Netball: Tiana Metuarau's return boosts Central Pulse to victory over Northern Mystics, top of ANZ Premership

Silver Fern goal attack Tiana Metuarau has returned to ANZ Premiership action, helping her Central Pulse to a 54-38 win over champions Northern Mystics and back atop the competition ladder.

Sidelined through her team's opening eight games with a foot injury, Metuarau made her season debut late in the third quarter, with her team already in command, immediately slotting a pair of goals to open her account.

The Pulse have battled injuries to their attack corps throughout their campaign, as well as international midcourt Maddy Gordon, but have stayed in contention with impressive depth.

Tiana Metuarau in action for Central Pulse.
Tiana Metuarau in action for Central Pulse. Photo credit: Getty Images

Neither the Pulse nor Mystics were able to field NZ shooters Amelia Walmsley nor Grace Nweke for the contest, but both have promoted fitting replacements in Martin Salmon and Hannah Glen.

The titleholders have struggled since losing Nweke in their third game, but started safely enough, grabbing an early 8-5 advantage, before three straight goals brought the Pulse to even terms.

Ahead 14-10 after the opening quarter, the home team really took command of the game, holding the Mystics scoreless for more than 10 minutes of the second stanza, running up 12 unanswered goals of their own.

At the defensive end, Pulse captain Kelly Jackson and Parris Mason had the opposition midcourt in fits, snatching seven intercepts between them across the match - five in that second quarter.

Also riddled with injury, the Mystics were without midcourt star Peta Toeva (knee) and introduced former Fern Kayla Johnson to help break their goal drought, but the damage had been done.

The Pulse stretched their lead as far as 22 goals in the final period, before Mystics shooters Glen and Filda Vui produced a run of 17 shots without missing to pull the margin back.

Glen finished as the game's most accurate shooter with 18/21 (86 percent) and the Mystics actually shot better than their Pulse counterparts, but suffered from a lack of quality ball.

"So great," reflected Metuarau on her return to play. "I don't know how much more coaching I had left in me.

"Good to be out with the girls, but I think over the last however many weeks - I've lost count - they've done a really incredible job. Just to come back into the environment and get a win like that is awesome.

"They've been really fearless and taken on every challenge each week - we've only had one loss and we're really looking forward to the rest of the season."

The result gives the Pulse a one-goal advantage over Mainland Tactix in a top-of-the-table countback and those two rivals are due to meet on Sunday at Christchurch for clear ownership of the competition lead.

Central Pulse 54 (Salmon 40/48, Pelasio 7/10, Metuarau 4/6, Maro 3/5) Northern Mystics 38 (Vui 20/24, Glen 18/21, Binks 0/1)