NSL Rd 14: London Pulse Bring the Rainbow After the Storm – Pulse Win 50-59

Pulse headed into the Pride themed double header weekend, with their first stop in Surrey. When the team last faced the Surrey Storm side, in the first week of March, Pulse came out on top with a 52-47 win at home, but to repeat a win on Storm’s court will be a challenge.

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

Storm have the first centre pass and get their first goal on the board. Pulse don’t take their possession straight to goal, as Storm take an early interception, but the ball is won back and they join Storm on the score board. Adio comes up with an early rejection on the shot and collects the rebound. Pulse’s full court defence forces the home side to go backwards and Pitman manages to get a hand to the ball and Neil sweeps it up and they take it to goal. Storm keep their shots rolling over and Neil uses the fake to draw a defender off Tchine, who’s double marked, and gives the shooter-to-shooter ball. Fadoju gets a deflection in the circle and Neil rewards her efforts. Pulse go up 8-4. What was a goal-for-goal game has mellowed as Pulse have found their rhythm, and the quick hands of Pitman and Clarke begin to cut through Storm’s defence. With five minutes to go, Pulse are almost doubling their rivals score, but an interception in the circle gives Storm the opportunity to close the gap, and they do. Pulse continue to look comfortable in attack, with Clarke finding Tchine in the circle with style. Despite a few errors from Pulse in the last two minutes, they hold onto their lead and finish the quarter 14-9. A promising start for Pulse.

Storm come back into the second quarter with full force and make it difficult for Pulse to get to post quickly. Despite deflections from Everitt and Fadoju, Storm still get to goal and begin to find their shooters with more success. The impressive defence from Drakeford-Lewis wins her an interception and Storm gain momentum, bringing the difference back to just one goal (17-16). Adio and Fadoju both read the same pass in the circle and come out with a deflection, which Clarke picks up round the edge of the circle. Pulse manage to keep a 3 goal lead for the next five minutes, but errors from Pulse in the attacking third give Storm another opportunity to get within one goal. With 30 seconds to go, Pulse pick up a fumbled ball in the circle and end this quarter with another goal from Tchine, making it a close 25-24 lead to Pulse.

Only one change is made by Pulse as they enter the second half with Rattu coming on for Everitt at WD. Pulse turn over Storm’s first centre pass and, despite losing it the circle, Neil gets a tip in the middle third for Rattu to collect and they manage to convert it. Adio wins the next ball in the circle with a two-handed deflection and Tchine takes the shot as she falls out of court and nails it in. Pulse continue to pile on the pressure, and they gain possession through a held ball on the next centre pass. They capitalise on their hard-fought turnovers and take a 7-goal lead (31-24), with Storm yet to score after five minutes of the third quarter. Storm decide to make a substitution (in WA) and they take their next possession to goal. However, Pulse continue to dominate and take that quarter 20-11, giving themselves a 10-goal advantage (45-35).

No changes are made to either sides as they take on the final quarter. Calm and collected attacking play from Pitman and Clarke sees them use the swings and width of the court to create space for Neil to take the front drive into the circle, either receiving it on the baseline or opening up Tchine under the post. Storm have sharpened up their box defence and are rewarded with tips and deflections, but they struggle to transition it down to goal. Pulse have to be patient and they are forced to use the backup frequently as the play slows in pace. Rattu, Fadoju and Adio win more interceptions and Pulse extend their lead to 12 goals with just over six minutes to go. Storm make another change at WA and Storm take it to goal with a long feed into Peace. As the time drains away, Storm win a defensive rebound and shorten the difference, but it’s too late and Pulse take the victory 59-50.

Congratulations to Berri Neil who was awarded “Player of the match” for her incredible composure in attack and game smarts around the circle. It’s a quick turnaround for Pulse as they regroup and head up North to face Manchester Thunder just two days later.