Vixens take win over Pulse
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The 2009 champions achieved the fast, strong start they had demanded of themselves, and finished off the match with a flourish. But the middle stanzas belonged to the Pulse, who gave everything in their effort to pull off an upset.
The Vixens were determined to improve their starts, and pressure from the Vixen’s tried and true defensive line-up, in particular Geva Mentor, put the Pulse shooters under pressure from the outset. The visiting side quickly stretched out to a four-goal lead.
Karyn Howarth got the nod at goal shoot as the in-form shooter in the Vixens camp, and lived up to the expectations of coach Julie Hoornweg, succeeding with 12 shots in the first quarter.
Pulse coach Robyn Broughton moved Joline Henry back from centre to her traditional wing defence spot in an attempt to counteract the on-song wing attack Madison Browne. But little could be done to quash the early Vixens’ attack.
With the Pulse trailing by seven, their fortunes took a turn for the worse when steadfast wing attack Katarina Cooper was carried off court with an agonising knee injury. She was replaced by Ngarama Milner-Olsen, but the Pulse struggled to regain composure and found themselves 18-8 down going into the second quarter.
In a bid to shut down Vixens’ goal attack Tegan Caldwell, Victoria Smith came off the bench to join goal keep Katrina Grant in the Pulse’s defence. It turned out to be a smart strategy, and with the full support of the crowd behind them, the revitalised Pulse fought back to within five. It reverberated through court, with goal shoot Caitlin Thwaites dominating the Pulse’s shooting circle.
While the persistent midcourt defence of Julie Corletto and Chelsey Tregear tried to keep the Pulse in check, the home side were equally determined and went to the changing rooms having won the second quarter by four, and trailing the Vixens by a more respectable 28-22 scoreline at halftime.
Sarah Wall’s appearance at centre added new drive to a Vixens’ side eager to make amends for their second quarter lapse. The battle between Wall and her opposite, Camilla Lees, was a reflection of the skirmish between the two sides which maintained its intensity throughout the third spell – the Vixens extending their lead by just one, 38-31.
The Pulse had a dream start to the final quarter, closing to within four by pouring defensive pressure on the Vixens’ attack.
With seven minutes left on the clock, the Pulse rejigged their line-up - Henry moving to centre and Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit coming into the defence. But by playing patient steady netball, with the example set by Mentor at the back, the Vixens held out for the win they craved; Howarth finishing with an impressive 37 goals from 42 attempts.