11 Apr 2019

Central Pulse extend lead in ANZ Champs with big win over Steel

6:37 am on 11 April 2019

The Central Pulse are now eight wins from as many games in the ANZ Championship after a dominant 66-50 win over reigning champions the Southern Steel in Invercargill.

Central Pulse shooter Aliyah Dunn

Central Pulse shooter Aliyah Dunn Photo: Photosport

The Wellington-based side's goal of a stronger start paid off, sweeping every quarter of the match.

Goal shooter Aliyah Dunn was unstoppable under the hoop shooting 37 goals at 100 percent accuracy.

In a rare loss on their home turf, the defending champions continued to apply the pressure during a tight and abrasive first half, but the Pulse maintained their composure, absorbing everything thrown at them before racing away to post a decisive result.

Scoring their second win over the same opponents in less than three weeks, the Pulse had plenty of satisfaction in doing it away from home while keeping their unbeaten record intact.

There were no surprises in either line-up, each team fronting with their strongest seven as the game quickly settled into a pattern that would remain throughout the first half.

Mini-runs highlighted the opening half, the Pulse getting away to a strong start after scoring the first three goals but each time they were reeled in by the dogged southerners.

Relentless defence paid off for the Pulse early on with the rangy figure of wing defence Karin Burger in the thick of action while the slick rapport between shooters Ekenasio and Dunn helped the visitors keep their noses in front.

Steel shooter Lenize Potgieter found her feet with good positioning and accuracy under the hoop as the Pulse closed out an entertaining and high scoring first quarter with a 17-15 lead.

The home side turned the tables on the resumption, tightening the grip on the midcourt to effectively disrupt the Pulse's attacking momentum. Within moments they had slipped into the lead and a tense goal-for-goal stand-off ensued.

There was improved flow from the Steel with more ball getting into Potgieter's hands while defenders Te Huinga Selby-Rickit and Abby Erwood turned up the heat on the Pulse shooters.

Having to work harder for any reward, the Pulse absorbed the pressure before hitting back late in the piece to get back in front and hit the main break with a 32-29 lead.

Again, it was the Steel who made a seamless start to the third quarter, knocking off the deficit in quick succession before a five-goal run pushed them into a four-goal lead. Strong driving play from wing attack Gina Crampton provided plenty of ball for the Steel shooters but it was to be short-lived.

Scoring just two goal in the first five minutes, the tide turned in the Pulse's favour in stunning fashion. Heavily penalised in the first half, captain Katrina Rore was to have an influential presence in third and fourth quarters alongside her defensive partner Sulu Fitzpatrick.

The pair did a fine job in drying up the options for the southerners on attack, the Steel dropping away as the Pulse pounced.

Regaining their control and poise, it was the visitors who hit the last break with all the momentum after forging a handy 49-40 lead and they would continue to dominate to continue their unbeaten run this season.