Pulse's speed and finesse edges Steel in Invercargill

Steel shooter Georgia Heffernan passes the ball backwards during an ANZ Premiership game against...
Steel shooter Georgia Heffernan passes the ball backwards during an ANZ Premiership game against the Pulse in Invercargill on Saturday. PHOTO: MICHAEL BRADLEY
No shooters. No worries.

An understrength Pulse dispatched the Steel 57-37 in Invercargill today.

The visitors were down to training partners in the shooting circle thanks to a rough run of injuries.

Khiarna Williams suffered a calf strain during the warm-up last weekend and joined fellow shooters Tiana Metuarau and Amelia Walmsley and midcourter Maddy Gordon on the sidelines.

The Steel have had their share of injury setbacks as well.

They had star shooter George Fisher ruled out before the season started and veteran midcourter Shannon Saunders succumbed to a knee injury last month.

The Pulse went into the game fresh from their first loss of the season, while the Steel had edged the Mystics 47-43 in Dunedin to record their second win of the campaign.

If anyone thought the Pulse might be vulnerable, well, that idea was snuffed out immediately.

The Pulse looked a different team and capitalised on some sloppy passing from the Steel in the opening exchanges to steal a six-goal head start.

The home side was looking out of sorts. Goal defence Abby Lawson nabbed an intercept to help spark her side a touch.

But Martina Salmon was nailing everything down the other end, though.

Whitney Souness fired in a cracking half-court pass which found Salmon right next to the post. She popped it in easy as.

Another stray pass late in the first stanza really summed up a rather dismal 15 minutes for the Steel. 

The connections were broken and they trailed 20-6 at the break. 

It is a long way back from a deficit like that, especially when the midcourters are struggling to find the shooters.

Pulse defenders Kelly Jackson and Parris Mason were shutting down space and getting their limbs in the way.

The Steel were able to slow the speed at which the Pulse were scoring and made some late inroads thanks to a five-goal run.

But there was still a 12-goal mountain ahead at halftime.

The Steel resisted making changes and made a sluggish start to the third quarter.

At one stage they went more than three minutes without scoring.

The Pulse, however, were playing with speed and finesse and pulled further away.

Claire Kersten, who was lured out of retirement last month, and Souness were in formidable form on the circle edge.

The Pulse led 45-28 with 15 minutes remaining. The contest was effectively over and had been for some time.

The fourth quarter presented Salmon with a golden opportunity to get to 50 goals.

Her mobility and athleticism was a revelation, but she had to settle for 48 goals from 54 attempts.

The scores

Central Pulse       57   (Martina Salmon 48 from 54, Kiana Pelasio 7/9, Crystal Maro 2/4)

Southern Steel     37   (Georgia Heffernan 19/25, Grace Namana 16/20, Ella Southby 2/2)

Quarter scores:   20-6, 30-18, 45-28