From 12 goals up to a narrow two-point win, the Northern Mystics have secured their place in the ANZ Premiership Grand Final defeating the Central Pulse, 56-54.
Tagged as playing for pride, the Pulse were as far off from taking the loss as you can get.
Yet in the first half, it did seem like they were going to take the loss lying down with Aaliyah Dunn struggling to present against a Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick defensive circle and both Te Amo Amaru-Tibble and Ivana Rowland looking nervous to shoot.
Defensively, Kelly Jury and Kelera Nawai put the pressure on Grace Nweke yet the 19-year-old continued to show confidence and wisdom beyond her ages.
During the quarter break, Pulse coach Gail Perata addressed the stagnant looking team and told them to stop looking and just to pass to the first available option.
With the crowd behind them cheering in English and Maori, it saw the Pulse take charge at the start of the second quarter before dropping off again to a seven-goal deficit.
Meanwhile in that first half, Mystics played for everything they have with Peta Toeava and Fa’amu Ioane showing the world what WA & WD can do.
Toeava in particular continued to thread some awesome passes to Nweke often pushing them with enough power to fly through Jury’s hands.
As per usual, Kate Burley and Sulu Fitzpatrick put on a defensive masterclass for the Pulse crowd showing their physical strength with the iconic “Burley Boost” and their game knowledge of when to just let Dunn shoot and miss.
However, it was the second half that was not to be missed as the Pulse came out of the blocks with a new fire for the game.
One could only imagine what was said in the changing rooms at half time to make the girls jump like they did.
Mystics looked startled as they shifted players across the board to try and settle their team and reign in the Central Pulse.
One switch many fans had been waiting for was the progressive defensive duo of Kelly Jury and youngster Paris Lokotui which last week was the deciding factor in beating the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
And it worked, the defensive pressure that came from a Jury-Nweke match up led to multiple unforced errors and frustrated Mystics side in the fourth quarter.
In the post-match interview, Sulu Fitzpatrick honestly described the second half as a “meltdown” and commented on how she was scared to even look at Assistant Coach Rob Wright after the last 15 minutes of play.
Peta Toeava unsurprisingly took out player of the match after her work to thread needle-like passes to Grace Nweke and keep Maddy Gordon quiet.
Categories: ANZ Premiership