Pulse overcome gritty Tactix to win Super Club final
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse weathered a tenacious Silvermoon Tactix challenge before claiming a hard-fought 61-56 win in the 2018 Super Club final in Nelson tonight.
The match between New Zealand’s second and third-ranked teams produced a riveting contest, played in the more traditional style before the two-point shots took on greater significance in the final quarter.
The Tactix employed a stifling defensive through-court screen to deny the Pulse their preferred free-flowing style, the ever-present and dynamic Jane Watson providing the decisive last line of resistance in the circle. At the other end, the southerners attack line complimented the forceful defensive play with an immaculate stream of ball to towering shooter Ellie Bird.
That galvanised the home team who took plenty out of the first half, the Pulse pouncing just before the halftime break.
Absorbing all the early pressure, five goals on the trot handed the Pulse a 31-27 halftime lead and from that point, there was no looking back.
The senior players were key contributors with shooter Ameliaranne Ekenasio, midcourter Claire Kersten and defender Sulu Fitzpatrick getting through big workloads and dictating the run of play. Karin Burger continued her strong season with a telling presence in the crunch moments while Beko Netball League Player of the Year Maddy Gordon stepped into the cauldron for the last quarter with all the poise of a veteran.
Two-point shots were not as forthcoming as earlier matches but Ekenasio delivered when it mattered, the Tactix leaving their run a little late despite two late clutch shots from Kate Beveridge.
A patient and composed Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel secured third place with a defence-orientated 54-45 win over the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS).
It was a dour and close struggle for much of the match, the Steel fending off numerous NSWIS challenges with their renowned doggedness. Not afraid to rotate their full team throughout, the younger members more than held their own.
Seventeen-year-old schoolgirl defender Taneisha Fifita got her hands to plenty of turnover ball while fellow teenager Jess Allan showed a cool head to sink two two-pointers at a crucial time in the last quarter.
Defender Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit and shooter Jen O’Connell were key figures for the Steel while a cameo final minute at goal attack for hometown girl Shannon Francois produced an unlikely two-pointer to the delight of the crowd.
A composed UWS Sirens grabbed fifth spot, producing a strong finish to fend off the combined Fiji/Samoa Marama Vou side 66-57.
Relentless defence from Ella Gibbons and Emily Nicholl for the side from Scotland effectively shut down dangerous Samoa two-point shooter AJ Savelio in the final quarter. At the other end, Sirens shooters Monica Falkner and Bethan Goodwin were effective finishers from both scoring zones for the winning side.
Both teams entered the play-off for seventh as if their lives depended on it with Singapore’s Sneakers grabbing a much-merited 60-57 win over the Gauteng Jaguars from South Africa.
Momentum swung throughout but the Sneakers, on the back of their preference for the two-point shot, prevailed. That was largely due to Amorangi Malesala’s outstanding contribution from range, her pin-point accuracy converting a tournament high 20 successful shots from the two-point zone to help steer the Sneakers to their first win.