A game almost too close to call

Maddy Gordon has been a key cog in the Central Pulse line-up. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Maddy Gordon has been a key cog in the Central Pulse line-up. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHY

You would be hard pressed to find two teams more evenly matched — and their history proves it. The Pulse has a slight one-up this season, having beaten the Stars 58-44 in round six and squeaked a 64-62 win in round eight. The Stars beat the Pulse 59-51 back in round three when the Pulse was in a slump, and will be desperate to make it an all-Auckland final. Both teams have dominant goal shooters. Maia Wilson (Stars) is the most accurate in the league at 94%, having shot 595 goals from 633 attempts. Youngster Amelia Walmsley (Pulse) is relishing her first year starting, shooting 586 goals from 682 attempts, at 85.9%.


Road to finals

Interestingly, both teams come into the elimination final on the back of losses. The Stars lost 63-58 to cross-town rivals the Mystics but scored an all-important bonus point to remain in the playoff picture. The Stars were right in the game against the Mystics and fought their way back after being seven goals down early in the game. That fight will be needed on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Pulse lost 54-45 to the Tactix — which missed the top three after many tipped it to take the title this year — after two really poor quarters and never really found its way back in to the game.


Under attack

Two of the most experienced wing attacks will go head-to-head. Whitney Souness is dynamic off the line, with the Pulse feeder leading the competition with 443 centre pass receives. Her counterpart at the Stars, Gina Crampton, is second with 318 centre pass receives. Crampton leads the competition for feeds (642) and the experienced head does everything right, despite many saying she has had a quiet year. Souness has 452 feeds to her name.

Both players are well supported with strong goal attacks, but the volume of ball they take is mammoth and something to keep an eye on.


On the defence

Kelly Jury has stamped her foot this season, leading the competition for defensive rebounds (23), deflections (70) and second for intercepts (33). The Pulse goal keep’s lean towers over shooters and never makes it easy to get a shot away. There is added incentive for Jury as well, as she brings up her 100th national league game on Sunday. Down the other end, Elle Temu is also a menace, picking up 14 defensive rebounds and 25 intercepts. Her partner in crime, Kelera Nawai-Caucau, has also been strong, taking eight rebounds and 17 intercepts. Holly Fowler has also impressed in and out of the circle, nabbing 42 deflections.


Key match up

Big battles across the court — think Wilson and Jury, Temu and Tiana Metuarau — but it has to be in the middle between Mila Reuelu-Buchanan and Maddy Gordon. Both fringe Silver Ferns have been among the dominant centres this season and match up well against each other, in terms of athleticism and speed. Reuelu-Buchanan leads the pair in attacking flair, sitting second in the league, behind team-mate Crampton, for feeds with 619.

Gordon has had a massive year defensively, is the only midcourter in the top 10 for deflections (47) and has 14 intercepts to her name.



A really, really tough one to choose, but I’m going to have to go with the Pulse by two. The Pulse has come home with a wet sail — despite last week’s bump in the road — and the defending champion has game winners across the court.