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Win pushes Pulse up premiership ladder

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/06/2017

Central Pulse have continued their push for home advantage in the national netball premiership playoffs with a 57-47 win over the Northern Stars in Porirua.

With only one game of the regular season remaining, the Pulse have eased into second place overall, one point ahead of the Northern Mystics and four in front of the Magic.

Second and third will play off to decide who meets unbeaten competition leaders the Southern Steel later this month in Invercargill.

The Pulse looked comfortable for the first 30 minutes on Wednesday, their dominance built around a slick midcourt and an unflappable shooting circle.

Whitney Souness, Sarah Bayman and tireless wing defence Claire Kersten shifted turnover ball swiftly down court where Cathrine Tuivaiti (35 from 36) and 16-year-old goal attack Tiana Metuarau (22/27) duly converted.

However, ahead 15-10 after 15 minutes, and 30-19 at halftime, the Pulse lost momentum in the third quarter as the Stars hauled themselves back into the match.

Kayla Cullen's shift from wing defence into the circle put more pressure on the Pulse feed and, at the other end of the court, Afa Rusivakula and Malia Vaka found good position to convert the turnover ball.

Ahead 41-35 at the three-quarter mark, the Pulse opened out in the closing 15 minutes to restore some respectability to their winning margin.

Earlier, an outstanding final-quarter defensive effort had set up the Steel for a gritty 51-46 win over Mainland Tactix in Christchurch.

The Steel were left depleted after six of their squad were involved in an accident on Tuesday when their van collided with a car at a Christchurch intersection.

Captain and wing defence Wendy Frew needed surgery on her elbow and leg, while Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit and midcourter Shannon Francois were also admitted to hospital briefly.

Missing four of their top-line players, the Steel ran a largely second-string line-up against the bottom-of-the-table Tactix, who looked set to record just their second win in 14 games when they took a three-goal lead into the last quarter.

But a superb final 15 minutes from circle defenders Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and Jane Watson won a series of crucial turnovers for the Steel, who restricted the Tactix to just five goals for the quarter.

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