NORTHERN Mystics remained in touch with the top of the table Northern Stars thanks to an imposing 13-goal win over Central Pulse, 64-51. They won every single quarter and emptied their bench with a couple of fresh faces getting some valuable court time.
A misplaced ball in the opening passage of play for the Mystics allowed the Pulse a chance to capitalise and that is exactly what they did, flying down the court to open proceedings as Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness used their speed to open up Aliyah Dunn at the post. With the centre pass to follow, Souness found Dunn under the post once again and the Pulse were away. But the Mystics quickly caught up as Grace Nweke found her way to post to level the scores. There were turnovers aplenty for both sides to start the game as they settled into the match and found their rhythm in attack. The battle under the post between Sulu Fitzpatrick and Dunn was enticing as Fitzpatrick started to wear Dunn like a glove forcing Te Amo Amaru-Tibble to shoulder the shooting load, which she did with great ease.
Kelera Nawai was off to a hot start with the goal keeper using her leap and niggle to contest everything that came her way. Pulse were winning their fair share of ball back with Gordon snatching the ball in transition and Nawai a lynchpin down back, and the lead continued to chop and change as neither side was able to steady off their own centre pass with a wealth of uncharacteristic turnovers such as breaks and offensive contacts. A one-goal lead turned into three the way of the Mystics as the Pulse were riddled with bad passes. Kate Burley was having a field day down back, consistently getting hands to ball and creating opportunities for her side to punish as they extended out to a five-goal lead.
The Pulse ate into the margin to cut it back to three goals but the Mystics continued to find a way to score. Peta Toeava was crafty as ever around circle edge with her strength to outmuscle Claire Kersten while her pinpoint feeds into the circle were causing all sorts of chaos. Up the other end, Fa’amu Ioane was getting hands to ball and using her outside arm to cleanly regain possession. The Mystics really put the foot down pushing out to a whopping eight-goal margin with the ball continuing to fall their way despite the constant pressure from the Pulse.
A bit of magic from Dunn falling out of court was somewhat of a spark while Abby Erwood came on for all of a minute in wing defence before Gordon and Kersten switched bibs. Kersten provided plenty of composure in attack to feed the ball in with precision. The aerial dynamos started to come into play for both sides but it was the Mystics, in particular Fitzpatrick, that were running riot. The goal keeper was gobbling up every cross-court ball that came her way and sending the ball rocketing up the other end. Fortunately for the Pulse, Bailey Mes was well and truly off the boil and was unable to hit the scoreboard.
Up by nine goals at half time the Mystics extended that buffer to 10 nice and early in the third quarter converting off a Pulse centre pass. Filda Vui came on to replace Mes out in goal attack with the speedster using her playmaking skills to open up Nweke under the post. Gordon was trying her hardest out in wing defence while it was Fitzpatrick that was proving to be a thorn in the Pulse’s side stopping the ball from entering the circle. Things were not going to plan for the Pulse at all while the Mystics proved to be unstoppable with Ioane having an impressive game upon return while Tayla Earle was an unsung hero through the centre.
Nawai had her work cut out for her down in defence with the ball constantly flying over her head but using her leap to try and have an impact, while at the other end Dunn was struggling in goal shooter only converting at 68 per cent. The ball ping-ponged up and down the court with missed shots from both sides allowing the defenders to impose themselves. With the lead swinging out to a whopping 13 goals the Pulse made wholesale changes as Erwood re-entered the contest in at wing defence as Gordon pushed into wing attack and Souness into goal attack. But it took a while for the cogs to click into gear in the attacking third going into three quarter time down by 11 goals.
The final quarter saw much of the same from the Mystics as their silky transition down court continued to catch the Pulse off-guard. There was simply nothing the Pulse could do as the Mystics treasured possession and mounted pressure with their strong hands-over marking. Toeava was in a bit of discomfort with the wing attack leaving the court prompting Mes to pull on the bib instead, while with the game well and truly out of their reach Parris Mason came on in wing defence for the Pulse with the youngster contesting hard. With a tick under seven minutes on the clock Saviour Tui made her debut for the season while Ama Agbeze slotted into goal keeper shifting the defensive unit forward as the home side continued to purr along nicely.
Nweke was unstoppable once again nailing 54 goals from 63 attempts at 86 per cent as Vui played a strong accompanying role with her six from seven. Tui and Mes both managed two goals apiece with the latter racking up seven goal assists. But the main port of call was Toeava with the wing attack racking up 29 goal assists as Fitzpatrick had a game to remember in defence with five intercepts and a rebound. Dunn finished with 31 goals at 80 per cent as Amaru-Tibble registered 16 goals from 20 attempts. Gordon led the way with 12 goal assists as Jury and Nawai combined for seven gains.