14 Apr 2024

Understrength Pulse hold off Stars to open their season with a 7-goal win

7:35 pm on 14 April 2024
Amelia Walmsley.
Stars v Pulse. ANZ Premiership Netball. Pulman Arena, Auckland. Sunday 14 April 2024. © Photo: Andrew Cornaga / Photosport

Amelia Walmsley. Stars v Pulse. ANZ Premiership Netball. Pulman Arena, Auckland. Sunday 14 April 2024. © Photo: Andrew Cornaga / Photosport Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz

With a rusty performance from tall target Amelia Walmsley, the Central Pulse opened their ANZ Premiership campaign with a nervy 58-51 win over the Northern Stars.

The under-strength Wellington side capitalised on a late tactical move by Stars coach Kiri Wills, which backfired for the home side in Auckland.

With the Stars having done the hard work to make a dent in the Pulse's big eight-goal halftime lead and reduce the deficit to four goals, Wills sent assured goal attack Amorangi Malesala to the bench.

Silver Fern Malesala went off the court in the final quarter as Melbourne Vixens newcomer Rahni Samason came on at goal shoot, with Maia Wilson moving out to goal attack.

That Stars shooting switch had not paid off earlier in the night - and failed for a second time.

Meanwhile, the usually assured Walmsley had an off night under the post, missing 13 of her attempts as she secured 45 goals for her side.

To her credit, she kept putting up goals and taking superb feeds from Pulse speedster Maddy Gordon, as well as a couple of spectacular long balls from goal defence Parris Mason.

Walmsley finished strongly with 14 from 16 in the critical final quarter as the Pulse sailed to victory.

She was supported by rookie goal attack Kiana Pelasio who came in for the injured Tiana Metuarau.

Pulse captain Kelly Jackson told SkySport it was hard for her team to maintain their composure.

"We got in front early, [then] it got a bit scary in that third quarter when it was going back and forth a little bit and the gap was closing.

"We've just got to keep getting ball for our attacking mates down court there. They've got lots of pressure on them; we've got to just keep working hard."

Jackson paid tribute to the chemistry with her talented defensive partner Mason, who is also a Black Ferns basketballer.

"I love working with Parris - she has a great netball brain on her and lots of energy to burn.

"It's great to be able to go out there with some decent minutes with her."

Stars captain Maia Wilson said the loss would be felt keenly.

"We had opportunities to take that game, so I'm really disappointed. We still could have won that game towards the end.

"We were playing musical bibs in our attacking end but I think at the end of the day, it's [about] shot selection and pass placement."

Stars newcomer Khanyè-Lii Munro-Nanoa copped a two-minute suspension in the first quarter for a dangerous late challenge on Gordon.

The Stars were stacked with international players across the court, including Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, Wilson, Malesala and defender Kate Burley.

Their best performer, however, was talented newcomer Lili Tokaduadua, who was awarded player of the match.

Tokaduadua produced a breakout performance with four gains, one intercept and seven total deflections in a high-octane first outing at the elite level.

Shooting stats


Amelia Walmsley 45/58 (78%)

Kiana Pelasio 12/16 (75%)

Khiarna Williams 1/1 (100%)


Maia Wilson 34/38 (90%)

Amorangi Malesala 10/14 (71%)

Rahni Samason 7/11 (64%)

ANZ Player of the Match: Lili Tokaduadua (Stars)

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