Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse delivered at the right time when powering past the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel 51-28 to seal the last spot in the Super Club semi finals.
In Thursday’s semi finals, the Pulse will line up against the unbeaten Collingwood Magpies (Australia) while Splice Construction WBOP Magic will come up against the Northern Mystics.
Needing to win by at least six goals to confirm a place in the top four, the defending champions denied the Steel after getting away to an explosive start to set the tone for the remainder of the match.
With Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio shoring up the shooting end, and a re-jigged defensive line, the Pulse didn’t put a foot wrong in scoring the first five goals of the match while denying the Steel for close to five minutes.
Captain Katrina Rore, Karin Burger and Renee Savai’inaea were a forceful presence on defence while Dunn and Ekenasio provided the polish under the hoop to set the Pulse on their way in an impressive outing.
Rocked from the outset, the Steel never found their groove, early shots failing to drop while being hustled into uncharacteristic errors.
Magic advanced to the final four after posting a satisfying 51-43 win over The Good Oil Tactix. Bolting out of the blocks with purposeful intent, Magic never took a backward glance after leading at all the breaks.
Defenders Jenna O’Sullivan and Georgia Tong took the challenge to the taller Tactix shooting duo of Ellie Bird and Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Sam Sinclair and the fleet-footed Whitney Souness provided the dynamism on attack while unflappable shooter Kelsey McPhee steered the Magic ship from under the hoop.
Nothing much went right for the Tactix who were let down by the inability to get enough volume to the shooters and a high turnover count.
The Mystics took the sting out of the Wasps (England) challenge during a dominant first half before going on to post a comfortable 52-31 win.
Introducing fresh legs in the form of pocket-rocket midcourter Elisapeta Toeava and defender Phoenix Karaka for their first action of the tournament, helped the Mystics test their depth of combination while adding variety.
The team from England had few answers for Toeava, her deft skills and speed handing shooters Saviour Tui and Bailey Mes the ball on a platter while Karaka picked off a bounty of turnover opportunities.
Wasps made a better fist of a competitive third quarter which they drew but were unable to make further inroads in a one-sided contest which left them winless after pool play.
The Magpies completed a clean sweep to finish top of their pool following a comprehensive 53-41 win over the Northern Stars to open the third day’s play.
The Stars found it tough going against the experienced and richly talented Magpies with feeders Natalie Medhurst and Ella Bayliss delivering a pinpoint service to standout Jamaican shooter Shimona Nelson, who had posted 15 goals by the first break.
Enjoying a greater supply of ball, the Magpies were relentless in their attacking raids before introducing some of their young guns for the second half.
With shooters Maia Wilson and Juliana Naoupu, returning to the elite level after a long absence, combining for the first time at this tournament, the pair provided a slick combination under the hoop to help the Stars draw the quarter and win the last stanza by one.
The players have a day off tomorrow for Community Engagement Day where they will get out and mix with schools, the public and local businesses.
THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER
6.35pm - Collingwood v Pulse
8.10pm - Mystics v Magic
3.30pm - Tactix vs Wasps
5.00pm - Steel v Stars
photo Dan Vernon
Youtube Video Alex's Hidden Journey
level the playing field in terms of gender
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photo Dan Vernon