The northerners kept their Finals Series hopes alive with a forceful outing where Cathrine Latu continued an impressive season in recording a perfect 42 goals from 42 attempts. Pulse had their moments but as has become all too common, they paid the price for a disjointed effort. A slow start and too much turnover ball proved their undoing.
Mystics got off to a flier, their new-look attack line settling into a slick unit from the outset. Fast-paced sweeping drives through court provided a seamless transition of ball to shooters Megan Dehn, at goal attack, whose combination with Cathrine Latu was on song from the first pass-off.
Pulse were sluggish on defence, unable to stem wave after wave of Mystic attacks as Dehn and Latu ruled the circle, effortlessly potting everything that came their way. At the other end, long-limbed in-circle defenders Anna Scarlett and Jess Moulds got their hands to a lot of ball ensuring Mystics enjoyed a monopoly of possession.
With the score ballooning out at a rapid rate and Pulse struggling to convert at their own end, Amber Bellringer was replaced under the hoop by Te Amo Amaru-Tibble. But little was going right for the visitors as wayward passing, basic errors and lack lustre defence helped Mystics blast out to a 19-12 first quarter lead.
Pulse looked to force their way back into the game with a reshuffled defensive line-up which worked initially. They level-pegged with the Mystics for much of the second stanza before returning to habits of old as they turned over hard-won ball at an alarming rate.
Mystics needed no second invitation, shaking some loose play out of their system with a withering burst to finish off the half. Latu continued to shine with a standout performance, showcasing her full repertoire of skills as she dominated the home teams circle.
Australian import Caitlin Thwaites played a lone hand in holding the Pulse together but she could not match Latu's 24 goals from 24 attempts as Mystics bolted out to a 32-22 halftime lead.
As has become something of a habit, Pulse showed they were far from a spent force with a much improved effort through the third quarter. Despite Mystics injecting their Silver Fern-weighted bench into the match (Maria Tutaia and Joline Henry), the visitors strung their best passage of play together during this phase.
Bellringer came back on for the Pulse as the visitors finally made some inroads on attack. Finding better angles and more space on attack, Bellringer and Thwaites enjoyed a greater supply of ball while at the other end defenders Katrina Grant and Bessie Manu snapped up some well-won intercept ball.
In contrast to their messy first half, Pulse went on to win the third stanza, whittling the Mystics back to a 43-37 lead at three-quarter time.
Any ideas harboured by the Pulse of an upset were dashed when a glut of errors returned to blight their game. Missed goals and basic errors from the visitors coincided with a lift in intensity from Mystics, who finished off the match and the Pulse in style.
Mystics had standout contributors at both ends of the court with defender Scarlett picking off a host of intercept ball and Latu a picture of poise and accuracy under the hoop.
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|Goals / Attempts||61 / 64 (95.3 %)||48 / 64 (75.0 %)|
|-||Te Amo Amaru-Tibble||6/7||0||1||7||0||0||0||2|
– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
photo David Cannon/Getty images