14 May 2015

Pulse beat Tactix in Porirua

12:23 pm on 14 May 2015

The Central Pulse have beaten the Mainland Tactix 51-48 in Porirua to keep their slim playoff hopes alive in the ANZ netball Championship.

The Tactix Bailey Mes looks to shoot with the Pulse captain Katrina Grant in defence.

The Tactix Bailey Mes looks to shoot with the Pulse captain Katrina Grant in defence. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The victory, no matter how patchy, puts the Pulse level-pegging on points with their next opponents, the Southern Steel, who are also desperate to claim the third finals berth from the New Zealand conference.

It is the Pulse's third win from 10 games.

Although the Tactix were in striking distance for much of the second half, they could not break their 19-match losing streak - even to honour their most loyal of players, centre Anna Thompson, in her 100th appearance for the Canterbury franchise.

The opening stanza was all Pulse. Liana Leota used her magic on the edge of the circle to weave the ball into Ameliaranne Wells, who dominated the shooting in the first five minutes and pushed the Pulse out to a 6-2 lead.

Despite the determination of Tactix keeper Jess Moulds not to let Wells have free rein, the young Pulse shooter figured out how to wriggle away and give herself enough room to receive the ball and pop it sweetly through the hoop.

Sue Hawkins, the Tactix coach, made an early change of recruits, replacing goal attack Gemma Hazeldine with international Bailey Mes - who offered almost as much on defence as on attack - when the difference was five goals. But the Pulse continued to control the run of play and led 17-10 at the first break.

Mwai Kumwenda - one of the most effective shooters in the league - had been stifled under the Tactix hoop, putting up just eight shots in the first quarter, but still scoring every one. Her flawless shooting continued throughout the next spell (and almost the entire match).

Louise Thayer came into the Tactix defensive circle to start the second quarter - on for Demelza Fellowes - and immediately made her presence felt in the face of the Pulse shooters.

But Wells and the widely-experienced Jodi Brown overcame the new obstacle and kept adding to the Pulse tally with a repetition that the Tactix initially couldn't interrupt.

Smart feeding by Thompson - giving her all in her 100th game - helped bring the Tactix a reprieve from the onslaught in the final minutes of the quarter, and kept the Pulse to a six-goal halftime lead, 32-26.

Both sides made alterations to try to assume authority in the third period - Ama Agbeze on at goal keep for the Pulse, and Chloe Williamson and Zoe Walker attempting to bolster the Tactix defence.

It was the visiting Tactix who made the inroads, with Fellowes - back on at goal defence - showing a new hunger, spoiling the Pulse attack, then driving the ball long down court. Walker, too, contributed with her elevation in defending the hoop, and Kumwenda's shooting was still faultless.

With a new impetus, the Tactix quickly shut down the difference to three, and then one with five minutes left in the spell.

At 42-41 in the Pulse's favour going into the final 15 minutes, the tension was palpable, and neither side were able to reopen their accounts for two minutes - Wells finally breaking the drought for the home side. The stream continued to flow in the Pulse's direction, and they pushed the gap back out to three, but some simple errors in the heat of battle allowed the Tactix back in with a chance.

Kumwenda continued her outstanding performance, finishing with 30 from 31, while her opposite, Wells also made a strong impact with 33 from 40.

But it was a telling intercept by Katrina Grant off the Tactix centre pass with just over two minutes to go that seemed to seal the Tactix's fate, denying them their much desired first win of the season.

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