On Monday night the London Pulse side travelled to Hertfordshire to face the explosive Saracens Mavericks side in round 10 of the 2023 Netball Super League. Having only lost one game so far this season, Pulse were determined to put out a good performance as they wrap up the first half of the season. However, the London side have never previously beaten Saracens on their home turf before.
It was great to see Razia Quashie back in the 12 for the Mavericks team, after being out with injury, and taking to court for the first time this season.
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
Unlike last year, Pulse started with confidence and suffocated the Saracens attempts to attack, with Everitt picking up an easy first interception. However, the defensive pressure from the opponents forced Pulse to play multiple phases before Neil put the first goal on the board. Great positioning and pressure from the back four force one ball off the backline and another into the hands of Adio and suddenly Pulse are up 8-0! Mavericks fight their way into the circle and Venter gets them their first goal. After 7 minutes, Pulse make their first error and it’s taken to goal by the rival side. The quick-paced and skilful style of the Saracens side starts to come to light and they manage to make it 10-5. Pulse’s centre pass is turned over again, but Mavericks are unable to convert it and so it’s back into Pulse’s hands. However, another call against Pulse and the opposition get another opportunity to score… but we can’t forget that Fadoju is on the court and wins it back before it crosses the halfway point. More of what we saw in the opening minutes is repeated and the first quarter ends with Pulse leading 14-6.
Clarke and Pitman work their first centre pass to circle edge and Tchine slots it in. Adio does well to tip it off court, but Rothwell takes it to goal. Neil drives out wide, drawing her defender and gives Pitman the opportunity to send it long into Tchine sitting under the post.
The home side look more comfortable than they did in the opening minutes of the game, but a missed shot gives Pulse another opportunity to extend their lead and with a long confident feed from Clarke, they do. Venter goes to step and pop it to Rothwell with speed, but Fadoju reads it and takes another clean interception in the circle. Pulse seem happy, with Clarke and Pitman looking relaxed as they send the ball into Tchine from all over the court, the score now 21-9 with 10 minutes to go. More of the same attacking class keeps adding goals on for Pulse and Mavericks have some great moments of play, with Corbin using her speed to hit the circle edge and fire it into Venter. Down the other end, Neil starts getting in on the long feeds and passes it to Tchine from the third line. Both teams are having more success getting it to their shooters than they did in the first quarter, but Pulse are on another level and go into half time 38-19.
Five substitutions are made at half time with McDonald into GA, Scholes into WA, Dekker on at C, Rattu at WD and Keable at GK. Mavericks start with the ball and get it to circle edge, but the feed in is tipped by Fadoju and collected by Keable. Pulse take it to a shooting opportunity, but Mavericks end up with possession. But not for long… Scholes takes and incredible interception on the circle edge and works it to a shot, this time Tchine finishes it off. The home side look to have stepped it up again and are looking more clinical on the ball, taking it to goal with increasing success with the impressive long-range shots from Kelk. Dekker finds McDonald on the baseline and she nails it in again. The Pulse attackers make use of their speed and the whole width of the court to pull the defenders apart, and a lovely fake from Scholes allows her to find Tchine under the post, 42-23. Mavericks make use of Clarke exiting out the top of the circle and put another on the board. Rattu takes a great interception on the circle edge and after going back and forth it’s converted by McDonald. A missed shot from Mavericks gives Rattu the chance to feed Tchine from the goal third and takes the score to 48-27. Keable reaches round the back of the post to take a rebound, but Gibson wins the backline. Keable comes out for a fly but doesn’t quite get there, leaving their GS free under the post… the ball is sent it but out of nowhere come Fadoju literally gliding in the air to pluck it out. Pulse lead 52-32 going into the final quarter.
For the remaining 15 minutes of the match, Everitt comes on for Fadoju at GD. Pulse continue with their winning ways, picking up another turnover in the first minute of the last quarter. Gibson comes flying out of the circle but doesn’t manage to keep the ball in play and so McDonald takes it to goal instead. Rattu follows up with an intercept from her arms over pressure but Gibson turns the ball over in the circle. Kelk continues to shoot from range but the work of Pulse’s back four is proving difficult for Mavericks to get past. Scholes and Dekker remain dominant in their work in the end third and display their confidence and skill to get the ball to their shooters. The structured defence sets Everitt up to get a great tip in the circle and earns them the backline, which is taken to goal. The whistle blows and Pulse take the win 65-43.
Congratulations to Olivia Tchine who was awarded ‘Player of the match’. This incredible team performance means that Pulse have completed the first half of the season with only one loss and are currently second in the league table. Three of the Pulse players (Liv, Jade and Hali) also made the ‘Team of the week’ selected by Mikki Austin. Make sure you get your tickets for their next home game on the 8th April at the Copper Box Arena!