Friday night netball returns, and this time Pulse were headed up to Worcester to face Severn Stars, who are currently 5th in the league. When Pulse met them earlier in round 3, they were victorious beating them 63-50. With Pulse currently sat top of the table (ahead of Thunder based on goal difference), they need to secure another win to maintain the position they’ve fought so hard for. However, Stars are on the hunt for another win as they strive to break into the top four.
Stars are coached and captained by the New Zealand born Jo Trip, who has played for both Mavericks and Storm prior to her move to Severn Stars. This team is also the new home of former Pulse player, Sigi Burger, the South African shooter. What might look like a fairly new group of players has proved to be successful in the league so far, making this game one to watch.
Sam Bird’s starting seven for London Pulse:
GS – Olivia Tchine (VC)
GA – Berri Neil
WA – Chelsea Pitman
C – Jade Clarke
WD – Zara Everitt (C)
GD – Funmi Fadoju
GK – Halimat Adio
Substitutions: Ashleigh Dekker, Linsday Keable, Sacha McDonald, Ellie Rattu and Alicia Scholes
Both sides look well matched and the opening minutes reflect that, with both teams playing the ball around patiently until they find their shooters in the circle. However, it’s Pulse that begin to have a defensive impact first and they turn the ball over with tips and pick-ups from Adio, Fadoju and Clarke, helping Pulse take an early lead 8-5. However, Stars start to force turnovers of their own but both teams struggle to convert their gains to goals. Pulse do well to win back some of their lost ball, with Everitt winning a turnover, and continue to extend their lead, going up 16-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Stars come out looking confident in the second quarter and begin to find Burger under the post with ease. Down the other end, Pulse are feeling the physicality and are having more difficulty getting their shooters in good shooting positions. Tchine takes a fall in the circle and the ball is back in the hands of Stars, but she gets up and shakes herself off. Stars creep back within 2 and the score is now 20-18. Pitman and Clarke remain patient with the ball
and work together to keep it moving until Neil and Tchine become available. A beautiful fake and feed from Pitman takes the ball direct to Tchine after Pulse struggle to get deep into Stars end third. Fadoju follows it up with another turnover and Pulse convert it, but another error gives Stars another opportunity to shorten Pulse’s lead. The half ends with Pulse still up 29-25.
Sam Bird decides to make some changes at half time, with Dekker coming on for Pitman at WA, Rattu coming on for Everitt at WD and Keable on for Adio at GK. Pulse start with the ball and they open the second half with a lovely triangle from Clarke, Neil and Tchine. Pulse build pressure on the through court defence, which results in a turnover in the defensive third. However, the ball frantically changes possession 6 times before one of the teams can convert it, and this time it’s Stars. With Pulse still leading by 4 goals, and with just over 8 minutes to go in this quarter, Bird makes a change with McDonald coming on for Neil. Keable reads the feed into Burger and Rattu is on the edge to snatch it up and McDonald sinks her first shot of the game. Great skill from McDonald sees her keep the ball in play just before it dribbles out of court and she rewards her efforts with another goal. Keable picks up another turnover for Pulse and they increase their lead to a more comfortable 37-29. Dekker shows great skill and confidence to play the ball around the attacking third with speed and gets it to Tchine, who puts it up. Stars change their GA with just under 5 minutes left and they take it to goal. A long ball from Rattu makes it to Tchine in the circle and she slots it in, but the umpire doesn’t like it and calls a held ball. Another tip from Clarke is picked up by Keable and Pulse maintain their 8-goal lead with 2 minutes to go. Pulse’s defence force another Stars centre pass back and McDonald gets a tip which Dekker collects, and McDonald converts. Pulse go into the final quarter leading 44-33.
Heading into the final quarter, Scholes comes on at WA and Dekker moves to C and Pulse start with the ball. Scholes is quick to make an impact and makes a slick drive to the pocket, but Trip denies the goal. Stars convert their turnover and take their own centre pass to goal, making it 44-35. Dekker hits the circle edge and sends a beautifully weighted feed over the defenders to Tchine. A missed shot allows Stars find Burger under the post again and they add to the scoreboard. Turnovers from Fadoju and whole team defence gives Scholes the opportunity to steal a loose ball and Pulse maintain their lead 47-39. More forced errors from Stars enables Pulse to stretch the score line (52-40) with 5 minutes to go. What might look like a comfortable 12-gaol lead quickly narrows to 8 after Stars win two gains in a row. The dying minutes of the game finds some frustrating calls for Pulse with three players getting cautions/warnings and play being advanced from a centre pass all the way into the shooting circle for Stars. However, the work the preceded this means that Pulse take home the win 56-50 and maintain their spot at the top of the table.
This game wasn’t just about celebrating the win, but 6 of our players reached an impressive milestone of 50 NSL appearances for the club. Congratulations Ashleigh, Funmi, Lindsay, Zara, Liv and Ellie! On top of that, their captain Zara Everitt celebrated her 100th NSL appearance. What an incredible achievement.
Photo Credit: Clive Jones PR