The defending champions Central Pulse showed no signs of rust as they restarted their ANZ Premiership title defence with a dominant 63-39 victory over last year’s runners-up Northern Stars.

The Pulse made their move during the second quarter, flying in attack and scoring 21 goals to the Stars’ eight.

They maintained their form for the rest of the match at the Auckland Netball Centre and oozed confidence from start to finish.

The Stars, who had six personnel changes between seasons, couldn’t hold onto their opponents and must dust themselves off quickly before facing the Tactix on Monday to complete Round Two.

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At the end of last year’s Grand Final, only four goals separated these two teams, however, from the first whistle the Pulse made clear their intentions for that not to be the case again.

Aliyah Dunn and Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who hadn’t had a netball post at home during lockdown, sunk their shots with ease and the trio of Karin Burger, Katrina Rore and Kelly Jury used their fitness and range to secure key turnovers.

In the Stars’ shooting end, Jamie Hulme and Maia Wilson missed their maiden attempts at goal. That could have unsettled them, but both regrouped well, as did their team.

Fa’amu Ioane and Kate Burley started to gain turnover ball of their own and Wilson asserted herself up front to ensure just a single-goal separated the two sides [14-12] after the first 12 minutes.

ANZ Premiership Fixtures – Round Two [Live on Sky Sports Mix]

The first two Round Two matches had been even at the interval, but Pulse had other ideas and did not want to follow the same pattern on Sunday.

Ekenasio’s work-rate, alongside Maddy Gordon’s energy, drove their output in attack while Rore and Jury continued to underline their class out the back.

A five-goal run in the first few minutes of the second quarter signalled what was to come. The Pulse got into a scintillating rhythm as the second quarter played out, they raised the tempo by the second and punished their opponents.

The 21-8 second quarter ensured that victory was in the bag for the Pulse by half-time. However, the difference on the scoreboard didn’t deter either outfit from relishing being back on court and driving hard in the second half.

? Round the body and that elevation from Kelly Jury. Beautiful work in D from @PulseNetball.

? Watch live on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix now

The second 24 minutes saw both sides take the opportunity to amend their line-ups, and players gained welcomed court-time after the league’s 95-day hiatus.

Gordon continued to excel at WA for the Pulse while 18-year-old Vika Koloto came on for the Stars. This is her first year as a permanent team member and to her great credit, she didn’t flinch at the sight of Rore next to her.

The Stars’ character continued to show, it ensured that the final quarter was as tight as the first, but the night belonged to the defending champions.

The Pulse’s performance, and the way they eased away in the second quarter, will have caught the attention of every franchise in the league.

A 95 per cent goal-conversion rate was coupled with 11 intercepts and seven rebounds. As a unit, they looked sharp and it’s clear that even after an enforced break, they remain the side to beat.

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