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Pulse reach first Grand Final with clinical win over Storm

London Pulse secured their place in a first-ever Netball Super League Grand Final with a 55-42 semi-final victory over Surrey Storm.

The notion of calling the third quarter the ‘championship quarter’ is perhaps cliché, but Pulse showed it was still in fashion with a dominant showing after half-time to wrest total control of the contest.

The first two quarters had yielded little to separate the two sides, with the one-goal lead taken into the first break by Storm quickly eliminated by Pulse, who led by two at halfway.

But the momentum swung dramatically and decisively after half-time, as Pulse rapidly established a seven-goal lead that they held for much of the third quarter, before ruthlessly stretching out to an 11-goal margin at times.

It proved the killer blow in the contest, enough to dampen a dangerous Storm side that looked to have learned plenty of lessons from their two regular season defeats to their London opponents.

But league leaders Pulse were ultimately too strong and will now look to join the elite list of Super League-winning sides on Sunday.

A tetchy opening to the contest saw little to pick between two sides, with neither able to assert their control over proceedings.

Storm opened the scoring off Pulse’s first centre pass, Amy Flanagan earning an early deflection before Funmi Fadoju responded with one of her own to help level proceedings early on.

The match then progressed goal for goal for much of the half, with Pulse beginning to look increasingly fluid in attack through the superb Berri Neil.

Storm then edged in front by two, the biggest margin throughout the first quarter, after Layla Guscoth superbly intercepted a disguised pass from Neil before the visitors raced the ball up court to goal.

But that lead was quickly eliminated as Halimat Adio, Fadoju, and Jade Clarke teamed up to turnover possession, with Olivia Tchine levelling up proceedings at 10 a-piece.

Yet momentum was then wrestled immediately back by Storm, as Guscoth produced another interception as the lead stretched out to two once more before Tchine halved the deficit with a buzzer-beater.

If the first quarter had perhaps demonstrated some initial knockout netball nerves, they were soon blown away in the second quarter as both sides began to look more fluid in attack.

It paid dividends for Pulse, who quickly eliminated Storm’s lead before pushing out in front for their first concerted lead of the semi-final with a three-goal margin.

The home side appeared to have stepped up a level from the opening 15 minutes but then showed they had even more gears through which to shift after the break.

Early goal-for-goal exchanges at the start of the third quarter were quickly extinguished, as Pulse took advantage of an overshot pass from Sophie Drakeford-Lewis to stretch their lead out to five.

That swiftly became seven before Drakeford-Lewis stopped the rot for Storm as they looked to drag themselves back into the contest.

They had opportunities to do so, too, as Leah Middleton and Flanagan produced interceptions to try and halt the Pulse attack.

But they could not be converted at the other end, and Pulse replied with waves of attack. often started by deflections from Fadoju who ended with 19, which eventually saw them take a 42-32 lead into the final quarter.

Storm responded resolutely in the final quarter but the damage had already been done, with Pulse now set for Sunday’s set-piece.

The Netball Super League Grand Final is being shown live on Sky Sports Arena and YouTube from 1.45pm on Sunday 11 June.

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