ANZ Premiership: Central Pulse stun Southern Steel in come-from-behind victory

Central Pulse have fought back to claim a stunning 50-44 come-from-behind victory over  Southern Steel at Dunedin.

While the Steel led at every quarter break, the Pulse finally hit their stride in the final quarter and turned up the heat, outscoring their opponents 15-5 over the closing 15 minutes.

With only three matches remaining, their fouth-quarter collapse also cost the fourth-placed Steel a crucial bonus point in their battle for a top-three playoff spot.

The comeback win also marked a turning point for Pulse midcourter Maddy Gordon, who returned from a frustrating knee ailment to claim MVP honours.

Not everything went to plan for the away side, with Paris Lokotui suffering a leg injury, collapsing in a heap within the first four minutes of the game. She was helped from the court, later returning to the bench on crutches.

After a frantic start, both teams pressed their attacks and forced a flurry of errors, with the Steel quickly establishing a four-goal lead.

A line-up shuffle paid off immediately for the Pulse, as they put the Steel under all sorts of pressure, but they couldn’t maintain the intensity, as the home side pushed out to a 27-23 lead at halftime.

Pulse goal shoot Aliyah Dunn was accurate, but remarkably quiet, as Tiana Metuarau took some of the heat off with her shooting from further out. At the other end, England international George Fisher was narrowly winning the battle against Silver Ferns defender Kelly Jury.

At the end of the third quarter, the Steel were still four goals up, but the Pulse were not prepared to accept that and scored seven straight goals after the break.

Dunn turned it on, eventually shooting 36 from 37 attempts to push the Pulse to a four-goal lead with seven minutes left.

A frustrated Fisher was sent to the bench, as Saviour Tui slotted in her place, immediately sinking a goal while hanging in the air, almost behind the hoop, but the damage had already been done and the Pulse's comeback could not be stopped.

Central Pulse 50 (George Fisher 29/34, Saviour Tui 14/16, Georgia Hefferman 1/4) Southern Steel 44 (Aliyah Dunn 36/37, Tiana Metuarau 14/19)