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Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse – Round 8

June 1, 2024

The ANZ Premiership’s Heritage Round has resulted in a chapter the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel might rather forget, going down 57-37 against the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse.

The Steel simply had no answers for a Pulse side which ran rampant from the outset, chalking up a 20-6 advantage after the first quarter – a margin which would ultimately prove insurmountable.

Plucking turnovers with seamless ease, the defensive prowess of the visitors stunned a packed house at ILT Stadium Southland, ticking off a goal for Pulse captain Kelly Jackson.

“The three things we wanted to work on coming into this was our basics, working for each other and keeping the crowd silent and I think we did all of those things,” she said.

The southerners can take some heart from claiming the second phase of the encounter but their desperate efforts failed to really have an impact on the scoreboard.

Steel captain Kate Heffernan was frustrated.

“We can’t let ourselves start like that. The start killed us and from the get-go we weren’t really in the game so it is disappointing, especially for the heritage round in front of this awesome home crowd,” she said.

“We will watch it, we will learn and we will come back better next week.”

She paid credit to the Pulse.

“They were sharp and they worked so well together all through the court. While we didn’t play very well, they did force us into that and we couldn’t get ourselves back out,” she said.

“It is really disappointing but far out they played really well. We have to understand that but I think we are a lot better than what we put out.

“Absolutely there are some positives – all through the court as well. We’ve got to give credit to ourselves in moments but overall it just wasn’t good enough.”

Tenacious defender Abby Erwood was arguably best on court for the home side.

“She just works so hard. She’s such a good person to have on your team and it’s really cool to see her take her opportunities and smashing it,” Heffernan said.

Stung by their loss last week, the clinical Pulse earned redemption by completely outclassing Steel. Bursting out to a 6-0 lead set the tone, the Pulse kept their foot to the pedal across all facets to earn 20 more shots at goal through the 60 minutes.

In just her third game at the elite level, and recently contracted fulltime to the Pulse for the rest of the season, Martina Salmon spearheaded a forceful shooting end, converting 48 from 54 attempts but on the day, was surrounded by a special cast of unstoppable team-mates.

Covering injury setbacks in their respective teams, Serina Daunakamakama, wing attack for the Steel, and Salmon heralded their rising status when named in the starting line-ups, both having been signed to fulltime contracts.

With experienced campaigner and temporary replacement player Claire Kersten back in the mix, and adding stability to the midcourt, the Pulse made their intentions clear from the first whistle.

In a show of precise long-range accuracy through court, clinical finishing and stifling defence, the visitors delivered an almost flawless opening quarter.

Jackson was at the heart of a strong defensive effort while at the other end, Salmon was a picture of poise in owning her space under the hoop. In the middle Kersten and Whitney Souness dictated the relentless onslaught from the Pulse, leaving the Steel firmly on the back foot.

In the highest-ever opening quarter in the ANZ Premiership, the Pulse quickly silenced the large home crowd when taking a 20-6 lead into the first break.

The Steel provided more resistance on the resumption eventually winning the second stanza 12-10 with Lawson looming large on defence while shooters Grace Namana and Georgia Heffernan got more opportunities under the hoop.

Pulse coach Anna Andrews-Tasola continued to mix her playing options, which included temporary replacement shooter Crystal Maro, midcourter Parris Petera and defender Kelea Iongi, all getting time on court.

Making a better fist of proceedings, the Steel still had a mountain to climb when trailing 30-18 at the main break.

The return of Fa’amu Ioane to wing defence after playing centre last week, rounded out a dominant midcourt for the Pulse who continued to hold all the cards through the third stanza.

Both ends of the court for the visitors were outstanding with Salmon having a day to remember under the hoop while receiving a seamless and accurate service from Kersten, Souness and hard-working goal attack Kiana Pelasio from go to whoa.

At the defence end, Jackson, who picked up six gains, three rebounds and 10 deflections through the first three-quarters, in tandem with the lively Parris Mason, was a constant menacing presence for the Steel shooters.

The home side had few answers to the Pulse’s relentless march which showed no signs of abating during the run home, the visitors putting the seal on a comprehensive return to the winner’s circle in the most challenging of venues.

Official Result and Stats:

Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel: 37
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse: 57

Shooting Stats - Steel:
Grace Namana 16/20 (80%)
Georgia Heffernan 19/25 (76%)
Ella Southby 2/2 (100%)

Shooting Stats - Pulse:
Martina Salmon 48/54 (89%)
Kiana Pelasio 7/9 (78%)
Crystal Maro 2/4 (50%)

ANZ Fans' Player of the Match: Martina Salmon (Pulse)


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