A strong start from the Northern Stars wasn’t enough to hold off a determined Central Pulse side who won 66-48 tonight in South Auckland to secure an ANZ Premiership home final.
Both teams were fixed on putting in improved performances after going down in Super Sunday matches twenty-four hours earlier.
Coach Kiri Wills opted to start Ellen Halpenny at goal attack in her 100th national league match.
“We know that Ellen frustrates the Pulse defence so wanted to use that to our advantage and it worked as we got off to a great start, unfortunately we were unable to see that through to the end.”
The Stars quickly jumped out to a three-goal lead with Kate Burley and Ama Agbeze combining well to create turnover ball and Maia Wilson sinking goals at will.
A couple of attacking errors let the Pulse back into the game and ahead 14-16 at the first break.
Momentum started to swing in the visitors favour towards the end of the second quarter, prompting a change in the shooting circle with Paula Griffin coming on at goal attack to replace Halpenny.
With a six-goal buffer going into the second half the Pulse’s lead blew out to twelve goals before the Stars pegged back two quick goals to marginally trim the deficit to ten, 39-49 going into the final fifteen minutes.
Unfortunately for the Stars the ball struggled to find their shooters in the final quarter as a late injury scare to Ama Agbeze moved Holly Fowler into goal defence and Kirsten Hurley to wing defence.
Fowler worked tirelessly all night attempting to shut down Whitney Souness, and Fowler often found herself on the floorboards winning ball back for her team.
Wilson turned out another impressive performance for her team sinking 38 from 43 attempts for an 88% success rate.
With two games back to back, the Stars will have six days to recover before their final home game of the season against the Southern Steel on Sunday 29th July at 4pm.