eral play. Some shoot­ers are merely that; Tu­taia is a com­plete player and that was plain for all to see, as she al­most sin­gle-hand­edly en­gi­neered a 30-28 half­time lead for the Mys­tics.

Cir­cle de­fend­ers Anna Har­ri­son and Storm Purvis were hav­ing their mo­ments and wing at­tack Elis­apeta Toeava fed Tu­taia and goal shoot Bai­ley Mes very well at times.

But Tu­taia was tremen­dous, par­tic­u­larly in light of how Ka­t­rina Grant and Phoenix Karaka were go­ing for the Pulse.

The de­fen­sive duo were re­ally putting Mes un­der the pump, but couldn’t seem to make any im­pres­sion upon Tu­taia.

At the other end, the Pulse were okay. Af­ter get­ting out to an early two-goal lead, the hosts ended up los­ing the first quar­ter 16-10. Tu­taia shot 13 of those.

Pulse goal shoot Cathrine Tuiv­aiti mixed bril­liance with mo­ments when she prob­a­bly tried to do too much, while goal at­tack

‘‘It's hard to play a bet­ter open­ing half of net­ball than Tu­taia did.’’

Tiana Me­t­u­a­rau was do­ing her best. It’s just that ev­ery­one looked a bit sec­ond-rate com­pared to Tu­taia.

If there was an en­cour­ag­ing as­pect for the Pulse, it was that they were still in the game.

Hav­ing been six goals be­hind at the start of the third quar­ter, they’d come back to within two af­ter six min­utes. The Mys­tics pushed it back out to five goals, be­fore a late rally made it 30-28 with half an hour to go.

The vis­i­tors main­tained a one or two-goal ad­van­tage for much of the third quar­ter, un­til the Pulse went 43-42 up in­side the fi­nal two min­utes. They hadn’t led since the open­ing quar­ter, but went into the fi­nal pe­riod cling­ing to a 45-44 ad­van­tage.

Tu­taia was com­par­a­tively quiet in the quar­ter and went to the last break with ‘‘just’’ 28/28.

She fi­nally had a miss, as the Pulse quickly es­tab­lished a five­goal lead. Both teams were des­per­ate by this point and the turnovers mounted.

Me­t­u­a­rau and Tuiv­aiti did fan­tas­ti­cally well to en­able the Pulse to hold the ad­van­tage and they fin­ished wor­thy win­ners.

PHOTO: HAGEN HOP­KINS/GETTY IM­AGES.

De­fender Phoenix Karaka claims a re­bound for the Cen­tral Pulse.

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