Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse were forced to call on all their experience to eventually post a 53-45 win against a tenacious challenge from Splice Construction Magic in the opening match of Super Sunday in Invercargill today.
Keeping their unbeaten record intact, the Pulse were pushed to the limits by a committed and dogged Magic for three-quarters of the match before showing their class with a strong finishing quarter.
With an inexperienced attack line, the Magic have struggled for much of the season but came out all guns blazing to test the Pulse across all areas.
With another game, against the Southern Steel, tomorrow night, the Pulse rotated players throughout the match. Shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio and well-formed midcourters Karin Burger, and Claire Kersten, with six and three intercepts respectively between, them were strong performers in the Pulse getting across the line.
Recovering from a slow start, the Pulse scored seven straight goals midway through the first stanza to gain the upper hand. Slick attacking momentum coupled with the exploits of their impressive defensive unit were prominent features for the table-topping Pulse.
With both teams playing an exciting expansive game which featured plenty of long-range passes, there was a flurry of action in a high-octane opening.
On the back of some fine feeds from Ariana Cable-Dixon and pinpoint shooting from Monica Falkner helped keep the Magic in the contest as they held on staunchly to the Pulse’s coat-tails.
A goal on the buzzer pushed the Pulse a four-goal 16-12 lead at the first break.
Showing passion and intensity, the Magic pushed the Pulse all the way during a thrilling second quarter.
Tight defensive screens set by their midcourt rounded out by the in-circle defensive pairing of Kelly Jury and Casey Kopua created turnover opportunities as the Pulse were let down by a rash of passing errors.
Poor execution hampered both sides while the Pulse’s shooting accuracy also dipped but they maintained the lead when hitting the main break with a 27-24 advantage.
There was no lessening of intent from the Magic on the resumption with Jury and Kopua continuing their menacing presence under the Pulse hoop. At the other end young shooter Kelsey McPhee was a model of consistency as the Magic nosed in front early in the piece.
Tiana Metuarau was brought on for Aliyah Dunn to change the chemistry in the Pulse circle but the contest remained intense.
With no quarter given from either side, the lead changed hands a couple of times before key intercepts from hard-working midcourt duo Kersten and Burger helped the Pulse score three in a row as they went into the last turn holding a tenuous 37-35 lead.
Official Result and Stats:
Splice Construction Magic: 45
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse: 53
Champion Data Match Centre
Shooting Stats – Magic:
Kelsey McPhee 28/38 (74%)
Monica Falkner 17/19 (90%)
Shooting Stats – Pulse:
Ameliaranne Ekenasio 28/37 (76%)
Aliyah Dunn 20/24 (83%)
Tiana Metuarau 5/7 (71%)
MVP: Karin Burger (Pulse)
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