Steel capitulates in second half

Central Pulse goal shoot Aliyah Dunn grabs a pass into the circle, despite the attention of Southern Steel goal keep Courtney Elliott (left) and goal defence Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, as Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio lurks in support, during an ANZ
Central Pulse goal shoot Aliyah Dunn grabs a pass into the circle, despite the attention of Southern Steel goal keep Courtney Elliott (left) and goal defence Te Huinga Selby-Rickit, as Pulse goal attack Ameliaranne Ekenasio lurks in support, during an ANZ Premiership match at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin last night. Photo: Linda Robertson
Momentum is an important thing in sport.

It can win you a game, just as it can easily lose you one.

Last night it was the latter for the Southern Steel.

Its own momentum was sucked away and the Central Pulse rode a big third quarter to beat the host 66-50 at the Edgar Centre.

The Steel had just pulled in a three goal halftime deficit and an 8-1 run left it with a 37-33 lead.

But the Pulse answered in the most emphatic way and everything went wrong for the Steel.

The Pulse defence went up a level, getting deflections and rendering the Steel unable to connect its passes.

At the other end, its attack was devastating, effortlessly finding its shooters - who shot 93%, Aliyah Dunn a perfect 37/37.

A 7-0 run followed, setting the platform for the Pulse to obliterate the host at both ends for the rest of the quarter.

It finished the third quarter with a 49-40 lead, and while the Steel pulled that back to six at one point, it slipped away again.

Steel coach Reinga Bloxham agreed the second half was disappointing.

She felt the side needed to respond better once it recognised the shift in momentum.

That would be a focus going forward.

Both the Steel's basic errors and the Pulse's pressure had contributed to the lapse.

However, she could not pin-point what caused everything to go wrong at once.

''I'm unsure. I don't know. It did just happen at once,'' she said.

''We were just too slow to react.

''There was clusters of errors, the momentum swung and it went their way.

''But we should be better than that. We should be able to stop the momentum by at least scoring off our centre pass and doing those sorts of things.

''Those were the things we weren't able to execute, which was disappointing.''

The challenge of getting the ball past the Pulse defence became evident early.

Katrina Rore and Sulu Fitzpatrick got hands to plenty of ball and forced the Steel to work hard to feed its shooters.

However, they were clinical with what they got and kept the deficit narrow most of the first quarter.

A Te Paea Selby-Rickit goal on quarter time pulled it back to 17-15, the Steel weathering the early storm well.

The Steel emerged from the break with more patience.

It strung together pass after pass, navigating the Pulse defence to find its shooters

That helped it tie things at 19-19, before jumping out to a 21-19 lead.

At 24-21 it had the chance to extend that to four after a Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit deflection.

It could not capitalise, though.

Minutes later, Katrina Rore knocked the ball away from Lenize Potgieter and the Pulse tied the score at 26-26.

It continued that run to lead 32-29 at halftime, before the Steel hit back and a Kate Heffernan intercept allowed it to go up three.

This time it capitalised off its centre pass, but at 37-33 it all went wrong.

The Pulse defence found another level and from there its attack could not be stopped, the

Steel seemingly powerless to halt the onslaught.

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