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Pulse hold nerve in netball thriller

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/03/2017

Central Pulse have held their nerve to edge the Mystics 56-55 in the inaugural round of netball's new six-team national premiership competition.

Three games were played on Sunday at Claudelands Arena in Hamilton, with a fourth game between the Magic and new franchise the Northern Stars scheduled for Monday.

The first two games of the competition, which replaces the now defunct trans-Tasman league, were lop-sided as the Magic thumped the Tactix 71-48 and the Southern Steel cruised to a 75-57 win over the Stars.

In contrast, the Pulse-Mystics match went right down to the wire, with the Aucklanders leading 15-14 at the end of the first quarter and 29-27 at half-time.

In her first outing since shifting south to the Pulse, former Mystics stalwart Cathrine Tuivaiti took time before rediscovering her signature moves on the baseline and getting her team back in the contest.

Coming on late in the second quarter, 16-year-old shooter Tiana Metuarau impressed with a composed performance at goal attack.

The daughter of former Silver Fern Waimarama Taumaunu, Metuarau sunk 16 from 19 for an 84 per cent success rate despite some quality opposition from Silver Ferns defenders Anna Harrison and Storm Purvis.

Tuivaiti, who played 24 Tests for New Zealand after making her debut in 2011, was equally impressive in sinking 33 from 34 attempts.

The Pulse fought back to take the third stanza 16-14 and level the scores at 43-43 going into the final quarter, defenders Phoenix Karaka and Katrina Grant upping the pressure on Mystics shooters Bailey Mes (24/27) and Maria Tutaia (31/37).

With three minutes remaining, the Pulse opened out to a 55-50 lead, holding on for the win despite a last-gasp push from the Mystics.

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