Netball: Central Pulse open ANZ Premiership campaign with hardfought win over Northern Stars

Central Pulse have opened the 2024 ANZ Premiership by avenging the loss that ended their previous campaign against Northern Stars.

The three-time champions were eliminated from last year's playoffs by Stars, who went on to lose the final to Northern Mystics, but the tables were turned in their first meeting of the new season, with the Wellington team prevailing 58-51 at Manukau.

The result hands a maiden win to new coach Anna Andrews-Tasola, who has taken over from championshp mastermind Yvette McCausland-Durie.

Maddy Gordon in action against Northern Stars.
Maddy Gordon in action against Northern Stars. Photo credit: Photosport

The Pulse built a 10-goal lead late in the second quarter and led 32-24 at halftime, before their opponents began chipping away at their advantage, winning the third period 13-9 and closing to within a goal (43-42) early in the fourth.

Five straight goals carried the Pulse clear again, as the two teams went goal for goal through the final seven minutes.

The Stars comeback coincided with the introduction of Fijian defender Lili Tokaduadua into the game to battle the threat of Silver Ferns shooter Amelia Walmsley under goal.

Walmsley would eventually convert 45/58 (78 percent) attempts to lead all scorers, although Stars counterpart Maia Wilson proved more accurate at the other end, with an 89 percent (34/38) return.

"Really happy," assesed Pulse captain Kelly Jackson. "We got in front early, it got a little scary in that third quarter, when it was going back and forth, and the gap was closing, but really pleased that we came away with the win and managed to get everyone on the court."

The Mystics began their championship defence with a 64-52 win over Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, while Mainland Tactix face neighbours Southern Steel on Monday to complete the opening round.

Pulse host the Magic next Saturday, with the Stars visiting the Tactix on Sunday.

Central Pulse 58 (Walmsley 45, Pelasio 12, Williams 1) Northern Stars 51 (Wilson 34, Malesala 10, Samson 7)