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The Mainland Tactix may have displayed promising form last week, but nothing they could do was enough to take down the ANZ Premiership top dogs.
Playing at home in Christchurch's Horncastle Arena, the Tactix were fended off by the competition leading Central Pulse, going down 47-36.
The Tactix claimed their fifth win of the season against the Mystics last week - equalling their club record tally for wins in a season - while the Pulse suffered their second defeat after being unable to find their rhythm against a powerful Southern Steel side.
However, the Pulse's ability to bounce back was felt hard and fast by the Tactix as the Wellington side put in a confident and resilient display.
It was a battle of the defenders in the opening quarter of the round 10 clash as both sides played to the advantage of their strong defence units.
Tenacious Tactix defenders Temalisi Fakahokotau and Jane Watson were quick to apply the pressure on young Pulse shooters Aliyah Dunn and Tiana Metuarau. Fakahokotau's keen reach saw the Silver Ferns defender snatch vital turnover opportunities for her side, but an evenly matched Pulse defensive force saw the Mainlanders struggle to convert.
Gaining considerable momentum in the second quarter, the Pulse went from strength to strength as midcourter Whitney Souness found good connection with her shooters from the circle edge.
Pulse captain Katrina Grant was in sublime form alongside her counterpart Sulu Fitzpatrick as the pair caused early problems for Tactix shooter Ellie Bird. Pulling out all their tricks, such as the iconic 'Harrison Hoist,' the defending duo led their side to a seven-goal halftime lead.
As the scoreline widened, Tactix coach Marianne Delaney-Hoshek made brave changes to her attacking line-up, calling Australian import shooter Kate Beveridge on at goal shoot while moving Brooke Leaver to wing attack.
As the new combinations settled, Bird's wavering shooting form at the start of the third quarter saw the Pulse's advantage briefly extend. But a sudden change in pace saw the home side rapidly claw back lost ground - going on a 7-0 run to level up the scoreline, much to the surprise of their opponents.
Desperate to hold onto their advantage, the Pulse were forced to fight for possession against an ignited Tactix, side leaving only a few goals to separate the teams in the final stanza.
The Tactix remained hot on the heels of the Pulse with a lift from their defensive line providing plenty of opportunities to catch up. However, although the Tactix showcased potential to topple the Premiership leaders, it wasn't enough to snatch the win from a determined Pulse outfit.
The Pulse continue to lead the pack on the ladder with 20 points, while the Tactix will remain in third behind the Southern Steel, on 14 points.
With just four days to rest, the Pulse will tip off round 11 on Sunday afternoon when they face the Northern Stars at Auckland's Pulman Arena.
- Cheree Kinnear