Tactix stun Central Pulse with victory in Napier

HIGHER AND HIGHER: Tactix Hayley Saunders outjumps Pulse's Donna Wilkins for a ball during the Canterbury side's stunning win in Napier.
HIGHER AND HIGHER: Tactix Hayley Saunders outjumps Pulse's Donna Wilkins for a ball during the Canterbury side's stunning win in Napier.

Whipping girls one week, world-beaters the next.

Seven days after being annihilated by 36 goals in Australia, the Tactix delivered the upset of the trans-Tasman netball season, stunning the Central Pulse 55-53 in Napier tonight. 

The result will go down as one of the most memorable in the Tactix's turbulent seven-year history.

Only the Tactix most ardent supporters could have tipped a boilover against a Pulse side containing five Silver Ferns in their starting seven.

It was a gutsy performance from a Tactix team, who contested every ball, displayed a ton of fight and kept their nerve in the pressure situations of the fourth quarter.

Pulse coach Robyn Broughton would have been filthy that her side allowed the Tactix back into the game, after holding a six-goal buffer at halftime, 29-23.

The Tactix had been slated in the buildup to the game, with former Australian skipper Liz Ellis questioning their mental toughness in the flogging by the Fever.

It was the Tactix first victory in the competition since May 5 last year and snapped a 10-game losing streak dating back to 2013.

Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs sprang a surprise to begin the game, with skipper Anna Thompson moving from the midcourt to goal attack.

Thompson was able to land only eight of her 15 goal attempts but her steadying influence and feeding was crucial in the win.

Malawi international Mwai Kumwenda was outstanding, after being shut down against the Fever, converting 47 of her 52 goals.

The game swung the Tactix way in the third quarter, where they outscored the Pulse 18-11 to take a 41-40 lead into the last period.

Unlike in previous games, the Tactix were able to convert their turnover ball and force the Pulse into uncharacteristic mistakes.

Broughton went to her bench for the last quarter, bringing on Ama Agbeze and Katarina Cooper in a desperate bid to energise her team.

The Tactix clung to a two-goal cushion for most of the final quarter, and remained cool, calm and collected whenever the Pulse threatened.

Their new-look midcourt, and defenders Zoe Walker and Jess Moulds, were able to nab turnovers at decisive moments in the final quarter and the Tactix hung tough to secure a brilliant victory, which will act as a massive morale boost for their season.

Question marks will linger over the Pulse's championship credentials. It is still only early in the season but this loss could prove decisive come the business end of the campaign.

In other games over the weekend, the Steel gained their first win of the season, pipping the Fever 66-65 in Dunedin on Saturday.

The Magic upset the Vixens 49-44 in Melbourne, while the injury-ravaged Swifts prevailed over the Firebirds 53-48.

Quarter scores (Tactix first): 14-14, 23-29, 41-40, 55-53.

Shooting stats: Tactix: (Mwai Kumwenda 47/52, Anna Thompson 8/15). Pulse: (Irene van Dyk 39/42, Donna Wilkins 14/16).

Fairfax Media