15 Mar 2020

Pulse finish strongly for first-up win

8:05 pm on 15 March 2020

The Central Pulse have shaken off a slow start to begin their national netball premiership defence with a 53-41 win over the Tactix in Blenheim.

Temalisi Fakahokotau (left) and Aliyah Dunn battle for possession

Temalisi Fakahokotau (left) and Aliyah Dunn battle for possession Photo: Photosport

The defending champions took time to find their rhythm, and the Tactix edged ahead to lead 12-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The Pulse upped their tempo in the second spell, briefly hitting the front before a late rally from the Tactix gave them a 22-19 lead 90 seconds out from halftime.

Pulse shooters Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio responded with three quick goals to level the scores 22-22 at the main break.

The visitors dominated the third quarter 16-9 to lead 38-31 at the three-quarter mark, then maintained momentum in the final spell 15-10 to close out the win.

Dunn's accuracy and circle movement were impressive, as she shot at 92 percent accuracy and missed only three of her 38 shots on goal.

Silver Ferns skipper Ekenasio sunk 18 from 22. The Pulse's new-look midcourt - wing attack Maddy Gordon and centre Claire Kersten - made good use of some sterling defensive work, as the Pulse defenders upped the pressure on the Tactix shooters.

Ellie Bird proved rock-solid at goal shoot in nailing 26 from 29, while Te Paea Selby-Rickit looked a little less assured with 15 from 22.

In the later game, Northern Mystics outlasted their cross-town rivals the Northern Stars for a hard-earned 59-55 win in Auckland.

With a new shooting combination of Grace Nweke and Saviour Tui, the Mystics led 33-29 at halftime before the Stars battled back in the third quarter.

They trailed 45-44 at the last break, Maia Wilson playing a key role in the Stars' resurgence in sinking 13 from 14.

But the Mystics remained calm, and with Nweke and goal attack Jamie Hume missing just three of 17 shots in the final quarter in wrapping up the win.