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Pulse storm into netball premiership final

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/06/2017 Cathy Walshe

Central Pulse will tackle the unbeaten Southern Steel in the national netball premiership final after downing Northern Mystics 59-52 in the elimination final on Sunday.

Pulse went into Sunday's sudden-death play-off between second and third in the six-team competition with two narrow round-robin wins over the Mystics from earlier in the season.

But the Mystics, stung by last week's upset 46-57 loss to bottom-of-the-table Mainland Tactix, came out firing at Wellington's TSB Arena.

Ahead 16-10 after 15 minutes, and 30-28 at half-time, the Mystics stalled late in the third quarter and the Pulse stormed back to steal a 45-44 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

The final quarter turned into a battle of attrition, the Pulse opening the spell with a four-goal run before the Mystics clawed their way back to trail by two with seven minutes remaining.

The Aucklanders couldn't bridge the gap further, however, and paid the price for forcing their passes in the attacking third with too many turnovers.

Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie was particularly pleased with the way her team showed their best when it mattered.

"Throughout the season, it hasn't been easy - we've had to grow a number of combinations, and with a number of young players taking the court for the first time," she told NZ Newswire.

"It's really thrilling to see them manage that challenge, and they were under some pressure in that first half."

In contrast, Mystics coach Helene Wilson was left regretting lost opportunities after her team's impressive first quarter.

"Our decision-making around the game plan we were playing wasn't quite on point, particularly the decisions we made and the execution of our passes on attack," she said.

The return of Anna Harrison boosted their defensive circle, although the Aucklanders were hit by the late withdrawal of national under-21 skipper Michaela Sokolich-Beatson with a back injury.

Nevertheless, Harrison teamed with Storm Purvis to construct an intimidating circle defence which kept Pulse shooters Cathrine Tuivaiti and Tiana Metuarau under constant pressure.

The pair responded with a calm performance, Tuivaiti missing only two of her 37 shots on goal while 16-year-old Metuarau finished on 24 from 28 in another composed showing.

Maria Tutaia and Bailey Mes were also accurate in converting the possession into points, but fell off in the last 15 minutes.

Tutaia, who sunk 33 from 35 across 60 minutes, didn't miss a shot until five minutes into the final quarter, while Mes slipped off her best in nailing 19 of her 24 attempts.

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