Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is a NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Netball: Mystics keep composure to push past bogey team

Maria Tutaia of the Mystics (L) and Katrina Grant of the Pulse tussle for the ball. Photo / Getty Images.
Maria Tutaia of the Mystics (L) and Katrina Grant of the Pulse tussle for the ball. Photo / Getty Images.

Mystics 51
Pulse 47

A change of court, but the same result.

The Northern Mystics outlasted the Central Pulse in Palmerston North last night in a match that followed virtually the same script as their round-one meeting in Auckland - even posting the same scoreline.

Throughout the short history of the transtasman league, the Pulse have proved the Mystics' bogey team. Even in the days when winning the toss was considered a triumph for the Pulse, the Auckland side had a habit of doing it unexpectedly tough against the yellow dresses. Twice the Mystics have been taken to overtime by the Pulse, while there have been plenty of other close calls.

But the Mystics have always managed to find a way to win these matches, and last night was no different as they overcame an impressive third-quarter fightback from the Pulse, to notch up their fourth win of the season.

While disappointed with her side's error rate, Mystics captain Temepara George was happy to get another two points on the board after a poor showing against the Adelaide Thunderbirds last week.

"We need to cut down on our basic errors, like the stepping calls and throwing the ball straight to the opposition. But a win is a win and we're happy with that," said George.

After a series of quiet outings over the past few weeks, Mystics shooter Cathrine Latu played a leading role in the shooting circle, firing at 100 per cent for the match. But having missed just three goals in five rounds, it is not Latu's accuracy, but her volume of shots that has been the concern.

The Mystics coaching staff will be pleased then that Latu last night contributed 29 goals - well above her average of 22 for the first four rounds.

The Auckland side took a while to find their rhythm early on, allowing the Pulse to get the jump on them with a string of early errors.

But a couple of good pick-ups from Anna Harrison (nee Scarlett) and English import Jade Clarke in the midcourt swung the proceedings back in the Mystics favour later in the quarter.

Leading 14-10 at the first break, the Mystics stretched their advantage out to seven midway through second quarter, with the midcourters finding easy passage to Latu under the post.

That prompted a more committed effort from the Pulse defence, with Camilla Lees and Joline Henry doing a power of work to set up good ball at the back for their circle defenders to spark a strong fightback.

The momentum stayed with the Pulse in the third spell, as they quickly overturned a 25-27 halftime deficit to level the score at 30-all, before taking a two-goal lead of their own.

After briefly looking rattled, the Mystics regained their composure following a well-timed injury break, reclaiming the lead at 38-36 heading into the final period. From there, they eased away.

* The Vixens had another narrow escape in Melbourne yesterday, edging out the Queensland Firebirds 52-51 with a last-gasp goal to replacement shooter Karyn Howarth.

The win ensured the Vixens maintained their outright lead on the points table, with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, who had a 48-36 win over the Fever yesterday, in second.

- NZ Herald

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