MYSTICS CONTINUE THEIR WINNING WAYS WITH COMPLETE PERFORMANCES
Showing ample evidence of their title aspirations, the Northern Mystics handed out a sobering lesson in outclassing Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse 64-51 in Auckland this afternoon.
After hitting the first break with a four-goal lead, there was no looking back for the Mystics, who were clinical on attack and always threatening on defence as they dominated across all facets to build on their lead throughout.
Captain Sulu Fitzpatrick was an inspiring figure for the home side, leading the charge from the defensive end to clinch five individual intercepts while at the other end teenaged shooter Grace Nweke was almost unstoppable in pocketing a personal haul of 54 goals.
Mystics Head Coach Helene Wilson said the team had been working towards a complete 60 minute performance.
“We’re really happy that we’ve hit that at this stage of the season. So going into the last few rounds we want to demand that week in week out.”
NWilson was also pleased to use her full squad of 10 in today’s victory – only the third time in ANZ Premiership history that the Mystics have won every quarter of a match.
“The girls worked hard in the first three quarters and built a lead which gives us the opportunity to use our bench. I thought everyone came on really well and we kept building that lead.”
The Mystics were reunited with their preferred starting line-up with the return from injury of wing defence Fa’amu Ioane while the Pulse opted to start captain Claire Kersten at wing defence with Maddy Gordon picking up the centre’s bib.
There was plenty of nip and tuck to open proceedings, a succession of turnovers both ways ensuring a tight and even start.
Both defensive ends held sway in limiting any free-flowing play with respective goalkeepers Fitzpatrick impressing for the home side while Kelera Nawai had a promising start against towering 1.93m shooter Nweke.
However, the Mystics increasingly found their groove and their target of Nweke who shot a flawless first quarter. The Pulse were let down by a succession of errors as the home side went into the first break with a 13-9 lead.
The Mystics defensive unit caused the Pulse all sorts of problems on the resumption, the home side flexing their muscle in a dominant 15 minutes.
Fitzpatrick and her off-sider Kate Burley, with four intercepts between them, were all over the visiting shooters, who faced a torrid time under the hoop. There were no such problems at the other end, the pin-point feeding of Peta Toeava and Tayla Earle into the safe hands of Nweke helping the home side build on their lead.
With the Pulse’s Aliyah Dunn heavily marked, Te Amo Amaru-Tibble shouldered her share of the shooting load while Gordon, who reverted to centre midway through was a busy presence. But there was no slowing the Mystics’ march as the home side powered into the main break with a 30-21 lead.
Filda Vui took over from Bailey Mes for the home side in the second half but there was little respite for the Pulse.
Swarming through-court defence from the Mystics continued to play havoc with the Pulse’s momentum while shooting wobbles did not help.
With five minutes left in the third stanza and a last throw of the dice in a bid to resurrect their diminishing fortunes, the Pulse rang the changes. Creative attacker Whitney Souness shifted across to goal attack for Amaru-Tibble while Gordon went to wing attack and Abby Erwood came off the bench and into wing defence.
The Pulse were able to compete on level terms from that point but faced an uphill battle when the Mystics took a 47-36 lead into the last break.
Official Result and Stats:
Northern Mystics: 64
Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse: 51
Champion Data Match Centre
Shooting Stats – Mystics:
Grace Nweke 54/63 (86%)
Filda Vui 6/7 (86%)
Saviour Tui 2/3 (67%)
Bailey Mes 2/9 (22%)
Shooting Stats – Pulse:
Aliyah Dunn 31/39 (80%)
Te Amo Amaru-Tibble 16/20 (80%)
Whitney Souness 4/7 (57%)
MVP: Sulu Fitzpatrick (Mystics)