No last-minute meltdown this time for champion Pulse

Pulse captain Katrina Rore holds the ANZ Premiership trophy aloft in front of her team-mates...
Pulse captain Katrina Rore holds the ANZ Premiership trophy aloft in front of her team-mates after they beat the Northern Stars in the final at Te Rauparaha Arena in Wellington yesterday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
This time the Central Pulse withstood the pressure.

It was not the drubbing many expected, but that was of no significance in the end.

A 52-48 win over the Northern Stars in yesterday's ANZ Premiership final in Porirua went some way to avenging last year's loss.

On that occasion it had collapsed late against the Southern Steel, after dominating much of the game.

This time the Pulse was never quite so dominant. However, it showed its poise to grind out a win against a Stars team few gave a chance.

The host could not shake the Stars, who did well to disrupt the Pulse attack and prevent it getting a flow on. Every time the Pulse looked like pulling away, the Stars would hit back with a run of their own.

Goal shoot Aliyah Dunn was her reliable self for the Pulse and proved a key presence.

She shot 40 from 43 and helped keep the score ticking over whenever the Pulse needed a goal.

At the other end, the defensive duo of Sulu Fitzpatrick and Katrina Rore stepped up when they were needed.

It was their ability to slow the Stars down late in the third quarter that was the key period of the match.

While the Pulse had opened small leads throughout the first half, the Stars had pulled it back every time.

That left the Pulse leading 27-25 at halftime, and while it extended the margin to four after the break, the Stars hit back.

Stars goal attack Charlee Hodges scored three in a row, bookended by two Maia Wilson goals five minutes into the third quarter.

That evened things up at 30-30, although Dunn answered to prevent the Stars taking the lead.

At that point the Pulse defence rallied.

It held the Stars to just four goals for the remainder of the quarter, while Dunn piled in the goals at the other end.

The margin reached seven late in the quarter, although Wilson scored on the last play to make it 40-34.

While the Pulse was unable to pull away, it was also able to hold the Stars off.

It maintained its composure and operated under pressure, preventing a collapse like last year.

The margin remained between five and six for the majority of the final quarter.

While the Stars made a final run to cut it to 51-48 in the final two minutes, it was too late.


ANZ Premiership

The scores
Central Pulse: 52
Aliyah Dunn 40/43, Ameliaranne Ekenasio 12/19

Northern Stars: 48
Maia Wilson 34/41, Charlee Hodges 14/20
Quarter scores: 12-10, 15-15, 13-9, 12-14

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