Two years ago, Swifts were on the end of an upset loss when Pulse triumphed in their first-ever win of the competition. The home team had their moments in the re-match but were hindered by a slow start and too many basic passing errors today.
Strong in patches, Swifts did enough to get home but were not totally convincing as they too were guilty of inconsistency in their turnover rate and high penalty count.
With their last visit to Wellington still fresh in their minds, Swifts were all business at the outset, getting away to a rollicking start. With an easy path off their first and second phase play, shooters Susan Pratley and Catherine Cox revelled under the hoop.
Within minutes, the visitors had chalked up a five-goal lead. In comparison, Pulse were laboured in their build-up on attack while shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Amber Bellringer were unnerved by the suffocating defence. As is their style, however, the home team made their customary fightback, getting back into the contest with good turnover ball.
But they continued to squander possession as the shooters struggled with the long limbs of Swifts defenders Mo'onia Gerrard and Sonia Mkoloma as the accuracy rates took a dive.
At the other end, veteran Cox put on a dazzling show with her full repertoire of skills coming to the fore as the Swifts skipped out to a 15-10 first quarter lead.
The ball was turned over repeatedly on the resumption as both teams made messy starts. The injection of Ngarama Milner-Olsen from the bench to centre and Daya Pritchard from centre to wing defence had the desired effect of lifting the Pulse's intensity.
The nippy Milner-Olsen added some spark to the Pulse's attacking line while Pritchard played a dynamic hand on defence as she picked off welcome intercept ball for the home team. Cox and Pratley went off the boil a little in their accuracy, Victoria Smith and Katrina Grant swooping in for the rebounds as Pulse charged back into contention.
Narrowing the gap to one, Pulse had several chances to level the scores but as has become a familiar trait, ball security let them down at important moments.
With the statistics balancing out, Swifts drew on their experience to hold out the late-charging Pulse and take a 24-12 lead into halftime.
Not happy with her teams execution, Swifts coach Julie Fitzgerald made a host of changes for the second half. Gerrard's move to wing defence and international Rebecca Bulley's participation at goal defence, from the bench, made a significant difference to the Swifts' fortunes.
The changes reaped immediate reward, the Swifts' defensive screen proved extra difficult for the Pulse to penetrate. The back three picked up a host of extra ball, the Swifts slick in their delivery through court as Cox and Pratley, back to their best, provided the finishing polish.
A dominant few minutes where they scored five unanswered goals propelled Swifts out to an eight-goal lead and seemingly in control of the match when they headed into the last break 37-30 ahead.
Pulse had other ideas as they drew to within two goals in an exciting finale but who were, in the end, unable to get the vital breakthrough against a more composed and accurate Swifts.
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|Goals / Attempts||43 / 60 (71.7 %)||48 / 61 (78.7 %)|
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– but the sailors praise the new boats
Photo Credit: Dario Belingheri/Bettini Photo
photo David Cannon/Getty images