Saturday 15 April, 2023


The Trusts Arena, Henderson

Full time MG Mystics 53 –  Te Wānanga o Raukawa Central Pulse 55


The Te Wānanga o Raukawa Central Pulse have handed the MG Mystics their second loss of the season, winning a heart-thumping match 55 – 53 at The Trusts Arena in Henderson this afternoon.

With mid-courter Tayla Earle out with an injury to her right foot, Katie Te Ao wore the centre bib in her first start of the season for the Mystics, while former player Claire O’Brien returned to the squad from her home in Australia to add fire power to the bench.

Both sides came out of the gate at a frenzied pace, with Pulse goal-keeper Kelly Jury and Mystics’ goal-shooter Grace Nweke entering into a fierce physical battle in the Mystics’ shooting end.

The Mystics’ signature long feeds into Nweke were failing to connect in the first stanza and solid pressure from the Pulse mid-court, led by centre Maddy Gordon, slowed the flow of ball into the circle.

Pulse goal-shooter Amelia Walmsley held space well, aided by pin-point ball from her feeders, helping her side to storm out to a nine-goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

Mystics head coach Tia Winikerei responded to the deficit with four changes – moving Katie Te Ao to wing-defence and bringing Claire O’Brien on at centre, Monica Falkner on at goal-attack and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson on at goal-defence.

It was a fiery Mystics side that took the court in the second innings, with watertight defence making the Pulse work hard to move the ball and penetrate the shooting circle.

An eager Monica Falkner sprung into action off the bench, sinking shots from long-range and combining well with her mid-courters to open up space.

The Mystics looked less hesitant on the feed into Nweke and the Pulse struggled to find answers to the silky-smooth ball handling of Mystics mid-court pairing Claire O’Brien and Peta Toeava.

The physicality stepped up a notch much to the delight of a deafening crowd at The Trusts Arena who watched as players hit the deck, including Falkner who survived a frightening tumble in the shooting circle.

Pulse defenders Kelly Jury and Kristiana Manu’a worked hard to pen Nweke in, leaving Falkner to run free around the outer edges where she had no issue putting goals away.

Feeds into the Pulse shooting circle were under threat from Mystics goal-keeper Phoenix Karaka who took the second quarter with renewed energy, contesting every pass and blocking shots with her phenomenal elevation.

The Mystics almost drew even before half-time and looked to be back on form going into the final stanza.

Both teams re-entered the court looking calm and composed after the break, but the slowed pace saw the Mystics struggle to capture the lead they so desperately needed.

Pulse centre Maddy Gordon was a force through the middle, strong on both defence and attack and helping her side stretch five goals clear of the Mystics at the end of the third quarter.

With one quarter left, Carys Stythe returned to the court at goal-keeper for the Mystics, while Karaka went to goal-defence.

Sustained pressure and connected defence saw the Mystics come up with turnover ball, but it was two steps forward, one step back as they struggled to convert their opportunities.

With time on their side, the Pulse calmly played the ball around, careful to make safe decisions with ball in hand while the Mystics pulled out all of the stops to claw back the lead.

It was the Pulse who came out on top 55 – 53, moving to third on the ladder, while the Mystics remain in pole position.